Brazilian History: The Power of Go Betweens
Editor's Note: Sometime has passed, thus, I decided to post my homework on my blog. You know, for pharmaceutical purposes. It was a good essay. It got an A plus. Thus, even my teacher thought my homework was 5 stars worthy. Oh, I am going add a few pictures that relate to my essay. You know, something help you visualize what I am talking about.
Brazilian History: The Power of Go Betweens
In Colonial Brazil, there was a power struggle between Jesuits and the Colonist. Each had their own methods of handling the Indians. The Jesuits wanted to keep the Indians in missions. There they lived relative autonomous life under the guiding hand of the church. The colonist simply wanted to enslave the Indians. They did not care much for the Evangelization of the Indians. All that mattered to the colonist was the increasing revenues.
Well, both methods required go betweens that negotiated with the Indians. The Jesuits needed them for convincing the Indians to enter missions. The colonist used them go betweens in order to use other Indians to collect the slaves for them. In both cases, it was the go betweens that benefited from the rivalry between the Church and the colonist. For this reason, the go betweens where seen as a necessary evil. Their ambiguous lifestyle made them a treat to the institutions of Portuguese society and the Evangelization missions of the Catholic Church.
In the readings of Metcalf, there appear two types of go betweens. Dominges Fernandes Nobre or Tomacauna was a go between the colonists and the Indians[i]. The Lisbon Inquisitor that was sent by the Portuguese crown was a go between the colonist and the Catholic Church[ii]. Each had their own agenda. Thus, the actions of Tomacuana benefited the colonist sugar planters. Meanwhile, the Inquisitor favored the Evangelist mission of the Jesuits and the church. Thus, each was advancing a different model of colonization.
The sugar planter’s model of colonization consisted on slave driven labor. Little attention was paid to the Evangelization of the slave labor. The Amerindian Indians was the closet source of man power. The Jesuits had managed to make illegal the enslavement of Indians. Still, it was noted that those regulations where rarely enforced[iii]. Plus, many Indian slaves did not survive their captivity. Thus, their population was seriously dropping.
The model of the church model of colonization focused on missions. Basically, the Jesuits or other priestly ordered created a town of Indians. In this town, the Indians worked for the priest. Aside from work, the Indians obtained education in both Catholics and European practices. Via this method, the Indians where slowly integrated into the Portuguese society. Integration did not benefit the planters. The time spent learning was a time the Indians did not spend working. Thus, to evangelize it became necessary to keep the Indians away from the regular sugar planters. This separation was also meant to keep the pure from the negative influence from the Portuguese. By the time, the Lisbon Inquisitor had arrived; many moral irregularities were taking place in Brazil[iv]. Thus, the Lisbon Inquisitor’s presence tipped the scale in favor of the Jesuits and the other missionary orders.
Tomacuana had gotten in trouble with the Inquisition because of his go between methods. His actions did not promote the Evangelization of the Indians. Rather, they helped perpetuate their heretical practices. For the Jesuits, men like Tomacuana also helped perpetuate the illegal enslavement of the Indians[v]. Plus, the fact that Tomacuana engaged in pagan rituals was unacceptable[vi].
In Metcaft “Power” reading, the Lisbon Inquisitor wrote a decree that punished those who lived sinful lives. Those that confessed their sins and the sins of people they knew got to keep their estates[vii]. What was considered sinful was any practice or behavior that did not match the mores of a Catholic Portuguese country. Naturally, someone like Tomacuana became a target under this decree. Many of those that confessed implicated Fernandes Nobre as a follower of the heretical “Santidade” Indian religion. His wife too accused him of tattooing himself. Thus, the charges brought against Fernandes Nobre had nothing to do with his line of work. Rather, the methods that he used to obtain slave labor were seen as sinful by society.
Based on the list of sins posted by the Lisbon Inquisitor, it seems that Fernandes Nobre was guilty of adopting Indigenous practices while living in the Colony[viii]. Metcalf believes that the Jesuits convinced the Inquisition of making this a sin in order to get rid of the “mamelucos” like Fernandes Nobre[ix]. The mamelucos were half native, half Portuguese. Their native mothers had taught their language and culture. They had the advantage of being able to live in both the Native and Portuguese world. The way they worked was very similar to the Jesuits. Both became fully integrated into an Indian clan. The Jesuits too learned the language and culture of the Natives. However, their aim was to establish missions. The mamelucos, on the other hand, manipulated the Indians into getting other Indian slaves for the sugar planters.
Obviously, these mamelucos interfered with the Jesuit missions. It was noted that many of the denunciations against the mamelucos where put forth by Jesuit priest[x]. They saw their opportunity to get rid of their competition with the arrival of the Lisbon Inquisitor. By getting rid of them, the sugar planters would lose their means of obtaining Indian slave workers. In Metcalf “Domingos Fernandes Nobre”, shows how mamelucos obtained Indian labor for the planters. Aside from knowing the languages and culture, Fernandes Nobre had tattooed himself. In doing so, he showed the Indians he was a brave warrior. This earned him the nickname Tomacuana. By earning their trust, Fernandes Nobre traded weapons for slaves[xi]. These slaves were usually people from enemy tribes.
In his last mission, Fernandes Nobre was dealing with a tribe whose worship was called “Santidades”. This sect was seen dangerous because it predicted the coming of a being who would free all under the yoke of oppression. This naturally appealed to a lot of slaves. Many escaped to join the “Santidade” group[xii]. Thus, it did not bode well for Fernandes Nobre to participate in a sect that was both heretical and that caused slaves to escape their masters. Another problem was that Santidade also drew in a large following of mamelucos. It makes sense that those who followed Fernandes Nobre wondered if he truly believed in the rituals of the Santidade. These suspicions were due to Fernandes Nobre’s mamelucos heritage. For this reason, many who accused Fernandes Nobre to the Inquisition had been part of his expeditions to the Santidade[xiii].
In the end, all these accusations were only a means to an end. Fernandes Nobre could only obtain forgiveness by foregoing all of his Native practices. He had to assimilate completely into the Portuguese society[xiv]. With this forced assimilation, Fernandes Nobre lost his ability to serve as a go between. He could no longer gain the confidence of the Natives like before. Thus, via this method, the Jesuits made it harder for the mamelucos to excerpt their influence over the natives. Seeing the attention given to the mamelucos, it is obvious that they had great power in the colony. They alone made things harder for the Jesuits to advance their colonization model. The only way for the church to combat them was to make a sin the methods the mamelucos employed in their line of work. The visit of the Lisbon Inquisitor gave the Jesuits the chance they needed to get rid of their competition.
[i] Alida C. Metcalf, “Domingos Fernandes Nobre” Pg 52
[ii] Alida C. Metcalf, “Power” Pg 2
[iii] Metcaft, “Power” Pg 4 or Pg 239
[iv] Metcaft, “Domingos Fernandez Nobre” pg 60
[v] Metcaft, “Power” Pg 3
[vi] Metcaft, “Domingos Fernandez Nobre” pg 60
[vii] Metcaft, “Power” Pg 4 or Pg 239
[viii] Metcaft, “Power” Pg 4 or Pg 239
[ix] Metcaft, “Power” Pg 241
[x] Metcaft, “Power” Pg 241
[xi] Metcaft, “Domingos Fernandez Nobre” pg 55
[xii] Metcaft, “Domingos Fernandez Nobre” pg 57
[xiii] Metcaft, “Domingos Fernandez Nobre” pg 56
[xiv] Alida C. Metcalf, “Domingos Fernandes Nobre” Pg 60