XVII Century

Dutch Brazil II ( 1637 - 1654 )



Johan Maurits fleet - etching made from a drawing by Frans Post illustrating Gaspar Barleus book "Rerum per Octennium in Brasilia"

Mauritsstaad by Frans Post

Johan Maurits arrives in Recife with artists Frans Post (1612-1680) and Albert Eckhout (1610-1665), his privater doctor, the naturalist Willem Piso (1611-1675). His statestmanlike program includes the creation of a great colonial empire, reconciliation between the Dutch and Portuguese, the grant of religious toleration and limited participation of the colonists in the government. Distinguished artists and scientists are invited to make known to Europe the resources and beauties of Brazil. In this same year a new city, Mauritsstaad or Mauritiopolis starts to be built. Porto Calvo (Alagoas) is conquered ,the province of Sergipe del Rey and Ceará are occupied. .


Brasilia Qua Parte Belgis etching by George Marcgrave

map of Brazilian territory under the Dutch

Brazilian government opens the sugar trade to all Dutch merchants and Luso-Brazilians from Nieuw Holland .

Naturalist, cartographer and astronomer George Marcgrave arrives in Recife. He is the first astronomer of the Southern Hemisphere to make regular observations. He builds the first astronomic observatory and meteorological station in the Americas


map of Dutch Brazil

Portugal revolts against Spain, restores its independence and the Duke of Bragança is proclaimed King. When Johan Maurits receives the news he celebrates it with festivities .

The Dutch control half of the then Brazilian provinces: Maranhão, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Itamaracá, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe. The Dutch are, at this time, the masters of the Atlantic Ocean and Recife is, like Batavia in the East, the capital of the WIC (West Indische Compagnie) empire.



Vrijburg Palace by Frans Post

Johan Maurits  builds the Friburgum Palace - Castle of Freedom, on two large sites ( Boa Vista and Vrijburg) that include the observatory and zoological and botannical gardens. 


News of  truce between Portugal and the Netherlands.T he directors of the WIC write to Johan Maurits informing him to return to Holland in the spring of 1643. He is not happy and postpones his departure until May 1644. The province of Maranhão revolts and after one year of fighting the Dutch troops retreat.


End of construction of bridge between Recife and Antonio Vaz islands projected by Jewish engineer Baltazar da Fonseca. Johan Maurits goes back to Europe.Deprived of his leadership , the WIC loses control over the colony.


Andre Vidal de Negreiros leads the Insurrection of Pernambuco and defeats the Dutch at Mount Tabocas.The fortress at Cape St Augustine,Fort of Porto Calvo,Fort Maurits on the São Francisco River also surrender during the year.Sergipe del Rey in turn rises against the Dutch and at the end of the year 1645 the Dutch possess only Recife and, in its vicinity the Forts of Cabedello (Paraibá) and Ceulen (Rio Grande do Norte), and the islands of Itamaracá and Fernando de Noronha. Johan Maurits palaces and parks and many other buildings at Mauritsstad are razed to the ground for a better defense of Recife.


Dutch block the northeastern coast of Brazil. Dutch government allows WIC ships to intercept Portuguese vessels heading to Pernambuco


The Dutch occupy Itaparica island and surround Salvador in Bahia. Frederic Henry of Nassau, prince of Orange and Stadhouder of the United Provinces dies.

Gaspar Barleus book "Rerum Per Octennium in Brasilia" is published.


"Historia Naturalis Brasiliae"

First Battle of Guararapes. Witte de With army arrives in Recife and is defeated by the Portuguese.

The book "Historia Naturalis Brasiliae"by Willem Piso and George Marcgrave is published in Amsterdam.


1649 - 1650


Second battle of Guararapes with overwhelming victory for the Portuguese. Witte de With leaves Brazil The situation of the Dutch in Recife, closely besieged by land, is very precarious, and the 3000 men garrison demoralized.The shortage of food and provisions is the worst enemy.


Allegory of the victory over the Dutch on the cover of the book by Francisco de Brito Freire, Nova Lusitania, Historia da Guerra Brasilica a Purissima Alma e Saudosa memoria do Serenissimo Principe Dom Theodosio Principe de Portugal, e principe do Brasil.
(Lisbon, João Galrão, 1675).

The Dutch ask for terms of surrender, and on 26th January capitulation is signed at Campina da Taborda. Not only Recife but all the places still in Dutch hands are included (Paraìba, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Itamaracá, Fernando de Noronha). The Portuguese make their triumphal entry into Recife on 28th January. It is the end of the Dutch colonial empire in Brazil.



Twinsite 2000

 Lycée Pasteur, Curso Experimental Bilingue, São Paulo - Brazil
Alexandre Giraud - Danilo Machado - Barbara Dieu

Lyceum Berlage, Amsterdam - Netherlands
Walid Alaoui Mdaghri - Saladin Allioui - Enes Geloz - Esosa Izekor - Ismael el Khamsi - Patrick Holmes BB

(c) 2000