Brazil as a paradise.
It is common knowledge that the Portuguese already knew about Brazil long before its discovery. Who commanded the venture was the Academia de Sagres, Portugal’s maritime agency, the NASA of its time, who was obliged to make the discovery official as they could not hold the secret any longer.
Any way this is not what this article is about, its aim is to look into what went on in the head of the first europeans who arrived there and how this would impact in the new country. Manuel I, the King, his court as well as his predecessors had an extraodinary open mind and a huge curiosity about the world. Because of their contact with the Arabs they were the first europeans to acknowledge that the world was round, something that was considered a sin by the catholic church and wanted to discover what lay beyond the horizon.
On the other hand there were legends circulating, not only in their kingdom but throughout Europe, of a far away promised land, a paradise on earth: Bra Zil. A Scottish friend told me that Bra Zil figured in celtic mythology long before the church decreted that Earth was a plain at the center of the Universe.
To put these two trends together the Portuguese leaders had a vision of something close to a third revelation. It is not that they broke away from the Vatican but they were on the verge of doing so by saying that the discovery of Brazil was something close to finding paradise on earth.
The feeling on the street was something close to that, and the description of a land generous in vegetation, in beauty and in weather with inocent inhabitants living naked in harmony with nature did not contradict the popular imagination. It seemed to be inviting the world to go there and be happy on its beaches.
This vision of Brazil has not died entirely, at least ouside Brazil, and we hope that one day it will become the country’s mission.