When the Duke of Braganza was crowned as John IV (1640) Portugal began twenty-eight years of war to defend her restored independence from Spain. France helped her till 1659, when Mazarin, in the Peace of the Pyrenees, agreed to give no further aid to Portugal. Alfonso VI turned to England for help; Catherine of Braganza was sent to London as the bride of Charles II (1663), bringing as her dowry Bombay, Tangier, and £ 500,000; in return, England sent troops and arms. With this and other support, but above all by their own efforts, leadership, and discipline, the Portuguese drove back one Spanish army after another, until, by the Treaty of Lisbon (1668), Spain formally recognized the independence of Portugal.
Pedro II strengthened the ties with England by the Methuen Treaty (1703): each nation agreed to give preferential tariffs to the other; Portugal would import manufactured goods from England, England would import wine and fruit from Portugal; so the eighteenth-century English drank port wine from Oporto, instead of “clear” claret from Bordeaux. This economic alliance gave Portugal and her remaining colonies a lasting protection from Spain and France.
In 1693 the gold fields of Minas Gerais were discovered in Brazil; soon they brought to Pedro II such bullion that after 1697 he ruled without summoning the Cortes to vote him funds, and maintained at Lisbon one of the most sumptuous courts in Europe. American gold, however, produced the same results in Portugal as in Spain: it was used to pay for manufactured articles from abroad, instead of financing industrial enterprise at home; the native economy remained listlessly agricultural; and even the vineyards around Oporto fell into English hands, being bought with Portuguese gold secured in English trade.
Portuguese authors continued to enliven letters with deeds. Francisco Manuel de Melo of Lisbon, after studying at the Jesuit College of S. Antão, joined Spanish regiments bound for Flanders, survived several battles, fought for the Spanish King in the Catalan rebellion, and wrote its history (Historia de la guerra de Cataluña) in one of the many classics contributed by the Portuguese to Spanish literature. When Portugal declared itself free from Spain he offered his services to John IV; welcomed, he equipped and led a Portuguese fleet. Having fallen in love with the intoxicating Countess of Villa Nova, he was arrested on the instigation of her husband, and spent nine years in jail. Released on condition of exile to Brazil, he went to live at Bahia (Baía), where he wrote hisApologos dialogaes. He was allowed to return in 1659. In his remaining seven years he published works on morals and literature, some poetry, and a play that anticipated the theme and humor of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Though he wrote in Spanish, Portugal properly claims him as among her most brilliant sons.
Antonio Vieira was another. Born in Lisbon (1608), he was taken in childhood to Brazil, was educated by the Jesuits at Bahia, entered their order, and astonished everyone by proposing, in eloquent sermons and pamphlets, that Christianity be practiced by governments. Sent on a mission to Portugal (1641), he so impressed John IV by the integrity of his character and the variety of his powers that he was made a member of the royal Council; there he had no small part in planning the victories that restored the independence of his country. He disturbed established ideas by advocating the reform of the Inquisition, the taxation of all persons regardless of class, the admission of Jewish merchants to Portugal, and the abolition of the distinction between “Old Christians” and “New Christians” (converted Jews). He was one example, in many, of the vitality, versatility, and frequent liberalism of the Jesuits.
Back in Brazil (1652), he was sent as a missionary to Maranhão, but he so uncompromisingly condemned the barbarity and morals of the slaveowners that they had him banished to Portugal (1654). He pleaded before the King the cause of the oppressed Indians, and secured some amelioration of their condition. Returning to South America (1655), he spent six years as “the Apostle of Brazil,” traveling hundreds of miles on the Amazon and its tributaries, risking his life daily among savage tribes and natural perils, teaching the arts of civilization to the natives, and so courageously defending them against their overlords that these again secured his transfer to Portugal (1661). There the Inquisition arrested him on the charge that his writings contained dangerous heresies and reprehensible extravagances (1665). He was horrified by the conditions in the prisons of the Inquisition—five men crowded into a cell nine feet by eleven, where the sole natural light came from a slit in the ceiling, and the vessels were changed only once a week. 49He was released after two years, but was forbidden to write or preach or teach. He went to Rome (1669), was welcomed and honored by Clement X, and fascinated cardinals and commoners with his eloquence. Christina of Sweden vainly begged him to be her spiritual director. He laid before the Pope a detailed indictment of the Inquisition as a blot on the honor of the Church and a blight on the prosperity of Portugal. Clement ordered that all cases before the Portuguese Inquisition be referred to Rome, and Innocent XI suspended that body for five years.
Victorious but lonesome for Indians, Vieira sailed once more to Brazil (1681), and labored there as Jesuit teacher and missionary till his death at eighty-nine. His works, in twenty-seven volumes, contain much mystical abracadabra, but his sermons, which have been compared with Bossuet’s, have given him rank as “one of the great classics of the Portuguese language”; 50 and his services as a patriot and reformer led the Protestant Southey to number him among the greatest statesmen of his country and time. 51