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High Versus Low: Portuguese And Dutch Fortification Traditions Meet In Colonial Brazil (1500–1654)

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Chapter Summary

Portugal and the Netherlands are both small European countries that border the sea. Portuguese possessions were targeted across the oceans. In Asia this was largely successful, and the Portuguese were ousted from India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. In Brazil, however, they remained in control. Here one can still see how the various European building traditions met in the proto-colonial period and how they left their mark on the society. The Portuguese were accustomed to building their safe castles and forts on higher sites such as hills and mountaintops. They did the same in Brazil in the sixteenth century. This can be clearly seen in towns like São Salvador and Olinda. When the Dutch took Olinda during a new attack on Brazil in 1630, they did not want to fall into the same trap a second time. Olinda was largely destroyed, so that the Portuguese could no longer profit from it.

Keywords: Brazil; Dutch; fortification traditions; Portuguese; proto-colonial period

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