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Reformers in the Land of the Holy Cross

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The Calvinist Mission in Dutch Brazil and the Portuguese Uprising of 1645

image of Journal of Early American History

The directors of the Dutch West India Company gambled their reputations and capital in a decades-long scheme to conquer and pacify Brazil, and in the end, they lost. This essay explores the various religious elements of that scheme or “mission,” as it was also called: establishing the Dutch Reformed Church as the colony’s public church, spreading the message of the “true religion,” attacking sin and reforming sinners. Coupled with a general, widespread sense of anti-Catholicism and anti-clericalism among the Dutch in Europe and America, these reform efforts exacerbated differences between the conquerors and conquered and contributed to Portuguese discontent in the years before the 1645 revolt.

Affiliations: 1: State University of New York at Oneonta,


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