Governorate General of Brazil

Governo-Geral do Brasil


Captaincies of the Governorate General of Brazil by 1574
StatusColonial State of the Portuguese Empire
CapitalSão Salvador
Common languagesPortuguese
Roman Catholicism
• 1549–1557
John III
• 1598–1621
Philip II
Governor General 
• 1549–1553
Tomé de Sousa
• Established
• Disestablished
CurrencyPortuguese Real
ISO 3166 codeBR
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Captaincy Colonies of Brazil
Governorate General of Rio de Janeiro
Governorate General of Bahia
Governorate General of Rio de Janeiro
Governorate General of Bahia
State of Brazil
State of Maranhão (colonial)

The Governorate General of Brazil (Governo-Geral do Brasil) was a colonial administration of the Portuguese Empire in present-day Brazil. A governorate was equivalent in status to a viceroyalty, though the title viceroy didn't come into use until the early 18th century. They were ruled by a Governor General who reported to the Crown. The Governor General had direct authority over the constituent royal captaincies, and nominal but ill-defined authority over the donatary captaincies. One captaincy, that of Duarte Coelho in Pernambuco, was exempt by royal decree from the authority of the Governors General.


In 1549, in order to solve the governance problem of his South American colonies, King John III of Portugal established the Governorate General of Brazil.[1] The governorate united the fifteen original donatary captaincy colonies some of which had reverted to the Crown, and others of which had been abandoned, into a single colony, but each captaincy would continue to exist as a provincial administrative unit of the governorate.[2] For two brief periods from 1572–78 and 1607–13, the Governorate General of Brazil was partitioned into the Governorate General of Rio de Janeiro in the south, and the Governorate General of Bahia in the north.

In 1621, the Governorate General of Brazil was partitioned into two colonies, the State of Brazil and the State of Maranhão.


For list of captaincies, see Captaincies of Brazil.

From the original captaincies, additional donatary captaincies were carved out.

Captaincies created under the governorates

The northern section of the captaincy of Sao Vicente was renamed to Captaincy of Rio de Janeiro.

List of governors-general

Main article: List of governors-general of Brazil


  1. ^ Brasil Escola - Governo Geral
  2. ^ "Arquivo Público do Estado do Espírito Santo - Relação de Tabelas do Brasil Colonial". Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2014-01-18.