Principal investigator: Miguel Cruz

The role of Old World institutions in the formation and organization of the American colonies is quite consensual. However, one of the institutions more closely associated with the European presence, the regular army, seems to have played no role in the expansion process; this according to current historiographical interpretations, which tend to focus on the local militias. This project focuses on the military personnel involved in the defence of the Portuguese Atlantic World and in its inexplicable absence from a historical narrative dedicated to societies that evolved largely on the basis of military conquest.

The main purpose is to understand who these men were and how they participated in the colonial endeavour. Topics like the recruitment standards, forms of integration and fixation in the territory, and the socio-political-economic return of that career are of particular interest. Equally important is the way in which these men conceived the Empire. Their perceptions can help us understand in a different way the symbolic status of each territory.

This project has also allowed me to follow the evolution of the Portuguese martial imaginary – which was in a certain way connected with the perception of Empire – from the beginning of the expansion, in North Africa to Brazil and Angola, passing through India and Flanders. Additionally, we hope to revisit the intricate military setting of Brazilian independence, probing loyalties, political affiliations and identity realignments of the military personnel in times of Revolution.