The Brazilian Empire

Myths and Histories

Revised Edition

By Emilia Viotti da Costa

The Brazilian Empire

352 pp., 6 x 9, 20 illus., 1 map, 3 figs., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4840-1
    Published: February 2000

Buy this Book

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit
This classic work is must reading for anyone who would understand Brazil and Latin America, past and present. First published in 1985 and now expanded to include a new chapter on women in Brazilian history, the book explores the social, political, economic, and intellectual currents that shaped nineteenth-century Brazil and whose reverberations continue to be felt throughout contemporary Brazilian society.

Placing her findings in a rich comparative context with regard to U.S. history, Emilia Viotti da Costa concentrates on crucial moments in Brazilian history to shed light on a number of vexing questions: Why in a nation so rich in material resources is there so much poverty? How was slavery abolished without bloodshed in a country where slaves had represented the main labor force for almost four hundred years? Why did self-described liberal elites twice lead the country toward authoritarian regimes? In exploring these and other puzzles, she uncovers the realities behind many of the persistent myths surrounding the Brazilian empire.

About the Author

Emilia Viotti da Costa has written extensively on Brazilian history and on slavery and emancipation. Her books include Da Senzala à Colonia and Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood: The Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823. She is also professor of history at Yale University
For more information about Emilia Viotti da Costa, visit the Author Page.


"[Includes] an essay on women that did not appear in the 1985 edition. The fact that this book had been republished once again and is still widely used and cited testifies to the enduring quality of Viotti da Costa's insights and the significance of her work. . . . Republication of this fine pioneering work is a fitting tribute to a historian who has helped transform the history of the Brazilian Empire and the history of Latin America over the past four decades."--Latin American Research Review

"The Brazilian Empire remains the indispensable analysis of the all-important Brazilian nineteenth century."--Thomas Skidmore, Brown University

"Anyone with an interest in the Brazilian nineteenth century will be familiar with [Viotti da Costa's] trenchant, well-informed clarity. . . . This is one of the best introductions to Brazil in English that one could want."--Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"Perhaps the most thoughtful analysis of nineteenth-century Brazil. . . . Viotti da Costa provides a cohesive picture of the social, political, and intellectual currents that have shaped the nation."--Latin American Research Review

"A thoughtful interpretive history that helps us to understand both the Brazilian empire and the republic that replaced it."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"There is a refreshing quality to Emilia Viotti da Costa's collected essays, which span six decades of the Brazilian empire's social, economic, and political life between independence (1822) and the collapse of its neocolonial political system in 1889. . . . Together the essays are more than an introduction to the Brazilian empire. . . . They reveal a critical mind searching for the links between ruling classes and those ruled, between elites and masses."--American Historical Review