Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-m42fx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-20T19:04:19.337Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Cracking Down on the Cunhamenas: Renegade Amazonian Traders under Pombaline Reform

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2006

Gettysburg College.


The 1750 Treaty of Madrid prompted Portuguese civil and ecclesiastical authorities under Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (later the Marquis of Pombal) to strengthen crown control of the Brazilian Amazon. Pombal's brother, Francisco Xavier de Mendonça Furtado, governor and captain-general of the State of Grão-Pará and Maranhão, and Bishop Fr. Miguel de Bulhões e Sousa sought to supplant the missionaries, especially the Jesuits, and rein in autonomous backwoods Indian traders, called cunhamenas (Tupi for male in-law). The Lisbon Inquisition collaborated by prosecuting the infamous mameluco Pedro de Braga, a powerful interethnic intermediary on the Rio Negro, who was condemned for practicing indigenous rites and accepting multiple wives from tribal chiefs.

Research Article
2006 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


My thanks to colleagues in the Santa Fe Seminar, the Washington Area Symposium on the History of Latin America, the symposium ‘História Indígena: Perspectivas Interdisciplinares’ at the Associação Nacional de História 2003 meeting in João Pessoa, Brazil, and to two anonymous JLAS reviewers for their insightful comments. Dauril Alden deserves special gratitude for his generous gift of Marcos Carneiro de Mendonça's A Amazônia na era pombalina. Essential research support came from the Fulbright Commission, Gettysburg College, the Fundação Luso-Americana (Lisbon), and the John Carter Brown Library (Providence, RI).