Chapter 6 “Hopes of Portugal” by Antonio Vieira: 17th-Century Portuguese America, a Luso-Brazilian Fifth Empire and Prophetical Views of History

In: Early Modern Prophecies in Transnational, National and Regional Contexts (3 vols.)
Author:
Luís Filipe Silvério Lima
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Abstract

“Hopes of Portugal” (1659) is one of the key sources for Luso-Brazilian messianism and the Fifth Empire project built by the Jesuit Antônio Vieira (1608–1697). Written by Vieira while in the Amazon forest, it was a mixture of letter, tract, and prophetic commentary, in which the Jesuit defended the resurrection of the late John IV in order to fulfill the imperial destiny of Portugal as head of the last empire on earth. Advocating the validity of the prophetical verses of a sixteenth-century cobbler, Bandarra, Vieira interpreted recent Portuguese history, drawing attention to the events of the Restoration wars against Spain, particularly in Brazil and Portuguese overseas domains. Through a figural and typological reading, Vieira tried to explain the expansion of Christian faith and the Portuguese struggle for independence as linked processes prophesied in a plethora of visions, miracles, and vaticinations. His arguments would be emulated by millenarians on both sides of the Atlantic but also criticized by other more sceptical or orthodox writers and eventually condemned by the Inquisition. In this chapter, we will briefly introduce “Hopes of Portugal”’s context of production, present its contents and sources, and discuss its reception, followed by the first annotated translation of the full text.

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