Portugal’s royal court, plus about 10,000 support staff, sailed from Lisbon in 1807, expelled by an invading French army. Taking refuge in Brazil, the exiles stayed until 1821. Gomes relates this episode and its significant ramifications from a variety of perspectives: from the positions and personalities of the king, João VI, and his consort, Carlota Joaquina; from observations by visitors to Brazil during those years; and through narratives of political events in the home country and its huge tropical colony. Though João was not, avers Gomes, an impressive figure, the presence of his court promoted a unity that Brazil did not previously possess, while his sanction of free trade connected the colony to world commerce, including commerce in African slaves. Describing the populaces of Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities, Gomes renders a society in flux, contrasting it with Portugal’s sufferings from war and political turbulence. The latter resulted in a constitution, marking João VI as Portugal’s last absolute monarch. Gomes’ work, a best-seller in Brazil, will engage readers interested in a formative phase of the country’s history. --Gilbert Taylor
An Amazon.com History Bestseller
Winner of the Jabuti Prize
A Brazilian Academy of Letters Best Work of Nonfiction
Critical Acclaim for 1808: The Flight of the Emperor
"This vivid portrait of an unkempt, self-preserving king provides insight into the obscure history of Brazil. ... A meticulous and encyclopedic account of life in the colony of Brazil, as well as the doings of the Portuguese royalty in their new home ... 1808: The Flight of the Emperor offers important knowledge for understanding how modern-day Brazil, a diverse mix of the ancestors of Europeans, slaves, and natives, was created. ... Gomes tells that story completely, with vivid accounts from historians as well as original sources."
"Highly readable ... a well-researched, engaging history."
"Good airline reading on your next flight to Rio."
“A light and informative history ... Gomes offers a broad perspective on the period, portrayed in bright colors.”
—Folha de São Paulo
“A rare portrait ... Gomes’s research shines . . . in his ability to recreate with unparalleled flair a portrait of daily life in the colonies and how this all changed with the arrival of the Portuguese.”
—Estado de São Paulo
“This is a book that you will read with a broad smile. ... The result of ten years of research, 1808 is a veritable guidebook through all the events that formed part of this little-known episode of history. ... It conjures up a delicious blend of good humor and erudition to create a broad portrait of events and people that crossed paths during the thirteen-year adventure in the tropics. ... Through short, cinematic chapters, Gomes successfully sets up a jigsaw puzzle in which each piece fits right into the preceding one. ... In addition to supporting the historical record with primary source documents and with more recent studies, he makes the people of the era jump off the page. ... 1808 reveals these events with grace and weightlessness. ... It’s a historical synthesis that shines for the clarity of its explanations and for the interest of the past it projects onto the present. It’s a well conceived idea sustained by a flawless methodology.”