Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Erik Myrup


In the middle of the eighteenth century the Portuguese crown, under the influence of the Marquis of Pombal, sought to reform the political administration of its vast set of imperial holdings. As part of these reforms, in 1751 Pombal sent his brother, Francisco Xavier de Mendonça Furtado, to the Portuguese Amazon to serve as governor of the state of Grão Pará and Maranhão. This study explores Furtado’s tenure as governor of the Amazon from his perspective, in an attempt to understand how and why he arrived at a set of policies known as the “Directorate,” which overhauled the region’s mission system and attempted to more effectively assimilate native Amazonians into Portuguese colonial society. Chapter One combines a look at Furtado’s initial years as governor with short digressions into the relevant historical background of the region. The analysis in this chapter focuses on Furtado’s influence on his brother, the Marquis of Pombal, as well as the early attempts at reform he pursues out of a growing sense of frustration with the Jesuit missionaries in the region. Chapter Two focuses on a long trip Furtado took upriver to a settlement called Mariuá, in order to negotiate the boundary demarcation with Spain. Over the course of two years away from his home in Belém at the mouth of the Amazon, Furtado’s opinion of the Indians evolves, influencing the implementation of the Directorate policy upon his return. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the legacies of Furtado and the Directorate.