I heard that "Portugal is so lame, it had to declare independece from it's colony (Brasil)", which was elaborated to saying that it's not actually obvious which state (Brazil or Portugal) are the correct successor state.

Is there any truth to this? In what way could Brazil been seen as a successor state to Portugal? Is there any basis for the claim that "Portugal had to declare independence from Brazil"?

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    Define "successor state" - successor in what sense? Economy, military, national identity? Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 17:24
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    Of course not, don't be silly. Portugal was the originator of Brazil as a country, and still the more powerful country at the time of independence.
    – Noldorin
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 1:30
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    @WladimirPalant I'm not sure what the full "successor state" definition would be. Hence I'm asking. Is there any definitions of "successor state" that would mean Brazil would be the successor state of Portugal? Or is there no debate, and is it clear cut that under every definition of "successor state" Portugal is the successor. Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 9:44
  • This might have been an interesting question in an alternate world were this claim was actually made. But it hasn't. It has exactly zero basis. So it's pointless.
    – o0'.
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 12:10

3 Answers 3


It is very clear that Brazil declared independence from Portugal, and not the other way around. That is why it is celebrated in Brazil and not in Portugal.

There was a fairly short war of independence, fought on Brazilian soil between the Brazilians and the Portuguese garrisons, later reinforced by additional troops sent from Portugal. This shows that Portugal tried to keep Brazil, and not declare independence from it.

In 1825, Britain mediated a treaty between Portugal and Brazil, where Portugal recognized Brazil's independence, while Brazil agreed to pay two million pounds sterling in compensation to Portugal.

Additionally, Portugal kept all its other colonies in Africa and Asia, so it's hard to see exactly how Brazil could be seen as the successor state.


The argument arises from the fact that the royal family of Portugal fled to Brazil in the early 1800s when Napoleon took over Portugal. They then ruled from Brazil for around 12 years before the King returned to Portugal and his son was left as regent. It turned out to be a good move since the son's son, Dom Pedro II is widely considered one of the best Emperors ever (I'm told that the guy has a stature like George Washington does for many Americans only probably more so). The two countries apparently declared war on each other and thus Pedro I (Father of Pedro II) was disinherited of Portugal

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    Thank you so much for this answer. There was clearly something behind the question, but I had no clue what it could be.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 16:17

This question makes little sense. The only definition of "successor state" that is relevant from the historical point of view is a concept where a newly established country "inherits" the relations of a country that no longer exists which might mean transfer of obligations, treaties, rights etc. You can find an overview of the concept on Wikipedia. A claim of succession generally relies on other countries to accept it. A typical example would be the Russian Federation which is the accepted successor state of the USSR. Modern Germany is the successor of the Weimar Republic which was the successor of the German Empire.

Brazil as a successor of Portugal makes little sense in this concept:

  • It would require that the "original" Portugal ceased to exist at some point.
  • It would require Brazil to be established after the "original" Portugal disappears from the world arena.
  • It would require some action by Brazilian politicians to actually claim succession.

The first two points can only be fulfilled if you view the Brazilian war of independence as the point where the "original" Portugal ceased to exist and was split into Brazil and the modern Portugal. You probably recognize this as a pretty ridiculous point of view and I would be very surprised if the Brazilian politicians saw it differently.

What you probably mean is "Do Brazilians think that they are worthier successors to Portuguese Empire than Portugal?" This would be an interesting question but I don't think that it is a history question. Or maybe: "Which country has more influence today, Brazil or Portugal?" An interesting question as well but even less related to history.

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