The book The Kingdom That Was Not of This World: Chronicle of an Unproclaimed Republic was published in 2015 by Valentina Publishers. This non-fiction work was written by Marcos Costa, and I read it in the Kindle version. Marcos Costa initially considered becoming an architect but soon changed his mind and pursued History at UNESP – Assis campus. He obtained a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Social History, also from UNESP.
Marcos Costa is a historian, university professor, researcher, and writer. He has authored numerous articles published in academic journals, as well as the books The Obscure Book of the Discovery of Brazil, The History of Brazil for Those in a Hurry, and The Man Who Did Not Want to Be Immortal.
In the book, we can find the greatest historical figures of the Brazilian Empire period, from the independence era with Pedro I to the chaotic days of the “proclamation” of the republic. Marcos Costa reveals the backstage of a power struggle that began in 1831 and involves none other than some of the key characters in our history.
On one side, there are the monarchists, the nouveau riche, D. Pedro I, Duke of Caxias, Baron de Mauá, D. Pedro II, Princess Isabel, and Count D’Eu. On the other side, of course, there are the republicans, the slaveholders, the coffee farmers, Baron of Cotegipe, Benjamin Constant, Quintino Bocaiúva, and Floriano Peixoto.
It is an excellent book to understand the period of the Brazilian Empire, to grasp the entire plot that unfolded as Dom Pedro II managed to hold things together with his loyal friend Caxias and pave the way for a possible third reign with Princess Isabel. The title of the book arises from a conversation between Pedro II and Minister Saraiva, in which the emperor asks why there couldn’t be a third reign with Princess Isabel, and he responds, “Because your kingdom is not of this world.”
Pedro I, José Bonifácio, Pedro II, Princess Isabel, and many others were convinced that slavery should be abolished. Slavery was a consequence of over 300 years of colonization and it was a tremendous struggle to put an end to it during the Brazilian Empire period. The landowners were the elite of the time and were staunchly in favor of slave labor.
Ending slavery and having salaried employees was something no slaveholder wanted. In fact, Baron of Mauá was ahead of his time as well. His employees were all salaried, and he became the wealthiest man in the Brazilian Empire, which greatly worried the slaveholders.
The entire Republican ideal at that time emerged with the support of the plantation owners in direct opposition to the growing monarchical sentiment in the country, which had long prevailed in the Brazilian court. What happened in 1889 was not a proclamation, but a coup, and in this book, the author makes that very clear with various details and a timeline that keeps the reader attentive to every detail of the chaos that occurred in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1889.
Chaos in the sense of a fatal blow to the morality of the country, as there was no armed revolt; everything was done secretly, without the population being aware of anything. In the history of Brazil, something happened that did not occur elsewhere. In 1889, a revolution took place not to bring about changes, but to maintain the ideals of slavery, in other words, a non-progressive revolution but a “conservative revolution.” Ironically, isn’t it?
In the book, the author clearly portrays the government’s trajectory in the fight against slavery, the alignment towards the third reign, and highlights other key moments of the period. However, I believe that there is a lack of emphasis on explaining the emperor’s actions during the coup. Nonetheless, the book is an easy read without much digression.
“And the people… the people, as always, are at the mercy of their own fate, their terrible fate.” – Marcos Costa
Reference: COSTA, Marcos. O reino que não era deste mundo: Crônica de uma república não proclamada. Brazil: Editora Valentina, 2015.
Matheus is an entrepreneur at Araujo Media, where he serves as CEO and Creative Director. He shares analyses on his personal blog "matheusaraujo.me" and is currently pursuing a degree in Advertising and Propaganda. Moreover, he has a passion for history, particularly that of Brazil, which led him to become the founder and editor of the Brazilian History portal.