The discovery of Brazil in 1500 did not arouse much interest to the Portuguese crown would rather trade with the Indies and keep in Brazil only removes brazilwood, however nations like France and Holland threatened the Lusitanian hegemony in Brazilian lands with sending reconnaissance expeditions territory. Such threats have made the Portuguese colonial policy was modified in 1530 and founded the first center of colonial exploitation on the coast of the present State of São Paulo. This gave rise to the first occupation of Vila Sao Vicente.
Since then, the colonial administration had a first distribution system organized through division of the territory. This division led to calls captaincies, large tracts of land that were donated to nobles, bureaucrats or influential marketers in the Lusitanian Court.
This first control system and settlement of the Brazilian colony ended up not having great results. Thus, the Portuguese decided to implement a new and more centralized administrative system comprises direct representatives of the metropolitan power. So what emerged was the so-called government-general, a governor appointed by the king should take measures for creating villages, the economic exploitation of land and combating pirates and smugglers.
To realize many functions, the Governor-General had the support of a body of officials. To address the issues of justice was the figure of the chief magistrate; financial resources raised by colonial activity and tax collection was the responsibility of the provider chancel, and the chief captain fought the invaders and criminals of the colonial environment. The first city chosen to host the Government General Salvador was considered the first capital of Brazil and was Tomé de Sousa, the first Governor of Brazil, who arrived in 1549. Also came Jesuit priests Manuel da Nobrega headed, responsible for catechesis of indigenous and consolidate, through faith, the domain of the territory by the Portuguese Crown.
The following governors, Duarte da Costa (1553-1557) and Mem de Sá (1557-1572), strengthened the defense of captaincy, made for recognition of land holdings and took other steps to reaffirm and ensure colonization.
The General Government remained until the arrival of the royal family to Brazil in 1808 and was the colonial period the longest period of Brazilian history. Over more than three centuries, the Portuguese undertook profitable at the expense of a centralized and focused on the unique interests of the metropolis administrative structure business. Many of the social, political, economic and cultural traits displayed by Brazil today are the result of this long historical period.
The termination of the captaincy system formally occurred on February 28, 1821, a little over a year before the Declaration of Independence.