Swiss author Urs Höner, a student of Rudolf Braun, intends “to show that the Portuguese crown, seconded by the Society of Jesus, did not strive for a ‘just’ solution of the Brazilian Indian problem, but directed its indigenous policy to consolidate Portuguese hegemony in that part of America, and to guarantee its part in the profits arising from the expanding sugar industry, on the way to a controlled utilization of the labor resources” (pp. 7 ff.). He gives special mention to recent works by Georg Thomas (Die portugiesische Indianerpolitik in Brasilien, 1500 bis 1640 [Berlin, 1968]) and Stuart Schwartz (“Indian Labor and New World Plantations: European Demands and Indian Response in Northeastern Brazil,” American Historical Review, 83 [Feb. 1978], 43-79). He disagrees with the conclusions of both, who, he says, try to give Portugal credit for attempting, albeit weakly and haphazardly, to solve the Indian problem according to just and peaceful principles.

Höner shows himself knowledgeable in documentary sources of the main archives of Portugal (not those of Brazil), and of the literature. He never questions the validity of his thesis, and cites scores of quotations, almost all translated into German, even in the footnotes. There are 600 (mostly long) footnotes for 221 leaded pages of text.

He admits the importance of the Jesuit Order in the formation of Brazil (pp. 204 ff.), but calls it “ultimately nothing else but a suitable tool for the attainment of the desired goal” of the Portuguese throne (pp. 89 ff). Portuguese religious motives find little sympathy.

This is an exhaustive study of all the methods used by the Portuguese between 1500 and 1611 to obtain profit from Brazil, starting with barter and proceeding through various forms of forced labor of the Indians, and, after 1570, of Blacks from Africa. The style is heavy. There is a bibliography of printed sources and secondary works. There is no index.