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Prince regent John and his son Peter
Prince regent John and his son Peter; Peter would be Brazil's first emperor. 1


On 14 January 1808 the brig "Voador" docked in the bay of Rio de Janeiro with the news that on November 29 last year, Portugal was invaded by French and Spanish troops, commanded by General Junot. The royal family and part of the nobility had embarked on time in Portuguese ships, under the protection of an English fleet, bound for Rio de Janeiro, and should arrive soon to the city, wherein the Court would stay until the general peace had been reestablished 2.

In order to house and feed the illustrious group, the Viceroy D. Marcos de Noronha e Brito, the Earl of Arcos, ordered the immediate evacuation of the Palace, there pouring the Court of Appeal, the expedient room of the Mint and himself. Then he determined the entire Palace to be adorned and furnished. He also issued an order that the owners and tenants of the best houses in the next blocks to vacate them. Finally he issued letters to the governors of Minas Gerais and São Paulo, asking them all the supplies they could send.

On January 17, a Sunday, part of the ships entered the Rio de Janeiro bay. A storm on December 9 made them away of the rest of the fleet. They did not bring the Queen Mary I nor the Prince Regent D. João; with them were Maria Francisca Benedita, Princess of Brazil, and the Infanta D. Mariana, the Queen's sisters, and the princesses Maria Francisca and Maria Isabel, daughters of D. João. As the rest of the fleet did not appear, the princesses decided to stay on board. On February 19, another boat arrived from Bahia, bringing the news that the remaining fleet there had docked; only after receiving the news, the princesses disembarked and addressed themselves to the Palace.

In the next days other ships docked, and on the morning of March 7, the royal fleet was sighted in front of of the Rio de Janeiro inlet. The ship Príncipe Real transported the Queen, the Prince Regent, the Prince of Beira, Dom Pedro de Alcantara, and the infants Miguel and Pedro Carlos. The ship Afonso de Albuquerque brought the Princess of Brazil, Carlota Joaquina, and with her the princesses Maria Teresa and Maria Isabel, and the infantas D. Maria de Asuncção, e D. Ana de Jesus Maria.

Once the ships anchored, it was issued a warning that the prince regent would not disembark this afternoon, but on the next day. The prince expressed a desire to attend, in land, to a "Te Deum" in the Cathedral of the city, in thanksgiving for the successful journey. The Senate of the Chamber then issued notice to residents of the Rosario street and part of the Direita street from the back of the Palace to the entrance of the Rosario street, so that the front of their houses should be adorned and the streets should be garnished with sand, leaves and flowers. In order to meet the royal determination, as the church of the Order of the Firsts of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, closer to the Palace, had already been adorned, the vestments were transported from there to the Cathedral during the night and part of the next day.

The Prince Regent and the other members of the royal family disembarked in this March 8, at four o'clock in the afternoon, in the midst of popular acclaim, fireworks, bursts of cannon and the ringing of church bells. They went to an altar mounted on top of the landing ramp, around which was the Chapter of the Cathedral. After kissing the Holy Cross in the hands of the chantre Filipe Pinto da Cunha and Sousa, the procession of the pier to the See began.

On the Rosario street was mounted a bandstand with orchestra and choir, in which they sang hymns in praise of the prince. Along the way were military regiments, which hailed the passage of the procession. The forecourt of the Cathedral was taken by the people who hailed incessantly the royal family, the uproar was mingled with the ringing of the bells of the Cathedral and surrounding churches.

When they entered the church, a "large orchestra" with the choir of the Cathedral, "broke in melodious songs." The prince and the royal family walked slowly to the altar of the Blessed Sacrament, before which they prostrated to the sound of the "Te Deum laudamus". After the music, they headed for the main altar, before which they gave thanks to the Virgin Mary and Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of the city, while the antiphons "Sub tuum Praesidium", and "The Beate Sebastiane" were sung. The cantor sang the Gregorian "Dominum, salvum fac Principem" and other ceremonial prayers.

The witness does not mention who was in charge of conducting, but there is great probability that it was the chapel master. As for the repertoire, have been presented the "Te Deum in D" (CPM 96) composed in 1799, and the antiphon "Sub tuum Præsidium" (CPM 2). Of the antiphon "O Beate Sebastiane", there is no record.

The Prince Regent, despite the tributes, realized the precarious state of the Cathedral, and the quarrels between the Chapter and the Brotherhood of the Rosary. Soon came to him the idea to create a Royal Chapel, similar to the Patriarchal of Lisbon, to be installed in the church of the Order of the Firsts of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, near the Palace, to the royal devotions.

Holy Week in 1808 was celebrated in this church, already unofficially considered the Royal Chapel. The ceremonies were to be performed by the clergy of Lisbon, but, because they were few, those of the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro were added by a warrant. Despite the absence of documentation, it is likely the participation of Nunes Garcia in conducting the orchestra and the choir.

The next step occurred in May 13, 1808, Prince Regent's birthday, with the appointment of Bishop José Caetano da Silva Coutinho as First Chaplain. The bishop had to act with diplomacy to integrate the priests of the Patriarchal of Lisbon with those of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro. The admission of Brazilian priests was accepted by the prince, but the Portuguese clergy thought otherwise: an anonymous document maintained that, as a measure of economy, ministers should be limited to those that served him previously. The document concluded that it would avoid the prince "the displeasure of seeing someone get into it with a visible physical defect" 3. This obviously would exclude the musicians of the Cathedral, mostly mulattos, including the chapel master.

The institution was made official by the Decree of June 15, which granted the primacy of Royal Chapel to the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as the parish of the Palace, including the priests and the musicians of the Cathedral 4. And, recognizing the musical gifts of Nunes Garcia, he was confirmed on 26 November, music master of the Royal Chapel 5. The appointment made him officially, at least until 1811, the most important musician of the kingdom of Portugal.

Landscape of the Bay of Rio de Janeiro in 1817
Landscape of the Bay of Rio de Janeiro in 1817. 3

1 DEBRET, Jean Baptiste. Viagem Pitoresca e Histórica ao Brasil [A Picturesque and Historical Travel to Brazil]. Rio de Janeiro: Itatiaia, 1992. v. 3, pl. 9.

2 SANTOS, Luiz Gonçalves dos. Memórias Para Servir à História do Reino do Brasil: Dividida em Três Épocas da Felicidade, Honra, e Glória, Escritas na Corte do Rio de Janeiro no Ano de 1821, e Oferecidas À S. Majestade El Rei Nosso Senhor D. João VI Por L. Gonçalves dos Santos [Memoirs to Serve the History of the Kingdom of Brazil Divided into Three Seasons of Happiness, Honour and Glory; Written at the court of Rio de Janeiro in the year 1821 and offered to His Majesty the King our Lord John VI by L. Gonçalves dos Santos]. Lisbon: Impressão Regia, 1825. 2v., 454p. p.3.

3 MATTOS, Cleofe Person de. José Maurício Nunes Garcia - Biografia [Biography]. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, 1997, p. 67.

4 "I Prince Regent, make public to all of those who read this Decree with strength of Law, that being aware of the precarious and uncomfortable situation in which the Chapter and the more Ministers of the Cathedral of this City and My Court of Rio de Janeiro are, in an alien and indecent little church for the divine offices; and desiring to provide them a place with due dignity to exercise the ministry of their sacred functions, [...] and on the other hand wanting to never lose the age-old custom of keeping within my Royal Palace a Royal Chapel [...] I command in this regard: I. That the Chapter of the Cathedral must soon and promptly be transferred with all people, singers, and ministers, [...] in the current state, in which they are in the church of the Confraternity of the Rosary, to the former church of the Carmelite Religious, [...], to where are to be transferred all sacred vessels, vestments, Implements, and all the furniture that belong to the same Chapter, and everything else which may serve in some sort to the performance of their duties. II. That all the aforesaid members of the Chapter are now, and in the future my esteemed ministers of the Royal Chapel, and as such shall enjoy all the privileges, immunities and exemptions, which in age-old customs and Papal Bulls have been granted to the Royal Chapel by the Gentlemen Kings my predecessors. III. That as a result of the same privileges, not only the Canons that currently exist in the Capitular body, but all the more that I am served to add in the future, may use any difference in the shape of the Ratchets and colors of the Cloaks, according to the agreements I am served to do with My First Chaplain, to whom also compete the Ordinary and Delegate Jurisdictions of this diocese. IV. That, plus the corporation and hierarchy of the Canons, there must be a new hierarchy of graduated Canons, which can be given the name and the treatment of Monsignors; in that can enter the Monsignors who came from the Patriarchal of Lisbon and others that I am served for adding [...]". SANTOS, op. cit., 1821. p. 86.

5 "... Since is José Maurício Nunes Garcia, secular priest, serving as music master of my Royal Chapel, and as organist, and giving free lessons to the youngsters which are eager to learn that art: I am served to order that by that by the books of the same Royal Chapel earn the aforesaid José Maurício Nunes Garcia, for all those jobs the annual amount of six hundred thousand reis paid qurterly as usual. The President of my Royal Treasury must have this well understood, and do perform with the necessary dispatches. Palace of Rio de Janeiro on November 26, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight Years. Prince". In MATTOS, op. cit., 1997. p. 69.

6 RUGENDAS, Johann Moritz. Viagem Pitoresca Através do Brasil [A Picturesque Journey through Brazil]. Rio de Janeiro: Itatiaia, 1998. pr. 6.

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