Atualizado: 1 de Dez de 2020
RESUMO: Alguns conceitos são importantes para a Linguística e a História: longa-duração, estrutura histórica x contexto histórico (defendidos por Jacques Le Goff); além de macrosistemas históricas frente à microhistória (notabilizados por Carlo Ginzburg). Linguística e História se unem quando se busca a etimologia de um termo ou os diferentes usos e significados deste mesmo termo no decorrer da História da humanidade. Um passado longínquo pode, dessa forma, tornar-se bem próximo de um tempo pretérito não tão distante de nós. Assim veremos neste estudo que encontrou a palavra Devassa na Bíblia, mais especificamente nos Livros dos Macabeus do Antigo Testamento, bem como em três outras ocasiões, já no passado colonial brasileiro: Na cidade de Salvador-Bahia, no século XVII; durante os julgamentos dos Inconfidentes mineiros e na Devassa contra os Jesuítas na comarca do Espírito Santo, ambos no século XVIII. Nosso caminhar pelos usos da palavra devassa começará na Antiguidade, nas desérticas paragens da Cisjordânia e chegará à modernidade, às tropicais terras do Brasil Colonial. Algumas paradas estratégicas serão feitas para melhor contextualizar e dirimir dúvidas a respeito desta palavra que, desde os tempos das primitivas tribos judaicas, era sinônimo de ato judicial para ouvir testemunhas, fosse de cunho religioso, militar ou civil.
PALAVRAS-CHAVE: Devassa; Livros dos Macabeus; longa-duração; microhistória; comarca do Espírito Santo.
RESUMEN: Algunos conceptos son importantes para la lingüística y la historia: estructura histórica a largo plazo x contexto histórico (defendido por Jacques Le Goff); Además de los macrosistemas históricos contra la microhistoria (notable por Carlo Ginzburg). La lingüística y la historia se unen cuando se busca la etimología de un término o los diferentes usos y significados de ese término a lo largo de la historia de la humanidad. Por lo tanto, un pasado distante puede volverse muy cercano a un tiempo pasado no tan distante de nosotros. Así veremos en este estudio que encontró la palabra Devassa en la Biblia, más específicamente en los Libros de los Macabeos del Antiguo Testamento, así como en otras tres ocasiones, ya en el pasado colonial brasileño: en la ciudad de Salvador-Bahía, en el siglo XVII; durante los juicios de los Inconfidentes de Minas Gerais y la Devassa contra los jesuitas en Espírito Santo, ambos en el siglo XVIII. Nuestro viaje a través de los usos de la palabra Devassa comenzará en la Antigüedad, en las partes desiertas de Cisjordania y alcanzará la modernidad, las tierras tropicales del Brasil colonial. Se harán algunas paradas estratégicas para contextualizar y resolver mejor las dudas con respecto a esta palabra, que, desde los tiempos de las primeras tribus judías, ha sido sinónimo de un acto judicial para escuchar a los testigos, ya sea de naturaleza religiosa, militar o civil.
PALABRAS CLAVE: Devassa; Libros macabeos; larga duracion; microhistoria Condado de Espírito Santo.
ABSTRACT: Some concepts are important for Linguistics and History: long-duration, historical structure x historical context (defended by Jacques Le Goff); besides history macrosistem against micro-history (distinguished by Carlo Ginzburg). Linguistics and history come together when searching for the etymology of a term or the different uses and meanings of that term throughout the History of humanity. A distant past can thus become very close to a past tense not so far from us. Thus we will see in this study that found the portuguese word devassa in the Bible, more specifically in the Books of the Maccabees of the Old Testament, as well as on three other occasions, already in the Brazilian colonial past: In the city of Salvador-Bahia, in the seventeenth century; during the judgments of the Minas Inconfidentes and the Devassa against the Jesuits in the county of Espírito Santo, both in the eighteenth century. Our journey through the uses of the portuguese word “devassa” will begin in antiquity, in the deserted parts of the West Bank, and reach modernity, to the tropical lands of colonial Brazil. Some strategic stops will be made to better contextualize and clarify doubts about this word that, since the time of the primitive Jewish tribes, was already synonymous of judicial act to hear witnesses, of religious, military or civil nature.
KEYWORDS: Devassa; Books of the Maccabees; long-duration; microhistory; County of Espírito Santo.
THE LONG DURATION
This work intends to make a historical path about the portuguese word “devassa” without being restricted to its etymological sense, more important for grammarians than for historians. When a researcher finds himself face to face with a word that has a long duration, he is sometimes impelled to find other uses that it has had in the past, in different cultures and places.
The “long duration”, concept defended by Jacques Le Goff (1924-2014), strives for a historical understanding in two prisms that, although different, are related: the structure and the context. The structure is formed from customs (the consuetudines), from the formative ideas of a given social nucleus, customs which are transformed into socio-cultural, religious or political norms. These ideas, in turn, in their secular or millennial journey within society, will influence the construction of different ideas and practices that, in fact, are more ephemeral than structures. These ideas become thoughts and uses of a particular conjuncture or context. In other words, the context is a “short duration” - transitory - time frame that is influenced by a “long duration” mental structure - secular or millennial.
Jacques Le Goff's defense is consistent with the worldwide applauded method of Fernand Braudel (1902-1985). Despite his somewhat materialistic and economist character, in his work The structures of daily life, we note that the approach clarifies how the practices influenced culture. After all, do practices determine thinking? Or does thought determine practice? In Braudel, we see that there is no hierarchy, what exists are mental developments that influenced techniques, or techniques that influenced mentalities.
In this interpenetration of uses and ideas, some elements may be short-lived, while others will be long-lived. So are the languages, the writings, in short, the extremely elaborate means that man found to communicate, to leave as a tribute to the posters or simply to survive. In this sense, Gladis Massini-Cagliari called the passion of some scholars for the letters of the past as the “archaeological fascination with the ancient manuscript text and the taste for its deciphering”. And it is obvious that only the love of letters (either the old or the current) can transform a textual heritage into History itself. Only the passion for codices, for manuscripts, can explain the priceless cultural fruits of Palaeography and Diplomatics when they provide us, researchers of the 21st century, with access to texts from the 17th, 18th, or even millennia ago, such as of Sacred Scripture.
In these reflections that involve the portuguese word “devassa”, in addition to the biblical text, we have the result of the paleographic and historical analyzes of two researchers. In the Chapter XI of the book Na Trama das Redes (2010), written by the professor at the Federal University of Viçosa-MG, Francisco Carlos Consentino, who presents us with the quarrels between brazilian governments and the representatives of the portuguese crown in the final years of the 17th century.
The professor at the Federal University of Espírito Santo, Luiz Cláudio M. Ribeiro, brought to light the complete corpus documental of the Devassa against the jesuits in the County of Espírito Santo (1761) after the expulsion of all the jesuits from the territories of Ultramarine Empire by the Marquês de Pombal (1699-1782). Furthermore, the extensive work of translating the source, the researcher goes beyond just making a source public, it helps us to reflect on the respect of its historical importance: “[...] an ideological anti-Jesuit debate instituted around the modernity, a discussion between Jesuitism and anti-Jesuitism becomes evident in the document ”.
In both, we note the respect for the original linguistic structures according to the rules of paleography, which denotes more of a choice than a necessity, since every edition of an ancient text only asks for a normative to be chosen from among those that Philology offers us: critical, facsimile, diplomatic, semi-diplomatic or genetic editing.
“DEVASSA”: FROM THE BIBLE TO THE “STATE OF BRAZIL”
That is the purpose of this study, a tour of a biblical - but also historical - time, that of the great jewish patriarchs and heroes who lived in Judea, a mountainous region south of Israel, between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean and which, today, we can locate as the southern region of the West Bank. Forming both a nation and a culture, moreover, they were the progenitors of a monotheistic faith amid animist or polytheistic religions. Amid the adventures and misfortunes of the Jewish people - recorded in the Books of the Maccabees, Biblical Old Testament - is what may be one of the first known records of the portuguese word “devassa”.
In modern times, we will see more records of the portuguese word “devassa”. Brazil was the richest colony of the Portuguese Empire, here, the powers of command and governance alternated in relations that were not always friendly and honest. From the 16th century onwards, the portuguese crown decided to change the way of governing this vast territory and instituted the appointment of the Governor-General of the State of Brazil based in the city of Salvador, Bahia. But, conflicts of jurisdiction and accusations of abuse of power did not cease, they just alternated. It was in the meantime that the governor-general between 1678 and 1682, Roque da Costa Barreto, was instructed by representatives of the king to make a fuss with the officers of the Court of Appeal of Bahia due to the denunciation made by the Salvador City Council.
To conclude this tour through the uses of the word devass, we will analyze some excerpts from Devassa da reforma da religião da Companhia de Jesus nesta comarca do Espírito Santo, transcrição paleográfica do manuscrito de 1761, carried out by researcher Luiz Cláudio M. Ribeiro and published by EDUFES in 2018. The Jesuits have accumulated a large and “enviable” heritage in the region of Espírito Santo since the beginning of portuguese colonization. In the 18th century, according to the researcher, the Jesuits already owned four farms and “Espírito Santo was a true Jesuit potentate”.
ETYMOLOGY AND TERMINOLOGY: “DEVASSA” AND ITS MEANINGS
Without the dictionary I am nothing! So, let's start with it.
The portuguese term “devassa” continues with the same meaning after millennia of use, the variations are small and relate more to its uses than to its meaning, as we will see below.
PRIBERAM is a dictionary that I really appreciate because it shows us the variations of meaning that a word can have in other countries in which portuguese is the official language, in particular, Portugal. This dictionary classifies “devassa” as “inquiry to investigate criminal acts”; the portugueses verb devassar has as synonyms, among others, “to inform yourself, to inquire”; the devasso portuguese noun (female and male), on the other hand, is associated with the “depraved, unruly, dissolute, libertine” individual. This denotes yet another permanence of meaning in this long historical period through which languages are formed and are fixed, especially ours, the Portuguese Language. I consulted other dictionaries, such as Aurélio, and similarities prevailed.
“DEVASSA” AT THE TERRA BRASILIS
The portugueses word “devassa” has been used since the colonial period and refers to the portugueses verb devassar: to search, to inquire. It is possible to find references to it in a large part of the bureaucratic documentation produced by the bailiffs of that period: outside judge, ombudsman, ordinary judge, judge of peace, among others. Their duties were similar to those of today's bailiffs: inspecting the local population and prosecuting crimes. In case of denunciation, it was up to the judge and his scrivener to collect the testimonies of the parties involved, this action was called “devassa”. After that, it was up to the judge to decide what penalty the accused would suffer. In other words - anachronisms aside - the devass was similar to what today is a police investigation into a crime.
The most famous legal proceeding in brazilian lands was instituted against those responsible for the Conjuration Mineira of 1789, an event that established the maximum guilt and death penalty for Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, Tiradentes (1746-1792). The work of the 1970s by the english historian and brazilianist Kenneth Maxwell, A devassa da devassa - A Inconfidência Mineira: Brasil e Portugal 1750-1808 (1750-1808) became a classic of the historiography of the period. The author did not pretend, he associated Tiradentes with another one of those who, despite being “white”, had no properties and was looking for any means to stand out socioeconomically. Regarding the renowned book, let us see one of the criticisms, in which the play on words is delightful: “Mais uma vez a devassa é devassada, e muito bem”. Profa. Célia Galvão (Isto É).
The Glossário de palavras e expressões (séculos XVIII e inícios do XIX) made available by the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences (IFCH) at UNICAMP reminds us, among others, of the utmost function of the legal proceeding or “devassa”: interrogating witnesses. We have already noted its association with the legal sphere, as it asserts a type of investigation, "a thorough investigation of a criminal act through research and the examination of witnesses". For example, the portuguese terms “fechar a devassa” and “tirar a devassa” are used, respectively, to proceed or not with a court order or to initiate or not a criminal process. In other words, researching, gathering evidence, observing and interrogating are legal synonyms or the gathering of legal procedure for an examination of witnesses. “Devassa” is similar to an investigation of a criminal act and the legal act is one that makes use of witnesses to obtain information about a crime, infraction or crime.
But, it is worth mentioning that, if the word kept its meanings, its practices varied ... a lot.
“DEVASSA” AGAINST FRIENDS OF JUDAS MACABEU
"These instituted investigations and legal proceeding [devassa] acts against Judas' friends" (Mk 9:26). The Old Testament text shows us how old the practice of interrogations of a religious and military nature is, since they go back to the times before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Maccabees are two books in which the exploits - military victories and defeats - of the Jews are reported in the form that we can associate with reports of battles and major military deeds. This verse in question is later than the one that reports the fateful military defeat and death of Judas Maccabeus in 166 BC, religious and military leader of the Jews, which provided a period of relative peace and prosperity to those who inhabited the "land of Judah", the Judea.
In the Introduction to the Books of the Maccabees, and in the following footnotes, commentators on the Jerusalem Bible certify that these events occurred in the second half of the second century BC and were recorded by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) in his book Jewish Antiques. One of the notes points out that:
Rebel Jews were to be exterminated or sold as slaves (2Mc 8: 9-11) and their land would be confiscated, then redistributed, in part, to foreigners (cf. Dn 11: 39). Judea would thus become 'land of the king', divided into lots and rented to settlers, according to Seleucid custom.
In 161 a. C., Báquides, general Selêucida and “governor of Transeufratênia”, was in charge to pacify Judea, western half of the Selêucida Empire, because its inhabitants rose against the king Demétrio I (187-150 a. C.). Another note from the Jerusalem Bible states that:
Persecution causes the awakening of religious consciousness. Opposition to Hellenism takes the form of violent interventions (2, 15-28), or passive resistance (2, 29-38), finally of holy war: already under Matathias (2, 39-48), but above all under Judas Maccabees (3-5). He understood that the preservation of religion was linked to national independence, which is why the struggle continued even after religious freedom was recognized (6, 57-62). But this transfer of the conflict to the political field opened the door to party commitments and struggles [...].
Bacchides came to the end of his mission. He achieved three feats: to end the life of Judas Maccabeus, to dismantle the army of the Jews and to undermine the conspiratorial forces of the Jewish people. Let's see what the full text shows us:
After the death of Judas, the wicked reappeared over the whole of Israel, and all those who did injustice rose again. In those days there was also a terrible famine, so the country sided with them. Báquides, for his part, chose among the wicked men those whom he had made lords of the country. The latter established investigations and legal proceeding [devassas] against Judas' friends, making them appear before Bacchides, who took revenge on them and covered them with insults.
Shortly after Judas' death, the seleucid general welcomed powerful Jews who instituted a "devassa" in which all friends of the dead Jewish leader were ostensibly obliged to submit. In that inquiry, the accused had to put themselves in front of Báquides and, without the right to defend themselves, suffered their vengeful and punitive wrath.
Let us note a devassa as “inquiry to investigate a criminal act”, that is, the alliance with Judas Macabeu. But, for the author of the Book of Maccabees, the inquirers were the “wicked”. After all, they were the ones who associated themselves with Báquides - the “depraved, unruly, dissolute, libertine” - who took the lands of the Jews, enslaved their women and children, besides killing their most honorable and brave men. In this case, “devassos” were those who allowed themselves to be sold to the greek general and allowed him to inquire, offend and take revenge on jewish brothers.
THE MODERN “DEVASSA”
Governance and power: the portuguese empire and its brazilian colony
The Portuguese Overseas Empire, between the 16th and 18th centuries, had to be simultaneously centralized and decentralized to cope with the enormous and growing demand for different commercial, socio-political and cultural relations to which it was subject. The immense empire under which the scepter and the portuguese crown had command extended, one could say, from one corner of the planet to another: Macau, in China; the entire length of the Brazilian coast; as well as several commercial warehouses on the Atlantic coast of the African continent. It was in this global environment and with many facets that the governments installed in Lisbon tried, continuously, to institute the best ways to govern or to control their factories and colonies overseas.
In that context, Brazil was a unique case, since 1530 the Portuguese monarchy saw in this territory a fruitful region to establish a broader domain both politically and economically. For this, several initiatives were necessary to govern a colony that, in addition to being vast, was dominated by indians and by nature, most of the time, savage and cruel to the European who ventured here. The distribution of Hereditary Captaincies was the first initiative, still in 1530, and in 1549, the General Government was instituted.
The centralizing forces coming from the capital of the portuguese empire used political and economic powers established in the colonies. In the “State of Brazil”, the City Council and the “Tribunal da Relação” were the colonial voices that the documents of the time brought to the poster researchers.
In our case, let us note the importance of the epistles of the period. In those times, it was common to send letters addressed directly to the king of Portugal. A practice that impresses some researchers, while indicating a culture and “economia de mercês” in which the king, as the "head" of the government, had the prerogative to "reward" those subjects who, even in the distant colony, lived for the common good and for the crown.
JURISDICTIONAL CONFLICTS IN THE “STATE OF BRAZIL”, “DEVASSA” OF ROQUE DA COSTA BARRETO
It was in that culture of “exchange of favors” that the Chamber of Salvador felt at liberty to send a letter to the king asking for urgent measures in relation to the inappropriate attitudes of some portuguese judges who, associated with court officials - “the people in toga” - of the “Tribunal da Relação de Salvador” were acting contrary to the common good of “soteropolitana” society. In addition, they could cause damage to the portuguese crown.
In a historic structure in which the centenary centralizing power coming from the Lisbon metropolis in the person of the governor-general was linked to constantly changing circumstances, adapted and linked to multiple local governments and elites, Consentino presented us with the creation of the “Tribunal da Relação”, in 1609, which was reestablished in 1652. In that context, the government-general was in Bahia, in the city of Salvador. Therefore, the “Relação da Bahia” became the highest body of justice in the State of Brazil.
All the governors-general had the task of keeping themselves informed about the activities of the governmental and judicial bodies closest to him and taking the necessary measures in case of omission or unlawful act of any subject of the king. Following regulations, they affirmed and reaffirmed the delegation of powers directly from the king to the governor general of Brazil. Let's see what the regiment of Diogo de Mendonça Furtado, governor-general between 1621 and 1624 shows us:
Just as it is in my service, be sure not to give Donatars more jurisdiction than that which belongs to him for his donations, and to have a great deal of vigilance and warning in him, even so, I will do well that you do not take yours or consent that my bailiffs take it or break your privileges and donations before in everything that belongs to you will make you fulfill and keep it.
These prerogatives brought the centralization of powers over the governor-general and the symbolic representativeness linked to the royal figure, since they came from a political-religious ceremony called “menagem” in which royal power was delegated to the governor-general of the State of Brazil. Even captaincy governors should obey governors-general according to a royal institute, as we will see in the following excerpt:
Your Lordship cannot deny that you are the subject of this Government, and that the subjects, even if they have a lot of justice, do not play to defend their opinion but obey the orders of their Generals: and if they are violent, or unjust, the prince decides them, and punishes them: but as long as their Real determination does not exist, the orders of their Generals will always subsist and be obeyed by the subjects.
However, the governors-general who alternated in the highest governmental post in the State of Brazil were unable to prevent abuses or lack of decorum among other minor representatives of the portuguese crown sent to Brazil (such as the judges), as well as among the judicial and local government leaders, the justice agents and the city councils, respectively.
A good example of those disagreements and controversies, is in the Instruções of king Pedro II (that reigned between 1683 and 1706) to the governor-general Roque da Costa Barreto, in which the monarch asked the governor of Brazil to initiate an investigation on the “Relação da Bahia”, because the Chamber of Salvador had sent a complaint to the king. The document asked “certain news of these procedures you will get secret information, so that in all truth it can be learned and can remedy the losses that my vassals suffer in the excess of these ministers”. We see that it was also the duty of the governor-general to investigate the activities of the justice and treasury officers who worked at the “Relação” and to “appoint a judge to take the legal proceeding [para tirar devassa]” by asking and inquiring those who were accused of impropriety in their judicial offices or in governance.
Another task of the governor-general was to notify the king of any escape from order, omission or crisis, because it was up to the king - and only him - to direct his vassal on the best course of action. Meanwhile, Roque da Costa Barreto led an inquiry, in which four spheres of power were involved: portuguese crown, governor-general, “Tribunal da Relação” and the City Council. The governor-general has appointed a judge to lead the judicial investigation: hearing witnesses and other determinations. Fearful with such a show of power and afraid of suffering reprisals after having its members heard, the Chamber of Salvador sent the king another letter, dated August 16, 1678, in which “complained about the legal proceeding instituted by the governor [reclamava da devassa instaurada pelo governador], as the investigation was chaired by one of the judges and ended up generating panic among the witnesses”.
The answer came in december of that same year. The king's attorney was careful to guide and reassure his subjects with regard to “real justice” in the face of the complaints they received from the city councilors, but he did not forget the Instruções they gave to Roque da Costa Barreto. The extract below is illuminating:
Your Highness Prince being so equal for the prize of the ministers, who are good, as for the punishment of those who are bad, and having them no less than from the doors inside the experience, because assisting Your Highness the first voices of their cries confess that Your Highness will have an exact legal proceeding taken [tirar uma exata devassa] from the procedure of those ministers, from which punishment could be followed not only for those who deserve in present, but as an example for those who serve in the future.
The prosecutor did not stop there, he took the opportunity to remind the “camaristas soteropolitanos” that a conflict of jurisdiction was taking place between the members of the municipal governmental institution, that is, to think that he can “take or put magistrates”, and this function is only up to the vassals appointed by royal determination:
It seemed to him that the Bahia Chamber should immediately respond severely, so that those councilors who Your Highness had not shared with them would understand how to govern their Monarchy, who cannot have a voice but for their complaint, that Your Highness will embrace as a Prince, as a Father, and as a Lord, when justified.