Fort Orange
Itamaracá Island, Brazil

The Portuguese claimed what is today Brazil in 1500, and got to the far eastern tippy tip of South America (which is where Itamaracá is) in 1516. In 1534, Portuguese King Manuel I (1469-1521) created the capitania of Itamaracá, which developed into one of Portugal's first colonies in the New World. Itamaracá became a small but prosperous producer of sugar and tobacco for Portugal, which quite naturally made the Dutch East India Company salivate with covetous desire.

In February of 1630 a Dutch fleet of 67 ships, representing the Dutch East India Company, pounced on Itamaracá and Recife, another Portuguese colony a few miles along the coast to the south. By the beginning of March they had knocked aside all Portuguese resistance, and started eyeballing good locations for starforts.

The Dutch found an excellent spot on a little island at the southern end of Itamaracá, commanding the Santa Cruz Canal. Dutch engineer Pieter van Bueren designed and built  a  wooden,   square   fort
with corner bastions, which was then garrisoned by 366 men and commanded by Polish captain Crestofle d'Artischau Arciszewski (1592-1656), whose name I will not attempt to pronounce, though you are welcome to do so if you wish. Fort Orange successfully repelled Portuguese attacks in 1632.

The fort was named for the House of Orange-Nassau, which was the ruling family of the Netherlands at the time.

The Dutch East India Company did good business at Itamaracá, but in January of 1640 a combined Spanish/Portuguese fleet of 87 ships under the command of Dom Fernão de Mascarenhas came to even the score. A Dutch fleet of 41 ships fought the Spanish/Portuguese for five days, using up what is described as a great amount of gunpowder, but no clear victor emerged: This favored the Dutch, however, who just had to hang on to what they already had.

More Portuguese attacks came in September of 1645, which were once again repulsed by Fort Orange. The fort was rebuilt with stone in 1649.

I'll bet Fort Orange's garrison suffered from loads of hernias, seeing as they had to physically lift their cannon each time before firing them

The nearby town of Recife had developed into the regional capital, and was under constant pressure from Portuguese forces. In 1654 Recife finally succumbed to Portuguesedness. The garrison at Fort Orange, upon hearing the news, leapt into Dutch ships and sailed off to the West Indies, abandoning their starfort. The victorious Portuguese bellowed Obrigado pela starfort, perdedores! and occupied the fort, renaming it Fortaleza de Santa Cruz.

Portuguese engineers are responsible for the fort's Vaubanesque final shape, but after the initial rush of military joy that followed Fortaleza de Santa Cruz's easy capture, it was mostly allowed to crumble.

The inevitable uprising against colonial Portuguese forces came in 1817 with the Pernambucan Revolt, so named because it started in the province of Pernambuco...where, conveniently, there was a starfort, just waiting for some love and attention. Revolutionary forces occupied and repaired the fort in 1817, and then proceeded to heroically sit there until 1825, when the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro recognized Brazilian independence.

The front gate of Fort Orange: I'll be damned if it isn'!!!
Today the fort, which is again referred to as Fort Orange, is visited by around 70,000 people annually. It houses a collection of artifacts from Brazil's Dutch period.

For some reason, the Portuguese marred at least one of the lovely starfort corners of Fort Orange with this weird little dingleberry. Isn't the whole point of the bastion's leading edge that it offers a clean, unobstructed view and field of fire? For shame, Portugal.