The city of João Pessoa is considered to be one of Brazil’s oldest cities with a rich and stormy history. After a war with the French and the Tabajara, the country’s indigenous allies, the city came to be on August 5, 1585, when it was founded by Portuguese settlers who came from Pernambuco. It was first named as Nossa Senhora das Neves after that day’s Saint. However, with Spain’s influence, the name was changed to Filipéia de Nossa Senhora das Neves after the country’s Philip II.
When the area soon became a perfect spot to produce sugarcane, the Portuguese, Dutch, and the French, all fought for the region’s control. The Santa Catarina fortress was then built by the Portuguese to secure the city from the Dutch who was the biggest threat of the first’s colony in Brazil.
For twenty years, between 1634 and 1654, the city has been under the Dutch control who gave it another name, Frederikstadt after Frederick Henry, it’s stadtholder or head of state. The name Nossa Senhora das Neves was then restored when the Portuguese reoccupied it.
In 1817, it was renamed again, this time as Parahyba do Norte, but when the governor of Paraiba, João Pessoa, was assassinated on July 26, 1930, in Recife, the citizens of the state all voted to rename the city in Pessoa’s honor.