Balaiada, a rural uprising of 1838–1841 in the Brazilian provinces of Maranhão and Piauí. A relatively numerous peasantry had developed in connection with the cotton plantations in northern Maranhão. They, along with slaves, and cowboys from the cattle areas of southern Maranhão and Piauí, were the principal supporters of the movement. Arbitrary military recruitment, personal grievances, and resentment against the Portuguese elite, which had managed to remain influential after independence, were the main reasons for the revolt. In the cattle areas of southern Maranhão and in Piauí, the movement was initially supported by fazendeiros (ranchers) as well. In Piauí the particular target was the arbitrary rule of the governor, the viscount of Parnaíba.
The rebels adopted the demands of the former Patriot Party, now the Liberal Party—expulsion of the Portuguese and suspension of the police chiefs responsible for recruitment—and claimed recognition for their officials. The liberal elite refused to join a popular movement led by cowboys like Raimundo Gomes Vieira, peasants like Balaio (Manuel Francisco dos Anjos Ferreira), and maroons like Cosme Bentos das Chagas.
During the uprising, which began in December 1838, the rebels managed to control large parts of the interior and twice occupied the city of Caixas. Government troops proved inefficient because of numerous desertions and lack of experience with guerrilla warfare. The new commander in chief, Luís Alves de Lima E Silva, the future duke of Caixas, arrived with reinforcements from Rio de Janeiro in February 1840. He divided the rebels by granting amnesty to those who captured runaway slaves.
Defections led to a radicalization of the remaining balaios around Gomes and an alliance with the rebellious slaves led by Cosme, but they could not long resist the numerous and now well-organized government troops. By January 1841, Maranhão and Piauí were considered pacified. Many prisoners were executed.
See alsoBrazil: 1808–1889 .
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Maria Januária Vilela Santos, A Balaiada e a insurreição de escravos no Maranhão (1983).
Maria Amélia Freitas Mendes De Oliveira, A Balaiada no Piauí (1985).
Matthias Röhrig Assunção, A guerra dos Bem-te-vis: A Balaiada na memória oral (1988).
Leandro, Eulálio de Oliveira. A Marinha e as camadas populares no Maranhão, 1872. Imperatriz: Edtirca, 2002.
Octavio, Rodrigo. A Balaiada, 1839: Depoimento de um dos heróis do cerco de Caixas sobre a Revoluçao dos "Balaios." São Paulo: Editoria Sicilano, 2006.
Ribeiro, Francisco de Paula. Francisco de Paula Ribeiro: Desbravador dos sertões de Pastos Bons: A base geográfica e humana do Sul do Maranhão. Imperatriz: Etica, 2005.
Ribeiro, Francisco de Paula. Memorías dos sertões maranhenses. São Paulo: Editorial Siciliano, 2002.
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