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Emboaba, a term used in Minas Gerais during the early eighteenth century to refer to an outsider or to a non-Paulista. The origin of the word is disputed, with the most likely interpretation being that it derived from the Tupi-Guarani name of a bird whose feathered legs reminded some of the Portuguese style of wearing knee-high boots with the trousers tucked in.

The term is most commonly associated with the Guerra dos Emboabas (War of the Emboabas). The discovery of gold in the mining zone bounded by Ouro Prêto, São João del Rei, and Sabará during the last decade of the seventeenth century led to an immediate gold rush. Control of the mining zone was cause for a dispute that can best be seen as two distinct conflicts between Paulistas and non-Paulistas, the first in 1706–1707 and the second in 1708–1709. While the period of actual fighting was relatively short and produced few casualties, the Guerra dos Emboabas is important on two levels. The first was the displacement from the core gold-mining zone of the discoverers and initial settlers, the Paulistas, by those who later flooded into the zone from other areas. The other was the disagreement over the philosophy that was to govern the exploitation of gold. The Paulistas and allied royal authorities wanted controlled and gradual exploitation. The victory of the emboabas ensured a mass influx of settlers and a loss of royal control as well as the withdrawal of Paulistas to outlying areas of the mining zone.

The defeat of the Paulistas forced a reappraisal of Portuguese policy in the area. It was clear that the mining zone could not be closed for gradual development, so royal authorities turned to other measures to maintain control. Generally, this meant imposing royal authority on the mining camps. In 1709, São Paulo and Minas de Ouro were made into a separate captaincy that survived until 1720, when another uprising led to the separation of Minas Gerais as a distinct captaincy. That same year the first Ouvidores (royal judges) in the area were created and the governor authorized to establish the first towns and militia units.

See alsoGold Rushes, Brazil; Minas Gerais; Mining: Colonial Brazil; Paulistas, Paulistanos.


Manoel S. Cardozo, "The Guerra dos Emboabos, Civil War in Minas Gerais, 1708–1709," in Hispanic American Historical Review 22 (August 1942): 470-492.

Francisco De Assis Carvalho Franco, "Paulistas e emboabas," in IV Congresso de historia nacional, Annais, vol. 3 (1950), pp. 63-168.

Charles R. Boxer, The Golden Age of Brazil: 1695–1750 (1964).

Additional Bibliography

Kiddy, Elizabeth W. Blacks of the Rosary: Memory and History in Minas Gerais, Brazil. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.

                                        Donald Ramos