Farroupilha Revolt

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Farroupilha Revolt

Farroupilha Revolt, or Ragamuffin War (1835–1845), uprising in Brazil's southernmost province of Rio Grande do Sul, the longest and most dangerous of the five major regional revolts that shook Brazil during the regency (1831–1840). First ridiculed as farrapos, or "ragamuffins," for their characteristic fringed leather garb, the rebels adopted the name as a banner of pride and defiance. Political and economic grievances fueled the rebellion. Complaints that the distant central government neglected the province's needs, undervalued its military sacrifices, and pursued policies that discriminated against its pastoral products generated intense regionalism and pressure for decentralization and increased autonomy. Attempts by unpopular imperial officials to strengthen central control and extreme interparty rivalry brought matters to the breaking point, dividing coastal cities from cattle ranchers of the interior. The revolt was cast in the rhetoric of radical liberalism and republicanism and attracted the participation of Italian exiles Giuseppe Garibaldi and Luigi Rossetti.

The revolt began on 20 September 1835, under the capable leadership of rancher Bento Gonçalves da Silva. The rebels quickly captured the provincial capital of Pôrto Alegre but lost it in June 1836 to legalist forces, which controlled the coastal zone for the remainder of the conflict. When the Regency did not answer their demands, rebels met in the interior town of Piratini and declared an independent republic in September 1836, electing Bento Gonçalves provisional president. Imperial forces had little military success against the rebels in the interior, where most of the fighting occurred. Bento Gonçalves was captured in October 1836 but escaped the following year, lending the revolt renewed energy. The rebels received arms, supplies, and financial support from Uruguay's caudillo leader José Fructuoso Rivera, who, along with some Riograndenses, had designs of forming a new state uniting Uruguay, Rio Grande do Sul, and the Ar-gentine provinces of Entre Ríos and Corrientes. Rio Grande was a natural extension of the pastoral culture to its south, its ranchers had many ties across the border, and it had long been entangled in the political unrest of the Río de la Plata.

The Farrapos' successes influenced the outbreak of the Sabinada Revolt in Bahia in 1837, and rebels proclaimed a second independent republic in Santa Catarina in 1839, following an expedition across Rio Grande's northern border. That republic fell four months later and the tide of battle turned against the rebels, who were beset by factionalism and shortages of supplies. On the imperial side, bungling, troop shortages, and conflicts of authority hampered efforts to suppress the uprising.

In 1842 Brazil's most formidable nineteenth-century military commander, Luis Alves de Lima E Silva, barão de Caxias, took over command of the legalist forces and administration of the province. The following year the rebels drew up a moderate constitution for the republic, retaining slavery, Catholicism as the official religion, and providing for indirect elections. The political skill of the barão de Caxias and his military victories in Caçapava, Bagé, and Alegrete gradually brought the province back under imperial control. His generous peace, which included freedom for slave soldiers, brought the conflict to an end in February 1845.

Subsequent disruption of Brazil's trade with the Río de la Plata due to renewed instability there, together with new Brazilian duties on jerked beef imports, alleviated Rio Grande's economic grievances by easing competition, at least temporarily. The extent to which the rebellion was separatist or federalist is still a matter of debate. In subsequent years, Riograndenses stressed the revolt's federalist and republican strains, seeing in it antecedents of the federalist republic of 1889.

See alsoBrazil, The Regencyxml .


Dante De Laytano, Historia da República Riograndense, 1835–1845 (1936).

Moacyr Flores, Modelo político dos farrapos (1978).

Spencer L. Leitman, Raízes socio-econômicas da guerra dos Farrapos (1979).

Walter Spalding, A revolução farroupilha, 2d ed. (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Barman, Roderick. Brazil: The Forging of a Nation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988.

Costa, Emilia Viotti da. The Brazilian Empire: Myths & Histories. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Davies, Catherine, Claire Brewster, and Hilary Owen. South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006.

Dolhnikoff, Miriam. O pacto imperial: Origens do federalismo no Brasil. São Paulo: Editorial Globo, 2003.

Needelll, Jeffrey. The Party of Order: The Conservatives, the State, and Slavery in the Brazilian Monarchy, 1831–1871. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

                                                   Joan Bak