Melo, Custódio José de (1846–1902)

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Melo, Custódio José de (1846–1902)

Custódio José de Melo (b. 9 June 1846; d. 15 March 1902), Brazilian veteran of the Paraguayan War and principal figure in a naval revolt during the civil war of 1893. Melo, whose father was a career army officer, distinguished himself in numerous battles during the Paraguayan War. In the Brazilian military he held various positions of command, mostly on ships. Bahian delegate to the Constitutent Assembly of 1890–1891, Melo opposed the dissolution of Congress by President Manoel Deodoro da Fonseca on 3 November 1891 and launched a rebellion of the fleet that produced Fonseca's resignation. Vice President Floriano Peixoto took control and named Melo minister of the navy.

A debate over interpretation of the constitution concerning whether Peixoto should have called new elections plus his clash with the Federalists of Rio Grande do Sul brought on the civil war of 1893 and a second revolt of the fleet under Melo. Peixoto resisted and Melo found himself facing a test of arms. Shore batteries at the military forts challenged the naval ships, some of which escaped, one with Melo aboard, and sailed to Santa Catarina, where they made contact with the Federalist rebels. Agreement between Melo and the rebels proved impossible, and Melo sailed toward Buenos Aires. By March 1894 Vice President Peixoto had acquired warships from Europe and the United States, and his superior naval strength, coupled with the support of five large U.S. naval vessels in the harbor, made the position of the rebel ships in Guanabara Bay untenable. Melo took refuge aboard a Portuguese ship and sailed into exile. He was eventually pardoned and returned to Rio to write his memoirs.

See alsoWar of the Triple Alliance .


Custódio José de Melo, Apontamentos para a história da revolução de 23 de novembro de 1891, 2 vols. (1895), and O governo provisório e a revolução de 1891 (1938).

José Maria Bello, A Modern History of Brazil, translated by James L. Taylor (1966).

Olinto Lima Freire de Pilar, Os Patronos das Forças Armadas (1966).

June E. Hahner, Civilian-Military Relations in Brazil, 1889–1898 (1969), pp. 49-72.

Additional Bibliography

Corrêa, Carlos Humberto. Militares e civis num governo sem rumo: O governo provisório revolucionário de Desterro, 1893–1894. Florianópolis, Brazil: Editora da UFSC, co-edição Editora Lunardelli, 1990.

                                        Robert A. Hayes

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Melo, Custódio José de (1846–1902)

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