Sorbonne Group

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Sorbonne Group

Sorbonne Group, Brazilian reformist-nationalist army officers trained by the French Military Mission of 1919–1940. Instructed by battle-tested veterans under Chief of Mission General Maurice Gamelin (1919–1925), these junior officers, called Tenentes (literally, "lieutenants"), graduated from the General Staff School, the Advanced Officers Training School, and their Realengo Military Academy better trained than their superiors. Some Tenentes led a series of mutinies during the 1920s; others joined the Getúlio Vargas Revolution of 1930; and many fought in Italy in 1944–1945 with the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (Força Expedicionária Brasileira—FEB).

In 1949 these Tenentes and the World War II veterans known as Febianos took the lead in founding the Escola Superior Da Guerra (ESG), or Superior War College. Since the staff of this school, Brazil's highest-ranking military institution, either had been French-trained or had undertaken advanced studies in Paris, civilian politicians tended to view the ESG with suspicion, scornfully dubbing it the Sorbonne Group. Not without reason did they distrust this group. As Tenentes ESG generals Oswaldo Cordeiro de Farias and Juarez Távora had called for a temporary military dictatorship to initiate social, economic, and political reforms. Febiano general Humberto de Castello Branco served as Távora's assistant. The Sorbonne Group, made up of Tenentes and Febianos, took the lead in overthrowing President João Goulart in 1964. Many members of the group served in subsequent military administrations.

See alsoTenentismo .


Nelson Werneck Sodré, História militar do Brasil (1965).

John W. F. Dulles, Unrest in Brazil: Political-Military Crises, 1955–1964 (1970).

Raymond Estep, The Military in Brazilian Politics, 1821–1970 (1971).

Lewis A. Tambs, "Five Times Against the System," in Perspectives on Armed Politics in Brazil, edited by Henry H. Keith and Robert A. Hayes (1976), pp. 177-206.

Additional Bibliography

Carvalho, José Murilo de. Forças armadas e política no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2005.

                                       Lewis A. Tambs