The Cabanagem Rebellion ravaged the region around Belém for sixteen months between January 1835 and May 1836, in the uncertain years following Independence and the abdication of Pedro I. What started as a power struggle among Brazil’s new rulers rapidly became a revolt of the poor against racial injustice: the cabanos were mostly black and Indian or mixed-blood settlers who lived in relative poverty in cabaña huts on the flood plains and riverbanks around Belém and the lower Amazon riverbanks. Following years of unrest, the pent-up hatred of generations burst in August 1835. After days of bloody fighting, the survivors of the Belém authorities fled, leaving the cabanos in control. In the area around the city many sugar mills and fazendas were destroyed, and their white owners put to death. Bands of rebels roamed throughout the region, and in most settlements their arrival was greeted by the non-white populations spontaneously joining their ranks, looting and killing.

The rebellion was doomed almost from the start, however. Although the leaders attempted to form some kind of revolutionary government, they never had any real programme, nor did they succeed in controlling their own followers. A British ship became embroiled in the rebellion in October 1835, when it arrived unwittingly with a cargo of arms the authorities had ordered before their hasty departure a couple of months previously. The crew were killed and their cargo confiscated. Five months later, a British naval force arrived demanding compensation from the rebels for the killings and the lost cargo. The leader of the cabanos, Eduardo Angelim, met the British captain and refused any sort of compromise; British trade was now threatened, and the squadron bombarded and blockaded Belém. In May 1836 a force of 2500 Brazilian soldiers under the command of Francisco d’Andrea drove the rebels from Belém. Mopping-up operations continued for years, and by the time the Cabanagem Rebellion was completely over and all isolated pockets of armed resistance had been eradicated, some 30,000 people are estimated to have died – almost a third of the region’s population at that time.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Brazil features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Amazing new aerial images show uncontacted tribe in Brazil

Amazing new aerial images show uncontacted tribe in Brazil

Incredible aerial images of one of the Amazon rainforest's uncontacted tribes have been released by Survival International. The pictures, taken by photographer …

18 Nov 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
A sex-themed amusement park is set to open in Brazil

A sex-themed amusement park is set to open in Brazil

Forget about virtual-reality roller coasters, the future of theme parks just got a whole lot raunchier. Developers in Brazil are planning to build an adults…

13 May 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
23 brilliant pictures of Brazil

23 brilliant pictures of Brazil

This year sees the Olympics and Paralympics take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. If you're heading to Brazil to catch any of the sporting action, here are a fe…

04 Mar 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month