War of Emboabas: context, causes, consequences –

A War of the Emboabaswhich took place between 1708 and 1709, involved from São Paulo and foreigners for dominating the exploration of the region of the mines. The bandeirantes from São Paulo were the first to discover gold in the region and wanted to be the only ones to explore the wealth. However, with the constant arrival of people from other Brazilian regions and also from Portugal, the bandeirante exclusivity did not materialize. It no longer mattered who was the first to arrive, but extracting the greatest possible number of gold and other precious metals that were found.

The conflict in the early 18th century brought moves to Colonial Brazil. The Brazilian hinterland began to be populated, as the coast no longer brought profit from sugar. The Portuguese crown was present, divided the captaincies of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and created the Captaincy of the Gold Mines. In addition, the collection of taxes became a routine for explorers in the region. It was possible to exploit precious metals as long as taxes were paid to the crown.

After the defeat of the Emboabas, the paulistas went to the region where today is Goiás and Mato Grosso, discovering new precious metal mines and expanding the gold cycle to western Brazil.

Read too: Hereditary captaincies – form of administration and colonization of Portuguese America

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Historical background of the War of Emboabas

Since arriving in Brazil in 1500, which the Portuguese sought precious metals In america. The Spaniards were already profiting from the metals found in their mainland domains, and the Portuguese believed that these new lands could also generate wealth for the king. However, as soon as they landed, they did not find any precious stones. As they did not want to lose the conquered lands on the other side of the Atlantic, the Portuguese extracted brazilwood, a tree that was found abundantly on the Brazilian coast. but it was in sugar cane that Portugal actually started exploring its new colony. If it was not possible to make wealth with precious metals, the solution was to profit from the sugar trade.

Between the 16th and 17th centuries, Brazil became a major sugar producer. The success of the Portuguese colony aroused the greed of several European nations, such as the Netherlands. The Dutch dominated the refining and sugar trade in Europe, but they also wanted to dominate the planting of sugarcane.

Thus, between the years 1630 to 1654, the Dutch invaded the NoBrazilian northeast and took over the sugar millsr. The Portuguese managed to expel the invaders from their colony after an intense battle, which caused serious damage to the sugar economy.

Expelled from Brazil, the Dutch left for the Antilles and there applied all the knowledge acquired while dominating the Brazilian Northeast. Like this, Holland became the main sugar trader and displaced Portugal. Unable to react to the competition, the Portuguese crown had to readjust itself to find new ways to continue making large profits in Brazil.

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Historical context of the War of Emboabas

The sugar crisis reignited the search for gold. If the coast was going through a major economic crisis due to the devaluation of sugar in the European market, the solution was to migrate to the interior of the colony It is explore its potential. The Portuguese crown organized expeditions that left the coast towards the Brazilian hinterland in search of precious metals. These expeditions were called Appetizer.

Further south was the Captaincy of São Vicente. Above the Serra do Mar, there was a village founded by the Jesuit priests called São Paulo de Piratininga. Unlike the Northeast, sugar production was not significant in the region. Paulistas lived a totally different life. The economy was subsistence, that is, for internal production, and not to supply the European market. Therefore, production was not as intense as in the Northeast.

The Paulistas needed labor and did not have free access to slave labor from Africa. It was necessary to move inland in search of the natives, who fled the coast after the arrival of the Portuguese. To the Flagsunlike Entrances, were expeditions that left São Paulo towards the Brazilian hinterland in search of Indians. The organization and financing of these expeditions were the responsibility of the Paulistas themselves, who, from then on, became known as bandeirantes. In addition, the Paulistas were also in search of precious metals. Countless legends circulated in Colonial Brazil, which awakened the adventurous spirit of the colonists. Lucas Figueiredo discusses this subject in the book “Boaventura – The gold rush in Brazil”.

In the mid-seventeenth century, Bandeirante expeditions began to occupy the hinterland. Some Indians collaborated during the trip, either as guides opening the way, or guiding the best way to resist for so long in an unknown region. Numerous highways that currently leave the capital of São Paulo were opened during this period, and names of the bandeirantes baptize many of them, such as Via Anhanguera, Rodovia Raposo Tavares, Rodovia dos Bandeirantes and Rodovia Fernão Dias.

At the end of the 17th century, the bandeirantes discovered the first gold mines in the region of Sabará (currently the city is located in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte). The first evidence of gold was found in river valleys and called “placer gold”. The news of the discovery of precious metals in the interior of Brazil provoked a rush of people eager to get rich. So they started to form the first cities, such as Vila Rica, São João Del Rei, Mariana.

The mining region was full of adventurers who left everything to change their lives with the extracted gold. As precious metals were discovered by private expeditions, the Portuguese Crown had not found a way to take over the region and begin to enjoy the profits from the extraction of the much desired wealth.

The agglomeration of people disputing the precious metals inch by inch generated conflicts. It didn’t matter if the bandeirantes were the first to arrive in the region and discover the gold, the mine belonged to whoever found it first. Anyone who found gold nuggets along the rivers could keep them. There were no rules for organizing the space. At one time or another, the region would be the scene of armed conflicts, as in fact it was between 1708 and 1709, when the War of Emboabas broke out.


A word “emboaba” has indigenous origin, from the Tupi language. The Indians used this term to name birds that had feathers all over their bodies. The bandeirantes were the first to arrive in the region of the mines, but the news of the discovery of gold provoked the arrival of thousands of people who also wanted to enjoy that wealth. The word “emboaba” was used by the bandeirantes to call the outsiders who arrived later in the region.

See too: General language – language used within the colony to establish communication with the indigenous people

Causes of the War of the Emboabas

The War of the Emboabas was motivated by the dispute over gold mines. The bandeirantes wanted to obtain from the Portuguese crown the right to exploit exclusively the precious metals found. However, the large number of Brazilians and Portuguese heading to the place made such a request unfeasible. The Guerra dos Emboabas was fought between bandeirantes from São Paulo and the other adventurers who arrived at the place later.

Before the war actually started, the people of São Paulo and Emboaba had already gone through some disagreements. The outsiders killed two São Paulo chiefs who tried to impose Bandeirante rule in the region. Contradicting the orders of the Portuguese crown, the Emboabas declared Manuel Nunes Viana as governor of the region of the mines and decided to expel the Paulistas.

The War of Emboabas involved both São Paulo and foreigners for dominance of the mining region in the early 18th century.


The main objective of the emboabas was to weaken the dominion of São Paulo. For this, Manuel Nunes Viana led combat expeditions. The Paulistas were led by the bandeirante Borba Gato. It was in a region called Capão da Traição, close to the current city of Tiradentes, in Minas Gerais, that the people of São Paulo and Emboaba fought the most tragic and decisive battle for the fate of the war. The Emboabas defeated the Paulistas and managed to exercise their dominion.

Borba Gato monument located on Avenida Santo Amaro, in São Paulo. The bandeirante fought against foreigners in the War of Emboabas.

End of the War of the Emboabas

The War of the Emboabas ended with the victory of foreigners. Despite being defeated, the people of São Paulo did not give up exploring for precious metals. They organized expeditions towards Mato Grosso and Goiás.

Consequences of the War of the Emboabas

After the end of the war, the Portuguese crown took the initiative to intervene directly in the region of mines, preventing it from becoming a free territory. There was the separation of the captaincies of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and also the creation of the Captaincy of Minas de Ouro. Another measure taken by the crown was the collection of taxes on mined gold. began to be charged fifththat is, one fifth of the gold extracted stayed with the king of Portugal.

The defeat of the Paulistas did not shake the hearts of the bandeirantes, that headed for Goiás and Mato Grosso, showing that the mining region was not concentrated in just one place. The exploration of gold promoted the interiorization of Brazil, and several villages were founded to accommodate adventurers who wanted to enrich themselves in the mines. The economy has also diversified, as it was not dependent only on the export of precious metals to the metropolis. Trade within villages became profitable.

The Portuguese crown intensified the supervision of gold exploration through the collection of taxes, which generated discontent among the miners. Portugal began to become a burden for Brazil, and the absolutist measures of the Portuguese king were one of the reasons that triggered a series of revolts in the mining region and also the possibility of Brazil becoming independent.

Also access: Inconfidência Mineira – separatist revolt organized by the Minas Gerais elite

solved exercises

Question 1 – Mark the alternative that correctly points out the reason that triggered the War of Emboabas.

A) Dispute for dominance of the region of the mines between São Paulo and foreigners.

B) The Emboabas wanted to avenge the Dutch invasion in 1640.

C) Attempt to proclaim the independence of Brazil.

D) Invasion of the Spanish in the region of the mines


Alternative A. The Paulistas were the first to discover gold mines in the interior of Brazil. Because of this, they hoped to obtain exclusivity in the exploration of precious metals. The arrival of people from other Brazilian regions and also from Portugal made the region very disputed, which led to the war.

Question 2 – What was the…