Frei Caneca

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Frei Caneca before execution

Joaquim da Silva Rabelo, later Frei Joaquim do Amor Divino Rabelo (August 20, 1779 – January 13, 1825[1]), commonly known as Frei Caneca (English: Brother Mug), was a Brazilian religious leader, politician, and journalist who was involved in multiple revolts in Northeastern Brazil during the early 19th century.[2]


Frei Caneca was the firstborn son of Portuguese parents. His father, Domingos da Silva Rabelo, was a cooper from whom he got his nickname. His mother, Francisca Maria Alexandrina de Siqueira, who was the cousin of a Carmelite nun. He was ordained into the Carmelite Order in 1801 and joined the Seminário de Olinda. There he taught rhetoric and geometry until the Pernambucan Revolt of 1817.

Participation in revolts[edit]

Recife being captured by Pernambucan rebels

Caneca's first foray into political life was during the Pernambucan Revolt, when Pernambuco and other nearby states rebelled against the Portuguese royal court, which had relocated to Brazil during the Peninsular War, because they felt that the government was ignoring the sugar-producing north in favor of the coffee-producing south, which was closer to Rio de Janeiro.[3] After the rebellion was put down, he was imprisoned in Salvador for four years.

Pardoned[4] in 1821, he and others soon grew frustrated with the constitution of the newly formed Empire of Brazil,[5][6] which limited autonomy in the provinces, and returned to secessionist politics, this time becoming a leader in the Confederation of the Equator by providing much of its intellectual support.[5][7] In addition, he published Typhis Pernambucano, a pro-Confederation newspaper critical of Pedro I and the imperial government from 1823 to 1824.[8]


After the defeat of the Confederation he was arrested by imperial troops[9] and charged with sedition and rebellion. On December 18 he was tried by a military commission, found guilty, and sentenced to death by hanging, but this sentence was changed to death by firing squad after three different executioners refused to hang him.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b UOL Educação
  2. ^ a b Homero do Rêgo Barros, Frei Caneca: herói e mártir republicano (1983), 8 pages
  3. ^
  4. ^ NOSSA HISTÓRIA. Year 3 issue 35. São Paulo: Vera Cruz, 2006, p.44
  5. ^ a b Enciclopédia Barsa. Volume 5: Camarão, Rep. Unida do – Contravenção. Rio de Janeiro: Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil, 1987, p.464
  6. ^ VAINFAS, Ronaldo. Dicionário do Brasil Imperial. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva, 2002, p.161
  7. ^ Dohlnikoff, Miriam. Pacto imperial: origens do federalismo no Brasil do século XIX. São Paulo: Globo, 2005, p.56
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ LUSTOSA, Isabel. D. Pedro I. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2007, p.176