Tiradentes: history, death and heroification

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, also known by the nickname “Tiradentes”, was consecrated for its active participation in the Mining Inconfidence. Tragically, he was the only one involved in the movement to receive the death penalty, as the others involved were pardoned by the Portuguese Crown.

From a family of humble origins, Joaquim José was born in Captaincy of Minas Gerais, on November 12, 1746. With the premature death of his parents, Joaquim José had to carry out numerous jobs throughout his life, such as amateur dentist, a function that gave him the nickname “Tiradentes”. He had also worked in mining, however, it was as a lieutenant in the ranks of the imperial cavalry that Tiradentes achieved a certain stability. Despite the lack of education, he was a convinced republican and adherent of the ideals of the Enlightenment.

Causes of Inconfidência Mineira

The movement of the Inconfidentes, organized in 1788, was a consequence of the contact of Brazilian colonists with the Enlightenment ideals disseminated in Europe, ideals that had, in turn, inspired the movement of

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independence of the United States.

Historians attribute the dissemination of Enlightenment thought in Brazil to the contact of Brazilian students with the Enlightenment when they were sent by their families from the economic elite of the colony to study at the University of Coimbra, in Portugal. Enlightenment ideals were very widespread, especially in the Captaincy of Minas Gerais, and this is explained by the fact that most of the Brazilian students in Coimbra are from Minas Gerais. General.

In addition to the propagation of Enlightenment ideals, the Inconfidência Mineira happened as a result of the dissatisfaction of the elites of the Captaincy of Minas Gerais with the heavy tax collection policy established by the Portuguese Crown on the colonists. O Viscount of Barbacena had been appointed by the Portuguese Crown as governor of the captaincy with the aim of promoting the spills, that is, the mandatory collection of taxes on the extraction of gold.

This spill had been determined by Portugal due to accumulated debts from taxes that were not being paid. The Portuguese intransigence in tax collection kept the collections high, even with the drop in the gold extraction in the region, which ended up generating the accumulation of debts.

Mining Inconfidence

Dissatisfaction with a possible spill mobilized the captaincy's elites against Portuguese rule. The inconfidentes planned to assassinate the governor of the captaincy and proclaim the republicanism in the Captaincy of Minas Gerais. Tiradentes was one of those involved in the conspiracy, as, in addition to being a defender of Enlightenment ideals, he had also been hampered by the management of Viscount Barbacena when he was removed from the command of the cavalry, which supervised an important road Of region.

The movement conspired by the mining elites, however, did not happen. All involved were denounced by Joaquim Silverio dos Reis, who opted to denounce the movement to get rid of the personal debts he had acquired with the Portuguese Crown. Thus, in 1789, Viscount de Barbacena suspended the spill and arrested those involved in the conspiracy – among them Tiradentes.

Arrest and Conviction of Tiradentes

Brazilian five-cent coin with Tiradentes face stamped
Brazilian five-cent coin with Tiradentes face stamped

The arrest of Tiradentes and other inconfidentes occurred after the wanton (investigation). The trial process of those involved in the Inconfidência extended for three years. During this period, many of the prisoners denied their participation in the movement, with the exception of Tiradentes, who openly acknowledged their involvement. Some historians also claim that during the interrogations, many of those involved denounced Tiradentes' role in the conspiracy.

The sentence of the Inconfidentes came out in 1792 and determined the death penalty by hanging to ten people. However, through Queen D. Maria I, nine of those involved in the Inconfidência were pardoned and sentenced to exile (expelled from Brazil), while the death sentence was maintained for only one: Tiradentes.

This fact is attributed to twopossibilities: a first he claims that Tiradentes was only sentenced because he did not belong to the mining elite and, therefore, had no influence in the Crown. THE Monday possibility raised by historians is that, by speaking openly of his involvement in the conspiracy during the interrogation, Tiradentes was considered a dangerous element by the Crown and, therefore, should be deleted.

Thus, Tiradentes was used as a scapegoat by the Portuguese Crown. He was hanged on the morning of April 21, 1792, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Then he had the body quartered into four parts and scattered along the Ouro Preto access road. His head was displayed on a stake placed in the city's central square. Tiradentes' conviction was used as a show of force by the Crown to prevent future rebellions from taking place.

Tiradentes as a hero

The figure of Tiradentes remained forgotten during the rest of the colonial period and also in the imperial period, mainly due to the republican character of those involved in the Inconfidência Mineira, as stated by historian Boris Fausto:

the episode [Inconfidência] bothered, as the conspirators had little sympathy for the monarchic form of government. In addition, the two emperors of Brazil were direct descendants of the Queen Dona Maria, responsible for the condemnation of the revolutionaries|1|.

Tiradentes' image as a hero was built with the Proclamation of the Republic. The republicans wanted to exalt the figures of Brazilian republicans in contrast to the times of monarchy and, because of that, Tiradentes was chosen for the character of his condemnation. A committed Republican, Tiradentes was exalted as a martyr of the republican movement and, therefore, a national hero.

As a result, the day of his execution, April 21, was established as a holiday, and his image became often portrayed similar to the crucified Christ, a way of relating Tiradentes as a martyr and hero.

|1| FAUSTO, Boris. History of Brazil. São Paulo: University of São Paulo Publisher, 2013, p. 103.

*Image credit: Public Domain | Paulista Museum Collection (USP)
By Daniel Neves
Graduated in History

Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/biografia/tiradentes-biografia.htm

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