Millenarian Slaves? The Santidade de Jaguaripe and Slave Resistance in the Americas

by Alida C. Metcalf
Millenarian Slaves? The Santidade de Jaguaripe and Slave Resistance in the Americas
Alida C. Metcalf
The American Historical Review
Start Page: 
End Page: 
Select license: 
Select License

AHR Forum
Millenarian Slaves? The Santidade de Jaguaripe and
Slave Resistance in the Americas


RUMORSOF A NEW RELIGION SPREAD through the forests, parishes, and sugar plantations of the Bay of All Saints in the hinterland of Salvador da Bahia, capital of the Portuguese colony of Brazil, in the 1580s. By 1585, scores of Indians, many Africans, and virtually all of the mixed race Mamelucos (the offspring of Portu- guese men and Indian women) had heard of a congregation in the wilderness where participants had constructed their own temple, practicing rituals through which they achieved a state of holiness known as santidade. Mamelucos who joined the sect later described baptisms, prayers, speaking in tongues, "drinking" the sacred smoke of tobacco, and falling into trances verging on delirium. Believers proclaimed that on earth their crops would grow of their own accord, their vegetables would be bigger than those of others, and they would not want for food or drink. Furthermore, they proclaimed that "God was coming now to free them from their captivity and to make them lords of the white people" and that they would "fly to the sky," while "those who did not believe . . . would be converted into birds and animals of the forest." When some of the believers came from the wilderness and built a village and a temple on a sugar plantation in Jaguaripe, on the southern fringes of the bay, Indians, Africans, and Mamelucos from all over the bay came to be baptized by its female leader, known as "Mother of God." From its center in Jaguaripe, the religious frenzy spread to other parishes along the bay where believers embraced the sect and created their own congregations. Faced with a labor crisis on the sugar plantations and a conversion crisis in the missions, the governor of Bahia, the Jesuits, the bishop, and the city council of Salvador joined forces to destroy the sect.'

The author wishes to thank Drew Weston and Dorian Miller for research assistance, the participants in the Col6quio Internacional Brasil: Colonizaqfio e Escravidao (Lisbon, 1996) for comments on the first presented version of this article, faculty colleagues at the Dean's Faculty Symposium at Trinity University for their many suggestions, Sandra Lauderdale Graham and John McCusker for their careful reading of the article, Ronaldo Vainfas for responding to numerous questions, and Robert Rowland for allowing consultation of his unpublished index of the sixteenth-century trials of the Lisbon Inquisition.

* This description of the Santidade de Jaguaripe is drawn from the denunciation of Alvaro Rodrigues in the trial of Domingos Fernandes Nobre, Inquisicfio de Lisboa, hereafter, IL, 10,776, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon), hereafter, ANTT; and the confession of Gonqalo Fernandes, in his trial, IL 17,762, ANlT. There may have been two loosely linked (or recently separated) congregations in the wilderness; locating exactly where they were is difficult. References are to the Serra do Rios Grande, the Serra das Palmeiras, a place known as palmeiras compridas (tall

This episode, which scholars named "the Santidade de Jaguaripe," is an almost classic example of a millenarian movement. Millenarianism tends to arise among peoples who live in a "bitter and painful present" and who hope for "a radiant future wherein all evil will be erased."* During times of disaster, crises of subsistence, civil war, colonialism, the rapid spread of capitalism, or relative deprivation, millenarian ideas spread because "old myths about the meaning of humanity do not meet changing circumstances; they are no longer relevant."" Millenarian movements create a new mythology for those in despair and provide hope for a new world where evil is eradicated, oppression ended, and wrongs avenged. Believers are prepared to sacrifice in order to be among those who will be saved in the next world, the world of peace, harmony, equality, and happiness. Because believers see the world as fundamentally evil, they desire intensely that those who have caused that evil should pay for their sins.4 Not infrequently, this leads to deep and potentially devastating conflicts with established authorities.5

The Santidade de Jaguaripe is classic except for one crucial point: the partici- pation of sla~es.~

Many of those who believed in the movement in Brazil were slaves, and the beliefs of the sect directly addressed the condition of slavery. It might be supposed that the condition of slavery would make a fertile sowing ground for millenarian movements, but in fact there are very few historical accounts of such movements among slaves. This silence in the historiography warrants closer examination. Logically, it would seem that millenarianism ought to be a common response to slavery. More than thirty years ago, Vittorio Lanternari wrote that, in the Caribbean, "where the Negro population of African descent has suffered centuries-old oppression at the hands of European and American slave traders, conditions of life have prepared the ground for any religious cult which promises

palms), a place known in the Indian language as rioguasu, which the informant translated as "great cold." Jose Calasans believes it to have been in the Serra do Orobo; see Fernrio Cabral de Ataide e a santidade de Jaguaripe (Bahia, 1952), 11-12.

Vittorio Lanternari, The Religions of the Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messianic Cults, Lisa

Sergio, trans. (New York, 1963), xii.

Ted Daniels, Millennialism: An International Bibliography (New York, 1992), xxv.

Sacrifice may take the form of moving to a new holy city, sharing one's possessions, failing to plant the crops needed for survival, or passively withdrawing from the world to await the dawn of a new age. Retribution can be violent or nonviolent, but believers expect a superhuman agent to defeat the evil loose in the world; see G. W. Trompf, "Introduction," in Trompf, ed., Cargo Cults and Millenarian Movements: Transoceanic Comparisons of New Religious Movements (Berlin, 1990), 7.

Although millenarian movements are religious in tone, they invariably become political, and thus conflict escalates when sects challenge the right and authenticity of extant political authorities. Daniels, Millennialism, mi-miv. There are numerous historical examples of this conflict, for instance, that between the Sioux and the federal government, documented by James Mooney, The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890 (Lincoln, Neb., 1991); the 1896-1897 campaign of the Brazilian government against the millenarian movement lead by Antonio Conselheiro at Canudos, epically described by Euclides da Cunha, Rebellion in the Backlands, Samuel Putnam, trans. (Chicago, 1944); or the more recent conflict between federal agents and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, in 1993, described by Philip Lamy, Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy (New York, 1996), 159-91.

The extensive bibliography compiled by Ted Daniels, which annotates 787 studies and lists 3,762 titles, does not address slavery as a category for analysis. In the index, "slave" brings up only two titles: see Daniels, Millennialism. The exception is the studied presence of millennia1 themes in the slave religions of the U.S. South; see below.

freedom and independence to its follower^."^ Yet the historiography of slavery reveals few times when slaves adopted millenarianism to address their situation. Eric Hobsbawm shows how the rapid spread of modern capitalism into peasant societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries frequently created the context for millenarian movement^,^ yet the slave trade, which is cited by many scholars as a foundation for the development of the Atlantic economy and which deeply affected African and Native American societies from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, apparently rarely caused similar responses among slave^.^ Disaster is seen as one causative factor of millennial movements;lO slaves certainly experienced disasters and famines, be they in the Americas, Africa, or in the transatlantic or transcontinental slave trade; yet we have no documented examples of disasters causing millenarian movements among slaves. Millenarian resistance to the colonial order is a common theme in scholarly writings but not, it appears, for slaves in the colonial societies of Africa and the Americas.ll Is this silence in historical writing due to the fact that few such movements actually occurred? Or did millenarian movements among slaves arise but leave no trace in written sources? Do written sources exist that historians have overlooked or have failed to read to their fullest potential?12

For any or all of these reasons, the slaves who joined and led the congregations within the Santidade movement in Brazil stand out in the historical record as participants in a kind of experience as yet poorly documented or only vaguely understood by historians.13 In this article, I explore this example of slave millena-

Lanternari, Religions of the Oppressed, 158. Besides Jamaica, home to the Rastafarians, whose religion has millennial overtones, and the U.S. South (see below), no indication of a possible association between slavery and millennialism has surfaced in historical writing.

As articulated in E. J. Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries (New York, 1959), 57-92, the arrival of modern capitalism into a traditional peasant society brings cataclysmic effects as church estates are secularized, land enclosed, and customary rights taken away. Hobsbawm's remote Italian and Spanish villages find parallels elsewhere, when the old ways no longer work and the old understanding of the meaning of life fails to explain the present. For example, the Contestado Rebellion of Brazil (1912-1916) is characterized as a peasant rebellion against the encroachment of capitalism. Traditional patron-client relationships broke down as some members of the local elite cooperated with the capitalization of this once isolated region of southern Brazil, to the detriment of peasants. The millenarian movement promised to recreate an idealized past for peasants whose lives had been disrupted and worsened by the arrival of the railroad, lumber companies, and the loss of traditional land rights; see Todd Diacon, Millenarian Vision, Capitalist Reality: Brazil's Contestado Rebellion, 1912-1916 (Durham, N.C., 1991).

See Barbara L. Solow, ed., Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System (Cambridge, Mass., 1991); Joseph E. Inikori and Stanley L. Engerman, eds., The Atlantic Slave Trade: Effects on Economies, Societies, and Peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Europe (Durham, N.C., 1992); and John K. Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1680 (Cambridge, 1992).

10 Michael Barkun, Disaster and the Millennium (New Haven, Conn., 1974).

l1 Michael Adas, Prophets of Rebellion: Millenarian Protest Movements against the European Colonial Order (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1979), uses a comparative approach to investigate millenarian movements, sparked by the displacement of local elites, who sought to revive tradition and expel the foreigners.

12 See Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Boston, 1995), 26-30, on the four moments where silences enter historical production.

13 Slave resistance is of major interest to Brazilian history due to the importance of slavery in Brazilian development, but this literature has never explored whether slave resistance could have taken millenarian forms. See, for example, Maria Januaria Vilela Santos, Balaiada e a insurrei~do de escravos no Maranhao (SBo Paulo, 1983); C16vis Moura, Rebelibes da senzala: Quilombos, insurrei~des, guerrilhas, 3d edn. (SBo Paulo, 1981); Moura, Quilombos: Resist&ncia ao escravismo (SBo Paulo, 1987); Waldemar de Almeida Barbosa, Negros e quilombos em Minus Gerais (Belo Horizonte, 1972); Vicente Salles, 0 negro no Para: Sob o regime da escravidrio (Rio de Janeiro, 1971); Julio JosC Chiavenato, 0 negro no

rianism and suggest that it may represent a form of slave resistance possibly characteristic of early slavery elsewhere in the Americas. In making this assertion, I go a step beyond the usual characterization of the 1585 Santidade de Jaguaripe as a movement of Indians that emerged out of an indigenous Messianic tradition. I maintain that the Santidade de Jaguaripe is more fully understood as the impulse of the dominated in an alien colonial environment to create a new world and new identities for themselves, appropriating not only their own cultural traditions but also syncretic beliefs, language, and rituals drawn from their immediate experience in colonial society.14

The early letters and chronicles of Brazil describe a Messianic tradition that for many scholars holds the key to understanding the Santidade de Jaguaripe. After residing in Brazil for only a few months, for example, the leader of the Jesuit mission to Brazil, Manuel da Nobrega, wrote that the Indians "worshipped nothing nor knew God" and only had the following ceremony among themselves: from time to time, a "wizard" (hechizero) appeared in the villages and, projecting his voice through a gourd, preached that there was no need to work, that the crops would grow on their own, that arrows would hunt the game, that the old would become young, that warriors would kill many of their enemies, and that the people would eat many captives. After the preaching, the Indians, especially the women, began to

Brasil: Da senzala a Guerra do Paraguai (Slo Paulo, 1980); Lana Lage da Gama Lima, Rebeldia negra e abolicionismo (Rio de Janeiro, 1981); Jolo Jose Reis and Eduardo Silva, Negociacdo e conflito: A resisttncia negra no Brasil escravista (Slo Paulo, 1989); Pedro Tomas Pedreira, 0s quilombos brasileiros (Salvador, 1973); and Maria Amelia Freitas Mendes de Oliveira, A Balaiada no Piaui (Teresina, 1985). Stuart B. Schwartz's review of the literature on slave resistance, Slaves, Peasants, and Rebels: Reconsidering Brazilian Slavery (Chicago, 1992), similarly reveals no discussion of millenarianism among slaves. Even the most recent scholarship contains no analysis of millenarianism; see JoBo Jose Reis and Flavio dos Santos Gomes, Liberdade por um Jio: Histbria dos quilombos no Brasil (SBo Paulo, 1996). A few scholars consider the possibility of millenarianism in the 1835 malt (Muslim) uprising in Bahia; see Howard Prince, "Slave Rebellion in Bahia, 1807-1835" (PhD dissertation, Columbia University, 1972); and Viania Alvim, "Movimentos profeticos, prk-politicos e contra-culturais dos negros islamizados na Bahia do seculo XIX: A Revolta dos Malis" (Tese de Mestrado, Universidade Federal da Bahia, 1975). Jolo Jose Reis rejects this approach by stating that millenarians destroy the world and wait for divine reconstruction, while the malts wanted to reconstruct their world with their own hands. See "Um balan~o dos estudos sobre as revoltas escravas da Bahia," in Escraviddo e inven~rio da liberdade: Estudos sobre o negro no Brasil, Reis, ed. (Slo Paulo, 1988), 119. In his outstanding study of the revolt, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia, Arthur Brakel, trans. (Baltimore, 1993), however, Reis inadvertently describes millennial overtones to the revolt. The rebellion was planned to coincide with Ramadan, the "night of destiny"; this celebration "was to be the first act of a new era" (p. 119, emphasis mine). The rebels believed that "the serious defenders of and participators in the white slave society were on the side of evil, whereas the apocalyptic Islamic militants were on the side of good, and were joyous because they were working for a just transformation of the world" (p. 120, emphasis mine). Reis describes how the rebels wore amulets inscribed with religious texts, which they believed would protect them in the fray: " 'Victory comes from Allah. Victory is near. Glad tidings for all believers,' promised the millennia1 text in one amulet confiscated by the police," writes Reis (p. 120, emphasis mine). It is entirely possible that the malt revolt did have millenarian influences, given that Islam has its own tradition of millenarianism, which revolves around the coming of a savior, or Mahdi, who will deliver the believers into the new age, a time of universal justice and well-being before the end of the world. See Said Amir Arjomand, "Islamic Apocalypticism in the Classical Period," in The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, Bernard McGinn, John J. Collins, and Stephen J. Stein, eds. (New York, 1999), 2: 238-83.

14 See, for example, how critics describe the process of creating a postcolonial literature in Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures (London, 1989), 195.

shake, throw themselves on the ground, and froth at the mouth; the wizard would cure them and holiness (santidad) would enter them.15

In 1952, Jose Calasans wrote the first modern history of the Santidade de Jaguaripe and hinted that it belonged within the context of the periodic appearance among Brazilian Indians of individuals known as caraibas, who were perceived to possess supernatural powers.16 Subsequently, sociologists, anthropologists, and historians drew on the work of Curt Nimuendaju-Unkel, Alfred Metraux, Egon Schaden, and Helkne and Pierre Clastres on Tupi-Guarani religion to understand the phenomenon of the caraiba and the periodic migrations undertaken by the Tupi Guarani in search of a "land without evil."l7 Only brief descriptions of the Santidade of Jaguaripe, however, appeared in the scholarly literature,18 until Ronaldo Vainfas's monograph A heresia dos indios brought the movement into sharper focus. Vainfas argues that the caraiba tradition of Messianic leadership, combined with the Tupi-Guarani migrations seeking the "land without evil," took on a new form in the Santidade de Jaguaripe. Because the sect was influenced by Christianity, however, he views its indigenous rituals as less "authentic" than those of previous Messianic movements. Vainfas characterizes the Santidade de Jaguar- ipe as an "insurgent idolatry," a form of indigenous resistance to col~nialism.~~

I would like to suggest an alternate reading of the Santidade de Jaguaripe: that it was a millenarian movement of slaves. Of all the scholars who have written about the Santidade de Jaguaripe, only Roger Bastide suggests a possible link between slavery and millenarianism. In a brief reference to the Santidade de Jaguaripe in his larger study on African religions in Brazil, Bastide writes, "Sociologically the cult belongs to the category of messianism; it is heavily charged with resentment-the slave's resentment of his master, the native Indian's resentment of his conqueror- and it prophetically proclaims the victim's ultimate revenge against the Europe-

's Informapio das terras do Brasil do P. Manuel da Ndbrega, Bahia, August 1549, in Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, Monumenta Brasiliae (Rome, 1956), 1: 150-52.

l6 Calasans, Ferndo Cabral de Ataide, 5-9.

l7 See Curt Nimuendaju-Unkel, Los mitos de creacion y de destruccion del mundo como fundamentos

de la religion de 10s Apapokuva-Guarani, Juergen Riester G., ed. (Lima, 1978); Alfred MCtraux, "Migrations historiques des Tupi-Guarani," Journal de la SociCtC des AmCricanistes de Paris 19 (1931): 1-47; Metraux, La religion des Tupinamba et ses rapports avec celle des autres tribus Tupi-Guarani (Paris, 1928), 201-52; MCtraux, "Messiahs of South America," Interamerican Quarterly 3, no. 2 (1941): 53-60; Egon Schaden, Acultura@o e messianismo entre indios brasileiros (SBo Paulo, 1972); and HClkne Clastres, The Land-without-Evil: Tupi-Guarani Prophetism, Jacqueline Grenez Brovender, trans. (Urbana, Ill., 1995). Within the literature, there is disagreement over whether the prophetic movements existed before colonization or emerged as a result of it; see Carlos Fausto, "Fragmentos de historia e cultura Tupinamba: Da etnologia como instrumento critic0 de conhecimento etno-historico," in Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, ed., Histdria dos Indios no Brasil (SBo Paulo, 1992), 385-87.

18 Maria Isaura Pereira de Queiroz places it within a typology of primitive Messianic movements in Brazil in 0 messianismo no Brasil e no mundo (SBo Paulo, 1965), 146-48, while Rene Ribeiro sees it as part of the pre-conquest and early colonial movements in "Brazilian Messianic Movements," in Sylvia L. Thrupp, ed., Millenial Dreams in Action: Studies in Revolutionary Religious Movements (New York, 1970), 57. Two well-researched descriptions of the movement were published by Sonia Siqueira, "A elabora~io da espiritualidade do Brasil colBnia: 0 problema do sincretismo," Anais do Museu Paulista 36 (1975): 211-28; and Stuart B. Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society, Bahia, 1550-1835 (Cambridge, 1985), 47-50.

19 Ronaldo Vainfas, A heresia dos indios: Catolicismo e rebeldia no Brasil colonial (SBo Paulo, 1995), 64-69. Vainfas also relies on Schwartz's careful situation of the movement as part of a larger phenomenon of indigenous resistance in the larger economic history of Indian slavery and the growth of sugar plantations in Bahia (see Sugar Plantations, 47-50).

Chapada do Araripe





Although Bastide did not view millennialism as an important part of African religion in Brazil, arguing that African-Brazilians did not initiate their own millenarian movements,21 a careful reading of the Santidade de Jaguaripe suggests that Indian and African slaves used millennia1 ideas to construct their own religious experience. In calling the Santidade de Jaguaripe a movement of slaves, I do not deny that it was influenced by the indigenous tradition. However, I argue that the

20 Roger Bastide, The African Religions of Brazil: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetration of Civilizations, Helen Sebba, trans. (Baltimore, 1978), 173-74. Bastide sees the sect as an example of indigenous Messianism and as an early manifestation of catimbo-an indigenous popular religion in which African-Brazilians participated but did not lead.

21 Bastide argued that a distinctly black Messianism never emerged in Brazil because African religion survived in a pure state there, which kept the "black attuned to nature, not [to] a problematical future," and because Brazilian "society had no color line and therefore no pariah group." African Religions of Brazil, 362-63. Although portions of this assertion ring hollow today, Bastide's influence over the writing of the history of slavery in Brazil has caused many scholars to accept his view that slavery and millennialism do not mix. For example, Queiroz in 0 messianismo no Brazil, 299-300, follows Bastide in her analysis of blacks in Brazil. Rene Ribeiro is one of the few to question this assumption. In "Messianic Movements in Brazil," he states that "Bastide was unable to explain why the Brazilian black, while relegated to the lowest rung of the social scale and subject to the most severe frustrations, has never had recourse to messianic movements." Luso Brazilian Review 29 (1992): 76.

movement was a new creation in response to the radically new situations slaves encountered in the emerging colonial society.

FORTHE HISTORIAN TRYING TO RECONSTRUCT the meanings and experience of the Santidade de Jaguaripe, the postcolonial insight that "language is power because words construct reality" leads to nagging doubts when confronting the sources at hand, all of which were written from the perspective of colonial authorities.22 The written sources for the Santidade de Jaguaripe consist of a Jesuit annual letter from 158523 (presumably, other Jesuit sources exist or existed24) and trials from the Portuguese Inquisition. The trials that describe the sect date from 1591 and 1592, when a Visiting Inquisitor arrived in Bahia to establish a temporary presence of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.25 Because the inquisitor had heard many residents of Salvador and the RecBncavo denounce the Portuguese and the mixed-race Mame- lucos who tolerated and participated in the rituals of the sect, he tried six of those so accused.26 It is only because of these trials that historians can reconstruct the sect at all. Yet these descriptions come to us in the written language, terminology, and codes of the Inquisition. The denunciations, confessions, and interrogations contained in the trials never record first-person accounts but, rather, are written in the more remote third person used by the notary. Beyond the fact that the statements of individuals were transformed by the notary of the Inquisitorial court, the historian can never know how individuals tailored their confessions and denunciations to reveal or to hide what they did or did not know, or to protect or to incriminate those around them. Descriptions of millenarian movements inevita- bly represent the opinions and information of unsympathetic outsiders, and the Santidade de Jaguaripe is no exception. Virtually all the denunciations were made by individuals who had little direct experience with the sect, while the confessions of those who did believe each contained a statement recanting those beliefs. The Inquisitorial court did not record the testimonies of any Indian or African slaves

22 Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin, Empire Writes Back, 89.

23 Jesuit annual letter of 1585, Annuae Litterae Societatis Iesu, Anni MDLXYXV (Rome, 1587), 129-41. I thank Ronaldo Vainfas, Sandra Lauderdale Graham, and Richard Graham for locating and copying the letter, and Colin Wells for translating it from the Latin text.

z4 Jesuit historian Pierre du Jarric wrote about the Santidade de Jaguaripe: R. P. Petri Iarrici, Thesaurus Rerum Indicarum (Coloniae Agrippinae [Cologne], 1615), 374-78; and Histoire des choses plus memorubles advenues tout en Indes Orientales que autrespais de la decouverte des Portugais, 3 vols. (Bordeaux, 1608-lo), 2: 319-23, which suggests that he may have had access to other sources. The great Jesuit historian of Brazil, Serafim Leite, S.I., however, notes only the annual letter of 1585; see Historia da Companhia de Jesus no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 1938), 2: 22-24.

25 The books of denunciations and confessions were first published as Primeira visitapio do Santo Oficio as partes do Brasil pelo Licenciado Heitor Furtado de Mendon~a: Confissdes da Bahia 1591-1592 (Rio de Janeiro, 1935); and Prirneira visita~iio do Santo Oficio aspartes do Brasilpelo Licenciado Heitor Furtado de Mendonfa: DenunciafBes da Bahia 1591-1593 (SBo Paulo, 1925). Ronaldo Vainfas has produced a new edition of the confessions of the first Inquisitorial visit; see Santo Oficio da Inquisi$to de Lisboa, ConfissBes da Bahia (S2o Paulo, 1997). The full trial records of those tried for participation in the sect are only to be found in the Inquisi~Bo de Lisboa collection of the ANTT.

26 The six trials are Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776, ANTT; Fern20 Cabral de Tayde, IL 17,065, ANTT; Gon~alo Fernandes, IL 17,762, ANTT; Iria Alvarez, IL 1,335, ANTT; Cristov20 de Bulhbis IL 7,950, ANTT; and Pantaligo Ribeiro, IL 11,036, ANTT. The trial of Marcos Tavares, IL 11,080, ANTT, makes reference to his belief in the Santidade, as does the incomplete trial of Heitor Antunes, IL 4,309, ANTT.

who participated in the sect. The historian cannot even list the names of the believers.

Flawed as these sources are, they do produce a picture of the movement, at least as it was seen by the Jesuit Provincial in 1585 and recorded by the Inquisition notary in 1591 and 1592. According to these sources, the movement began when an Indian known simply as Antonio began to preach in the wilderness beyond Jaguaripe, outside the Bay of All Saints. Antonio had been raised in a Jesuit mission on the island of TinharC and from there had fled into the wilderness, where he "invented" the sect.27 Rumors spread rapidly through the Bay of All Saints that "Saint Mary Our Lady, Mother of God" had appeared among the Indians.28 Indians, both free and slave, ran away from the plantations of the Portuguese to join the sect. A Portuguese sugar planter, Fern50 Cabral de Tayde, proposed to the governor of Bahia that he would send his veteran Mameluco backwoodsman, interpreter, and Indian slaver, Domingos Fernandes Nobre, to find the sect in the interior and bring it to his estate in Jag~aripe.~~

Nobre led a troop of twenty Mamelucos and eighty Indian archers into the backlands. There they found Antonio and eighty followers.30 The Mamelucos then participated in the sect's rituals. According to Nobre, they only feigned enthusiasm, because their ulterior motive was to bring the sect to Cabral's estate. Nobre did send some sixty followers to Cabral's plantation, but he remained in the wilderness ostensibly to persuade the rest, and Antonio the "Pope," to go to Jaguaripe, too. Cabral, apparently interested in acquiring more laborers for his plantation, allowed those who came from the wilderness to build a village and a tem~le.3~

A woman known as "Mother of God" led the temple in Jaguaripe, and

27 Antonio's Indian name was Tamanduare according to Paulos Dias, who also said that he had "heard" that Antonio "used to be of the Jesuits." See his confession in the trial of Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776, ANTT. Bras Diaz stated that Antonio had been raised in the "missions" of the Jesuits and that he had invented the sect; see his confession in Confissdes da Bahia, 159. The island of TinharC is just to the south of Jaguaripe, in the Captaincy of Ilheus. The Jesuits had two missions on the island, both of which were founded in 1561, at the request of an Indian chief of the region who had been baptized; see Antonio Blasquez to Diogo Lainez, September 1, 1561, Monurnenta Brasiliae, 3: 424-27. At their founding, the missions had 6,000 residents. However, the missions were shortlived due to the severe plague and famine that broke out in 1563-1564. A vivid description of the terror of that plague, which apparently arrived on a ship that landed at Ilheus, is recounted in Leonardo do Vale to Gon~alo Vaz de Melo, May 12, 1563, Monurnenta Brasiliae, 4: 9-22. According to Serafim Leite, the Indians fled from the two mission villages after the plague; Histdria da Cornpanhia de Jesus, 2: 58.

28 Cross-examination of Cristovio de BulhBis in his trial, IL 7,950, ANTT; confession of Luisa Rodriguez, Confissdes da Bahia, 206.

29 See the trial of Fernio Cabral, especially the letter of Manoel Telles Barreto, IL 17,065, ANTT, as well as the trial of Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776, ANTT. Nobre, widely known by his Indian nickname "Tomacauna," is a fascinating example of a mixed race go-between. Because he was able to negotiate the Indian and the Portuguese worlds, he and others like him were invaluable allies to the early Portuguese colonists. See Alida C. Metcalf, "Intermediarios no mundo portugu&s: Lan~ados, pombeiros e mamelucos do sCculo XVI," Sociedade Brasileira de Pesquisa Histdrica 13 (1997): 3-13.

30 See the trials of Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776, ANTT; CristovHo de BulhBis, IL 7,950, ANTT; and Pantaliio Ribeiro, IL 11,036, ANTT.

31 The most obvious explanation for Cabral's behavior was that he sought to obtain labor for his plantation. His kinsman, for example, stated that, through his initiative, he brought the Indians from the wilderness, suggesting that Cabral paid for the expedition in the same way that other planters paid for expeditions to obtain Indians from the wilderness. See denunciation of Francisco d'Abreu, in Denuncia~des da Bahia, 315-16. When the Visiting Inquisitor asked Domingos de Oliveira why Cabral behaved as he did. Oliveira responded that it was to "acquire the Indians"; Denuncia~des da Bahia, 266. Domingos de Almeida stated that "it was said" that Cabral consented to the Santidade so as to acquire many slaves; Denuncia~des da Bahia, 251.

soon her fame spread to other plantati0ns.3~ Not only did slaves flee from their masters and seek the sect in Jaguaripe, but new congregations sprang up in other parishes of the Bay of All Saint~.3~

It was said that Cabral entered the sect's temple on several occasions and doffed his hat as a sign of respect, as did others, including the nephew of the g0vernor.3~

The governor of Brazil, who resided in Salvador, ordered Cabral to dismantle the sect; but Cabral stalled, arguing that to do so would endanger Nobre, who was still in the wilderness negotiating with Antonio. Unwilling to wait, the governor dispatched troops under the command of the Portuguese sugar planter Bernaldimo Ribeiro da Gram to Cabral's estate. There, Cabral refused to help Gram, saying that they would all be killed; but Gram went to the temple anyway, where in the Indian language, he persuaded them to surrender. He burned the temple and took the idol and holy books to the g0vernor.3~

Meanwhile, the governor had sent the Mameluco sugar planter ~lvaro Rodrigues and his brother Rodrigo Martins to the wilderness to imprison the rest of the sect's followers. Rodrigues testified that he found many congregations, all of which he destroyed "by force of arms." In some battles, he destroyed the faith of the believers by singling out the leaders, who claimed that no sword or chain could hurt them, and executing them in front of their followers.36

None of the confessions or denunciations speak clearly of the fate of Antonio. In the annual letter, however, the Jesuit Provincial wrote that some of the mission Indians, having fallen prey to "the ancient serpent" and having succumbed to the "poison" of the sorcerer (Antonio?), saw the light. For when the sorcerer was passing through, they imprisoned and beat him until the Jesuits intervened to save his life. Then the sorcerer was sent to the governor, who put him on trial. The outcome, according to the Jesuits, was that "he who a little before had made himself God was dragged in public through the villages to be the sport and mockery of everyone."37 Turning him over to the Indians who had apprehended him, the Jesuit letter continues, the governor expected him to be killed, and the Indians obliged, by hanging him. But the governor himself stated in another document that the "pope"

32 Francisco d'Abreu, Denuncia~des da Bahia, 315-16; Antonio da Fonsequa, Denunciaedes da Bahia, 346-47; Domingos de Oliveira, Denuncia~des da Bahia, 264-65; Bernaldimo Ribeiro da Gram, Denunciaedes da Bahia, 381-82; Belchior da Fonsequa, Denunciaedes da Bahia, 276-78; and others refer to the role of this woman known as "Mother of God" or "St. Mary" on Cabral's estate.

33 Gon~aloFernandes stated in his confession that the fame of the sect was so great throughout the Captaincy of Bahia that all Indians, both slave and free, either fled from their masters to join the sect at Jaguaripe or adopted the sect's beliefs and followed its rituals where they were; see his trial, IL 17,762, ANTT. Maria Antunes described a Mameluca woman in Matoim who joined her slaves and did the ceremonies with them; Denunciaedes da Bahia, 411.

34 Trial of Ferngo Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT. The confession of Cristov50 de Bulhdis, IL 7,950, ANTT, states that the governor's nephew had also entered the temple and revered the idol.

35 Francisco d'Abreu, Denunciaedes da Bahia, 315-16; Bernaldimo Ribeiro da Gram, Denunciaedes da Bahia, 381-82; Manoel Telles Barreto to Bernaldimo Ribeiro da Gram in the trial of Fern50 Cabral. Cabral, however, states in his confession that he ordered the sect disbanded and the temple burned. He further states that he gave over to the governor the "Mother of God," her husband, and all the slaves whom he had ordered brought from the wilderness to his estate; see trial of Fern50 Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT.

36 See the certidao of Manoel Telles Barreto and the denunciations of kvaro Rodrigues and Diogo Dias in the trial of Fern20 Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT; Vainfas, A heresia dos indios, 98-99. 37 Jesuit annual letter of 1585, Annuae Litterae.

disappeared and fled and there was no further news. Other leaders of the sect, such as the "Mother of God," were sent to Portugal.38

The Visiting Inquisitor responded to all of this information in what seems to the modern reader to be a surprising fashion. He singled out the Portuguese sugar planter Cabral, who had tolerated the sect on his plantation, and ordered him imprisoned. Setting and then catching Cabral in a perjury trap, the inquisitor sentenced Cabral to a stiff fine and banished him from Brazil for two years. Nobre and the other Mamelucos who confessed to joining in the ceremonies in order to bring the congregation to Jaguaripe were given spiritual penitences to complete and ordered never to return to the wilderness. Gonqalo Fernandes, who confessed to believing in the sect while a teenager, was given spiritual penitences, a small fine, and ordered not to return to the wilderness. Iria Alvares, whom the inquisitor interrogated to get her to confess that she had forced her son into the sect, was ordered to appear at the Inquisition's public auto-da-fe with a lit candle and instructed to meet regularly with her confessor.39

With these measures, the inquisitor dealt with the lingering memories of the Santidade de Jaguaripe. From his perspective, the case was closed. But the historian must revisit the sources over and over to piece together what the Santidade de Jaguaripe might have meant to its believers. These sources leave many unanswered questions. But they do reveal a compelling picture of a passionate community, composed primarily of slaves, that defined itself in opposition to the colonial order, using a new kind of language and religious ritual.

WHENTHE MILLENARIAN MOVEMENT known as Santidade arose, Brazil was still at an early stage of colonial evolution. Although Pedro ~lvares Cabral's voyage from Lisbon in 1500 resulted in the official discovery of Brazil, systematic colonization, especially of the Bay of All Saints region, did not begin until 1549. In that year, King Jodo I11 dispatched a royal governor for all Brazil to reside at Salvador, and authorized the Society of Jesus to begin the evangelization of the Indians. As the capital of Brazil and the residence of the Jesuits, Salvador took on new importance as the site at which colonial authority and Christian evangelization would be made visible. The Jesuits began learning Indian languages to aid in conversion, while the governor encouraged the development of sugar plantations, which the king envisioned as the economic engine of Brazil.40 Because the sugar planters depended

38 Cabral claimed that he gave the idol, the leader of the sect ("Mother of God"), her husband, and slaves who followed them to the governor; IL 17,065, ANTT. Francisco d'Abreu stated that the leaders were sent to Portugal; Denuncia~des da Bahia, 316; Manoel Telles Barreto stated that he sent "Mai de Deus" (Mother of God) and her husband to Portugal, but that the "pope" had disappeared; certiddo of Barreto in the trial of Fern50 Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT.

39 Trials of Fern20 Cabral, IL 17,065; Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776; Gon~alo Fernandes IL 17,762; Iria Alvarez, IL 1,335; Cristovio de BulhBis, IL 7,950; and Pantali50 Ribeiro, IL 11,036, ANTT.

40 On the history of sugar production in Brazil, and its modeling on the experience of the Atlantic islands, see Schwartz, Sugar Plantations, 3-27. On the history of the early Jesuits in Brazil, the work of Serafim Leite provides a comprehensive if uncritical foundation; see Histbria da Companhia de Jesus, vols. 1-2; for a modern synthesis, see Dauril Alden, The Making of an Enterprise: The Society of Jesus in Portugal, Its Empire, and Beyond, 1540-1750 (Stanford, Calif., 1996), 71-75, 474-83.

on Indians for labor and because Indian slavery quickly became the norm, Jesuits soon clashed with colonists over Indian slavery.41 Epidemics in the 1560s and 1570s decimated the Jesuit missions and created labor shortages for planters.

During the 1580s, slavery expanded in Bahia, and the Jesuits initiated a new ministry for slaves. These two factors would influence the Santidade de Jaguaripe. The decline of the Indian population was by then indisputable. A Jesuit writer wrote during the 1580s that whereas the Jesuits (who numbered seventy in their collegio of Bahia in 1584)42 once ministered to 40,000 Indians living in fourteen missions, only three missions still remained, with less than 3,500 Indians.43 Even with this catastrophic decline, the plagues had not yet stopped. In the annual Jesuit letter of 1581, the head of the Brazilian mission field, the Jesuit Provincial JosC de Anchieta describes a devastating plague of smallpox and then dysentery in Bahia, which claimed the lives of 9,000. On the plantations, not only did the mills stop, but the cassava roots, essential for subsistence, were not planted. "Masters and mistresses, and their children, served their slaves," he wrote, "but not even this was enough to stop the majority of them from dying."44 The numbers of African slaves began to increase as planters turned to new labor sources. Certainly, African slaves were in Bahia before 1580, but in few numbem45 Anchieta wrote in 1581 that "the slave trade from GuinC has increased greatly, and this year we are certain that more than two thousand have entered in this city [of Salvador] alone."46 Planters also outfitted expeditions in search of new Indian slaves in the Brazilian interior, while Jesuits dispatched trained linguists to coax Indians to leave their tribal homelands

41 The initial colonization of Brazil rested on Indian slavery, and Indian slavery persisted even after the slave trade from Africa was well established in the seventeenth century. Jesuits found themselves in an awkward position between the colonists, whom they wanted to enlist in their evangelical mission to the Indians, and the Indians, whom they wanted to protect from slavery. See Thomas M. Cohen, The Fire of Tongues: Antonio Vieira and the Missionary Church in Brazil and Portugal (Stanford, Calif., 1998), 13-49; and Alden, Making of an Enterprise, 479-501. On the devastating impact of Indian slavery in sixteenth-century Bahia, see Schwartz, Sugar Plantations, 28-72. Similar patterns repeated themselves elsewhere in later centuries; see John Manuel Monteiro, Negros da terra: Indios e bandeirantes nus origens de SBo Paulo (Sgo Paulo, 1994); John Hemming, Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians (Cambridge, Mass., 1978); and David Sweet, "Rich Realm of Nature Destroyed: The Central Amazon Valley, 1640-1750" (PhD dissertation, University of Wjsconsin, 1974). On the Portuguese legislation regarding Indian slavery, see Beatriz Perrone-MoisCs, "Indios livres e indios escravos: 0s principios da legisla@o indigenista do period0 colonial (sCculos XVI a XVIII)," in M. Cunha, Histdria dos indios no Brasil, 115-32.

42 Informacion de 10s padres y hermanos que ay de la Companhia de Jesus en el Brasil y sus occupaciones, 1584, Provincia Brasiliensis et Maragnonensis, hereafter, BRAS, 5, 1: 18, Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, hereafter, ARSI.

43 This report, known as "Informa@o dos primeiros aldeiamentos da Bahia" or "Primeiros Aldeamentos na Baia," has been attributed to Jose de Anchieta. However, HClio Abranches Viotti believes that Anchieta did not write the report himself, although as Jesuit Provincial he certainly ordered it written. Viotti believes the probable author to be Luis da Fonseca or possibly Quiricio Caxa. For the text, see JosC de Anchieta, Textos historicos (Rio de Janeiro, 1989), 153-87. It is also printed in Anchieta, Cartas: Informag3es fragmentos histdricos e sermdes (Belo Horizonte, 1988), 357-402; and Anchieta, Primeiros Aldeamentos na Baia (Rio de Janeiro, 1946).

44 Carta Anua, 1581, in JosC de Anchieta, S.J., Cartas: CorrespondCncia ativa e passiva, HClio Abranches Viotti, S.J., ed. (S5o Paulo, 1984), 308.

45 Schwartz notes that in the 1550s and 1560s there were virtually no African slaves on the sugar plantations of the Northeast. By 1591, the Atlantic slave trade brought a steady supply of African slaves, and, while Indian slaves still labored on the plantations, Africans held the skilled jobs. See Sugar Plantations, 66-68. The Jesuits owned African slaves as early as 1558, and by 1583 the collegio of Bahia owned sevenAty African slaves; see Alden, Making of an Enterprise, 507-09.

46 Carta Anua, 1581, in Anchieta, Cartas: Correspondtncia, 312.

for the declining missi0ns.~7 Thus, in the 1580s, new Indian slaves entered Bahia from the wilderness while new slaves from Africa arrived in the port. These Indian and African slaves would labor side by side on the sugar plantations of the Bay of All Saints.

According to a Jesuit, the population of Bahia at the approximate time of the Santidade de Jaguaripe was 25,500. Of these, 8,000 were baptized Indians who worked for the Portuguese as slaves or as free workers in name. Some 2,500 Indians lived in the three mission villages directly under the control of the Jesuits, while 3,000 were African slaves. Those Indian tribes beyond the control of the Portuguese colonists and Jesuits were not enumerated. (See the Table.)

At the time of the Santidade de Jaguaripe, many known and unknown Indian tribes still lived in the wilderness beyond the control of the Portuguese. A new religious movement among such Indians might go unnoticed and was beyond the immediate control of the Jesuits or the governor. What made the Santidade de Jaguaripe threatening to the Jesuits was that it appealed to Christians, that is, to Indians and Africans whom they had already converted and baptized into the faith. To the Jesuits, it was immaterial whether the participants were slaves or free; what mattered was that their participation threatened their Christian salvation. For the colonists and the governor, the movement was made dangerous by its appeal to slaves and free workers who fled from the plantations, bringing the mills to a halt. Planters cared less about the religious heresies of their slaves and free workers (as we see from the behavior of the sugar planter Fern50 Cabral) and more about the numbers of laborers available to work their fields and mills. Combining these two perspectives reveals that the Santidade de Jaguaripe was a movement of baptized slaves and free workers. It was not a movement of Indians independent of the planters and Jesuits, and it was not a movement of Indians untouched by Christian evangelization.

How can we know exactly who participated in the Santidade? A careful reading of those statements that denounce Cabral and Nobre (most made by Portuguese- born colonists) reveals the perception that the sect appealed to the Indians and Africans under the control of the Portuguese colonists. De facto Indian slavery was the norm in Bahia at this time. Indians who lived as virtual slaves in the houses and worked the plantations of the Portuguese colonists were not necessarily enslaved legally. The crown had issued mixed signals on Indian slavery, and Portuguese colonists liberally interpreted the royal decrees. Although the Indians who lived on their plantations might be free in name, they still lived under the authority of the plantation owner. The term gentio, literally "gentile," was the most frequent term

47 In the Chapada do Araripe, some 180 leagues from Salvador, for example, the Jesuits clashed with the Mameluco slave hunters commissioned by the sugar planters. The Jesuits intended to bring a thousand Indians to their coastal missions, but Mameluco slave traders preached against the Jesuits and convinced many of the Indians to turn against them.AThe Jesuits returned with only 250 Indians, while the traders enslaved many of the others; see Carta Anua, 1581, in Anchieta, Cartas: Correspond&ncia, 310-11; and Anchieta, "Informa@o dos primeiros aldeiamentos," Textos histdricos, 153-87. The text "Articles touching the dutie of the Kings Majestie our Lord, and to the common good of all the estate of Brasill," in Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgn'mes (Glasgow, 1906), 16: 503-17, possibly authored by Fern50 Cardim, contains a long description of the Indian slaving expeditions of Mamelucos. See also the Inquisition trial of Francisco Pires, a Mameluco slave trader, who confessed to preaching against the Jesuits; IL 17,809, ANTT.

Population of Bahia at the Time of the Santidade Movement, 1583

Number Percent

Portuguese 12,000 47

Christian Indians
(free and enslaved)

African Slaves 3,000 12

Mission Indians 2,5001 10

Total 25,500 100

SOURCE:"Enformacion de la Provincia del Brasil para Nuestro Padre," Bahia, December 13, 1583 (Provincia Brasiliensis et Maragnonensis, 15, 333-39, Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu); also published by Frederic Mauro, Le Bresil au XVIIe sikcle: Documents inidits relatifs a I'Atlantiqueportugais (Coimbra, 1961).

NOTES: *In the context of the document, these Christian Indians are working in either the sugar mills or in the houses of the Portuguese. ?The Jesuits had three missions: Espiritu Santo, San Juan, and San Antonio.

used to describe the adherents of the Santidade, especially in the shorter denunciations of Cabral and Nobre, and it, like the less common term Brasis (literally the Brazils) referred generically to Indian~.~8

But in the longer and more detailed denunciations, the more neutral gentio and Brasis are modified by the term


negro. The terms negros da terra, negros gentios, and negros cristGos, while literally meaning "blacks of the land," "black gentiles," or "black Christians," carried the implication of forced servitude, if not actual s1ave1-y.~~

Sometimes the terms escravo (slave) or negro (black) were used without the modifying da terra; these terms could encompass both Indian and African sla~es,5~

but escravos de guint or negros de guint (slaves or blacks of Guinea) explicitly referred to African~.~~ In the denunciations, negro clearly described an individual possessed by or under

48 Diogo Dias, Fern50 Ribeiro de Sousa, Francisco d'Abreu, Gaspar de Gois, Gaspar de Palma, Jo8o d'Avila, Julio Pereira, Francisco Roiz Castilho, Manoel de Paredes, Maria de Oliveira, Nuno Pereira de Cawalho, and Pauloa de Almeida all use the term gentio; see their denunciations in Denuncia~des da Bahia.

49 Denunciations of JoHo Ribeiro, Maria da Fonseca, JoHo Bras, Antonio da Fonsequa, and Pero de Moura in Denuncia~des da Bahia. 50 Denunciations of Domingos de Oliveira, Maria Antunes, JoSio Bras, and ~lvaro Sanchez in

Denuncia~des da Bahia.

51 There are two specific references to escravos or negros,de guint in the denunciation of Maria Carvalha, Denuncia@es da Bahia, 550, and denunciation of Alvaro Rodrigues in the trial of Fern50 Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT. In the Inquisition records, as in Jesuit letters and reports of the same era, escravos de guini or the less common escravos de Angola was used to refer to African slaves. Although the specificity of the terms suggest that these slaves were from those regions of Africa, most historians consider "GuinC," when used in the sixteenth century, to be a generic term that refers to the western coast of Africa. See Pierre Verger, Trade Relations between the Bight of Benin and Bahia from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries, Evelyn Crawford, trans. (Ibadan, 1976), 3; Bastide, African Religions of Brazil, 46. A slave who deposed to the Visiting Inquisitor in Bahia, for example, was described as "Duarte negro de Guin6, filho de gentio de Angola"; Denuncia~des da Bahia, 408. A sixteenth-century map clearly labels Guin6 as the land opposite the Bight of Biafra, opposite the islands of Sao Tom6 and Principe from whence the sixteenth-century African slave trade emanated; Fern20 Vaz Dourado, Atlas c. 1576, Biblioteca National, Lisbon. Most of the slaves embarked for Brazil in the late sixteenth century would have come from S80 Tom6 or from the newer slave ports in Angola.

the control of another. Belchior da Fonsequa, who lived in Jaguaripe at the time of the Santidade, was asked by the inquisitor for the names of Christian slaves (escravos cristios) in the sect. He could not always remember the names of individual slaves, but he did remember the names of their masters. He saw negros cristios of Gaspar Francisco, ten or twelve negros of Caterina Alvarez, two or three negros of Gon~alo Veloso from the city, and Alexandre, a negro cristio of Antonio Pires, as well as others who had run away from their masters to join the sect. Belchior's son, Antonio, remembered that all of Fern50 Cabral's negros da terra participated in the Santidade. Joam Bras went to Cabral to ask him to return his three negros, who had joined the sect. In other denunciations, the term escravo describes the adherents. Thus ~lvaro Sanchez said that the sect attracted escravos cristlios. Bernaldimo Ribeiro da Gram, who destroyed the sect on Cabral's estate, specified that Cabral allowed his escravos to worship the idols of the Santidade and that escravos and indios cristios (Christian Indians) fled from all regions of Bahia to join the ceremonies. The rector of the Jesuit collegio, Fernio Cardim, was most precise in his terminology: he deposed that a great many of the "male and female slaves, Indians of this land, Christians or gentiles" (escravos e escravas indios desta terra cristios ou gentios) fled from their masters to join the sect at Jaguaripe. Similarly, Jo5o da Rocha Vicente precisely stated that his slave, a captive Indian of this land (seu escravo captivo indio desta terra), had preached the sect's message as far away as the mission villages of the Captaincy of Porto Seguro, to the south of Bahia.s2

Although it is impossible to reconstruct a list of the believers of the Santidade de Jaguaripe, it is possible to tally the individuals denounced by name to the Visiting Inquisitor. Such a list is hardly representative of the sect, but it does show that those who lived as de facto or de jure slaves predominated in it. Nine Portuguese were denounced by name for entering the temple at Jaguaripe and encouraging the sect. Most, like Cabral, claimed not to have been believers. Twenty-eight Mamelucos are named in the sources, the vast majority of whom were with Nobre when he met the sect in the wilderness. Nearly all of the Mamelucos with Nobre claimed that they participated in the rituals with an ulterior motive-to convince the sect to relocate to Jaguaripe. Other Mamelucos were, however, believers. It is possible to identify positively only eight free Indians in the sect; there were undoubtedly many more. Fifteen different slaveowners are cited by name in the documents as having had their negros, escravos, or gentios participate in the sect. The Indians and Africans under the control of the slaveowners who can be counted number forty. Some denunciations simply state that an "unknown number" or "all" of a given slaveowner's negros joined the sect; thus forty is obviously very low. We know, for example, that sixty participants in the sect lived at Jaguaripe alone, yet only ten of Cabral's slaves are individually named. Similarly, a secret gathering of ten negros was reported by Paulo Adorno, but he could only name three, Lucrecia, Ilena, and Domingos.53 This count from the documents does not definitively measure the size

52 Denunciations of Be!chior da Fonsequa, DenunciafBes da Bahia,277-78; Antonio da Fonsequa, 346-47; Joam Bras, 351; Alvaro Sanchez, 308; Bernaldimo Ribeiro da Gram, 381-82; Fernao Cardil [sic], 327-28; and JoHo da Rocha Vicente, 447-48.

53 Denunciation of Paulo Adorno in the trial of FernHo Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT.

of the sect, or even its composition, but it does suggest that the great majority of the sect members were known as negros who lived under the control of Portuguese colonists.

While the vast majority of the denunciations of the Santidade de Jaguaripe suggest that its members were Indians under the control of Portuguese colonists, one of the most important denunciations explicitly described the participation of African slaves, that of ~lvaro Rodrigues, the Mameluco sugar planter who, with his brother, led the expedition into the wilderness against the last survivors of the sect. This denunciation was never published, and few of the scholars who have written about the Santidade de Jaguaripe as an indigenous movement know of its content.54 Rodrigues begins by saying that in the wilderness of Bahia among the gentios (Indians) arose the Santidade in which they called some Jesus, another St. Mary, and another St. Paul. Among these Indians were many Christians, some free and some slaves who had fled from their masters. Later, when the sect became established on Cabral's estate, many Christians, both Brasis (Indian) and de guinC (African) joined them. Rodrigues describes Cabral's estate as where "the Brasis cristlios [baptized Indians] and many Mamelucos, sons of Brasis and of whites, all being Christians believed in the abuse and left the faith of Christ our Lord, and the negros cristdos de guint [baptized slaves from Africa] began to do the same."55 Another denunciation, that of Maria Carvalha, an eighteen-year-old free servant of Cabral, specifically refers to an African slave in the movement. She denounced Petronilha, whom she described as a "baptized African slave born in this land" (negra de Guint creoula desta terra cristc2a). According to Carvalha, while she was dusting a painting of the Virgin one day, Petronilha slapped the image of Mary and said that it was worthless and made of wood, while hers, the stone image of the Santidade, was better.56


SANTIDADE created a syncretic religion.57 Syncretism, which occurred frequently in the sixteenth century when colonialism destroyed the old indigenous societies of the Americas, was a sociocultural necessity, according to sociologist Cristian Parker, for natives to resist "anomic disintegration."" One form of syncretism can be seen in the Santidade de Jaguaripe, the reinterpretation of Christianity, that is, the acceptance of Christian

S4 The denunciation of ~lvaro Rodrigues was part of a book of denunciations from the RecBncavo that was lost; hence only those scholars who consulted the actual Inquisition trials in Lisbon have seen his report. Siqueira, who read Rodrigues, characterizes the Santidade de Jaguaripe as a movement that united Indians, blacks, and Mamelucos; see "A elaboraq80 da espiritualidade"; Vainfas, who read Rodrigues, states that the African slaves joined the movement for reasons "impossible for us to know"; A heresia dos indios, 158; although in a more recent article, he emphasizes the importance of the participation of African slaves in the Santidade de Jaguaripe; see Ronaldo Vainfas, "Deus contra Palmares-Representa~6es senhoriais e idCias jesuiticas," in Reis and Santos Gomes, Liberdadepor um jio, 60-80. I discuss thi,s article below.

55 Denunciation of Alvaro Rodrigues, in the trial of Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776, ANTT.

56 Denuncia~Bes da Bahia, 550.

57 See Siqueira's analysis of the syncretism of the sect in "A elabora~Bo da espiritualidade."

Cristian Parker, Popular Religion and Modernization in Latin America: A Different Logic, Robert

R. Barr, trans. (Maryknoll, N.Y., 1996), 12-13.


rites but with the addition of new meanings.S9 The reinterpretation of Christianity rested on a new language, a "language invented by them."60 Nobre describes the participants "speaking a new language" as part of the ceremony of the sect, while Pantaliio Ribeiro calls the language "gibberish that only they ~nderstood."~l The sect used a ceremonial language in rituals, which to one unsympathetic outsider sounded like animalistic howling and bleating, and included shaking, quivering, grunting, and twisting the mouth.62 The Jesuits, disgusted, vividly portrayed a scene where they spoke "among themselves without moving their lips": "they suddenly fall down only half-alive and tremble violently in all of their limbs; they twist their faces obscenely, and sticking out their tongues in a shameful manner, throw themselves around as if crazy, and with their whole body writhe on the gr~und."~"

However repulsed the Jesuits might have been, inadvertently they helped the followers of the Santidade de Jaguaripe develop a common language that gave slaves from disparate cultures a shared vocabulary. Although it is a common perception in Brazil that slaves, either Indian or African, were not the focus of missionaries, the Jesuits did see them as part of their ministry.64 This mission, moreover, increased rapidly in the years immediately preceding the emergence of the Santidade de Jaguaripe. When the Jesuit Cristovio de Gouveia arrived in Brazil in 1583, he, as Jesuit Visitor, had the charge of reviewing each Jesuit collegio and residence and evaluating their mission. In Bahia, he ordered the brothers to visit the plantations and take care of the spiritual needs of slaves. Fern50 Cardim, the Jesuit Visitor's secretary, described the ministry as follows: "we are in continual mission to the mills and farms of the Portuguese . . . [Tlhese missions have given such benefits that a father who was there for fifteen days baptized 200 slaves, adults and children, both from Guinea and of this land, and [celebrated] up to 100 marriages .. . and gave them knowledge of the creator and of ~alvation."~~

In four months, Gouveia claimed, Jesuits had baptized close to 800 indios and escravos de guint, married 500, and heard a great number of confessions. From other

s9 Parker. Popular Religion and Modernization, 232. Confession of Gon~alo Fernandes, IL 17,762, ANTT. 61 Confession of Domingos Fernandes Nobre in his trial, IL 10,776, ANTT; confession of Pantaliio Ribeiro in his trial, IL 11,036, AN'IT.

aPantaliio Ribeiro used the words bleating and howling in his confession, IL 11,036, ANTT; several describe the shaking movements of the rituals; see confession of Domingos Fernandes Nobre in his trial, IL 10,776, ANTT; and denunciation of Paulo Adorno in the trial of Ferngo Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT.

63 Jesuit annual letter of 1585, Annuae Litterae.

h4 The early Jesuit Jer6nimo Nadal defined the Jesuit ministry as directed to those "for whom there is nobody to care or, if somebody ought to care, the care is negligent," which meant that Jesuits ministered especially to the poor and the outcast; see John W. O'Malley, The First Jesuits (Cambridge, Mass., 1993), 72-73.

hvEnformacion de la Provincia del Brasil para Nuestro Padre, in Frederic Mauro, Le Bresil au XVIIe sikcle: Documents inCdits relatifs a liltlantique portugais (Coimbra, 1961), 143. Although this report is signed by the Jesuit Visitor Cristovgo de Gpuveia, its probable author is Fernio Cardim. See also the annual letters of JosC de Anchieta, "Carta Anua da Provincia do Brasil, de 1583," in Achieta, Cartas: Correspond8ncia, 344-61; and "Carta Anua de 1584, ou breve narra~go das coisas atinentes aos colCgios e residkncias, existentes nesta Provincia do Brasil," in Anchieta, Cartas: Correspondtncia, 368-86. The Jesuit Visitor to the missions also comments repeatedly about the mission of Jesuits to slaves; see Cristovio de Gouveia to Claudio Aquaviva, November 1, 1584, Lusitania, hereafter, LUS, 68, Epp. 407-09, ARSI; and Gouveia's report of his visit to Brazil, "Visitas dos Padres," BRAS 2. 139-49, ARSI.

documents written by Gouveia, we know that he cautioned the Jesuits not to baptize (except in extremis) if the Indians and African slaves did not know the prayers or have a good understanding of Christianity. The detailed description that Gouveia sent to Rome about how these missions to the plantations should work suggests that the Jesuits had already developed a systematic approach. A priest in whom the order had great confidence, and a reliable companion, would be given the responsibility to visit each plantation yearly. Upon arrival, they would take a census of all the slaves and indicate who had been baptized, who was married, and who had made confessions; they were not to leave until all slaves had received the help and correction needed. They were to say Mass in the morning on saints days because those were the days that the slaves and Indians had off; after Mass, they were to teach the doctrine before the slaves left to work their own gardens. They were to encourage the establishment of the confraternity of Our Lady of the Rosary. At night, or during the evening meal, they were to teach the doctrine to the Indians and slaves using the approved cate~hism.~~

The effects of the Jesuit mission to Indian and African slaves can be seen in the religious beliefs and rituals of the Santidade de Jaguaripe sect. Accounts to the inquisitor describe rituals of baptism with water, confession of sins, prayer, prayer beads, and the naming of saints. Bras Dias confessed that the sect imitated the Christian church with its crosses and statements that Christ, who gives food, was lord of the world and son of the Virgin Mary, but noted that in these beliefs were "many imperfections" and "nonsense" as it was "a thing of negros who know little."67 In the annual letter of 1585, the Jesuit Provincial depicted a sect with a high priest "as we ordain the Pope," consecrated bishops and priests, and schools to teach the children. The Jesuits were particularly uneasy with the obvious links between the Santidade de Jaguaripe and their own missionary work. The provincial wrote that he found the "cult the more dangerous [than previous superstitions] in that it more closely followed Christian rites and ceremonies, obviously so that by the very similarity of the laws and congruence of the customs the Devil could persuade people who are not the wisest that our customs differ in no way from their customs, and that if they do nonetheless somewhat differ, it is our customs that stray from the truth."68 The millenarian and Messianic beliefs of the Santidade de Jaguaripe expressed the hopes of slaves who had experienced famine, survived plagues, crossed the forest or the Atlantic in chains, and labored continually in the sugar fields and the mills. The term "millenarian" can be defined loosely to describe phenomena, visible throughout the world in virtually every religious tradition, which evoke "any conception of a perfect age to come, or of a perfect land to be made accessible."69 Used in this sense, the Tupi-Guarani tradition of following caraibas who promised a golden age can be seen as millenarian. hvaro Rodrigues's testimony that the believers were convinced that food crops would grow for them and they would not want for food or drink seems to follow the indigenous pattern. But the millenarian imagery of the Santidade de Jaguaripe sect was also influenced

Gouveia, "Visitas dos Padres," BRAS 2, 139-49, ARSI.

Confession of Bras Dias, ConfissBes da Bahia, 159.
68 Jesuit annual letter of 1585, Annuae Litterae.
69 Thrupp, Millennia1 Dreams in Action, 12.

specifically by beliefs that originate in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Book of Daniel contains one of the most powerful paradigms of millennial transformation; it calls for the saints of God to rise up and overthrow the evil, demonic power loose in the Early Christians transformed the Jewish expectation of the Messiah and a millennial age on earth into the return of the Messiah and the inauguration of a heavenly kingdom.71 In the Book of Revelation, the Messiah returns on a white horse, leading heavenly armies to make war against a ten-horned beast, the false prophet, and thereafter creates a new Jerusalem where the faithful will live with God.72 He inaugurates the "millennium," the one thousand-year reign of Christ on earth when the devil will be held in bondage.73

It was surely the Jesuits who introduced Indians and Africans to Christian millenarian ideas. According to Carole Myscofski, the Jesuits projected a millena- rian Christianity in Brazil through their plays and catechism. JosC de Anchieta's plays, performed in the 1580s, dramatized the Apocalypse in recognizable terms. In the trilogy Na Vila de Vitbria, Anchieta portrays Bahia as corrupt, ruled by the devil, and in its last days. Redemption comes when saints Ursula and Mauricio overthrow evil and begin a new age.74 Through Jesuit catechism, Indian and African slaves received exposure to the idea of apocalypse, to the transformative power of redemption, and to the idea of the eternal punishment of evil. A basic part of Jesuit teaching in the Doutrina Cristii, the catechism used in Indian and African languages, introduced the concept of the Day of Judgment. Taught in a simple question and answer dialogue, the Doutrina Cristii outlined the scenario in plain language. The Jesuits taught that Christ will return from heaven on a cloud; no one, not even

70 Composed circa 165BC at the height of the Maccabean Revolt, the Book of Daniel prophesies that Israel will overthrow the Greek empire and thereafter dominate the world. Norman Cohn summarizes Daniel's imagery: "The world is dominated by an evil, tyrannous power of boundless destructiveness-a power moreover which is imagined not as simply human but as demonic. The tyranny of that power will become more and more outrageous, the sufferings of its victims more and more intolerable-until suddenly the hour will strike when the Saints of God are able to rise up and overthrow it. Then the Saints themselves, the chosen, holy people who hitererto have groaned under the oppressor's heel, shall in their turn inherit dominion over the whole earth. This will be the culmination of history." Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (London, 1957), 4.

71 AS Cohn explains, "more than any other religion, Jewish religion centers on the expectation of a future Golden Age; and Christianity, developing out of Judaism inherited that expectation." Norman Cohn, "Medieval Millenarism: Its Bearing on the Comparative Study of Millenarian Movements," in Thrupp, Millennia1 Dreams in Action, 31-43; see also Scholem Gershom, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah, 1626-1676, R. J. Zwi Werblowski, trans. (Princeton, N.J., 1973), 95.

72 Rev. 19-21; see Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium, 7-10.

73 Trompf, Cargo Cults and Millenarian Movements, 1. According to Scholem, intense hatred of the Roman Empire (the "whore of Babylon" in the Book of Revelation) combined with visions out of the Jewish apocalyptic tradition (with some Christian elements) make Revelation one of the most revolutionary books in literature; Sabbatai Sevi, 95-97.

74 Carole Myscofski, "Messianic Themes in Portuguese and Brazilian Literature in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," Luso Brazilian Review 28 (1991): 77-94. Marjorie Reeves describes the Jesuits as the order that inherited the millenarian outlook of Joachimism in the sixteenth century, for she argues that they saw themselves charged with evangelizing the world and fulfilling prophecies that heralded the second coming of Christ; see Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages: A Study in Joachimism (Notre Dame, Ind., 1993), 274-90. The millenarian beliefs of Antonio Vieira, the influential seventeenth-century Jesuit in Brazil and Portugal, are well known; see Cohen, Fire of Tongues. The portrait of the Jesuits drawn by Cohen and Reeves supports Myscofski's thesis that the Jesuits introduced a millennia1 outlook in Brazil. But John W. O'Malley does not characterize the early Jesuits as millenarian; rather, he sees them as practical in their thinking and not apocalyptic. First Jesuits, 262, 269, 322, 372.

animals, will escape; all will die and then be reborn; the good will be beautiful and the bad ugly. Christ will judge all and will take the good to heaven, where they will live forever, while the evil will go to the fire of hell, where they will suffer eternally.75

The application of millenarian teachings to the lives of Indians and Africans can be seen in the confessions of those who participated in the sect. According to the free Indian woman Iria Alvarez, the leaders preached that "God our Lord would descend from the sky to the earth and that God would change this world, and that when God came here to earth all would die, and that after they died, they would rise up again."76 Cristoviio BulhBis confessed that when he and the other Mamelucos under the command of Nobre met the "pope" in the wilderness, they were told to "go and wash," for "a new fire would be born among them."77 Gonqalo Fernandes confessed that they understood that "God was coming now to free them from their captivity in which they were and to make them lords of the white people and that the whites would become their slaves."78 Luisa Rodrigues confessed that she believed that "Our Lady and Our Lord would return and walk here on earth."79

The Jesuits were not the slaves' sole source of Judeo-Christian Messianic and millenarian beliefs. The Portuguese colonists of Bahia, among whom were num- bered crypto Jews, New Christians (the descendants of converted Jews), and Christians, possessed a religious tradition richly interwoven with Messianic beliefs and millenarian prophesies. Although Christian church leaders condemned mille- narian and prophetic writings as heresy in the fourth century, these persisted in the popular religion of Christians throughout Europe.80 In Iberia, millenarian theolo- gies and folk beliefs became an integral part of Catholi~ism.8~

The Christian millenarianism of Iberia had roots in Messianic beliefs of the Sephardic Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal. Messianic fervor is a prominent feature of Jewish history,82 and in the Sephardic communities of Iberia,

75 Joseph de Anchieta, Doutrina Cristci (SBo Paulo, 1992), 1: 172-75.

7h Cross-examination of Iria Alvares in her trial, IL 1,335, ANTT.

'7 Confession of Cristovso Bulhdis in his trial, IL 7,950, ANTT.

7R Confession of Gonqalo Fernandes in his trial, IL 17,762, ANTT.

79 Confession of Luisa Rodrigues, Confissdes da Bahia, 206.

80 Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium, 14; Daniels, Millennialism, xiv. In medieval Europe, Cohn argues, millenarian views took on revolutionary forms among those who lived in the rapidly growing cities, where trade and industry dramatically redefined family and social life. The large, marginal populations of the cities lived in a state of chronic frustration and anxiety with few rights and limited social networks. Any disruption of the familiar, such as war, famine, a plague, a crusade, tended to push those living on the edge into salvationist groups led by someone regarded as holy; Pursuit ofthe Millennium, 30-32.

81 The reconquest of Granada from the Moors in 1492 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain in the same year fanned the flames of a militant Catholicism with millenarian overtones. The expansion of western Europe into Africa and the Americas, many believed, would culminate in a millenarian-like redemption. The journals of Columbus express this belief, as do the feverish mass baptisms of Indians in Mexico by Franciscans who believed that the conversion of the last remaining gentiles would hasten the day of the Messiah's return. See Roberto Rusconi, The "Book of Prophecies" Edited by Christopher Columbus, Blair Sullivan, trans. (Berkeley, Calif., 1997), 31-33; John Leddy Phelan, The Millennia1 Kingdom of the Franciscans in the New World, 2d edn. (Berkeley, 1970); and Jacques LaFaye, Quetzalc6atl and Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness, 1531-1813, Benjamin Keen, trans. (Chicago, 1976).

82 Widespread belief in the imminent arrival of the Messiah led Jews into the devastating war against the Romans that culminated in AD 70 with the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Thereafter, dispersed, lacking a nationality, Jews continued to imagine the apocalyptic war that would

Messianic movements erupted as Jews found themselves increasingly under attack by the crusading fervor of Catholicism. Among the conversos (Jews who had converted to Christianity in Spain), Messianic movements appeared, sparked by the intense investigation of conversos by the Inquisition, the expulsion of Jews from Spain, and the forced conversion of Jews in P~rtugal.~~

Messianic hopes cropped up repeatedly among the New Christians in Portugal: Isaac Abravanel predicted the arrival of the Jewish messiah in 1503; David Reubeni sought help to liberate the Holy Lands from the Turks in the 1520s in order to prepare for the Jewish messiah; and Luis Dias was known as the messiah of Setubal when he was imprisoned by the Inquisition in 1530.84 The Portuguese New Christian poet Gon~alo Annes (more commonly known by his nickname, 0 Bandarra) wrote poetry infused with apocalyptic and Messianic themes. Bandarra's Trovas describes the coming of a great king and savior who would completely transform the world. Written sometime before 1537, the verses circulated widely, and reached the attention of the Inquisition, which interrogated Bandarra in 1545.85

This millenarian and Messianic folk culture in the New Christian community developed into Sebastianism, which appeared after the tragic death of the Portuguese King Sebastiio in 1578. Sebastiio was widely regarded as the "desired" prince described by Bandarra and others who would lead Portugal into greatness. Instead, Sebastigo's short reign ended in tragedy for the military expedition against Morocco, which Sebastiio organized, culminating in his own death at Alcicer- Quibir in 1578. Among the devastated Portuguese people, the belief took hold that Sebastiio had not died in Morocco but instead had escaped and remained in hiding. Some believed Sebastiio would return in glory and inaugurate his prophesied reign.86

Denunciations and confessions to the Visiting Inquisitor in Bahia reveal that

reunite the scattered communities, restore them to their homeland, and punish their oppressors. In the first century AD, the apocalyptic prophesies of Ezra and Baruch pictured the Messiah as a mighty warrior who would not only rout the Romans but avenge Israel by destroying all those who had once ruled over Jews, and then establish a blissful earthly paradise. In the Middle Ages, a millenarian, utopian imagination remained very much a part of the Jewish outlook. According to Cohn, the massacres of Jews from the eleventh to fourteenth centuries produced messiahs who led millenarian movements, as did the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal. Still later, the preaching of Sabbatai Sevi united virtually the entire Jewish diaspora into millennia1 expectation in the seventeenth century. See Cohn, Pur.suit of the Millennium, 5-15; and Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi.

83 Stephen Sharot, "Jewish Millenarianism: A Comparison of Medieval Communities," Comparative Studies in Society and History 22 (1980): 394-415; John Edwards, "Elijah and the Inquisition: Messianic Prophecy among Conversos in Spain, c. 1500," in Edwards, Religion and Society in Spain, c. 1492 (Aldershot, Hampshire, 1996), 79-94; W. William Monter, "The Death of Coexistence: Jews and Moslems in Christian Spain, 1480-1502," in The Expulsion of the Jews: 1492 and After, Raymond B. Waddington and Arthur H. Williamson, eds. (New York, 1994), 12.

a4 Maria JosC Ferro Tavares, "0messianismo judaico em Portugal (la metade do sCculo XVI)," Luso-Brazilian Review 28 (1991): 141-51; Carole Myscofski, When Men Walk Dry: Portuguese Messian- ism in Brazil (Atlanta, Ga., 1988), 47-48.

85 See Tavares, "0 messianismo judaico"; Myscofski, When Men Walk Dry, 52-54; Jacqueline Hermann, No reino do desejado: A construgcio do sebastianismo em Portugal, stculos XVI e XVII (S~O Paulo, 1998), 23-72. The poems are available as Trovas do Bandarra, 9th edn. (Porto, 1866), facs. edn. in Antonio Machado Pires, D. Sebasticio e o encoberto, 2d edn. (Lisbon, 1982), 125-45.

86 Hermann, No reino do desejado; Machado Pires, Dom Sebasticio e o encoberto, 123-45; on the controversy surrounding the Jesuit role in these events (Jesuits were advisers to King Sebastian), see Alden, Making of an Enterprise, 79-91. For the impact of Sebastianism on Brazil, see Myscofski, "Messianic Themes in Portuguese and Brazilian Literature," 77-94.

millenarian and Messianic religious beliefs were part of the folk religion of Bahia. Many of those denounced to the inquisitor were New Christians, including one who purportedly participated in the rituals of the Santidade de Jag~aripe.~~

A recently arrived New Christian merchant denounced his companion on the sea voyage, Gregorio Nunes, as a crypto Jew who avoided prayers on board ship, turned his back to the cross, and recited verses of the Trovas of Bandarra from memory.88 Before Mass one day, three men discussed the Anti-Christ-how he would come before the day of final judgment and do great harm to good people.89

Millenarian ideas, prophesies, and Messianic figures, then, were hardly remote or even fantastic in the world of late sixteenth-century Bahia. But it was the appropriation of millennia1 prophesies by slaves and their application to slavery that made the Santidade de Jaguaripe threatening to sugar planters and royal officials.


bonded Indian and African negros, escravos, and captivos into a community. It created a new religion that validated them in a world that did not. For some, one of their first acts was violently to reject the world that oppressed them. According to the Jesuits, as the "superstition" spread among the Indians who lived among the Portuguese, they burned the houses of the Portuguese, destroyed the cane fields, razed the sugar mills to the ground, and killed their masters, then fled.90 The governor of Bahia, Manoel Telles Barreto, also described the Santidade as the cause of much unrest in Bahia because the majority of the Indians, both free and slave, fled to join the sect, and in the process burned plantations, killed whites, and mistreated the Jesuit brothers.91 Alvaro Rodrigues explicitly described to the inquisitor how the sect violently challenged the authority of slaveowners: "if the masters of the slaves [escravos] prohibited their slaves from following the cult, the slaves rose up against their masters; they wounded and killed them and robbed and burned their estates. It put this land into the hands of those of the cult. They created a riot and a general uprising against the whites and they laid waste to everyone."92 Others joined the Santidade secretly, and after long days of work in the homes and plantations of the Portuguese, or on Sundays and Holy Days (when the mills were supposed to be idle), they met to perform the rituals that gave them a new identity.93

More so than any other denunciant, Alvaro Rodrigues attempted to explain the beliefs of the Santidade de Jaguaripe to the Visiting Inquisitor. Rodrigues was a Mameluco and a sugar planter. As a Mameluco, he understood the Indian culture

87 A trial for the New Christian Heitor Antunes was begun by the Visiting Inquisitor because of his participation in rituals associated with the Santidade de Jaguaripe, but Antunes died before the trial was completed; see IL 4,309, ANTT. The New Christian community of Salvador da Bahia at the time of the second visitation in the early seventeenth century has been studied by Anita Novinsky, Cristdos Novos nu Bahia (SBo Paulo, 1972).

88 According to his accuser, Nunes recited the Trovas because he was waiting for the Messiah; denunciation of JoBo Bautista, Denuncia~Bes da Bahia, 317.

a9 Denunciation of Antonio Guedes, Denuncia~des da Bahia, 421-22.

90 Jesuit annual letter of 1585, Annuae Litterae.

91 Letter of Manoe1,Telles Barreto in the trial of Fern20 Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT.

92 Denunciation of Alvaro Rodrigues, in the trial of Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776, ANTT.

9Wenunciation of Paulo Adorno in the trial of Fern50 Cabral, IL 17,065, ANTT.

better than most sugar planters, but a sugar planter, Indian slaver, and slaveowner he was, nonetheless. The beliefs of the Santidade de Jaguaripe, in his view, required a different kind of response from that given by Fern20 Cabral. For Rodrigues, until the millenarian faith of the believers was destroyed, there would be no peace in Bahia. He told the inquisitor that when he took the leaders of the sect as prisoners, they said that "they would fly to the sky and that they had no fear of the swords nor of the chains because the iron would change into wax and would not harm them."94 To break the power of the leaders, who claimed that no sword could hurt them, he had to kill them in front of their followers. Only then, "after they [the leaders] died, when the believers saw that what they said was false" did he have control over them, for he stated, "many died on their feet out of fear of punishment and amazement, with no sign of any illness."95

Subsequent episodes of slave resistance in Bahia would continue to torment planters and royal officials. Could any of these have likewise been millenarian? The evidence at hand is even more fragmentary, sketchy, and less reliable. But this evidence does reveal that Indians and Africans joined on occasion to resist the colonial order and that these communities had religious characteristics. When King Philip I named him governor of Brazil in 1588, Francisco Giraldes received a detailed set of instructions. One of the problems he was to address was Indian and African slave resistance. The king stated that "there are more than three thousand Indians . . . who have caused much damage to the estates of my vassals and who have drawn to their side all the runaway slaves from G~in6."~~

In the early seventeenth century, the term santidade appeared in royal correspondence as a descriptor of runaway Indians and African slaves who practiced idolatry. Writing to a later governor of Brazil, Gaspar de Sousa, in 1613, King Philip I1 reported he understood that "in two or three places there are groups of Indians and African slaves who had fled their masters and joined together with others, and that they lived in idolatry, and that they called their communities ~antidades."~~

Because these Indians and slaves were robbing and killing, and their numbers were multiplying, the king feared loss to his royal income. He was especially concerned about the Indians who had joined or who were allied with negros in rebellion-that

94 Denunciation of ~lvaro Rodrigues, in the trial of Domingos Fernandes Nobre, IL 10,776, ANTT.

95 Denunciation of Alvaro Rodrigues.

96 Regimento de Francisco Giraldes, in Instituto do Aqucar e ~lcool, Documentos para a histdria do a~ucar(Rio de Janeiro, 1963), 1: 359-60. When King Philip I1 of Spain took the crown of Portugal, he became Philip I of Portugal, and Francisco Giraldes (Geraldes) was his first governor; however, Giraldes never arrived in Brazil. See Joaquim Verissimo Serrio, Do Brasilfilipino ao Brasil de 1640 (Sio Paulo, 1968), 35-39. The king actually referred specifically to Jaguaripe, which led historian Stuart Schwartz to link these instructions to the Santidade de Jaguaripe and to suggest that they prove that Giraldes's predecessor (Governor Manoel Telles Barreto) had not succeeded in destroying the sect; see Sugar Plantations, 48; and Stuart B. Schwartz, "The Mocambo: Slave Resistance in Colonial Bahia," Journal of Social History 3 (1970): 313-33. Yet the king's words are puzzling, because they locate Jaguaripe between Pernambuco and Bahia, when in fact, Jaguaripe is to the south of the city of Salvador, on the southern edge of the RecBncavo, and nowhere near the overland road to Pernambuco. Most scholars rely on a copy of the Regimento extant in Rio de Janeiro, first published in Revista do Instituto Histdrico e Geografico Brasileiro, 67, part 1, 220-36, rpt. in Documentos para a historia do apicar; and in Marcos Carneiro de Mendon~a, Raizes da forrna~do administrativa do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 1972), 1: 259-77. I have not found the original document.

97 King Philip to Gaspar de Sousa, January 19, 1613, in Cartas d'el Rey Escriptas aos Sres klvaro de Sousa e Gaspar de Sousa, transcribed by Deoclecio Leite de Macedo (Rio de Janeiro, 1989).

is, with runaway African slaves. Interestingly enough, he suggested that the governor call on Afonso Rodrigues, son of ~lvaro Rodrigues, to help him. In another letter later in the same year, the king refers to the same problem, naming Jaguaribe, fourteen leagues from Salvador on the frontier of the wilderness, as a place where "there have been many uprisings of Indians and deaths of white people and runaways of slaves from the plantations" and that "thirty leagues distant is a big village of runaway Indians [gentio] that they call santidade."98

Portuguese officials use the term santidade in such a way that it seems to refer to communities of runaway slaves.99 In 1610, the governor of Brazil wrote to the king that in the wilderness was a santidade of indios and negros de guinC of more than 20,000 souls, which he requested permission to attack and enslave.loO In 1612, Diogo de Campos Moreno, a Portuguese official appointed to study Brazil, uses mocambo, the term later used to denote a community of runaway African slaves, and santidade to describe the ills plaguing Brazil. Moreno wrote that the crown lost income by outlawing Indian slavery and entrusting Indians to the Jesuits. He blamed the appearance of "mocambos among blacks [negros], or camps of runaways, which are called santidades" and other problems on their poor learning of Christian doctrine from their tutors.lo1 Moreno lamented the fact that Indians, who would be of great use to the Portuguese colonists, were instead in villages under the control of Jesuits, and did not do the work for which they were paid. When the Jesuits attempted to punish them, however lightly, "the Indians immediately run away to the forest, where they create . . . abominable rituals and behaviors and join the runaway blacks of Guine, and from this deaths, robberies, scandals, and violence result, and for these reasons it is not possible to travel through the wilderness nor for the settlements to grow inland."lo2

The use of santidade in this official correspondence is striking, for the term traditionally described a religious state. In Latin, sanctitas means sanctity, holiness, and moral purity. As we have seen, in 1549 Manuel da Nobrega used santidad to describe the only ceremony he found religious among the Indians-those times when an Indian wizard preached and promised a golden age, causing his followers to shake and froth at the mouth, after which he cured them and holiness (santidad) entered them.103 More than thirty years later, Fern50 Cardim, secretary to the Jesuit Visitor Cristov5o de Gouveia, used santidade in the sense of Sua Santidade (His Holiness, as in the Catholic Pope) to describe the wizards (feiticeiros) who rose up among the Indians from time to time, known as caraibas. His use of santidade has a religious meaning. He describes how an Indian "of evil ways" promises that the hoes will work on their own and the baskets will fill themselves with food. "Drunk," the Indians fail to look after themselves or till their crops. Dying of hunger, the

98 King Philip to Gaspar de Sousa, May 24, 1613, in Cartas d'el Rey. The letter clearly states Jaguaribe, not Jaguaripe. 99 I am not the first to see this coincidence; compare Ivan Alves Filho, Memorial dos Palmares (Rio de Janeiro, 1982), 10-11.

lo0 Diogo de Meneses to King Philip, September 1, 1610, Fragmentos, Caixa 1, Ma~o 1, Doc. 6, ANTT. Schwartz believes that these numbers are inflated to convince the crown of the need for military action; Sugar Plantations, 49.

Io1 Diogo de Campos Moreno, Livro que da razcio do estado do Brasil-1612 (Recife, 1955), 110.

lo2 Moreno, Livro que da razdo, 113.

lo3 Informapio das terras do Brasil do P. Manuel da Nbbrega.

group gets smaller and smaller until Sua Santidade remains alone or until they kill him.104 In the Jesuit annual letter of 1585, written in Latin, sanctitas is used to refer to a religious experience-the state of exhaustion or madness that the followers of the Santidade de Jaguaripe attained through their rituals: "When these agitations are followed by the quietness of exhaustion, then finally they are washed with water and made holy [sanctus]; and whoever has produced the more horrible signs is thought to have attained the more sanctity [sanctitas].lo5

In the Inquisition sources, santidade likewise has a religious meaning. Through- out the sources, it refers either to the name of the sect or to the state of religious ecstasy achieved by the believers. Those confessing or denouncing used Santidade to name the sect, but qualified their use of the word. Gonqalo Fernandes, for example, stated that Santidade was the name that the believers gave to their religion: he referred to "their abuse [abuscTo] and idolatry that they called Santidade."lO6 Fernandes also used santidade to refer to the state the believers achieved after drinking the sacred smoke, praying, and speaking in their "invented" language: he stated, "they drank the said smoke until they fell drunk with it, saying that with that smoke the spirit of santidade entered them."lo7

The term clearly had a religious meaning as it was used by the Jesuits and the residents of Bahia in the 1590s. If santidade had a religious meaning then, we must ask ourselves if the later uses of the term by government officials and the king were meant to convey a religious experience, too. If so, these cases show additional examples of slaves from very different homelands building on a common religious vocabulary to create a new religion that modified and reinterpreted Christianity.

Ronaldo Vainfas argues that santidades were the "true ancestors" of quilombos communities in Brazil. Santidades, in his view, were communities of Indians who had fled from slavery on the plantations of the Portuguese and from catechism in the missions of the Jesuits. Because African slaves also took part with the Indians in common rituals and warfare against the colonial society, masters of slaves deeply feared santidades. Moreover, Vainfas asserts that the specific Santidade de Jaguaripe became a precursor in an Indian form to what Palmares would become in the seventeenth century. "In the Bahian Santidade," he writes, "there were African rebels, just as in Palmares there would be Indians"; both were rebellions directed against the colonial slave regime.lo8

In a remote region between Salvador and Pernambuco, the famous runaway slave settlement of Palmares formed. In 1602, the governor of Pernambuco, Diogo Bothelho, organized the first expedition against five of six villages of runaway negros de guinC located in the wilderness.109 Situated in the present-day state of Alagoas, during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Palmares was remote

lo4 Fern20 Cardim, Do principio e origem dos indios do Brasil, in Tratados da terra e gente do Brasil, Ana Maria de Azevedo, ed. (Lisbon, 1997), 166-67.

loVesuit annual letter of 1585, Annuae Litterae.

'Oh Confession of Gon~alo Fernandes, IL 17,762, ANTT.

Confession of Gon~alo Fernandes.

'Os Vainfas, "Deus contra Palmares," 60-64.

lnYAlves Filho, Memorial dos Palmares, 8; F. A. Pereira da Costa, Anais Pernambucanos, 1493-1590 (Recife, 1952), 2: 195-99; DCcio Freitas, Palmares: A guerra dos escravos, 4th edn. (Rio de Janeiro, 1982), 41; all of these authors refer to evidence contained in the correspondence of Diogo Botelho, which may be found in Revista do lnstituto Historico e Geographic0 Brazileiro 73, part 1 (1910): 1-258.

enough to be defended by the escaped slaves, yet close enough for slaves to attack roads, plantations, villages, and even the city of Salvador. Recent archaeological excavations of Palmares reveal extensive Indian influence at the site, a fact that reinforces the image of the community as one formed by both Indians and Africans seeking freedom.l1°

Could Palmares, Brazil's renowned quilombo,"l have begun as a millenarian movement? Scholars who have studied Palmares indicate that there is little in the historical record to suggest that the community was millenarian.l12 Indeed, there are no known eyewitness descriptions of Messianic or millenarian rituals at Palmares, or for that matter at any other quilombo in Brazil.l13 Yet religion did play an important role at Palmares. Seventeenth-century descriptions of Palmares reveal that the communities had churches and priests. A document from the 1640s describes the religion of Palmares as "an imitation of the Portuguese," which suggests syncretic beliefs. The same document refers to the existence of priests and to the fact that the king forbade witchcraft.l14 In the 1670s, one of the most detailed descriptions of Palmares reported, "although these barbarians have all but forgot- ten their subjugation, they have not completely lost allegiance to the Church. There is a capela [chapel], to which they flock whenever time allows, and imagens [statues, as of saints] to which they direct their worship."l15

FINDINGWRITTEN EVIDENCE OF MILLENARIANISM among communities of runaway slaves is particularly problematic, for millenarian events by their very nature are fleeting and often isolated. Few slaves were literate or likely to produce the kinds of written records needed for historical analysis several hundred years later. In Jewish history, Gershom Scholem notes that most Messianic movements petered out and that "but for some contemporary chroniclers or letter writers not even an echo of many of these movements would have reached us. Occasionally traditions about such an outbreak would linger in popular memory, but after a generation or

110 Pedro Paulo de Abreu Funari, "A arqueologia de Palmares-sua contribui@o para o conheci- mento da historia da cultura afro-americana," in Reis and Santos Gomes, Liberdadepor umfio, 26-51.

The term quilombo first appeared in Angolan history to describe the war camps of the Jaga; in Brazil, it is used to refer to runaway slave communities; see Jan Vansina, "Quilombos on SBo Tome, or in Search of Original Sources," History in Africa 23 (1996): 453.

Ivan Alves Filho argues in his book on Palmares that it is difficult to support the contention that religion was an important characteristic of the quilombo and that "at no time was collective behavior characteristic of messianism recorded"; Memorial dos Palmares, 16. Decio Freitas also wonders if Palmares might have been Messianic but concludes that "generally speaking, slave rebellions in the Americas do not take a prophetic or messianic character, in contrast to the rebellions of the social groups of the free poor"; Palmares, 48.

"3 See above in note 13 my discussion of the malt? revolt in Bahia.

"4 Gaspar BarlCu. Historia dos feitos recentemente praticados durante oito anos no Brasil, Cl6udio BrandBo, trans. (1940; rpt. edn., SBo Paulo, 1974), 253. R. K. Kent cites the expedition of Jiirgens Reijmbach, a Dutch army lieutenant, who led an expedition against Palmares in 1645 and noted that there was a church at Palmares. See Kent, "An African State in Brazil," in Richard Price, ed., Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas, 2d edn. (Baltimore, Md., 1979), 178-79. The banning of witchcraft is interesting because in African millenarian movements of the twentieth century, a target of millenarian leaders was always traditional witchcraft and its practitioners. See Karen E. Fields's discussion of how the Watchtower prophets used baptism as a way of getting rid of witches; Revival and Rebellion in Colonial Central Africa (Princeton, N.J., 1985), 163-92.

"5 Report of the FernBo Carrilho expedition, as utilized by Kent, "African State in Brazil," 179.

two everything would be forgotten."ll6 In the absence of written descriptions of millenarianism among slaves, most scholars have discounted the possibility that it existed, particularly among African slaves. Yet powerful millennia1 resistance to colonialism can be found in Africa among the peoples of the Gulf of Guinea and the Bantu and the Ba-Kongo of central Africa-regions heavily affected by the slave trade.l17 This tradition can be seen at least as early as the first decade of the eighteenth century, when the prophetic leader Beatrice created rituals that blended Christian and indigenous African beliefs, called her followers to restore the traditional capital of SBo Salvador, and challenged the authority of the Capuchin missionaries.l18 In the nineteenth century, the juxtaposition of missionary teachings against the backdrop of the colonial power structure created fertile ground for Messianic movements. Messianic churches were most prevalent where evangelism by missionaries was extensive and where racial discrimination, instituted by colonial laws, was intense.l19

In one part of the African diaspora, millenarianism is a recognized and documented part of slave religion: the southern United States. Early in this century,

W. E. B. Du Bois described African-American religion as millenarian in its blending of pragmatic and escapist elements.120 Following in Du Bois's footsteps, several scholars of slave religion in North America have analyzed in considerable detail the millenarian and Messianic characteristics of slave religion.lZ1 Among these schol-

u6Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, 3. 117 Fields, Revival and Rebellion; Bengt Sundkler, Bantu Prophets in South Africa (London, 1961); and Georges Balandier, The Sociology of Black Africa, Douglas Garman, trans. (New York, 1970).

H8 Relations sur le Congo du Pire Laurent de Lucques (1 700-1 71 7), J. Cuvelier, trans. (Brussels, 1953). For additional sources and analysis, see J. Vansina, "The Kingo Kingdom and Its Neighbours," in Africa from the Sirteenth to the Eighteenth Century, General History of Africa, Vol. 5, B. A. Ogot, ed. (London, 1992), 573-74; and Wyatt MacGaffey, "The Cultural Roots of Kongo Prophetism," History of Religions 17 (1977): 177-93. An earlier cult in Malawi (southeast Africa), occurred in the context of the upheavals caused by the presence of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. While not described as millenarian, the Mbona cult nevertheless featured a redemptive leader known as Mbona or "black Jesus"; see J. Matthew Schoffeleers, River of Blood: The Genesis of a Martyr Cult in Southern Malawi,

c. A.D. 1600 (Madison, Wis., 1992).

H9 The colonial regimes in Africa reduced the amount of land Africans could own, enforced rigid segregation, and weakened the power of traditional chiefs; but, at the same time, Africans learned in the mission churches that they were equal to whites in the eyes of God. This obvious contradiction began, according to Georges Balandier, to educate Africans politically. These movements gave birth not only to black churches but also to political movements against the colonizers that became the basis for African nationalism; Balandier, Sociology of Black Africa, 412. Balandier further argues that it was through reading the Bible that African protest and resistance acquired a semi-mythical, semi-literary form (p. 470). Balandier's study of Simon Kimbangou, one of the famous African prophets of the twentieth century, illustrates how the combination of colonialism and missions led to the creation of independent African churches. Known as Gounza (all of these at once, or messiah), his teaching rapidly gained followers in the Belgian Congo. Arrested and deported in 1921, he became a martyr. As the Kimbangist church developed, believers transformed the prophet into the lord. They described Simon Kimbangou as the founder of a new religion, a black religion: "He [God] has sent us Simon Kimbangou, who is to us what Moses was to the Jews, Christ to the foreigners and Mahomet to the Arabs" (p. 418). Kimbangists believed that the savior would return and put an end to the white man's rule; this return would be accompanied by great natural catastrophes and war (p. 426). See also Georges Balandier, "Messianismes et Nationalismes en Afrique Noire," Cahiers Internationale de Sociologie 14 (1953): 41-65; and Fields, Revival and Rebellion.

120 Wilson Jeremiah Moses, Black Messiahs and Uncle Toms: Social and Literary Manipulations of a Religious Myth (University Park, Pa., 1982), 68.

121 Lewis V. Baldwin presents a well-developed analysis of millenarian and Messianic themes in slave religion, which he argues carried over into southern black churches; see There Is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Minneapolis, 1991); and Baldwin, "Martin Luther King, Jr.,

ars, Lewis Baldwin argues that there was a part of slave religion that did foment rebellion. Slaves who resisted slavery, he writes, "not only believed in the possibility of God's deliverance in the here and now, but in their very actions sought to make that possibility a reality."122 Some slave rebellions had millenarian overtones. The accounts of Nat Turner's rebellion preserve the clearest evidence of millenarian slaves. Eugene Genovese calls Turner a "messianic Christian prophet," while Lewis Baldwin refers to Turner's followers as "slaves who attempted to fulfill their millennial vision here on earth." In his "confession," Turner spoke of visions, revelations, miracles, and signs from God that convinced him that "the Saviour was about to lay down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and the great day of judgement was at hand."123 He described an apocalyptic battle in the heavens, between good and evil, whites and blacks: "I saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened-the thunder rolled in the Heavens, and blood flowed in streams."124 The persistence of the millenarian hope for salvation among African Americans, scholars argue, can be seen in African- American literature,l25 as well as in new religious movements, such as the Nation of 1~lam.l~~

Scholars have not drawn the parallels between the U.S. South and Brazil with respect to millenarianism and have not thought of Brazilian quilombos as millena- rian communities, even briefly in their origins.12' Yet the names of some of the quilombos in Maranhio, to the north of Bahia, are tantalizing: Siio Luis (St. Louis),

the Black Church, and the Black Messianic Vision," Journal of the Interdenominational Theology Center 12, nos. 1-2 (1984-85): 93-108. Moses argues that while U.S. culture has been historically rich with Messianic symbolism, it is strongest among black Americans. Like Baldwin, he also sees Martin Luther King, Jr., as coming out of a southern, Protestant, and African-American religious tradition that historically created hopes for a Messiah; Black Messiahs and Uncle Toms. In his classic Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South (New York, 1980), 289-318, Albert Raboteau illustrates how the Old Testament books of Exodus and Daniel figured prominently in slave Christianity. Exodus promised deliverance to a radically different future, while Daniel contained the fundamental millennial prophesies, which slaves interpreted to mean the triumph of the North in the Civil War. Cornel West discusses the evolution of black theology from prophetic Christian roots during slavery in Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutiona~y Christianip (Philadelphia, 1982). Baldwin, Raboteau, and Dwight N. Hopkins and George C. L. Cummings discuss how slave visions of heaven and slave imagination of the Day of Judgment revealed a millenarian outlook, because heaven to slaves became bound up with their vision of freedom, a transcendent freedom to be realized in God's, not the master's, heaven. Slaves pictured heaven as a place where families would reunite, where wrongs would be righted, where slaves would extract their revenge, and where communities would be reconstructed; see Louis V. Baldwin, " 'A Home in Dat Rock': Afro-American Folk Sources and Slave Visions of Heaven and Hell," Journal of Religious Thought 42 (1984): 38-57; Raboteau, Slave Religion, 291; and Hopkins and Cummings, Cut Loose Your Stammering Tongue: Black Theology in the Slave Narratives (New York, 1991), 57-59.

IZ2 Hopkins and Cummings, Cut Loose Your Stammering Tongue, 57.

'23 "The Confessions of Nat Turner," in Henry Irving Tragle, The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831: A Compilation of Source Material (Amherst, Mass., 1971), 309.

124 "Confessions of Nat Turner," 308.

125 Maxine Lavon Montgomery, The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction (Gainesville, Fla., 1996),


126 Moses, Black Messiahs, 181-95; Dennis Walker, "The Black Muslims in American Society: From Millenarian Protest to Trans-Continental Relationships," in Trompf, Cargo Cults and Millenarian Movements, 343-90.

127 Bastide rejects the relevance of the U.S. South to Brazil because the slave religions of the United States came out of a Protestant tradition, which he argues is necessary for the Old Testament prophesies to be introduced; African Religions of Brazil, 361.

S5o Sebastiiio (St. Sebastian), and Siio Benedito do Ceu (St. Benedict of the Sky). One quilombo named Cris-Santo (Cristo-Santo?/Holy Christ) had a king by the same name.128 Moreover, the millenarian tradition in northeastern Brazil among the rural poor is a deep and long one.129 Slaves and former slaves joined such movements. One of these millenarian movements in Sergipe, to the north of Bahia, appeared in 1888, the date of the abolition of slavery in Brazil, and virtually replicated the Santidade de Jaguaripe three hundred years earlier. In this sect, Mamelucos, blacks, runaways, and criminals joined together to create a heaven on earth through rituals of holiness, again known as "santidade."l30 The most famous of the modern millenarian movements of the Brazilian Northeast was that led by Antonio Conselheiro at Canudos, immortalized by Euclides da Cunha in Rebellion in the Backlands (1944). There, the followers of Antonio, many of whom were former slaves, withdrew from the larger society to live in a community of their own construction to await redemption on the Day of Judgment.131


THE SANTIDADE slaves in Bahia articulated resistance to the colonial society then being constructed by colonists, crown officials, and the Jesuits. They appropriated the rudimentary Christian vocabulary taught to them by the Jesuits and used it to create a new religious experience. That experience, and its common language, provided a means for defining a new identity among persons of widely varying nations, who were dehumanized by slavery and colonialism. The millennia1 beliefs of the sect, drawn from Tupi-Guarani and Judeo-Christian traditions, created the context within which the preachers identified evil with white slaveowners, who would be punished when God came to judge. This moral vision allowed slaves to view the power of the master as evil. It called on slaves to resist their masters in this world and not to suffer in expectation of salvation in the next. With the promise of supernatural intervention, slaves challenged the physical control that slaveowners used to keep them slaves. After breaking free, slaves created a new community in which very different rules were in force. This new community emphasized the power of spiritual transformation through rituals of cleansing, renaming, dancing, and "drinking the holy smoke" of tobacco. Initiates became saints and actively participated in the religious ceremonies. So compelling was this vision of a new, spiritually alive, community that it challenged the very foundation of Portuguese colonialism.

The Santidade de Jaguaripe appeared early in the process of colonial formation in Brazil. Before colonial societies were fully constructed by the crown and church, there were openings-moments of confusion, division, or uncertainty-in which

'28 JOS~

Alipio Goulart, Da fuga ao suicidio: Aspectos de rebeldia dos escravos no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 1972), 213-16.

lZ9 See Robert M. Levine, Vale of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil, 1893-1897 (Berkeley, Calif., 1992), 217-26; Patricia Pessar, "Millenarian Movements in Rural Brazil: Prophecy and Protest," Religion 12 (1982): 187-213; and Pessar, "Three Moments in Brazilian Millenarianism: The Interrelationship between Politics and Religion," Luso Brazilian Review 28 (1991): 94-116.

Ariosvaldo Figueiredo, 0 negro e a violencia do branco: 0 negro em Sergipe (Rio de Janeiro, 1977).

E. Cunha, Rebellion in the Backlands; and Levine, Vale of Tears.

different directions might have been taken. The Santidade de Jaguaripe occurred in such a moment. The millenarian faith of the followers in their leaders' invincibility proved to be illusory, for the leaders of the sect were hurt by swords and restrained by chains. The quest for independence was cut short by colonial authorities. But subsequent acts of slave resistance and the persistence of a millenarian folk Catholicism in the Brazilian Northeast suggest that the desire for the kind of community that the Santidade de Jaguaripe tried to create did not die out. Whether other millenarian slave movements existed in Brazil and whether other openings early in the construction of other American colonies allowed syncretic, multi- ethnic, millenarian movements of slaves to emerge are questions that invite further historical research.

Alida C. Metcalf is a professor of history at Trinity University. She received her BA from Smith College in 1976 and her PhD in 1983 from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied with Richard Graham. A specialist in Brazilian history, she is the author of Family and Frontier in Colonial Brazil: Santana de Parnaiba, 1580-1822 (1992), which was awarded the Harvey Johnson Book Award in 1993 and honorable mention for the Bolton Prize in 1994. Metcalf's current research focuses on Jesuit and Mameluco go-betweens in sixteenth-century Brazil.

  • Recommend Us