The story

Filipe dos Santos revolt

Filipe dos Santos revolt



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Also known as the Vila Rica Uprising, this nativist movement took place in the year 1720 in the Minas Gerais region during the Gold Cycle period.

The Minas Gerais region produced a lot of gold in the eighteenth century. The Portuguese crown has greatly increased tax collection in the region. The fifth, for example, was charged on every other extracted (20% stayed with Portugal). This charge occurred in the Foundry Houses.

The circulation of gold dust or nuggets was prohibited. Anyone caught violating Portuguese law was arrested and severely punished (degrading to Africa was the main).


Felipe dos Santos: condemned to death for leading revolt

Cause and Objective

Mine owners were being harmed by the Crown's new measures to make smuggling of the gold dust more difficult. The Portuguese Crown decided to install four foundry houses, where all gold should be cast and turned into bars, with the Kingdom seal (at that time the tax of every five bars was collected, one was for the Portuguese Crown).

Thus, only bar gold with the royal seal could be traded, ending the parallel smuggling of the gold dust and, consequently, the greater profit of the mine owners. So the latter organized this revolt to wipe out the foundry houses, the taxes and the tight control over smuggling.

The leader and his ideas

Felipe dos Santos Freire was a wealthy farmer and drover (owner of mule troops to transport goods). With his speeches and ideas, he attracted the attention of the most popular and urban middle classes of Vila Rica. It advocated the end of the Foundry Houses and the reduction of metropolitan inspection.


Foundry Houses, center of taxation of the Portuguese colonization.

The uprising

The revolt lasted almost a month. The rebels took up arms and even occupied Vila Rica. Faced with the tense situation, the governor of the region, Count of Assumar, called the rebels to negotiate, asking them to abandon their weapons.

After calming down and making promises to the rebels, the earl ordered the troops to invade the village. The leaders were arrested and their homes burned down. Felipe dos Santos, considered a leader, was tried and sentenced to death by hanging.

Consequences of the Uprising

As a consequence, the Crown sought to limit access to mines and the flow of production to inhibit smuggling and tax evasion. To facilitate this task, the Minas Gerais Captaincy was created, separate from the São Paulo Captaincy.

The rioters marched to the captaincy's headquarters in Mariana, and since Governor Conde de Assumar had no way of blocking the strength of the mine owners, he promised that the foundry houses would not be installed and that local commerce would be free. Taxes The rebels then returned to Vila Rica, from where they had left. Taking advantage of the truce, the count had the leaders of the movement arrested, whose houses were burned down. Many of them were deported to Lisbon, but Filipe dos Santos was convicted and executed. Thus, this revolt failed to achieve its objectives and was easily stifled by the government.

Felipe dos Santos was killed because he and his troop demolished the foundry houses.

Due to its nativist character and protest against metropolitan politics, many historians consider this movement as an embryo of Inconfidência Mineira (1789).