Quilombo dos Palmares:

Brazil’s Lost Nation of Fugitive Slaves

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For the full course of the 17th century, a nation of fugitive slaves — the Quilombo dos Palmares — thrived in the mountains of northeast Brazil. Though it was at almost constant war with the most powerful empires on earth, its standard of living rivaled or exceeded that of the European colonies on the coast. Its population may have reached 20,000 or more.

The Quilombo dos Palmares had a representational government led by a succession of two leaders. The last, Zumbi, is reputed to have been captured at Palmares as an infant and raised in Portuguese society. Well educated, he knew Latin and was perhaps among the most highly educated men in the colony. But as a teen, he fled back to Palmares, where he became the nation’s “Lord of War” and then its last leader.

Palmares was populated not only by fugitive Africans but by indigenous people and even a few fugitive whites. Its society was more free and egalitarian than any in Europe. It was a bad example to people still ruled by kings, so the Dutch and the Portuguese attacked Palmares with over two dozen military excursions. Finally, in 1694, after a ferocious siege around Palmares’s mountaintop citadel, the nation was wiped out, and today, not a single vestige remains.

But the struggle is not over. The remnants of other quilombos still survive in the outback of Brazil. Black Republic examines not only the history of Palmares but the state of quilombos today and the role of myth in today’s veneration of Palmares.

Black Republic has not been published yet. Inquiries should be directed to author Glenn Alan Cheney.

Contact Authormailto:glenn@nllibrarium.com?subject=Chernobyl%20book

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