Cangaço (highwaymen)


Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
Cangaço (highwaymen)​

Between the 19th and the mid-20 (in Brazil), a specific type of banditry was developed in the northeastern hinterland: the cangaço.​

The Cangaço was a phenomenon in northeastern Brazil formed by nomads who used violence to commit crimes in the region.​

The very term "cangaceiro" in its origins, makes reference to the term "canga"(yoke) piece of wood usually placed on mules and transport animals.​

Thus, the word cangaceiro originally alludes to utensils that this outlaws carried in their body.​

These groups appeared in function primarily of the poor social conditions of northeastern region. The landlordism, which concentrated land and income in the hands of farmers, leaving the majority of the population in the margins of society.​

Understanding the cangaço

Therefore, we can understand the cangaço as a social phenomenon, characterized by violent actions on the part of cangaceiros. These, who went in armed groups, spreading fear through the northeastern hinterland.
Ransacked the farms, attacking convoys and kidnapped landowners to obtain ransoms. Raping and killing for nothing.​

Through criminal practices, these groups constituted a social group outside the structures of power and social relations prevailing during the time of the oligarchies. According to their interests, cangaceiros established alliances with those who offered economic advantages or protection to its activities.​

The cangaceiros generally lived committing crimes, running and hiding. But there were three groups in Cangaço. One of them rendered service to the landowners themselves, so they were not as so fugitives. There was a second group that represented still more the powers of local farmers, who were known as "political".
These, therefore, enjoyed certain protection. Only a third group that was independent and practiced a thug life on their own. All of them, however, knew well the nature of the Brazilian caatinga (desert land) and thus had a large advantage in time to escape the authorities. It was also the nature that drew all the resources to face adversity.​

The Cangaceiros had some level of support from the poorest population: the bandits sustained some beneficial behaviors such as acts of charity, buying of goods for higher​

The cangaceiros had very specific notions of how to behave and dress. First of all, most of them knew how to sew quite well. Living in the desert lands of the northeast of Brazil, they had to survive amidst spiky dry bushes. Despite the heat during the day, the cangaceiros preferred to wear leather clothing, embellished with all kinds of coloured ribbons and metal pieces.​

They also used leather gloves with coins and other pieces of metal sewn onto them, almost like armour.​

The cangaceiros were very equiped by the time armed with shotguns, Mauser rifles and carbine, pistols the favorite being the german lugger and even submachine guns like the Berggman MP18.​


They also made famous a thin, long, and very sharp knife called a "peixeira", a fish-cleaning knife, used mostly to torture or cut the throats of their victims.​

The most vamous Cangaceiro was “Lampião” Oil Lamp", according to his fellows, he could shoot so quickly that he could illuminate the place (his name was Virgulino Ferreira da Silva)​

He began when he was just a boy, amongst vendetta plots of the Pereira and Nogueira-Carvalho families. When his parents were killed because of these disputes, some of his brothers ran away, but Antônio, Livino, and Ezequiel followed Virgulino into the cangaço.​

Seen as a mixture of hero and bandit, Lampião became one of the most representative icons of Brazil.​

Wandering around Santa Brígida, in the state of Bahia, he met Maria Alia da Silva (a.k.a. Maria de Déia), wife of shoemaker Zé de Nenê. Later she would be better known as Mrs. Lampião, Maria Bonita (literally "Pretty Maria").​

Lampião was killed by the police in 1938, in a region between the state limits of Bahia and Alagoas, when an informer, Pedro de Cândida gave away their location to the police. A massive offensive led to bloodshed, and the eleven of the band was killed: Lampião, Maria Bonita, Luís Pedro, Mergulhão, Enedina, Elétrico, Quinta-Feira, Moeda, Alecrim, Colchete and Macela.​

His head and the heads of his band were cut (a old and nasty brazilian tradition) and paraded by the whole Brazil to show that the famous bandit was dead.​

The Volantes.

The aggravation of the problem of cangaço led state police to create special forces to combat it called "Volante"(volant or flying), led by career officers , but formed by temporary "soldiers" and whose methods of operation - particularly in relation to poor population was not much different from those of the cangaceiros themselves.​

The volantes were small and special band of troops – around 20 to 60 with the mission of hunt and destroy the cangaceiros.​

The end of cangaço.

After the end of the band of Lampião, the other groups of cangaceiros, already weakened, were disarticulated and defeated in the late 1930s.​

Lampião Lieutenant, the cangaceiro Corisco vowed revenge and continued to fight until May 1940, when he also was killed in a police siege. In the 40s, Brazil was undergoing major economic and social transformations, promoted by industrialization.​

The evolution of transport and communication gradually integrated the hinterland to the rest of the country. Moreover, the need for labor in the factories of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo started to attract the population of semi-arid. Thus, the various circumstances that led to the cangaço disappeared along with it.​

Cangaço a guerra no sertão da República
Autor: Bráz, Júlio Emílio

História do Cangaço
Autor: Queiroz, Maria Isaura Pereira de


Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
you're welcome I'm glad you have liked
the cangaço while being part of the imaginary of Brazilian people it is a subject little studied and full of mystique


Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
wololo;bt3397 said:
Gostei :D

Que tal um sobre a Coluna Prestes?

Obrigado por trazer um pedaço nosso pra cá.
e desculpe por demorar para responder
sim eu tenho planos de falar sobre a coluna prestes

thank you
and sorry for the late reply

I have plans to talk about the Prestes Colum
Brazil's history is rich but is little known
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