Second Battle of Guararapes

The Second Battle of Guararapes was the second and decisive battle in the Insurrection of Pernambuco between Dutch and Portuguese forces in February 1649 at Jaboatão dos Guararapes in Pernambuco. The defeat convinced the Dutch "that the Portuguese were formidable opponents, something which they had hitherto refused to concede."[8] The Dutch still retained a presence in Brazil until 1654 and a treaty was signed in 1661.[9]

Second Battle of Guararapes
Part of the Dutch invasions of Brazil

Battle of Guararapes by Victor Meirelles, painted 1878
Date19 February 1649
Result Portuguese victory[1]
Commanders and leaders
Dutch West India Company Van Den Brinck [2]
3,500[3] 2,600[4]
Casualties and losses
1,045 killed, wounded or captured[5]
45 killed[6]
200 wounded[7]



Facing an uprising by the Portuguese planters in Dutch Brazil and having concluded a Peace Treaty with the Spanish in 1647, the Dutch sent an expeditionary force to Brazil, consisting of 41 ships with 6000 men.[10] This expeditionary force arrived late in Recife (Mauritsstad) and faced numerous problems. In April 1648, the Portuguese routed the expeditionary force at the First Battle of Guararapes, fought outside Recife.



The Dutch forces, led by Colonel Brinck, left Recife on February 17, 1649, and fought the Portuguese at Guararapes Plain on February 19.[11] Though the Dutch West India Company fielded a larger, better equipped force, they suffered morale problems as most of their army was made up of mercenaries from Europe (primarily Germany) who felt no real passion for the war in Brazil, as opposed to the Natives and Portuguese settlers who considered Brazil to be their home and were fighting for a patriotic cause. The Dutch force were also unused to fighting in the dense jungle and humid conditions of the country, wearing thick, brightly coloured European clothing and heavy metal armour which inhibited their dexterity. Contemporary accounts describe Dutch troops at the battle as "pale and sickly". The Dutch army at Guararapes were armed with pikes, cannons, and an assortment of bladed weapons. It is thought by historians that the use of short blades by the Dutch was an attempt to imitate previously successful Portuguese weaponry and tactics.

The Portuguese force was made up of an assortment of natives, blacks, and whites who knew, and had experience fighting in, the difficult Brazilian terrain. They weakened Dutch troops with fusillades of musketfire from behind trees, and then charged with mêlée weapons.

The Dutch had expected the enemy to march down the well established coastal roads, and thus formed a line of defence covering these roads. However, the Portuguese force used a series of minor trails to reach Pernambuco, appearing out of the wetlands to the west and Guararapes Hills (from which the battle derived its name) and flanking the Dutch. After several hours of fighting, the Dutch retreated northwards to Recife, leaving their artillery behind. Following the Dutch retreat, the Portuguese army marched into Pernambuco.

An eyewitness account of the Dutch defeat by Michiel van Goch written a few days after the battle notes

The enemy's men [the Portuguese forces] are naturally agile and surefooted, able to advance or retreat speedily. They are also formidable from their natural ferocity, consisting as they do of Brazilians, Tapuyas, Negroes, Mamelucos, etc., all natives of this country; as also Portuguese and Italians, whose constitution enables them to adapt themselves very readily to the terrain, so that they can range the woods, cross the swamps, and climb or descend the hills (all of which natural obstacles are very numerous here), and that with remarkable speed and agility. Our [Dutch] men, on the contrary, fight ranged in serried ranks, after the manner of the fatherland, and they are sluggish and flabby, unsuited to this kind of country.[12]

With the defeats of the Dutch in the two battles, and the further setback of the Portuguese Recapture of Angola, which crippled the Dutch colony in Brazil as it couldn't survive without the slaves from Angola, opinion in Amsterdam considered that "Dutch Brazil by now no longer had a future worth fighting for," which "effectively sealed the fate of the colony."[13]

The participation of Henrique Dias[14] and indigenous leader Filipe Camarão resulted in them receiving honors from the Portuguese crown.

Depictions in art

Portrait of Filipe Camarão, by Victor Meirelles, oil on canvas, ca. 1874–78, Museu Victor Meirelles

Antwerp painter Gillis Peeters painted an image of the battle in 1650, showing the rocky landscape and combat between Dutch soldiers armed with rifled and stereotypical Amerindians with bows and arrows.[15] Nineteenth-century Brazilian painter Victor Meirelles produced a vivid image of the battle as well as a portrait of Filipe Camarão, as Brazil claimed its role in defeating the Dutch. A painting depicting the Battle of Guararapes is located in the lower choir of the Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Military in Recife.[16]

Important participants

Battle of Guararapes.

See also


Further reading

  • Araújo, Hugo André Flores Fernandes. "Amigos fingidos y enemigos encubiertos: el gobierno general y la insurrección pernambucana (1642–1645)." Prohistoria 21 (2014): 27–53.
  • Boxer, Charles R., The Dutch in Brazil, 1624–1654. Oxford: The Clarendon Press 1957. [ISBN missing]
  • Cabral de Mello, Evaldo. Olinda Restaurada: Guerra e Açúcar no Nordeste, 1630–1654. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo 1975. [ISBN missing]
  • Groesen, Michiel van. Amsterdam's Atlantic: Print Culture and the Making of Dutch Brazil. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2017. [ISBN missing]
  • Marley, David, Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present (1998) ISBN 978-0-87436-837-6
  • History of Portuguese America, in Portuguese, by Sebastião da Rocha Pita


  1. ^ David Marley, p. 133
  2. ^ David Marley, Brincks army's disintegrates, the commander himself falling mortally wounded. p. 133
  3. ^ David Marley, Some 3,500 Dutch troops march out of Recife under Colonel Brinck (...) p. 133
  4. ^ David Marley, (...) confronting 2,600 Portuguese defenders under Governor Barreto dug in on the Guararapes Plain. p. 133
  5. ^ David Marley, Dutch losses total 1045 dead, wounded or captured (...) p. 133
  6. ^ David Marley, (...) 45 Portuguese killed and 200 wounded. p. 133
  7. ^ David Marley, p. 133
  8. ^ Charles R. Boxer, The Dutch in Brazil, 1624–1654. Oxford: The Clarendon Press 1957, p. 215.
  9. ^ Francis A. Dutra, "Dutch in Colonial Brazil" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 2, p. 419. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996. [ISBN missing]
  10. ^ Parker, Geoffrey (1976). The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567-1659: The Logistics of Spanish Victory and Defeat in the Low Countries' Wars. Cambridge University Press. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0-521-54392-7.
  11. ^ David Merley, p.133
  12. ^ quoted in Boxer, Dutch in Brazil, pp. 215-16.
  13. ^ Michiel van Groesen, Amsterdam's Atlantic: Print Culture and the Making of Dutch Brazil. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2017, p. 127.
  14. ^ Judith L. Allen, "Henrique Dias" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 2, p. 375. Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  15. ^ Van Groesen, Amsterdam's Atlantic, pp. 150-51. The image is on page 151.
  16. ^ Menezes, José Luiz Mota (2013). "Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Military". Heritage of Portuguese Influence/Património de Influência Portuguesa. Retrieved 8 May 2017.

  Media related to Battle of Guararapes at Wikimedia Commons

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