The Destruction of Palmares

By 1676, the repeated Portuguese expeditions sent out against Palmares had begun to take their toll. An expedition led by Fernão Carrilho proved to be especially damaging, which thereby led the leader of Palmares, Ganga-Zumba, to offer a peace treaty to the Portuguese. [1] However, Ganga-Zumba’s offer of peace was rejected by his younger chiefs and he was poisoned in an act of regicide. [2] Zumbi, a young chief who had previously been in charge of the quilombo’s defense, became Palmares’ leader and chose to continue fighting the Portugues rather than submitting to peace.[3]

Palmares' new leader, Zumbi, who defiantly chose to continue fighting the Portuguese.

Palmares’ new leader, Zumbi, who defiantly chose to continue fighting the Portuguese.[4]

Zumbi was able to hold Portuguese expeditions at bay for nearly two decades years. Yet in 1694, an expedition sent by the Governor of Pernambuco and led by the militia captain Jorge Velho was able to successfully destroy Palmares’ capital, Macaco. The battle was bloody, and numerous men, women, and children were killed in the fighting.[5]

Jorge Velho, who successfully destroyed the capital of Palmares, Macaco, in 1694.

Jorge Velho, who successfully destroyed the capital of Palmares, Macaco, in 1694.[6]

Zumbi was able to escape into the wilderness and continue on with the fight against the Portuguese. However, Zumbi’s location was given to the Portuguese militia, and on November 20th, 1695, Zumbi was killed and his body mutilated.[7]


[1] Kent, R. K, “Palmares: An African State in Brazil.” The Journal of African History 6, no. 2 (1965): 169.

[2] Anderson, Robert Nelson, “The Quilombo of Palmares: A New Overview of a Maroon State in Seventeenth-Century Brazil.” Journal of Latin American Studies 28, no. 3 (1996): 563.

[3] Ibid., 563.

[4] AFRICAN, BLACK & DIASPORIC HISTORY. November 24, 2014. Accessed April 10, 2017. http://68.media.tumblr.com/93c284d1ea327998717c1c6467537af1/tumblr_nfc5x0BcwG1riaqbco4_1280.jpg.

[5] Orser, Charles E., and Pedro P. A. Funari, “Archaeology and Slave Resistance and Rebellion.” World Archaeology 33, no. 1 (2001): 66.

[6] “Domingos Jorge Velho.” Wikipedia. October 11, 2016. Accessed April 10, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domingos_Jorge_Velho#/media/File:Domingos_Jorge_Velho.jpg.

[7] Anderson, “The Quilombo of Palmares: A New Overview of a Maroon State in Seventeenth-Century Brazil,” 564.