Brazil is large in size, population and various natural resources that bless Brazil. It’s a shinning gem in South America. It’s also home to a large portion of the Amazon rainforest. When Pedro Álvares Cabral a Portuguese explorer arrived in South America in the 16th Century it was claimed as a possession of the Portuguese crown. Through the years Portuguese started arriving in Brazil and building it up little by little. In addition, people in the colony became more unhappy with the royal crown. Read along to learn about Tiradentes who is featured on a few Brazilian banknotes.

Map of Minas Gerais, Colonial Brazil, 1750 | Source: Wikipedia

The colony of Minas Gerais was notable for its gold mining. However, when gold mining decreased due to less abundance of the mineral in the regions new taxes were imposed on gold. In 1789 high ranking members of Minas Gerais society gathered to form a movement. The member came from various walks of life some were wealthy businessmen, military personnel, and intellectuals. Among them was a man by the name of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier also known as Tiradentes. The name Tiradentes transalates to tooth puller since he worked as a dentist. He also held jobs as a miner, military member and merchant. One common belief among all the members was independence from the Portuguese crown. Some say that they were influenced by American independence from Great Britain in 1776.

Old Brazilian Gold Mine | Source: AS

Betrayal & Banknotes Dedicated To Tiradentes

This movement would be come to known as the Inconfidência Mineira or Mineira Conspiracy. However, before any of their plans could come to fruition they were betrayed by Joaquim Silvério dos Reis, a local businessman who became aware of their plans for independence. He reported them to the colonial authorities in exchange for financial and political gain. In 1789 Tiradentes along with other conspirators were arrested and out in prison. They all went through trial for a few years and Tiradentes eventually claimed sole responsibility for the conspiracy. Subsequently on April 21, 1792, he was the only member to be executed for treason against the royal crown. His body was then dismembered and used as deterrent against any future rebellions. All the while the rest got lesser sentences.

Brazil 5,000 Cruzeiros Banknote | 1963| Tiradentes | Source: Banknote World Educational

Other Banknotes Paying Homage

Because of this he is viewed as a hero in Brazilian history and a precursor for actual independence from Portugal which occurred in 1822. He has his own national holiday which takes place on April 21 of every year in Brazil. In addition you can find his image on a few Brazilian banknotes. The red 5,000 Cruzeiros from 1963 features a portrait of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier on the front obverse side. The reverse side features a portrait of the painting “Tiradentes facing the executioner”.

Brazil 5 Cruzados Novos on 5,000 Cruzados Banknote, Tiradentes | 1989 ND | Source: Banknote World

Another banknote paying homage to Tiradentes is the 5,000 Cruzados, the 5 Cruzados Novos is over it. The obverse side features an image of artist Candido Portinari along with an excerpt from his painting Tiradentes, 1948. It shows an image of Tiradentes’ dismembered head with women and children around him, crying. When national holidays occur most of are usually just happy to get a day off from work but, when we take the time to learn the history a lot of cultural symbols really come together, and I think banknotes are a great way to preserve history.

Tiradentes 1948 Painting | Source: Flickr/Samuel Kassapian Jr


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