The Revolt of the Enteados and Tailors in Bahia, 1798
- Patrícia ValimPatrícia ValimUniversidade Federal da Bahia, Departamento de História
The 1798 revolt of the enteados and tailors in Bahia, also called the 1798 Conjuração Baiana (the Bahian conspiracy) in the historiography, was a movement of political contestation which occurred in two phases between 1796 and 1800 and involved all parts of soteropolitana society at the time. During the investigations carried out by two Desembargadores (appellant judges) from the Tribunal da Relação (appeals court) of Bahia, a group of powerful rich men, called the “corporation of the enteados,” “handed over slaves” to the courts to escape being accused of participating in the “planned revolt.” This episode shows that the resurgence of the colonial pact contained in the modernizing reforms of Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho triggered an awareness of colonial exploitation, causing the upper sectors of Soteropolitana society to demand at the end of the 18th century the enrooting of their economic interests and the maintenance of their privileges threatened by the possibility of the end of monopolies, majorats, a change in the manner of selling positions in the treasury and the courts, and the maintenance of the extension of tithe contracts for Portuguese merchants.
After a programmatic alliance with armed groups in the captaincy of Bahia, the middle and upper sectors of the Partido da Liberdade sparked the movement into life with handwritten pamphlets exploiting the two principal fears on the horizon of expectations of the Portuguese Crown in that conflictual fin de siècle: the mirage of free trade and a French invasion. After the beginning of the devassas (inquiry) to investigate the authorship of the pamphlets and discover the movement’s participants, its upper-class members retreated, handed over their slaves to justice, and formulated the principal evidence that had men from middle sectors condemned to death. The hanging in the public square of those condemned for the revolt of the enteados and the tailors, the 1798Conjuração Baiana (The Bahian Conspiracy), is paradigmatic, since the winning political project that emerged was a conservative one, as the Portuguese Crown carried out a series of compromise solutions with the corporation of the enteados, guaranteeing the internalization of their interests and the maintenance of their privileges, which made them the dominant sector in that society, fundamental for allowing Portuguese monarchical power to continue to govern the conflict within dominant sectors in the principal colony.