Posted by: Rob Viens | August 11, 2012

Legacy of the “Thirty Three Orientals”

August 11th saw more gunfire in the city, and today Darwin added  some of the specifics about the people involved in the conflict:

“But this morning we hear not even one has been wounded.— in fact both parties are afraid of coming within reach of musket range of each other. Yesterday Lavalleja, the military governor, entered the town & was well received by everybody excepting his former black troops. These he threatened to expel from the citadel & planted some guns to command the gate.— To revenge this the Blacks last night made a sally, & hence arose the firing.— This morning the news comes that Lavelleja, who was unanimously but yesterday received, has been obliged to fly the city, & that it is now certain that Signor Frutez & the constitutional government will gain the day.— One is shocked at the bloody revolutions in Europe, but after seeing to what an extent such imbecile changes can proceed, it is hard to determine which of the two is most to be dreaded. The weather for these last days has been wet & uncomfortable in the extreme.” (Aug 11)

I’m particularly fond of how easily Darwin switched gears from “bloody revolutions” to describing the weather as “uncomfortable in the extreme”.  It is such a perfect, yet seemingly unintentional, metaphor for the civil unrest.

Juan Antonio Lavalleja:

Juan Antonio Lavalleja

“Lavalleja” that Darwin refers to is Juan Antonio Lavalleja – one of the heroes of Uruguayan independence. Lavalleja’s most notable role was that of leading a group known as the Treinta y Tres Orientales (Thirty Three Orientals/Easterners).  This name makes a little more sense when you realize that the region north of the Rio de la Plata that includes all of Uruguay was known as the Oriental Province. (More specifically the region east of the Uruguay River was called the Banda Oriental del Uruguay – “Band (of Land) East of the Uruguay”). In the early 1820’s this land was under control of the Brazil and Portugal.  In 1825 Lavalleja and the Thirty Three Orientals led a revolution that re-established control of the region by the Spanish settlers. On August 25th of that year, they declared independence of the Oriental Province and by the end of the year they were recognized by the local political structure – the United Provinces of South America (which included parts of what are now Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and southern Brazil). Brazil was not ready to give up control that easily and conflict continued for the next three years as part of the Cisplatine War. The war ended with treaty (facilitated by the British and French) and resulted in the formation of the country of Uruguay.  Two years later they had a constitution and their first president.

“El Juramento de los Treinta y Tres Orientales” (Oath of the Thirty Three Orientals), by Juan Manuel Blanes (1877)

Oath of the Thirty Three Orientals

I’m pretty sure that the “Signor Frutez” Darwin mentions is Fructuoso Rivera – president of Uruguay and leader of the Colorado Party, who were in power in Montevideo in August 1832 (see post from 2 days ago). Lavalleja and Rivera were adversaries (Lavalleja actually ran against Rivera for the presidency), and at least one source notes that Lavalleja lead revolts against Rivera in protest.  He clearly liked to stir things up – though I am not sure what his motivations where. The action Darwin saw, appears to be one of these very events. (RJV)


  1. […] independence from Brazil – Juan Antonio Lavalleja. (Read a little more on Lavalleja in the Legacy of the “Thirty Three Orientals”.) Keep in mind Lavalleja’s revolutionizing had taken place less than ten years before […]

  2. […] when the Cisplatine War raged between Brazil and the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (see Legacy of the “Thirty Three Orientals”), Carmen de Patagones became a naval […]

  3. […] ή Θάνατος» και σχετίζεται με τον απελευθερωτικό αγώνα «Treinta y Tres Orientales» ενάντια στην Βραζιλία, η οποία είχε κατακτήσει την […]

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