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Wednesday’s Wise Women … Maria Quiteria and Joana Angelica

October 10, 2012

Maria Quiteria 

In my bid to discover some lesser known Wise Women I have discovered various blogs and websites. One such site is Mulher 500 Anos, it is in Portuguese and the translation is poor. Nonetheless it is a list of women of Brazil who have contributed to the building of the democratic and egalitarian society.  These women made changes overcoming racism and ethnocentrism; in a man’s world and made history.

During my research I read and learned a little about Princess Isabel the daughter of Pedro II, Brazil’s last emperor.  In the absence of her father in 1871 she presided over the enactment of the Law of Free Birth that marked the end of slavery in 1888. For this she earned the name A Redentora (redemptress) I understand that this move did not come from an ethical stand but for economic and practical reasons and pressure from would be importers. 

During her forty years as the heir to the Brazilian Empire this was her only claim to fame.  Meanwhile she gave birth to three sons who would be the ultimate heirs to the throne. It seems historians agree that although Princess Isabel did participate in the end of slavery her actions were detrimental to the Imperial Regime that was replaced by the republic in 1889.

This explains why Princess Isabel was not mentioned in the Muhler 500 Anos.

Roderick J. Barman is his book Princess Isabel of Brazil does point out that Isabel was among nine women during the 19th century around the world including Queen Victoria who were born to privileged royal families brought up to fulfill the role of wife and mother and assume the role of a ruler of their country.
It was Isabel’s Father Pedro who severed ties with Portugal and bought about Brazil’s independence.   Leopoldina (Princess Isabel’s mother) persuaded her husband Pedro to stay and defend Brazil, while his father King Joao VI fled to Lisbon in 1822.  In 1825  Great Britain brokered the peace treaty and Portugal recognised Brazil as a separate state.

During the fighting for this cause women became involved but not fully recognised in chronicles of the time. 

It is recorded that Maria Quiteria a native of Bahia donned a soldiers uniform to fight for political independence and Sister Joana Angelica a nun was shot down in the doorway of her convent in Salvador da Bahia while resisting the attack of the Portuguese troops.

I am sure many more women took part in the resisting of the Portuguese political regime it is clear to see how difficult it must have been for women to play the autonomous roles.
So Sister Joana and Maria should be honoured and represent the many women who were not recognised.


Joana Angelica 

Empress D Leopoldina of Brazil 

Princess Isabel of Brazil ; gender and power in the 19th century by Roderick J. Barman.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2012 12:09 pm

    Another interesting account Nela.

  2. April 30, 2014 8:06 am

    Reblogged this on Living, Libraries and [Dead] Languages and commented:

    I don’t like reblogging it feels like I have run out of ideas or steam. Perhaps, I have and maybe I should consider the need to post daily. I would value thoughts about Blogging, the reasons why we do it ? Also, why at some point we or just I, wonder if I have lost the plot and should get a life! Meanwhile, as the the year goes on and I look back of the last 3 months of grief and pain and separation. I can perhaps see why blogging has not always been my priority. Then I think, in three months I will be looking at the statue of Princess Isabel of Brazil at the end a street very near where my daughter lives. Maybe the I will be able to celebrate again, the way in women and not just those from privileged backgrounds do cope with adversity.

  3. April 30, 2014 8:10 am


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