O Brigadeiro José Custódio de Sá e Faria: de Portugal à América Meridional - uma trajetória

“El Brigadier José Custodio de Sá y Faria: De Portugal a la América Meridional – una trayectoria”.

By the authors: "Brigadier José Custodio de Sá e Faria was an 18th century Portuguese military engineer who moved to America as part of the Treaty of Madrid of 1750 which regulated the marking of the boundaries between Spain and Portugal. He arrived in Brazil as Captain of Infantry, with an Engineer's practice and was promoted to Sergeant Major, for his extraordinary technical skills and cartographic knowledge.
From the resumption of hostilities between Spain and Portugal (1763) and the recovery by Spain of the north and south banks of Rio Grande de San Pedro by the expedition led by Pedro de Cevallos, governor of Buenos Aires, Sá e Faria was appointed governor of the Portuguese government of Rio Grande, located at that time in Viamão (now Porto Alegre). During this period he designed and built several fortifications in both Rio Grande del Sur and in Santa Catarina.

In 1767 Sá e Faria took part in the attack on the Villa of Rio Grande de San Pedro which resulted in the recovery of the north bank for Portugal and by 1771 he was appointed Brigadier of the Portuguese Army.
In 1774, the new border disputes caused by the Portuguese military offensive made Spain send the largest maritime expedition that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. This expedition in charge of the first Viceroy Pedro de Cevallos (1777), took the fortifications of Santa Catarina Island, whose defense had been entrusted previously, and in a hurry, to Brigadier Sá e Faria. The Portuguese military Governor of the Island appointed Sá e Faria to carry out the Portuguese capitulation, which took place in Ponta Grossa Fortress (Florianópolis). The capitulation, signed by Sá e Faria, resulted in the hanging over of all the Island under the Spanish power.

By this capitulation Sá e Faria was taken, as a prisoner of war, first to Colonia del Sacramento, then to Montevideo and finally to Buenos Aires. Cevallos convinced Sá e Faria to remain in Buenos Aires and move on to work as Brigadier of the Spanish Army. Sá e Faria accepted on condition that he did not take up arms against his homeland.
José Custodio de Sa y Faria remained in Buenos Aires for 15 years, until his death on January 8, 1792. From the moment he settled in Buenos Aires, he carried out civil engineering works and soon became the most relevant architect of the región. At the same time, he went on working on cartography and territorial survey.
Sá e Faria found both cities, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, in a rapid process of expansion with a lack of professionals in the field of architecture. For his expert knowledge as a military engineer he was consulted by the successive viceroys in Rio de la Plata viceroyalty about technical issues on construction.

Sá e Faria’s contibution was important and unique in military engineering in South America. His work became a synthesis of the Portuguese and Spanish schools of civil and military architecture. He worked as an engineer and architect for the Lisbon Court and in Brazil and he performed similar roles in Rio de la Plata viceroyalty. There he was one of the most learned men of viceregal Buenos Aires, of great influence on architecture, quality of urban life development and a passionate advocate of scientific knowledge.

This book sets out to prove that Brigadier Sá e Faria was not a traitor but the object of a case of injustice of Portuguese politics at that time. The research done in this piece of work aims at enhancing Brigadier Sá e Faria not only as a soldier, engineer, strategist and cartographer but also as an urban planner, administrator and historian.
Brigadier José Custodio de Sá e Faria was one of the great 18th century minds in South America and Portugal, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil benefited from his engineering and construction work carried out in Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Montevideo, Maldonado and Buenos Aires".

(Book with text in Portuguese and Spanish).

  • Book
  • Sara Regina Poyares dos Reis
  • Francisco Javier Castiglione
  • Offício
  • 2018
  • Florianópolis
  • Portuguese
  • 430 p., il., texto em português e espanhol, ISBN: 978-85-66582-10-9


Updated at 24/06/2019 by the tutor Projeto Fortalezas Multimídia (Daniela Marangoni Costa).

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