Despite the controversies about the place of birth of the Indian Antonio Felipe Camarão, it is established that he was born in Pernambuco, in 1600 or 1601.
Educated by the Jesuits and a very religious man, he could read and write in Portuguese and had some knowledge of Latin.
In 1629, he resided in the Meretibi village where Father Manuel de Morais taught Catholic doctrine to the Indians.
In 1630, lived in the village of São Miguelor Muçuí, commanding the Potiguar Indians, the group to which he belonged.
With the arrival of the Dutch fleet, on 14February 1630, to the coast of Pernambuco and its landing on Pau Amarelo beach, Felipe Camarão and the Indians from his village joined Matias de Albuquerque in the defence of the captaincy.
Due to their inexperience, or perhaps because they were scared, the Indians scattered and the Portuguese-Brazilians failed to stop the invaders. Olinda and Recife were occupied by the Dutch.
Therefore, Matias de Albuquerque created the first ambushe companies and “estâncias” (‘holdings’ – protected sites where weapons and ammunition were stored) to defend the captaincy, also starting the construction of the Arraial do Bom Jesus fort.
The Indians became greatly feared by both Dutch and Portuguese because of their cruelty and disobedience to the standards of European war, especially in relation to the treatment of prisoners and respect for the dead.
Felipe Camarão and his men fought hard against the Dutch in Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia.
For his commitment and loyalty to the Portuguese,he received many honours from the King of Portugal, such as the Order of Christ, the rank of Captain-General of the Potiguar Indians, the right to have a coat of arms, and a payment of 80,000 réis.
Felipe Camarão’s wifewas named Clara, and according to some historians, always accompanied him in his struggles.
When the insurrection broke out in Pernambuco, after the return of Count Maurício de Nassau to Holland and the end ofthe good relations policy between the Portuguese and Dutch, Camarão joined definitively to the Luso-Brazilian Army, commanded by the governor general of Brazil, Antonio Teles da Silva.
Because of his expertise in ambushes and his great knowledge of the land in Northeast Brazil, Camarão was a great help for the Luso-Brazilian troops.
He participated in several battles, including the Battle of Casa Forte, at the Anna Paes plantation on 17 August 1645, along with other heroes of the Pernambuco Restoration like João Fernandes Vieira, André Vidal de Negreiros and Henrique Dias, as well as the first Battle of Guararapes on 19 April 1648.
Unfortunately after this battle, Felipe Camarão contracted an infectious fever, probably dying in the first half of May 1648.
He was reportedly buried in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Várzea, although there is no documented evidence of this fact, and his remains have never been found.
Recife, 22 october 2004.
(Updated on 28 august 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2012.
COSTA, Francisco Augusto Pereira da. Dicionário biográfico de pernambucanos célebres. Recife: Fundação de Cultura Cidade do Recife, 1982. p.78-86.
MELLO, José Antônio Gonsalves de. D. Antônio Filipe Camarão: Capitão-mor dos índios da costa do Nordeste do Brasil. Recife: Universidade do Recife, 1954. 64p.
VASCONCELLOS, Telma Bittencourt de. Dona Anna Paes. Recife: Edição do Autor, 2004. p.188-191.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Felipe Camarão [Antonio]. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009