War of the Triple Alliance
Guerra de la Triple Alianza
October 12,1864 - March 1,1870
The War Of the Triple Alliance ( also known as the Paraguayan War ) from
1864 - 1870 is little known outside South America, despite being the
bloodiest war with in South American history with an estimated 400,000
deaths and resulted in Paraguay losing 150,000 sq km of territory a large
part of its pre-war population . Paraguay's population before the war was
roughly 525,000, after the war it was 221,000 of which only 28,000 were
male . It was fought between Paraguay and the allied countries of
Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
Guerra do Paraguai - A nossa Grande Guerra
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While the US Civil War was still raging, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay
formed the "Triple Alliance" to fight against Paraguay. The war was not
nearly as one-sided as it might seem on first glance, for at the time,
Paraguay's army was larger than its combined enemies. The leader of
Paraguay, President and Francisco Solano López
( 1827 - 1870 ) had a large army (70,000 strong) and a fanatical devotion
from the public, At first glance, the war seems very bizarre . The small
country of Paraguay, heavily militarized itself and attacked the larger
counties of Argentina and Brazil, which proved to be a disaster .
Most historians ascribe most of the responsibility for the conflict
to Paraguayan President Francisco Solano López . Paraguay was
extremely isolationist and militaristic, much like North Korea of today .
The war began when the various countries supported different sides in
Uruguayan civil war, but that was quickly subsumed by each country's
territorial aspirations rooted in the region's still-unfixed borders. López
declared war on Brazil, and eventually moved his army eastward to
assist the Blanco party in Uruguay in maintaining national integrity
against the opposing Brazil-sponsored Colorado party. In 1864 Lopes
rashly launched an attack upon Brazil to forestall what he perceived as
his Brazil's growing hegemony in the affairs of the Río de la Plata.
López requested a crossing into the Missiones province of Argentina
in an attempt to reach Uruguay before the Brazilians. Argentina viewed
this as an aggressive act and declared war on Paraguay . The Blanco
party fell in Uruguay and the new Colorado government in Montevideo
declared war against Paraguay .
The War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870): Every Month
By mid-1865 a blockade by the Brazilian Navy severed Paraguay's
access to the outside world after the naval battle of Riachuelo,
denying any import of war material. Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil,
was enraged that Paraguay would attack his empire. The Emperor felt
that not only should the Río de la Plata be rid of the trouble-maker López,
but that the Paraguayan political system that produced the
dictatorship individual be utterly destroyed. By September 1866, Argentina
faced a new threat of civil war in its provinces, and pulled the majority of
her troops from the war. Brazil fought on .The conflict left Paraguay the
most war-prostrated nation in modern memory. The war cost Brazil 50,000
men and 11 times its annual government budget . Victorious Brazil was
established as the predominant military power on the continent, however
Brazil stagnated economically for years after for continuing the war past
1867 simply to rid the region of Francisco Solano López. The Brazilian
system of slavery imploded, signaling radical social change, and the
demise of her imperial government. After years of civil war, the Argentine
Republic gained a new sense of unity and nationalism after the war with
Paraguay, only to suffer political torment over the war many Argentines
felt their country could have avoided and possibly prevented. Paraguay
was not absorbed by Brazil, mainly to leave it as a buffer state against
Argentina . The suffering of Paraguay was by this time attracting world
wide interest .
Paraguayan War - 3 Minute History
Graphic on the war
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
After becoming independent of Spain, President José Gaspar Rodríguez
de Francia of Paraguay (1813–1840) tried to found an utopia based on
Rousseau's Social Contract and Voltaire. To do this he ruled as a dictator
and was known as El Supremo and closed off Paraguay to external trade
to avoid debt and nationalized industry and landholdings into communes .
During the Spanish colonial period, Paraguay had been a province of
Argentina and President José wanted to make Paraguay strong enough
to maintain its independence . Deeply imbued with the principles of the
French Revolution, he was a stern antagonist of the church.
People of Paraguay at the time of the war
He seized the possessions of the Roman Catholic Church and appointed
himself head of the Paraguayan church . He ruled through fear and
became increasingly fearful of assassination, sleeping in a different place
each night .When Francia died in September 1840, his body was fed to a
caiman ( alligator ).
Carlos Antonio López
He was succeeded by another dictator, Carlos Antonio López
(r.1841–1862) who kept and continued Francia's economic polices and
built railroads ( the first in South America), telegraph lines, foundries and
shipyards . The Ybycuí foundry, installed in 1850, manufactured cannons,
mortars and bullets of all calibers. Warships were built in the Asunción
shipyards. There was free education and the country had one of the
lowest illiteracy rates in South America .He created a large army of
28,000 with 40,000 reserves . In contrast, Argentina only had an army
of 6,000 .
Francisco Solano López
His eldest son, Francisco Solano López (1826-1870), succeeded him as
president after his death. Francisco was made commander-in-chief of the
Paraguayan army by his father. He purchased large quantities of arms
and military supplies, several warships from Europe . He was a great
admirer of Napoleon and wished to make Paraguay the dominant force
in eastern South America . He became Minister of War in 1855. He
studied military affairs in France and had been an observer in the
Eliza Lynch (1835-86)
The Irish mistress of Francisco Solano López
She had six children with Lopez
She was taken prisoner after López's death in
the battle of Cerro Cora and later died in Europe . In the 1960s, her body was exhumed and brought back to Paraguay where the dictator General Alfredo Stroessner (1912-2006) proclaimed her a national heroine.
Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay (2013) Documentary Trailer
When his father died in 1862, his will stipulated that López assume the
reins of government as vice-president. López then called a congress that
chose him as president for ten years. To maintain the growth of Paraguay
needed access to the international market, but Paraguay was landlocked.
López conceived a project to obtain a port in the Atlantic Ocean, he
perhaps intended to create a "Greater Paraguay" by capturing a slice of
Brazilian territory that would link Paraguay to the coastline . To maintain
his expansionist intentions, López began to prepare Paraguay's military.
He encouraged the industry of war, mobilized a large quantity of men for
the army (mandatory military service already existed in Paraguay),
submitted them to intensive military training, and built fortifications at the
mouth of the Río Paraguay.
In Paraguay, social organizations and political activists are
commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War of the Triple Alliance,
which was financed by the British Empire. The war, which pitted Paraguay
against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, resulted in 75% of the country's
population being killed
Books on the War of the Triple Alliance
Leuchars looks in detail at the political causes, the course
of the conflict as viewed from both sides, and the tragic aftermath.
This book explores the combatants of four nations in an
extraordinarily bloody war - the largest in the
history of South America.
( read online )
Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay is one of the most intriguing, and yet one
of the least-known stories of modern history. Escaping a desperate
marriage at the age of 20, Eliza fled Ireland to Paris where her
extraordinary beauty and intelligence won the attention of the soon-to-be
dictator of Paraguay, Francisco Solano Lopez. Although the couple never
married, Eliza bore him seven children and was seen as the queen of
Paraguay, adored by the public and admired for her glamour and
sophistication. But Eliza and Francisco's love was damned with the
outbreak of the infamous War of the Triple Alliance (1864-70), the
bloodiest in South America's history. This is a unique love story,
chronicling a romance that endured a desperate turn of fortunes, taking
them from a life of royalty to a life on the run, and culminating with the now
iconic image of Lynch burying both Lopez and their eldest son in a shallow
grave with her bare hands after they had been killed by Brazilian troops.
Dubbed 'The Irish Evita', Eliza Lynch (born in Charleville, County Cork) was
the most famous woman in all of South America in the nineteenth century.
Her reputation was destroyed by the opposition in the wake of the War of
the Triple Alliance; but in this story of wealth, war, love, loyalty, loss and,
above all, survival, Eliza is revealed as a woman who showed
extraordinary courage in the face a series of unspeakable horrors. This
book restores her to her rightful place among the most remarkable and
brave women in modern history.
Weep, Grey Bird, Weep is the story of the most extraordinary love
story of the 19th century, set against the background of the most
disastrous war ever fought .
Lily Tuck (2004)
Ella Lynch is a gorgeous Irishwoman living in Paris when the
Paraguayan prince regent, Franco, takes one look at her, falls instantly
in love, takes her home, and sets her up in luxury as his mistress.
Won the National Book Award in fiction in 2004.
( read online )
( read online )
War Of the Triple Alliance Index