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 Mariscal ( Marshal ) 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


Causes of 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

  From Letters from the battle-fields of Paraguay 1870


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

Crimean War .


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


To the Bitter End: Paraguay and

the War of the Triple Alliance

 Christopher Leuchars

 Leuchars looks in detail at the political causes, the course

of the conflict as viewed from both sides, and the tragic aftermath.


Armies of the

War of the Triple Alliance 

 This book explores the combatants of four nations in an

 extraordinarily bloody war - the largest in the

 history of South America.


La Plata, Brazil, and Paraguay

, during the present war

( read online )

A.J. Kennedy




Eliza Lynch:

Queen of Paraguay

 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.


The Paraguayan War

 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 .



The News From Paraguay

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.



 Nights on the Rio Paraguay, scenes of

war and charactersketches

( read online )


Alberto Ameriam


Letters from the battle-fields of Paraguay

( read online )

Richard Burton



War Of the Triple Alliance Index


 Causes of the War


  Beginning of the War and

the forming of

the Triple Alliance



Comparisons of


Armies and Navies   



 First phase of the War



The reaction of Brazil  



  Invasion of




  End of the War  




of the war  



 Timeline of

the War












Beginning of the War and the forming of the Triple Alliance






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