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 .


 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






 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








Beginning of the War and the forming of the Triple Alliance






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