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The Captaincy

The State



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The oldest references to the area where today is Alagoas date back to 1501; an expedition commanded by Americo Vespucio, coming along the coast

In 1570, an expedition ordered by Duarte Coelho and led by Cristóvão Lins, explored the north of Alagoas and founded the settlement of Porto Calvo and five sugar mills, Buenos Aires and Escurial. To protect the colony from invasions, the Portuguese instituted the Capitaincies and Alagoas, became a part of the Capitaincy of Pernambuco. In 1630 the Dutch invaded Olinda and Recife and reached  Alagoas in 1631. They were expelled by the Portuguese in 1645 and became a part of the Portuguese Empire

In 1817, Alagoas became a province, independent from Pernambuco. In the Brazilian Empire of 1822, until the proclamation of the Republic in 1889, the governors of Alagoas were appointed by the Emperor. Today Alagoas is one of the states of the Brazilian Republic.




Captaincy of Alagoas


Duarte Coelho Albuquerque was a son of Duarte Coelho (†1554), the first captain of Pernambuco. In 1560, after the death of his father he went to Brasil but he returned to Portugal in 1572.

The arms of Coelho are documented by the Livro da Nobreza e Perfeição das Armas of Antonio Godinho (1541) fol 18.[1] They are:



Arms:  Or, a lion rampant Azure charged with three barrulets nebuly Argent, langued Gules and a bordure Azure, five rabbits Argent.

Crest: On a helmet to the dexter lambrequined Or and Azure, the lion from the arms issuant.


The first arms of Alagoas are from the time of the Dutch colony of New Holland and were granted by the governor John Maurice of Nassau. They are documented by Caspar Barlaeus in his work about the colony. They showed three fishes, probably meant to be white on a blue field. The shield hung from a pair of wings and below was a ribbon with the words ALAGOA AD AUSTRUM.



State of Alagoas


In the time of the Empire the arms used by the provinces were the Imperial Arms. At the proclamation of the Republic the states were granted the right to adopt their own achievements.


After Alagoas was incorporated into the United States of Brasil an achievement was adopted. The translation of the decree reads: 



Decree n° 53 of 25 May 1894 decides the following:


The governor of the State, taking into account the need to establish the coat of arms of the State  to be used on our public documents, decrees to adopt the one which is of the design attached and consists of the following parts:

A shield intersected by a bend from left to right with the legend  - PAZ E PROSPERIDADE - which are our main aspirations, In the left lower corner, there is a railway train to represent our industry and a steamer to represent our commerce. In the centre of the right part there is our best known landmark, the Paolo Affonso weir in the S. Francisco river, our waterway. In the upper part of the right a shining star symbolizes the State of Alagoas on the arms and flag of the Republic. A stalk of sugar-cane and a branch of cotton surrounding the lower part of the shield are for our agriculture. On the upper part there is an eagle wings spread, the symbol of power, surrounded by a halo. Finally the shield is crested with a ribbon with split ends bearing the words “ESTADO DE ALAGOAS” in capitals, and another ribbon which is over the lower parts of the stalk of sugarcane and the branch of cotton bears the word “BRASIL” in the same letters.

The present decree will immediately be submitted to the assent of the Congress.

At the Palace of the Governor of the State of Alagoas, at Maceió, 25 of May 1894, the 6th of the Republic.

[Signed] Gabino Besouro.


The motto means: Peace and Prosperity. [2]


© Roberto Breschi

The Constitution of the Federation of 1934 abolished the symbols of the states and their achievements were replaced by the national emblem.

The Federal Constitution of 1946 restored the autonomy and also the achievements of the states.


A new coat of arms of Alagoas, designed by prof. Théo Brandão was adopted by the same law  adopting the flag of the State (nº 2.628 de 23 de setembro de 1963). It is described as follows:


“An ancient Portuguese shield, in the normal position, parted of silver. On the right a rock Gules (red), washed by  a wavy sea and rising from it a tower Gules (red), which is of Penedo; on the left, three mountains Gules (red), united, the central one the highest, washed  by a base of eight bars wavy Azure (blue) and silver, which is of Porto Calvo. In a chief wavy Azure (blue) three mullets naiant per chevron , which is of Alagoas (South Alagoas, present Marechal Deodoro).

For supporters on the right a stalk of sugar cane, and at the left a branch of flowering cotton in slatire. On top a silver star with five points as a crest. Below a ribbon Vert (green) lined Or (yellow) with the motto  AD BONUM ET PROSPERITATEM in letters of the same.”


The parts of the arms represent the three parts of Alagoas when it became an independent state on 16 September 1817: Alagoas and the cities of Porto Calvo and Penedo. The three mullets symbolize the three parts of the state: Mundau, the north, Manguaba, the south and the isle of Jequia. They also symbolize the wealth of the state: fishery, industry and the growing of coconuts.

The motto means: For Goodness and Prosperity. [3]


* Usually the ribbon is yellow with black lettering

* On the flag the ribbon with the motto is omitted.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.


Armed Forces






Alagoas, together with Rio Grande do Norte and Pernambuco is a part of the 7th Military Region.

It has its headquarters in Recife (PE)






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© Hubert de Vries 2011-11-14


[1] See Instituto dos Archivos Nacionais

[2] Ribeiro, Clovis: Brazoes e Bandeiras do Brazil. Editoria Sao Paolo. Sao Paolo, 1933. P. 212-213.

[3] From: Enciclopédia dos Municípios Alagoanos - 1977.

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