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Minas Gerais (literally: General Mines) was formed mainly by colonists who searched for veins of gold (discovered 1693) and gems, and later diamonds which come from the naturally occurring itacolumite rock that can be found in great numbers in the region.

In the 18th century, mining exploration was strongly controlled by the Portuguese Crown, which imposed heavy taxes on everything extracted (one fifth of all gold would go to the Crown). Several rebellions were attempted by the colonists, always facing strong reaction by the imperial crown. One of the most important was the Felipe dos Santos revolt that ended with his execution but also with the separation of Minas Gerais of São Paulo. The most notable one, however, was the Inconfidência, started in 1789 by group of middle-class colonists, mostly intellectuals and young officers. They were inspired by the American and French Enlightenment ideals. The conspiracy failed and the rebels were arrested and exiled. The most famous of them, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (known as Tiradentes), was hanged by order of Queen Mary I of Portugal, becoming a local hero and a national martyr of Brazil. The Minas Gerais flag — a red triangle on a white background — is based on the design for the national flag proposed by the “Inconfidentes”, as the rebels became known.

In the 19th century, politicians like José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva were instrumental in the establishment of the Brazilian Empire under the rule of Dom Pedro I and later his son, Dom Pedro II.


Insurrection 1789



The rebellious miners of 1789 took as their national emblem of their unfortunate republic a white flag with a green equilateral triangle in its middle, on its sides the motto LIBERTAS QUAE SERA TAMEN. Because the conspiration was discovered before a resurrection could take place this flag was never used.

The triangle was chosen to symbolize the Holy Trinity, contrary to the five balls of the Portuguese quinas which symbolize the five wounds of Christ.

The motto was chosen after a discussion between colonel Alvarenga and Dr. Claudio Manoel da Costa, two leaders of the movement. The last proposed to take a motto referring to the American Liberty breaking her chains and expressed by the motto LIBERTAS EO QUO SPIRITUS (The spirit comes from him from whom liberty comes).

This was rejected by the colonel and Da Costa then proposed AUT LIBERTAS AUT NIHIL (Liberty or Death).

In the end a proposal of Alvarengo was accepted. It was LIBERTAS QUAE SERA TAMEN (Freedom Albeit Late) taken from the Egloghe (pastoral poem) of Virgil.[1]


Estado de Minas Geraes


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.



The first official emblem of the state was adopted by Law n° 1 of 14 December 1891. It was:


Emblem: A hammer and a pickaxe on saltire and a wheelbarrow and other agricultural tools, topped by a hat of liberty.

Crest: A five pointed star

Supporters: A maiden symbolizing Liberty on the dexter and a miner symbolizing Mining on the sinister.


Legend: (surrounding the achievement) ESTADO DE MINAS GERAES / 15 DE JUNHO DE 1891. (the date of the adoption of the constitution of the state)


The law of 14 December 1891 reads:


“O povo do Estado de Minas Gerais, por seus representantes, decretou e eu, em seu nome, snacciono a presente lei:

Art. 1.° -  Para authenticidade dos actos legislativis, administrativos e judiciarios, são adoptados o grande e o pequeno sello do Estado, cujo emblema o governo é  autorizado a mandar fazer, contendo as allegorias da agricultura e da mineração, a data de 15 de junho de 1891 e la legenda Libertas quae sera tamen.

Art.2.° - Revogam-se as disposições em contrario - Mando, etc.

Dada no Palacio da Presidencia do Estado de Minas Geraes em Ouro Preto, aos 14 dias do mez de setembro dse 1891, 3.° da Republica -

(a) José Cesario de Faria Alvim.”


This achievement was replaced by another one by law n° 6.498 of 5 February 1924. It is:


Emblem: A five-pointed star Gules, charged with a disc also Gules, a mining-lamp an a hammer and pickaxe in saltire.

Garland: Branches of coffee and tobacco, tied with a bow inscribed with the date:  15 DE JUNHO DE 1891

Motto: In chief: LIBERTAS QUAE  SERA TAMEN. On a ribbon in base: ESTADO DE MINAS GERAES.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay


The law n° 6.498 of 5 February 1924 reads:


“O Vice-Presidente do Estado de Minas Geraes, em execicio, resolve approvar  como sello do Estado, a que se refere a lei n.° 1 de 14 de setembro de 1891, do desenho que a este acompanha, rubricado pelo Secretario de Estado dos Negocios do Interior, começando a vigorar este decreto a partir de 1.° de maio deste anno. O Secretario de Estado dos Negocios do Interior assim o tenha entendido e faça executar.

Palacio da Presidencia do Estado de Minas Geraes, em Belo Horizonte, 5 de fevereiro de 1924.

(a) Olegario Dias Maciel, Fernando Mello Vianna [2]


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.


Armed Forces







Minas Gerais, with the exception of the Mining Triangle, comprises the 4th Military Region.

Its headquarters are in Belo Horizonte (MG).






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© Hubert de Vries 2011-11-14


[1] Ribeiro, Clovis: Brazoes e Bandeiras do Brazil. Editoria Sao Paolo. Sao Paolo, 1933. Pp. 131-132.

[2] Ribeiro, op.cit. pp. 215-216

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