Fortunato Foster Vidal


Fortunato Foster Vidal (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; February 16, 1832 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; July 16, 1915) was a prominent military officer and minister of the Brazilian Navy who served in the War of the Triple Alliance.


Fortunato Foster Vidal was the son of Ana Foster Vidal and Manoel Pantaleão Vidal, who were married around 1825 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He married Romana Barradas Moniz (c. 1862 - January 13, 1943) on June 12, 1907 in Rio de Janeiro and they had no children. It should be noted that his wife was the granddaughter of Ana Eufrosina Marcial de Calheta, Ilha da Madeira, who married the English consul Ricardo Foster Clarisseau (1750-1812). In turn, Romana Barradas Moniz was the great-great-granddaughter of Ana Joaquina Clarisseau, who had some noble titles and had fled from Paris to Funchal escaping from the sans-culottes.


Fortunato Foster Vidal was born in Rio de Janeiro, capital of the Brazilian Empire, on February 16, 1832. As a young man he entered the Navy, becoming an aspiring Navy officer on March 2, 1847, and a midshipman on March 25, 1850. Promoted to second lieutenant on February 26, 1853, first lieutenant on December 2, 1857, captain-lieutenant on January 21, 1867 and captain of a frigate on April 12, 1868.

He participated in the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870), which was the external conflict with the greatest impact in South America, not only due to the mobilization and loss of men, but also due to its political and financial consequences. The confrontation between the Triple Alliance (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) and Paraguay represented a milestone in the history of these countries.

In the case of Argentina and Uruguay, the war influenced the consolidation of their respective national states. For Paraguay, the conflict caused a huge economic impact and turned the Paraguayan economy into a satellite of the Argentine economy. For Brazil, the war represented the apogee of the Brazilian military force, but, paradoxically, it intensified the contradictions of the monarchy.

For his performance in the War of the Triple Alliance, Fortunato Foster Vidal was awarded a medal for his performance in the battle of Paso del Tonelero and with the General Medal of the Paraguayan Campaign. Also decorated with the great cross of the Military Order of Aviz, and as a knight of the Imperial Order of the Cruiser and Commander of the Order of São Bento de Aviz.

He was promoted to captain of sea and war on December 2, 1877 and division chief on March 3, 1883. On June 11, 1889, he assumed the position of president of the Naval Club, an entity that had been founded in Rio de Janeiro on April 12, 1884 by the then frigate captain Luís Filipe Saldanha da Gama.

He held that position when, on November 15, 1889, a military coup, led by Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca and supported by a small group of civilian republicans, overthrew the Empire and proclaimed the Republic in Brazil. Then the provisional government chaired by Deodoro was installed, who had the then division chief Eduardo Wandenkolk as Minister of the Navy.

On the following December 30, Fortunato Foster Vidal, as his own minister, was promoted to rear admiral, and on June 11, 1890, he left the presidency of the Clube Naval.

On January 22, 1891, as a result of a crisis in the provisional government, in which Deodoro da Fonseca isolated himself from his collaborators, all the ministers declared dismissals. Among them was Eduardo Wandenkolk, who was replaced by Fortunato Foster Vidal.

The first republican constitution was promulgated on February 24, 1891, and Deodoro was constitutionally elected president the following day. However, political problems continued and in the face of strong parliamentary opposition, on November 3 the president ordered the closure of the National Congress. Faced with this, the Navy rebelled and threatened to bomb Rio de Janeiro.

The serious political crisis that followed led to Deodoro's resignation on November 23 and his replacement by Vice President Mariscal Floriano Peixoto. Fortunato Foster Vidal then left the Ministry of the Navy, being replaced by Admiral Custódio de Melo. On December 9, he was promoted to vice admiral and transferred to reserve.

During his tenure in the Ministry of the Navy, Fortunato Foster Vidal reorganized the Sailor Apprentice Schools, in addition to having created another school in Espírito Santo.

Throughout his military career, he commanded the Paraense steam (interim), the Mearim gunboat, the Cerrito Naval Establishment (RS), the Joinville Steam Princess, the Barroso and Liona Barros battleships, the Ladário Navy Arsenal (MT), the Company of Imperial Sailors of the Province of Mato Grosso (acting), the Imperial Lanzón, the corvette Niterói, the monitor Solimões, the Rio Grande do Sul flotilla, the Naval Division of the 3rd Naval District of Pará and the Intendancy of Marina. He was also an inspector of the Navy Arsenal, chief of the Navy General Staff and head of the Navy School and the Naval College.


Fortunato Foster Vidal died on July 16, 1915 at the age of 83 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


  • Report presented to the President of the Republic of the United States of Brazil by the Minister of State for Marine Affairs, Rear Admiral Fortunato Foster Vidal, in June 1891.