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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Mameluco \Mam`e*lu"co\, n. [Pg.] A child born of a white father and Indian mother. [S. Amer.]


n. (context South America English) A child born of a white father and American Indian mother.


Mameluco is a Portuguese word that denotes the first generation offspring of a European and an Amerindian. It corresponds to the Spanish word mestizo.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mameluco was used to refer to organized bands of slave-hunters, also known as bandeirantes, who roamed the interior of South America from the Atlantic to the foothills of the Andes, and from Paraguay to the Orinoco river, invading Guarani-occupied areas in search of slaves.

The word may have become common in Portugal in the Middle Ages, deriving from the Arabic "mamlūk", " Mamluk".

Usage examples of "mameluco".

Here a party of passing Mamelucos fell into an ambuscade, and were hewn in pieces, presumably before the Lord.

Mamelucos took place, and Father Alfaro, who had been left in charge of the missions on the Uruguay and Parana, was shot by a Mameluco with a crossbow, and fell dead from his horse.

The Guaranis collected from the woods with so much effort to the missionary, then guided down the Parana by the most noble and self-sacrificing of their priests, Ruiz Montoya, and after that redeemed with blood from the fierce Mameluco bands, had shrunk away before the baneful breath of unaccustomed contact with the civilizing whites.

Manuel Medina, a mameluco, who was employed by Bates and Agassiz in their explorations.

But before proceeding to extremities, Montoya sent out Fathers Mendoza and Domenecchi with some of the principal inhabitants of the reduction to parley with the Mamelucos, who, under their celebrated leader Antonio Raposo, were encamped outside the place.

But when, in spite of his wound, the Jesuit advanced towards the camp and insisted on speaking with the leader, the Mamelucos were so struck with his courage that they gave up to him several of the Indians whom they had taken prisoners upon the previous day.

The Mamelucos, finding no more Indians to enslave, fell on the two towns of Villa Rica and Ciudad Real, destroyed them utterly, and forced the inhabitants to flee for refuge into Paraguay.

At last, the Mamelucos having set fire to the church, capitulation became inevitable, and the chief part of the Indians were led away in chains.

The Mamelucos pushed their advance so far that Father Montoya had given orders that all the missions of that province should be burned.

He fell on troublous times, for the Mamelucos were preparing to attack the three remaining missions in the province of Guayra.

When they were just about to start from Santa Teresa, where the inhabitants of the other missions had been collected, the Mamelucos appeared just before Christmas.

The Indians were driven off as slaves, and the Mamelucos, with their usual sense of humour, attended Mass as penitents on Christmas Day, with candles in their hands, and listened to the sermon in an edifying way.

But, even settled in their new homes, the Indians were defenceless against the Mamelucos, as it was a state maxim of the Spanish court that the Indians should never be allowed the use of guns.

Therefore, before he started for Madrid, the Provincial impressed upon Montoya to approach the Council of the Indies and the King, and represent to them that it was impossible to guarantee the existence of the reductions against the Mamelucos unless the Indians were allowed to provide themselves with arms.

The Governor of Paraguay, on hearing of it, marched with an army, and, having killed two or three hundred of the Mamelucos, took the rest prisoners, and carried them back to Asuncion.