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María Antonia Bolívar

Other names/titles:
Gender: F
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

The elder sister of Simón Bolívar, she had royalist sympathises and was forced by her brother to hand over 300 of her slaves from her San Mateo estate to the republican army. Cherpak says she was his favourite sister and that he warned her not to meddle in politics. (Cherpak, 225, 229)

Knaster cites documents in the Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, Caracas, dated 17 April 1817 "acknowledging her support for the royalists when Venezuela was fighting for independence from Spain" and another dated 28 August 1816 when she "pleads her case for re-entry to Caracas with her family and for restitution of her property and goods". In a third document, 18 August 1837, she comments on the weakness of her sex. (Knaster, 478.)

She was the only member of Bolívar's family to support Spain, and received a pension from Madrid. In 1816, she was granted safe conduct as she was deemed to be in danger due to Bolívar's action. (Knaster, 479.) She cites an interview made in 1915 with María Antonia's daughter (then aged 92) in the Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, Caracas, (34:136:380-82) that provides details of women in the Bolívar family. (Knaster, 10.)

Knaster looks at the correspondence between her and Bolívar and stresses the influence she exerted over him as an adviser and informant on political affairs. (Knaster, 478-479.)

On 8 September 1836 she accused José Ignacio Padrón of stealing 10,000 pesos from her home, providing the evidence for the courts. As investigation revealed that she had employed him as a secretary under a "private agreement". They had had a good friendship and he had spent several nights at her house. He claimed that she had given him this money along with jewellery, cattle, and a bust of Simón Bolívar. Díaz suggests that María Antonia was in love with Padrón, but the affection was not returned. Letters reveal that she was disappointed in him as he gambled and had many girlfriends. The courts rejected her case against Padrón and she smashed the bust of Bolívar stating that the republic did not respect Bolívar or his relatives. She was reprimanded by the judge. (Díaz, 162-164)

Life Events

Other 1817She was a royalist in 1817.
Other 1836On 8 September 1836 she accused her lover, José Ignacio Padrón, of theft.


Knaster, Meri, (1977), Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from Pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times

Lavrin, Asunción, (1978), Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives; Contributions in Women's Studies, No.3.

Dore, Elizabeth, and Molyneux, Maxine, (2000), Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America

Díaz, Arlene J., (2004), Female Citizens, Patriarchs and the Law in Venezuela, 1796-1904


Letter: Carta


Resource id #29 (5)

Resource id #33 (22)

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