Battle of Montes Claros

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Battle of Montes Claros
Part of Portuguese Restoration War
Batalille de Montes Claros - azulejo XVIIe siècle Palais Fronteira, Lisbonne.jpg
17th century azulejo depiction of the Battle of Montes Claros at the Battles Room of the Palace of Fronteira, Lisbon
Date 17 June, 1665
Location Near Vila Viçosa, Portugal
Result Decisive Portuguese victory
Belligerents
 Portugal
England English auxiliaries[1]
 Spain
Commanders and leaders
António Luís de Meneses
Duke of Schomberg
The marquis of Caracena
Strength
20,000 men:
  • 15,000 infantry[2]
  • 5,000 cavalry[3] (including a 300 men strong English contingent, and Irish, Scottish and French mercenaries[4])
  • 20 cannons[5]
22,600 men:
  • 15,000 infantry[6]
  • 7,600 cavalry[7] (including German, Swiss and Italian mercenaries)
  • 14 cannons[8]
  • 2 mortars[9]
Casualties and losses
700 dead [10]
2,000 wounded[11]
4,000 killed[12]
6,000 prisoners[13]

The Battle of Montes Claros, was fought on 17 June, 1665, near Vila Viçosa, between Spanish and Portuguese as the last battle in the Portuguese Restoration War. It was a great Portuguese victory and is considered as one of the most important battles in the country's history.

Prelude[edit]

The Spanish were determined to end Portuguese independence. The Marquis of Caracena had planned to march to occupy Lisbon, taking first Vila Viçosa, followed by Setúbal.

The Portuguese were prepared and had foreseen such an attack. 3,500 men were moved from Trás-os-Montes in the north to Alentejo in the south. A further 7,800 men came from Lisbon, under command of António Luís de Meneses, who had beaten the Spanish in the Battle of the Lines of Elvas, six years earlier.

Caracena's army moved into Portugal. He first took Borba without resistance, after it that had been abandoned by the Portuguese. He then moved to Vila Viçosa, that was well defended and offered a stiff resistance to the attackers.

Meanwhile, the main body of the Portuguese army had set itself in motion towards the besieged city, but it stopped in Montes Claros, halfway between Vila Viçosa and Estremoz.

Caracena, informed of the approach of the Portuguese army, gave immediate orders to march towards the enemy.

Battle[edit]

Contemporary Italian engraving of the battle

The Spanish cavalry attacked in great numbers, and opened breaches in the Portuguese infantry lines. Then they were met by hails of artillery fire and had to withdraw.

A second Spanish cavalry attack again caused many casualties in the Portuguese infantry lines, but again they had to withdraw with considerable losses, due to artillery fire.

The battle raged on and the fighting was extremely intense. The Count of Mertola, commander of the British contingent and military advisor, had his horse shot from underneath him.

The Spanish had placed all their hopes on the cavalry charges and started to lose hope.

After 7 hours of fighting, the Portuguese launched a counterattack. The Spanish army started to fall apart and fled in disorder towards Badajoz, leaving behind all their artillery and many dead, wounded and prisoners, the latter being eight generals.[14]

Aftermath[edit]

This battle definitively secured the Portuguese independence from Spain. The Spanish did not attempt another invasion, and signed the Treaty of Lisbon three years later, recognizing Portugal's new ruling dynasty, the House of Braganza.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.424
  3. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.424
  4. ^ British contribution to Restoration War (Portuguese)
  5. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.424
  6. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.424
  7. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.424
  8. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.424
  9. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.424
  10. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.425
  11. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.425
  12. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.425
  13. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.425
  14. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.425

References[edit]

  • Edward McMurdo, The History of Portugal – From the Reign of D. Joao II. to the Reign of D. Joao V. – Volume III. (2010)
  • Hardacre, Paul. The English Contingent in Portugal, 1662–1668, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, volume 38 pp. 112–125 (1960)
  • Childs, John The Army of Charles II University Of Toronto Press, 1976 ISBN 0-8020-2180-8