Battle of the Lines of Elvas

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Battle of the Lines of Elvas
Part of Portuguese Restoration War
Date 14 January 1659
Location Near Elvas, Portugal
Result Decisive Portuguese victory[1]
 Portugal  Spain
Commanders and leaders
António Luís de Meneses
Sancho Manoel de Vilhena
Luis de Haro


  • 8,000 infantry
  • 2,500 cavalry
  • 7 cannons


  • 14,000 infantry[3]
  • 3,500 cavalry[4]
  • 19 cannons
  • 3 mortars
Casualties and losses
201 killed[5]
697 wounded[6]
11,200 men killed or captured[7]
All the artillery captured[8]

The Battle of the Lines of Elvas (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈɛɫvɐʃ]), was fought on 14 January 1659, in Elvas, between Portugal and Spain. It ended in a decisive Portuguese victory.


In 1658 a Spanish army commanded by D. Luis de Haro, was camped in the frontier of the Caia River, with 14,000 infantry, 3,500 cavalry and several pieces of artillery. The preparation of the siege of the Portuguese city of Elvas took several days, which the Portuguese used to prepare the defense. De Haro distributed his troops in trenches, giving orders to kill everyone that approached the city. The Spaniards initially bombarded the city, causing panic and casualties among the civil population while the black death claimed 300 a day. The only way the situation could turn in favour of the Portuguese was with the help of a relief army. Queen-Mother Luisa de Guzman decided to call for António Luís de Meneses, Count of Cantanhede, and gave him the command of all Portuguese troops in Alentejo. She also transferred to the same theatre of operations Sancho Manoel de Vilhena, who assumed the post of field marshal.[9]

The Count of Cantanhede, although having extremely poor logistical conditions, managed to gather an army in Estremoz. He organized recruitments in Viseu and in the Madeira islands and united the garrisons of Borba, Juromenha, Campo Maior, Vila Viçosa, Monforte and Arronches. The gathered army had 8,000 infantry, 2,500 cavalry and seven cannons. The Portuguese left Estremoz and occupied the hill of Assomada, where they could see the city of Elvas and the enemy lines.

On 17 January, around 8 o'clock in the morning, the Portuguese attacked near the village of Murtais. The battle was undecided in the initial stages, as the Spanish were valiantly defending their lines, but after some time the armies of Cantanhede managed to break the lines, and the Spanish fled in panic.[10]

Spanish casualties were heavy. Of the 17,500 men commanded by D. Luis de Haro, only 5,000 infantry and 1,300 cavalry managed to reach Badajoz.[11]

After the success in the battle the Count of Cantanhede received among several honours, the title of Marquis of Marialva on 11 June 1661.

A commemorative monument was placed on the site of the battlefield.



  1. ^ Stearns, Langer, p.331
  2. ^ Ribeiro, p.84
  3. ^ Ericeira, p.213
  4. ^ Ericeira, p.213
  5. ^ Ericeira, p.229
  6. ^ Ericeira, p.229
  7. ^ Ericeira, p.229
  8. ^ Ribeiro, p.85
  9. ^ Ericeira, p.217
  10. ^ Jaques, "At Elvas, 20 miles west of Badajoz, De Haro was routed by Castello-Melhor and Sancho de Villa Flor and fled in panic" p.333
  11. ^ Ericeira, p.227


  • Peter N. Stearns, William Leonard Langer, The Encyclopedia of world history: ancient, medieval, and modern, chronologically arranged (2001)
  • Ângelo Ribeiro, História de Portugal: A Restauração da Independência-O Início da Dinastia de Bragança (2004) ISBN 989-554-110-4
  • Tony Jaques, Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A-E (2007) ISBN 978-0-313-33537-2
  • Luis de Menezes, Conde da Ericeira, Historia de Portugal Restaurado. 1657-1662 (1751)