History of Portugal (1777–1834)

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Kingdom of
Portugal and the Algarves
Reino de Portugal e dos Algarves

Flag Coat of arms
Capital Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro (1808-1821)
Languages Portuguese
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Absolute Monarchy
(1777–1822 / 1823-1826 / 1828–1834)
Constitutional Monarchy
(1822–1823 / 1826-1828)
 -  Treaty of San Ildefonso 1777
 -  Peninsular War 1807–1814
 -  Independence of Brazil 1822
 -  Liberal Wars 1834
Currency Portuguese real

The history of the kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves from the First Treaty of San Ildefonso and the beginning of the reign of Queen Maria I in 1777, to the end of the Liberal Wars in 1834, spans a complex historic period in which several important political and military events led to the end of the absolutist regime and to the installation of a constitutional monarchy in the country.

In 1807, Napoleon ordered the invasion of Portugal and subsequently the Royal Family migrated to Brazil, declaring the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves in 1816. This would be one of the causes for the declaration of Brazilian independence by Pedro I of Brazil in 1822, following a liberal revolution in Portugal.

The liberal period was stormy and short as Prince Miguel of Portugal (Pedro's brother) supported an absolutist revolution endeavoring to restore all power to the monarchy. Peter would eventually return to Portugal and fight and defeat his brother in the Liberal Wars in which liberalism was completely installed and Portugal became a constitutional monarchy.

Queen Maria I[edit]

The Infanta Maria Francisca, ascended the throne to reign as Queen Maria I
Marquis of Pombal, the Queens nemesis, who was dismissed and exiled

The death of King Joseph in 1777 forced the accession of Infanta Maria Francisca, his eldest daughter, to the throne of Portugal; she succeeded her father as the first Queen regnant of the 650-year-old country, which was still recovering from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Queen Maria and her husband, the Infante D. Pedro, lived on the sidelines of politics, but were clearly unsympathetic to her father's former Prime Minister, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the Marquis of Pombal, who had been the de facto ruler of the Kingdom for the past 27 years.[1][2] During her father's last few years, she had been the Marquis' fiercest detractor; once in power, she eagerly dismissed him and then exiled him to Pombal.[3]

But the Queen maintained many of the Marquis' other ministers, restored many of the privileges of the nobility and clergy, and released many of Pombal's political prisoners.[4][5] The economy was reorganized and Pombalinan monopolies were abandoned. However, international conditions favored the economic situation in Portugal; the balance of trade was positive, helped by wine exports and a decrease of British imports.[6] The period was, while tainted by political instability, a time of cultural renovation, marked by the completion of the Palace at Queluz, the beginnings of the Ajuda Palace, the São Carlos Theatre, the Estrela Basilica and the immense Convent of Santa Clara in Vila do Conde.[7]

In 1789, the French Revolution caused upheaval in Europe. The Portuguese reaction was to land forces in Catalonia, and together with the Spanish forces attack the French in the Pyrenees in 1794 (War of Roussillon).[8] The war did not go well, and by 1795, Spain had privately sued for peace, signed an alliance and aligned its external politics against Great Britain.[9] Even as Portugal was politically divided between continuing its old alliance with Britain, its people were also split. The French Revolution, as seen by intellectuals and progressives, was romanticized: Bocage, and the partido francês believed the French could usher in a liberal revolution. To traditionalists, the French were a threat, to a nobility returning to prominence, and they were very willing to fight them externally or internally.[10]

It was at about this time that Queen Maria, who suffering from religious mania and melancholia, began to show signs of mental illness.[11] When she was incapable of handling state affairs (after 1799), her son, Infante John of Braganza, began to use the title of Prince-Regent. But, the adversaries of France, did not look to John, but rather his wife D. Carlota Joaquina to support the traditionalists, who at one point attempted a coup against the Prince.[12]

Continental blockade[edit]

John VI's regency was a complex political period when Portugal attempted to remain neutral in light of combative intransigence of its neighbors and forces within the country that favored liberal or traditional politics. Between 1795 and 1801, it was a struggle to maintain the peace in the face of the French Continental blockade, Portugal's traditional ally Great Britain and the demands of the merchant classes who wanted peace and were prospering economically between the two powers.[13] Meanwhile, Spain a former ally had signed the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso, was under pressure from France to coerce Portugal, even if it meant invasion. Although Manuel de Godoy was initially hesitant about invading Portugal, due to the Royal Families' relations in either country, the French remained anxious to break the Anglo-Portuguese alliance in order to close Portuguese ports to British shipping.[14]

War of the Oranges[edit]

Main article: War of the Oranges
Manuel de Godoy, as pictured in a portrait by Francisco Bayeu in 1790
João Carlos de Bragança e Ligne (2nd Duke of Lafões, who was responsible for the defense of Portugal, during the disaster of the War of the Oranges

On the 29 January 1801, an ultimatum from Spain and France forced Portugal to decide between France and Britain, even as the government had tried to negotiate favorable conditions with the powers, rather than abrogate the Treaty of Windsor (1386).[15] The French, ultimately, sent a five-point statement to Lisbon demanding that Portugal:[16]

  • abandon its traditional alliance with Great Britain and close its ports to British shipping;
  • open its ports to French and Spanish shipping;
  • surrender one or more of its provinces, equal to one fourth part of her total area, as a guarantee for the recovery of Trinidad, Port Mahon (Minorca) and Malta;
  • pay a war indemnity to France and Spain;
  • review border limits with Spain.

If Portugal failed to accomplish the five provisions of this ultimatum, it would be invaded by Spain, supported by 15,000 French soldiers. The British, could not promise any effective relief, even as the Prince John appealed to Hookham Frere, who arrived in November 1800. In February, the terms were delivered to the Prince-Regent, but, although a negotiator was sent to Madrid, war was declared. At the time, Portugal had a poorly trained army, with less than 8,000 cavalry and 46,000 infantry troops. Its military commander, João Carlos de Bragança e Ligne (2nd Duke of Lafões), who contracted Prussian General, von Goltz, had barely raised 2,000 horse and 16,000 troops.[17] Spanish Prime Minister, and Commander-in-Chief, Manuel de Godoy had some 30,000 troops, and the French, under General Charles Leclerc (Napoleon's brother-in-law), who would arrive in Spain too late to assist Godoy, could provide additional troops.

On May 20, Godoy finally entered Portugal; it was a precursor of the Peninsular War that would engulf the Iberian Peninsula. The Spanish army quickly penetrated the Alentejo, in southern Portugal, and occupied Olivença, Juromenha, Arronches, Portalegre, Castelo de Vide, Barbacena and Ouguela without resistance, while Campo Maior resisted for 18 days before surrendering with military honors, and Elvas successfully resisted the invaders. In Elvas, Godoy celebrating his generalship in the conflict, plucked two oranges from a tree and immediately sent them to the Queen Maria Luisa of Spain, mother of Carlota Joaquina and supposedly his lover,[18] with the message:

I lack everything, but with nothing I will go to Lisbon.

—Manuel de Godoy, H.V.Livermore (1976), p.247

This act, gave origin to the name War of the Oranges. The conflict would quickly end by negotiations, at the Treaty of Badajoz on June 6, when the defeated and demoralized Portuguese were forced to accept the tenants of the 1801 ultimatum.[19] As part of the peace, Portugal recovered all of the strongholds previously conquered by the Spanish, with the exception of Olivença, other territories on the eastern margin of the Guadiana, and the prohibition of contraband near the borders of the two countries. The treaty was ratified by the Prince-Regent on 14 June, while the King of Spain promulgated the treaty on 21 June. Yet, the Treaty was costly: in addition to the five points, Portugal was required to pay indemnities of 25 million francs[20] and surrender lands north of Brazil to France. This treaty was initially rejected by Napoleon, who wanted the partition of Portugal, but accepted once he concluded peace with Great Britain at Amiens.[21]

Napoleonic invasions[edit]

General Jean-Andoche Junot's forces crossed the border at the end of 1807, to conquer Portugal in order to partition it.

But, in 1806, after Napoleon's victory over the Prussians, he once again looked to the problem of English resistance, who had broke the peace in 1803 to challenge the Continental system imposed by the French.[22] Once again, Portuguese ports were ordered closed to British shipping, but after a tentative of neutrality, the Portuguese reluctantly succumbed to French demands and declared war on United Kingdom.[23] But time was up: Napoleon had realized that Portugal impeded his desire for reform in Europe.

On 27 October 1807, France and Spain signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau which would partition Portugal. In this pact, Northern Lusitania, a territory between the Minho and Douro rivers would be a governing principality of the sovereign of the extinct Kingdom of Etruria (then Maria Luisa, daughter of Charles IV of Spain). The Algarve and all Portuguese territory located south of the Tagus would be governed by Manuel de Godoy, who would be compensated for his role in bringing the Spanish onside with France. The rest of Portugal, the area between the Douro and the Tagus, a strategic region because of its ports, would be administered by the central government in France until general peace. As for its colonial possessions, including Brazil, they would be divided between Spain and France.

By the end of the year, a French battalion, commanded by General Jean-Andoche Junot, entered Portugal.[24] Ironically, their arrival was preceded by the newspaper O Monitor, which was presented to the Prince-Regent by the British ambassador, informing him of Napoleon's plan to conquer Portugal.[25]

On 27 November 1807, the Prince-Regent, Queen and the entire Royal Family boarded ships concentrated on the Tagus, accompanied by many rich merchants, the administration, judges and servants, on fifteen ships and escorted by English ships.[26][27] Approximately 10,000 people, including the entire governmental apparatus, joined the Royal Family as they moved to Brazil: a de facto colonial possession of Portugal, establishing the capital of the Portuguese Empire in Rio de Janeiro.

First invasion[edit]

The young Arthur Wellesley disembarked in Galiza to support the Spanish, but was responsible for defeating Junot's forces

General Jean-Andoche Junot and his troops had entered Spain on 18 October 1807 and had crossed the peninsula to reach the Portuguese border on 20 November. Junot encountered no resistance and reached Abrantes by 24 November, Santarém on 28 November, and the Portuguese capital at the end of the month, arriving a day after the Court had fled to Brazil. Before the Prince-Regent departed, he left orders with the Regency Junta to greet the French in peace.[28] Once he arrived, Junot promoted himself as a reformer, in Portugal to liberate the oppressed, promising progress, the construction of roads and canals, efficient administration, clean finances, assistance and schools for the poor.[29][30] But, Junot set about removing the vestiges of the Portuguese monarchy, declaring that the House of Braganza had ceased to reign in Portugal, suspending the Council of Regency, the Portuguese militia suppressed, officers billeted in the richest houses and the treasury plundered for the continuing French reparations.[31] Meanwhile 50,000 Spanish and French troops roamed the countryside arresting, killing, plundering and raping.[32]

By 1808, as Junot was busy redesigning Portuguese society, Napoleon decided to revise his alliance with Spain, forced the abdication of Charles IV of Spain, and his son, and installed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte as King. A popular uprising in Spain immediately spread to Junot's forces, which were accompanied by Spanish troops. It further instigated a popular uprising by the Portuguese that was brutally put-down, after minor successes.[33]

The following year, a British force commanded by Arthur Wellesley (future Duke of Wellington) disembarked in Galiza with the intent of supporting the Spanish, but later advanced on Porto and disembarked at Figueira da Foz on 1 August.[34] Quickly the British-Portuguese advanced on the French, defeating them at the Battle of Roliça (17 August) and later the Battle of Vimeiro (21 August).[35] A two-day armistice was held as negotiations proceeded, and the belligerents formally signed the Convention of Sintra (30 August), without Portuguese representation.[36] As part of the accord, the British transported the French troops to France, with the product of sacks made in Portugal. The Convention benefited both sides: Junot's armies, incapable of communicating with France, could make a safe getaway; and the Anglo-Portuguese forces gained control over Lisbon. The Portuguese populace was left to avenge itself on francophile compatriots for their brutality and depredations.[37]

Second invasion[edit]

Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult

As Napoleon began dealing with the Spanish in earnest, he sent Marshall Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult to re-occupy Portugal. As word spread of the abdication of the Spanish Royal family, many Spaniards revolted, gaining support from the British stationed in Portugal. Under the command of John Moore, British forces crossed the northern Portuguese border but were defeated at A Coruña by Marshal Soult, and were forced to retreat in the middle of January.[38] The French immediately occupied northern Portugal and advanced on Oporto by 24 March.

Unlike the first invasion, there was a popular revolt against French occupation by farmers, merchants and the poor, that almost border on zeal.[39] Many of the citizen soldiers and farmers fought against the French aggression, going so far as to see tactical retreats as a betrayal or treason by the Portuguese officers.[40][41]

But, Soult occupied Chaves on 12 March, a defense of Braga was unsuccessful and the French cavalry forced entry into Porto by 29 March. Soult forces encountered a popular resistance in Porto, that included militia and local residents whom barricaded the streets.[42] But, Francisco da Silveira recovered Chaves and ultimately, it was Wellesley, again, at the head of the British-Portuguese forces who expelled the French from the north of the country. He was aided by William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford[43] and supported by a stronger Portuguese contingent, trained, equipped and command by British officers. The Anglo-Portuguese Army defeated Soult at the Second Battle of Porto, re-conquering the city of Porto on 29 May, and forcing the French retreat to Galicia. Wellesley intended to pursue the French, but with French forces crossing from the Spanish Extremadura, he moved his base to Abrantes.[44] From here his forces then marched up the Tagus valley, entered Spain and won the victory at Talavera, after which he was made Duke of Wellington. He could not penetrate further, owing to Soult's forces joining Victor, to bar the way to Madrid, and so withdrew to Torres Vedras to plan for the defense against a third invasion by the French.[45]

Meanwhile, in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, Portugal was successful in capturing French Guiana in 1809.

Third invasion[edit]

André Masséna

The third invasion, the last effort of the Peninsular War on Portuguese soil, was commanded by Marshall André Massena, and divided into three parts under Jean Reynier, Claude Victor-Perrin and Jean-Andoche Junot, and comprised 62,000 men and 84 canon. Entering by way of Beira in August, they quickly defeated the defenders in the Fort of Almeida in August,[46] then marched in the direction of Lisbon. Against the wishes of his council, Messena attacked the Anglo-Portuguese Army on 26 September in Buçaco, losing 4500 troops.[47] Yet, Wellsely's forces withdrew in front of the oncoming French, until his troops entered the prepared positions in Torres Vedras.[48]

But, the French were impeded along the Lines of Torres Vedras, a system of 152 fortifications north of Lisbon, planned by Wellington, supervised by Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Fletcher constructed by Portuguese laborers, manned by 40,000 Portuguese troops and members of the local population.[49] Marshal Massena and his forces reached the lines by 14 October, but were unable to penetrate the defenses, and he was forced to retreat in April 1811. Supplies were running low, and Massena sent a request to Bonaparte for new instructions, but was compelled to withdraw before the instructions arrived, and he retreated to Santarém.[50] Although Napoleon finally sent Soult, it was too late for Massena, who could not hold Santarém and withdrew towards Coimbra by March 6.[51] Successively, the French were defeated in several smaller battles: the Battle of Sabugal, Fuentes de Onoro, Battle of Condeixa, Battle of Casal Novo, and the Battle of Foz de Arouce, in addition to Michel Ney's rear-guard action at the Battle of Pombal. With winter quickly approaching, his forces starving, they were again defeated at the Battle of Redinha and with Anglo-Portuguese forces in pursuit, Massena crossed the border into Spain; the War would continue until March 1814, but not on Portuguese territory.[52]

A series of battles in Spain followed, until a final victory was reached on French soil in the Battle of Toulouse on April 10, 1814, putting an end to the Peninsular War. However, in numerous coastal, interior and border towns there were bodies bayoneted and left on the ground; several frontier towns were pillaged and ransacked for treasure or vandalized by retreating troops (both British and French); reprisal killings were common in the local populations for sympathizers (the total number of casualties in the war reached 100,000 by one account);[53] while famine and social deprivation was common.[54]

Furthermore, the instability in Spain and the abdication of the king, resulted in declarations of independence in the Spanish colonies of America, which in turn was responsible for a tense political climate in Brazil.

In 1816, and as a result of the increasing influence of the Liga Federal, the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves invaded and conquered the Banda Oriental, annexing it under the name of Província Cisplatina in 1821.

Liberal Revolution[edit]

William Carr Beresford, who administered mainland Portugal during the post-Peninsular War period

Between 1808 and 1821, Portugal was both a British protectorate and a colony of Brazil, as the Portuguese Crown remained in Rio de Janeiro.[55] The moving of the Portuguese capital to Rio de Janeiro had accentuated the economic, institutional and social crises in mainland Portugal, which was administered by English commercial and military interests, under William Beresford's rule, in the absence of the monarch. The aftermath of the War, influences from both American and French Revolutions, a discontent for absolutism, and a general indifference shown by the Portuguese Regency for the plight of its people, strengthened liberal ideals.[56]

At the end of the Peninsular War, the government of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves[1] returned French Guiana to France on 30 May 1814, and was given an indemnity of two million francs. Brazil's new importance aggravated the situation in continental Portugal: politically it became the Portuguese capital (shedding the pretext of colony), and economically, the former colony was now able to trade directly with other European powers (28 January 1808). But, even after 1807, the limitations and subordinations inherent in Brazil's colonial status were being chipped-away: the prohibition on transformative industries was rescinded, incentives for the creation of factories, the importation of British machinery, the establishment of Commerce Commissions, exchanges and money-houses, the formation of the Bank of Brazil, insurance companies, shipping construction, road building, the formation and construction of public schools and the military academies. This damaged Portugal's commercial interests and exaggerated social conditions, while benefiting the United Kingdom (as the country was governed by William Beresford in the absence of the Cortes).[2][3]

1820 Revolution[edit]

The Prince-Regent, who would become King John VI of Portugal, was not interested in returning to mainland Portugal immediately after the Peninsular War

A report was sent on 2 June 1820, from the Regency to John VI, stating:

"Portugal has arrived at a crisis in which, it will suffer a revolution of fortunes, of order, an anarchy, and other ills that it will bring a complete reduction of public credit...".[57]

Its neighbor Spain, during its Napoleonic resistance had approved a liberal Constitution, when King Ferdinand VII was in-exile, but quickly it was abrogated on his return, and he reigned as absolute monarch. But, the Spanish model also served as an example for the Portuguese: a popular uprising in the provinces against absolutism, forced the Spanish monarch to reinstate the 1820 Constitutional monarchy.

The events in Spain were not lost on a small group of Portuense politically like-minded bourgeoisie; two years earlier, Manuel Fernandes Tomás, José Ferreira Borges, José da Silva Carvalho and João Ferreira Viana, had founded the Sinédrio, a liberal clandestine group whom debated the political evolution of Spain and Portugal, and that would influence subsequent events. The Sinédrio's members were a mix of merchants, property-owners, the military and noblemen, and whose liberalism was not based on economic circumstances but international literature and philosophies consumed during university or in the masonic lodges.[58] The common people were rural, almost totally illiterate and lived in a culture of tradition and religion, guided by the clergy. The difference between the idealogues, the doctrinairism of the liberal movement and dogma of religion would bring the two groups into conflict eventually.[59] But, for now, the liberal intellectuals would influence soldiers in the Northern garrisons on 24 August 1820, beginning in Porto, to proclaim a revolution against the absolute monarchy of Portugal; a colonel read out the "peoples" declaration:

"Lets join our brothers-in-arms to organize a provisional government that will call on the Cortes to draw-up a Constitution, whose absence is the origin of all our ills."[60]

The Regency in Lisbon attempted to gather forces to oppose the revolt, but on 15 September they too joined the movement.

Quickly, the administration of William Beresford was replaced by a Provisional Junta, and the General Extraordinary and Constituent Cortes of the Portuguese Nation were summoned, on 1 January 1821, whose deputies were filled from indirect election to draft a written Constitution. The roles of the constituent assembly were filled with doctrinaires or diplomats, many were merchants or agrarian burghers, University-educated representatives were usually lawyers, but mostly ideological romantics, that would later come to be referred to as Vintistas, for the audacious and ideological radicalism. Press and book censorship and the Portuguese Inquisition were lifted, and an amnesty to those involved in anti-liberal movements was ordered.[4] On 26 April 1821,[61] John VI departed for Lisbon, arriving on 3 July of the same year, and communicated to the Cortes the establishment of a Regency in Brazil in the name of his heir-apparent, Prince Peter. The deputies did not recognize the King's authority to designate Regents, nor supported the Bragança Agreement, that Prince Peter should take the Crown if Brazil came to be independent.

Empire of Brazil[edit]

Flag of the independent Empire of Brazil, under Peter I

Talk of separatism had dominated the economic and intellectual circles of Brazil. With a population of 3 .5 million, all of it Portuguese and economically prosperous, the opinion had become whether Brazil should return to being a colony of Portugal, but whether the reverse should be the case. While most Portuguese-born believed in one united empire, most local politicians and natives aspired for some form of independence.[62] Everything indicates that, irrelevant of the evolution Portuguese politics, Brazil would have proclaimed independence after the return of King John VI to Portugal.[63] But, its separation arose from the conflict between the Regency of Prince Peter[64] and Portuguese Cortes.

In September 1821, the Portuguese Cortes, with a handful of the Brazilian delegates present, voted to abolish the Kingdom of Brazil and the royal agencies in Rio de Janeiro, thus subordinating all provinces of Brazil directly to Lisbon. Troops were sent to Brazil to muzzle resistance, and local units were placed under Portuguese command.[65] On 29 September, the Cortes ordered the return of Prince Peter to Europe (in order to initiate a voyage of study in Spain, France and England), but governmental junta in São Paulo, as well as the Senate Chamber of Rio de Janeiro implored the Prince to remain. He was moved by petitions from Brazilian towns and fears that his departure, and the dismantling of the central government, would trigger separatist movements.[66]

Peter formed a new government headed by José Bonifácio de Andrade e Silva, a former royal official and professor of science at the University of Coimbra, was a formative figure in Brazilian nationalism, indeed, the "Patriarch of Independence".[5] Following Prince Peter's decision to defy the Cortes, Portuguese troops rioted then concentrated in the area of Mount Castello, which was soon surrounded by thousands of armed Brazilians. Peter "dismissed" the Portuguese commanding general, General Jorge Avilez, and ordered him to remove his soldiers across the bay to Niterói, where they would await transportation to Portugal.[67] Blood was also shed in Recife, Province of Pernambuco, when the Portuguese garrison was forced to depart in November 1821. In mid-February 1822, Brazilians in Bahia revolted against the Portuguese forces there, but were driven into the countryside, where they began guerrilla operations, signaling that the struggle in the north would not be without loss of life and property.

Seeking to secure support throughout the country, Peter began a series of initiatives to strengthen his position, even as the Portuguese Cortes ridiculed and diminished his importance. In Minas Gerais, where there were no Portuguese garrisons stationed, some doubts lingered, especially from the junta of Ouro Preto. But, with only a few companions and no ceremony or pomp, Peter plunged into Minas Gerais on horseback in late March 1822, receiving enthusiastic welcomes and allegiance everywhere. On 13 May, in Rio de Janeiro, Peter was proclaimed the "Perpetual Defender of Brazil" by the São Paulo legislative assembly and he took the opportunity to called for a Constituent Assembly. To deepen his base of support, he joined the freemasons, who, led by José Bonifácio de Andrade e Silva, were pressing for parliamentary government and independence. More confident, in early August he called on the Brazilian deputies in Lisbon to return, decreed that Portuguese forces in Brazil should be treated as enemies, and issued a manifesto to "friendly nations", that read like a declaration of independence. Seeking to duplicate his triumph in Minas Gerais, Peter rode to São Paulo in August to ensure his support there.

But, returning from an excursion to Santos, Peter received messages from his wife and Andrade e Silva that the Portuguese Cortes had declared his government traitorous, and were dispatching more troops. Peter then had to choose between returning to Portugal in disgrace, or breaking the last ties to Portugal; in a famous scene in front of the Ipiranga River, on 7 September 1822, he tore the Portuguese white and blue insignia from his uniform, drew his sword, and swore: "By my blood, by my honor, and by God: I will make Brazil free." With this oath, that was repeated by the assembled, he announced: "Brazilians, from this day forward our motto will be...Independence or Death"[68]


Until the age of 21, John VI had no pretensions to the throne, until his older bother Joseph, Prince of Beira, died from smallpox (at the age of 27). John lived for hunting and had little interest in public affairs. However, four years later he became Prince Regent because of Queen Maria I's mental illness, and in 1816, he became King John VI, after the Queen's death while the Royal Family was residing in Rio de Janeiro. In 1821 John VI was forced to return to a country economically and politically unstable, to preside over a recently installed constitutional monarchy. But, there were deep divisions between the returning Royal Court and the Portuguese Cortes that governed the nation. While the upper-class free-thinking Vintistas governed, the new "modern era" was in name only: the condition of the poor prevailed, still pro-monarchist and ultra-religious, but without the power to influence their condition.[69]


Vilafrancada: Prince Michael being acclaimed in Vila Franca de Xira

The situation in continental Europe changed in 1823. Once again influenced by the events in Spain, where the anti-liberal Santa Aliança had restored the absolute monarchy, pro-monarchist forces gravitated towards the Queen Carlota Joaquina de Borbón. The Queen was very conservative, ambitious and violent, and at the same time despised her husband's politics, manners and nature.[6] While in Brazil, she had attempted to obtain administration of Spanish dominions in Latin America and was involved in obscure conspiracies regarding the independence of Brazil. The return of the King and Court had emboldened the clergy and nobles who were hostile to the Constitution and parliamentary government.

Prince Miguel, who shared her views, served as the Queen's instrument against the Revolution. On 27 May 1823, the Prince organized an insurgency against the liberal constitution; a garrison from Lisbon joined Miguel in Vila Franca de Xira, and there absolutism was proclaimed. The King accepted these facts, suspended the 1822 Constitution and promised the promulgation of a new law to guarantee "personal security, property and jobs". This revolt, was referred to as the Vilafrancada (pronounced: [vilɐfɾɐ̃ˈkaðɐ]), for the events that occurred in Vila Franca. But, one of the objectives of the Queen and Miguel was the abdication of King John, who, although accepted absolutism, was loyal to the liberal Constitution. Ultimately, the King had accepted absolutism when a movement of army officers and citizens surrounded the Palace of Bemposta to urge the King to renounce liberal ideals.


Bemposta Palace (residence of King John VI): where the monarch was held incommunicado during the Abrilada

In Portugal, as in Spain, the adversaries of constitutionalism were divided into two currents: a radical and a more moderate group.[70] King John, depended on the moderate faction; the ministers he selected after the Vilafrancada oscillated between conciliatory paternal absolutism and a timid conservative liberalism.[71] Queen Carlota Joaquina was the principal supporter of the radical absolutists, that favored absolutism without concessions and the repression of the new ideas filtering in from Europe. She gave no quarter: in 1823, the police revealed a planned conspiracy led by her and Prince Miguel (who had been promoted to the post of commander-in-chief of the Army following the events of the Vilafrancada) to force the King to abdicate. Then, on 30 April, Miguel, using the pretext that the King's life was in danger, imprisoned numerous ministers and important figures of the kingdom, while keeping his father incommunicado in the Bemposta Palace.[72] This second attempt became known as the Abrilada ([ɐβɾiˈlaðɐ]), after the Portuguese word for April (Portuguese: Abril). However, during the course of his actions, Miguel had offended the sensibilities of the British and French ambassadors, who managed to get King John VI to the British battleship Windsor Castle in Caxias. There he was made aware of the situation, summoned Miguel, dismissed him from the post of commander-in-chief of the Army, and sent him into exile. On 14 May, John returned to the Palace of Bemposta and re-established the liberal government. However, a new conspiracy was discovered on October 26 of the same year. Queen Carlota Joaquina accused the liberals of attempting to poison the King, while the others suspected her of having done it herself:[73] this time, Queen Carlota Joaquina was exiled to Queluz.

In his reign, John promoted the arts (mainly literature), commerce and agriculture, but being forced to return to Europe and following palatial conspiracies aggravated by the independence of Brazil transformed John into an unhappy man, and he died soon after the Abrilada in 1826. It was also at the end of his life, that he recognized the independence of Brazil (15 November 1825) and restored his son Peter's right to the Portuguese throne. Before his death, he named a Regency Junta headed by the Infanta Isabel Maria, to govern the country between his death and the acclamation of a future king.

To Civil War[edit]

Main article: Liberal Wars
Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, established the 1826 Portuguese Constitution, that was too pragamatic for the time
Prince Miguel, usurped the throne from his niece and consort, Princess Maria da Glorai to reign as absolute King

The death of King John VI created a constitutional problem, as his rightful successor, Prince Peter, was the Emperor of Brazil. To absolutists, the proclamation of Brazilian independence, created a foreign nation, revoking Peter's citizenship and, therefore, his rights to the throne.[74] Of course, King John had left his daughter Princess Isabel Maria as regent, expecting that Peter would return to Portugal and reunite Brazil with its former colonial power. Prince Miguel, was also, an undesirable option; had been exiled due to several attempts to overthrow his own father, and was supported by the extremist politics of the Queen, who most liberals and moderates feared.[75] Peter accepted the throne of Portugal as King Peter IV, on 10 March 1826, after the regency considered him the legitimate heir to the throne and sent a delegation to offer him the Crown.[76]

In Brazil, Peter faced other challenges in his new-born country; the people clearly did not wish to return to a colonial situation and subservience to the politics and economy of the much smaller Kingdom. The Brazilian constitution prohibited the Emperor from subsuming another crown, and this forced Peter to choose between Portugal or Brazil.[77] Peter, a pragmatic politician, tried to find a solution that would reconcile the desires of the liberal, moderate and absolutists elements in the debate, and eventually chose to abdicate as king of Portugal (28 May 1826) in favour of his eldest daughter Princess Maria da Glória, who was seven years old at the time. However, the abdication was conditional: that Portugal should receive a new Constitution (1826 Charter), and his brother Miguel, exiled in Vienna was to marry the Princess when she became of age.[78] The Constitution was not popular with the absolutists (who wanted Prince Miguel to govern as an absolute monarch), but the liberal Vintistas also did not support the Charter (which was imposed by the King), whilst moderates slowly watched as a counter-revolution was building.[79]


In 1828, Prince Miguel returned from Austria, becoming Peter's lieutenant and Regent (in order to replace their sister, the Princess Isabel Maria, who was ill). Over the next months, absolutist politicians, clergy and supporters of the Queen Carlota Joaquina, manipulated the events, eventually proclaiming Miguel King of Portugal and deposing Maria da Glória (who had not yet arrived in Portugal). They also annulled the Liberal Constitution, persecuted liberals and their supporters, and attempted to obtain international support for their regime. Thousands of liberal idealists were killed, arrested, or forced to flee to Spain, England, the Azores and Brazil.[7] This usurpation was followed by demonstrations in support of absolutism and failed revolutions to reinstate liberalism.

Inevitably, this triggered the Liberal Wars between the supporters of absolutism, led by Miguel, and of liberalism. Michael tried to obtain international approval, but failed due to British pressures, although the United States and Mexico did recognize his authority. Between 1828 and 1834, forces loyal to liberalism battled the power of Miguel's absolute monarchy. A liberal uprising in Porto led by exiles Pedro de Sousa Holstein (later 1st Duke of Palmela), João Carlos Saldanha de Oliveira Daun (later 1st Duke of Saldanha) and António José Severim de Noronha (later Duke of Terceira), was quickly defeated by Miguel's forces[80] while similar revolts in the Azores and Madeira were similarly defeated (the liberal forces only held onto territory on Terceira).[81]

Portuguese Civil War[edit]

António José Severim de Noronha, leader of the liberal government-in-exile, responsible for the defense of Porto, and later the defeat of Miguelist forces in Lisbon

But things began to change in 1830. In Brazil, a popular opposition to Peter's reign, in the aftermath the dismissal of his several ministers, in the amidst a growing economic crisis, forced the Emperor to abdicate his throne in Brazil in favour of his son, Peter II on 7 April 1831.[82] He then returned to Europe, but found little support from England or France, to obtain the throne and, instead, collected arms, money and mercenaries to install his daughter on the throne. He then departed for Terceira, in the Azores, from where his government-in-exile organized an expeditionary force that disembarked in Mindelo, not far from Porto, on 8 July 1832.[83]

With the backing of liberals from Spain and England, and substantial Anglo-French contingents, Peter landed near Porto, which the Miguelist forces abandoned without combat. After fighting the inconclusive Battle of Ponte Ferreira Porto was besieged by Miguelite forces, which engaged in sporadic skirmishes. Throughout the year, most of the battles of the Civil War concentrated around Porto, whose population had whole-heartedly supported the liberal cause.[84] In June 1833, the liberals, still encircled at Porto, sent out a force commanded by the Duke of Terceira to Algarve, supported by a naval squadron commanded by Charles Napier, using the alias Carlos de Ponza. The Duke of Terceira landed in Faro and marched north through Alentejo to conquer Lisbon on 24 July 1833.[85] Meanwhile, Napier's squadron encountered the absolutist fleet near Cape Saint Vincent and decisively defeated it at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.

The liberals were able to occupy Lisbon, making it possible for them to repel the Miguelite siege in Porto. A stalemate of nine months ensued. Towards the end of 1833, Maria da Glória was proclaimed Queen regnant, and Peter was made regent. His first act was to confiscate the property of all who had supported Michael. He also suppressed all religious orders and confiscated their property, an act that suspended friendly relations with the Papal States for nearly eight years, until mid-1841. The liberals occupied Portugal's major cities, Lisbon and Porto, where they commanded a sizable following among the middle classes.

Meanwhile, the absolutists controlled the rural areas, where they were supported by the aristocracy and a peasantry galvanized by the Church. But operations against the Miguelists recommenced in early 1834; they were defeated at the Battle of Asseiceira. The Miguelite army was still a force to be reckoned with (about 18,000 men), but on May 24, 1834, at the Concession of Evoramonte peace was declared under a convention by which Miguel formally consented to renounce all claims to the throne of Portugal, was guaranteed an annual pension, and was banished from Portugal, never to return. Peter restored the Constitutional Charter and died soon after, on 24 September 1834, while his daughter assumed the throne as Maria II of Portugal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.260
  2. ^ Marcus Cheke (1969), p.3
  3. ^ Her dislike for Pombal was so great that she issued one of the world's earliest restraining order, commanding that Pombal should never be closer than 32 kilometres (20 mi) to her; in situations when the Queen was close to his estates, he was compelled to remove himself from his house to fulfill the royal decree. She is also reported to have had tantrums at the slightest reference to her father's former Prime Minister.
  4. ^ Marcus Cheke (1969), p.3
  5. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.260-261
  6. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.261
  7. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.262-263
  8. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.263
  9. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.264
  10. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.264
  11. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.265
  12. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.265
  13. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.265
  14. ^ CUP (1970), p.386-389
  15. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.265
  16. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.247
  17. ^ H.V. Livermore (1976), p.247
  18. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.265
  19. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.247
  20. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.247; Only 15 million pounds worth appeared in the treaty, and the remainder was divided between Godoy and Lucien Bonaparte.
  21. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.247
  22. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.266
  23. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.266
  24. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.266
  25. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.266
  26. ^ CUP (1970), p.396
  27. ^ The British ambassador had advised the Prince-Regent that they should transfer the Crown to Brazil, a plan that had been plotted the year before.
  28. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.267
  29. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.268
  30. ^ CUP (1970), p.396
  31. ^ CUP (1970), p.397
  32. ^ James Maxwell Anderson (2000), p.127
  33. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.270-271
  34. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.270
  35. ^ CUP (1970), p.399
  36. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.271
  37. ^ CUP (1970), p.399
  38. ^ CUP (1970), p.400
  39. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.271
  40. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.271-272
  41. ^ In one case, Bernardim Freire de Andrade, the northern commander, was accused treason by local farmers, arrested and sent to Braga, where the local population then lynched him.
  42. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.272
  43. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.253; The Prince-Regent designated Beresford to reorganize the Portuguese Army, granting him the rank of Marshall and Commander-in-Chief in January 1809
  44. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.246-247
  45. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.247
  46. ^ For his failure to hold the line, the Portuguese governor, was bayoneted by the British during the aftermath of the conflict.
  47. ^ H.V. Livermore (1976), p.254
  48. ^ H.V.Livermore (1976), p.254
  49. ^ James Maxwell Anderson (2000), p.129
  50. ^ H.V. Livermore (1976), p.255
  51. ^ H.V. Livermore (1976), p.255
  52. ^ James Maxwell Anderson (2000), p.129
  53. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.270
  54. ^ James Maxwell Anderson (2000), p.129
  55. ^ James Maxwell Anderson (2000), p.129
  56. ^ James Maxwell Anderson (2000), p.129
  57. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.276
  58. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.279
  59. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.279
  60. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.277
  61. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.277
  62. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.281-282
  63. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.282
  64. ^ Peter meant to rule frugally and started by cutting his own salary, centralizing scattered government offices and selling off most of the royal horses and mules. He issued decrees eliminating the royal salt tax, to spur the output of hides and dried beef; he forbade arbitrary seizure of private property; required a judge's warrant for arrests of freemen; and banned secret trials, torture, and other indignities. He also sent elected deputies to the Portuguese Cortes. Slaves continued to be bought and sold and disciplined with force, however, despite his assertion that their blood was the same color as his.
  65. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.283; As Borges Carneiro would remark in the Cortes, the Brazilians needed a guard dog to put them in order.
  66. ^ The atmosphere was so charged that Prince Peter sought assurances of asylum on a British ship in case he lost the looming confrontation; he also sent his family to safety out of the city.
  67. ^ In the following days, the Portuguese commander delayed embarkation, hoping that expected reinforcements would arrive. However, the reinforcements that arrived off Rio de Janeiro on 5 March 1822 were not allowed to land. Instead, they were given supplies for the voyage back to Portugal.
  68. ^ Neil Macaulay (1986), p.125
  69. ^ Marcus Checke (1969), p.90
  70. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.284
  71. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.284
  72. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.284-285
  73. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.285
  74. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.286
  75. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.286
  76. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.25
  77. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.285
  78. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.285
  79. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.286
  80. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.287
  81. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.288
  82. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.288
  83. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.288
  84. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.289
  85. ^ José Hermano Saraiva, (2007), p.289


On the Web

External links[edit]

  1. ^ War of the Oranges
  2. ^ Peninsular campaign[dead link]
  3. ^ Titles of European Rulers
  4. ^ Louise Guenther, "The British community of 19th century Bahia: public and private lives"
  5. ^ Portugal under British Protection, 1808–1814
  6. ^ The 1820 revolution
  7. ^ José Bonifácio de Andrade e Silva
  8. ^ Queen Carlota Joaquina
  9. ^ Vilafrancada
  10. ^ Liberalism versus Reaction: Portugal 1814–1851