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Saturday, March 17, 2012

THE WAR OF THE ORANGES I- The background of the war

I'm not here to explain the War of the Oranges, that you can google. The purpose of this post is to show the background of that war, which was nothing more then the background of the French invasions of Portugal. Here you can really understand why the French were so eager to “hate” us. And having read the 1st chapter of this book, I quickly came to the conclusion of something that we Portuguese say in a coarse manner but I wont write it in here; it just really translates the notion that we were “screwed” on both ends from the get-go.

Nevertheless, it seems that the name of this war came from the fact that Manuel Godoy gave the queen of Spain a branch from an orange tree picked in Portugal.

Dom Manuel Godoy, painting by Fransisco Goya, 1801, depictingthe Spanish vioctory over Portugal in the War of the Oranges


Taken from the book “A Guerra das Laranjas – A Perda de Olivença: 1796 - 1801” (The War of the Oranges – the loss of Olivença: 1796 – 1801) by António Ventura

After the war of the Pyrenees (Roussilion) the relations between Portugal and Spain were somewhat strange because Spain had now become an allie of France and Portugal had still that old allegiance with England. Although both monarchies had close relations, politically it wasn't the same since France pressured Spain continually to allow the passage of their troops to invade Portugal. Even if the war only lasted less then 1 year, the diplomatic relations that preceded the war were not only far from simple but also a good explanation of the French Invasions.

Here is an analysis of the 9 most important reasons that brought these two countries into the war of the Oranges.

1. French pirates in the Atlantic

The signature of the Basel peace treaty between France and Spain made relations between Spain and Great Britain tense since the last one didn't liked the notion that European monarchies were allying themselves with rebellious and republican countries. And even thought Portugal had only fought alongside Spain in the Roussilion, it didn't took part of the treaty signing.

Now that republican France had accomplished a more safe position in Europe so did their pirates in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Portugal having a vast empire in Brazil and Africa saw their ships being threated. Spain ships were safe though. So, there was no other solution to ask English help since Portugal didn't had a strong naval strength in militarily speaking, with no results. And asking Spain for help wouldn't bring anything either for it now was building a diplomatic basis with France. And since Portugal had an interest in neutrality in the whole France/Spain issue there was no interest in harming the diplomatic relations with our neighbors.

2. Different allies and the impossible wish of neutrality

What explains the problems between Portugal and Spain the best is the fact that these 2 countries had 2 different allies. Portugal and Great Britain and Spain now with France. Portugal had build a strong commercial naval fleet and was dependent on others militarily. England had always provided but was Frances enemy number one. Spain was still known for its powerful fleet but had now linked itself to France. France wanted Portugal to submit and was using our neighbor Spain to accomplish that. Can you all see how complicated things were?

After the Pyrenees Spain saw itself now as the buffer between Portugal and France and was the diplomatic mediator between those two. But forcing Portugal to sign a peace treaty with France and forcing us to accept the French terms was only pressuring our wish of neutrality that we wanted so much. Even though Portugal maintained the talks for this treaty to happen it took 4 to 5 years to come almost to a conclusion, which in the end it didn't; we went into war.

3. Declaration of war to Great-Britain from Spain

Spain declared war to Great Britain on the 7th of October of 1796. This caused more trouble in the relations that Portugal had with those two countries and what it intended to avoid with France. Portugal had declared it's neutrality on September 17th but in the brim of a potential war this would go down the drain. A war between England and Spain would mean that the 1st one would use Portugal as a military platform, that France would then have even more reasons to hate us, that great amounts of money in trade would be lost, a.s.o. And no way on thinking to cut diplomatic relations with Great Britain like Spain wanted Portugal to do. This would be even worse.
With Portugal not wanting to loose it's old ally and trying to maintain a sustainable policy with Spain what happened was that the Spaniards started to move troops to the Spanish/Portuguese border. At the end of 1796 an army of 25 to 30 thousand men were in the Extremadura region, form which 5 to 6 thousand cavalry. And reinforcement arrived at the beginning of February of the following year.

4. Battle of Cape Saint Vincent of 1797

In February the Franco-Spanish and British fleets joined in battle at the mouth of the Mediterranean sea near Portugal. This was another headache for this country. And of course, Portuguese harbors where used by British ships making Portugal look more guilty then it really was. Lagos became a provisional prison for Spanish sailors. Rumors said that there were 20 thousand French soldiers ready to march int Portugal, so not even 3.000 English were sent to defend us. But things wouldn't stop here between Spain and England.

Nelson's approach to the San Nicolas during the Battle of Saint Vincent, National maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Nelson hurt during the Battle of Tenerife, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

5. Cadiz

In July the Nelson attacks Cadiz with the intention to destroy all the battle ships held at the harbor. Immediately France insists that Portugal should be invaded to stop it's, so thought, atrocious and secretive participation in this conflict.

6. The vexed treaty of August 10th, 1797

Since 1796 that Portugal intended to negotiate a peace treaty with France, without accepting it's surrender terms so it wouldn't loose Great Britain as an ally. Hence the attempt to declare itself as neutral. In august of 1797 progress was made, but the Portuguese ambassador, António de Araújo de Azevedo was heavily criticized for accepting to many French terms and therefore Portugal only decided to rectify the treaty partially. Several meetings between Portugal and Godoy happened and it was possible to remove a good part of the Spanish troops at the border. The treaty was signed and it loosened the knot around Godoy's neck. Articles 4th and 5th of the treaty were left to be discussed later but the treaty itself wasn't been rectified by Portugal yet. In fact, everyone became suspicious with the Portuguese attitude. What happened was that the treaty was sent back to Portugal when it was on it's way to Paris when in this city the coup-d'etat of 18 Frutidor happened. This was also criticized and on October the deadline to rectify the treaty closed negotiations. On December the Portuguese ambassador was arrested for attempt to corrupt the politicians of the Directory.

7. The fall of Manuel Godoy

On March of 1798 the prince of the Peace, after difficult relations in the Portuguese and French process (don't forget that Spain wanted Portugal on it's side), ceased to be the prime Minister of Spain. Even though Portugal intended to fight for a general peace, the removal from the Spanish diplomat gave this country only one option: to reinforce all military strongholds along the border, rebuilding them, recruiting new men, settling new arsenal, etc. France moves it's ships alongside North Africa, reaching Egypt (the Battle of Aboukir Bay of 1798). Britain retaliates and Paris hears that there were 5 Portuguese battle ships amongst them. Even if England won, the new anti-French position could not help Portugal much. The problem maintained.

8. Portugal as a British military platform

Because of the battles between Great Britain and Spain most English troops that were in Portugal to protect the borders with Spain were allocated to great displease to the national politics. And the British officials were not hiding that Portugal was involved, even spreading rumors that ships were departing from Lisbon like in the case of the attack to the Mahon harbor. From the English side there was no regard of the attempt of maintenance of peace between Portugal and Spain. Harbors were used to their own pleasure, troops were moved around away from the land borders, critics on the diplomatic relations with Spain continued. And Nelson even went against orders form Lisbon for the Portuguese ships to return to Portugal. And of course, the attack on Mahon just made Madrid even more furious, so all available Spanish troops (100 to 120 thousand soldiers in 4 columns to enter through Montijo, Beira Baixa, Galiza and Trás-os-Montes) were ordered to go to the border between the two countries. The fresh arrival of new British troops in Portugal makes Madrid lift almost the ban of French troops crossing Spain to invade Portugal.

The treaty between Portugal and Russia (1799)

In the same year as the coup of 18 of Brumaire Portugal signed a trade treaty with Russia. So far no problems; these two countries had done that in that past. But with the rise of Napoleon, French relations with Portugal got worse and we needed military aid in case of an invasion. So, in September a defensive alliance was signed between Portugal and Russia, almost at the same time as Russia declares war on Spain. The timing was awful! Spain was very close to declare war on Portugal. Portuguese diplomats in Spain received orders form Lisbon to return and Portuguese ships in Carthage were harassed by French pirates to the point of where the Portuguese attacked the pirates, which was offended Spain criticizing such behavior in Spanish territory.

Luis Pinto de Sousa Coutinho, Portuguese Prime-Minister from 1788 to 1803, painted by Bertolozzi.

Portugal maintained the talks of peace to gain time, Spanish troops continued to move to the border. In September 1800 filed hospitals were set up in the regions of Extremadura and Galiza, in November arrived 1500 British soldiers (numbers to reach until 4000), 5 to 6 thousand Portuguese men were to be recruited and war was to start if a breakout of an epidemic in Cadiz hadn't stopped it.

The return of Manuel Godoy brought a slight hope but Portugal could not accept the Spanish demands of January of 1801: the immediate waiver of the allegiance with Great Britain, the closure of Portuguese harbors for British ships, opening them for French and Spanish ships, delivery of one or more provinces for the return of Malta and Mahon and the payment of a compensation to Spain.

On February the 27th Spain declared war on Portugal.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


This post will give more exact examples of a previous post from November 2011 on the matter and that I had taken from the “Trajo popular em Portugal nos séculos XVII e XIX” by Alberto Souza.
Although I'll be only using a few images, you can find more under the 2 links I've posted below.

: The following images are from the the 1820's and 1840's, so therefore, outside the Regency period. Even though I'm going to explain Portuguese popular costume at the early 19th century they offer some good insight of what was worn in this country back then. The popular costume hadn't changed much and it is the similarities that I'm going to focus on.
Please, don't copy exactly what you see if it isn't the period you're looking for.
My search for better period images is still a continuous labor.

Last but not least, at the bottom of the post is one from a blog where the writer shows how to use a scarf. Informative, even if if not complete when it comes to the various manners scarfs were used by different professions, social classes and geographical regions. But the method showed is good enough.


(still have to find out who drew/published these and if the date is correct)

This book, even though from 1828, shows costumes that in my opinion can only mean tow things: or people in Portugal still dressed the same in the 1820's as they did at the turn of the century, or they are 1820's representations of what was worn at the turn of the century. The doubt comes from a picture below from a man wearing coulotes.

Peasant of the Trás-os-Montes region (right) and Roasted chestnuts seller (left)
As shown on the previous post on Portuguese popular costume at the turn of the century, women wore a costume made out of 3 visible parts, a skirt, a bodice and a chemise (being the skirt and the bodice of different colors). Then a scarf or hat (sometimes both) for the head and one for the shoulder (that could also be used on the head) and an apron. Everything very colorful.*

of the Minho region (please see post of July 2011 on the subject to learn more about this social class)
Women and men from a social class between peasants and nobles would rarely change their way of dressing, depending on their richness and city they lived in. In this case we can see exactly the same as the popular costume, only in better fabrics, more likely. To notice a very exquisite fact: the
plume on their stovepipe hats. In this case we have ostrich feathers but the fashionable detail during and short after the French invasions would be a military plume reminding the British presence in Portugal (if it was a gift or bought later it's not for us to discuss....)

Onion seller
Same dress code. But what is different is the little blanket on the woman's shoulders. I've never seen it before in this period. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

Peasant in festive clothing
This is one of the pictures that makes me doubt the period they are supposed to be. The men's
coullotes are still used at the turn of the century but too in the 1820's? And why is he regarded as a peasant if he's wearing coullotes when it was this piece of garment that differed peasants from nobles?



(from the 1840's and 50's)

Woman reaping
Not much has changed, 3 part dressing remains: wide skirt, chemise and bodice, although I don't believe that this type of shirt with ruffles existed and the bodice I believe is buttoned. Interesting detail about the skirt being rolled up at the waist to help movement.

Fish sellers
For the female costume, the same as above. The bodice is closer to what was worn at the turn of the century. Noticeable are the hats and the scarfs underneath.
As for the men's outfits, the drawers haven't changed.

Peasants on a festive day and pilgrims on a holy day

The pilgrim woman is wearing a large skirt, a jacket, a large hat, 2 scarfs (one underneath the hat and the other one around the neck). Very interesting is the red petticoat! In the book I've mentioned earlier I've read descriptions of pink petticoats and even jackets on popular costume. Notice the white stockings too. The black slippers are typical tho the North of Portugal.
The peasant woman is wearing a detailed skirt and jacket also worn in the early 19
th century. In fact detailing the garments (even petticoats) was a very much appreciated thing in Portugal in all classes, specially the lower ones.*

Poultry and coal sellers

A colorful jacket on the poultry seller, just as I had read descriptions in the book I mention above. The scarf and white stockings remain.

Townsman of the city of Braga
This must be my favorite image. Although the image is described as a townsman from the city of Braga, I cannot help laughing at the combination of a good suit with clogs. Very dandy! Perhaps a sign of the provincial side of Portugal and of some it's regions.


*Personal note: The exaggerated use of colors and detailing on clothing is something that I have not only found in description by the author from the book I mention at the top of the page but also found in my research of medieval costume in Portugal. In fact, it has been criticized by foreign diplomatic representatives on how men and women would dress too colorfully, would embellish their costumes in an exaggerated manner and enjoyed dancing and singing a lot. Even their behavior outdoors would be not as prude as the rest of Europe. And these critiques I've read were directed at Nobles!


The scarves worn on the head would be 1meter by 1meter approximately and would be folded into a triangle, being the inner part a bit shorter then the other so there wouldn't be to much tips showing. Then, it would be placed symmetrically on the head making a fold into the cloth to get rid of the amount of fabric on the sides and then pinned into the hair over the ears (watch the photos the blog owner posted). This is how a woman should wear her scarf going to mass or a festive day. The hat would go on top.

Depending from where the woman was (the different Portuguese regions) and what social condition she had (peasant, farmer, city woman, etc) her scarf would be tied together as the costume of the geographical region she came from (behind the neck, on top of the head, etc) and it would also determine the richness of the patterns and colors (if the woman would be working on the fields her scarf would be white and if she had the financial condition she would buy a prettier one for Sundays).

The patterns you see on this blog post are not to far away from the patterns used at early 19th century. I've seen only a small variation of scarves at the Victoria&Albert Museum in London.