Welcome to my blog. Please feel free to roam around and learn a bit more about Portuguese History. To find your interests, please, have a look at the right side of the page, where you can find all the posts arrenged into labels, such as "Society", "Politics", etc. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

EMPIRE ADRIFT* - account of the voyage of the Portuguese Court to Brazil in 1807

(Taken from the book “Império à Deriva – a Corte Portuguesa no Rio de Janeiro 1808 – 1821”, (Empire Adrift – the Portuguese Crown in Rio de Janeiro), by Patrick Wilcken, civilização editora, 5ºedição 2006, pp 21-66)

*Same as title of book

The French had arrived at the border under the command of Junot. All the attempts of neutrality had stopped and now the Portuguese Crown played on 2 sides at the same time: on one hand agreeing with the French Invasion to avoid the blood spill like it happened across Europe and on the other maintaining a secret alliance with England. And while the population was somewhat oblivious to it all, not knowing if they should wait peacefully for the Invasion, as told, or just run for the countryside, the French artillery remained at the border while few infantry men entered Lisbon, since it wasn't under the orders for an attack and since the Portuguese military wasn't prepared anyways.
Strangford, the British diplomat in Portugal advises a strategic retreat of the Crown to Brazil, but the King is afraid of the ocean. Nevertheless, on the 24th of November they leave at night towards the Lisbon harbor. On the 27th the King arrived, the queen later. (Junot crosses the border between the 23rd and the 26th of November and arrives in Lisbon on the 30th).
At the docs a countless number of boxes with valuable documents, jewelry, religious icons, books, century old bibles, furniture, gold, coins, clothing, all the valuables of several palaces and governmental buildings mount up, drawing the attention of the population. An endless “ocean” of crying , begging, chaos and general hysteria started as soon as the news of the Crown hit the streets of Lisbon.
The exodus moves forward and behind them remained hundreds of scrolls, valuable books and the 1st edition of the “Lusíadas”.

The King embarking for Brazil, Roque Gameiro, "Quadros da História de Portugal", 1932.

An estimated 10 thousand people left Portugal for Brazil, but it isn't an exact number; there are no official records. Doctors, religious people, servants, cooks, military, lawyers, civil servants and their families, all of them leave with the Crown. And to these, others who managed to “tag” along with bribes and requests. Lisbon had around of 200 thousand people leaving in the city at the time, so the number of people at the docs must have been amazing.
For the Crown there were 4 ships available: Afonso de Albuquerque, Rainha de Portugal, Príncipe do Brasil, Príncipe Real. This last one for the 2 eldest sons. And as military escort until the archipelago of Madeira, the British ships: HMS Marlborough, HMS Bedford, HMS London and HMS Monarch.
These ships and many other smaller vessels where in no conditions for such an endeavor. In fact, they were criticized by the British officials, having some of the ships been sent back for their lack of navigability: the wood was rotting, water was leaking in, the ropes were old, the sails ripped, the mast in risk of falling, etc. That is what happened to the Medusa and the D. João de Castro, hurting people. Even servants were told to sew new sails.
Not even counting with the fact that they were traveling in Winter, in cold weather, facing storms and rain, and navigate through stronger maritime currents and that most of these people never had traveled before, yet alone by sea.
There are few reports of the journey that have survived and most of them by anonymous people that have written letters and personal journals: besides the 4 royal vessels, the exile might have been made out of 3 or 5 frigates, 2 or 4 brigs, 1 supply ship, 8 liner ships with cannons only for the royal squadron, an a countless number of merchants ships, smaller brigs ans sloops chartered by so many people.
They were too many people and badly equipped with supplies. Everything was lacking: water and loads of it(!), food, live stock, ropes, wax, fire wood, oil, clothing, etc. The ones in most need were the women having only the clothing on their backs. The British navy had to distribute sheets so clothing could be made.
There where outbreaks of diseases and lice. Men would throw their wigs into the sea and would stand in line to have to kneel down and have their heads shaved and dusted. How humiliating it must have been.
The ships were so overcrowded that people would sleep on deck and the ones that were moved to the British vessels were the lucky ones.
All these conditions worsened as the voyage moved on and the emotional state of these people too. Continuous quarrels and fighting where the normality. One of the letters written on the subject by one civil employee states that it more looked like the conditions of the British prisoners sent to the colony of Australia.
And as soon as they crossed the hemisphere, the climate conditions where the opposite: such calmness and heat and no wind. They only traveled 30 nautical leagues in 10 days. Approaching Brazil, several ships landed in several different places out of despair.

Map of the journey. Taken from the book mentioned above.

On the 22nd of January of 1808, the main naval exodus reached Salvador, where only 1 governmental official received them and in surprise because of no previous warning of arrival dates nor of what sort of etiquette should be applied. Locals were removed from the streets but the King contradicted the orders because he wanted to see the people he ruled over.
One of the 1st things that were organized was clothing for the travelers. The official landing wasn't immediate, only 1 day after the landing, and the general looks of the exodus shook the mythical opinion of the colonials of the metropolis. The New World was in awe to see these filthy exiled filled with lice and in rags. The second thing organized was a mass in the main cathedral to thank the safe arrival of the Crown.
In contrast, this new city was very different of what anyone had ever seen in Europe: the climate, vegetation and “naturals” were very different. Many of the people had mestizo origins already and the Portuguese language had evolved to something else; the architecture was random and up the hills, new products and slaves being brought to land, the smells of palm oil and fried fish covered the air and the rich people let themselves be carried by litters.

Dom João VI arriving in Brazil.

And so started a new chapter on the History of Portugal and for these exiled Portuguese. During a decade and a half they would be far away form the French (but not from the Brits).

Príncipe Real arriving in Rio de Janeiro and being hailed by HMS Marlborough, Geoff Hunt.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Campaign album by Captian Manuel Isidro da Paz, circa 1812

This is a link on the digitalized form of the Campaign album drwan by Capatin Isidro da Paz. It says: «capaign Album about the marching, manouvres and plnas of the battles of the Portuguese Army during the Peninsula wars», by Captain Manuel Isidro da Paz. To know who this man was, I translated partially what the beginning of the link says. Have a look at bottom of page.


«Manuel Isidro da Paz took part in the campaign of the peninsula War from1809 to 1814. He served under the generals Richard Blunt, Archibald Campbell e Thomas Bradford.

He became 2nd Lieutenant (Ensign) of the 2nd Infantry regiment, by decrete of May 26th 1809, Lieutenente for the th Infantry regiment, by decrete of March 10th of 1810 and Captain for the same regiment December 15th, 1814.»

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A PORTUGUESE SOAP OPERA 2 - The Napoleonic wars and exile of the Portuguese crown - from 1807 to 1826

Here are a few topics that will help you understand this matter, why the Portuguese Crown left for Brazil, why the 1st French Invasion was peaceful and the following 2 weren't, why the British troops came to our rescue and all the way to the beginning of the Civil War in the 1830's.

Taken from the book “ Império à Deriva – A Corte Portuguesa no Rio de Janeiro 1808-1821” (Empire Adrift – the Portuguese Crown in Rio de Janeiro), by Patrick Wilken, Civilização Editora, 5ª edição, 2006

When the Napoleonic wars arrives in Portugal, or better, the Iberian Peninsula, in Europe it had already reached it's height. Victories in the Netherlands, Switzerland, North of Italy, Austerlitz, and others, made the Russian and the British governments reconsider the strength of the French Army. An attempt of economical domination through a continental blockade (considering that his naval strength wasn't as good as the British): Cities with harbors were the 2st to fall and cities that tried to resist were just slaughtered and advancing through the Iberian Peninsula, occupying Lisbon, was all the was needed to complete Napoleon's plan. Portugal tried to keep it's neutrality, but was surrounded (geographically and politically) by Spain, so far, an ally of France. Conquering Portugal's naval fleet, as small as it could be, would enhance the France's.
But if the Iberian Peninsula was important to Napoleon's plans, it was also his downfall: scattered war efforts from the Peninsula to East of Europe, including the Spanish insurrection and the double play of the Portuguese Crown – the secret alliance with the UK.
On the other hand, the treaties of Tilsit forced Portugal to join the blockade against Britain and evict all Brits out of Portugal, something that happens a few days before the King's exile.
In Spain the monarchy capitulated and political “dummies” occupied their place. The Portuguese King wanted to avoid that at all costs. If Portugal refused the French demands, the same would happen as in many of the European cities. In the words of the British ambassador, Strangford, the Portuguese king wanted to to avoid all of these evil to happen to his subjects.
Portugal, therefore, agrees with the exile, but only after the French entered the country. The British pressure increases; the refusal of exile would mean a stronger attitude from the UK: «His Majesty's Government will have absolute and manifest justification to take any means it considers adequate.». (Meaning that it would consider Portugal as an enemy, making this country a mere pawn to it's interests and leaving our king without a choice to accept it's conditions).

Arrival of the French troops at Lisbon.

The Portuguese Crown exiles to Brazil, after the Spanish Crown usurpation and Junot entering Lisbon peacefully. Strangford travels with the Crown to Brazil. The situation had now become an Iberian war of manipulation between the French and the Brits. An interesting fact: the removal of the Spanish King of it's position leaves the Portuguese queen- D. Carlota Joaquina – with a chance to claim the Spanish Crown. (But that's another story!)
Once the UK forces arrive in Portugal, as agreed in the secret alliance, the French have to leave and plan a 2nd attempt of invasion. Something that either arts had thought of being an easy victory, had now become a war as in remaining Europe and once the Iberian population joins forces against the French, the situation becomes volatile.
The French claims of peaceful victory over Lisbon (and later, the Spanish Crown) had fallen unto ground and now they were forced to fight just like they did in other cities. Without foreseeing it, «they were dragged into a guerrilla campaign managed by peasants fighters with a much higher knowledge of the terrain». They loose a 2nd attempt of Invasion and start planning a 3rd. In the meanwhile, the Portuguese king remains in Brazil.
In Portugal, Arthur Wellesley starts an architectural campaign of the most modern and highest European military point of view – the Lines of Torres Vedras: a complex labyrinth of walls, pits and watch towers to stop the advance through land of the French Army until Lisbon. The rural areas within 50Km around Lisbon were evacuated, the lands burned, the water diverted, swamps created and 10 thousand peasants hired to work in this endeavor, to an extend that still today, military specialist wonder about this construction.
But, as long as the allies helped us and the Crown kept itself in Brazil to things happened: Portugal became an English protectorate (willing or unwillingly, Beresford is the new Government) and also, a Brazilian colony. Months and money would be lost in travels between Portugal and Brazil, just to solve the tiniest issue. The years of French occupation only brought violence and looting.

The (Portuguese) "gerrilla" in the Peninsula War, Roque Gameiro, in "Quadros da História de Portugal", 1932

As Portugal became more ruined, Brazil prospered. The Crown invested in this new country, in it's agriculture, industry, roads, housing, etc, something that had never happened here (more on that in a future post). The Brits used Portugal as their battlefield against France, but gained property rights in Brazil, taking advantage of everything that the Portuguese also had (including slavery?). This absence of power creates a pit amongst the population: the ones that wanted the past to return and the radicals. The 1st European constitutional attempts arrive in Portugal and the liberals gain power. «The more the Crown stays in Brazil, more insistent become the claims for change». Danger lurks: a impoverished state but with a British improved military structure.
In a travel to Brazil by Beresford, the liberals (also called “constitutionalists”) see an opportunity to make a stand: the stop the entry of Beresford in the Lisbon harbors on his return. The revolution of August 24th of 1820 happens. Only with a personal invitation did Beresford managed to step onto dry land.

"The Constinutional sessions of 1820" , Roque Gameiro, "Quadros da História de Porugal, 1932

A constitution is adopted and the parliamentary sessions happen on a regular basis. And yet, the King remains in Brazil. The UK warns that it will not interfere and suggest the Crown to return. Also in Brazil has it's uprisings and angry mobs are repelled with gunfire. Dom Pedro, the oldest sun of D. João VI, is told to return to Portugal.
The last months of 1821 are hard on the exiled Crown. Nobody wanted an absolutist government anymore and an over spending court. In fact, not long from this, Brazil will have it's “grito do Ipirinaga” (Along the river Ipiranga, when the Portuguese troops prepare to leave Brazil, lead by D. Pedro to fight D. Miguel, that the 1st rips off his Portuguese insignia and says: «Independence or death! Separation from Portugal!», something that happens in 1825).
Loyalists of D. Pedro align against the Brazilian liberals. A blood bath happens and this became the last show of strength of an absolute government. The next day the Crown leaves. The king returns to Portugal with his youngest son – Dom Miguel – and the eldest stays in Brazil. Both face countries in turmoil. The exile of 13 years ends and far away form the French Invasions. It is during the return travel of a partial Portuguese Crown that Napoleon dies.
At the arrival of the king, he's forced to sign a decree in where he agrees with the constitution and rectify it. Later that year, the Brazilian radicals demand that D. Pedro stays and not to comply with the Portuguese Government (not to forget, Brazil was still a colony). The queen supports her youngest son and puts them in different corners of a future battle.

The arrival of the Portuguese King in Lisbon, author unkown, Arquivos do Palácio Nacional da Ajuda.

The early 20's saw a succession of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary coups between the Absolutists (supporters of D. Pedro) and the Liberals (supporters of d. Miguel) to an extend where the King has to abdicate in favor for his son, but a few months after the signing of Brazil's independence, the retired king dies. «The only one that tricked me», according to Napoleon's memories on St. Helena. D. Pedro becomes emperor of Brazil, D. Miguel exiles to Austria after being declared as a traitor, leaving Portugal without a leader. Dona Maria da Glória, D. Pedro's daughter is the only successor to the Portuguese Crown, but she stays in Brazil after the retired queen – D. Carlota Joaquina – dies and D. Pedro returns to occupy the throne.
The 1830's saw a new page of Portugal's History: the liberal wars, between 2 brothers.