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.