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Sunday, February 22, 2015


This is a post (and one that I have been wanting to write about for a long time) about a word that for most of you has a different meaning than the one I'll be telling you about. Today I'll be talking about a different usage of the word “Jacobite” and how it came into the Portuguese day-to-day life during the French Invasions.
For the sake of the general knowledge, a Jacobite is a person who follows the political movement that started in Great Britain and Ireland between late 17th to mid 18th centuries to restore the Roman Catholic Church in that country and that was supported by King James the 2nd (Jacob being latin for James). Seems pretty far away and with no connection to Portugal whatsoever. But like in so many thing about History, there's always a twist.
Many Catholics took refuge in France during this entire process of Jacobite risings and battles and occupations, specially Catholic Scots and specially after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. It is in this new country that many formed new Freemasonry lodges so called the “Moderns”, which in time got involved in other types of conflict within the Freemasonry itself but which is of no consequence to this post. And it is exactly at this point that we can make a connection to Portugal and it's French Invasions.

  The Battle of Culloden, by David Morier.

Portugal being a strong Catholic country (I have talked about the catholic Puritanism in this country in a previous post) would, of course, be a chosen place to live for a Catholic refugee and it wouldn’t be strange for a person from Great Britain to emigrate here, since Portugal always had a large number of English speaking nationals. But it was through France that the greater influx of “Jacobites” came to live here, and many of them with ties to the Freemasonry. Not forgetting that Portugal was known for it's long time Freemasonry tradition.
So, throughout the 2nd half of the 18th century some French Jacobites (let's call them that way) came to live on this end of the Iberian Peninsula, or at least have a good amount of influence in the Portuguese national intellectual scene.
But the plot thickens even more: the French Revolution vs. the Portuguese Holy Inquisition.
1stly, some of the “French Jacobites”, through their Freemasons, brought new ideas to Portugal, ideas of liberalism, etc. Not all of them, but yet with ideas that were forbidden by censorship controlled by the Inquisition. So, therefore, many of the most illustrious and influential Frenchmen were spied upon and followed. There should be no talk against the Political and Religious Institutions of Portugal, which acted as one (officially, but actually it was the Roman Catholic Church that controlled the King, the Courts of Law, daily life, a.s.o).
2ndly, it is late 18th century that France sees a great shift in it's not only political regime (changing from Absolutism to many different forms of elections) but also political system (changing from a Monarchy to a Republic). It is this and notions of Separation of Powers that bring to Portugal a 2nd influx of French refugees. In the pursuit of separating Church from State (lets not forget that France was a Roman Catholic country too), this country and it's people fell into extremism, being public manifestations of religion absolutely forbidden (I believe that there are examples of soldiers being shot for treason for having their children baptized). So therefore, again, religious refugees from France took Portugal as their 2nd home. Some of them supporters of a Monarchy, some of them not. Portugal being a Monarchy, didn't supported these new French changes and was afraid of how much influence the Revolution could bring to this territory.

 "Die Inquisition in Portugall" ,from the book: "Description de L'Univers,Contenant les Différents Systèmes de Monde,Les Cartes Générales&Particulières de la Géographie Ancienne&Moderne", by Jean David Zunner,1685

 "Execution de Robespierre and his supporters on July 28th 1794", Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1794

 It is in this entire process of revolution in France that we see a little young man called Napoleon rise in power. It is this man that became not only the chosen political leader of France (we could debate on this matter for hours alone, if the was or not elected), but also the leader of the biggest war the world had seen so far. Napoleon decides to create an Empire controlled by him and, therefore, invade several countries in Europe, Portugal included. Now, what does this has got to do with Jacobites.
Whilst during the 1st French invasion (as seen in a previous post on this blog) the main idea was to keep peace and the the French military as our allies, it was between the 1st and the 2nd invasion that the mentality quickly changed and saw everything that looked French, be French, spoke French, as enemy of the State. A witch hunt started. Civilians would take justice upon their own hands and kill everyone that looked suspicious., whether they were French or not. There's even a story of two translators working for Wellington's army being seized in the city of Porto and almost being killed by locals for carrying letters written in French. Rescued in a nick of time.
But not that Portuguese officer, Bernardim Freire de Andrade, for failing to stop the French and building a defense along the Northern Portuguese border. He faced 3 times the accusations of helping the French army, once by the soldiers under him and arrested by them, second time by the locals soon after the soldiers released him and a 3rd time when he was sent to prison by the poplar’s demand and fear of them uprising, and then was killed by them on March 18th 1809 and so was another officer on the same day, Custódio José Gomes Vilas Boas.

Body of Bernardim Freire de Andrade being draged through the streets, by Roque Gameiro, in "Quadros da História de Portugal", 1932

And how would these French, or supposedly French looking people be called? Jacobites! If you were walking down the street and someone behind would yell «JACOBITE!» referring to your person, you'll better run for your life. It was, yet again, a time for seeking refuge somewhere else for French people living in Portugal.
And this is how a simple word we recognize as a being part of different country's History can be linked to the Napoleonic Wars, more specially to it's part in Portuguese History.
I hope you have enjoyed it.


carojon said...

Hi Sara, A very interesting post. I had no idea that the Jacobite identity had traveled to Portugal. That said, many of the Irish and Scots military emigres from the wars between 1685-1746 ended up serving in French and Spanish forces, known in Britain as the "Wild Geese". I am currently posting about Wellesley's Talavera campaign and have just written about General Cuesta's senior aide, General Juan O'Donoju who having his origins in Ireland translated the meeting between the two Commanders from Spanish to English, because Cuesta refused to speak with Wellesley in French.

The first battle of the Jacobite era was fought close to my home at Sedgemoor in Somerset UK in 1685 and we visited the area in December.

Thanks for the post

Sara Seydak said...

Thank you Jonathan for your input. The world is a small place.
On another interesting note, many of the Portuguese men that were forced to join Napoleon's army came back to Portugal as Republicans and joined the liberalist side of the the Portuguese civil war in the 1830's. The world twists and turns and so does History.

Tony Carter said...

You'll have to come to Scotland Sarah. We live just an hour & half from Culloden. Go see the museum.
As for my humble abode, back in 1745 it gave two men and horses to serve in Lord Pitsligos regiment of cavalry. Lord Pitsligo was another Jacobite who enjoyed dressing as a woman

Sara Seydak said...

Hi Tony!
Thanx for commenting.
Yes, Sctoland is on my bucket list and now that I have firends over there, one more reason to visit.
And what do you mean by «... another Jacobite who enjoyed dressing as a woman»? Was a thing amongst Jacobites? Just joking...