Did Spain ever invaded Portugal

General Dumouriez, French hero

Although the processes of modernization and reform set the stage for the wars for independence, it was the Napoleonic wars, and more specifically, Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, that triggered the wars for independence in Spanish America. This outline first looks at the rise of Napoleon and his efforts to dominate Europe. We then closely examine his invasion of Spain and Portugal, the flight of the Portuguese monarchy to Brazil, and the imprisonment of the king and crown prince of Spain. The French occupation of Spain and Portugal sets off a war of skirmishes and a British invasion. These events touch off a series of (mostly) failed wars for independence in Spanish America after 1808. The defeat of Napoleon and the return of Fernando VII in 1814 create another flashpoint that sets off a second series of wars in Spanish America, wars that largely succeed.

Although the processes of modernization and reform set the stage for the wars for independence, it was the Napoleonic wars in Europe, and more specifically, Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, that triggered the wars for independence in Spanish America.

A. Napoleon’s armies invaded Spain and Portugal in 1807–1808, deposing the Iberian monarchies and severing the connections between Iberia and the Latin American colonies.

  1. The Portuguese royal family fled Lisbon for Brazil in 1807, and Napoleon imprisoned the Spanish king and crown prince in 1808.
  2. The Spanish Americans would have to decide how to rule their own lands with their king under French control.
  3. Before we look at these invasions and their consequences, we must first return to the French Revolution and events in Europe.

B. After 1799, Napoleon emerged as the strongman in France; he led his armies across Europe until 1815, deposing monarchs and dominating the entire continent.

  1. Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the more extraordinary figures in the history of the West.
  2. In 1803, Britain declared war on France, and the Austrian and Russian Empires soon joined in a coalition against Napoleon.
  3. Napoleon concentrated on closing off the continent to English trade.
  4. After signing a peace treaty with the young Tsar Alexander I in 1807, Portugal and Spain were the only “holes” in the continental blockade.

The Spanish and Portuguese monarchies reacted in different ways to the Napoleonic invasions in 1807–1808.

A. The Portuguese had long been allies of the English and had been preparing for a French invasion for more than a decade.

  1. The Braganzas had been the ruling family since 1640; Maria I had ascended to the throne in 1777.
  2. With the rise of the French revolutionary army in the 1790s, the Portuguese monarchy secretly began to plan for a possible invasion.
  3. When the French sent forces across Spain into Portugal in late 1807, the royal family chose to evacuate to Brazil under British escort.
  4. The Braganza family would reside in Brazil from 1808–1821, ruling their empire from Rio de Janeiro.

B. Compared to the Spanish Bourbons, the Portuguese Braganzas appear to be one big, happy, and astute royal family.

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Q&A

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When did Spain invade Portugal?

Spain has invaded Portugal several times the most recent, was about 1576, when the Spanish king claimed the throne.

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Did Spain ever occupy Portugal?

Spain never occupied Portugal, but there was a time when both countries were governed by the same King.