The Peninsular War (1807-1814)

The last stand of the defenders of Monteleon (1808). (Public Domain photo. Info can be found here)

The Portuguese openly refused to join the Continental System because they had been allies of the British since 1373. They had agreed with most of the French demands to keep the war from starting, but they refused to join into wars against Britain on the side of France. This lack of total support led Napoleon to attack. The French signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1807) to get Spanish support in their attack since they had to attack through Spain to get there anyway. The Spanish were promised Portugal in return for help and this sounded like a great idea to them. What the Spanish didn’t know was that the French were researching Spain as they marched through that country too, with engineers taking notes about fortresses and points of strength. This was done because Napoleon knew that he would eventually go to war with Spain and he wanted to be prepared for when it happened.

The French and Spanish would take the country very quickly, being able to take land faster than the army could keep up with the movement. They were moving so fast that when they took the city of Lisbon it took 10 days for his army to catch up. In fact the worst casualties came from the horses who would have a hard time with the horrible road conditions, resulting in the death of half of the horses. Prince John was making decisions for his mother, who had gone insane, but wasn’t prepared for leadership at all. He tried to

declare war on Britain at the last moment to get the French to back off but it didn’t work, and he didn’t have enough power to lead the military so the country was defenseless. King John and his mother would flee the country with 50 ships and thousands of men, and anyone who left with them had their property seized by the French later. The King and his family would remain in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for 13 years, which led to some interesting issues in Brazil (more on that later).