Anglo-Spanish War (1796–1808)

Last updated
Anglo-Spanish War
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars
DateAugust 1796 – March 1802,
May 1804 – July 1808
Location
Result

Indecisive

Territorial
changes
Trinidad ceded to Britain (1802)
Menorca returned to Spain (1802)
Belligerents

1796–1802:
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spain
Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg French Republic


1804–1808:
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spain
Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg French Empire

1796–1801:
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain


1801-1802, 1804-1808:
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Supported by:
Flag of Portugal (1750).svg Portugal
Commanders and leaders
Strength
38 ships of the line (1796)
70 ships of the line (1805)
200,000 (1801)
50,000 (1807)
100+ ships of the line [1]
80,000 (1801)
50,000 (1807)
The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (oil on canvas, 1822-1824). Turner, The Battle of Trafalgar (1822).jpg
The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (oil on canvas, 1822–1824).

The Anglo-Spanish War was a conflict fought between 1796 and 1802, and again from 1804 to 1808, as part of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The war ended when an alliance was signed between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain, which was now under French invasion.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Historical sovereign state from 1801 to 1921

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

Contents

Background

In the War of the First Coalition, Spain declared war on the newly formed French Republic, joined the Coalition in attempting to restore the Bourbon Monarchy. The main Spanish general was Antonio Ricardos, who failed to secure a decisive victory, despite initial successes. French forces elsewhere quickly overran the Austrian Netherlands after the Battle of Fleurus, and the Dutch Republic collapsed under huge pressure. The Spanish were having similarly bad times. The Spanish navy did little, with the exception of combining with the British and participating in the Siege of Toulon.

War of the First Coalition 1790s war to contain Revolutionary France

The War of the First Coalition is the traditional name of the wars that several European powers fought between 1792 and 1797 against the French First Republic. Despite the collective strength of these nations compared with France, they were not really allied and fought without much apparent coordination or agreement. Each power had its eye on a different part of France it wanted to appropriate after a French defeat, which never occurred.

War of the Pyrenees 18th-century conflict between Revolutionary France and Spain and Portugal

The War of the Pyrenees, also known as War of Roussillon or War of the Convention, was the Pyrenean front of the First Coalition's war against the First French Republic. It pitted Revolutionary France against the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal from March 1793 to July 1795 during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Antonio Ricardos Spanish general

Antonio Ricardos Carrillo de Albornoz was a Spanish general. He joined the army of the Kingdom of Spain and fought against Habsburg Austria, the Portugal, and the First French Republic during a long military career. By embracing the Spanish Enlightenment, he earned the displeasure of conservative elements of society. He played an active role in reforming the Spanish military. Upon the outbreak of the War of the Pyrenees in 1793, the king sent him to command in Catalonia. He invaded Rousillon where he won several victories over the French. After his death in early 1794, the war went badly for Spain.

Following the Battle of the Black Mountain, the French Republic gained a huge advantage, and by 1795, the Peace of Basel was signed, forcing the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Prussia to exit the Coalition. In 1796, encouraged by massive French gains in the Rhine Campaign and the Italian Campaign, Spanish prime minister Manuel Godoy signed the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso, establishing a Franco-Spanish alliance and common war against Great Britain. The hope was that victorious France would also win over land and money for Spain.

Battle of the Black Mountain

The Battle of the Black Mountain was fought from 17 to 20 November 1794 between the army of the First French Republic and the allied armies of the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Portugal. The French, led by Jacques François Dugommier defeated the Allies, who were commanded by Luis Firmín de Carvajal, Conde de la Unión. Though the Spanish right wing held, its left flank was driven back on the first day's fighting. On the last day of the battle, the French overran a key position and put the Spanish army to rout. The battle was remarkable in that both army commanders were slain. A Spanish artillery shell killed Dugommier early in the battle and Dominique Catherine de Pérignon assumed command of the French army. De la Union was shot dead while leading a cavalry charge on the last day of the fighting and was temporarily replaced by Jerónimo Girón-Moctezuma, Marquis de las Amarilas. The French victory led to the capture of Figueres and the Siege of Roses (Rosas), a port in Catalonia.

Peace of Basel peace treaty

The Peace of Basel of 1795 consists of three peace treaties involving France during the French Revolution.

Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars Napoleonic conflict

The Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) were a series of conflicts fought principally in Northern Italy between the French Revolutionary Army and a Coalition of Austria, Russia, Piedmont-Sardinia, and a number of other Italian states.

War

1796-1802

The war was damaging for Spain and for the Spanish Crown's revenues, with the British blockade greatly reducing the amount of wealth arriving from the colonies. A main Spanish fleet, under Jose de Cordoba y Ramos, had 27 ships of the line, however, and planned to link with the French and protect coveys of valuable goods. The British Mediterranean fleet had 15 ships of the line - heavily outnumbered by Franco-Spanish threats, forcing a retreat from Corsica and Elba by 1797.

Corsica Region in France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

1804-1808

The Treaty of Amiens in 1802 provided for a temporary truce in hostilities, only to be broken in 1804 when, by surprise and without declaration of war, British ships attacked a Spanish squadron of frigates that was carrying gold and silver bullion to Cádiz. Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes blew up and the others were captured by the British.

Treaty of Amiens peace treaty

The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between France and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace." The consequent peace lasted only one year and was the only period of general peace in Europe between 1793 and 1814.

Frigate Type of warship

A frigate is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.

Cádiz Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.

The French planned an invasion of Britain in the coming year; the Spanish fleet was to be an integral part in assisting this invasion. At the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805, a combined Franco-Spanish fleet, attempting to join forces with the French fleets in the north for the invasion, were attacked by a British fleet and lost in a decisive engagement. The British victory ended the immediate threat of an invasion of Britain by Napoleon. It also seriously shook the resolve of the unpopular Godoy led Spanish government, which began to doubt the utility of its uncertain alliance with Napoleon. Meanwhile, a British campaign (1806–1807) to conquer the strategically important Rio de la Plata region in Spanish South America met with failure.

Battle of Trafalgar 1805 battle of the Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Trafalgar was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).

Godoy withdrew from the Continental System that Napoleon had devised to combat Britain, only to join it again in 1807, after Napoleon had defeated the Prussians. Napoleon, however, had lost his faith in Godoy and Spanish King Charles IV. There was also growing support in Spain for the king's son, Ferdinand, who opposed the widely despised Godoy. Ferdinand, however, favoured an alliance with Britain, and Napoleon had always doubted the trustworthiness of any Bourbon royalty.

Aftermath

In 1807, France and Spain invaded Portugal, and, on 1 December, Lisbon was captured with no military opposition. In the beginning of 1808, the French presence in Spain was so predominant that it led to revolt. Napoleon then removed King Charles and his son Ferdinand to Bayonne and forced them both to abdicate on 5 May, giving the throne to his brother Joseph. This led to the Peninsular War and the de facto end of the Anglo-Spanish War, as George Canning, foreign secretary of His Majesty's Government, declared:

"No longer remember that war has existed between Spain and Great Britain. Every nation which resists the exorbitant power of France becomes immediately, and whatever may have been its previous relations with us, the natural ally of Great Britain." [2]

Notes

  1. "British Royal Navy : Nelson : Napoleonic Wars : French & Spanish : Trafalgar". napolun.com.
  2. Foy, p. 213

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References