War of the Oranges

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War of the Oranges
Part of the War of the Second Coalition
Francisco de Goya - Godoy como general - Google Art Project.jpg
Manuel Godoy portrayed by Francisco de Goya in 1801
Date20 May – 9 June 1801

Franco-Spanish victory in Europe
Portuguese victory in South America


Portuguese territory returned, except Olivenza, and border territories, which remained in Spanish possession; France territorial guarantees in Trinidad, Port Mahon (Menorca) and Malta, as well as lands north of Brazil; Southern Spanish America loses territory to Portuguese Brazil

Flag Portugal (1750).svg  Portugal

Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spain
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg  France
Commanders and leaders
Flag Portugal (1750).svg João, 3rd Duke of Lafões Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Prince of Peace
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Laurent de Gouvion
80,000 soldiers 200,000 soldiers
Manuel de Godoy featuring Queen Maria Luisa a branch with oranges. Guerra de las naranjas. Ilustracion de "La corte de Carlos IV" de Galdos.jpg
Manuel de Godoy featuring Queen María Luisa a branch with oranges.

The War of the Oranges (Portuguese : Guerra das Laranjas; French : Guerre des Oranges; Spanish : Guerra de las Naranjas) was a brief conflict in 1801 in which Spanish forces, instigated by the government of France, and ultimately supported by the French military, invaded Portugal. It was a precursor to the Peninsular Wars, resulting in the Treaty of Badajoz, the loss of Portuguese territory, in particular Olivenza, as well as ultimately setting the stage for the complete invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by French forces.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. Reintegrationists maintain that Galician is not a separate language, but a dialect of Portuguese. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Background and development

In 1800, First Consul Bonaparte and his ally, the Spanish prime-minister and Generalissimo Manuel de Godoy, ultimately demanded Portugal, the last British ally on the continent, to break her alliance with Britain. Portugal refused to cede, and, in April 1801, French troops arrived in the country. They were bolstered by Spanish troops under the command of Manuel de Godoy. Godoy had, under his command, the Spanish Army of Extremadura, with five divisions.

Ultimatum demand backed up by a threat

An ultimatum is a demand whose fulfillment is requested in a specified period of time and which is backed up by a threat to be followed through in case of noncompliance. An ultimatum is generally the final demand in a series of requests. As such, the time allotted is usually short, and the request is understood not to be open to further negotiation. The threat which backs up the ultimatum can vary depending on the demand in question and on the other circumstances.

The Spanish attack to Portugal started on the early morning of the 20 May, and focused on the Portuguese border region that included the main Garrison Town and Fortifications of Elvas and the smaller fortified towns of Campo Maior, Olivença (Olivenza in Spanish) and Juromenha. The main force of the Spanish Army advanced to Elvas, while two divisions advanced to Campo Maior and another division advanced to Olivença and Juromenha. Without having their fortifications complete and defended only by a few hundred soldiers, mostly of the militias, Olivença and nearby Juromenha quickly surrendered to the Spanish forces. The Portuguese garrison of Campo Maior - under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dias Azevedo - resisted the assault for 17 days, forcing the Spanish to maintain two entire divisions in its siege. The main Spanish force - under the direct command of Godoy - tried to assault Elvas, but was easily repelled by the strong Portuguese garrison commanded by General Francisco de Noronha. The Spanish troops then withdrew to a safe distance from the fortress, with Godoy not daring to attack it again until the end of the war. The war entered in a stalemate, with most of the Spanish forces hold in sieges of fortresses and the rest not being able to face the blockade made by the main core of the Portuguese Army, in order to advance further inside Portugal. Despite this, Godoy picked oranges from the outside of Elvas and sent them to the Queen of Spain [1] with the message that he would proceed to Lisbon. Thus, the conflict became known as the "War of the Oranges".

Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications building in Elvas, Portalegre District, Portugal

The Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications is a Unesco World Heritage Site, inscribed in the World Heritage list in 2012. Elvas is a Portuguese city in Alentejo, near the Portuguese-Spanish border.

Campo Maior, Portugal Municipality in Alentejo, Portugal

Campo Maior, is a municipality in the Portalegre District, Alentejo Region, Portugal. The population in 2011 was 8,456, in an area of 247.20 square kilometres (95.44 sq mi). It is bordered by Spain on the North and East, by Elvas Municipality on the Southeast, and by Arronches Municipality on the West.

Olivenza Place in Extremadura

Olivenza or Olivença is a town situated on a disputed section of the Portugal–Spain border. Its territory is administered by Spain as a municipality belonging to the province of Badajoz, and to the wider autonomous community of Extremadura. Portugal does not recognise the Spanish sovereignty over the territory, based on its interpretation of the rulings of the 1815 Congress of Vienna, and holds a claim over it.

On June 6, 1801, Portugal agreed to the tenets of the Treaty of Badajoz. Portugal agreed to close its ports to English ships, to give commercial concessions to France, to cede Olivenza to Spain and to pay an indemnity. On September 29, 1801, Portugal agreed to both maintaining the tenets of the Treaty of Badajoz and the alterations made to it, which were all embodied within the Treaty of Madrid.

Treaty of Badajoz (1801) peace treaty

The Treaty of Badajoz was signed by Spain and Portugal on 6 June 1801. Portugal ceded the border town of Olivença to Spain and closed its ports to British military and commercial shipping.

Treaty of Madrid (1801) treaty signed in 1801 between John VI of Portugal and representatives from the French Republic

The 1801 Treaty of Madrid was signed on 29 September 1801 by Portugal and France. Portugal made territorial concessions to France in Northern Brazil, closed its ports to British shipping and paid an indemnity of 20 million francs.

In response, from July 1801 until the signing of the Peace of Amiens in 1802, a British force of 3,500 men under Colonel William Henry Clinton occupied the Portuguese island of Madeira in the north Atlantic Ocean. Intended to forestall any French or Spanish attack on the island, the occupation took place with the tacit consent of the Portuguese. [2]

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.

William Henry Clinton British Army general

General Sir William Henry Clinton was a British general during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars as well as the First Miguelist War. He was also the grandson of Admiral George Clinton and elder brother of Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton.

Madeira Autonomous Region of Portugal in the archipelago of Madeira

Madeira, officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira, is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal. It is an archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal. Its total population was estimated in 2011 at 267,785. The capital of Madeira is Funchal, which is located on the main island's south coast.


After the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in which the Franco-Spanish fleet lost to Britain, the government of Portugal restored relations with its old ally. This led France to declare the Peace of Badajoz treaty cancelled, again marching on Portugal and invading it, starting the Peninsular War, that lasted from 1807 to 1810.

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 (1796–1815).

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

The French invasion forced the transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil in 1807, with Rio de Janeiro becoming the capital of the Portuguese Monarchy. From Rio de Janeiro, the Portuguese monarch denounced the Treaty of Badajoz as having been signed under coercion, declaring it "null and ineffective".

Later on, the Treaty of Vienna - signed by Spain in 1817 - stated clearly that the winning countries are to "endeavour with the mightiest conciliatory effort to return Olivença to Portuguese authority".


After the Napoleonic Wars, and the Congress of Vienna, neither Spain nor Portugal gave back the territories acquired both in America (Eastern Missions) and the Peninsula (Olivença); the latter remaining an issue with the Portuguese government (see Question of Olivença).

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  1. H. V. Livermore: Portugal: A Traveller's History, p. 26
  2. Newitt, M. D. D. "Who was who in Madeira at the time of the second British occupation in 1807". The Free Library. Retrieved 1 September 2016.

Further reading

See also