The Peninsular War
1807 to 1814
War Battles Location Map
Suggestions for Portugal
Deaths in British Army Hospitals
during the Peninsular War
Peninsular War was probably the worst mistake Napoleon
Bonaparte made during his lengthy reign over France
- the attempted subjugation of Portugal in a bid to tighten
his trade blockade of Britain.
get at Portugal, Bonaparte had to trick his ally Spain into
allowing a French army under General Jean-Andoche
Junot to move through its territory.
1 December 1807, the French captured Lisbon - the Portuguese
capital - but just missed the royal family who fled to Brazil
the day before Junot arrived.
three months later, Marshal
Joachim Murat took a huge army into Spain on the pretext
of restoring order - the king, Charles
IV, was quarreling with his son, Ferdinand - and soon
had the entire family taken to France for protection.
Bonaparte made the major error of having his brother Joseph
chosen as the new king by the large party of French-loving
reformists, a move that sent the peasantry and church into
a rebellious frenzy.
two months there were open uprisings against Joseph and
the conflict descended into one of the most brutal periods
of warfare seen.
The Spanish artist Goya sketched a series of ink images,
Disasters of War, that show the
inhuman levels reached during the campaign.
its poorly led regular army, the war began well for Spain
with the French being forced into a lengthy siege of Saragossa
and an army, under the luckless General Pierre Dupont, being
made to surrender at Bailen.
reverses in Spain cut Junot off from any support he might
have anticipated, but he felt strong enough to defeat a
British army that landed in Portugal on 1 August 1808.