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Convention of Cintra

 

With the French thoroughly beaten in Portugal after the battle of Vimiero, Britain had a real chance of delivering a knockout blow to Napoleon Bonaparte's Peninsular ambitions.

Unfortunately, for the British, two new senior commanders - first Sir Harry Burrard and then, a day later, Sir Hew Dalrymple - arrived to take over the army from Sir Arthur Wellesley.

Far senior in years to Wellesley, the pair failed to follow-up the victory at Vimiero and then proceeded to talks terms with the General Jean-Andoche Junot, who had suddenly found himself defeated and cut off from France.

Dalrymple began negotiations with General Francois Kellerman who seemed to run rings around the older man.

When the Convention of Cintra was signed on 30 August 1808 the French were to evacuate their fortresses in Portugal, but then the British - fuming at Dalrymple's decision - were to transport the French army of some 26,000 men back to France.

Not only was the Royal Navy to carry the French, but also their weapons, belongings and any loot they had been able to steal during the campaign.

The French were also not put under a restriction upon their returning to fight again in the Peninsula.

Although he signed it, Wellesley denounced the convention but he, and Dalrymple and Burrard, were ordered back to London where they faced an official inquiry.

Wellesley, who had opposed the treaty, was exonerated. Dalrymple and Burrard were quietly removed from command and never served again.

 
 
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