Kingdom of Portugal in the XVIII Century

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The Country



Until 1706

Pt 1706.gif

Since 1706




Azores Islands

Madeira Island

Cape Verde Islands





East Timor Island


Absolute Monarchy


1683-1706 Pedro II

1706-1750 João V

1750-1777 José I

1777-1816 Maria I


1700: 2 millions

1750: 2.4 millions

Ethnic Groups

Portuguese (Latin) People




Roman Catholic




Other Cities






Portuguese Real


1700 – Brazil now producing 50,000 ounces of gold per year.

1703 – Sir John Methuen negotiates a Military Treaty with Portugal on 16 May, giving Britain an entry to Portugal at a time when the Bourbon dynastic alliance of France and Spain appears to threaten English access to the Continent. This is followed on 27 December by the commercial Methuen Treaty, signed to stimulate trade with Britain. This (which lasts until 1810) opens up new markets for Portuguese wine but helps to destroy the native textile industry by letting in British cloth at preferential rates. The fashion for Portuguese wine in Britain (which has banned the import of French wine due to the war of the Spanish Succession, which will last until 1714) makes the wine trade so profitable and competitive that over the next 40 years inferior wines, often adulterated and artificially coloured are passed off as the genuine article – giving ‘port’ a bad name.

1705 – Brazil is now producing 600,000 ounces of gold per year. For the second time in its history, Portugal controls one of the greatest gold-producing sources in the world.

1706 — João V of Portugal becomes king. He presides over a great flowering of Portuguese art and culture underpinned by the fabulous wealth provided by Brazilian gold. Social and economic reform are neglected for the next 40 years, and the pious King indulges in a penchant for fabulously expensive building. The Portuguese royal family is now the wealthiest in Europe and João V even considers moving his throne and court to Rio de Janeiro. The taxation of the Brazilian trade brings in an enormous personal revenue to the monarch and he is able to construct an absolutist regime similar to that of the French Kings, concentrating on pomp and ceremony at court. There is however no attention to the impoverished national agriculture, inadequate transport, neglected merchant navy and minimal industrial development of the country since corn and cloth can easily be exported, foreign ships can be hired and ‘every problem in Portugal can be solved by the King’s gift of a little basket of gold coins bearing his effigy’. Meanwhile, the Brazilian gold rush continues and civil war breaks out between the mining camps of Portuguese immigrants lately come to the north of the country and the Paulistas of southern Brazil who discovered the gold in the first place.

1717 – Beginning of construction of the great palace-monastery of Mafra, which João V vowed on the birth of his heir, and which he intends as a rival to the Escorial. The elegance of the suites and courtyards are matched by the costliness of the furnishings in more than 1,000 rooms. The scale of the buildings and formal gardens is stupendous in relation to the impoverished countryside around it. However the roped gangs of forced labourers and the military regiment which controls them provides local employment throughout a generation, particularly in the servicing of the 7,000 carts and wagons and feeding of draught animals.

1732 – Disaster at Elvas: lightning strikes the gunpowder magazine in the castle. The explosion and fire kill 1500 people and destroy 823 houses.

1735 – Completion of the palace-monastery at Mafra.

1742 – João V orders the construction in Rome of the Capela de São João Baptista for installation in the Igreja de São Roque to honour his patron saint and to requite the Pope, whom he has persuaded to confer a patriarchate on Lisbon. For its size, this is reckoned the most expensive building ever constructed. Designed by the papal architect Vanvitelli, and using the most costly materials available including ivory, agate, porphyry and lapis lazuli, the chapel is erected in the Vatican in order that the Pope may celebrate Mass in it before it is dismantled and shipped to Portugal.

1750 — Death of João V. His son José I of Portugal becomes king. His powerful chief minister, Sebastião de Melo, Marquis of Pombal, embarks on a programme of reform to drag Portugal into the 18th century.

1752 – Building of the rococo palace of Queluz.

1755 – The Great earthquake of Portugal is the most shattering natural phenomenon of the Age of Enlightenment. Striking at 9.30 am on All Saints' Day (1 November), it destroys much of Lisbon and many towns in parts of the Alentejo and Algarve (Faro, Lagos and Albufeira are devastated). In Lisbon, three major shocks within ten minutes, a host of rapidly spreading fires touched off by the candles of a hundred church altars, and a vast tsunami that engulfs the seafront, leave 40,000 dead out of a total population of 270,000. The Alfama district of the old city is largely untouched owing to its situation on a rocky massif, as is Belem. The Customs House is flooded and the India House and the English Factory destroyed, so that no trade can legitimately be conducted. The King proves himself able in crisis management and his illegitimate half-brothers, the royal dukes, organize defence, security, the burying of the dead and the continuance of religious observance. The disaster is described by Voltaire in Candide. Rebuilding begins immediately under the vigorous direction of Pombal, who now consolidates his position as Portugal’s enlightened despot and leading statesman. It is decided to reconstruct Lisbon as the finest city in Europe, on the grid plan already adopted in the leading cities of Spanish America.

1759, January 13 — All members of the Távora family are executed for high-treason and attempted regicide by orders of the Marquis of Pombal.

1762 – 1763 — Spanish invasion of Portugal stopped with the help of Great Britain.

1777 — Maria I of Portugal becomes Queen regnant. The King consort is her husband and uncle, Pedro III of Portugal. Pombal is dismissed.

1792 — João assumes royal responsibilities due to the declining mental health of his mother, Maria I of Portugal.

1799 — João officially becomes Prince regent


1701-1714 War of the Spanish Succession

1714-1718 Ottoman–Venetian War

1752 Naval Battle of Calicut

1756 Guaraní War

1765-1763 Seven Years' War

1776-1777 Spanish-Portuguese War

1784 Bombardment of Algiers

1793-1795 War of the Pyrenees

The Army



Until 1706

Pt 1706.gif

Since 1706


Commanding Officer: Lieutenant General Count Villaverde

Orders of Battle

Anglo-Portuguese Army, Beginning of l7l0 Campaign

lst Line:

Dragoons (3)

Garde Cavalry Regiment (l)

Aveyras Cavalry Regiment (3)

Barrett Cavalry Regiment (2)

Bandiera Cavalry Regiment (2)

Telles Infantry Regiment (l)

Pires Infantry Regiment (l)

Sezar Infantry Regiment (l)

Vasconcellos Infantry Regiment (l)

Titua Infantry Regiment (l)

Alarcao Infantry Regiment (l)

Saa Infantry Regiment (l)

Cabral Infantry Regiment (l)

Pieria Infantry Regiment (l)

Mello Infantry Regiment (l)

Acun~na Infantry Regiment (l)

Xavier Infantry Regiment (l)

Mansal Infantry Regiment (l)

Newton Infantry Regiment (l)

Stanwir Infantry Regiment (l)

Plarce Infantry Regiment (l)

Bastos Cavalry Regiment (l)

Antas Cavalry Regiment (3)

Pinhiero Cavalry Regiment (2)

Quintal Cavalry Regiment (2)

Galloway Cavalry Regiment (3)

2nd Line

Arcos Cavalry Regiment (l)

Bastos Cavalry Regiment (l)

Texeria Cavalry Regiment (3)

Lagoa Cavalry Regiment (3)

Morars Infantry Regiment (l)

Caldera Infantry Regiment (l)

Brito Infantry Regiment (l)

Botelhe Infantry Regiment (l)

Villena Infantry Regiment (l)

Tavares Infantry Regiment (l)

Tragozo Infantry Regiment (l)

Estevas Infantry Regiment (l)

Veyga Infantry Regiment (l)

Alcanforado Infantry Regiment (l)

Carvalho Infantry Regiment (l)

Baston Infantry Regiment (l)

Bladem Infantry Regiment (l)

Varrimoore Infantry Regiment (l)

Baran Cavalry Regiment (3)

Costa Cavalry Regiment (2)

Henriquez Cavalry Regiment (3)

Lohbo Cavalry Regiment (3)

The Navy



Until 1706

Pt 1706.gif

Since 1706


Orders of Battle


List of ships

The Uniforms

Infantry Uniforms


Line Infantry, early uniforms


Militia Infantry, early uniforms


Line Infantry, late uniforms


Militia Infantry, late uniforms

Cavalry Uniforms


Line Cavalry, early uniforms


Light Cavalry, early uniforms


Line Cavalry, late uniforms


Light Cavalry, late uniforms

Artillery Uniforms


Artillery, late uniforms

Miscellaneous Uniforms

Navy Uniforms


Navy officer


Marine Infantry, early uniform


Marine Infantry, late uniform