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The French Invasions of Portugal 1807-1811: rebellion, reaction and resistance

Gray, Anthony (2011) The French Invasions of Portugal 1807-1811: rebellion, reaction and resistance. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Portugal’s involvement in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars resulted in substantial economic, political and social change revealing interconnections between state and economy that have not been acknowledged fully within the existing literature. On the one hand, economic and political change was precipitated by the flight of Dom João, the removal of the court to Rio de Janeiro, and the appointment of a regency council in Lisbon: events that were the result of much more than the mere confluence of external drivers and internal pressures in Europe, however complex and compelling they may have been at the time. Although governance in Portugal had been handed over to the regency council strict limitations were imposed on its autonomy. Once Lisbon was occupied, and French military government imposed on Portugal, her continued role as entrepôt, linking the South Atlantic economy to that of Europe, could not be guaranteed. Brazil’s ports were therefore opened to foreign vessels and restrictions on agriculture, manufacture and inter-regional trade in the colonies were lifted presaging a transition from neo-mercantilism to proto-industrialised capitalism. The meanings of this dislocation of political power and the shift of government from metropolis to colony were complex, not least in relation to the location and limits of absolutist authority. The immediate results of which were a series of popular insurrections in Portugal, a swift response by the French military government and conservative reaction by Portuguese élites, leading to widespread popular resistance in 1808 and 1809 and, subsequently, Portugal’s wholesale involvement in the Peninsular War with severe and deleterious effects on the Portuguese population and economy. Ultimately, these events would lead to demands for constitutional reform and civil war but not, as yet, the dismantling of mercantilism, the abolition of slavery or the separation of Portugal and Brazil as independent states. Ironically, the forces for change in this regard, in the years immediately following the Napoleonic Wars, would appear stronger in the metropolis and weaker in its former colony.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: Portugal, Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Brazil, South Atlantic, metropolis, colony, mercantilism
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr Anthony Gray
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2012 14:13
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2569

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