The Peninsular War was a major 19th century military conflict between the French (Napoleon), Spanish, Portuguese and British (Wellington), which dramatically altered Europe’s balance of power within Europe and the Americas. Yet it is one we hardly think about these days in England, unless like me you read Georgette Heyer! I suspect it is also a conflict little thought of by the Portuguese these days as the French brutality and desertion by the Portuguese ruling elite was 150 years later later replaced by the horror of the Salazar dictatorship, Estado Novo. However 100 years after the Peninsula Wars the bravery of those who stood up to and fought the French was remembered, and captured forever in two monuments, one in Lisboa and the other in Porto.
Both are titled ‘Memorial to the Heroes of the Peninsular War’. We’ve not seen the one in Porto but thanks to MrB spotting a picture of the monument in the Gulbenkian’s modern collection, we did track down the one in Lisboa.
We were fascinated by it as not only is it huge, but it is quite unlike most war memorials I have ever come across. It reflects life before the war, the war itself and the impact of a brutal military occupation on civilian life by depicting a woman or is it child crying at the man’s feet. It also manages to capture the joy of a nation when they regain their independence, or in this case the flag from their oppressors (eagle). Visit here for a more detailed explanation.
It is magnificent. What I do find ironic though is that this ‘dramatic depiction of a people caught up in brutality’ (as described by Barry Hatton in his ‘The Portuguese, A Modern History‘) was inaugurated during the Salazar’s dictatorship.
I am really glad we saw it but a word of warning it is not an adventure I would want to repeat. Rotunda de Entrecampos, the roundabout in which is located, is very busy, and there is no way of accessing the monument itself. The Porto one is also in the middle of a roundabout, but has a park surrounding it so a visit to that one looks like it is a much more pleasurable experience.
I can remember seeing this when we visited Lisbon a few years ago
Oh wow you really explored Lisboa then as this is off the beaten track. 😁
We tend to go off track when we travel! Ok technically we get lost but it’s fun.
Perfect traveller 😁
PS just spotted you were in Winchester not that long ago. My English home!
Yes and my birthplace though I no longer live there. It is an old favourite of mine and we do spend a fair amount of time there each year.
I read Georgette Heyer but too long ago to remember! I hope you don’t usually take risks to take pics ?
No I’m quite cautious. We thought about crossing but decided far too risky and probably illegal too!
I read loads of Georgette Heyer when I was young! My mum has a fine collection and has recently reread them all. I’m not yet tempted – too much new stuff.
Be tempted……all of her historical ones are on shelves by my bed, and are my turn to whenever I want something light, fun or familiar!
It would be hard to keep your eyes on the road while negotiating the roundabout. I’d be wanting to have a closer look.
Ooh I didn’t think of that……we were on foot, but you are right be lethal in a car!!
The Spanish prefer to call it ‘The War of Independence’
If you are interested you should try to see the collection of prints called ‘Disasters of War’ by Fransisco Goya. I came across them once in a temporary exhibition in the Goya Museum in Castres in France.
Here is a link…
Thanks for this. Not heard of them before, and fascinating to see it from the Spanish perspective.
Did you watch the Sharpe TV series with Sean Bean? Most of it set in the Peninsular/Independence War.
Read some of the books!
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