Napoleon Series Archive 2016

Thesis: notes

Read this with some anticipation, because my one touchpoint of interest in Portugal's history is Sir Sidney Smith's expedition to move the royal family and administration to Rio.

It was really interesting to read about the importance of this relocation of the monarchy in Portugal's and Brazil's history. Overall, a nice informative read.

Some notes:

For the time being, a total blockade was maintained on the port of Lisbon by the Royal Navy.

Initially, at least, the blockade was put in force by Sir Sidney Smith, who had spotted the remains of the Russian Mediterranean fleet in port and, since this is after the treaty of Tilsit, he had returned from escorting the Royal fleet to Rio specifically to blockade the Russian fleet. Smith had no orders to do this but it was received with high approval from London.

There is also a mention of an Army force combined with Sir Sidney's naval forces, which is true in that one was planned, it never got there, other than in passing (and actually stopped at Lisbon, if memory serves) on their way to England: this was Moore coming from Sicily and he had held up at Gibraltar waiting for directions from Sir Sidney, which never came but that's a long story. Moore ended up going back to England, etc.

The failure of diplomacy, and finally the imminent arrival of Junot, was the catalyst for the Brazil plan to be implemented: a decision that was to have major political and economic repercussions for both metropolis and colony. Despite Strangford’s insistence of the importance of his role in this decision 140 , there were a number of much weightier external drivers and internal pressures than localised British diplomatic pressure.

It's rather disconcerting having Strangford's name just dropped in. I know who he is but some folks might not catch that Strangford is the "localized British diplomatic pressure." Strangford's account of his role was questioned at the time, because his published dispatches, that were dated and described as being at sea off the Targus, were actually written in London several weeks later.

But Britain’s dispatch of a powerful fleet and a significant expeditionary force, with orders to escort the Portuguese royal family to Brazil and, if not, seize the Portuguese fleet, destroy or otherwise put it beyond use, were perhaps the decisive factors in the implementation of the “Brazil plan”. If further evidence of the determination of the British government in this period is required, the Portland administration were resolved to bombard and occupy the forts of Lisbon. . .

This powerful fleet has a proper name: Admiral Sir Sidney Smith's Expedition.

To not mention Smith is like failing to mention Junot; who gets 46 hits in a quick search.

Because of his distractors's, it all too easy to fall into thinking that Sir Sidney was some sort a crazy person. But, London knew what they were doing in assigning Smith; for one thing, Smith was known to the court and they would have known him as the "incendiary of Toulon," "the Hero of Acre," etc. The very fact of sending this famous, "crazy" man known for action, was the loudest possible way of making their point clear. He also spoke and wrote perfect French like a Parisian; he had long experience communicating with Royalty; etc.

Regarding the transfer, the only one who could make it was the King, the council is only a rubber stamp. According to at least some accounts, it was the receipt of dispatches from Sir Sidney that finalized the king's decision. Cannot recall ever seeing Smith's letter to the King but there are some accounts that it was Smith who informed the King that Junot had crossed the border, with an information embargo on the King having been implemented by pro-French forces.

Of course, Smith had his exploits in Brazil, too; as I recall, the King, in Rio, publicly celebrated Sir Sidney, probably got a medal from him, which was usually the case with Smith, being Knight of the Sword, etc.

So, no matter what, such an important and influential character, in any detailed account of this transaction, name belongs at least once in the credits.

You might find this interesting:
"A concise and accurate account of the proceedings of the squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Will. Sidney Smith, K.C., in effecting the escape, and escorting the royal family of Portugal to the Brazils, on the 29th of November, 1807"
by O'Neil, Thomas, Count, Published 1809.

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