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The Napoleon Series > Government > Governments and Politics

Suspension of Arms

Evacuation Of Portugal

Additional Articles

Sept. 3, 1808

Sept. 4, 1808

Sept. 16, 1808

London Gazette

Documents Pertaining to the Convention of Cintra 1808

August 30, 1808

Following the landing of a British expeditionary force in Portugal in August 1808 and the defeat of Junot's army at Vimeiro, the French and British signed a controversial convention providing for the evacuation of the French army from Portugal. The French with their arms were transported back to France aboard British naval vessels. When news reached London of the great victory at Vimeiro, church bells were rung and cannons fired salutes, but joy turned to disbelief at the arrival of news of the subsequent convention. The treaty was highly unpopular in Britain. Michael Glover has written that "Never has a victorious army with every advantage in its hands signed an agreement which gave so much to its defeated enemies with so little to itself." This unpopularity led to the eventual convening of a Board of Inquiry in November of 1808. Wellington (Wellesley) and the other two British generals were exonerated, but Bullard and Dalrymple never received another active command.

Suspension of Arms

August 22, 1808

Agreed upon between Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, K. B. on the one part, and the General-of-Division Kellermann on the other part; each having powers from the respective Generals of the French and English Armies.

Head-Quarters of the English Army, August 22, 1808.

  1. There shall be, from this date, a Suspension of Arms between the armies of his Britannic Majesty, and his Imperial and Royal Majesty, Napoleon I for the purpose of negociating a Convention for the evacuation of Portugal by the French army.
  2. The General-in-Chief of the two armies, and the Commander-in-Chief of the British fleet at the entrance of the Tagus, will appoint a day to assemble, on such part of the coast as shall be judged convenient, to negociate and conclude the said Convention.
  3. The river of Sirandre shall form the line of demarkation to be established between the two armies; Torres Vedras shall not be occupied by either.
  4. The General-in-Chief of the English army undertakes to include the Portuguese armies in this suspension of arms: and for them the line of demarkation shall be established from Leyria to Thomar.
  5. It is agreed provisionally that the French army shall not, in any case, be considered as prisoners of war; that all the individuals who compose it shall be transported to France with their arms and baggage, and the whole of their private property, from which nothing shall be exempted.
  6. No individual, whether Portuguese, or of a nation allied to France, or French, shall be called to account for his political conduct; their respective property shall be protected; and they shall be at liberty to withdraw from Portugal, within a limited time, with their property.
  7. The neutrality of the port of Lisbon shall be recognised for the Russian fleet: that is to say, that, when the English army or fleet shall be in possession of the city and port, the said Russian fleet shall not be disturbed during its stay; nor stopped when it wishes to sail; nor pursued, when it shall sail, until after the time fixed by the maritime law.
  8. All the artillery of French calibre, and also the horses of the cavalry, shall be transported to France.
  9. This suspension of arms shall not be broken without forty-eight hours previous notice.

Done and agreed upon between the above-named Generals, the day and year above-mentioned.

[Signed] Sir Arthur Wellesley.
               Kellermann, General-of-Division.

Additional Article.

The garrisons of the places occupied by the French army shall be included in the present Convention, if they have not capitulated before the 25th instant.

[Signed] Arthur Wellesley.
               Kellermann, General-of-Division.

(A true Copy.)
A. J. Dalrymple, Captain, Military Secretary.


Definitive Convention For The Evacuation Of Portugal By The French Army

August 30, 1808

The Generals commanding in chief the British and French armies in Portugal, having determined to negociate and conclude a treaty for the evacuation of Portugal by the French troops, on the basis of the agreement entered into on the 22d instant for a suspension of hostilities, have appointed the under-mentioned officers to negociate the same in their names; viz. —on the part of the General-in-Chief of the British army, Lieutenant-Colonel Murray, Quarter-Master-General; and, on the part of the General-in-Chief of the French army, Monsieur Kellermann, General-of-Division to whom they have given authority to negociate and conclude a Convention to that effect, subject to their ratification respectively, and to that of the Admiral commanding the British fleet at the entrance of the Tagus.

Those two officers, after exchanging their full powers, have agreed upon the articles which follow:

  1. All the places and forts in the kingdom of Portugal, occupied by the French troops, shall be delivered up to the British army in the state in which they are at the period of the signature of the present Convention.
  2. The French troops shall evacuate Portugal with their arms and baggage; they shall not be considered as prisoners of war; and, on their arrival in France, they shall be at liberty to serve.
  3. The English Government shall furnish the means of conveyance for the French army; which shall be disembarked in any of the ports of France between Rochefort and L'Orient, inclusively.
  4. The French army shall carry with it all its artillery, of French calibre, with the horses belonging to it, and the tumbrils supplied with sixty rounds per gun. All other artillery, arms, and ammunition, as also the military and naval arsenals, shall be given up to the British army and navy in the state in which they may be at the period of the ratification of the Convention.
  5. The French army shall carry with it all its equipments, and all that is comprehended under the name of property of the army; that is to say, its military chest, and carriages attached to the Field Commissariat and Field Hospitals; or shall be allowed to dispose of such part of the same, on its account, as the Commander-in-Chief may judge it unnecessary to embark, In like manner, all individuals of the army shall be at liberty to dispose of their private property of every description; with full security hereafter for the purchasers.
  6. The cavalry are to embark their horses; as also the Generals and other officers of all ranks. It is, however, fully understood, that the means of conveyance for horses, at the disposal of the British Commanders, are very limited; some additional conveyance may be procured in the port of Lisbon: the number of horses to be embarked by the troops shall not exceed six hundred; and the number embarked by the Staff shall not exceed two hundred. At all events every facility w ill be given to the French army to dispose of the horses, belonging to it, which cannot be embarked.
  7. In order to facilitate the embarkation, it shall take place in three divisions; the last of which will be principally composed of the garrisons of the places, of the cavalry, the artillery, the sick, and the equipment of the army. The first division shall embark within seven days of the date of the ratification; or sooner, if possible.
  8. The garrison of Elvas and its forts, and of Peniche and Palmela, will be embarked at Lisbon; that of Almaida at Oporto, or the nearest harbour. They will be accompanied on their march by British Commissaries, charged with providing for their subsistence and accommodation.
  9. All the sick and wounded, who cannot be embarked with the troops, are entrusted to the British army. They are to be taken care of, whilst they remain in this country, at the expence of the British Government; under the condition of the same being reimbursed by France when the final evacuation is effected. The English government will provide for their return to France; which shall take place by detachments of about one hundred and fifty (or two hundred) men at a time. A sufficient number of French medical officers shall be left behind to attend them.
  10. As soon as the vessels employed to carry the army to France shall have disembarked it in the harbours specified, or in any other of the ports of France to which stress of weather may force them, every facility shall be given them to return to England without delay; and security against capture until their arrival in a friendly port.
  11. The French army shall be concentrated in Lisbon, and within a distance of about two leagues from it. The English army will approach within three leagues of the capital; and will be so placed as to leave about one league between the two armies.
  12. The forts of St. Julien, the Bugio, and Cascais, shall be occupied by the British troops on the ratification of the Convention. Lisbon and its citadel, together with the forts and batteries, as far as the Lazaretto or Tarfuria on one side, and fort St. Joseph on the other, inclusively, shall be given up on the embarkation of the second division; as shall also the harbour; and all armed vessels in it of every description, with their rigging, sails, stores, and ammunition. The fortresses of Elvas, Almaida, Peniche, and Palmela, shall be given up as soon as the British troops can arrive to occupy them. In the mean time, the General-in-Chief of the British army will give notice of the present Convention to the garrisons of those places, as also to the troops before them, in order to put a stop to all further hostilities.
  13. Commissioners shall be named, on both sides, to regulate and accelerate the execution of the arrangements agreed upon.
  14. Should there arise doubts as to the meaning of any article, it will be explained favourably to the French army.
  15. From the date of the ratification of the present Convention, all arrears of contributions, requisitions, or claims whatever, of the French Government, against the subjects of Portugal, or any other individuals residing in this country, founded on the occupation of Portugal by the French troops in the month of December 1807, which may not have been paid up, are cancelled; and all sequestrations laid upon their property, moveable or immoveable, are removed; and the free disposal of the same is restored to the proper owner.
  16. All subjects of France, or of powers in friendship or alliance with France, domiciliated in Portugal, or accidentally in this country, shall be protected : their property of every kind, moveable and immoveable, shall be respected: and they shall be at liberty either to accompany the French army, or to remain in Portugal. In either case their property is guaranteed to them; with the liberty of retaining or of disposing of it, and passing the produce of the sale thereof into France, or any other country where they may fix their residence; the space of one year being allowed them for that purpose. It is fully understood, that the shipping is excepted from this arrangement; only, however, in so far as regards leaving the port; and that none of the stipulations above-mentioned can be made the pretext of any commercial speculation.
  17. No native of Portugal shall be rendered accountable for his political conduct during the period of the occupation of this country by the French army; and all those who have continued in the exercise of their employments, or who have accepted situations under the French Government, are placed under the protection of the British Commanders: they shall sustain no injury in their persons or property; it not having been at their option to be obedient, or not, to the French Government: they are also at liberty to avail themselves of the stipulations of the 16th Article.
  18. The Spanish troops detained on board ship in the port of Lisbon shall be given up to the Commander-in-Chief of the British army; who engages to obtain of the Spaniards to restore such French subjects, either military or civil, as may have been detained in Spain, without being taken in battle, or in consequence of military operations, but on occasion of the occurrences of the 29th of last May, and the days immediately following.
  19. There shall be an immediate exchange established for all ranks of prisoners made in Portugal since the commencement of the present hostilities.
  20. Hostages of the rank of field-officers shall be mutually furnished on the part of the British army and navy, and on that of the French army, for the reciprocal guarantee of the present Convention. The officer of the British army shall be restored on the completion of the articles which concern the army; and the officer of the navy on the disembarkation of the French troops in their own country. The like is to take place on the part of the French army.
  21. It shall be allowed to the General-in-Chief of the French army to send an officer to France with intelligence of the present Convention. A vessel will be furnished by the British Admiral to convey him to Bourdeaux or Rochefort.
  22. The British Admiral will be invited to accommodate His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, and the other principal officers of the French army, on board of ships of war.

Done and concluded at Lisbon this 30th day of August, 1808.

[Signed] George Murray, Quarter-Master-General.
               Kellermann, Le Général de Division.

We, the Duke of Abrantes, General-in-Chief of the French army, have ratified and do ratify the present Definitive Convention in all its articles, to be executed according to its form and tenor.

[Signed] The Duke Of Abrantes.
               Head-Quarters-Lisbon, 30th August, 1808.


Additional Articles to the Convention of the 30th of August, 1808.

  1. The individuals in the civil employment of the army made prisoners, either by the British troops, or by the Portuguese, in any part of Portugal, will be restored, as is customary, without exchange.
  2. The French army shall be subsisted from its own magazines up to the day of embarkation; the garrisons up to the day of the evacuation of the fortresses.

    The remainder of the magazines shall be delivered over, in the usual form, to the British Government; which charges itself with the subsistence of the men and horses of the army from the above-mentioned periods till they arrive in France; under the condition of their being reimbursed by the French Government for the excess of the expense beyond the estimates, to be made by both parties, of the value of the magazines delivered up to the British army.

    The provisions on board the ships of war, in possession of the French army, will be taken in account by the British Government in like manner with the magazines in the fortresses.

  3. The General commanding the British troops will take the necessary measures for re-establishing the free circulation of the means of subsistence between the country and the capital.

Done and concluded at Lisbon this 30th day of August, 1808.

[Signed] George Murray, Quarter-Master-General.
               Kellermann, Le GénéraI de Division.

We, Duke of Abrantes, General-in-Chief of the French army, have ratified and do ratify the additional articles of the Convention, to be executed according to their form and tenor.

The Duke of Abrantes.

(A true Copy.)
A. J. Dalrymple, Captain, Military Secretary.


Articles of a Convention of the 3rd of September, 1808.

Articles of a Convention entered into between Vice-Admiral Seniavin, Knight of the Order of St. Alexander and other Russian Orders, and Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, Bart. for the Surrender of the Russian Fleet, now anchored in the River Tagus.

  1. The ships of war of the Emperor of Russia, now in the Tagus (as specified in the annexed list), shall be delivered up to Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, immediately, with all their stores as they now are; to be sent to England, and there held as a deposit by his Britannic Majesty, to be restored to His Imperial Majesty within six months after the conclusion of a peace between His Britannic Majesty and His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias.
  2. Vice-Admiral Seniavin, with the officers, sailors, and marines, under his command, to return to Russia, without any condition or stipulation respecting their future services; to be conveyed thither in men of war, or proper vessels, at the expence of His Britannic Majesty.

Done and concluded on board the ship Twerday, in the Tagus, and on board His Britannic Majesty's ship Hibernia, off the mouth of that river, the 3d day of September 1808.

[Signed]De Seniavin.

[Signed] Charles Cotton.

[Counter-signed] By command of the Admiral,
L. Sass, Assesseur de College.

[Counter-signed] By command of the Admiral,
James Kennedy, Secretary.


Hibernia, off the Tagus, Sept. 4.

Sir-Herewith I have the honour to enclose to you, for the information of the lords commissioners of the admiralty, a copy of a convention entered into by me with vice-admiral [Dmitri] Seniavin, commanding the Russian fleet in the Tagus; by which it will appear to their lordships that such fleet has been surrendered to me, to be held by his majesty as a deposit, until six months after the conclusion of peace between Russia and England. I have charged capt. Halsted, first captain of the Hibernia, and captain of the fleet, with the delivery of this dispatch to their lordships; he was sent by me to negotiate the convention with vice-admiral Seniavin, and will be able to explain every particular. To capt. Halsted I feel greatly indebted for his able advice and assistance upon all points of service; his zeal and diligence have been exemplary, and entitle him to my highest commendation. Rear-admiral [Sir Charles] Tyler has been directed to superintend the first division of the Russian fleet, which I propose ordering under his protection, immediately to Spithead; to him (since with me) I have been indebted for every assistance, and to the captains, officers, and crews, of those ships that have been employed throughout a tediously protracted blockade (by whom every exertion has been made with a degree of cheerfulness, doing them infinite honour). I feel extremely grateful, and deem it my duty to offer every possible testimony of my approbation in their favour.

C. Cotton.


Admiralty-office, Sept. 16.

Captain [Sir Lawrence William] Halsted, first captain to the squadron under the command of sir C. Cotton, bart., commander-in-chief of his majesty's ships and vessels on the coast of Portugal, arrived yesterday with dispatches to the hon. W. W. Pole.

Hibernia, off the Tagus, Sept. 3.

Sir-Enclosed herewith, for the information of the lords commissioners of the admiralty, is a copy of a convention, entered into by lieut.-col. Murray and gen. Kellermann, for the evacuation of Portugal by the French army; such convention having been ratified by lieut.-gen. Sir Hew Dalrymple, myself, and the French commander-in-chief. British troops, consisting of the 3d and 42d regiments, were on the 2d inst. Landed, to occupy the forts of Cascais, St. Antonio, St. Julien, and the Bugio; and no time shall be lost to embark the French troops, agreeably to the said convention. -Capt. Halsted, first captain of this ship, and captain of the fleet, who is the bearer of these dispatches to their lordships, respecting the Russian squadron in the Tagus, is in full possession of my confidence, and will be able to explain to their lordships the motives inducing me to ratify the convention in question, as well as give any further information that may be thought necessary.

C. Cotton


London Gazette Extraordinary

Downing Street, Sept. 16, 1808

The following dispatch was received yesterday evening from lieutenant gen. Sir Hew Dalrymple, commanding his majesty's troops in Portugal, addressed to lord viscount Castlereagh.

Head-quarters, Cintra, Sept. 3, 1808

My Lord — I have the honour to inform your lordship that I landed in Portugal, and took the command of the army on Monday the 22d of August, the next day after the battle of Vimiera, and where the enemy sustained a signal defeat, where the valour and discipline of British troops, and the talents of British officers, were eminently displayed. A few hours after my arrival, general Kellermann came in with a flag of truce from the French general-in-chief, in order to propose an agreement for a cessation of hostilities, for the purpose of concluding a convention for the evacuation of Portugal by the French troops. The enclosed contains the several articles at first agreed upon and signed by sir Arthur Wellesley and general Kellermann; but as this was done with a reference to the British admiral, who, when the agreement was communicated to him, objected to the 7th article, which had for its object the disposal of the Russian fleet in the Tagus, it was finally concluded, that lieutenant colonel Murray, quarter-master-general to the British army, and general Kellermann, should proceed to the discussion of the remaining articles, and finally to conclude a convention for the evacuation of Portugal, subject to the ratification of the French general-in-chief, and the British commanders by sea and land. — After considerable discussion and repeated reference to me, which rendered it necessary for me to avail myself of the limited period latterly prescribed for the suspension of hostilities, in order to move the army forwards, and to place the several columns upon the routes by which they were to advance, the convention was signed, and the ratification exchanged the 30th of last month. That no time might be lost in obtaining anchorage for the transports and other shipping, which had for some days been exposed to great peril on this dangerous coast, and to insure the communication between the army and the victuallers, which was cut off by the badness of the weather, and the surf upon the shore; I sent orders to the buffs, and the 42nd regiments, which were on-board of transports with sir C. Cotton's fleet, to land and take possession of the forts of the Tagus, whenever the admiral thought it proper to do so. This was accordingly carried into execution yesterday morning, when the forts Cascais, St. Julien and Bugio, were evacuated by the French troops and taken possession of by ours. As I landed in Portugal, entirely unacquainted with the actual state of the French army, and many circumstances of a local and incidental nature, which doubtless had great weight in deciding the question; my own opinion in favour of the expediency of expelling the French army from Portugal, by means of the convention the late defeat had induced the French general-in-chief to solicit, instead of doing so by a continuation of hostilities, was principally founded on the great importance of time, which the season of the year rendered particularly valuable, and which the enemy could easily have consumed in the protracted defence of the strong places they occupied, had terms of convention been refused by them. -When the suspension of arms was agreed upon, the army under the command of sir John Moore had not arrived; and doubts were even entertained, whether so large a body of men could be landed on an open and dangerous beach; and, that being effected, whether the supply of so large an army with provisions from the ships could be provided for, under all the disadvantages to which the shipping were exposed. During the negociations, the former difficulty was overcome by the activity, zeal, and intelligence, of captain Malcolm, of the Donegal, and the officers and men under his orders; but the possibility of the latter seems to have been at an end, nearly, at the moment when it was no longer necessary. Captain Dalrymple, of the dragoons, my military secretary, will have the honour of delivering to your lordship this dispatch. He is fully informed of whatever has been done under my orders, relative to the service on which I have been employed, and can give any explanation thereupon that may be required.

Hew Dalrymple,

[A suspension of arms agreed upon between sir A. Wellesley and general Kellermann, on the 22nd of August, was the basis of the following convention; the seventh article of that preliminary treaty (which was afterwards rejected by sir C. Cotton) stipulated that the Russian fleet should be allowed to remain in the Tagus, unmolested, as long as it though proper, or to return home.]



The Annual Register, or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the Year 1808.
London: Printed by R. Wilks for W. Otridge and Sons, etal. (Publisher varies by year.) Published for the years 1758-1837 in 80 vols.; illus., maps; 21-23 cm. Alternate titles for some years include: Annual Register, or, a View of the History and Politics of the Year... and New Annual Register, or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year... Succeeded by: Annual Register of World Events.


Placed on the Napoleon Series 8/00


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