Portuguese Civil War

Part of the Royal War Timeline


8 July, 1912 – 4 June, 1914


Portugal, Spain


Royalist Victory, Restoration Manuel II, End of Franco-Russian Alliance


Republican Powers:


United States


Ottoman Republic

Irish Nationalists

Commonwealth of Australia


Portuguese Royalists




French Royalists

British Empire:

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland



Manuel de Arriaga †

Norton de Matos †

Gomes da Costa †

William Howard Taft

John Pershing

Armand Fallières

Philippe Pétain

King Manuel II

General Henrique de Paiva Couceiro †

King Alfonso XIII

José Millán Astray

William II

Paul von Hindenburg

Nicolas II

Alexsander Samsonov

King George V

Edwin Alderson

John French


Casualties and losses

The Portuguese Civil War, also known as the Iberian war, was a European conflict between July 8 1912 and July 28 1914 which involved several nations of Europe and the United States. It quickly escalated to become The Royal War, The Great War, King's War, War of Kings and Queens.

The start of the war is genarally held to be 8 July , 1912, with the attack on the town of Chaves by Portuguese Royalists led by General Henrique de Paiva Couceiro. Subsequent attempts to put down the rebellion by the Portuguese government failed due to the soldiers defecting to the Royalists or bad leadership by the commanders leading them. The war officially ended when Lisbon capitulated on 4 June 1914.

Pre-War Events

British Ultimatum

The 1890 British Ultimatum was an ultimatum by the British government delivered on 11 January 1890 to Portugal in breach of the Treaty of Windsor of 1386. The ultimatum forced the retreat of Portuguese military forces in the land between the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola(most of present-day Zimbabwe and Zambia) which had been claimed by Portugal and included in its "Pink Map", which had clashed with British aspirations to create a Cape to Cairo Railway, thereby linking its colonies from the north of Africa to the very south.

When Portugal acquiesced to British demands, it was seen as a national humiliation by republicans in Portugal, who denounced the government and the King as responsible for it. The government fell, and António de Serpa Pimentel was appointed Prime Minister. The British Ultimatum inspired the original lyrics of the Portuguese National Anthem, "A Portuguesa". The 1890 British Ultimatum was considered by Portuguese historians and politicians at that time to be the most outrageous and infamous action of Britain against her oldest ally.

On 20 August 1890 the Treaty of London was signed between Portugal and the United Kingdom, defining the territorial limits of Angola and Mozambique. The treaty was published in the Diário do Governo (Portugal's Government Diary) on 30 August and presented to the parliament that same day, leading to a new wave of protest and the downfall of the Portuguese government. When this treaty was not ratified, a new treaty was negotiated and accepted by both governments the following June. This ultimatum was one of the causes for Portugal revolution, which ended monarchy in Portugal, 20 years after.

October Revolution

The revolution of 1910 was a republican coup d'état that occurred in Portugal on 5 October 1910, which deposed King Manuel II and established the Portuguese First Republic.

Prior to the coup, Prime Minister João Franco stepped down and went into exile. New elections were held, but factionalism prevented the formation of a stable government. On 1 October 1910, a visit by president Hermes da Fonseca of Brazil provided a pretext for extensive republican demonstrations. On 3 October the Army refused to put down a mutiny on Portuguese warships anchored in the estuary of the Tagus River, and instead took up positions around Lisbon. On 4 October, two of the warships began to shell the royal palace, causing Manuel II and the royal family to flee to Britain. On 5 October, a provisional republican government was organized with the writer Teófilo Braga as President.

Early War

Attack on Chaves and subsequent campaigns by the Royalist Rebels

The attack on Chaves led to the capture of Chaves and the Portuguese Civil War. The campaign throughout Portugal by the Royalist Rebels led to the defecting of over 10,000 regular troops to the Royalists and over 20,000 casualties.

Invasion of Spain

President Manuel de Arriaga gave the order to execute the Costa Plan on August 6 1912. This decision would prove disastrous to the Portuguese Republic and fatal to the president and his family. The invasion began with three battalions invading western Spain and attacking the towns of Olivenza, La Fregeneda and (simultaneously) the villages of Villar de Ciervo, Villar de Yegua, Aldea del Obispo and Castillejo de Dos Casas in one sweep in order to make it seem like they were heading straight for Madrid. Once the Spanish armies were mobilised and fighting in western Spain, another three Portuguese battalions would move up though northern Spain and come around to surround the Royalist Rebels and cut off their Spanish supply lines.

What President Arriaga didn't count on was British involvement.

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