Military Wiki
Battle of Montijo
Part of Portuguese Restoration War
Date26 May 1644
LocationNear Montijo, Spain
Result Indecisive: Both sides claim victory.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]
Portugal Kingdom of Portugal  Spain
Commanders and leaders
Matias de Albuquerque Baron of Mollingen
Marquis of Torrecusa
6,000 infantry and 1,100 cavalry (6 guns)[19] 4,000 infantry and 1,700 cavalry (2 guns)[17]
Casualties and losses
3,000 dead and wounded[17]
or about 900 dead and captured[20]
433 dead
380 wounded[21]
or 3,000 dead and wounded[22]

The Battle of Montijo was fought on 26 May 1644, in Montijo, Spain, between Portuguese and Spanish forces. Although the battle ended with a Portuguese victory,[23][24] the Spanish saw it as a strategic success as they claimed to have prevented Matias de Albuquerque from capturing Badajoz,[12] despite Albuquerque having no intention of attacking the city.[25][26][27]


Portuguese General Matias de Albuquerque knew the Spanish were commanded by the Marquis of Torrecusa, a renowned military tactician, and wanted to affirm his own presence. He managed to gather 6,000 infantry, 1,100 cavalry and 6 cannons, in order to give battle. He crossed the frontier attacking, pillaging and burning Vilar del Rey, Puebla and Boca de Manfarete until reaching the town of Montijo who surrendered without a fight.[19]


Not having encountered the Spanish army, Matias de Albuquerque decided to return to Alentejo.[25][26][27] While on march, the Portuguese were confronted by a Spanish force from Torrecusa's army led by the Baron of Mollingen consisting of 4,000 infantry and 1,700 cavalry. On the 26th of May 1644 the two armies met not far from Montijo.

The forces of Mollingen adopted a semi circle formation, which would permit a simultaneous attack on the Portuguese front and flanks. Matias de Albuquerque, marching in a slow pace towards Portugal, had prepared for a rear attack by placing the infantry in two defensive lines with the strongest formations in the rear, the baggage wagons in the vanguard and the cavalry split between the two flanks.

The six cannons of the Portuguese initiated the hostilities, the Spanish side soon replied, but very ineffectively. The Spanish cavalry attacked the Portuguese left flank, routing the 150 Dutch cavalry commanded by Captain Piper.[19][28][29] The panic spread to the rest of the cavalry on both flanks who abandoned the field through their own lines, taking refuge in woods near Xévora, leaving the infantry disorganized. Led by Mollingen himself, the Spanish cavalry easily opened a breach in the centre of the Portuguese positions, taking the Portuguese artillery. Thinking that the Battle was won, Mollingen troops scattered themselves without care on the field looting.[19] Albuquerque's horse was killed and he was found fighting on foot by a French officer named Lamorlé (fighting for the Portuguese) who gave him his own horse.

Taking advantage of the Spanish lack of reserves and dispersion, Matias de Albuquerque and his officers rallied some of the scattered troops and quickly retook the Portuguese artillery.[19] D. João da Costa, a Portuguese artillery officer, efficiently used the artillery to stop the Spanish forces from regrouping.[30] The rallied Portuguese troops took back the field,[31][32] and drove the Spaniards across the Guadiana inflicting heavy losses.[33][34][35]


On the following day the Portuguese troops returned to Campo Maior.[19] Both sides claimed victory, as well as having caused high casualties to each other. When news of the victory achieved by Albuquerque reached King John IV of Portugal he awarded the general with the title of Count of Alegrete.[36] Madrid, as well as Lisbon rejoiced with news of the battle[18] that had great repercussion in the European courts.[37][38]

In Culture

The Spanish playwrights Pedro Francisco Lamini and Sr. Durán composed respectively the comedy El más valiente Extremeño, Bernardo del Montijo, el segundo Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar and the poem in his collection Romances vulgares de valentías, guapezas y desafueros in honor to the Battle.[39] The Portuguese João Soares da Gama also did it in his Batalha do Montijo.[39]


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  1. Eggenberger, Finally, in 1644, a Portuguese army under Gen. Mathias d'Albuquerque invaded western Spain. On May 26 Albuquerque's troops met and defeated a Spanish army of Philip IV at Montijo p.285
  2. Nolan, Montijo, Battle of (1644). Four years after regaining independence from Spain, Portugal invaded western Spain in retaliation for continuing Spanish plots against the Portuguese monarchy. With Spain still bogged down in the eighty Years' War with the Netherlands and another long war with France, the Portuguese won an easy victory that secured them from further interference for a dozen years, tough it did not bring formal peace. p.607
  3. H. V. Livermore, in 1644 the Portuguese won the victory of Montijo and thereafter held the Castilians on the defensive. p.303
  4. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, The first battle was fought at Montijo in 1644, between a Portuguese army of 6000 foot and 1100 horse, and a Spanish army of nearly the same number. The latter were entirely defeated, and this contributed greatly to establish the affairs of Portugal on a firm basis. p.386
  5. Wright, ...The founder of the Braganza dynasty, he expelled a Spanish usurper and proclaimed himself King in 1640. He defeated the Spanish at Montijo in 1644. p. 335
  6. Clodfelter, p.43
  7. Edward McMurdo, Many skirmishes took place in Beira and Tras-os-Montes but bore no results as far as concerned the greater consolidation of the restoration. The greatest and most signal victory gained by the Portuguese was the battle of Montijo on the 26th of May, 1644. p.391
  8. History of Portugal, The victory, due to the enterprise of Matias de Albuquerque caused great rejoicing in Lisbon p.292
  9. Jaques, At Montijo, west of Badajoz, Albuquerque routed a Spanish army. War continued intermittently for another 20 years before Philip finally recognized Portuguese independence. p.340
  10. Sandler, Portugal won battles at Olivenca and Beira in 1642, then invaded Spain in May 1644 under General Mathias d'Albuquerque,and won a major victory at the Battle of Montijo. p.835
  11. Vincent, John IV duke of Braganza, made King during an insurrection against the Spaniards ruled vigorously; defeated the Spaniards at Montijo, 26 may 1644.p.301
  12. 12.0 12.1 Contreras y López de Ayala Lozoya p.444
  13. Artola p.593
  14. Ibarra y Rodríguez p.399
  15. The Journal of military history p.399
  16. Ventura i Subirats p.127
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Real academia de la historia p.428
  18. 18.0 18.1 Modesto Lafuente p.354
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 Ângelo Ribeiro p.59
  20. Ângelo Ribeiro, p.60
  21. Valladares de Sotomayor p.188
  22. Clodfelter, ...attempts to reconquer Portugal culminated in a counterattack by Portuguese General Mathias d'Albuquerque into Spain with French and English aid and his defeat of the Spanish at Montijo near Badajoz on May 26, 1644. Of 8.000 infantry and 2.500 cavalry engaged the Spanish lost 3,000 killed and wounded. p.43
  23. George Henry Townsend, The manual of dates: a dictionary of reference to all the most important events in the history of mankind to be found in authentic records Routledge, Warne, & Routledge, (1862) , 1644.The Spaniards are defeated at the battle of Montijo. p.689
  24. Glenn Joseph Ames, Renascent empire?: the House of Braganza and the quest for stability in Portuguese monsoon Asia c.1640-1683 Amsterdam University Press (2000) ISBN 90-5356-382-2, The most notable Portuguese victories came at Montijo (1644) and Arronches (1653). p.23
  25. 25.0 25.1 Ângelo Ribeiro, p.56, p.59
  26. 26.0 26.1 Ericeira, p.51
  27. 27.0 27.1 Santos, Selvagem, p.398
  28. History of Portugal, p.292
  29. Ericeira, p.54
  30. Edward McMurdo, p.392
  31. Erica Wagner-Pacifici p.62
  32. Disney p.226
  33. Edward McMurdo, ... and in accord with the general commanding the artillery, D.João da Costa, cast themselves upon the Spaniards, who had become dispersed as though they had buried the enemy; and, driving all before them, without giving them time to recover themselves, compel them to cross the Guadiana. p.392
  34. H.V.Livermore, Albuquerque rallied his men and drove the Spanish troops across the Guadiana with heavy losses. p.179
  35. History of Portugal, ... Matias de Albuquerque rallied part of his troops, took advantage of the slackening of the enemy, recovered the cannon and drove the Spaniards back over the Guadiana river, with a loss, according to Ericeira, of over three thousand. p.292
  36. Edward McMurdo, When news of the victory attained by Mathias de Albuquerque reached D.João IV, he rewarded the general with the title of Count of Alegrete. p.392
  37. Ângelo Ribeiro p.60
  38. Edward McMurdo p.392
  39. 39.0 39.1 Díaz y Pérez p.93

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