Military Wiki
War of the Oranges
Part of the War of the Second Coalition
A painting of Manuel Godoy.
Manuel de Godoy, Duke of Alcudia, Prince of the Peace (1801)
Date20 May - 9 June 1801
Result Franco-Spanish victory
Treaty of Badajoz
Question of Olivença
Portuguese territory returned, except Olivenza, and border territories, which remained in Spanish possession; France territorial guarantees in Trinidad, Port Mahon (Minorca) and Malta, as well as lands north of Brazil
Portugal France France
Commanders and leaders
João Carlos de Bragança Sousa e Ligne Laurent de Gouvion
Manuel de Godoy
80,000 soldiers 200,000 soldiers

The War of the Oranges (Portuguese language: Guerra das Laranjas

French language
Guerre des Oranges; Spanish language: Guerra de las Naranjas

) was a brief conflict in 1801 in which Spanish forces, instigated by the government of France, and ultimately supported by the French military, invaded Portugal. It was a precursor to the Peninsular Wars, resulting in the Treaty of Badajoz, the loss of Portuguese territory, in particular Olivenza, as well as ultimately setting the stage for the complete invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by French forces.

Background and development

In 1800, First Consul Bonaparte and his ally, the Spanish minister Manuel de Godoy, ultimatively demanded Portugal, a British ally since the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373, to enter into an alliance with France in the war against Britain and to cede to France the major part of its national territory.

Portugal refused to cede, and, in April 1801, French troops arrived in the country. On May 20, they were bolstered by Spanish troops under the command of Manuel de Godoy. In a battle that was disastrous for Portugal, Godoy took the Portuguese town of Olivença (Olivenza in Spanish), near the Spanish frontier. Following his victory, Godoy picked oranges at nearby Elvas and sent them to the Queen of Spain[1] with the message that he would proceed to Lisbon. Thus, the conflict became known as the War of the Oranges.

On June 6, 1801, after Olivença, Portugal agreed to the tenets of the Treaty of Badajoz. Portugal agreed to close its ports to English ships, to give commercial concessions to France, to cede Olivenza to Spain and part of Brazil to France, and to pay an indemnity. On September 29, 1801, Portugal agreed to both maintaining the tenets of the Treaty of Badajoz and the alterations made to it, which were all embodied within the Treaty of Madrid. Soon after taking asylum in Rio de Janeiro, however, the Portuguese monarch denounced the Treaty of Badajoz as having being signed under coercion, declaring it "null and uneffective". Later on, the Treaty of Vienna - signed by Spain in 1817 - stated clearly that the winning countries are to "endeavour with the mightiest conciliatory effort to return Olivenza to Portuguese authority"[citation needed].

After the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in which the Franco-Spanish fleet lost to Britain, the government of Portugal restored relations with its old ally. This led to the Peninsular War, in which France declared the Peace of Badajoz treaty cancelled, again marching on Portugal from 1807 to 1810.

Political Outcome

After the Napoleonic Wars, and the Congress of Vienna, neither Spain nor Portugal gave back the territories acquired both in America (Eastern Missions) and the Peninsula (Olivença); the later remaining an issue with the Portuguese government (see Question of Olivença).


  1. H. V. Livermore: Portugal: A Traveller's History, p. 26

Further reading

  • "War of the Oranges". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. 
  • Vicente, António Pedro (2007) (in Portuguese). Guerra Peninsular: História de Portugal Guerras e Campanhas Militares [Peninsular War: History of Portuguese Wars and Military Campaigns]. Lisbon, Portugal: Academia Portuguesa da História/Quidnovi. 

See also

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