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e-Journal of Portuguese History

versão On-line ISSN 1645-6432

e-JPH vol.13 no.2 Porto  2015




Discourse, Pragmatism and Identity: Portugal and the Partition Treaties of the Hispanic Monarchy

David Martín Marcos1

1  CHAM, New University of Lisbon: Faculty of Social and Human Sciences - University of the Azores, Portugal.This work was funded by FCT (SFRH/BPD/102497/2014) and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (HAR2012-37560-C02-01). E-Mail:



This article focuses on the relations between Portugal and Spain after the War of Restoration. The analysis concentrates on two coinciding processes: the construction and projection of the Braganza Dynasty’s Hispanic identity and the succession crisis that followed the death of Carlos II of Spain, ultimately reflecting on the identity practices at the court of Pedro II as mechanisms for opposing the exclusion of Portugal from the Spanish Partition Treaties. This project challenges the historiographical tendency to speak of a complete disassociation between Portugal and Spain, by demonstrating Portugal’s ability to formulate political projects for the whole of the Iberian Peninsula as alternatives to those developed by the Habsburgs.

Keywords: Pedro II of Portugal, Carlos II of Spain, Partition Treaties, Spanish Succession, Identities



Torna-se difícil estabelecer uma vinculação entre a política externa portuguesa de finais do século XVII e os tratados de partição da Monarquia Hispânica assinados durante essa época. Este artigo demonstra o interesse de Lisboa pela crise hispânica desde finais da década de 1660 e tem o objectivo de apresentar os Bragança na sua relação com Espanha como sujeitos activos no futuro da Península Ibérica. Para o conseguir, tratou-se de desmontar o tópico clássico da desigualdade nas relações hispano-portuguesas de essa época através de uma análise diacrónica da cultura política y da diplomacia portuguesas.

Palavras-chave: Pedro II de Bragança, Carlos II de Espanha, Tratados de Partição, Sucessão espanhola, Identidades



Portugal and the treaties for the partition of the Hispanic Monarchy are two topics that are not apparently related. As far as the partition agreements signed in 1668, 1698 and 1700 are concerned, the Braganza dynasty had very little influence—or no influence at all—on the plans of the contracting parties. Excluded from the signing of these treaties on all three occasions, Lisbon nevertheless kept a close eye on the issue of the Spanish succession and its territorial implications during the late seventeenth century. This article traces Pedro II’s Hispanic pretensions precisely at the time of his assertion of independence and the political disassociation from Madrid, when Portugal was simultaneously showing particular interest in the Habsburgs’ internal crisis. Such an interest might seem paradoxical, shocking even, in view of the strengthening of Portuguese independence; however, opposed to the frequently static conception of the relations between Spain and Portugal, we suggest a new perspective on the one-time vassals of the Habsburgs in which the Messianism that supported the House of Braganza emerges as an element legitimizing the measures that shaped the entire Hispanic world and as grounds for its claims in the partition of the Hispanic Monarchy’s territories. This is where we find the ideological reasons that, refined by pragmatism, led Pedro II to demand part of Carlos II’s inheritance in the 1690s as compensation for his agreeing not to exercise the rights that nature and geography had bestowed upon him to become the ruler of the entire Iberian Peninsula.

Ideological and spiritual foundations of Pedro II’s Hispanic Pretensions

The secret signing, in Vienna, of what came to be known as the First Partition Treaty of the Catholic Monarchy was not the only Hispanic partition agreement settled in 1668. The negotiations held in February of that same year between Madrid and Lisbon, acknowledging the separation of Portugal from the Habsburgs’ domains, suggest another division, namely the one that, resulting from the outcome of the war, gave the House of Braganza—this time in the light of international law—what it already owned de facto: the western strip of the Iberian Peninsula, except for Galicia; the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde archipelagos; Brazil, the land of sugar that would soon become the land of gold; and the African coasts of Guinea and Angola, in addition to an extensive series of enclaves that from Mazagan, in the Maghreb, stretched around the Cape of Good Hope to Goa and Macau, or to the no less remote Lifau.

In short, the conquests and the kingdom. The latter was the same dominion that some time earlier had managed to hold on to its glorified political status against the recurrent fear of becoming a simpleprovince during the years in which it belonged to the Hispanic Monarchy (Bouza, 1987; Cardim, 2014). This ability had afforded unity to a network that spoke in absolute terms about Portugal, the kingdom of the Algarve—legally integrated into the former—and the overseas territories, shaping a kingdom that was now held by a dynasty other than that of the Habsburgs.

Despite the fact that the kingdom had shrunk, due to the high price paid for some of its alliances, all of it had become the legacy left by João IV to his children, and no attempts had been made in the Vienna negotiations to take possession of such a vast inheritance (Mignet, 1835: 441-449). After all, Paris had been one of the first powers to recognize Portuguese independence after the 1640 revolution, and the empire, despite being akin to the Spanish one, presented no practical reasons for including the Portuguese territories in a bilateral partition if, as appeared to be the case, this agreement had excluded from its articles the question of blood relations and the common cause that united it to the other Habsburg branch.

Questioning the Portuguese possessions would have been extemporaneous because the Spanish acceptance of the House of Braganza’s royal status was looming on the horizon. Article II of the Franco-Imperial agreement of 1668 recommended that Leopold I should put pressure on Spain and Portugal to achieve peace from “king to king.” So, ultimately, the partition treaty revealed both Vienna’s and Paris’s defense of the Portuguese positions and their international presence—which was much stronger than the peace subscribed by Madrid and Lisbon. It implicitly mentioned, without the knowledge of either the Portuguese or, paradoxically, the contracting parties themselves, a tripartite division of the Hispanic Monarchy in which the Portuguese, excluded from Louis’ and Leopold’s partition, were the only party that did not depend on Carlos II’s life. The only division that was viable at the time but that, nevertheless, was far from being taken for granted in Lisbon.

Portugal felt the threat of the reversibility of an independence that had been endorsed by a treaty in which not even the kings Afonso VI and Carlos II had managed to support themselves. Underpinned by regencies—that of the Prince Regent Pedro, who had removed his brother from the Portuguese Crown, and that of Mariana of Austria, while her son remained underage—it was these very anchorages that were complicating the peace. In 1666, Duke Medina de las Torres, faced with the prospect of a formal cession on the part of Portugal, had already spoken about the claims that would be made when Carlos II reached adulthood, given his lack of approval by the Cortes (Cánovas del Castillo, 1889: 570), and, in 1670, the Marquis of Gouveia, the Portuguese ambassador in Madrid, also identified Carlos’ passage to manhood as the end of tranquility.2 

There were concerns about a reaction from across the border that might destroy everything that had been built up (Faria, 2007: 69-70), and that is where we find the key for understanding certain aspects of the late seventeenth-century Portuguese foreign policy, such as neutrality (Macedo, s.d.: 215). This implied the presence of some sort of distinctive element, despite the fact that it was not always fully understood: for many people, Prince Pedro’s apparent detachment from foreign affairs gave a negative image of the sovereign, who was often too apprehensive. However, we should note that the gains obtained through this strategy, in which the protection of Brazil played a central role, seem to be more significant than the inconveniences arising from the prince’s reputation (Martín Marcos, 2012: 151-170).

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the balance is positive for the Regent, his behavior seems contradictory when we analyze his administration: the idea of preservation implied in his attitude made it impossible for the government of Lisbon to take any active role against Madrid. We could say that this historiographical perception limited the scope of his actions to the defense of his territory and status, simply ensuring that a specific family group would stay in power. We could even say that it also afforded no room for the Braganzas to grow as a dynasty in Europe or to establish relationships with a Spain in which the underlying Peninsular identity had seemed to be opposed to the Germanic dynasticism of the Habsburgs since the mid-seventeenth century (Fernández Albaladejo, 2007: 287-321).

While a Portuguese restoration of the entire peninsula had been in the minds of the Braganzas during the War of Restoration, the dynastic crisis at the heart of the Hispanic Monarchy, together with the resilient reign of Carlos II (Storrs, 2006), was also a suitable context for raising the issue of a common future in Portugal. So, it is not a question of mapping the transformation from patient to doctor, but of integrating forgotten elements into the discourse. In the 1670s, the marital strategies for Princess Isabel, the heiress to the throne of Lisbon at the time, testified to a concern that reached far beyond the Portuguese territories and collaterally affected the Spanish succession. At a time when the plan for the princess to marry the Duke of Savoy seemed close to fruition, Maria Francisca—the queen and the wife of the Prince Regent Pedro—did not hesitate in writing that “St. Isidore’s prophecy would come true,” and that the Duke, who was also her nephew, would become the “King of Portugal, and also of all the Spains.”3 

Through a pseudo-Isidorian prediction, which, in turn, evoked the propheticism that had developed about the marriage of the Catholic Kings (Carriazo Rubio, 2003: 5-34), the sovereign, who descended from a secondary branch of the House of Savoy, was alluding to a long-running Portuguese messianic tradition to strengthen her family strategy. Written by António Vieira in Discurso em que se prova a vinda do Senhor Rei D. Sebastião¸ the prophecy in question said that, “in the last days,” the “great Spain” would be ruled by a pious king and “by a woman whose name would start with a Y and end with an L;” this king would come from “the Eastern regions” and would lead his administration during “his youth.” For the queen, the woman mentioned in the prophecy was, of course, Princess Isabel herself, and the “Eastern regions” were the domains of the Duchy of Savoy, from where the young Victor Amadeus would be called to become king (Vieira, 1998: 128).

Despite the fact that Victor Amadeus II did not marry the princess, nothing prevented Vieira from returning to the Sebastianic message in 1688. On the occasion of the birth of Prince João, the new heir to the Portuguese throne (who, however, died when he was just three weeks old), the Jesuit priest delivered the Sermão de ação de graças pelo nascimento do príncipe D. João at Salvador cathedral, undertaking a task of prophetic readjustment. The heir, whose death was unknown in Brazil, was now the one mentioned in the prediction made by Vieira, who was talking about the boy’s mother, Maria Sophia of Neuburg, King Pedro II’s second wife (after the death of Maria Francisca), whose third name was Isabel, and also about the cult of St. Francis Xavier, a missionary in the East, who would have enabled the coming of the prince. An event such as a birth was dominated by the dynastic element, but there was also room for the integration of Portugal into Spain and for the defense of its pre-eminence. Vieira argued that the reference to a “larger Spain” in the prophecy was related to the Portuguese part, which had once been “the largest” and, together with Tarraconensis and Hispalensis, was one of the “three Spains” into which “Spain was divided.” Besides, he insisted that the fact that Spain was sometimes mentioned in the singular and at other times in the plural showed a difference that “despite not being wanted as probable, might actually not be impossible” (Vieira, 1690: 257-263).

It is difficult to know if Vieira was talking about a definitive separation between the Peninsular kingdoms, softening the universalism proposed precisely in this sermon, the only one that dealt explicitly with the Project of the Fifth Empire (Cardim and Sabatini, 2011: 20). But, in any case, nothing contradicted the fact that, in Portugal, there was still an idea of Spain that was far removed from the rule of the Habsburgs, who were seen as harmful to the Peninsula as a whole, as a result of their own particular vulnerabilities. An example of this is the fact that, when Carlos II’s wife died in 1689 and rumors began to circulate in Lisbon that suggested a possible marriage between him and Pedro II’s daughter, the voices raised against this means of reintegrating the Hispanic Monarchy were joined by those who found it inconvenient to hand over the crown to a weakened power.

For the anonymous author of Papel sobre o casamento da senhora Infanta Donna Isabel, this attempt, in addition to its endangering “the Freedom of the Homeland,” was inappropriate due to the pretender’s status. According to him, the Hispanic Monarchy was “so seriously bedridden” that its own vassals confessed they had lost “all hopes of recovery.”4  So, the king’s weakness was a reason to reject the plan, but it was also an opportunity for the anti-Castilian propaganda to promote itself. According to this pamphlet, Portugal’s separation had been based, either on an “effective or preservative” violence, or on the abusive behavior of a weakened Castile in order to avoid a close understanding with the Braganzas.

In Madrid, the ambassador José de Faria provided additional information on the project’s impact. In his correspondence, he explained that those who argued that the Papel’s author was Portuguese had been assured by the nuncio that he was probably “neither a good Portuguese, nor a good Castilian.” Despite understanding that this mutual distrust was hindering any progress, Faria reported that Innocent XI’s representative was firmly committed to finding a way to restore bygone times. The ambassador confirmed that the nuncio had said he believed that the Count of Oropesa was the right person to help him.5 

The Count of Oropesa was, undoubtedly, someone who could help to shape that aspiration. Mendo de Fóios Pereira, Faria’s predecessor, said that he had found in him “that true spirit and affection that His Highness […] could expect from a faithful and loving vassal” (Cruz, 1962: 128). Related to the Braganzas, and influential in Spain, the count was now considered, in a report drawn up by the chargé d’affaires of the French embassy, to be the architect of a Luso-Hispanic dynastic policy at Carlos II’s court. In that document, he was also highlighted as the “heir presumptive to the Crown of Portugal,” something that might have been related—it was argued—with his supposed ambition to gain the throne of Lisbon or, at least, a province of some importance in exchange for his services, if either the Braganzas or the Habsburgs—it didn’t matter—managed to “reunite the two kingdoms under one of their heads” (De Bernardo Ares, 2007: 27-28).

The declaration of intent ascribed to Oropesa is problematical. It is not easy to accept in terms of his territorial aspirations, if we take into account the loyalty to the king expressed by the Spanish high nobility. Instead, we could consider it as one of the many writings intended to discredit the Spanish policy prepared by those who surrounded Louis XIV (Ribot, 2013: 93). But, despite all this, in view of the problems with the succession and the internal dynamics of the Hispanic Monarchy, it gave the Portuguese dynasty a strength that not even they seemed able to measure and that, nevertheless, was valued in Europe.

Surely, the sense of belonging to the pan-Hispanic cultural koiné (Schaub, 2001: 19) that we have already mentioned provided this undertaking with a superior and binding importance. While the Castilians had believed that their king could never be the king of the entire country if Portugal was not part of it, the Portuguese had continued to use the word “Castile” to refer to the whole of the Monarchy, as if “Spain” were, in fact, reserved for a superior entity. Therefore, under the scope of the ever worsening problem of the king’s succession at the end of the century, the Braganzas’ background could not be ignored.

Shaping an identity discourse within and outside Portugal

Apparently, the passage of time and the strength of the great European powers blurred the presumptions of a Portuguese Hispania, but they did not in any way diminish the Iberian backdrop. Geography did not seem to be deceitful: unchanging, it involved Portugal in the problem of the Spanish succession. In November 1697, the Dutch Grand Pensionary found it logical that the Portuguese had “a greater need to be careful in the event of such an accident,” since they “were closer to Castile”. Talking to Francisco de Sousa Pacheco, Pedro II’s ambassador in The Hague, Heinsius said that his wish would be for the Portuguese to be present in negotiations on the future of the Spains. However, despite warnings from Lisbon, the deal was actually “completely beyond the scope” of the instructions given to Sousa Pacheco, who recorded how he was being pressured by the Dutch to reveal his position and how they feared a secret agreement in which France might have promised Portugal a Spanish border province.6 

This was not the case; or rather, it was not yet the case, but we could say that the Batavian lucubrations were turning into accurate predictions. Admittedly, the possibility that King Pedro II might have pretensions to enter into the “Spanish succession,” an issue revisited by the Grand Pensionary, 7  was not farfetched. There was a document that had been circulating across Europe for months, highlighting Pedro’s advantages and the reasons for his occupying the Hispanic throne, and thus justifying that possibility. The French embassy in Portugal made reference to a secret document written in Lisbon whose publication had been commissioned by an agent of the Portuguese government in Holland in 1696 (Ribot, 2013: 107). And, in fact, its only known printed version is an edition published in Amsterdam in 1697, a year later than the date mentioned by the embassy, entitled Reposta de hum Gentilhomem hespanhol, retirado de la Corte; A um do Conselho de Estado de Madrid, sobre a sucessam de Hespanha traduzida de Francez na Lingua Portugueza por Antonio Homem Peres Ferreyra (1697). This was the pseudonym of José de Freire de Monterroio Mascarenhas, the future editor of the Gazeta de Lisboa and a man with links to the Lisbon press (Da Silva, 1858: 155); it seems obvious that someone like him could be behind the operation denounced by the French, despite a few minor details that reveal chronological discrepancies.

However, ultimately, it is irrelevant whether the Reposta was written in Lisbon or if, on the contrary, it is taken literally that it was the work of a “Spanish gentleman who had retired from the court” of Madrid. Published in Amsterdam, a well-established locus of Iberian printing (Den Boer, 2008: 87-110), the interesting thing about this document is that it agreed with the old Hispanic idea encouraged by the Braganzas. In it, the strongest argument in favor of Pedro II comes, once again, from the idea of an Iberian community. If Pedro were to succeed Carlos II, it would be due to the fact that “as a Portuguese, he was Spanish.”

The weight of the arguments lay in their naturalness, which was intended to justify the rights of the Portuguese pretender, a circumstance that did not, however, result in an open petition, first of all, because it did not have the express support of the Portuguese government. Although Diogo de Mendonça Corte-Real, the Portuguese representative in Madrid, was seen by some as the architect of the document itself, there is no evidence that this was the case and, on the contrary, there were some who considered that accusing the ambassador of being behind the discourse was a way of belittling his work (Vasconcelos, s.d.: 14). And, secondly, because, as it might have seemed to some people, the possibility that Oropesa and his followers—those who allegedly supported his cause in Madrid—were behind the manifesto was a matter in which Lisbon did not wish to become involved. Although there is only a handful of letters known to have been sent by Corte-Real from the court, we get the feeling that Pedro II was choosing to be prudent. His arguments had been laid on the table and maybe they could be useful, as they said in The Hague, if taken into account in a partition or in a larger undertaking.

Far removed from there, in a Scotland that was engaged, at that time, in the colonial “Darien Venture” (Armitage, 1995: 107-109), Andrew Fletcher indirectly reflected on the advantages of a unified Spain, showing that this possibility could be pragmatic and not the result of partisan inventions. In 1698, in his Discorso delle cose di Spagna—published anonymously in Italian—the author suggested that Pedro II was the most suitable person to occupy the throne of Madrid, not so much because of his personal strengths, but because of everything that surrounded him. The Atlantic façade of the Iberian Peninsula provided the Hispanic Monarchy with a homogeneity that it lacked at the time while, according to Fletcher, the “disjoined states” were not very useful ([Fletcher], 1737: 200-201).

His approach was influenced by a common vision for the whole of Hispania that would endure in Scotland until well into the eighteenth century, as proved by some of David Hume’s writings (Hume, 1817: 220). This was something that, conversely, would never work for the United Provinces, for which Fletcher had recommended a cession, while, in turn, Pedro II of Portugal should unite his domains with those of Spain, becoming the king of all those territories. According to Fletcher, this was the best option for bringing an end to the embarrassment in which the Hispanic Monarchy found itself, perhaps echoing some old advice—to abandon all interests in Northern Europe: “If they want to move away, then let them go,” someone had said with regard to the Netherlands in the Castilian courts of 1592 (Fernández Álvarez, 1986: 12). Flanders was confirmed by the Neapolitan Francesco d’Andrea as being “a putrid limb” that should be “cut off from the Monarchy’s body so it would not infect it” (Mastellone, 1969: 188).

While Portugal was not without reason, France was trying to discover the ultimate pretensions of Pedro II, whom Louis XIV had come to consider—in view of a hypothetical union of the Spanish and Portuguese overseas territories—as a good counterbalance to the English and the Dutch (Valladares, 2001: 94). José da Cunha Brochado, the secretary of the Portuguese embassy in Versailles at the time, made some private comments on the feelings triggered by the Portuguese in Paris: “Everyone imagines that our Lord, the King, wishes the Castilian throne and succession due to a right known to the French as bienséance .” As if it were a matter of etiquette, as Brochado seemed to suggest, even if he was pulling away from the desire to see a Portuguese man on the throne of Madrid. “In that case, Castile will have a more fortunate fate and Portugal an unhappier one, just as happened to the Scottish [when] the Stuarts attained the throne of England.”8 

Scotland came across as the paradigm of what Portugal did not want. It was not simply the old issue of the kingdom whose king was in a distant court, but also the possibility of becoming a province without constitutions, as the Scottish feared would happen after King James VI took over the English crown (Levack, 1987: 32). That was a reckless path to follow according to Brochado, who was creating a unique testimony within Pedro II’s diplomatic network. His discourse prioritized land over dynasty, leaving aside the traditional principles of the princely society (Bély, 1999), and perhaps that was one of the reasons why his messages tended towards discretion. “In the theatres of human nature there are no new comedies […] and all the plots are old,” wrote Brochado when he tried to appease Pedro II in view of the rumors that placed Spain in the French orbit.9 

However, Brochado, who had no clear guidelines about the course of events, received little attention from Lisbon. There, the scenario of a Hispanic Monarchy ruled by the House of Bourbon had been a concern for some time. It was believed that a union between the crowns of France and Spain would not prevent the latter from turning its attentions towards Portugal. And while Brochado had privately considered that the Portuguese would not be the only ones affected by that union and that, if this were the case, Europe would turn against Louis XIV,10  the danger seemed obvious.

This had been explained two years earlier by the Marquis of Alegrete in the Conselho de Estado(Szarka, 1976: 177), and perhaps this perception concealed an acceptable arrangement of a will from Carlos II in favor of the Prince of Bavaria in 1698. For Pierre Rouillé, Louis XIV’s ambassador in Portugal, the motives of the Braganzas went beyond this. According to him, the dynasty accepted the prince as the heir in exchange for his marriage to one of Pedro II’s daughters to ensure that then Madrid could suggest that the Portuguese king might resume “his first plans for the Spanish succession” (Ribot, 2013: 115). Joseph Ferdinand might not be the perfect candidate, but he was an option that guaranteed stability on a continental level and, if this were true, there would be benefits to be derived from it. It was, indeed, a more than worthy choice for Lisbon, despite the fact that the Portuguese diplomacy would only find out in the autumn that there was a treaty endorsing this choice through a partition of the Spanish territories, which was the product of a new age (Onnekink, 2008: 169-171).

Signed in The Hague by France and England, and with the Empire excluded from its signing, the treaty acknowledged the equidistant Prince of Bavaria as Carlos II’s heir. In exchange, there were compensations for Vienna, which would receive the Duchy of Milan, and for Paris, which would be given the rest of the Spanish territories in Italy and Guipúzcoa. This was the reality when the Count of Jersey, who represented William III at Versailles and found himself circumstantially in The Hague, assured Pedro II’s ambassador in the United Provinces that “there is no reason to talk, because there are no deals with France.” “What matters,” he underlined, “is that all Powers are attuned, especially Portugal which is closer to Spain.”11  Although, at the time, Pacheco seemed to suspect that an agreement was close to being reached, there was nothing that allowed him to go beyond that assumption. It was the Count of Portland, and not the Count of Jersey, who had secretly been negotiating on behalf of England in that scenario, and Pacheco was too late.

However, his difficulty in finding out what was being devised in The Hague was to be overcome by fate. Despite the fact that, in November, Spain already knew that a partition had been designed (Legrelle, 1889: 578), the following months and the dramatic news of the death of Joseph Ferdinand—which was immediately known in Lisbon—invalidated the deal. According to Paul Methuen,12  the king and all his ministers, who had only recently welcomed the election of the prince because such a move favored the common good, feared complications. Methuen, responsible for the English embassy in Portugal, also contended that, since the news had broken, the French were increasing their efforts to win Pedro II’s favor in the fight for succession.

In the meantime, Brochado mentioned, in Paris, that the jurisconsults were beginning to say that Maria Teresa’s renunciation of the throne of Spain “could not take place.”13  In truth, it was nothing new. The waiver of the rights to succession by Felipe IV’s daughter, due to her marriage to Louis XIV in 1660, had never been a problem for the Bourbons’ aspirations (Álvarez López, 2007: 182). They had always been there. Now, sheltering in the shadows and without the Bavarian candidate, these aspirations could perhaps be openly vented, and the same was happening with the reasons that Pedro II had been brandishing for a long time.

America or Europe? An extra-Hispanic dispute for understanding how Portugal regarded the Spanish succession

In the summer of 1699, Pacheco did not fail. He knew that the letters that were regularly sent from London to the United Provinces mentioned conversations about the Spanish succession involving the French ambassador. The English, he said, supported Archduke Charles, Emperor Leopold’s second son, as Carlos II’s successor.14  The discovery of this situation was not irrelevant. It allowed Lisbon to make arrangements to demand a space in the negotiations, to claim what it had not been possible to claim previously due to a lack of knowledge, partly relieving the problem that this lack of official information entailed for Portugal (Francis, 1966: 88).

Being aware of the negotiations allowed room for appeals, even with Oropesa out of the game since the spring due to a popular riot with political overtones that had erupted in Madrid. If the French were accepting England and the United Provinces “in this great awarding of kingdoms, […] it is only fair that Portugal is not disinherited, because while we are not necessary heirs, we can at least be legitimate ones,” argued Brochado in Paris.15  With this demand, the envoy aimed not so much to exhibit Pedro II’s rights, but rather to claim the right to play a role in the territorial partition.

Expanding the Peninsular borders was an old dream. “In Spain,” according to a treaty that circulated in Lisbon in the summer of 1699, the Portuguese already had “a part outside the old Lusitania, located between the rivers Douro and Guadiana,” which had not been disputed by anyone until then. However, the reasons presented in this Discorso Geografico, nel quale si prova che il Forte di Cumau fabricato vicino al Capo del Nort della Guiana, con le Terre circonvicine, appartiene a Portogallo ,16  echoed by the nuncio Conti, had less to do with Iberia and more to do with Brazil.

As in the Iberian case, the Portuguese overseas territories stretched beyond the physical barriers, explained the Discorso Geografico. They extended past the limit imposed by the Amazon River and stretched to the north of its mouth. Despite their low economic value, those lands were extremely important from a strategic point of view, since they made it possible to control access to the interior of the continent, resulting in the sporadic altercations between the French based in Cayenne and the Portuguese in this remote area that had become a matter of State (Szarka, 1976: 123-170). It is known that the French translation of Cristóbal de Acuña’s Nuevo descubrimiento del gran rio de las Amazonas (1641), published in 1682, had attracted Louis XIV’s interest in that territory (Varnhagem, s.d: 771; Linchet, 1995).

The intellectual production that surrounded this controversy between the French embassy in Lisbon and the Portuguese government in the final years of the seventeenth century confirms this interest. This controversy shows that while, for the Portuguese, their spatial dominance was justified by the original discovery and possession of those territories, for the French, the right over a given territory was only guaranteed by “a continuous and real possession.” 17  So, there are clear reasons for saying that the principles laid down by Serafim de Freitas in De Justo Impero Lusitanorum (1625) in view of Hugo Grotius’ ideas were still valid for Portuguese legal experts (Alexandrowicz, 1959; Vieira, 2003).

But what really matters is that the dispute between France and Portugal, despite being extra-Hispanic, was not unconnected to the issue of the succession of Carlos II, neither would its resolution be. A treaty signed on 4 March 1700, ordered the Portuguese to destroy their forts located to the north of the Amazon and forbade the French from going close to the river banks. Together with the demolitions, the treaty approved the exclusive navigation of the river by the Portuguese, meaning that Lisbon had scored a major success (Castro and Biker, 1856: 83-88). Its chronological coincidence with the issue of the succession invites us to consider that the French were somewhat complacent, but, most of all, that the Portuguese were efficient in coordinating the rhythms of the discussions on the Amazon with the debate on the Spanish succession.

It was not in vain that the agreement was sealed only a few weeks before France, England and the United Provinces signed a new treaty for the partition of the Hispanic Monarchy. This time, as Brochado had foreseen, it was decided that the inheritance was to be handed over, though, once again, not entirely, to the Archduke Charles: Guipúzcoa, Naples, Sicily, the Tuscan presidii and Finale would expand Louis XIV’s assets, which would also include the Duchy of Lorraine, compensating its owner with the State of Milan. In Pedro II’s Lisbon, the existence of this partition was immediately made public, contrary to what had happened before. It was, in fact, the French ambassador himself who gave the news, showing a new desire for good communication with Pedro II, which coincided with the solution of the Amazonian dispute and whose backdrop was the fear that Portugal might strengthen its ties with the Empire.

Count Waldstein’s imminent journey to Lisbon to establish what would be Leopold I’s first embassy in the city points us in that direction. Although Waldstein’s intention was to present the Emperor’s condolences to Pedro II for the death of Queen Maria Sofia (Francis, 1966: 93), it was believed that the mission concealed a more far-reaching maneuver: Luís da Cunha, the Portuguese ambassador in London, had warned that “the Emperor is always seeking to create new alliances, and by sending an ambassador to Portugal now he will surely ask for the King’s alliance […] suggesting a marriage to His Highness.” 18  So, when Rouillé explained the details of the partition to Pedro II, one of the reasons why the government could consider an immediate rejection of the agreement was, according to the nuncio, its wish to know in advance what could be obtained from Vienna. Conti added that the other reasons had to do with the image that Portugal had built of itself and of its territorial pretensions: “This Crown […] may now persuade itself internally that it has been given little consideration” because, “according to the division that had been defined, these peoples were expecting an inland expansion, at least across the whole of Extremadura, or perhaps even along the shores to the Strait of Gibraltar.”19 

In any case, it was Pedro II himself who informed Waldstein of the treaty, obtaining a half-hearted response in which the count simply confirmed that his sovereign would never recognize the partition (Francis, 1966: 93). So, there was no counter-offer, but we may consider that the mere presence of Waldstein in the city was beneficial to Pedro II. As much as he was an advocate of Spanish territorial unity (Frey and Frey, 1995: 485-486), while he was in Portugal, the king’s movements to delay his support to Louis XIV could be protected in a way that was dangerous to the Bourbon interests, and it was quite probably the court’s good timing that underpinned the conditions demanded by Pedro II for accepting the partition. Recorded as compensations in the plan presented by the Duke of Cadaval to Rouillé on 9 June 1700, these demands were designed, ultimately, to place Portugal in a central position. Pedro II wanted his voice to be as important as those of the original signatories, if the Emperor was to refuse the inheritance and a new prince had to be elected to replace the Archduke. In the event of a war against Spain, as a result of the agreement, he also expected to receive Badajoz and Alcántara as compensations (Peres, 1931: 18-21).

Far from the Hispanic pretensions that were ascribed to him, his demands remained moderate. They were meant to form a security ring and were not very satisfying to those who had requested that Portugal should be included in the partition. The acceptance of the partition without any significant benefits can only be understood in connection with the negotiation of the Amazon or, perhaps, as the confirmation that Pedro II did not believe that the Empire, as Waldstein had assured him, was going to accept the partitions. This might be evidenced by the fact that, in London, Luís da Cunha was providing William III with details that were not explicitly included in the project negotiated with France. Following instructions, the Portuguese ambassador would present his sovereign’s known desire to play a role in the election of Carlos II’s successor if the emperor were to reject the treaty, while identifying Pedro II’s sons as the most suitable candidates to occupy the throne of Madrid. Thus, in his view, not only would the Hispanic Monarchy be able to keep other territories, but it could also achieve the longed-for reunion of the Peninsular kingdoms that defended the “national laws.” Furthermore, the peace with England and the “tranquility of Europe” would be ensured by the Braganzas, just as they had managed to achieve in Portugal until then.20 

What emerged from this discourse was an effort to publicize the benefits of a union under the banner of the House of Braganza. This is exactly why we can also consider that this possibility was more than simply being pondered in Lisbon. Ultimately, the outlined scenario of an understanding with London reflected a solid conviction that the crowning of one of Pedro II’s sons was not completely implausible. It could have been closer than one might imagine and, perhaps, the English endorsement depended only on small details. For example, Cunha believed that the impulse of a few powerful men who could provide their support to Portugal from England in exchange for bribes would not contravene his sovereign’s interests.21 

In an England riddled with corruption (Hatton, 1968; Hopkins, 1981: 108) these were circumstances to be valued, although not on this occasion. The ambassador’s subsequent silence would show that this was a dead end, closed off by decisions that had been made in other spheres, and against which these practices were of no use. William III was not willing to include Portugal in the group of signatories to the treaty. Doing so might lead other possible signatories to demand compensations whose cost would be too high, so Lisbon had to be excluded.

Portugal’s moderately vigorous reaction to this refusal was appeased by Rouillé and Cadaval’s parallel negotiation. While Pedro II felt hurt in view of the possibility of being left out of the election of an alternative candidate, nothing prevented Rouillé from allowing the king to have a say in the matter. Ultimately, the ambassador’s belief was that nothing would change. Portugal was not able to oppose the agreement signed between Louis XIV, England and the United Provinces by itself. But, furthermore, to gain Pedro II’s trust, France would secretly guarantee that, in exchange for military contributions from Portugal in the event of a war, Badajoz and Alcántara would become part of that kingdom (Szarka, 1976: 194-195).

Thus, accepting the partition gave Pedro II less visibility than he would have wished for. While receiving benefits in America, in Europe he was pushed into the background and only the course of events would eventually change this situation. Carlos II died on 1 November 1700, and the fact that he appointed the Duke of Anjou as his only heir in his will opened up a whole new horizon. After it became known that the king of France had accepted the throne of Spain for his grandson, nothing that had been agreed until then was valid any longer. At least, there was the need to preserve a good understanding with Paris so that, from then on, it could be possible to renegotiate the relationship while watching the steps of the other signatories and Vienna’s reaction. “No minister of the interested princes would dare explain himself without knowing the Emperor’s and His British Majesty’s intentions,” said Luís da Cunha. 22 

After the treaties

The territorial demands that had characterized the discourse of the House of Braganza in view of the partitions continued after the death of Carlos II. In mid-1701, after a long discussion in the court (Cluny, 2002: 71-72), the fact that the sovereignty of Lisbon over Colonia del Sacramento was accepted as a counterpart for the Portuguese acknowledgement of Felipe V of Spain was the proof of a triumph forged through insistence. The recurrent interest in this enclave, which had been a centre of controversy from the very moment of its foundation, and the resolution of the issue in favor of Pedro II showed the far-reaching nature of the global problem that the Spanish dynastic crisis had become. As had happened with the Amazon River, it was because of this crisis that Portugal had begun to define its sphere of influence in the American territories, and this was done through consensus and negotiations with the Bourbons, in a dialogue that, on the other hand, silenced the demands being made in the Iberian Peninsula.

Probably, the Portuguese pragmatism found these demands inappropriate at the time, since Louis XIV had ignored the partition, and therefore the discussions with Pedro II on the matter, although it would not be long before they reemerged due to the erosion of the alliance with the Spanish and the French. They appeared in 1702 when John Methuen was carrying out his negotiations, which eventually led Pedro II to lean towards the Archduke Charles in the dynastic dispute. So, the extension of the kingdom’s borders, a recurrent topic in the Portuguese imagination, presented itself as one more incentive in the war that was about to start and had its epicenter in Lisbon; however, it was this factor—centrality—that came to play a greater role in the political discourse during those years. Pedro II, as Charles of Austria’s protector, was able to present himself to the Iberian peoples as the liberator of the Spains, embodying an image filled with connotations of the primacy, across the entire Peninsula, of the dynasty that ruled Portugal, which, furthermore, was a natural reaction of the country towards foreigners (Justificación,1704). It is true that the dispute eventually denied the self-assigned preponderance of the House of Braganza and condemned Lisbon to a kind of ostracism, but it also led to the Treaty of Utrecht. There, without new territories to add to his crown, King João V was at least able to boast the fact that he was on equal terms with his Spanish counterpart. The presence of the Portuguese diplomatic representatives at the negotiating tables gave the kingdom visibility and enshrined an aspiration that had been nurtured by Lisbon since 1668, curiously enough under the shadow of the partitions. It was not at all relevant if that new twist meant nothing, or if the Hispanic Monarchy was dismembered without any further compensations for Portugal. If, for years, Lisbon had pursued the goal of being present in the partitions, then in Utrecht, in its own way, it achieved it.



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Received for publication: 17 June 2014

Accepted in revised form: 23 July 2015

Recebido para publicação:17 de Junho de 2014

Aceite após revisão: 23 de Julho de 2015


Copyright 2015, ISSN 1645-6432

e-JPH, Vol. 13, number 2, December 2015



2  Biblioteca da Ajuda [BDA], 49-X-6, ff. 39r-41v. Marquis of Gouveia to Prince Regent Pedro. Madrid, 18/VI/1670.

3  Archivio di Stato di Torino [ASTo], MPRI, Lettere diverse, Portogallo, 82, s.f. Maria Francisca of Savoy-Nemours to Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours. Lisbon, 28/VI/1678.

4  BDA, 51-VII-46, pp. 481-491. Papel sobre o casamento da senhora Infanta Donna Isabel filha del Rey de Portugal Dom Pedro 2º com El Rey de Castella Carlos II.

5  BDA, 51-VIII-29, ff 279-281. José de Faria to Mendo de Fóios Pereira. Madrid, 7/IV/1689.

6  Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo [ANTT], MNE, liv. 802, ff. 12r-12v. Carta escripta em sifra em 26 de novembre de 1697. The Hague.

7  ANTT, MNE, liv. 802, 25v-26v. Carta escripta em sifra em 4 de Fevreiro de 1668. The Hague.

8  Academia das Ciências de Lisboa [ACL], SA, 72, ff. 6v-7v. José da Cunha Brochado. Paris, 4/V/1698.

9  ACL, SA, 72, f. 53r. José da Cunha Brochado to King Pedro II. Paris, 21/IX/1698.

10  BDA, 49-X-38, ff. 33-37. José da Cunha Brochado. Paris, 20/IV/1698.

11  ANTT, MNE, liv. 802, ff. 81r-84v. Francisco de Sousa Pacheco to Mendo de Fóios Pereira. Lisbon, 24/XI/1698.

12  The National Archives, London [TNA], SP, 89/17, ff. 343-344. Paul Methuen to James Vernon. Lisbon, 1/IV/1699.

13  BDA, 49-X-38, ff. 117r-117v. José da Cunha Brochado. Paris, 8/III/1699.

14  ANTT, MNE, liv. 802, ff. 121r-121v. Francisco de Sousa Pacheco to Mendo de Fóios Pereira. The Hague 11/VII/1699.

15  ANTT, MDL, 570, s. f. José da Cunha Brochado to Mendo de Fóios Pereira. Paris, 4/X/1699.

16  ASV, Segr. Stato, Portogallo, 56, ff. 401-403. Copy translated into Italian, probably from the Portuguese version, and sent to Rome together with an avviso dated 22/IX/1699.

17  The papers collected by Conti, including the Discorso Geografico, are its corpus(ASV, Segr. Stato, Portogallo, 56 y 57). In Portugal, some of these documents are kept at the private archive of the Casa de Cadaval (Rau and Da Silva, 1956: 448, 458-473).

18  ANTT, MNE, liv. 776, ff. 12v-14v. Luís da Cunha. London, 15/II/1700.

19  ASV, Segr. Stato, Portogallo, 57, ff. 320-323. Nuncio Conti to Fabrizio Spada. Lisbon, 3/VI/1700.

20  ANTT, MNE, liv. 776, ff. 55r-57v. Luís da Cunha to King Pedro II. London, 13/VII/1700.

21  Ibid.

22  ANTT, MNE, liv. 776, ff. 77v-79v. Luís da Cunha to King Pedro II. London, 22/XI/1700.

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