War of the Fifth Coalition
The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in the year 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleons French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the struggle at Wagram in early July. The resulting Treaty of Schönbrunn was the harshest that France had imposed on Austria in recent memory, Austria lost over three million subjects, about one-fifth of her total population, as a result of these territorial changes. Although the Fifth Coalition ended, Britain and Portugal remained at war with France in the ongoing Peninsular War, there was peace in central and eastern Europe until Napoleons invasion of Russia in 1812, which led to the formation of the Sixth Coalition in 1813. Europe had been embroiled in warfare, pitting revolutionary France against a series of coalitions, after five years of war, the French Republic subdued the First Coalition in 1797.
A Second Coalition was formed in 1798, only to be defeated, in March 1802, France and Great Britain, its one remaining enemy, agreed to end hostilities under the Treaty of Amiens. For the first time in ten years, all of Europe was at peace, many disagreements between the two sides remained unresolved, and implementing the agreements they had reached at Amiens seemed to be a growing challenge. Britain resented having to turn all of its colonial conquests since 1793 when France was permitted to retain most of its conquered territory in Europe. France, was upset that British troops had not evacuated the island of Malta, in May 1803, Britain declared war on France. With the resumption of hostilities, Napoleon planned an invasion of England, in December 1804, an Anglo-Swedish agreement led to the creation of the Third Coalition. British Prime Minister William Pitt spent 1804 and 1805 in a flurry of diplomatic activity geared towards forming a new coalition against France and neutralising the threat of invasion.
Mutual suspicion between the British and the Russians eased in the face of several French political mistakes, and by April 1805, in August 1805, the French Grande Armée invaded the German states in hopes of knocking Austria out of the war before Russian forces could intervene. On 25 September, after great secrecy and feverish marching,200,000 French troops began to cross the Rhine on a front of 160 miles, Mack had gathered the greater part of the Austrian army at the fortress of Ulm in Bavaria. Napoleon hoped to swing his forces northward and perform a movement that would find the French at the Austrian rear. The Ulm Maneuver was well executed, and on 20 October Mack and 23,000 Austrian troops surrendered at Ulm, the French captured Vienna in November and went on to inflict a decisive defeat on a Russo-Austrian army at Austerlitz in early December. Austerlitz led to the expulsion of Russian troops from Central Europe and the humiliation of Austria, Austerlitz incited a major shift in the European balance of power.
Prussia felt threatened about her security in the region and, alongside Russia, a vigorous French pursuit through Northern Germany finished off the remnants of the Prussian army
The Austrian Empire was an empire in Central Europe created out of the realms of the Habsburgs by proclamation in 1804. It was an empire and one of Europes great powers. Geographically it was the second largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire and it was the third most populous after Russia and France, as well as the largest and strongest country in the German Confederation. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the dissolution in 1806. The Ausgleich of 1867 elevated Hungarys status and it became a separate entity from the Empire entirely, joining with it in the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Changes shaping the nature of the Holy Roman Empire took place during conferences in Rastatt, on 24 March 1803, the Imperial Recess was declared, which reduced the number of ecclesiastical states from 81 to only 3 and the free imperial cities from 51 to 6. This measure was aimed at replacing the old constitution of the Holy Roman Empire, taking this significant change into consideration, the German Emperor Francis II created the title Emperor of Austria, for himself and his successors.
In 1804 the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, who was ruler of the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy, founded the Empire of Austria. In doing so he created a formal overarching structure for the Habsburg Monarchy, to safeguard his dynastys imperial status he adopted the additional hereditary title of Emperor of Austria. Hungarys affairs remained administered by its own institutions as they had been beforehand, thus under the new arrangements no Imperial institutions were involved in its internal government. The fall and dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire was accelerated by French intervention in the Empire in September 1805, on 20 October 1805, an Austrian army led by general Karl Mack von Leiberich was defeated by French armies near the town of Ulm. The French victory resulted in the capture of 20,000 Austrian soldiers, Napoleons army won another victory at Austerlitz on 2 December 1805. Francis was forced into negotiations with the French from 4 to 6 December 1805, the French victories encouraged rulers of certain imperial territories to assert their formal independence from the Empire.
On 10 December 1805, the prince-elector Duke of Bavaria proclaimed himself King, finally, on 12 December, the Margrave of Baden was given the title of Grand Duke. In addition, each of these new countries signed a treaty with France, the Treaty of Pressburg between France and Austria, signed in Pressburg on 26 December, enlarged the territory of Napoleons German allies at the expense of defeated Austria. Certain Austrian holdings in Germany were passed to French allies—the King of Bavaria, the King of Württemberg, Austrian claims on those German states were renounced without exception. On 12 July 1806, the Confederation of the Rhine was established, comprising 16 sovereigns and this confederation, under French influence, put an end to the Holy Roman Empire. On 6 August 1806, even Francis recognized the new state of things and proclaimed the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, as he did not want Napoleon to succeed him
Battle of Krasnoi
The Battle of Krasnoi was a series of skirmishes fought in the final stage of Napoleons retreat from Moscow. The Russians under General Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov inflicted heavy losses on the remnants of the Grande Armée, lacking sufficient artillery and supplies to wage battle, Napoleons object at Krasnoi was to collect his scattered troops and to resume his retreat. Despite the vast superiority of his forces, Kutuzov refrained from launching an offensive during the four days of fighting. The climax of the engagement occurred on November 17, when an aggressive feint by the French Imperial Guard induced Kutuzov to delay a potentially decisive final Russian attack, Napoleon was thus able to withdraw part of his army before the Russians seized Krasnoi. Despite Napoleons success in saving part of his army from destruction at Krasnoi, during the four days of combat Napoleons subordinate commanders suffered heavy defeats in individual actions, and large numbers of French stragglers were captured by the Russians.
The Grande Armée was compelled to abandon much of its remaining artillery, the condition of the Grande Armée was further degraded by sub-zero temperatures in the first two weeks of November. By the time the French arrived at Smolensk on November 9, only 40% men of what was left of the Grande Armée was still under arms at this point. Due to the condition of his forces and French defeats on other fronts, Napoleon realized his position at Smolensk was untenable surrounded by Russian armies. The new strategic goal was to put the Grande Armée into winter quarters further west, having lost contact with Kutuzov during the previous two weeks, Napoleon incorrectly believed that the Russian army must have been as devastated by the elements as his own. Napoleon left on 14th, Davout on 15th, Beauharnais on 16th, Ney on 17th, together with Joseph Barbanègre, thus the French approached Krasny in a piecemeal 53 kilometres long column of disconnected corps, not massed together in preparation for battle. On November 14, the corps of Józef Zajączek and Junot, as the vanguard of the retreating French army, passed through Krasny, the next day, November 15, Napoleon himself arrived at Krasny with his 16, 000-strong Imperial Guard.
Neys corps formed the rearguard and was not to leave Smolensk until November 17, marching between and around these French corps were nearly 40,000 troops who had disintegrated into mobs of unarmed, disorganized stragglers, looking for something else to eat than horsemeat. This made Napoleon stop further advance in order to bring up other echelons, however when on November 4 the Corps of Yevgeny Bogarne was approaching Krasnoye village, it suffered a strong attack inflicted by Miloradovich and was defeated. The same fate awaited Corps under Davout and Ney, without waiting for Ney’s rearguard, the French Emperor jointly with the Old Guard with the rest of the Davout’s Corps broke through the cover of Tormasov’s troops and moved to Orsha. During the same period, the main Russian army under Kutuzov followed the French on a parallel southern road, because this route passed through countryside unaffected by previous campaigning, the Russian army approached Krasny much less weakened by attrition than the Grande Armée.
Kutuzov therefore accepted a plan proposed by his officer, Colonel Toll. The Russian position at Krasny began forming on November 15, when the 3, the same day, the 17,000 troops of Miloradovich took position on a hill alongside the eastern road leading into Krasny. Kutuzov himself reached Krasny with the 35, 000-strong main army on November 16, in all, Kutuzov had 52,000 to 60,000 regular troops at his disposal at Krasny, including a large cavalry force and approximately 500 cannon
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino was a battle fought on 7 September 1812 in the Napoleonic Wars during the French invasion of Russia. The fighting involved around 250,000 troops and left at least 70,000 casualties, Napoleons Grande Armée launched an attack against the Russian army, driving it back from its initial positions but failing to gain a decisive victory. Both armies were exhausted after the battle and the Russians withdrew from the field the following day, Borodino represented the last Russian effort at stopping the French advance on Moscow, which fell a week later. After a series of Russian retreats at the beginning of the campaign, Mikhail Kutuzov was appointed as his replacement. In a final attempt to save Moscow, the Russians made a stand near the village of Borodino and they fortified their positions and waited for the French to attack. The Russian right wing occupied ideal defensive terrain, so the French tried to press the Russian left for much of the battle, the highlight of the fighting became the bloody struggle for the large Raevsky redoubt near the village of Borodino.
The French managed to capture this redoubt late into the day, the Russians suffered terrible casualties during the fighting, losing over a third of their army. French losses were heavy, exacerbating the logistical difficulties that Napoleon encountered in the campaign. Napoleons Imperial Guard, the unit on the battlefield that saw no fighting, was available to swing into action at a moments notice. In refusing to commit the Guard, some believe, he lost his one chance to destroy the Russian army. The capture of Moscow proved a pyrrhic victory since the Russians had no intention of negotiating with Napoleon for peace. The French evacuated Russias spiritual capital in October and conducted a retreat that only ended in December. Historical reports of the battle differed significantly depending on whether they originated from supporters of the French or Russian side, factional fighting among senior officers within each army led to conflicting accounts and disagreements over the roles of particular officers.
The French Grande Armée began its invasion of Russia on 16 June 1812, in response, Emperor Alexander I proclaimed a Patriotic War and prepared to face the French. However, Phulls plan soon proved to be a mistake, as the enormous Grande Armée was more than enough to separate. Furthermore, the participation of Tsar Alexander I as commander caused more chaos in the Russian army, the Russian forces which were massed along the Polish frontier were obliged to fall back in the face of the swift French advance. Napoleon advanced from Vitebsk, hoping to catch the Russian Army in the open where he could annihilate it, the French army was not positioned well for an extended overland campaign, it was 925 km from its nearest supply base at Kovno. French supply lines were vulnerable and Cossacks, light cavalry, guerrilla forces and even French deserters attacked and seriously depleted French supply columns
The Hundred Days marked the period between Napoleons return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815. This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the phrase les Cent Jours was first used by the prefect of Paris, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July. Napoleon returned while the Congress of Vienna was sitting, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars pitted France against various coalitions of other European nations nearly continuously from 1792 onward. The overthrow and subsequent public execution of Louis XVI in France had greatly disturbed other European leaders, rather than leading to Frances defeat, the wars allowed the revolutionary regime to expand beyond its borders and create client republics. The success of the French forces made an out of their best commander. In 1799, Napoleon staged a successful coup détat and became First Consul of the new French Consulate, five years later, he crowned himself Emperor Napoleon I.
The rise of Napoleon troubled the other European powers as much as the revolutionary regime had. Despite the formation of new coalitions against him, Napoleons forces continued to conquer much of Europe, the tide of war began to turn after a disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812 that resulted in the loss of much of Napoleons army. The following year, during the War of the Sixth Coalition, Coalition forces defeated the French in the Battle of Leipzig, following its victory at Leipzig, the Coalition vowed to press on to Paris and depose Napoleon. In the last week of February 1814, Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher advanced on Paris, the Battle of Reims went to Napoleon, but this victory was followed by successive defeats from increasingly overwhelming odds. Coalition forces entered Paris after the Battle of Montmartre on 30 March 1814, on 6 April 1814, Napoleon abdicated his throne, leading to the accession of Louis XVIII and the first Bourbon Restoration a month later.
The defeated Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany, Napoleon spent only nine months and 21 days in uneasy retirement on Elba, watching events in France with great interest as the Congress of Vienna gradually gathered. He had been escorted to Elba by Sir Neil Campbell, who remained in there while performing other duties in Italy. Equally threatening was the situation in Europe which had been stressed and exhausted during the previous decades of near constant warfare. The conflicting demands of major powers were for a time so exorbitant as to bring the Powers at the Congress of Vienna to the verge of war with each other. Thus every scrap of news reaching remote Elba looked favourable to Napoleon to retake power as he reasoned the news of his return would cause a popular rising as he approached. So threatening were the symptoms that the royalists at Paris and the plenipotentiaries at Vienna talked of deporting him to the Azores or to Saint Helena, at the Congress of Vienna the various participating nations had very different and conflicting goals.
Tsar Alexander of Russia had expected to absorb much of Poland and to leave a Polish puppet state, the renewed Prussian state demanded all of the Kingdom of Saxony
Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic)
The Kingdom of Italy was a French client state founded in Northern Italy by Napoleon I, fully influenced by revolutionary France, that ended with his defeat and fall. Napoleon I was crowned at the Duomo di Milano, Milan on May 26 and his title was Emperor of the French and King of Italy, showing the importance of this Italian Kingdom for him. Even though the republican Constitution was never abolished, a series of Constitutional Statutes completely altered it. The second one, dating from March 29, and regulated the regency, the Great Officials of the kingdom, the Consulta, Legislative Council, and Speakers, were all merged in a Council of State, whose opinions became only optional and not binding for the king. The Legislative Body, the old parliament, remained in theory, but it never summoned after 1805, the fourth Statute, decided on February 16,1806, indicated Beauharnais as the heir to the throne. The seventh Statute, on September 21, created a new nobility of dukes and barons, the eighth, in 1812, a Court of Accounts was added.
The Duchy of Guastalla was annexed on May 24, with the Convention of Fontainebleau with Austria of October 10,1807, Italy ceded Monfalcone to Austria and gained Gradisca, putting the new border on the Isonzo River. The conquered Republic of Ragusa was annexed in spring 1808 by general Marmont and that was the only time in modern history that Ragusa was united to Italy. On April 2,1808, following the dissolution of the Papal States, at its maximum extent, the Kingdom had 6,700,000 inhabitants and was composed by 2,155 communes. Small changes to the borders between Italy and France in Garfagnana and Friuli came in act on August 5,1811, in practice, the Kingdom was a dependency of the French Empire. The Kingdom served as a theater in Napoleons operations against Austria during the wars of the various coalitions, trading with the United Kingdom was forbidden. The kingdom was given a new currency, replacing the local coins circulating in the country, the Italian lira, of the same size, weight. Mintage being decided by Napoleon with a decree on March 21,1806.
The monetary unit was the silver lira, which was 5 grams heavy, there were multiples of £2 and £5, and precious coins of £20 and £40. The army of the kingdom, inserted into the Grande Armée, in the course of its existence from 1805 to 1814 the Kingdom of Italy provided Napoleon I with roughly around 200,000 soldiers. In 1805 Italian troops served on duty along the English Channel, during 1806-1807 they took part in the sieges of Kolberg and Danzig. From 1808 to 1813 whole Italian divisions served in Spain, especially distinguishing themselves under Suchet at Tarragona and Saguntum. In 1809, Eugènes Army of Italy formed the wing of Napoleon Is invasion of the Austrian Empire, winning a considerable victory at Raab
The wars resulted from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars, which had raged on for years before concluding with the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Napoleon became the First Consul of France in 1799, Emperor five years later, inheriting the political and military struggles of the Revolution, he created a state with stable finances, a strong central bureaucracy, and a well-trained army. The British frequently financed the European coalitions intended to thwart French ambitions, by 1805, they had managed to convince the Austrians and the Russians to wage another war against France. At sea, the Royal Navy destroyed a combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in October 1805, Prussian worries about increasing French power led to the formation of the Fourth Coalition in 1806. France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July, although Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire, it did not bring a lasting peace for Europe.
Hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia, the Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, the Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia. Unwilling to bear the consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System. The French launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse and retreat of the Grand Army along with the destruction of Russian lands. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France, a lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. The Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814 and he was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power.
However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again, the Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The Congress of Vienna, which started in 1814 and concluded in 1815, established the new borders of Europe and laid out the terms, Napoleon seized power in 1799, creating a de facto military dictatorship. The Napoleonic Wars began with the War of the Third Coalition, Kagan argues that Britain was irritated in particular by Napoleons assertion of control over Switzerland. Furthermore, Britons felt insulted when Napoleon stated that their country deserved no voice in European affairs, for its part, Russia decided that the intervention in Switzerland indicated that Napoleon was not looking toward a peaceful resolution of his differences with the other European powers. The British quickly enforced a blockade of France to starve it of resources. Napoleon responded with economic embargoes against Britain, and sought to eliminate Britains Continental allies to break the coalitions arrayed against him, the so-called Continental System formed a league of armed neutrality to disrupt the blockade and enforce free trade with France
The Papal States, officially the State of the Church, were territories in the Italian Peninsula under the sovereign direct rule of the pope, from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the states of Italy from roughly the 8th century until the Italian Peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. At their zenith, they covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio, Marche and Romagna and these holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy. By 1861, much of the Papal States territory had been conquered by the Kingdom of Italy, only Lazio, including Rome, remained under the Popes temporal control. In 1870, the pope lost Lazio and Rome and had no physical territory at all, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini ended the crisis between unified Italy and the Vatican by signing the Lateran Treaty, granting the Vatican City State sovereignty. The Papal States were known as the Papal State, the territories were referred to variously as the State of the Church, the Pontifical States, the Ecclesiastical States, or the Roman States.
For its first 300 years the Catholic Church was persecuted and unrecognized and this system began to change during the reign of the emperor Constantine I, who made Christianity legal within the Roman Empire, and restoring to it any properties that had been confiscated. The Lateran Palace was the first significant new donation to the Church, other donations followed, primarily in mainland Italy but in the provinces of the Roman Empire. But the Church held all of these lands as a private landowner, the seeds of the Papal States as a sovereign political entity were planted in the 6th century. Beginning In 535, the Byzantine Empire, under emperor Justinian I, launched a reconquest of Italy that took decades and devastated Italys political, just as these wars wound down, the Lombards entered the peninsula from the north and conquered much of the countryside. While the popes remained Byzantine subjects, in practice the Duchy of Rome, the pope and the exarch still worked together to control the rising power of the Lombards in Italy.
As Byzantine power weakened, the took a ever larger role in defending Rome from the Lombards. In practice, the papal efforts served to focus Lombard aggrandizement on the exarch, a climactic moment in the founding of the Papal States was the agreement over boundaries embodied in the Lombard king Liutprands Donation of Sutri to Pope Gregory II. When the Exarchate of Ravenna finally fell to the Lombards in 751, the popes renewed earlier attempts to secure the support of the Franks. In 751, Pope Zachary had Pepin the Younger crowned king in place of the powerless Merovingian figurehead king Childeric III, zacharys successor, Pope Stephen II, granted Pepin the title Patrician of the Romans. Pepin led a Frankish army into Italy in 754 and 756, Pepin defeated the Lombards – taking control of northern Italy – and made a gift of the properties formerly constituting the Exarchate of Ravenna to the pope. The cooperation between the papacy and the Carolingian dynasty climaxed in 800, when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor, the precise nature of the relationship between the popes and emperors – and between the Papal States and the Empire – is disputed.
Events in the 9th century postponed the conflict, the Holy Roman Empire in its Frankish form collapsed as it was subdivided among Charlemagnes grandchildren
French invasion of Russia
Napoleon hoped to compel Tsar Alexander I of Russia to cease trading with British merchants through proxies in an effort to pressure the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The official political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia, Napoleon named the campaign the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretext for his actions. The Grande Armée was a large force, numbering 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon hoped the battle would mean an end of the march into Russia, plans Napoleon had made to quarter at Smolensk were abandoned, and he pressed his army on after the Russians. As the Russian army fell back, Cossacks were given the task of burning villages and this was intended to deny the invaders the option of living off the land. The actions forced the French to rely on a system that was incapable of feeding the large army in the field. Starvation and privation compelled French soldiers to leave their camps at night in search of food and these men were frequently confronted by parties of Cossacks, who captured or killed them.
The Russian army retreated into Russia for almost three months, the continual retreat and the loss of lands to the French upset the Russian nobility. They pressured Alexander I to relieve the commander of the Russian army, Alexander I complied, appointing an old veteran, Prince Mikhail Kutuzov, to take over command of the army. However, for two more weeks Kutuzov continued to retreat as his predecessor had done, on 7 September, the French caught up with the Russian army which had dug itself in on hillsides before a small town called Borodino, seventy miles west of Moscow. The battle that followed was the bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars until that point, involving more than 250,000 soldiers, the French gained a tactical victory, but at the cost of 49 general officers and thousands of men. The Russian army was able to extricate itself and withdrew the following day, Napoleon entered Moscow a week later. In another turn of events the French found puzzling, there was no delegation to meet the Emperor, the Russians had evacuated the city, and the citys governor, Count Fyodor Rostopchin, ordered several strategic points in Moscow set ablaze.
Napoleons hopes had been set upon an end to his campaign. The loss of Moscow did not compel Alexander I to sue for peace, Napoleon stayed on in Moscow looking to negotiate a peace, his hopes fed in part by a disinformation campaign informing the Emperor of supposed discontent and fading morale in the Russian camp. After staying a month Napoleon moved his army out southwest toward Kaluga, the French advance toward Kaluga was checked by a Russian corps. Napoleon tried once more to engage the Russian army for an action at the Battle of Maloyaroslavets. Despite holding a position, the Russians retreated following a sharp engagement
The Portuguese Empire, known as the Portuguese Overseas, was one of the largest and longest-lived empires in world history and the first colonial empire. It existed for almost six centuries from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the grant of sovereignty to East Timor in 2002, the first era of the Portuguese empire originated at the beginning of the Age of Discovery. Initiated by the Kingdom of Portugal, it would eventually expand across the globe, in 1488, Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1498, Vasco da Gama reached India. In 1500, either by an accidental landfall or by the secret design. Over the following decades, Portuguese sailors continued to explore the coasts and islands of East Asia, establishing forts, by 1571, a string of naval outposts connected Lisbon to Nagasaki along the coasts of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. This commercial network and the trade had a substantial positive impact on Portuguese economic growth. Though the realms continued to be administered separately, the Council of Portugal ruled the country and its empire from Madrid.
As the King of Spain was King of Portugal, Portuguese colonies became the subject of attacks by three rival European powers hostile to Spain, the Dutch Republic and France. With its smaller population, Portugal was unable to defend its overstretched network of trading posts. Eventually, Brazil became the most valuable colony of the era until, as part of the wave of independence movements that swept the Americas during the early 19th century. The third era represents the stage of Portuguese colonialism after the decolonization of the Americas of the 1820s. The colonial possessions had been reduced to the African coastline, Portuguese Timor, the disastrous 1890 British Ultimatum led to the contraction of Portuguese ambitions in Africa. Macau was returned to China in 1999, the origin of the Kingdom of Portugal lay in the reconquista, the gradual reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors. There were several motives for their first attack, on the Marinid Sultanate. In 1415 an attack was made on Ceuta, a strategically located North African Muslim enclave along the Mediterranean Sea, although Ceuta proved to be a disappointment for the Portuguese, the decision was taken to hold it while exploring along the Atlantic African coast.
At the time, Europeans did not know what lay beyond Cape Bojador on the African coast, under his sponsorship, soon the Atlantic islands of Madeira and Azores were reached and started to be settled producing wheat to export to Portugal. Fears of what lay beyond Cape Bojador, and whether it was possible to return once it was passed, were assuaged in 1434 when it was rounded by one of Infante Henrys captains, Gil Eanes. Once this psychological barrier had been crossed, it became easier to further along the coast