Santa Luzia Elvas Fort and the Restoration War

Fort of Santa Luzia in Elvas

The Fort of Santa Luzia built during the Restoration War, was predominant in the Battle of the Lines of Elvas. Discover what we saw at the Fort of Elvas!

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Fort of Santa Luzia

Built by King D. João IV in 1641, following the Restoration of Independence in 1640 and the beginning of the Dukes of Bragança.

It has a very particular format for the time, with a bastioned layout, with the sloping walls that made them unpunished to the artillery.

It was completed in 1648, as part of the Portuguese strategy in the restoration war.

Governor's House

At the top of Santa Luzia Fort is the Governor's house. He slept in an alcove and in the center of the house, with no divisions, there is a staircase that goes up to the top and by which a soldier went up to observe what he saw around and transmit to the governor. With this information, the governor could, in a timely manner, call on the soldiers, who were in the barracks, to occupy the walls and defend the square. The Fort of Santa Luzia played a major role in the Battle of the Lines of Elvas.

Vertical Ladder, Governor's House
Vertical Ladder, Governor's House

The Context of the Restoration War

The Filipino period in Portugal, lasted 60 years and was marked, especially in the reign of Philip III, by the increase in taxes to finance Spanish military campaigns, and the recruitment of Portuguese to fight in the Catalonian war. The people's dissatisfaction and patriotic sense culminated in the Restoration of independence on December 1, 1640 and explains the capacity of military resistance and sacrifices of Portuguese people throughout the national territory, during the restoration war.

Elvas Fort, Bastion War of Restoration
Elvas Fort, Bastion War of Restoration

D. João IV dies in 1656 and leaves the regency in will, D. Luísa de Gusmão, who was born in Andalusia, but always defended the cause of her husband and tried, during her regency, to maintain the independence of Portugal.

With the death of D. João IV of Portugal and with Catalonia again integrated in the Spanish Kingdom, in 1652, the King of Spain decided again for the recovery of Portugal.

Elvas, a city bordering Spain and 200 km from Lisbon, was a strategic goal for the Kings of Spain.

The Siege of Elvas

Lines of Elvas and Fort of Santa Luzia
Lines of Elvas and Fort of Santa Luzia - Photo: DGCP SIPA 00534348,1988

The Fort of Santa Luzia played a leading role during the siege of the City and Fort of Elvas by Spanish troops, led by D. Luís de Haro, in yet another episode of the Restoration war.

When the siege began in late October 1658, D. Luísa de Gusmão appointed D. António Luís de Meneses, Count of Cantanhede, Captain General of the army to come to the aid of Praça de Elvas. After gathering 11.000 men, they leave in early January, to help those besieged in the Fort of Elvas, where around 6.000 Portuguese resisted, having already lost around 5.000 lives during the siege, mainly victims of the plague that lodged in the square .

Fort Elvas had a cistern for water supply, but with the siege so long, there had to be rationing. Some refueling and replacement of troops were carried out by tunnels, which escaped Spanish surveillance.

Labyrinth Tunnels Fort of Elvas
Labyrinth Tunnels, Fort of Elvas

Battle of Elvas Lines

The Battle of the Lines of Elvas took place on January 14, 1659 and was very hard, with thousands of casualties on both sides.

D. Luís de Haro, who was observing the battle at the site of the present Fort of Nossa Senhora da Graça, a higher place and which gave him a good perspective on the evolution of the dispute, resolves after a violent 6 hours, to withdraw to Badajoz with his cavalry.

The battle ended only at night. In the fighting, 600 Portuguese were injured and about 200 lost their lives.

The Tunnels at Santa Luzia Fort
The Tunnels at Santa Luzia Fort

Later, in 1661, D. Afonso VI granted the noble title of Marquês de Marialva to D. António Luís de Meneses, for his victory in this Battle of the Lines of Elvas.

World's Greatest Fortification

The whole of the Fort of Elvas and all the fortifications built in Elvas are considered the largest bastioned fortification in the world and classified as UNESCO World Heritage 2012 since.

A Snoring of Elvas go this way ...

An imposing bastion and with labyrinthine tunnels!

See also other features

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