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L. A. C. Fry



HA 11







Subject Matter:


Peninsular War



When the Historical Association invited me to speak in the course of their exhibition, the subject that was tentatively suggested was "The Lines of Torres Vedras". At the risk, however, of taking on a good deal more than I could manage, I asked if I might attempt to deal with the whole campaign of 1810; and to this the Association were so good as to agree. I hope you will not regret that decision.

At all events, my reason was this. The Lines provided the turning point of the campaign. They were the breakwater which stopped and turned back the tide of the French invasion. But they need to be set in proper perspective. They did not appear out of thin air. The French forces did not arrive before them as if by magic. The fortifications were part - the centre, you like, but no more than a part - of a design sketched out long before. And if the Lines were the turning point of the campaign in Portugal of 1810, that campaign marked the turning point of the whole war against Napoleon's domination of Europe. The retreat that began at Sobral on the night of the 14th November 1810 was to end, though only after much hard fighting at Toulouse on the 11th April 1814.


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