What do the French think of Portugal?
Miniseries in 3 parts, episodes 1–3
1. After the battle
In 1810, Portugal was threatened by Napoleon's French troops under General Masséna. It was only when the British Army, under the command of General Wellington, sided with the Portuguese that the joint troops could deal a hard blow to the French and push them back for the time being. But the victory goes hand in hand with heavy losses. Sergent Francisco Xavier's regiment and soldier Zé Maria move into the English camp. There, Francisco Xavier has to tell the young British girl Maureen the terrible certainty of her husband's death and is touched by the beauty of the defenseless woman. In the evacuated Coimbra, the seriously injured Portuguese lieutenant Pedro de Alencar found refuge from the French just in time. In the deserted city, the French general Masséna and his entourage took up residence with the upper-class Scheitzer family, hardly disturbed by the plight of the common people from the calm of their salon life. The English major Jonathan Foster seems to be the only one not worried about the outcome of the uncertain escape. Does he have any idea of the military secret that General Wellington is keeping? Should the fabulous defensive structures at Torres Vedras actually exist and can they stop the French? (Text: arte)
2. Scorched earth
After the partial victory against the French, the troops are exhausted to death. The British and Portuguese have to regroup before they can strike a decisive backlash. In order not to lose the lead over the French, who are decried as bloodthirsty Jacobins, they continue the forced march to Torres Vedras at dawn, where they intend to hide themselves before Napoleon's troops arrive. An entire area is exposed to the enemy for looting and so the civilians are forced to leave their homes. A huge stream of refugees is in motion long before the final and decisive battle for Portugal begins. Having regained his strength through the care of Doña Filipa in Coimbra, Lieutenant Pedro de Alencar set off for Torres Vedras after the French withdrew. He hopes to slip through the meshes of the Napoleonic troops undetected. After a short distance, he meets the ex-Jacobin and Portuguese Bordalo, who, accompanied by three Poles, also wants to fight the conquerors. Although Pedro finds Bordalo inscrutable, he joins them. But soon afterwards the group falls into the hands of a savage preacher and his entourage. The scorched earth strategy is beginning to have an effect: the French, who only ever pass through abandoned, looted villages, are tormented by unbridled hunger. Every step drains the strength of General Masséna's men. When the French commandos unexpectedly encounter Wellington's troops, the outcome of the battle is uncertain. (Text: arte)
3. Torres Vedras
After a week-long forced march, the Anglo-Portuguese army arrived exhausted in the area of Torres Vedras. The closer they get to Wellington's defensive lines, the more impressive and impenetrable the mighty buildings and forts appear to the warriors. But the tired soldiers don't have much time to rest: the French are only a day's stage away. By the time they arrive, Wellington's troops must be prepared for battle with the Napoleonic army. Lieutenant Pedro de Alencar wakes up weakened in a monastery after the bloody confrontation with the barbarian Poles and is nursed back to health by the young Briton Clarissa. With newly gained strength, Pedro also joins Francisco Xavier's men before the decisive battle to support his compatriots in the fight against the French attackers. Sergent Francisco Xavier's hopes for a new life with beautiful Maureen after the war are suddenly dashed. No longer hindered by any consideration for others, he goes into battle. When General Masséna arrives with his armed forces in Torres Vedras, he realizes that, for more than six years of preparation for the invasion of Portugal, the construction of Wellington's triple line of fortifications had remained completely hidden from him. Masséna's troops face a seemingly insurmountable defensive wall shielding the capital, Lisbon, and have to rethink their tactics. The British and Portuguese, on the other hand, expect an ambush at any time. What will the French do? (Text: arte)
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