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Portugal (ETW Faction)

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Portugal (ETW Faction)
Portugal FlagETW.png
Name: Portugal
From Game: Empire: Total War
Religion:ETW Symbol of CatholicismCatholicism
Culture: European

Portugal is an unplayable minor faction in Empire: Total War.


Portugal, like Spain, was ultimately born out of the Reconquista. Carved out of the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba by the Kingdom of Asturas in 868 as a vassal county, it would spend the next two and a half centuries under the rule of various kingdoms that ultimately had their power base in the Cantabrian Mountains. Count Afonso of Portugal secured its effective independence in 1139 when he was proclaimed as its first king following the Battle of Ourique, formally breaking away from the suzerainty of the Kingdom of León. In 1179, after several decades of de facto independence, the acknowledgement of the Afonso I as the King of Portugal by Pope Alexander III marked the effective beginning of an independent Portuguese Kingdom in the eyes of Christian Europe. Over the next few decades, successive Portuguese kings would embark on a near-constant campaign southwards to repel the Muslims. With the capture of the Algarve in 1249, the traditional borders of mainland Portugal were established and remain largely unchanged to this day.

Along with Spain, it was also one of the first European nations to engage in exploration and colonisation. Beginning in the 15th century when Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama put to sea in search of a southerly passage to India to bypass the various Middle Eastern trade routes that had since been closed to Christian Europe by the Ottoman Empire. By the 16th century these sailors had helped build a huge colonial and trading empire that encompassed the expansive and resource-rich Brazil as well as large swathes of the African coast and trading exclaves throughout Asia. Portugal is considered to be the first nation to have established a truly global empire which, from the capture of the North African city of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau to the People's Republic of China in 1999, was also the longest lasting of the European colonial empires, spanning almost six centuries from beginning to end.

Starting position


Overall, Portugal plays rather similar to the United Provinces with most early to mid game efforts being directed towards securing trade spots and expanding mostly in the Americas and India. Unlike the United Provinces however, Portugal is surrounded on three sides by the fortified and relatively well-protected Spanish homeland and as such Spain poses a much greater threat, especially in the early game. Unlike its Spanish neighbour, Portugal is (inaccurately) a constitutional monarchy at the start of the game. It is also one of only two European nations that controls territory in the Indian theatre at the start of the Grand Campaign (the other being the United Provinces). In fact, it holds the distinction of being the only minor nation to hold a colony.

Portugal was once indisputably one of the major powers of Europe. However, following the disastrous Iberian Union and the rise of the English and French empires in America and the Dutch in Asia, these days have since come to an end. While still one of the more powerful nations of the period, Portugal at the start of the 18th century, at least in Empire: Total War, is no longer considered one of the 'major nations'. Even so, Portugal remains rather unique as minor factions go, with an initial presence in multiple theatres and plenty of opportunities to thrive if handled correctly.

Portugal starts the game with 2 regions, both of which are relatively lucrative for a nation of its size. Its home region (Portugal, unsurprisingly) is certainly very wealthy for a minor faction. With two towns (a further two to emerge later) and a 5 slot city, it can become quite the powerhouse when fully developed. The region has a single port which can potentially limit the nation's trading and naval capabilities, leaving it very vulnerable should it be blockaded/raided without other sources of income. Similarly, without a second port to build a shipyard, it has no initial way of gaining access to ships of the line. It's second region is the small exclave of Goa in the Indian theatre. With a trading port and a small tea plantation, it provides a decent source of income at the start of the game. As well as these two moderately wealthy provinces, Portugal also starts with two small merchant fleets that are trading sugar and ivory in the Brazil and Ivory Coast trade theatres respectively.

The only ally of Portugal at the beginning of the game is Great Britain, simulating the historic Anglo-Portuguese Alliance - Beginning with the signing of the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373 and still in effect to this day, it is the world's oldest extant alliance. Britain is also one of Portugal's two trading partners, the other being the Mughal Empire. With only a single trading port in its home region and all its trade slots already taken, Portugal's only other option for trade at the start of the game is with Spain with which it can do over land.

Opening moves

While their starting position may initially seem like a great strength, a foothold in both India and the sugar/ivory trade from the outset, it should really be seen as a significant weakness. With units and holdings spanning almost all regions and with very limited army and navy power, Portugal is greatly overextended and vulnerable to attack on all fronts. While the trade fleets bring in a sizeable portion of the Portuguese income, their small size leaves them vulnerable to attack from marauding pirate fleets from turn one. Similarly, the lack of any ability to fortify Goa leaves Portugal extremely vulnerable to war declarations from not just the Maratha Confederacy but also Mysore which, despite its small size, can still seize Goa with ease due to the proximity of their main army to the province.

Both starting trade fleets should be withdrawn to Europe from their respective theatres immediately and merged. Unless playing on higher difficulties, this new combined fleet is seldom attacked by pirates and can be redeployed to once again start generating income. As a much rarer resource, it is advised to send the fleet to either the East Indies to collect spices or one of the two African theatres for the equally valuable Ivory. Brazil should be ignored for the moment since it only provides sugar. This is generally less valuable and can easily be acquired later in great quantities in provinces in the Americas through plantation buildings whereas Spices (unless you plan to expand mostly in India) and Ivory are much harder to obtain, at least in the early game.

As both the Maratha Confederacy and Mysore often declare war for Goa within the first few turns, the province should be considered lost from the start. One option is to give it to France who will accept a straight swap of Goa for the Windward Islands in the Caribbean, at least on normal difficulty. Whilst this province is slightly less valuable, it still produces a trade good (sugar), it's an island which leaves it far less vulnerable to attack, your Indian army is immediately teleported to Portugal and can be used to reinforce your home garrison and, perhaps most importantly, it provides a nice staging point to launch early invasions of the nearby pirate provinces. As trade will likely come to make up the vast amount of state income, especially in the early game, eradication of the Pirates should be a top priority.

With only a single port in their home region and no others that emerge later on, Portugal, as a nation that relies primarily on trade income, can be extremely vulnerable to blockades. Without a strong navy or other forms of revenue generation, a healthy income of several thousand a turn can be crippled instantly by a single enemy sloop being allowed to sail into or blockade Porto. Similarly, without a second port, Portugal has no way to gain access to ships of the line without sacrificing trade income or acquiring more provinces. A relatively easy way to solve this problem quickly is to conquer the relatively defenceless Barbary States, considering Portugal begins the game at war with them. Their provinces are neither very developed nor produce any trade goods, freeing up their port slots for shipyards without costing income. An easier and much less tedious option would be to start an early war with the Knights of St. John and capture the strategically important island fortress of Malta which already begins the game with a shipyard and, as a Catholic province, is less likely to suffer from problems with rebellion and the need for a garrison as the Muslim Barbary provinces of North Africa.

A word of caution though. While acquiring new territories to build your income is always nice and there are certainly several options nearby, remember to always be wary of Spain when expanding overseas. Should you always maintain a decent-sized army in Lisbon, AI Spain will often not risk attacking and leave you alone (at least until you've had the chance to build up a force large enough to repel their attacks). However, the AI almost always declares war the moment it senses weakness on your part. It is advised to leave at least a half-stack of line infantry or better in Portugal at all times if you wish to avoid Spanish aggression. Another think to take into consideration is that, likely because it is also part of their victory conditions, Spain seems to greatly dislike you taking Morocco and will often declare war the next turn or very soon thereafter, even if you have a sizeable force on their borders. As such, this can often be a good way to 'bait' them into declaring war on you. As the aggressor, Spain's allies will more than likely refuse the call to arms and leave fewer enemies (such as France) for you to deal with.

Portugal (along with Spain, New Spain and Mexico) has access to the powerful galleon unit, a trade ship with stats comparable to that of a Fourth Rate. However, unlike Fourth Rates, their upkeep is considerably lower and they are functionally identical to Indiamen when sat on a trade node. This can give the Portuguese a unique early game trade advantage over other factions, especially before the pirates have been eradicated, as they are in a much better position to safely secure trade spots quickly. Amazingly, unlike Fourth Rates and other ships of equivalent stats, galleons can be built over 3 turns straight from the base level trading port and can thus feasibly be used as a substitute for proper warships in the early game before you have acquired your first shipyard. Trade fleets should not be comprised only of galleons however as their significantly higher upkeep make them much less efficient than Indiamen in generating wealth.

Portugal starts with a weak army and must first upgrade the army encampment in Lisbon into a barracks before being able to recruit better units such as line infantry. Similarly, investing in upgrading the government building slot in Lisbon will open up more recruitment slots to enable faster creation of armies. While Portugal is surrounded entirely by Spain, It does not begin the game at war with them and ofttimes will even accept trade. With careful diplomacy and patience (through the ticking trade relations boost), it is even possible to secure an alliance with them later on should you seek to secure the metropole without having to take on Spain.

Basics at start

  • Protectorates – None
  • AlliesGreat Britain
  • Trade PartnersGreat Britain, Mughal Empire
  • EnemiesBarbary States, Pirates
  • Religion – Catholic
  • Government – Constitutional Monarchy
  • Ruler – Pedro II (King)
  • Population – 2,011,373
  • Prosperity – Rich
  • Prestige – Respected
  • Treasury – 7500
  • Technology - None
  • Missionaries – None
  • Rakes – Hugo Spinoza (Portugal), Adriano Chissano (Goa)
  • Gentlemen – Vicente Lobato (Portugal)

Europe Theatre

Lisbon, Portugal
  • Starting Buildings – Army Encampment, Cannon Foundry, Government Council, Conservatorium, Admiralty
  • Infrastructure - Basic Roads
  • Population – 1,101,544
  • Wealth – 3475
  • Religion – Catholicism 100.0%
  • Starting Towns/PortsAlentejo Farmland (Peasant Farms), Covilhá (Craft Workshops, Weaver), Douro Vineyards (No Building), Évora (School), Porto (Trading Port)
  • Later Villages/PortsFaro (Village), Leiria (Village)

India Theatre

Goa, Goa
  • Starting Buildings – Magistrate
  • Infrastructure - Basic Roads
  • Population – 591,309
  • Wealth – 1007
  • Religion – Catholicism 50.0%, Hinduism 40.0%, Buddhism 10.0%
  • Starting Towns/PortsBarcelor (Trading Port), Yellapur Plantations (Small Tea Plantation)
  • Later Villages/Ports – None

AI Portugal

The in-game AI tends to have Spain annex Portugal very early in the game, leaving Goa to be taken by the Maratha Confederacy or Mysore. However, with a relatively powerful home region and a tendency to strengthen their presence in the various trade theatres, Portugal can become quite powerful if left alone. They may soon develop into a powerful minor nation, and are likely to cause trouble for Spain sooner or later.

Since it is often attacked by Spain relatively quickly, a Britain player must often make the difficult choice of either abandoning its ally, or declaring an early war on the powerful Spanish Empire.


Portugal can train the standard European infantry, cavalry and artillary unit roster.

Special Units

Portugal shares most of Spain's unique units, such as Frontiersmen, Irish Brigades, Cazadores and Galleons. Portugal also has a special unit that can only be trained by them from the start of the game, Miquelets. This makes Portugal, along with Scotland (who can recruit Clansmen) and Norway (who can recruit Mountain Troops), one of the only minor factions with unique special units.


  • Portugal is the only minor unplayable faction in the game to start with both a five-slot city and a colony, Venice & the Thirteen Colonies also begin with a five-slot city however they are confined to their home theatres.
    Flag of Portugal during the first half of the 18th century
  • It is also the only European nation to start with territory on the Indian subcontinent but not the only European nation in the Indian theatre however as the United Provinces holds Ceylon.
  • Despite being unplayable, Portugal has uniquely-voiced units. This would seem to imply that, at some point during the game's development, Portugal was going to be a playable faction.
  • Portugal in Empire: Total War is a constitutional monarchy when historically the nation was an absolute monarchy up until 1820.
  • The flag used in the game was historically used by Portugal between 1816-1830. The flag used during the 1700s did not feature an armillary sphere and the coat of arms was less 'rounded'.
  • Historically, the country was briefly known as the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves between 1815-1825.

Empire: Total War | Factions | Playable Factions:
Austria | France | Great Britain | Marathas | Ottoman Empire | Poland-Lithuania | Prussia | Russia | Spain | Sweden | United Provinces | United States* *Must complete Road to Independence to unlock United States
Non-playable Factions:
Barbary States | Bavaria | Cherokee Nations | Courland | Crimean Khanate | Dagestan | Denmark | Genoa | Georgia | Hannover | Huron Confederacy | Inuit Nations | Iroquois Confederacy | Italian States | Knights of St. John | Morocco | Mughal Empire | Mysore | Plains Nations | Portugal | Pueblo Nations | Persia | Pirates | Savoy | Venice | Westphalia | Wurttemberg
Protectorate Factions:
Barbary States | Courland | Crimean Khanate | Louisiana | New Spain | Saxony | Thirteen Colonies
Emergent Factions:
Afghanistan | Gran Colombia | Greece | Hessen | Hungary | Ireland | Mamelukes | Mexico | Naples & Sicily | Norway | Punjab | Quebec | Scotland | United States
Cancelled Factions:
Khanate of Khiva | Tuscany | Mecklenburg | Schleswig-Holstein | Swiss Confederation
Tutorial Factions:
Virginia Colonists | Powahatan Confederacy
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