Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Artillery - Portugal (5), Marine Museum, Lisbon

Artillery  in Portugal (Part 5), 

Marine Museum, Lisbon

Data current to 19 Feb 2020.

The aim of this website is to locate, identify and document every historical piece of artillery preserved in Portugal.  Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these guns to provide and update the data found on these web pages.  Photos are by the author unless otherwise credited.  Any errors found here are by the author, and any additions, corrections or amendments to this list of Guns and Artillery in Portugal would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at

Artilharia em Portugal (Parte 5)
Museu Marinho, Lisboa

O objetivo deste site é localizar, identificar e documentar cada peça histórica de artilharia preservada em Portugal. Muitos
colaboradores ajudaram na busca por essas armas para fornecer e atualizar os dados encontrados nessas páginas da web. As fotos são do autor, salvo indicação em contrário. Qualquer erro encontrado aqui é do autor e quaisquer acréscimos, correções ou alterações a esta lista de armas e artilharia em Portugal serão bem-vindos e podem ser enviados por e-mail ao autor em

Maritime Museum Artifacts, Lisbon, Portugal

The Maritime Museum is located on the Western end of the Monastery of Jerónimos, which is located North of the Tower of Belém.  The monastery celebrates the return of Vasco da Gama and the riches he brought back from the East.  On its western (left) side is a ships anchor and a wide concrete pavilion.  The Maritime Museum is in two sections with the Galliot Pavilion, another exhibition wing of the Lisbon Maritime Museum on the opposite side of the Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium.  On the waterfront South of the Museum is the Discoveries Monument which was erected in 1960 to commemorate the death 500 years before of Henry the Navigator.

Cast Iron Mortar, No. 118, 9060, No. 1 of 2 at the museum entrance.

Cast Iron Mortar, No. 117, 9070, No. 2 of 2 at the museum entrance.

Early Portuguese Navy

The first known battle of the Portuguese Navy was in 1180, during the reign of Portugal's first king, Afonso I of Portugal.  The battle occurred when a Portuguese fleet commanded by the knight Fuas Roupinho defeated a Muslim fleet near Cape Espichel.  He also made two incursions at Ceuta, in 1181 and 1182, and died during the last of these attempts to conquer Ceuta.

During the 13th century, in the Portuguese Reconquista, the Portuguese Navy helped in the conquest of several littoral moorish towns, like Alcácer do Sal, Silves and Faro. I t was also used in the battles against Castile through incursions in Galicia and Andalucia, and also in joint actions with other Christian fleets against the Muslims.

In 1317 King Denis of Portugal decided to give, for the first time, a permanent organization to the Royal Navy, contracting Manuel Pessanha of Genoa to be the first Admiral of the Kingdom. In 1321 the navy successfully attacked Muslim ports in North Africa.

Maritime insurance began in 1323 in Portugal, and between 1336 and 1341 the first attempts at maritime expansion are made, with the expedition to Canary Islands, sponsored by King Afonso IV.

At the end of the 14th century, more Portuguese discoveries were made, with the Navy playing a main role in the exploration of the oceans and the defense of the Portuguese Empire. Portugal became the first oceanic navy power.

Portuguese Naval Artillery

Naval artillery was the single greatest advantage the Portuguese held over their rivals in the Indian Ocean – indeed over most other navies – and the Portuguese crown spared no expense in procuring and producing the best naval guns European technology permitted.

King John II of Portugal is often credited for pioneering, while still a prince in 1474, the introduction of a reinforced deck on the old Henry-era caravel to allow the mounting of heavy guns.  In 1489, he introduced the first standardized teams of trained naval gunners (bombardeiros) on every ship, and development of naval tactics that maximized broadside cannonades rather than the rush-and-grapple of Medieval galleys.

The Portuguese crown appropriated the best cannon technology available in Europe, particularly the new, more durable and far more accurate bronze cannon developed in Central Europe, replacing the older, less accurate cast-iron cannon. By 1500, Portugal was importing vast volumes of copper and cannon from northern Europe, and had established itself as the leading producer of advanced naval artillery in its own right. Being a crown industry, cost considerations did not curb the pursuit of the best quality, best innovations and best training.  The crown paid wage premiums and bonuses to lure the best European artisans and gunners (mostly German) to advance the industry in Portugal. Every cutting-edge innovation introduced elsewhere was immediately appropriated into Portuguese naval artillery – that includes bronze cannon (Flemish/German), breech-loading swivel-guns (prob. German origin), truck carriages (possibly English), and the idea (originally French, c. 1501) of cutting square gunports (portinhola) in the hull to allow heavy cannon to be mounted below deck.

In this respect, the Portuguese spearheaded the evolution of modern naval warfare, moving away from the Medieval warship, a carrier of armed men, aiming for the grapple, towards the modern idea of a floating artillery piece dedicated to resolving battles by gunnery alone.

According to Gaspar Correia, the typical fighting caravel of Gama's 4th Armada (1502) carried 30 men, four heavy guns below, six falconets (falconete) above (two fixed astern) and ten swivel-guns (canhão de berço) on the quarter-deck and bow.

An armed carrack, by contrast, had six heavy guns below, eight falconets above and several swivel-guns, and two fixed forward-firing guns before the mast.  Although an armed carrack carried more firepower than a caravel, it was much less swift and less manoeuvrable, especially when loaded with cargo. A carrack's guns were primarily defensive, or for shore bombardments, whenever their heavier firepower was necessary. But by and large, fighting at sea was usually left to the armed carvels.

The development of the heavy galleon removed even the necessity of bringing carrack firepower to bear in most circumstances. One of them became famous in the conquest of Tunis and could carry 366 bronze cannons, for this reason, it became known as Botafogo, meaning literally fire maker, torcher or spitfire in popular Portuguese

Military personnel aboard a nau varied with the mission. Except for some specialists and passengers, most of the crew was armed before encounters and expected to fight. But every nau also had, at the very least, a small specialized artillery crew of around ten bombardeiros (gunners), under the command of a condestável (constable). As naval artillery was the single most important advantage the Portuguese had over rival powers in the Indian Ocean, gunners were highly trained and enjoyed a bit of an elite status on the ship. (Indeed, many gunners on Portuguese India ships were highly skilled foreigners, principally Germans, lured into Portuguese service with premium wages and bonuses offered by crown agents.  Ships that expected more military encounters might also carry homens d'armas (men-at-arms), espingardeiros (arquebusiers/musketeers) and besteiros (crossbowmen). But, except for the gunners, soldiers aboard ship were not regarded as an integral part of the naval crew, but rather just as passengers.  Internet:

 (manchanegra Photos)

Bronze 9-cm Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun cast in Portugal in the 17th century, recovered from the Sea of Sines (Portugal)  in 1972.

Bronze Falcon, cast in the 16th century, firing a shot of 2 Arrateis (approximately 1 kilogram).

Falconet breech-loading 110-mm bronze smoothbore gun, cast in Portugal during the reign of D. Sebastiao, ca 17th century. This gun fired iron or lead shot to a range of nearly 2 km.  It bears the arms of Porftugal, an armilary sphere and the cypher of D. Sebastiao.  It is located close to the main entrance of the Maritime Museum.

Bronze Smoothbore Muzzleloading Meia Colubrina Bastarda, 17th century Gun with dolphin handles, probably Portuguese (from the Philippine dynasty).  The Bastarda barrel length was less that 30 calibres and it fired a 6 kg (12 lb) iron shot.  This cannon was recovered off the beach at Porto das Barcas, Lourinha in 1968, fron the Galleon S. Nicolau which was wrecked in 1642.  It is located close to the entrance to the Maritime Museum.

Bronze 52-mm Breechloading Manueline Gun, cast in Portugal probably during the reign of D. Joao III between 1521 and 1557.  The gun is decorated with the Arms of Portugal and the Armillary Sphere.  It was recovered 1985, from the Santiago, which was wrecked on the shallows of Judia in the Straits of Mozambique in 1585.

Falcon (16th Century) octogonal shaped bronze gun cast in France in the reign of King D. Francisco I.  This gun fires an iron shot with a 1.4 kg (3 lb) weight.  It is one of the first guns on display inside the main entrance to the Maritime Museum.

Bronze 12-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun of Swedish origin (17th century).  This gun's bore has been recalibrated with iron.  It was most likely part of the ordnance of the Fort of Bugio on the Tagus River.

Bronze Smoothbore Muzzleloading Lantaca Gun (18th century), with dolphin carrying handles, originally from the Far East.  These guns were usually fitted on the gunwales of ships and were cast in Portugal as well as other European countries,  Thus gun is also located near the entrance to the Maritime Museum.

Bronze Smoothbore Muzzleloading Bastard demi-culverin Gun with dolphin carrying handles, cast in Portugal in the 17th century, probably during the reign of Filipe II.  The gun bears the arms of Portugal and the collar of the Order of Tosao de Oiro.  It was probably taken from the bastions of the Fortress of Diu, India.  On display in the Maritime Museum.

Bronze Smoothbore Muzzleloading Lantica Naval Gun, (18th/19th century), originally from the Far East.  These guns were usually fitted on the gunwales of ships and were cast in Portugal and other European countries.  This gun is on display in the Maritime Museum.

Bronze 77-mm Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun cast in Holland in 1737 by Ciprianus Cranz for Portugal in the reign of D. Joao V.  The gun has highly ornamented and a large royal coat of arms cypher.  This gun is on display inside the Maritime Museum.

Portuguese 8-cm bronze rifled gun cast by the Army Ordnance in 1862.  At the end of the 19th century this gun was used in the Portuguese campaigns in Africa in support of the Naval forces fighting on land.  This gun is on display in the Maritime Museum.

5-1/2 lb Bronze Field Mortar cast in the Arsenal of the Portuguese Army in the 18th century.

17-cm Bronze Field Mortar cast in Barcelona, Spain in 1795.

Bronze 24-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun with dolphin carrying handles mounted on a 24-pounder iron  carriage. This gun was cast in Holland in 1737.  It bears the Coat of Arms of King Joao V.  This gun with its mounting originally belonged to the Tower of Bugio, located at the mouth of the Tagus River.

Bronze 8-cm rifled field gun mounted on a Naval carriage.  This gun was cast by Portuguese Army Ordnance in 1868.  At the end of the 19th century in was used in the Portuguese African campaigns in support of Naval forces fighting on land.

11.4-mm Maxim-Nordenfeldt Model 1889 machine-gun, (Serial No. 1347).

6.5-mm Hotchkiss Model 1895 machine-gun (Serial No. 15141), No. 198, 1899, used by the Portuguese Navy.

37-mm five-barrel Hotchkiss revolving gun, Model 1890.


Cast Iron Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun mounted on a wood Naval gun carriage, No. 542 on the cascabel.  It appears to be from the late 19th century, No. 1 standing right side of the exit from the Maritime Museum.

Cast Iron Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, gun manufacturers symbol over P on the barrel, mounted on a wood Naval gun carriage.  It appears to be from the late 19th century, No. 2 standing left side of the exit from the Maritime Museum.

Armstrong-Woolwich 7-inch Muzzle-loading Naval Pivot Gun with three rifling grooves, model display.

Naval aircraft on display in the museum.

Fairey IIID floatplane inside the museum.  This aircraft, named "Santa Vruz" took part in the first air-crossing of the South Atlantic in June 1922.

Fairey IIID floatplane bronze replica on display on the Tagus riverfront near the museum.

Historic seaplane inside the museum.

Grumman G44 Widgeon inside the museum.