I The Castilian lead over Portuguese artillery
By the time of the conquest of Portugal, the management of artillery had become one of the most centralized administrative branches of the Spanish monarchy. All the weaponry of the realms of Castile and Aragon - including Sardinia, the Balearic islands, and the Spanish African presidios - was placed under the authority of one individual, the captain general of artillery.14 This position was a highly political one as it came with a seat at the king’s Council of War, in charge of governing all military matters.1’ The captain general of artillery was the head of a vast administration which had gained a certain independence from the rest of the military apparatus and included its own account managers, officers, and troops.16 Similar structures were put under direct supervision of the viceroys and governors in the various Habsburg states in Italy and Flanders.17 In other words, in all territories, the monarchy of the Spanish Habsburgs tended to keep artillery under close reach of the executive powers and in tight connection with the central government.
Portugal was no exception. The management of artillery was given to the captain general of artillery, as his authority already extended to all other territories of the Iberian Peninsula.18 After the royal court left from Portugal in 1583, two lieutenancies of artillery were created, one in Lisbon and the other one in the Azores.19 Like in Burgos, Barcelona, Malaga, Pamplona, and Majorca, the lieutenants of artillery were locally in charge of the daily management of artillery and kept a constant communication with the captain general of artillery and the Council of War in Madrid.2" They were always chosen among Castilian captains who had proven their loyalty to the members of the Habsburg government through years, or even decades, of service. In 1583, the lieutenancy in Lisbon was given to Alonso de Cespedes, a seasoned soldier who had worked for Philipp II for eighteen years in Italy and Flanders, rising from the ranks of simple infantry to the high status of sargento mayor, the second in command of a three-thousand-person tercio.2' After his death in 1589, he was replaced by Hernando de Acosta, a man who had already been in the same office in Cartagena for several years.22 In 1595, his successor was
Alonso Alfaro de Narvaez, an infantry captain who had served the king for thirty years in Italy, Spain, and Portugal.23
Thus, Philippe IPs government decided to build its own structure for the management of artillery in Portugal and put it under the control of trustworthy Castilian captains. The will to ensure the authority over this strategic weaponry also appears in the choice of individuals in charge of other key positions, such as the accountancy of artillery. The holder of this office had important financial responsibilities: he had to keep count of all cannons, cannonballs, and gunpowder stocks in Portugal and of every expense for the production of artillery and payment of artillery employees. In 1587, the office was given to a Castilian veteran, Francisco Sanchez de Moya, who had served as infantry soldier in Naples for several years, before becoming the chief gunner of Pamplona.24 One source identified him as criado of the captain general of artillery, which meant that these two men were bound by patronage.25
From the point of view of the Spanish Habsburgs, this reliable Castilian structure for the management of artillery was all the more necessary given that Portugal soon became one of the most strategic military spaces in the empire. The Portuguese squadron of galleons inherited from the Aviz dynasty was administratively integrated into the Armada del Mar Oceano, the main naval force of Castile, while a small group of Spanish galleys was attached to Lisbon to patrol along the coast of Portugal.26 More importantly, the harbour of Lisbon was turned into the main platform for the preparation of huge naval operations like the armada of 1588 against England. The size of this fleet, which gathered 130 ships, 2,431 cannons, and 123,790 cannonballs, required a convergence of war material from all Iberian, Italian, and Flemish territories of King Philipp II.27 Eight years later, in 1596, a comparable fleet was again assembled in Lisbon under the command of Martin de Padilla, to invade Ireland.28 The artillery staff' of Portugal was thus regularly involved in the large-scale deployment of firepower. The mobilization and coordination of such a massive amount of weaponry was hardly compatible with the respect of Portuguese independence from the Castilian government. In this sense, having one structure at the scale of the whole Iberian Peninsula, piloted by one person, the captain general of artillery, was an efficient way to ensure the transversal power necessary to bridge over the political fragmentation of the monarchy. This organization supposed that multiple circulations of material and staff' occurred between the different states of the Spanish Habsburgs and Portugal.