Viriatos, named after the Lusitanian
Lusitanian may refer to:*Lusitanians, an ancient people of western Iberian Peninsula.**Lusitanian language, the language of the ancient Lusitanians.**Lusitanian mythology, the mythology of the ancient Lusitanians....

 leader Viriathus
Viriathus was the most important leader of the Lusitanian people that resisted Roman expansion into the regions of Western Hispania , where the Roman province of Lusitania would be established...

, was the generic name given to Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 volunteers who fought with the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. In the first weeks of the war the Portuguese army tried to form a Viriatos Legion to aid the right-wing insurgents in Spain. The Legion was disbanded before any recruitment drive could take place after pro-Republican incidents in Portugal convinced the government that direct intervention on the side of the Nationalists could cause further unrest. Due to the widespread publicity given to the Viriatos Legion all Portuguese volunteers who subsequently enlisted directly in the Spanish Foreign Legion and Carlist militias were known as Viriatos.

According to Beevor
Antony Beevor
Antony James Beevor, FRSL is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission...

, 12,000 Portuguese participated. Othen claims the number was closer to 8,000. A Portuguese Military Observation Mission with members drawn from all three branches of the Portuguese military was present in Spain from 1937 onwards with the dual objectives of protecting the interests of Portuguese foreign volunteers and collating information on the lessons learned in the civil war. Although the Mission officially had a non-combatant role its airforce contingent took part in combat missions.
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