Peninsular War
Overview
 
The Peninsular War was a war between France
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 and the allied powers of Spain
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, and Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

 for control of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its ally, Spain. The war lasted until the Sixth Coalition
War of the Sixth Coalition
In the War of the Sixth Coalition , a coalition of Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and a number of German States finally defeated France and drove Napoleon Bonaparte into exile on Elba. After Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia, the continental powers...

 defeated Napoleon in 1814.

The conflict is regarded by some historians as one of the first national wars
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

 and is also significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 (guerrilla means "little war" in Spanish).
Encyclopedia
The Peninsular War was a war between France
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 and the allied powers of Spain
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, and Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

 for control of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its ally, Spain. The war lasted until the Sixth Coalition
War of the Sixth Coalition
In the War of the Sixth Coalition , a coalition of Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and a number of German States finally defeated France and drove Napoleon Bonaparte into exile on Elba. After Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia, the continental powers...

 defeated Napoleon in 1814.

The conflict is regarded by some historians as one of the first national wars
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

 and is also significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 (guerrilla means "little war" in Spanish). The French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrelling provincial juntas
Junta (Peninsular War)
In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders...

. In 1810, a reconstituted national government
Cádiz Cortes
The Cádiz Cortes were sessions of the national legislative body which met in the safe haven of Cádiz during the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars...

 fortified itself in Cádiz
Siege of Cádiz
The Siege of Cádiz was a siege of the large Spanish naval base of Cádiz by a French army from February 5, 1810 to August 24, 1812 during the Peninsular War. Following the occupation of Madrid on March 23, 1808, Cádiz became the Spanish seat of power, and was targeted by 60,000 French troops under...

 and proved unable to recruit, train, or equip effective armies due to being under siege. British
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and Portuguese
Portuguese Army
The Portuguese Army is the ground branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in co-operation with other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the defence of Portugal...

 forces secured Portugal, using it as a secure position from which to launch campaigns against the French army while Spanish guerrilleros bled the occupiers. Combined, the regular and irregular
Irregular warfare
Irregular warfare is warfare in which one or more combatants are irregular military rather than regular forces. Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare, and so is asymmetric warfare....

 allied forces prevented Napoleon's marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces. To the Spanish the war is known as the Guerra de la Independencia Española, or Spanish War of Independence, but this name is not often used in English, as Spain had been independent for a long time before the French invasion.

The many years of fighting in Spain gradually wore down France's famous Grande Armée. While the French armies were often victorious in battle, their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units frequently cut off, harassed, or overwhelmed by partisans. The Spanish army, though beaten and driven to the peripheries, could not be stamped out and continued to hound the French relentlessly.

The constant threatening presence of a British force under Arthur Wellesley
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

, which became the most experienced and steady force in the British army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army. Allied to the British, the demoralized Portuguese army
Portuguese Army
The Portuguese Army is the ground branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in co-operation with other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the defence of Portugal...

 underwent extensive reorganizing, retraining and refitting under the command of British General William Carr Beresford, appointed commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese Royal family, and fought as part of a combined Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellington.

In 1812, as Napoleon embarked upon an invasion of Russia
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

 which ended in disaster, a combined allied army under Arthur Wellesley
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 pushed into Spain and took Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

. Marshal Soult led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees and into France over the winter of 1813-14.

War and revolution against Napoleon's occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812
Spanish Constitution of 1812
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was promulgated 19 March 1812 by the Cádiz Cortes, the national legislative assembly of Spain, while in refuge from the Peninsular War...

, later a cornerstone of European liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

. The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and Spain and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability and economic stagnation. Devastating civil wars between liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and absolutist
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 factions, led by officers trained in the Peninsular War, persisted in Iberia until 1850. The cumulative crises and disruptions of invasion, revolution and restoration led to the independence of many of Spain's American colonies
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 and the independence of Brazil from Portugal.

Origins of the Peninsular War

In 1806, while in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, Napoleon declared the Continental Blockade
Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a large-scale embargo against British trade, which began on November 21, 1806...

, forbidding British imports into continental Europe. Of the two remaining neutral countries
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, the latter tried in vain to avoid Napoleon's ultimatum (since 1373, it had had a treaty of alliance
Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373
The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373 was signed between King Edward III of England and King Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor of Portugal. It established a treaty of "perpetual friendships, unions [and] alliances" between the two seafaring nations...

 with the English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 which became an alliance with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

). After the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, which cemented French dominance over Central and Eastern Europe, Napoleon decided to capture the Iberian
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 ports. The decision went against Napoleon's own advice earlier in his career, once remarking that a conquest of Spain would be "too hard a nut to crack"

On 27 October 1807, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

's Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy
Manuel de Godoy
Don Manuel Francisco Domingo de Godoy y Álvarez de Faria, de los Ríos y Sánchez-Zarzosa, also Manuel de Godoy y Álvarez de Faria de los Ríos Sánchez Zarzosa , was Prime Minister of Spain from 1792 to 1797 and from 1801 to 1808...

 and France signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau
Treaty of Fontainebleau (1807)
The Treaty of Fontainebleau was signed on 27 October 1807 in Fontainebleau between Charles IV of Spain and Napoleon I of France. The accord divided Portugal and all Portuguese dominions between the signatories. Individuals such as M. Izquierdo, councilor of Charles IV, and Don Manuel de Godoy were...

, splitting Portugal into three kingdoms: the new Kingdom of Northern Lusitania
Kingdom of Northern Lusitania
The Kingdom of Northern Lusitania was a kingdom proposed by Napoleon in 1807 for the Monarch of Etruria, Charles II of Parma, located in the North of Portugal....

, the Algarve (expanded to include Alentejo), and a rump Kingdom of Portugal. In November 1807, after the refusal of Prince Regent John
John VI of Portugal
John VI John VI John VI (full name: João Maria José Francisco Xavier de Paula Luís António Domingos Rafael; (13 May 1767 – 10 March 1826) was King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (later changed to just King of Portugal and the Algarves, after Brazil was recognized...

 of Portugal to join the Continental System
Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a large-scale embargo against British trade, which began on November 21, 1806...

, Napoleon sent an army into Spain under General Jean-Andoche Junot
Jean-Andoche Junot
Jean-Andoche Junot, 1st Duke of Abrantès was a French general during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.-Early life:...

 with the task of invading Portugal. At the same time, General Dupont was sent in the direction of Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

 and Marshal Soult towards Corunna
A Coruña
A Coruña or La Coruña is a city and municipality of Galicia, Spain. It is the second-largest city in the autonomous community and seventeenth overall in the country...

.
Godoy initially requested Portugal's alliance against the incoming French armies, but later secretly agreed with France that, in return for Spain's cooperation, it would receive Portugal's territories. Spain's main ambition was the seizure of the Portuguese fleet
Naval fleet
A fleet, or naval fleet, is a large formation of warships, and the largest formation in any navy. A fleet at sea is the direct equivalent of an army on land....

, and it sent two divisions to help French troops occupy Portugal.

The Portuguese army was positioned to defend the ports and the coast from a French attack, and on 1 December Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 was captured with no military opposition. The escape
Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil
The Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil was an episode in the history of Portugal and the history of Brazil in which the Portuguese royal family and its court escaped from Lisbon on November 29, 1807 to Brazil, just days before Napoleonic forces captured the city on December 1...

 on 29 November of Maria I of Portugal
Maria I of Portugal
Maria I was Queen regnant of Portugal and the Algarves from 1777 until her death. Known as Maria the Pious , or Maria the Mad , she was the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal...

 and Prince Regent John, together with the administration and the Court (around 10,000 people and 9,000 sailors aboard 23 Portuguese war ships and 31 merchant ships) was a major setback for Napoleon and enabled the Prince Regent to continue to rule over his overseas possessions, including Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. The Portuguese Royal Family established itself at Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 in Brazil for the next 13 years.

Iberian Insurrections, May - June 1808

Under the pretext of reinforcing the Franco-Spanish army occupying Portugal, French Imperial troops began filing into Spain; the populace greeted them with enthusiasm in spite of growing diplomatic unease. In February 1808 Napoleon ordered the French commanders to seize key Spanish fortresses, and in doing so he had officially turned on his ally. A French column, disguised as a convoy of wounded, took Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 on 29 February by persuading the authorities to open the city's gates. Many commanders were not particularly concerned about the fate of the ruling regime, nor were they in any position to fight. (When Brigadier Alvarez
Mariano Alvarez de Castro
Brigadier Mariano Álvarez de Castro was a Spanish military officer, and the military governor of Gerona during the siege by the French during the War of Spanish Independence.-Biography:...

 garrisoned the Barcelona citadel against the French, his own superiors ordered him to stand down.)
The Spanish Royal Army
Spanish Army
The Spanish Army is the terrestrial army of the Spanish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is one of the oldest active armies - dating back to the 15th century.-Introduction:...

 of 100,000 men found itself paralysed: under-equipped, frequently leaderless, confused by the turmoil in Madrid and scattered from Portugal to the Balearic Islands
Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

. Fifteen thousand of its finest troops, (General La Romana's
Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd marqués de La Romana
Don Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd Marquis of la Romana was a Spanish general of the Peninsular War.-Biography:...

 Division of the North
Division of the North
The Division of the North was a 19th century Spanish division.The division was composed of 15,000 men, and commanded by Pedro Caro y Sureda. Spain being an ally of France, the unit spent 1807 and 1808 performing garrison duties in Hamburg under Marshal Bernadotte...

) had been lent to Napoleon in 1807 and remained stationed in Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 under French command. Only the peripheries contained armies of any strength: Galicia, with Joaquin Blake's
Joaquín Blake y Joyes
Joaquín Blake y Joyes was a Spanish military officer who served with distinction in the French Revolutionary and Peninsular wars.-Early military career:...

 troops, and Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

, under Castaños
Francisco Javier Castaños, 1st Duke of Bailén
Francisco Javier Castaños Aragorri Urioste y Olavide, Count of Castaños y Aragones, 1st Duke of Baylen , was a Spanish general.Castaños was born at Madrid.He is remembered for his victory over the French under Dupont, whom he...

. The French were consequently able to seize much of northeastern Spain by coups de main
Coup de main
A coup de main is a swift attack that relies on speed and surprise to accomplish its objectives in a single blow. The United States Department of Defense defines it as:The literal translation from French means a stroke or blow of the hand...

, and any hope of turning back the invasion was stillborn.

In 1807, Spain was experiencing a corruption within its political powers. Charles IV was considered to be a incompetent to run his country, and with the backing of Godoy, his son Ferdinand VII was being willed into taking over. Napoleon, now Emperor of the French, decided to take advantage of the dissensions in the Spanish court. He was sympathetic to their situation, and lent a listening ear to Ferdinand, and Charles inviting them to Paris. Ferdinand responded favorably to Napoleons advice, one example being to ask for the hand of a Bonaparte princess. Napoleon played the part of an ally, and coaxed the two Spaniards into thinking he was coming from a friendly stance. With the absence of both Charles and Ferdinand, Napoleon took this opportunity to invade Spain.

To secure his gains Napoleon pursued a series of intrigues against the Spanish royal family. A coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 instigated by the Spanish aristocrats forced Charles IV
Charles IV of Spain
Charles IV was King of Spain from 14 December 1788 until his abdication on 19 March 1808.-Early life:...

 from his throne and replaced him with his son Ferdinand. Napoleon removed the royals to Bayonne
Bayonne
Bayonne is a city and commune in south-western France at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, of which it is a sub-prefecture...

 and forced them both to abdicate on 5 May, handing the throne to his brother Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily , and later King of Spain...

. A puppet Spanish council approved the new king, but the usurpation provoked a popular uprising that eventually spread throughout the country. The Spanish revolt was the first example of the nationalism of another country being turned against Napoleon, although it was led largely by priests and nobles who stood for the conservative values of the old regime. On 2 May, the citizens of Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 rose up in rebellion
Dos de Mayo Uprising
On the second of May , 1808, the people of Madrid rebelled against the occupation of the city by French troops, provoking a brutal repression by the French Imperial forces and triggering the Peninsular War.-Background:...

 against the French occupation, killing some 150 French soldiers, before the uprising was put down by Murat's
Joachim Murat
Joachim-Napoléon Murat , Marshal of France and Grand Admiral or Admiral of France, 1st Prince Murat, was Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808 and then King of Naples from 1808 to 1815...

 elite guard
Imperial Guard
The Imperial Guard was originally a small group of elite soldiers of the French Army under the direct command of Napoleon I, but grew considerably over time. It acted as his bodyguard and tactical reserve, and he was careful of its use in battle...

 and mameluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

 cavalry, which crashed into the city, trampling the rioters.
The next day, immortalized by Goya
Francisco Goya
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era...

 in his painting, The Third of May 1808
The Third of May 1808
The Third of May 1808 is a painting completed in 1814 by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. In the work, Goya sought to commemorate Spanish resistance to Napoleon's armies during the occupation of 1808...

, the French army shot hundreds of Madrid citizens in retaliation. Similar reprisals were repeated in other cities and continued for days, with no military effect but to strengthen the resistance; soon afterward bloody, spontaneous fighting known as guerrilla ("little war") erupted in much of Spain; the term "guerrilla" has been used ever since to describe such combat.

The tiny province of Asturias
Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

 rose up in arms, cast out its French governor on 25 May and "declared war on Napoleon at the height of his greatness." Within weeks, all the Spanish provinces had followed its example. Mobs butchered 338 French citizens in Valencia. Every French ship of the line
Ship of the line
A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside guns to bear...

 anchored at Cádiz was bombarded and captured. Napoleon had unwittingly provoked a total war
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

 against the Spaniards, a mistake from which the French Empire would never truly recover.
The deteriorating strategic situation forced France to increase its military commitments – in February, Napoleon had boasted that 12,000 men could conquer Spain; by 1 June, over 65,000 troops were rushing into the country in an effort to control the crisis. The main French army of 80,000 men held only a narrow strip of central Spain stretching from Pamplona
Pamplona
Pamplona is the historial capital city of Navarre, in Spain, and of the former kingdom of Navarre.The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 6 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions...

 and San Sebastián
San Sebastián
Donostia-San Sebastián is a city and municipality located in the north of Spain, in the coast of the Bay of Biscay and 20 km away from the French border. The city is the capital of Gipuzkoa, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. The municipality’s population is 186,122 , and its...

 in the north through to Madrid and Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

 to the south. The French in Madrid took shelter behind an additional 30,000 troops under Moncey
Bon Adrien Jeannot de Moncey
Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey , 1st Duke of Conegliano, 1st Baron of Conegliano, Peer of France , Marshal of France, was a prominent soldier in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars....

. Junot
Jean-Andoche Junot
Jean-Andoche Junot, 1st Duke of Abrantès was a French general during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.-Early life:...

 stood stranded in Portugal, cut off by 300 mi (482.8 km) of hostile territory.

Summer Campaign of 1808

From Murat's optimistic reports, Napoleon believed the uprisings would die down and the country settle into order if his brother held on to the throne in Madrid while French flying column
Flying column
A flying column is a small, independent, military land unit capable of rapid mobility and usually composed of all arms. It is often an ad hoc unit, formed during the course of operations....

s seized and pacified Spain's major cities. To this end, Gen. Dupont led 24,430 men south toward Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 and Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

; Marshal Bessières
Jean-Baptiste Bessières
Jean-Baptiste Bessières, 1st Duc d' Istria was a Marshal of France of the Napoleonic Era. His younger brother, Bertrand, followed in his footsteps and eventually became a Divisional General...

 moved into Aragón
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

 and Old Castile
Old Castile
Old Castile is a historic region of Spain, which included territory that later corresponded to the provinces of Santander , Burgos, Logroño , Soria, Segovia, Ávila, Valladolid, Palencia....

 with 25,000 men, aiming to capture Santander
Santander, Cantabria
The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. Located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao, the city has a population of 183,446 .-History:...

 with one hand and Saragossa
Zaragoza
Zaragoza , also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the Zaragoza Province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain...

 with the other; Gen. Moncey marched toward Valencia with 29,350 men; and Gen. Duhesme
Guillaume Philibert Duhesme
Guillaume Philibert, 1st Count Duhesme was a French general during the Napoleonic Wars.-Revolution:...

 marshalled 12,710 troops in Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 and put Gerona
Siege of Gerona (1809)
The Siege of Gerona of May 6, 1809, sometimes called the Third Siege of Gerona or Girona , involved the French Grande Armée's seven-month struggle to conquer the Spanish garrison at Girona...

 under siege. Historians have concluded that Napoleon, having no respect for the "insolent" Spanish militias which everywhere opposed him, tried to do too much with too little.
The signs of trouble came quickly: Catalan militia (somatén) virtually overran Barcelona, and French units attempting to break the ring were turned back at the Bruc
Battle of El Bruc
The two Battles of the Bruch were engagements fought successively between a French column and a body of Spanish volunteers and mercenaries on June 4, 1808 in the Peninsular War....

 with heavy casualties. Gerona
Siege of Gerona
The Spanish city of Girona was besieged 25 times in history. Some notable sieges include:*Siege of Girona during the creation of the Marca Hispanica*Siege of Girona in the Aisso revolt*Siege of Girona in the Aragonese Crusade...

 twice resisted all efforts to conquer it. At Saragossa
Siege of Saragossa (1808)
The First Siege of Saragossa was a bloody struggle in the Peninsular War. A French army under General Jean-Antoine Verdier besieged, repeatedly stormed, and was repulsed from the Spanish city of Saragossa over the summer of 1808....

, French overtures for an honorable capitulation met with the laconic reply, "War to the knife." Gen. Palafox
José de Palafox y Melzi, Duke of Saragossa
José Rebolledo de Palafox y Melzi, Duke of Saragossa was a Spanish general who fought in the Peninsular War.-Biography:...

 and the Spaniards defied the French for three months, fighting inch by inch, corp à corp in the streets
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

; finally they forced Lefebvre
Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes
Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes or Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes became a French officer during the French Revolutionary Wars and a general during the Napoleonic Wars...

 to lift the siege in August and limp away in defeat. Moncey's push toward the coast ended in defeat outside the walls of Valencia
Battle of Valencia (1808)
The First Battle of Valencia was an attack on the Spanish city of Valencia on June 26, 1808, early in the Peninsular War. Marshal Moncey's French Imperial troops failed to take the city by storm and retreated upon Madrid, leaving much of eastern Spain unconquered and beyond the reach of...

, where 1,000 French recruits fell trying to storm a city whipped into a frenzy by the clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

. Making short work of Spanish counterattacks, Moncey began a long retreat, harried at every step. After storming and sacking Cordoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

, Dupont, cowed by the mass hostility of the Andalusians, broke off his offensive and retired to Andujar
Andújar
Andújar is a Spanish municipality of 38,539 people in the province of Jaén, in Andalusia. The municipality is divided by the Guadalquivir River. The northern part of the municipality is where the Natural Park of the Sierra de Andújar is situated. To the south are agricultural fields and...

.

Only in the north did the French find a measure of success. In June, Gen. Lasalle's cavalry trampled Gen. Cuesta's small, improvised army at Cabezón
Battle of Cabezón
The Battle of Cabezón was an engagement early in the Peninsular War on June 12, 1808 between a small Spanish militia force and a detachment of Marshal Bessières' French Army Corps under General Lasalle....

 and unbarred the road to Valladolid
Valladolid
Valladolid is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales...

. When Bessières' march on Santander was checked by a string of partisan attacks in July, the French turned back and found Blake and Cuesta with their combined army atop Medina del Rio Seco
Battle of Medina del Rio Seco
The Battle of Medina de Rioseco was fought during the Peninsular War on 14 July 1808 when a combined body of Spanish militia and regulars moved to rupture the French line of communications to Madrid...

. The Spanish generals, at Cuesta's insistence, were making a dash toward the vulnerable French supply lines at Valladolid. The two armies deployed on 14 July, Cuesta unwisely leaving a gap between his troops and Blake's. The French poured into the hole and, after a sharp fight against Cuesta, swept the motley Spanish army from the field, putting Old Castile firmly back in Napoleon's hands.
Bessières' victory salvaged the strategic position of the French army in northern Spain. The road to Madrid lay open to Joseph, and the failures at Girona, Valencia and Saragossa were forgotten; all that remained was to reinforce Dupont and allow him to force his way south through Andalusia. A delighted Napoleon asserted that "if Marshal Bessières has been able to beat the Army of Galicia with few casualties and small effort, General Dupont will be able to overthrow everybody he meets." Just a few days later, Dupont was sorely defeated at Bailén
Battle of Bailén
The Battle of Bailén was contested in 1808 between the Spanish Army of Andalusia, led by Generals Francisco Castaños and Theodor von Reding, and the Imperial French Army's II corps d'observation de la Gironde under General Pierre Dupont de l'Étang...

 and surrendered his entire Army Corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

 to Gen. Castaños
Francisco Javier Castaños, 1st Duke of Bailén
Francisco Javier Castaños Aragorri Urioste y Olavide, Count of Castaños y Aragones, 1st Duke of Baylen , was a Spanish general.Castaños was born at Madrid.He is remembered for his victory over the French under Dupont, whom he...

.

The catastrophe was total. With the loss of 24,000 troops, Napoleon's military machine in Spain abruptly collapsed. Joseph and the French command panicked and ordered a general retreat to the Ebro
Ebro
The Ebro or Ebre is one of the most important rivers in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the biggest river by discharge volume in Spain.The Ebro flows through the following cities:*Reinosa in Cantabria.*Miranda de Ebro in Castile and León....

, abandoning Madrid and undoing all of Bessières' hard-fought gains. Europe cheered at this first check to the hitherto unbeatable Imperial armies – a Bonaparte had been chased from his throne; tales of Spanish heroism inspired Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and showed the force of national resistance. Bailén set in motion the rise of the Fifth Coalition
War of the Fifth Coalition
The War of the Fifth Coalition, fought in the year 1809, pitted a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with...

 against Napoleon.

Liberation of Portugal, August 1808

Before the Peninsular War, British military operations on mainland Europe had been limited to raids after several early attempts to land and keep an army in action led to failure and ultimate withdrawal. The British could not field a large enough force to operate on its own against the huge and experienced French army. On 18 June, the Portuguese uprising broke out. The popular uprisings in Portugal and Spain encouraged the British to commit substantial forces once again and British propaganda was quick to capture the novelty of the situation; for the first time, peoples, not princes, were in rebellion against the "Great Disturber".

In August 1808, British forces (including the King's German Legion
King's German Legion
The King's German Legion was a British Army unit of expatriate German personnel, 1803–16. The Legion achieved the distinction of being the only German force to fight without interruption against the French during the Napoleonic Wars....

) landed in Portugal under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

, the future Duke of Wellington. Wellesley checked Delaborde
Henri Delaborde
Henri François Delaborde was a French general in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.-Early career:He was the son of a baker of Dijon. In 1783, Delaborde joined the Regiment of Condé as a private...

's forces at Roliça
Battle of Roliça
In the Battle of Roliça an Anglo-Portuguese army under Sir Arthur Wellesley defeated an outnumbered French army under General Henri Delaborde, near the village of Roliça in Portugal. The French retired in good order...

 on 17 August, while the Portuguese Observation Army of Bernardino Freire contained Loison. On 20 August, the Anglo-Portuguese held their line at the Vimeiro
Battle of Vimeiro
In the Battle of Vimeiro the British under General Arthur Wellesley defeated the French under Major-General Jean-Andoche Junot near the village of Vimeiro , near Lisbon, Portugal during the Peninsular War...

 and repulsed Junot. Wellesley, however, was considered too junior an officer to command the newly-reinforced expedition to Portugal and was replaced by Harry Burrard, who proceeded to grant Junot very favourable armistice terms, allowing for his unmolested evacuation from Portugal — courtesy of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 — under the controversial Convention of Sintra
Convention of Sintra
The Convention of Cintra was an agreement signed on August 30, 1808 during the Peninsular War. By the agreement, the defeated French were allowed to evacuate their troops from Portugal without further conflict...

 in August. The British commanders were ordered back to England for an inquiry into Sintra, leaving Sir John Moore
John Moore (British soldier)
Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, KB was a British soldier and General. He is best known for his military training reforms and for his death at the Battle of Corunna, in which his force was defeated but gained a tactical advantage over a French army under Marshal Soult during the Peninsular...

 to head the 30,000-strong British force, supplied, convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

ed, and protected by the Royal Navy.

Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood's Mediterranean Fleet bottled up the remaining French fleet, stationed at Toulon
Toulon
Toulon is a town in southern France and a large military harbor on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department in the former province of Provence....

 since its defeat at Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

. In June, General La Romana orchestrated a remarkable escape from Denmark, via Gothenburg
Gothenburg
Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 519,399, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 937,015 inhabitants in the metropolitan area...

, by slipping the better part of his Division of the North aboard a British squadron, which set sail for Santander
Santander, Cantabria
The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. Located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao, the city has a population of 183,446 .-History:...

. The presence of the Royal Navy along the coast of France and Spain slowed the French entry into eastern and southern Spain and drained their military resources in the area. Frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

s commanded the strategic Gulf of Roses north of Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, close to the French border, and were conspicuously involved in the defence of Rosas; Lord Cochrane held a cliff-top fortress against the French for nearly a month, destroying it when the main citadel capitulated to a superior French force.

Napoleon's Revenge, November–December 1808

Bailén and the loss of Portugal convinced Napoleon of the peril he faced in Spain. Deeply disturbed by news of Sintra, the Emperor remarked,
The French, all but masters of Spain in June, stood with their backs to the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

, clutching at Navarre
Navarre
Navarre , officially the Chartered Community of Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France...

 and Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

. It was not known if even these two footholds could be maintained in the face of a Spanish attack.

However, no attack was forthcoming. The Spanish social fabric, shaken by the shock of rebellion, gave way to its crippling social and political tensions; the patriots stood divided on every question and their nascent war effort suffered accordingly. With the fall of the monarchy, constitutional power devolved to local juntas
Junta (Peninsular War)
In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders...

. These institutions interfered with the army and the business of war, undermined the tentative central government taking shape in Madrid, and in some cases proved almost as dangerous to each other as to the French. The British army in Portugal, meanwhile, was itself immobilized by logistical
Logistics
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

 problems and bogged down in administrative disputes, and did not budge.
Consequently, months of inaction passed at the front, the revolution having "temporarily crippled Patriot Spain at the very moment when decisive action could have changed the whole course of the war." While the allies inched forward, a vast consolidation of bodies and bayonets from the far reaches of the French Empire brought 100,000 veterans of the Grande Armée into Spain, led in person by Napoleon and his Marshals
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

. With his Armée d'Espagne of 278,670 men drawn up on the Ebro, facing a scant 80,000 raw, disorganized Spanish troops, the Emperor announced to the Spanish deputies:
Napoleon led the French on a brilliant offensive involving a massive double envelopment of the Spanish lines. The attack began in November and has been described as "an avalanche of fire and steel."
In the west, however, one Spanish wing slipped the noose when Marshal Lefebvre
Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes
Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes or Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes became a French officer during the French Revolutionary Wars and a general during the Napoleonic Wars...

 failed to encircle the Army of Galicia after a premature and indecisive attack at Pancorbo
Battle of Pancorbo
The Battle of Pancorbo was one of the opening engagements in Napoleon's invasion of Spain.- Background :On October 31, 1808, Marshal François Lefebvre bloodied the Army of Galicia under Lieutenant General Joaquín Blake but failed to encircle or destroy it, upsetting both the Emperor and the French...

; General Blake drew his artillery back to safety and the bloodied Spanish infantry followed in good order. Lefebvre and Victor
Claude Victor-Perrin, duc de Belluno
Claude Victor-Perrin, First Duc de Belluno was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars...

 offered a careless chase that ended in humiliation at Valmaseda
Battle of Valmaseda
The Battle of Valmaseda took place on November 5, 1808, during Lieutenant-General Blake's retreat from superior French armies in Cantabria. Reinforced by veteran regular infantry from General La Romana's Division of the North , Blake suddenly turned on his pursuers to rescue a trapped detachment...

 where their scattered troops were roughly handled by La Romana
Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd marqués de La Romana
Don Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd Marquis of la Romana was a Spanish general of the Peninsular War.-Biography:...

's newly repatriated Spanish veterans and narrowly escaped to safety.

The campaign raced to a swift conclusion in the south, where Napoleon's main army overran the unprotected Spanish centre in a devastating attack near Burgos
Battle of Burgos
The Battle of Burgos , also known as Battle of Gamonal, was fought on November 10, 1808, during the Peninsular War. A powerful French army under Marshal Bessières overwhelmed and destroyed the outnumbered Spanish under General Belveder, opening central Spain to invasion.Spanish history remembers...

. The Spanish militias, untrained and unable to form infantry square
Infantry square
An infantry square is a combat formation an infantry unit forms in close order when threatened with cavalry attack.-Very early history:The formation was described by Plutarch and used by the Romans, and was developed from an earlier circular formation...

s, scattered in the face of massed French cavalry, while the Spanish and Walloon
Walloon Guards
The Walloon Guards were an infantry corps originally recruited in the region now known as Belgium, mainly in Catholic Wallonia, for the Spanish Army...

 Guards
Spanish Royal Guard
The Royal Guard is an independent unit of the Spanish Armed Forces dedicated to the military protection of H.M. the King of Spain and the members of the Spanish Royal Family. It currently has a strength of 1,900 troops. While the guard does participate in parades and other ceremonial events, it...

 stood their ground in vain and were chewed up by Lasalle and his sabreurs. Marshal Lannes with a powerful force then smashed through the tottering Spanish right wing at Tudela
Battle of Tudela
The Battle of Tudela was a battle of the Peninsular War fought on November 23, 1808 near Tudela, Spain. The battle resulted in the victory of the French and Poles under Marshal Lannes against the Spanish under General Castaños....

 on 23 November, routing Castaños
Francisco Javier Castaños, 1st Duke of Bailén
Francisco Javier Castaños Aragorri Urioste y Olavide, Count of Castaños y Aragones, 1st Duke of Baylen , was a Spanish general.Castaños was born at Madrid.He is remembered for his victory over the French under Dupont, whom he...

 and adding a new inscription to the Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
-The design:The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin , in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture . Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire...

 in Paris.

Finally, Blake's isolated army about-faced on 17 November and dug in at Espinosa
Battle of Espinosa
The Battle of Espinosa was a battle of the Napoleonic Wars, fought on November 10 and November 11, 1808 at the township of Espinosa de los Monteros in the Cantabrian Mountains...

. His lines shook off French attacks over a day and night of vicious fighting before cracking the next day. Blake again outmarched Soult and escaped with a rump army to Santander
Santander, Cantabria
The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. Located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao, the city has a population of 183,446 .-History:...

, but the Spanish front had been torn apart and the Imperial armies raced forward over undefended provinces. Napoleon flung 45,000 men south into the Sierra de Guadarrama
Sierra de Guadarrama
The Sierra de Guadarrama is a mountain range forming the main eastern section of the Sistema Central, the system of mountain ranges at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula. It is located between the Sierra de Gredos in the province of Ávila, and Sierra de Ayllón in the province of Guadalajara...

 which shielded Madrid.
The mountains hardly slowed Napoleon at all: at Somosierra pass
Battle of Somosierra
The Battle of Somosierra occurred November 30, 1808 in the Peninsular War, when a French army under Napoleon I forced a passage through the Sierra de Guadarrama shielding Madrid....

 on 30 November, his Polish
Polish cavalry
The Polish cavalry can trace its origins back to the days of Medieval mounted knights. Poland had always been a country of flatlands and fields and mounted forces operate well in this environment...

 and Guard cavalry squadrons charged up a narrow gorge through raking fire to overrun General San Juan
Benito de San Juan
Benito de San Juan was a Spanish military officer and a notable commander of the Spanish forces during the Peninsular War. He was the commanding officer of all the Spanish forces during the Battle of Somosierra....

's artillery. San Juan's militias then gave way before the relentless French infantry, while the Spanish royal artillerymen stuck to their guns and fought to the last. French patrols reached Madrid on 1 December and entered the city in triumph on 4 December. Joseph Bonaparte was restored to his throne. San Juan retreated west to Talavera, where his mutinous conscripts shot him before dispersing.

Campaign of Sir John Moore, December 1808 - January 1809

General Sir John Moore
John Moore (British soldier)
Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, KB was a British soldier and General. He is best known for his military training reforms and for his death at the Battle of Corunna, in which his force was defeated but gained a tactical advantage over a French army under Marshal Soult during the Peninsular...

's small British army moved from Portugal into northwestern Spain, surprising a body of French cavalry at Sahagun
Battle of Sahagún
The Battle of Sahagún was a cavalry clash in which the 15th Light Dragoons defeated two regiments of French cavalry during the Corunna Campaign of the Peninsular War. One of the French regiments lost so heavily that it was subsequently disbanded...

. Moore remained in Leon for some time after he recognised that the position of his army was perilous; this was a calculated attempt to draw the attention of the French and give the Spanish forces time to rally after their recent reverses. In this Moore was successful, alerted to his whereabouts the Imperial army forced Moore into a harrowing retreat marked by a breakdown in the discipline of many regiments. The retreat was punctuated by stubborn rearguard actions at Benavente
Battle of Benavente
The Battle of Benavente was a cavalry clash in which the British cavalry of Lord Paget defeated the elite Chasseurs à Cheval of the French Imperial Guard during the Corunna Campaign of the Peninsular War. The French chasseurs were broken and forced into the River Esla; their commanding officer,...

 and Cacabelos, each time the British army turned to fight the discipline of the troops showed a marked, but temporary, improvement. La Romana dutifully marched his tattered army to cover his ally's retreat, but while the British troops managed to escape to the sea at A Coruña
A Coruña
A Coruña or La Coruña is a city and municipality of Galicia, Spain. It is the second-largest city in the autonomous community and seventeenth overall in the country...

 after fending off
Battle of Corunna
The Battle of Corunna refers to a battle of the Peninsular War. On January 16, 1809, a French army under Marshal Soult attacked the British under Sir John Moore...

 a strong French attack, the Spaniard had no escape and was defeated by Soult at Mansilla. Some 26,000 sickly troops eventually reached Britain, 7,000 men having been lost over the course of the expedition. Moore, killed while directing the defence of Coruña, remains buried in Spain under a monument constructed by Soult.
In Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, Napoleon fed his faltering army strong reinforcements as early as October 1808, ordering Marshal St. Cyr with 17,000 men to the relief of Duhesme in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

. Rosas fell to the French at the end of November, opening the path south for St. Cyr, who bypassed Girona and, after a remarkable forced march, fell upon and destroyed part of the Spanish army at Cardedeu, near Barcelona (18 December). St. Cyr and Duhesme chased the retreating Spaniards under General Reding
Theodor von Reding
Theodor von Reding was a Swiss general of the Napoleonic Wars most notable for his career in the service of Spain.He was born in Schwyz, the son of the aristocrat Josef Rudolf Reding von Biberegg...

, capturing 1,200 men at Molins de Rey. In February 1809, Reding led a reconstituted army against the French right wing and, after vigorous marching and countermarching, took a stand at Valls
Battle of Valls
The Battle of Valls was fought on 25 February 1809, during the Peninsular War between a French force under Marshal Gouvion Saint-Cyr and a Spanish force under General Reding. Fought near the town of Valls in Catalonia Spain, the battle ended in a French victory...

 only to be ridden down and killed by French cavalry.
Only at Saragossa, still scarred from Lefebvre's bombardments that summer, was the Imperial charge temporarily halted once again. The French invested the city on 20 December. Lannes and Moncey committed two army corps (45,000 men) and considerable materiel to a second siege
Siege of Saragossa (1809)
The Second Siege of Saragossa was the French capture of the Spanish city of Zaragoza during the Peninsular War.It is particularly noted for its brutality.-Prelude:...

 of the city, but their numbers and guns made no impression on the Spanish citizen-soldiers who, behind the walls of Saragossa, proved unmovable.

Palafox's second epic defence brought the city enduring national and international fame. The Spaniards fought with a determination which never faltered; street by street, building by building, through pestilence
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

 and starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

; at times entrenching themselves in convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

s, at others putting their own homes to the torch
Incendiary device
Incendiary weapons, incendiary devices or incendiary bombs are bombs designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using materials such as napalm, thermite, chlorine trifluoride, or white phosphorus....

. Nearly all who stood with Palafox met their deaths, but for two months, the Grande Armée did not set foot beyond the Ebro
Ebro
The Ebro or Ebre is one of the most important rivers in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the biggest river by discharge volume in Spain.The Ebro flows through the following cities:*Reinosa in Cantabria.*Miranda de Ebro in Castile and León....

's shore. On 20 February 1809, the French left behind burnt-out ruins filled with 64,000 corpses. After only a little more than two months in Spain, Napoleon returned command to his marshals and went back to France.

Conquest Frustrated, January - June 1809

In March, Marshal Soult
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult
Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult, 1st Duke of Dalmatia , the Hand of Iron, was a French general and statesman, named Marshal of the Empire in 1804. He was one of only six officers in French history to receive the distinction of Marshal General of France...

 initiated the second invasion of Portugal through the northern corridor. Initially repulsed in the Minho
Minho River
The Minho or Miño is the longest river in Galicia, Spain, with an extension of 340 km.Both names come from Latin Minius...

 river by Portuguese militias, he then captured Chaves, Braga
Braga
Braga , a city in the Braga Municipality in northwestern Portugal, is the capital of the Braga District, the oldest archdiocese and the third major city of the country. Braga is the oldest Portuguese city and one of the oldest Christian cities in the World...

 and, on 29 March 1809, Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

. However, the resistance of Silveira in Amarante
Amarante, Portugal
Amarante is a city in Amarante Municipality, Portugal.The city itself has a population of 11,261 inhabitants. It sits on the banks of the Tâmega River.It is a sister city of Wiesloch, Germany.- Culture :...

 and other northern cities isolated Soult in Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

. William Carr Beresford, in his capacity as commander-in-chief (he had been appointed by the Portuguese Royal family), reorganised, rebuilt and refitted the Portuguese army
Portuguese Army
The Portuguese Army is the ground branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in co-operation with other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the defence of Portugal...

 with the aid of senior Portuguese generals, in particular Miguel Pereira Forjaz
Miguel Pereira Forjaz
Dom Miguel Pereira Forjaz , 9th Count of Feira, was a Portuguese general in the Peninsular War.-Life:He entered the army in 1785, as a cadet in the Regiment of Peniche, in which he met many members of his family...

. In a first phase, some 20,000 were called to the regular army and 30,000 to militias. Wellesley returned to Portugal in April 1809 to command the Anglo-Portuguese forces. He strengthened the British army with the recently formed Portuguese regiments trained by General Beresford
William Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford
General William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, 1st Marquis of Campo Maior, GCB, GCH, GCTE, PC , was a British soldier and politician...

 and adapted to the British way of campaigning. These new forces turned Soult out of Portugal at the Battle of Grijó
Battle of Grijo
The Battle of Grijó was a battle that ended up in victory for the Anglo-Portuguese Army commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley over the French army commanded by Marshal Nicolas Soult during the second French invasion of Portugal in the Peninsular War...

 (10–11 May) and the Second Battle of Porto (12 May). All other northern cities were recaptured by General Silveira.

Fall of the Junta Central, July 1809 - January 1810

With Portugal secured, Wellesley advanced into Spain to unite with General Cuesta's forces. The combined allied force prepared for an assault on Victor's I Corps
I Corps (Grande Armée)
The I Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit during the Napoleonic Wars. It were different troops in French service commanded by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte in 1805 and 1806, General Claude Victor-Perrin in 1807 and Marshal Louis Nicolas Davout during the 1812 invasion of Russia.- Size...

 at Talavera, 23 July. Cuesta, however, was reluctant to agree, and was only persuaded to advance on the following day. The delay allowed the French to withdraw, but Cuesta sent his army headlong after Victor, and found himself faced by almost the entire French army in New Castile — Victor had been reinforced by the Toledo and Madrid garrisons. The Spanish retreated precipitously, necessitating two British divisions advancing to cover their retreat.

The next day, 27 July, at the Battle of Talavera the French advanced in three columns and were repulsed several times throughout the day by Wellesley, but at a heavy cost to the British force. In the aftermath Marshal Soult's army was discovered to be advancing south, threatening to cut Wellesley off from Portugal. Wellesley moved east on 3 August to block it, leaving 1,500 wounded in the care of the Spanish, intending to confront Soult before finding out that the French were in fact 30,000 strong. The British commander sent the Light Brigade on a dash to hold the bridge over the Tagus River at Almaraz. With communications and supply from Lisbon secured for now, Wellesley considered joining with Cuesta again but found out that his Spanish ally had abandoned the British wounded to the French and was thoroughly uncooperative, promising and then refusing to supply the British forces, aggravating Wellesley and causing considerable friction between the British and their Spanish allies. The lack of supplies, coupled with the threat of French reinforcement (including the possible inclusion of Napoleon himself) in the spring, led to the British deciding to retreat into Portugal.

Bonaparte Kingdom of Spain, 1808 - 1813

Amongst the liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

, republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 and radical
Radicalism (historical)
The term Radical was used during the late 18th century for proponents of the Radical Movement. It later became a general pejorative term for those favoring or seeking political reforms which include dramatic changes to the social order...

 segments of the Spanish and Portuguese populations, there was much support for a potential French invasion, despite Napoleon having by 1807 noticeably and explicitly abandoned many liberal and republican ideals. Even before the invasion, the term "Afrancesado
Afrancesado
Afrancesado was the term used to denote Spanish and Portuguese partisans of Enlightenment ideas, Liberalism, or the French Revolution, who were supporters of the French occupation of Iberia and of the First French Empire.-Origins:...

", literally "turned French" was used to denote those who supported the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 and secular ideals and the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. Napoleon was to rely on the support of these "Afrancesados" both in the conduct of the war and administration of the country. But while Napoleon - through his brother Joseph who he installed as King - made good on his promises to "sweep away" all feudal and clerical privileges, soon most Spanish liberals came to oppose the occupation for the violence and brutality it brought.

Emergence of Guerrilla War, 1808 - 1810

The Spanish War of Independence was one of the most successful partisan
Partisan (military)
A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity...

 wars in history and is the origin of the word guerrilla in the English language (from Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 Guerra de guerrillas or "War of little wars"). However, this guerrilla warfare was costly to both sides. Not only did the 'patriotic' Spaniards trouble the French troops, they also petrified their countrymen with a combination of forced conscription and looting of towns. Many of the partisans were, in fact, either fleeing the law or trying to get rich, although later in the war the authorities tried to make the guerrillas militarily reliable, and many of them formed regular army units, like Espoz y Mina
Francisco Espoz y Mina
Francisco Espoz y Mina was a Spanish guerrilla leader and general.He was born at Idocin in Navarre. His father, Juan Esteban Espoz y Mina, and his mother, Maria Teresa Hundain y Ardaiz, belonged to the class of yeomen. Mina remained working on the small family inheritance until 1808...

's "Cazadores de Navarra", among others.

The idea of forming the guerrillas into an armed force had positive and negative effects. On the one hand, uniform and stronger military discipline would stop men from running off into the streets and disappearing from the band. However, the more disciplined the unit was, the easier it was for the French troops to catch them when they sprang an ambush. Only a few partisan leaders formed up with the authorities; most did so just to lay off criminal charges and to retain the effective status of an officer in the Spanish army, so their weaponry, clothes and food would be paid for.

The guerrilla style of fighting was the Spanish military's single most effective application. Most organized attempts on the part of regular Spanish forces to take on the French led to their defeat. However, once the battle was lost and the soldiers reverted to their guerrilla roles, they effectively tied down greater numbers of French troops over a wider area with much less expenditure of men, energy, and supplies. Wellington's final success in the Peninsula is often said to be largely due to the collapse and demoralization of the French military structure in Spain caused by the guerrillas;
Mass resistance by the people of Spain prefigured the total war
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

s of the 20th century and eventually inspired parallel struggles by the Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 and Prussians. Tsar Alexander
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, when threatened with war, rebuked the French ambassador
Armand Augustin Louis de Caulaincourt
Armand-Augustin-Louis, marquis de Caulaincourt, 1st Duc de Vicence was a French general and diplomat.-Biography:...

:
Spanish and Portuguese guerrillas were asked to capture messages from French couriers. From 1811 onwards, these dispatches were often either partially or wholly enciphered
Cipher
In cryptography, a cipher is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption — a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is encipherment. In non-technical usage, a “cipher” is the same thing as a “code”; however, the concepts...

. George Scovell
George Scovell
General Sir George Scovell was a member of the quartermaster's staff of the British Army in Iberia during the Peninsular War.-Military career:Scovell was commissioned as cornet and adjutant in the 4th Queen's Own Dragoons in 1798....

 of Wellington's General Staff was given the job of deciphering them. At first, the ciphers used were fairly simple and he received help from other members of the General Staff. However, beginning in 1812, a much stronger cipher, originally devised for diplomatic messages, came into use and Scovell was left to work on this himself. He steadily broke it, and the knowledge of French troop movements and deployments was used to great effect in most of the engagements described above. The French never realised that the code had been broken and continued to use it until their code tables were captured at the Battle of Vitoria.

Defence of Portugal, July 1810 - March 1811

Fearing a new French assault on Portugal, Wellesley brought into action his plan to create a powerful defensive position near the Portuguese capital, to which he could fall back if necessary. To protect Lisbon he ordered the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras
Lines of Torres Vedras
The Lines of Torres Vedras were lines of forts built in secrecy to defend Lisbon during the Peninsular War. Named after the nearby town of Torres Vedras, they were ordered by Arthur Wellesley, Viscount Wellington, constructed by Sir Richard Fletcher, 1st Baronet and his Portuguese workers between...

 under the supervision of Sir Richard Fletcher comprising three strong lines of forts, blockhouse
Blockhouse
In military science, a blockhouse is a small, isolated fort in the form of a single building. It serves as a defensive strong point against any enemy that does not possess siege equipment or, in modern times, artillery...

s, redoubt
Redoubt
A redoubt is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, though others are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a...

s and ravelin
Ravelin
A ravelin is a triangular fortification or detached outwork, located in front of the innerworks of a fortress...

s with numerous fortified artillery positions. The various parts of the lines communicated to each other by semaphore
Flag semaphore
Semaphore Flags is the system for conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands. Information is encoded by the position of the flags; it is read when the flag is in a fixed position...

, allowing immediate reaction to a threat. The work began in the autumn of 1809 and the first line was finished one year later. The areas immediately in front of the lines were subjected to a scorched earth policy in which they were denuded of food, forage and shelter to further hamper the enemy. Some 200,000 inhabitants of the neighbouring districts were relocated inside the lines.

Stalemate on the Portuguese Frontier, March - December 1811

Taking the Spanish fortified town of Ciudad Rodrigo
Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810)
In the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French Marshal Michel Ney took the fortified city from Field Marshal Don Andrés Perez de Herrasti on 9 July 1810 after a siege that began on 26 April...

 after a siege lasting from 26 April-9 July 1810, the French duly reinvaded Portugal in July with an army of around 65,000 led by Marshal Masséna
André Masséna
André Masséna 1st Duc de Rivoli, 1st Prince d'Essling was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars....

. The first significant clash on Portuguese soil was at the Battle of Coa
Battle of Coa
The Battle of the River Côa was a relatively minor battle that occurred during the Peninsular War period of the Napoleonic Wars...

 with the French driving back the Robert Crauford's heavily outnumbered Light Division
Light Division
The Light Division was a light infantry Division of the British Army formed in the early 19th Century. It can trace its origins to the Light Companies which had been formed to move at speed over inhospitable terrain and protect the main forces by skirmishing tactics...

. Masséna now moved to attack the strongly held British position on the heights of Bussaco (a 10-mile long ridge), resulting in the Battle of Buçaco
Battle of Buçaco
The Battle of Bussaco resulted in the defeat of French forces by Lord Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army, in Portugal during the Peninsular War....

 on 27 September. Suffering high casualties, the French failed to dislodge the Anglo-Portuguese army. Masséna now maneuvered to flank the position, at which point Wellesley fell back to the fortified Lines of Torres Vedras
Lines of Torres Vedras
The Lines of Torres Vedras were lines of forts built in secrecy to defend Lisbon during the Peninsular War. Named after the nearby town of Torres Vedras, they were ordered by Arthur Wellesley, Viscount Wellington, constructed by Sir Richard Fletcher, 1st Baronet and his Portuguese workers between...

.

The fortifications were so impressive that, after an attack by a small force at Sobral on 14 October, a stalemate ensued. As Charles Oman
Charles Oman
Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman was a British military historian of the early 20th century. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering...

 wrote, "On that misty 14 Octoberth morning, at Sobral, the Napoleonic tide attained its highest watermark, then it ebbed." The frontal zones of the lines having been subjected to a scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 policy, the French were eventually forced to withdraw due to sickness and lack of food and supplies. The British suffered a setback just the next day in the Battle of Fuengirola
Battle of Fuengirola
At the Battle of Fuengirola a small Polish garrison of a mediæval Moorish fortress in Fuengirola held off a much larger Anglo-Spanish expeditionary corps under Lord Blayney.- Background:...

. On 15 October, a much smaller Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 garrison held off British troops under Lord Blayney
Andrew Blayney, 11th Baron Blayney
Lieutenant General Andrew Thomas Blayney, 11th Baron Blayney was an Irish peer. He ruled the Blayney estate at Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan for fifty years from 1784 to 1834, and was one of the most illustrious soldiers ever to come from Co...

, who was subsequently taken captive and held by the French until 1814. Amazingly the French intelligence never knew that the fortifications were being built, only when their scouts reached the walls did they know. It’s also rumoured that even the British government never knew about it as well because all the funds that were used to build it was paid for by the Portuguese government and captured French equipment and supplies.

The allies were reinforced by the arrival of fresh British troops in early 1811 and began an offensive. A French force was beaten at Barrosa
Battle of Barrosa
The Battle of Barrosa was an unsuccessful French attack on a larger Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish force attempting to lift the siege of Cádiz, Spain during the Peninsular War...

 on 5 March as part of an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break up the siege of Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

, and Masséna was forced to withdraw from Portugal after an allied victory at the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
In the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro , the British-Portuguese Army under Viscount Wellington checked an attempt by the French Army of Portugal under Marshal André Masséna to relieve the besieged city of Almeida.-Background:...

 (3–5 May). Masséna had lost 25,000 men in the fighting in Portugal and was replaced by Auguste Marmont
Auguste Marmont
Auguste Frédéric Louis Viesse de Marmont, 1st Duke of Ragusa was a French General, nobleman and Marshal of France.-Biography:...

. Soult came from the South to threaten Extremadura
Extremadura
Extremadura is an autonomous community of western Spain whose capital city is Mérida. Its component provinces are Cáceres and Badajoz. It is bordered by Portugal to the west...

, and captured the fortress town of Badajoz
Badajoz
Badajoz is the capital of the Province of Badajoz in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain, situated close to the Portuguese border, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid–Lisbon railway. The population in 2007 was 145,257....

 before returning to Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

 with most of his army. An Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish army led by the British Marshal William Beresford
William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford
General William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, 1st Marquis of Campo Maior, GCB, GCH, GCTE, PC , was a British soldier and politician...

 marched to try and retake the town; they laid siege to the French garrison Soult had left behind, but Soult regathered his army and marched to relieve the siege. Beresford moved his besieging army from Badajoz to intercept the marching French, and after the Battle of Albuera
Battle of Albuera
The Battle of Albuera was an indecisive battle during the Peninsular War. A mixed British, Spanish and Portuguese corps engaged elements of the French Armée du Midi at the small Spanish village of Albuera, about 20 kilometres south of the frontier fortress-town of Badajoz, Spain.From...

 on 16 May, Soult was forced to retreat to Seville.

The war now fell into a temporary lull, the numerically superior French being unable to find an advantage and coming under increasing pressure from Spanish guerrilla activity. The French had upwards of 350,000 soldiers in L'Armée de l'Espagne, but the vast majority, over 200,000, was deployed to protect the French lines of supply, rather than as substantial fighting units. Meanwhile, the Spaniards drafted the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812
Spanish Constitution of 1812
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was promulgated 19 March 1812 by the Cádiz Cortes, the national legislative assembly of Spain, while in refuge from the Peninsular War...

.

British-Portuguese Offensive of 1812

In January 1812, Napoleon approved the full annexation of Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 into the French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

. Its territory was divided in départements (Ter
Ter (department)
Ter was a former département of the First French Empire in present day Spain, named after the Ter river. It was created on 26 January 1812 on Catalonia's annexation by the French Empire. Its subprefectures were Vic and Figueres...

, Sègre
Segre
Segre may be* Beniamino Segre , Italian geometer* Corrado Segre , Italian geometer distantly related to Beniamino* Emilio Segrè , Italian American physicist* Segre River, a river in Catalonia...

, Montserrat
Montserrat (department)
Montserrat was a former département of the First French Empire in present day Spain. It was created on 26 January 1812 on Catalonia's annexation by the French Empire. Its subprefectures were Manresa and Vilafranca del Penedès...

and Bouches-de-l'Èbre
Bouches-de-l'Èbre
Bouches-de-l'Èbre was a former département of the First French Empire in present day Spain. It was created on 26 January 1812 on Catalonia's annexation by the French Empire...

). Looking for the approval of the local population, Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

 was declared the official language in those departments together with French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. However, the historical aversion that the Catalans
Catalan people
The Catalans or Catalonians are the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia that form a historical nationality in Spain. The inhabitants of the adjacent portion of southern France are sometimes included in this definition...

 had against the French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 insured that guerrilla activity continued in Catalonia.

Wellington renewed the allied advance into Spain just after New Year in 1812, besieging and capturing the fortified towns of Ciudad Rodrigo
Ciudad Rodrigo
Ciudad Rodrigo is a small cathedral city in the province of Salamanca, in western Spain, with a population of about 14,000. It is the seat of a judicial district as well....

 on 19 January and Badajoz
Battle of Badajoz (1812)
In the Battle of Badajoz , the Anglo-Portuguese Army, under the Earl of Wellington, besieged Badajoz, Spain and forced the surrender of the French garrison....

, after a costly assault, on 6 April. The allied army took Salamanca
Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, in the community of Castile and León. Because it is known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is the most important university city in Spain and is known for its contributions to...

 on 17 June, just as Marmont approached — the two forces finally met on 22 July where Wellington inflicted a severe defeat on the French in the Battle of Salamanca
Battle of Salamanca
The Battle of Salamanca saw Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish armies under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles south of Salamanca, Spain on July 22, 1812 during the Peninsular War....

, during which Marshal Marmont himself was severely wounded. As the French regrouped, the Anglo-Portuguese entered Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 on 6 August.

Autumn Campaign of 1812

The Allied liberation of Madrid on 11. August 1812, were the culmination of a series of triumphs that had completely turned the tide of the war in Spain. Whereas thebeginning of 1812 hadseen the french armies winning fresh conquests, within eight monnths they had been expelled from as much as half the territory that they had managed to occupay since 1808.

With every step that Wellington advanced, the French had less territory to garrison, whilst they still had some 210,000 troops with the colours compared to the British commander's 6o,ooo. Yet in theory the Spaniards could put at least 1oo,ooo more men into the field, whilst the liberted territories of fulled the prospect of fresh troops. Yet, the inability of the Allies to capitalise on this additional contribution that
advanced towards Burgos, before retreating all the way back to Portugal when renewed French concentrations threatened to trap them. As a consequence of the Salamanca campaign the French were forced to end their long siege of Cadiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

 and to permanently evacuate the provinces of Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

 and Asturias
Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

.

Defeat of King Joseph, January - June 1813

French hopes of recovery were stricken by Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. He had taken 30,000 soldiers from the hard-pressed Armée de l'Espagne, and, starved of reinforcements and replacements, the French position became increasingly unsustainable as the allies renewed the offensive in May 1813.

In a strategic move, Wellington planned to move his supply base from Lisbon to Santander
Santander, Cantabria
The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. Located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao, the city has a population of 183,446 .-History:...

. The Anglo-Portuguese forces swept northwards in late May and seized Burgos; they then outflanked the French army, forcing Joseph Bonaparte into the valley of the River Zadorra. At the Battle of Vitoria
Battle of Vitoria
At the Battle of Vitoria an allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain, leading to eventual victory in the Peninsular War.-Background:In July 1812, after...

, on 21 June, the 65,000 men of Joseph Bonaparte's army were routed by 53,000 British, 27,000 Portuguese and 19,000 Spaniards. Wellesley pursued and dislodged the French from San Sebastián
Siege of San Sebastian
In the Siege of San Sebastián Allied forces under the command of General Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington captured the city of San Sebastián in northern Spain from its French garrison under Brigadier-General Louis Rey...

, which was sacked and burnt to the ground by the Anglo-Portuguese.

The allies chased the retreating French, reaching the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 in early July. Soult was given command of the French forces and began a counter-offensive, dealing the allied generals two sharp defeats at the Battle of Maya
Battle of Maya
The Battle of Maya was a battle between French and British forces during the Peninsular War .-Background:After Wellington's decisive defeat of King Joseph at Vitoria, he advanced to capture San Sebastián and Pamplona, the last French outposts on Spanish soil.While Wellington concentrated his...

 and the Battle of Roncesvalles
Battle of Roncesvalles (1813)
The Battle of Roncesvalles was a battle between French and Anglo-Portuguese forces during the Peninsular War .-Background:...

. Yet he was severely repulsed by the Anglo-Portuguese, lost momentum, and finally fled after the allied victory at the Battle of Sorauren
Battle of Sorauren
The Battle of Sorauren was part of a series of engagements in late July 1813 called the Battle of the Pyrenees in which a combined British and Portuguese force under Sir Arthur Wellesley held off Marshal Soult's French forces attempting to relieve San Sebastián.With sizable Anglo-Portuguese forces...

 (28 July and 30 July).

Invasion of France, July -November 1813

On 7 October, after Wellington received news of the reopening of hostilities in Germany, the allies finally crossed into France, fording the Bidasoa
Bidasoa
The Bidasoa is a river in the Basque Country of northern Spain and southern France that runs largely south to north. Named as such downstream of the small town of Oronoz-Mugairi in the province of Navarre, the river actually results from the merge of several streams near the village Erratzu, with...

 river. On 11 December, a beleaguered and desperate Napoleon agreed to a separate peace with Spain under the Treaty of Valençay
Valençay
Valençay is a commune in the Indre department in central France.-Geography:Valençay is situated in the Loire Valley on a hillside overlooking the River Nahon.-History:...

, under which he would release and recognize Ferdinand in exchange for a complete cessation of hostilities. But the Spanish had no intention of trusting Napoleon, and the fighting continued.

The Peninsular War went on through the allied victories of Bera pass, the Battle of Nivelle
Battle of Nivelle
The Battle of Nivelle took place in front of the River Nivelle near the end of the Peninsular War . After the Allied siege of San Sebastian, Wellington's 80,000 British, Portuguese and Spanish troops were in hot pursuit of Marshal Soult who only had 60,000 men to place in a 20-mile perimeter...

, and the Battle of Nive near Bayonne
Bayonne
Bayonne is a city and commune in south-western France at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, of which it is a sub-prefecture...

 (10–14 December 1813), the Battle of Orthez
Battle of Orthez
The Battle of Orthez saw the Anglo-Portuguese Army under Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington defeat a French army led by Marshal Nicolas Soult in southern France near the end of the Peninsular War.-Preliminaries:...

 (27 February 1814) and the Battle of Bayonne
Battle of Bayonne
In the Battle of Bayonne on April 14, 1814, General of Division Thouvenot's French garrison attacked the Allied besieging force under Lieutenant General John Hope...

 (14 April), the latter occurring after Napoleon's abdication.

Spain

King Joseph was cheered initially by Spanish afrancesado
Afrancesado
Afrancesado was the term used to denote Spanish and Portuguese partisans of Enlightenment ideas, Liberalism, or the French Revolution, who were supporters of the French occupation of Iberia and of the First French Empire.-Origins:...

s
("Frenchified"), who believed that collaboration
Collaborationism
Collaborationism is cooperation with enemy forces against one's country. Legally, it may be considered as a form of treason. Collaborationism may be associated with criminal deeds in the service of the occupying power, which may include complicity with the occupying power in murder, persecutions,...

 with France would bring modernisation and liberty. An example was the abolition of the Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

. However, priesthood and patriots stirred up agitation among the populace, which became widespread after the French army's first examples of repression (Madrid, 1808) were presented as fact to unite and enrage the people. The remaining afrancesados were exiled to France following the departure of French troops.
The pro-independence side included both traditionalists and liberals
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

. After the war, they would clash in the Carlist Wars, as new king Ferdinand VII, "the Desired One" (later "the Traitor king"), revoked all the changes made by the independent Cortes
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

, which were summoned in Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

 acting on his behalf to coordinate the provincial Junta
Junta (Peninsular War)
In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders...

s and resist the French. He restored absolute monarchy, prosecuted and put to death everyone suspected of liberalism, and altered the laws of royal succession in favour of his daughter Isabella II, thus starting a century of civil wars against the supporters of the former legal heir to the throne.

The liberal Cortes had approved the first Spanish Constitution
Spanish Constitution of 1812
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was promulgated 19 March 1812 by the Cádiz Cortes, the national legislative assembly of Spain, while in refuge from the Peninsular War...

 on 19 March 1812, which was later nullified by the king. In Spanish America, the Spanish and Criollo officials formed Juntas that swore allegiance to King Ferdinand. This experience of self-government led the later Libertadores
Libertadores
Libertadores refers to the principal leaders of the Latin American wars of independence from Spain. They are named that way in contrast with the Conquistadors, who were so far the only Spanish peoples recorded in the South American history...

(Liberators) to promote the independence of the Spanish–American colonies.
French troops seized many of the extensive properties of the Catholic Church. Churches and convents were used as stables and barracks, and artworks were sent to France, leading to an impoverished Spanish cultural heritage. Allied armies also plundered Spanish towns and the countryside. These pieces can be viewed at the Duke's London home, Apsley House
Apsley House
Apsley House, also known as Number One, London, is the former London residence of the Dukes of Wellington. It stands alone at Hyde Park Corner, on the south-east corner of Hyde Park, facing south towards the busy traffic interchange and Wellington Arch...

, and at his country estate, Stratfield Saye House
Stratfield Saye House
Stratfield Saye House is a large stately home at Stratfield Saye in the north-east of the English county of Hampshire. It has been the home of the Dukes of Wellington since 1817.-Early history:...

.

Another notable effect of the war was the severe damage incurred by Spain's economy; devastated by the war, it continued to suffer in the political turbulence that followed.

Portugal

The Peninsular War signified the traumatic entry of Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 into the modern age. The Portuguese Court's transfer
Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil
The Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil was an episode in the history of Portugal and the history of Brazil in which the Portuguese royal family and its court escaped from Lisbon on November 29, 1807 to Brazil, just days before Napoleonic forces captured the city on December 1...

 to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 initiated the process of Brazil's state-building that eventually produced its independence in 1822. The skillful evacuation by the Portuguese Navy
Portuguese Navy
The Portuguese Navy is the naval branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in cooperation and integrated with the other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the military defence of Portugal....

 of more than 15,000 people from the Court, Administration, and Army was a bonus for Brazil and a blessing in disguise for Portugal, as it liberated the energies of the country. The Governors of Portugal nominated by the absent king had a scant impact because of the successive French invasions and British occupation.

The role of the War Minister Miguel Pereira Forjaz
Miguel Pereira Forjaz
Dom Miguel Pereira Forjaz , 9th Count of Feira, was a Portuguese general in the Peninsular War.-Life:He entered the army in 1785, as a cadet in the Regiment of Peniche, in which he met many members of his family...

 was unique. Wellington held him as the ablest man in Portugal. Under Marshall Beresford he helped to build a regular army of 55,000 men and a further 50,000 as national guard milicias and a variable number of home guard ordenanças, perhaps totalling more than 100,000. In an 1812 letter to Baron Stein, the Russian Court Minister, Forjaz recommended a "scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

" policy and the trading of space for time as the only way to defeat a French invasion. Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, Tsar of Russia, ordered his generals to use Wellington's Portuguese strategy and avoid battles to starve Napoleon's Grande Armée.

The nation at arms had a similar impact on Portugal as the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 on France. A new class, tried, disciplined, and experienced by war against the French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

, would assert Portuguese independence. Marshal Beresford and 160 officers were retained after 1814 to lead Portugal's Army while the King was still in Brazil. Portuguese politics hinged on the project of a Luso-Brazilian United Kingdom, with the African colonies supplying slaves, Brazil manufacturing and Portugal the trade. By 1820, this became untenable: Portuguese Peninsular War officers arranged the expelling of the British and began the liberal revolution
Liberal Revolution of 1820
The Liberal Revolution of 1820 was a political revolution that erupted in 1820 and lasted until 1826. It was unchained via a military insurrection in the city of Porto, in northern Portugal, that quickly and peacefully spread to the rest of the country. From 1807 to 1811 Napoleonic French forces...

 at Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

 on 24 August. Liberal institutions were only consolidated after a civil war
Liberal Wars
The Liberal Wars, also known as the Portuguese Civil War, the War of the Two Brothers, or Miguelite War, was a war between progressive constitutionalists and authoritarian absolutists in Portugal over royal succession that lasted from 1828 to 1834...

 in 1832–34.

Cultural

Goya's series of 82 prints The Disasters of War
The Disasters of War
The Disasters of War are a series of 8280 prints in the first published edition , for which the last two plates were not available. See "Execution". prints created between 1810 and 1820 by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya...

(1810–20) remains the most famous and powerful depiction of the war and its effects on the civilian population. The Manuscript Found in Saragossa
The Manuscript Found in Saragossa
The Manuscript Found in Saragossa , is a frame-tale novel by the Polish Enlightenment author, Count Jan Potocki...

by Jan Potocki
Jan Potocki
Count Jan Nepomucen Potocki was a Polish nobleman, Polish Army Captain of Engineers, ethnologist, Egyptologist, linguist, traveler, adventurer and popular author of the Enlightenment period, whose life and exploits made him a legendary figure in his homeland...

 (1814) is narrated from the time of the Peninsular War. Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée was a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He is perhaps best known for his novella Carmen, which became the basis of Bizet's opera Carmen.-Life:...

's Carmen
Carmen (novella)
"Carmen" is a novella by Prosper Mérimée, written and first published in 1845. It has been adapted into a number of dramatic works, including the famous opera by Georges Bizet.-Sources:...

(1845), on which Bizet's opera (1875) was based, is set during the war. The Spanish zarzuela
Zarzuela
Zarzuela is a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular song, as well as dance...

, La Viejecita (1897) set in 1812, celebrates the entry of the joint forces into Madrid. The C. S. Forester
C. S. Forester
Cecil Scott "C.S." Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith , an English novelist who rose to fame with tales of naval warfare. His most notable works were the 11-book Horatio Hornblower series, depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic era, and The African Queen...

 novel Death to the French
Death to the French
Death to the French is a 1932 novel of the Peninsular War during the Napoleonic Wars, written by C. S. Forester, the author of the Horatio Hornblower novels...

(1932) concerns a private in a British Rifle Regiment who is cut off from his unit and joins a group of Portuguese guerrillas. The 1957 motion picture The Pride and the Passion
The Pride and the Passion
The Pride and the Passion is a historical film drama starring Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren made by Stanley Kramer Productions. Set in the Napoleonic era, it is the story of a British officer who has orders to retrieve a huge cannon from Spain and take it to the British forces by ship...

, also set during the war, was based on Forester's The Gun
The Gun (novel)
thumb|1st US edition The Gun is a novel by C.S. Forester about an imaginary series of incidents involving a single eighteen-pound cannon during the Spanish Peninsular War against Napoleon Bonaparte...

(1933). F. L. Lucas
F. L. Lucas
Frank Laurence Lucas was an English classical scholar, literary critic, poet, novelist, playwright, political polemicist, and Fellow of King's College, Cambridge....

's novel The English Agent - A Tale of the Peninsular War (1969), about the Battle of Bailén
Bailen
Bailen may refer to:* Bailén, a town in Jaén, Spain* Battle of Bailén of 1808* General Emilio Aguinaldo, Cavite, a town in the Philippines, which was formerly known as Bailen...

 and its aftermath, is the account of a British Army officer who, gathering information before the first British landings, buys a Frenchwoman at auction to save her from the Spanish mob. Lucas's poem "Spain 1809" (in From Many Times and Lands, 1953), the story of a Spanish village woman's courage during the French occupation, was turned into the play A Kind of Justice by Margaret Wood (1966). Curro Jiménez
Curro Jiménez
Curro Jiménez was a successful Spanish TV series that aired on TVE1 from 22 December 1976 to 1979. Its main theme was Andalusian "bandolerismo" in the 19th century, located in the Ronda mountains...

was a successful Spanish TV series (1976–79) about a generous bandit fighting against the French in the Sierra Morena
Sierra Morena
The Sierra Morena is one of the main systems of mountain ranges in Spain.It stretches for 400 kilometres East-West across southern Spain, forming the southern border of the Meseta Central plateau of the Iberian Peninsula, and providing the watershed between the valleys of the Guadiana to the...

. The Sharpe
Richard Sharpe (fictional character)
Sharpe is a series of historical fiction stories by Bernard Cornwell centred on the character of Richard Sharpe. The stories formed the basis for an ITV television series wherein the eponymous character was played by Sean Bean....

novels (1981–2007) by Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell OBE is an English author of historical novels. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films.-Biography:...

 were a series likewise following the adventures of a British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 officer and set, partly, during the Peninsular War. They were later made into a series of television movies featuring actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

 Sean Bean
Sean Bean
Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean is an English film and stage actor. Bean is best known for playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, previously, British Colonel Richard Sharpe in the ITV television series Sharpe...

 as Sharpe (see Sharpe (TV Series)
Sharpe (TV series)
Sharpe is a British series of television dramas starring Sean Bean about Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe is the hero of a number of novels by Bernard Cornwell; most, though not all, of the episodes are based on the books...

). A short but dramatic episode from the war is given in Gary Jennings
Gary Jennings
Gary Jennings was an American author who wrote children's and adult novels. In 1980, after the successful novel Aztec, he specialized in writing adult historical fiction novels.-Biography:...

's Aztec Rage.
A board wargame
Board wargame
A board wargame is a wargame with a set playing surface or board, as opposed to being played on a computer, or in a more free-form playing area as in miniatures games. The hobby around this type of game got its start in 1954 with the publication of Tactics, and saw its greatest popularity in the...

 called Wellington — The Peninsular War 1812–1814 was produced by GMT Games
GMT Games
GMT Games, probably the most prolific of the wargame companies in the 1990s and 2000s, was founded in 1990. The current management and creative team includes Tony Curtis, Rodger MacGowan, Mark Simonitch, and Andy Lewis...

 in 2005.

The Peninsular War saw the first use of medal bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

s. Also known as "devices", these are clasps affixed to the ribbons from which medal
Medal
A medal, or medallion, is generally a circular object that has been sculpted, molded, cast, struck, stamped, or some way rendered with an insignia, portrait, or other artistic rendering. A medal may be awarded to a person or organization as a form of recognition for athletic, military, scientific,...

s are suspended. The Peninsular Medal, more properly known as the Army Gold Medal
Army Gold Medal
The Army Gold Medal , also known as the Peninsular Gold Medal, with an accompanying Gold Cross, was a British campaign medal awarded in recognition of field and general officers' successful commands in recent campaigns, predominately the Peninsular War...

, was issued to senior officers in Wellington's army. Clasps were added, each giving the name of a major battle in which the holder participated. When four clasps were earned a Peninsular Cross was awarded. Each arm was inscribed with one of the battles named on an earned clasp. Subsequent clasps were then added to the ribbon. Wellington's Peninsular Cross, featuring a unique nine clasps (thirteen battles), can be seen on his uniform in the basement of Apsley House
Apsley House
Apsley House, also known as Number One, London, is the former London residence of the Dukes of Wellington. It stands alone at Hyde Park Corner, on the south-east corner of Hyde Park, facing south towards the busy traffic interchange and Wellington Arch...

. In 1847, the surviving lower ranked officers and enlisted men received the Military General Service Medal
Military General Service Medal
The Military General Service Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1847, for issue to officers and men of the British Army.The MGSM was approved on 1 June 1847 as a retrospective award for various military actions from 1793–1814; a period encompassing the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic...

, with battle clasps, for service in this conflict.

Further reading

  • Esdaile, Charles J. Fighting Napoleon Yale University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-300-10112-0.
  • Esdaile, Charles J. The Spanish Army in the Peninsular War Manchester University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-7190-2538-9.
  • Fletcher, Ian Peninsular War; Aspects of the Struggle for the Iberian Peninsula Spellmount Publishers, 2003, ISBN 1-873376-82-0.
  • Fletcher, Ian (ed.) The Campaigns of Wellington, (3 vols), Vol 1. The Peninsular War 1808–1811; Vol. 2. The Peninsular War 1812–1814, The Folio Society, 2007.
  • Goya, Francisco The Disasters of War Dover Publications, 1967, ISBN 0-486-21872-4.
  • Griffith, Paddy A History of the Peninsular War: Modern Studies of the War in Spain and Portugal, 1808-14 v. 9 Greenhill Books, 1999, ISBN 1-85367-348-X.
  • Lovett, Gabriel H. Napoleon and the Birth of Modern Spain New York UP, 1965, ISBN 0-8147-0267-8.
  • Napier, William
    William Francis Patrick Napier
    General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier KCB , Irish soldier in the British Army and military historian, third son of Colonel George Napier was born at Celbridge, near Dublin.-Military service:...

    . The War in the Peninsula (6 vols), London: John Murray (Vol 1), and private (Vols 2-6), 1828-40.
  • Oman, Charles
    Charles Oman
    Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman was a British military historian of the early 20th century. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering...

    . The History of the Peninsular War (7 vols), Oxford, 1903-30.
  • Rathbone, Julian Wellington's War, Michael Joseph, 1984, ISBN 0-7181-2396-4
  • Suchet, Marshal Duke D'Albufera Memoirs of the War in Spain Pete Kautz, 2007, 2 volumes: ISBN 1-85818-477-0 & ISBN 1-85818-476-2.
  • Urban, Mark. Rifles: Six years with Wellington's legendary sharpshooters Pub Faber & Faber, 2003. ISBN 0-571-21681-1
  • Urban, Mark. The Man who Broke Napoleon's Codes. Faber and Faber Ltd, London 2001. ISBN 0-571-20513-5

External links

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