French Forces Restore Ferdinand VII - History

French Forces Restore Ferdinand VII - History

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The French intervened in the Spanish revolution in 1823. They invade Spain and force the rebel forces to hand over Ferdinand VII who they restore to power. Ferdinand then rules Spain with an iron fist for the next ten years.

Key Events in Spanish History

The key historical events which took place in Spain involved periods when the country was a globally imperial force shaping Europe, Africa and the Americas, and when it was a hotbed of revolutionary fervor that brought it close to disintegration.

The first human occupants of the Iberian peninsula where Spain lies arrived by at least 1.2 million years ago and Spain was occupied continuously since then. The first records of Spain were written about 2,250 years ago, and so Spanish history was ushered in with the arrival of the North African rulers of Carthage after the end of the first Punic Wars.

Since that time, Spain has been formed and reformed by its different owners (Visigoths, Christians, Muslims, England and France among others) and been both an imperial force across the world and a nation at the mercy of its invading neighbors. Below are the important moments in the history of Spain that played a role in inventing the strong and prosperous democracy it is today.

France, 1815–1940

King Louis XVIII’s second return from exile was far from glorious. Neither the victorious powers nor Louis’s French subjects viewed his restoration with much enthusiasm, yet there seemed to be no ready alternative to Bourbon rule. The allies avenged themselves for the Hundred Days by writing a new and more severe Treaty of Paris. France lost several frontier territories, notably the Saar basin and Savoy (Savoie), that had been annexed in 1789–92 a war indemnity of 700 million francs was imposed and, pending full payment, eastern France was to be occupied by allied troops at French expense.

Within France, political tensions were exacerbated by Napoleon’s mad gamble and by the mistakes committed during the first restoration. The problem facing the Bourbons would have been difficult enough without these tensions—namely, how to arrive at a stable compromise between those Frenchmen who saw the Revolutionary changes as irreversible and those who were determined to resurrect the ancien régime. The reactionary element, labeled ultraroyalists (or simply “ultras”), was now more intransigent than ever and set out to purge the country of all those who had betrayed the dynasty. A brief period of “ white terror” in the south claimed some 300 victims in Paris, many high officials who had rallied to Napoleon were dismissed, and a few eminent figures, notably Marshal Michel Ney, were tried and shot. The king refused, however, to scrap the Charter of 1814, in spite of ultra pressure. When a new Chamber of Deputies was elected in August 1815, the ultras scored a sweeping victory the surprised king, who had feared a surge of antimonarchical sentiment, greeted the legislature as la chambre introuvable (“the incomparable chamber”). But the political honeymoon was short-lived. Louis was shrewd enough, or cautious enough, to realize that ultra policies would divide the country and might in the end destroy the dynasty. He chose as ministers, therefore, such moderate royalists as Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis, duc de Richelieu, and Élie Decazes—men who knew the nation would not tolerate an attempt to resurrect the 18th century.

There followed a year of sharp friction between these moderate ministers and the ultra-dominated Chamber—friction and unrest that made Europe increasingly nervous about the viability of the restored monarchy. Representatives of the occupying powers began to express their concern to the king. At last, in September 1816, his ministers persuaded him to dissolve the Chamber and order new elections, and the moderate royalists emerged with a clear majority. In spite of ultra fury, several years of relative stability ensued. Richelieu and Decazes, with solid support in the Chamber, could proceed with their attempt to pursue a moderate course. By 1818 they were able, thanks to loans from English and Dutch bankers, to pay off the war indemnity and thus to end the allied occupation at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, France was welcomed back into the Concert of Europe. In domestic politics there were some signs that France might be moving toward a British-style parliamentary monarchy, even though the Charter had carefully avoided making the king’s ministers responsible to the Chamber of Deputies. In the Chamber something anticipating a party system also began to emerge: ultras on the right, independents (or liberals) on the left, constitutionalists (or moderates) in the centre. None of these factions yet possessed the real attributes of a party—disciplined organization and doctrinal coherence. The most heterogeneous of all was the independent group—an uneasy coalition of republicans, Bonapartists, and constitutional monarchists brought together by their common hostility to the Bourbons and their common determination to preserve or restore many of the Revolutionary reforms.

The era of moderate rule (1816–20) was marked by a slow but steady advance of the liberal left. Each year one-fifth of the Chamber faced reelection, and each year more independents won seats, despite the narrowly restricted suffrage. The ultras, in real or simulated panic, predicted disaster for the regime and the nation but the king clung stubbornly to his favourite, Decazes, who by now was head of the government in all but name, and Decazes, in turn, clung to his middle way.

The uneasy balance was wrecked in February 1820 by the assassination of the king’s nephew, Charles-Ferdinand de Bourbon, duc de Berry. The assassin, a fanatic Bonapartist, proudly announced his purpose: to extinguish the royal line by destroying the last Bourbon still young enough to produce a male heir. In this aim he failed, for Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Sicile, duchesse de Berry, seven months later bore a son, whom the royalists hailed as “the miracle child.” But the assassin did bring to an end the period of moderate rule and returned the ultras to power. In the wave of emotion that followed, the king dismissed Decazes and manipulated the elections in favour of the ultras, who regained control of the Chamber and dominated the new cabinet headed by one of their leaders, Joseph, comte de Villèle.

This swing toward reaction goaded some segments of the liberal left into conspiratorial activity. A newly formed secret society called the Charbonnerie, which borrowed its name and ritual from the Italian Carbonari, laid plans for an armed insurrection, but their rising in 1822 was easily crushed. One group of conspirators—“the four sergeants of La Rochelle”—became heroic martyrs in the popular mythology of the French left. Subversion gave the government an excuse for intensified repression: the press was placed under more rigid censorship and the school system subjected to the clergy.

Meanwhile, the ultras were winning public support through a more assertive foreign policy. Spain had been in a state of quasi-civil war since 1820, when a revolt by the so-called liberal faction in the army had forced King Ferdinand VII to grant a constitution and to authorize the election of a parliament. The European powers, disturbed at the state of semianarchy in Spain, accepted a French offer to restore Ferdinand’s authority by forcible intervention. In 1823 French troops crossed the Pyrenees and, despite predictions of disaster from the liberal left, easily took Madrid and reestablished the king’s untrammeled power. This successful adventure strengthened the ultra politicians and discredited their critics. In the elections of 1824 the ultras increased their grip on the Chamber and won a further victory in September 1824 when the aged Louis XVIII died, leaving the throne to a new king who was the very embodiment of the ultra spirit.

French Forces Restore Ferdinand VII - History

Coins of the Second Empire of Mexico

Napoleon III and his plans for Empire

Meticulously researched and filled with colorful narrative

The civil war ended in Mexico in 1860 and the cash strapped new government of Benito Juarez suspended payments on foreign debts incurred by the deposed President Miramon . Britain, Spain and France sent warships to Vera Cruz to protect their investments . Mexican emigres in Paris persuaded Empress Eugenie ( 1826-1920 wife of Napoleon III ), that only a strong monarchy could restore order to Mexico and the empress pressed her husband to intervene . France was riding high in prestige, having recently presiding over the Peace of Paris in 1860 which ended the Crimean War and completed the Suez Canal in 1869 . The French colonial empire was expanding ( the "Second Colonial Empire" ) with the conquest of Algiers and subsequent additions of Algerian territory starting in 1830, Cochinchina (southern Vietnam) starting in 1864 and Cambodia was made a protectorate of France in 1867 .

Napoleon III had a more grandiose plan than debt collection when he sent troops to Mexico . Urged on by his own dream of emulating the great Napoleon and his Spanish wife Eugenie, he was determined to make France great again . He also wished to build a canal and railway across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to make another great engineering feat like the Suez Canal . Napoleon III convinced the Austrian archduke Maximilian von Habsburg that the Mexican people would welcome him as a king . America was too involved with its own Civil War to enforce the Monroe Doctrine and Napoleon sent an expeditionary force of 27,000 to Mexico . As mentioned before, the Spanish and British withdrew their troops when they learned of the French intentions .

French army enters Vera Cruz Illustrated Times 1862

Charge of the Mexican Cavalry at the Battle of Puebla

Painting depicts the charge of the Mexican cavalry overwhelming

The French defeat at Puebla

The French marched on from the coast to Mexico City under the command of Charles Latrille. The French expected to be welcomed by the conservatives and the clergy . The Mexicans dug in at Puebla and heavily fortified it under General Ignacio Zaragoza, where around 4,500 Mexicans troops faced off against around 6,000 French. The French expected the Mexicans to retreat in the face of an aggressive assault and attacked recklessly. The French ran low on ammunition and many of their troops were weakened by sickness . On May 5, 1862, the Mexican forces managed to drive back the French to Veracruz and the date became the major Mexican Celebration of Cinco de Mayo . The Mexicans lost 83 men while the French lost 462.

Cinco De Mayo La Batalla Official Trailer

Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife Marie Charlotte

Juarez 1939 starring Bette Davis and Paul Muni, The film focuses on the conflict between Maximilian I, a European political dupe who is installed as the puppet ruler of Mexico by the French, and Benito Juárez, the country's president.

French troops at Cherbourg board for Mexico

Upon hearing of the disaster at Puebla, Napoleon ordered 30,000 reinforcements .It was a year before the French army was prepared to march again . The French bombarded Puebla, under the command of General Jesus Ortega after the death of General Ignacio Zaragoza of typhoid fever, for days and forced it to surrender after a siege of two months . The French army under Marshal Elie Forey took Mexico City on May 31 after the Juaristas evacuated north to San Luis Potosi.

French mortars at Puebla, Harper's Weekly 1863

The Battle of Camaron

One battle at this time, that of Camaron on April 30, 1863, in the state of Veracruz became one of the most famous in the annals of the French Foreign Legion . Here, 60 legionnaires under the command of Captain Jean Danjou, who had a wooden hand, met a force of roughly a thousand Mexican guerrillas where they fought until only five legionnaires and Captain Jean Danjou survived. They surrendered and freed in a prisoner exchange .

The history of the French Foreign Legion's wooden hand

Map of operations during the French

Intervention in Mexico . Click for larger image .

Maximilian becomes the Emperor of Mexico

On June 3, 1863 the French commander selected a provisional government of 35 conservatives .The executive triumvirate was made up of General Juan Almonte, General Mariano Salas and Bishop Pelagio Labastida . In October 1863 a delegation of Mexican conservatives visited Ferdinand Maximilian in Europe and made an offer for him to become the emperor of Mexico . Maximilian agreed if this was accepted by the Mexican people themselves . A plebiscite was held in Mexico under the control of the French Army, which of course approved him .Before Maximilian left Europe he met with Napoleon and it was agreed that Maximilian would pay the salaries of the French troops which would remain in Mexico until 1867. He was proclaimed Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico on April 10, 1864.

The Administration of the Emperor

Ferdinand and his wife Marie arrived in Veracruz in May of 1864 where they were coldly welcomed by the local people . On June 12 they arrived in Mexico City after paying his respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Basilica of Guadalupe . An imperial court was established at Chapultepec Castle . Once a week he opened the castle to the public to hear the concerns of the people and toured the provinces. He declared a free press and declared a general amnesty to win the support of the people .

To the dismay of his conservative allies, Maximilian upheld several liberal policies proposed by the Juarez administration such as land reforms, religious freedoms, and extending the right to vote beyond the landholding class. The emperor refused to suspend the Reform Laws that would return church lands and even levied forced loans against it . The emperor , a Mason, considered himself an enlightened despot and in addition to this hoped to gain Mexican liberal support .

The support of Napoleon began to wane as the Mexicans fought against French rule, but Maximilian and Carlota considered themselves on a holy mission . He drafted a new constitution which provided for a hereditary monarchy, religious toleration , equality under the law and did away with debt peonage . He sought to use the clergy as civil servants and pay salaries in order to do away with tithing and fees . He even named Jose Fernando, a moderate liberal, as secretary of foreign affairs . The liberals, for the most part were not impressed by these actions and Maximilian only succeeded in alienating them both liberals and conservatives. Maximilian consorted with prostitutes, and Carlota out of fear of catching a disease refused to sleep with him, creating a succession issue. This was solved by adopting the grandson of the first emperor of Mexico.

Dark Days for the Republicans

Juarez withdrew to San Luis Potosi and then to Chihuahua. French forces then forced his small army further north to modern day Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso .The empire was its strongest from 1864 to 1865. Marshal Bazaine defeated Porfirio Diazin Oaxaca after a six month siege. After its fall, the republicans only held four states, Guerro, Chihuahua, Sonora and Baja.

The Emperor issues the Black Decree

In October 1865, the emperor believed Juarez had fled to the US , which was not the case .The emperor then issued the infamous Black Decree decree mandating the death penalty for all captured armed Juaristas. There would be no courts-martial or pardons by the emperor .Within a few days two Juarista generals were captured and shot. This decree, however, was to lead to the emperors own death .The French, however, had trouble pacifying the country due to guerrilla warfare and the French were hated in much of the country for their drastic counter guerrilla actions.

American Support for Juarez and a Confederate Offer

Juarez realized he need more support and sought aid from the Lincoln administration, which had never recognized Maximilian's government . After the downfall of the Confederacy, Secretary of State Seward began applying pressure on Napoleon III and allowed Juaristas to purchase arms in the US . Three thousand Union veterans joined the Juarista army and the Mexican coast was blockaded. General Grant ordered 42,000 men under Sheridan to Brownsville, across the river from the imperial army under the command of Tomas Mejia and it looked as if the US would invade Mexico on behalf of the Juaristas, but nothing came of it .

After the fall of the Confederacy, General Joseph Shelby and his men rode south into Mexico to offer their services to Emperor Maximilian, who declined to accept the ex-Confederates into his armed forces. However, the emperor did grant them land for an American colony in Mexico.

Napoleon withdraws Troops, the Empress Pleads

With these considerations and the rising power of Prussia, Napoleon began to withdraw his troops in late 1866 and urged Maximilian to abdicate. This left Maximilian in a dangerous position and considered abdicating his throne, but his wife, saying he must maintain Hapsburg dignity, talked him out of it. She would travel to Europe herself to talk with Napoleon and to the Pope, but to no avail and later suffered an emotional collapse.During the remainder of her life (1867-1927) she believed herself still to be the empress of the Mexicans .

Execution of Maximilian and Generals Miguel Miramon

and Tomas Mejia, Harper's Weekly

Downfall of the Emperor

Juarez and his army assumed the offensive in the spring of 1866 .During the summer the republicans captured Saltillo, Monterey, Tampico, Durango and later in the year Guadalajara and Oaxaca. The end came in the city of Queretaro where the last of the French troops in Mexico were marching to Veracruz to leave Mexico under Marshal Bazaine, who urged the emperor to join him. The last French soldier left on March 16. Portirio Diaz, who escaped his captors after the fall of Oaxaca, took command of the army of the East and defeated a conservative army outside Mexico City and put the capital under siege .

The emperor is Betrayed

Maximilian took command of a few thousand Mexican imperial troops but was surrounded by a republican army four times as strong .The battle began on Feb 19, 1867 and the defenders held of the republicans for almost a hundred days .On May 11 he decided to attempt an escape through the enemy lines. However on May 15, 1867, before he could carry out this plan,a member of the imperial cavalry betrayed the emperor and opened a gate to the besiegers and Maximilian was captured , along with Miramon and Mejia .

Reasons for the Execution of the Emperor

Juarez decided that the emperor would be tried by court-martial, and the emperor's death decree of 1865 that had executed so many left little room for compassion . It was also felt that Maximilian might return and would make the new government look weak . He was also popular and even venerated by some of the Mexican population and it was feared they might rally around him in the future .He was executed by firing squad on June 19, 1867 on the Hill of Bells (Cerro de las Campanas) together with his Generals Miguel Miraman and Toms Mejia.Two days late Diaz captured Mexico City from the conservative armies .

Over 50,000 Mexicans had lost their lives fighting the French and the country was devestated after a decade of warfare. However, it was a vindication for the republicans and the Constitution of 1867, the power of the church and conservatives was broken and a sense of Mexican nationalism began to grow .It also introduced French ideas, fashion and culture into Mexico . Liberalism became associated with independence from foreign aggression . However, the lack of a central authority for so long increased regionalism and banditry which would lead to future domestic strife .

The Execution of Emperor Maximilian (Manet) Manet's depiction of this historical event borrows heavily from Goya in both theme and visual technique despite establishing a unique method of depiction. Learn more about art as a medium for political and psychological commentary.


Extortion of Portugal Edit

The Treaties of Tilsit, negotiated during a meeting in July 1807 between Emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon, concluded the War of the Fourth Coalition. With Prussia shattered, and the Russian Empire allied with the First French Empire, Napoleon expressed irritation that Portugal was open to trade with Britain. [17] Pretexts were plentiful Portugal was Britain's oldest ally in Europe, Britain was finding new opportunities for trade with Portugal's colony in Brazil, the Royal Navy used Lisbon's port in its operations against France, and he wanted to deny the British the use of the Portuguese fleet. Furthermore, Prince John of Braganza, regent for his insane mother Queen Maria I, had declined to join the emperor's Continental System against British trade. [18]

Events moved rapidly. The Emperor sent orders on 19 July 1807 to his Foreign Minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, to order Portugal to declare war on Britain, close its ports to British ships, detain British subjects on a provisional basis and sequester their goods. After a few days, a large force started concentrating at Bayonne. [19] Meanwhile, the Portuguese government's resolve was stiffening, and shortly afterward Napoleon was once again told that Portugal would not go beyond its original agreements. Napoleon now had all the pretext that he needed, while his force, the First Corps of Observation of the Gironde with divisional general Jean-Andoche Junot in command, was prepared to march on Lisbon. After he received the Portuguese answer, he ordered Junot's corps to cross the frontier into the Spanish Empire. [20]

While all this was going on, the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau had been signed between France and Spain. The document was drawn up by Napoleon's marshal of the palace Géraud Duroc and Eugenio Izquierdo, an agent for Manuel Godoy. [21] The treaty proposed to carve up Portugal into three entities. Porto and the northern part was to become the Kingdom of Northern Lusitania, under Charles II, Duke of Parma. The southern portion, as the Principality of the Algarves, would fall to Godoy. The rump of the country, centered on Lisbon, was to be administered by the French. [22] According to the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Junot's invasion force was to be supported by 25,500 Spanish troops. [23] On 12 October, Junot's corps began crossing the Bidasoa River into Spain at Irun. [20] Junot was selected because he had served as ambassador to Portugal in 1805. He was known as a good fighter and an active officer, although he had never exercised independent command. [21]

Spanish dilemma Edit

By 1800, Spain was in a state of social unrest. Townsfolk and peasants all over the country, who had been forced to bury family members in new municipal cemeteries rather than churches or other consecrated ground, took back their bodies at night and tried to restore them to their old resting-places. In Madrid, the growing numbers of afrancesados (Francophiles) at court were opposed by the majos: shopkeepers, artisans, tavern keepers, and laborers who dressed in traditional style, and took pleasure in picking fights with petimetres, the young who styled themselves with French fashion and manners. [24]

Spain was an ally of Napoleon's First French Empire however, defeat in the naval Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805, which had decimated Spain's navy, had removed the reason for alliance with France. Manuel Godoy, the favorite of King Charles IV of Spain, began to seek some form of escape. At the start of the War of the Fourth Coalition, which pitted the Kingdom of Prussia against Napoleon, Godoy issued a proclamation that was obviously aimed at France, even though it did not specify an enemy. After Napoleon's decisive victory at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt, Godoy quickly withdrew the proclamation. However, it was too late to avert Napoleon's suspicions. Napoleon planned from that moment to deal with his inconstant ally at some future time. In the meantime, the Emperor forced Godoy and Charles IV into providing a division of Spanish troops to serve in northern Europe. [25] The Division of the North spent the winter of 1807–1808 in Swedish Pomerania, Mecklenburg, and towns of the old Hanseatic League. Spanish troops marched into Denmark in early 1808. [26]

Invasion of Portugal Edit

Concerned that Britain might intervene in Portugal, an old and important ally, or that the Portuguese might resist, Napoleon decided to speed up the invasion timetable, and instructed Junot to move west from Alcántara along the Tagus valley to Portugal, a distance of only 120 miles (193 km). [27] On 19 November 1807, Junot set out for Lisbon and occupied it on 30 November. [28]

The Prince Regent John escaped, loading his family, courtiers, state papers and treasure aboard the fleet, protected by the British, and fled to Brazil. He was joined in flight by many nobles, merchants and others. With 15 warships and more than 20 transports, the fleet of refugees weighed anchor on 29 November and set sail for the colony of Brazil. [29] The flight had been so chaotic that 14 carts loaded with treasure were left behind on the docks. [30]

As one of Junot's first acts, the property of those who had fled to Brazil was sequestered [31] and a 100-million-franc indemnity imposed. [32] The army formed into a Portuguese Legion, and went to northern Germany to perform garrison duty. [31] Junot did his best to calm the situation by trying to keep his troops under control. While the Portuguese authorities were generally subservient toward their French occupiers, the ordinary Portuguese were angry, [31] and the harsh taxes caused bitter resentment among the population. By January 1808, there were executions of persons who resisted the exactions of the French. The situation was dangerous, but it would need a trigger from outside to transform unrest into revolt. [32]

Coup d'état Edit

Between 9 and 12 February, the French divisions of the eastern and western Pyrenees crossed the border and occupied Navarre and Catalonia, including the citadels of Pamplona and Barcelona. The Spanish government demanded explanations from their French allies, but these did not satisfy and in response Godoy pulled Spanish troops out of Portugal. [33] Since Spanish fortress commanders had not received instructions from the central government, they were unsure how to treat the French troops, who marched openly as allies with flags flying and bands announcing their arrival. Some commanders opened their fortresses to them, while others resisted. General Guillaume Philibert Duhesme, who occupied Barcelona with 12,000 troops, soon found himself besieged in the citadel he was not relieved until January 1809. [34]

On 20 February, Joachim Murat was appointed lieutenant of the emperor and commander of all French troops in Spain, which now numbered 60,000 [33] –100,000. [34] On 24 February, Napoleon declared that he no longer considered himself bound by the Treaty of Fontainebleau. [33] In early March, Murat established his headquarters in Vitoria and received 6,000 reinforcements from the Imperial Guard. [33]

On 19 March 1808, Godoy fell from power in the Mutiny of Aranjuez and Charles IV was forced to abdicate in favour of his son, Ferdinand VII. [35] In the aftermath of the abdication, attacks on godoyistas were frequent. [36] On 23 March, Murat entered Madrid with pomp. Ferdinand VII arrived on 27 March and asked Murat to get Napoleon's confirmation of his accession. [34] Charles IV, however, was persuaded to protest his abdication to Napoleon, who summoned the royal family, both kings included, to Bayonne in France. There on 5 May, under French pressure, the two kings both abdicated their claims to Napoleon. [35] Napoleon then had the Junta de Gobierno—the council of regency in Madrid—formally ask him to appoint his brother Joseph as King of Spain. The abdication of Ferdinand was only publicised on 20 May. [37]

Iberia in revolt Edit

On 2 May, the citizens of Madrid rebelled against the French occupation the uprising was put down by Joachim Murat's elite Imperial Guard and Mamluk cavalry, which crashed into the city and trampled the rioters . [38] In addition, the Mamelukes of the Imperial Guard of Napoleon fought residents of Madrid, wearing turbans and using curved scimitars, thus provoking memories of the Muslim Spain. [39] The next day, as immortalized by Francisco Goya in his painting The Third of May 1808, the French army shot hundreds of Madrid's citizens. Similar reprisals occurred in other cities and continued for days. Bloody, spontaneous fighting known as guerrilla (literally "little war") broke out in much of Spain against the French as well as the Ancien Régime's officials. Although the Spanish government, including the Council of Castile, had accepted Napoleon's decision to grant the Spanish crown to his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, the Spanish population rejected Napoleon's plans. [40] The first wave of uprisings were in Cartagena and Valencia on 23 May Zaragoza and Murcia on 24 May and the province of Asturias, which cast out its French governor on 25 May and declared war on Napoleon. Within weeks, all the Spanish provinces followed suit. [41] After hearing of the Spanish uprising, Portugal erupted in revolt in June. A French detachment under Louis Henri Loison crushed the rebels at Évora on 29 July and massacred the town's population.

The deteriorating strategic situation led France to increase its military commitments. By 1 June, over 65,000 troops were rushing into the country to control the crisis. [42] The main French army of 80,000 held a narrow strip of central Spain from Pamplona and San Sebastián in the north to Madrid and Toledo in the centre. The French in Madrid sheltered behind an additional 30,000 troops under Marshal Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey. Jean-Andoche Junot's corps in Portugal was cut off by 300 miles (480 km) of hostile territory, but within days of the outbreak of revolt, French columns in Old Castile, New Castile, Aragon and Catalonia were searching for the insurgent forces.

Conventional warfare Edit

To defeat the insurgency, Pierre Dupont de l'Étang led 24,430 men south toward Seville and Cádiz Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières moved into Aragon and Old Castile with 25,000 men, aiming to capture Santander and Zaragoza. Moncey marched toward Valencia with 29,350 men, and Guillaume Philibert Duhesme marshalled 12,710 troops in Catalonia and moved against Girona. [43] [44]

At the two successive Combats of El Bruc outside Barcelona, Schwarz's 4,000 troops were defeated by local Catalan militia, the Miquelets (also known as sometents). Guillaume Philibert Duhesme's Franco-Italian division of almost 6000 troops failed to storm Girona and was forced to return to Barcelona. [45] 6000 French troops under Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes attacked Zaragoza and were beaten off by José de Palafox y Melci's militia. [46] Moncey's push to take Valencia ended in failure, with 1000 French recruits dying in an attempt to storm the city. After defeating Spanish counterattacks, Moncey retreated. [47] At the Battle of Medina de Rioseco on 14 July, Bessières defeated Cuesta and Old Castile returned to French control. Blake escaped, but the Spaniards lost 2,200 men and thirteen guns. French losses were minimal at 400 men. [48] Bessières's victory salvaged the French army's strategic position in northern Spain. Joseph entered Madrid on 20 July [48] and on 25 July he was crowned King of Spain. [49] On 10 June, five French ships of the line anchored at Cádiz were seized by the Spanish. [50] Dupont was disturbed enough to curtail his march at Cordoba, and then on 16 June to fall back to Andújar. [51] Cowed by the mass hostility of the Andalusians, he broke off his offensive and was then defeated at Bailén, where he surrendered his entire Army Corps to Castaños.

The catastrophe was total. With the loss of 24,000 troops, Napoleon's military machine in Spain collapsed. Stunned by the defeat, on 1 August Joseph evacuated the capital for Old Castile, while ordering Verdier to abandon the siege of Zaragoza and Bessières to retire from Leon the entire French army sheltered behind the Ebro. [52] By this time, Girona had resisted a Second Siege. Europe welcomed this first check to the hitherto unbeatable Imperial armies—a Bonaparte had been chased from his throne tales of Spanish heroism inspired Austria and showed the force of national resistance. Bailén set in motion the rise of the Fifth Coalition. [53]

British intervention Edit

Britain's involvement in the Peninsular War was the start of a prolonged campaign in Europe to increase British military power on land and liberate the Iberian peninsula from the French. [54] In August 1808, 15,000 British troops—including the King's German Legion—landed in Portugal under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, who drove back Henri François Delaborde's 4,000-strong detachment at Roliça on 17 August and smashed Junot's main force of 14,000 men at Vimeiro. Wellesley was replaced at first by Sir Harry Burrard and then Sir Hew Dalrymple. Dalrymple granted Junot an unmolested evacuation from Portugal by the Royal Navy in the controversial Convention of Sintra in August. In early October 1808, following the scandal in Britain over the Convention of Sintra and the recall of the generals Dalrymple, Burrard, and Wellesley, Sir John Moore took command of the 30,000-man British force in Portugal. [55] In addition, Sir David Baird, in command of an expedition of reinforcements out of Falmouth consisting of 150 transports carrying between 12,000 and 13,000 men, convoyed by HMS Louie, HMS Amelia and HMS Champion, entered Corunna Harbour on 13 October. [56] Logistical and administrative problems prevented any immediate British offensive. [57]

Meanwhile, the British had made a substantial contribution to the Spanish cause by helping to evacuate some 9,000 men of La Romana's Division of the North from Denmark. [58] In August 1808, the British Baltic fleet helped transport the Spanish division, except three regiments that failed to escape, back to Spain by way of Gothenburg in Sweden. The division arrived in Santander in October 1808. [59]

Napoleon's invasion of Spain Edit

After the surrender of a French army corps at Bailén and the loss of Portugal, Napoleon was convinced of the peril he faced in Spain. With his Armée d'Espagne of 278,670 men drawn up on the Ebro, facing 80,000 raw, disorganized Spanish troops, [60] Napoleon and his marshals carried out a massive double envelopment of the Spanish lines in November 1808. [61] Napoleon struck with overwhelming strength and the Spanish defense evaporated at Burgos, Tudela, Espinosa and Somosierra. Madrid surrendered itself on 1 December. Joseph Bonaparte was restored to his throne. The Junta was forced to abandon Madrid in November 1808, and resided in the Alcázar of Seville from 16 December 1808 until 23 January 1810. [62] In Catalonia, Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr's 17,000-strong VII Corps besieged and captured Roses from an Anglo-Spanish garrison, destroyed part of Juan Miguel de Vives y Feliu's Spanish army at Cardedeu near Barcelona on 16 December and routed the Spaniards under Conde de Caldagues and Theodor von Reding at Molins de Rei.

Corunna campaign, 1808–1809 Edit

By November 1808, the British army led by Moore was advancing into Spain with orders to assist the Spanish armies' fight against Napoleon's forces. [63] Moore decided to attack Soult's scattered and isolated 16,000-man corps' at Carrión, opening his attack with a successful raid by Lieutenant-General Paget's cavalry on the French picquets at Sahagún on 21 December. [64] [65]

Abandoning plans to immediately conquer Seville and Portugal, Napoleon rapidly amassed 80,000 troops and debouched from the Sierra de Guadarrama into the plains of Old Castile to encircle the British Army. Moore retreated for the safety of the British fleet at La Coruna and Soult failed to intercept him. [66] [67] The rearguard of La Romana's retreating force was overrun at Mansilla on 30 December by Soult, who captured León the next day. Moore's retreat was marked by a breakdown of discipline in many regiments and punctuated by stubborn rearguard actions at Benavente and Cacabelos. [68] The British troops escaped to the sea after fending off a strong French attack at Corunna, in which Moore was killed. Some 26,000 troops reached Britain, with 7,000 men lost over the course of the expedition. [69] The French occupied the most populated region in Spain, including the important towns of Lugo and La Corunna. [70] The Spanish were shocked by the British retreat. [71] Napoleon returned to France on 19 January 1809 to prepare for war with Austria, giving the Spanish command back to his marshals.

Spanish campaign, early 1809 Edit

Fall of Zaragoza Edit

Zaragoza, already scarred from Lefebvre's bombardments that summer, was under a second siege that had commenced on 20 December. Lannes and Moncey committed two army corps of 45,000 men and considerable artillery firepower. Palafox's second defence brought the city enduring national and international fame. [72] The Spaniards fought with determination, endured disease and starvation, entrenching themselves in convents and burning their own homes. The garrison of 44,000 left 8,000 survivors—1,500 of them ill— [69] but the Grande Armée did not advance beyond the Ebro's shore. On 20 February 1809, the garrison capitulated, leaving behind burnt-out ruins filled with 64,000 corpses, of which 10,000 were French. [72] [73]

First Madrid offensive Edit

The Junta took over direction of the Spanish war effort and established war taxes, organized an Army of La Mancha, signed a treaty of alliance with Britain on 14 January 1809 and issued a royal decree on 22 May to convene a Cortes. An attempt by the Spanish Army of the center to recapture Madrid ended with the complete destruction of the Spanish forces at Uclés on 13 January by Victor's I Corps. The French lost 200 men while their Spanish opponents lost 6,887. King Joseph made a triumphant entry into Madrid after the battle. Sébastiani defeated Cartaojal's army at Ciudad Real on 27 March, inflicting 2,000 casualties and suffering negligible losses. Victor invaded southern Spain and routed Gregorio de la Cuesta's army at Medellín near Badajoz on 28 March. [74] Cuesta lost 10,000 men in a staggering defeat, while the French lost only 1,000. [75]

Liberation of Galicia Edit

On 27 March, Spanish forces defeated the French at Vigo, recaptured most of the cities in the province of Pontevedra and forced the French to retreat to Santiago de Compostela. On 7 June, the French army of Marshal Michel Ney was defeated at Puente Sanpayo in Pontevedra by Spanish forces under the command of Colonel Pablo Morillo, and Ney and his forces retreated to Lugo on 9 June while being harassed by Spanish guerrillas. Ney's troops joined up with those of Soult and these forces withdrew for the last time from Galicia in July 1809. [ citation needed ]

French advance in Catalonia Edit

In Catalonia, Saint-Cyr defeated Reding again at Valls on 25 February. Reding was killed and his army lost 3,000 men for French losses of 1,000. Saint-Cyr began the Third Siege of Girona on 6 May and the city finally fell on 12 December. [76] Louis-Gabriel Suchet's III Corps was defeated at Alcañiz by Blake on 23 May, losing 2,000 men. Suchet retaliated at María on 15 June, crushing Blake's right wing and inflicting 5,000 casualties. Three days later, Blake lost 2,000 more men to Suchet at Belchite. Saint-Cyr was relieved of his command in September for deserting his troops. [ citation needed ]

Second Portuguese campaign Edit

After Corunna, Soult turned his attention to the invasion of Portugal. Discounting garrisons and the sick, Soult's II Corps had 20,000 men for the operation. He stormed the Spanish naval base at Ferrol on 26 January 1809, capturing eight ships of the line, three frigates, several thousand prisoners and 20,000 Brown Bess muskets, which were used to re-equip the French infantry. [77] In March 1809, Soult invaded Portugal through the northern corridor, with Francisco da Silveira's 12,000 Portuguese troops unraveling amid riot and disorder, and within two days of crossing the border Soult had taken the fortress of Chaves. [78] Swinging west, 16,000 of Soult's professional troops attacked and killed 4,000 of 25,000 unprepared and undisciplined Portuguese at Braga at the cost of 200 Frenchmen. In the First Battle of Porto on 29 March, the Portuguese defenders panicked and lost between 6,000 and 20,000 men dead, wounded or captured and immense quantities of supplies. Suffering fewer than 500 casualties Soult had secured Portugal's second city with its valuable dockyards and arsenals intact. [79] [80] Soult halted at Porto to refit his army before advancing on Lisbon. [81]

Wellesley returned to Portugal in April 1809 to command the British army, reinforced with Portuguese regiments trained by General Beresford. These new forces turned Soult out of Portugal at the Battle of Grijó (10–11 May) and the Second Battle of Porto (12 May), and the other northern cities were recaptured by General Silveira. Soult escaped without his heavy equipment by marching through the mountains to Orense. [82]

Spanish campaign, late 1809 Edit

Talavera campaign Edit

With Portugal secured, Wellesley advanced into Spain to unite with Cuesta's forces. Victor's I Corps retreated before them from Talavera. [83] Cuesta's pursuing forces fell back after Victor's reinforced army, now commanded by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, drove upon them. Two British divisions advanced to help the Spanish. [84] On 27 July at the Battle of Talavera, the French advanced in three columns and were repulsed several times, but at a heavy cost to the Anglo-Allied force, which lost 7,500 men for French losses of 7,400. Wellesley withdrew from Talavera on 4 August to avoid being cut off by Soult's converging army, which defeated a Spanish blocking force in an assault crossing at the River Tagus near Puente del Arzobispo. Lack of supplies and the threat of French reinforcement in the spring led Wellington to retreat into Portugal. A Spanish attempt to capture Madrid after Talavera failed at Almonacid, where Sébastiani's IV Corps inflicted 5,500 casualties on the Spanish, forcing them to retreat at the cost of 2,400 French losses.

Second Madrid offensive Edit

The Spanish Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom was forced by popular pressure to set up the Cortes of Cádiz in the summer of 1809. The Junta came up with what it hoped would be a war-winning strategy, a two-pronged offensive to recapture Madrid, involving over 100,000 troops in three armies under the Duke del Parque, Juan Carlos de Aréizaga and the Duke of Alburquerque. [85] [86] [87] Del Parque defeated Jean Gabriel Marchand's VI Corps at the Battle of Tamames on 18 October 1809 [88] and occupied Salamanca on 25 October. [89] Marchand was replaced by François Étienne de Kellermann, who brought up reinforcements in the form of his own men as well as General of Brigade Nicolas Godinot's force. Kellermann marched on Del Parque's position at Salamanca, who promptly abandoned it and retreated south. In the meantime, the guerrillas in the Province of León increased their activity. Kellermann left VI Corps holding Salamanca and returned to León to stamp out the uprising. [90]

Aréizaga's army was destroyed by Soult at the Battle of Ocaña on 19 November. The Spanish lost 19,000 men compared to French losses of 2,000. Albuquerque soon abandoned his efforts near Talavera. Del Parque moved on Salamanca again, hustling one of the VI Corps brigades out of Alba de Tormes and occupying Salamanca on 20 November. [91] [92] Hoping to get between Kellermann and Madrid, Del Parque advanced towards Medina del Campo. Kellermann counterattacked and was repulsed at the Battle of Carpio on 23 November. [93] The next day, Del Parque received news of the Ocaña disaster and fled south, intending to shelter in the mountains of central Spain. [94] [95] On the afternoon of 28 November, Kellermann attacked Del Parque at Alba de Tormes and routed him after inflicting losses of 3,000 men. [94] Del Parque's army fled into the mountains, its strength greatly reduced through combat and non-combat causes by mid-January. [96]

Joseph I's régime Edit

Joseph contented himself with working within the apparatus extant under the old regime, while placing responsibility for local government in many provinces in the hands of royal commissioners. After much preparation and debate, on 2 July 1809 Spain was divided into 38 new provinces, each headed by an Intendant appointed by King Joseph, and on 17 April 1810 these provinces were converted into French-style prefectures and sub-prefectures.

The French obtained a measure of acquiescence among the propertied classes. Francisco de Goya, who remained in Madrid throughout the French occupation, painted Joseph's picture and documented the war in a series of 82 prints called Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War). For many imperial officers, life could be comfortable. [97] Among the liberal, republican and radical segments of the Spanish and Portuguese populations there was much support for a potential French invasion. The term afrancesado ("turned French") was used to denote those who supported the Enlightenment, secular ideals, and the French Revolution. [98] Napoleon relied on support from these afrancesados both in the conduct of the war and administration of the country. Napoleon removed all feudal and clerical privileges but most Spanish liberals soon came to oppose the occupation because of the violence and brutality it brought. [98] Marxians wrote that there was a positive identification on the part of the people with the Napoleonic revolution, but this is probably impossible to substantiate by the reasons for collaboration being practical rather than ideological. [99]

Emergence of the guerrilla Edit

The Peninsular War is regarded as one of the first people's wars, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare. It is from this conflict that the English language borrowed the word. [100] The guerrillas troubled the French troops, but they frightened their own countrymen with forced conscription and looting. [ citation needed ] Many of the partisans were either fleeing the law or trying to get rich. Later in the war the authorities tried to make the guerrillas reliable, and many of them formed regular army units such as Espoz y Mina's "Cazadores de Navarra". The French believed that enlightened absolutism had made less progress in Spain and Portugal than elsewhere, and that resistance was the product of a century's worth of what the French perceived as backwardness in knowledge and social habits, Catholic obscurantism, superstition and counter-revolution. [101]

The guerrilla style of fighting was the Spanish military's single most effective tactic. Most organized attempts by regular Spanish forces to take on the French ended in defeat. Once a battle was lost and the soldiers reverted to their guerrilla roles, they tied down large numbers of French troops over a wide area with a much lower expenditure of men, energy, and supplies [ citation needed ] and facilitated the conventional victories of Wellington and his Anglo-Portuguese army and the subsequent liberation of Portugal and Spain. [102] Mass resistance by the people of Spain inspired the war efforts of Austria, Russia and Prussia against Napoleon. [103]

Hatred of the French and devotion to God, King and Fatherland were not the only reason to join the Partisans. [104] The French imposed restrictions on movement and on many traditional aspects of street life, so opportunities to find alternative sources of income were limited—industry was at a standstill and many señores were unable to pay their existing retainers and domestic servants, and could not take on new staff. Hunger and despair reigned on all sides. [105] Because the military record was so dismal, many Spanish politicians and publicists exaggerated the activities of the guerrillas. [106]

Revolution under siege Edit

The French invaded Andalusia on 19 January 1810. 60,000 French troops—the corps of Victor, Mortier and Sebastiani together with other formations—advanced southwards to assault the Spanish positions. Overwhelmed at every point, Aréizaga's men fled eastwards and southwards, leaving town after town to fall into the hands of the enemy. The result was revolution. On 23 January the Junta Central decided to flee to the safety of Cádiz. [107] It then dissolved itself on 29 January 1810 and set up a five-person Regency Council of Spain and the Indies, charged with convening the Cortes. [62] Soult cleared all of southern Spain except Cádiz, which he left Victor to blockade. [108] The system of juntas was replaced by a regency and the Cortes of Cádiz, which established a permanent government under the Constitution of 1812.

Cadiz was heavily fortified, while the harbour was full of British and Spanish warships. Alburquerque's army and the Voluntarios Distinguidos had been reinforced by 3,000 soldiers who had fled Seville, and a strong Anglo-Portuguese brigade commanded by General William Stewart. Shaken by their experiences, the Spaniards had abandoned their earlier scruples about a British garrison. [109] Victor's French troops camped at the shoreline and tried to bombard the city into surrender. Thanks to British naval supremacy, a naval blockade of the city was impossible. The French bombardment was ineffectual and the confidence of the gaditanos grew and persuaded them that they were heroes. With food abundant and falling in price, the bombardment was hopeless despite both hurricane and epidemic—a storm destroyed many ships in the spring of 1810 and the city was ravaged by yellow fever. [110]

Once Cádiz was secured, attention turned to the political situation. The Junta Central announced that the cortes would open on 1 March 1810. Suffrage was to be extended to all male householders over 25. After public voting, representatives from district-level assemblies would choose deputies to send to the provincial meetings that would be the bodies from which the members of the cortes would emerge. [111] From 1 February 1810, the implementation of these decrees had been in the hands of the new regency council selected by the Junta Central. [112] The viceroyalties and independent captaincies general of the overseas territories would each send one representative. This scheme was resented in America for providing unequal representation to the overseas territories. Unrest erupted in Quito and Charcas, which saw themselves as the capitals of kingdoms and resented being subsumed in the larger "kingdom" of Peru. The revolts were suppressed (See Luz de América and Bolivian War of Independence). Throughout early 1809 the governments of the capitals of the viceroyalties and captaincies general elected representatives to the Junta, but none arrived in time to serve on it.

Third Portuguese campaign Edit

Convinced by intelligence that a new French assault on Portugal was imminent, Wellington created a powerful defensive position near Lisbon, to which he could fall back if necessary. [113] [114] [ full citation needed ] To protect the city, he ordered the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras—three strong lines of mutually supporting forts, blockhouses, redoubts, and ravelins with fortified artillery positions—under the supervision of Sir Richard Fletcher. The various parts of the lines communicated with each other by semaphore, allowing immediate response to any threat. The work began in the autumn of 1809 and the main defences were finished just in time one year later. To further hamper the enemy, the areas in front of the lines were subjected to a scorched earth policy: they were denuded of food, forage and shelter. 200,000 inhabitants of neighbouring districts were relocated inside the lines. Wellington exploited the facts that the French could conquer Portugal only by conquering Lisbon, and that they could in practice reach Lisbon only from the north. Until these changes occurred the Portuguese administration was free to resist British influence, Beresford's position being rendered tolerable by the firm support of the Minister of War, Miguel de Pereira Forjaz. [115]

As a prelude to invasion, Ney took the Spanish fortified town of Ciudad Rodrigo after a siege lasting from 26 April to 9 July 1810. The French re-invaded Portugal with an army of around 65,000, led by Marshal Masséna, and forced Wellington back through Almeida to Busaco. [116] At the Battle of the Côa the French drove back Robert Crauford's Light Division after which Masséna moved to attack the held British position on the heights of Bussaco—a 10-mile (16 km)-long ridge—resulting in the Battle of Buçaco on 27 September. Suffering heavy casualties, the French failed to dislodge the Anglo-Portuguese army. Masséna outmaneuvered Wellington after the battle, who steadily fell back to the prepared positions in the Lines. [117] Wellington manned the fortifications with "secondary troops"—25,000 Portuguese militia, 8,000 Spaniards and 2,500 British marines and artillerymen—keeping his main field army of British and Portuguese regulars dispersed to meet a French assault on any point of the Lines. [118]

Masséna's Army of Portugal concentrated around Sobral in preparation to attack. After a fierce skirmish on 14 October in which the strength of the Lines became apparent, the French dug themselves in rather than launch a full-scale assault and Masséna's men began to suffer from the acute shortages in the region. [119] In late October, after holding his starving army before Lisbon for a month, Masséna fell back to a position between Santarém and Rio Maior. [120]

Stalemate in the west Edit

During 1811, Victor's force was diminished because of requests for reinforcement from Soult to aid his siege of Badajoz. [121] This brought the French numbers down to between 20,000 and 15,000 and encouraged the defenders of Cádiz to attempt a breakout, [121] in conjunction with the arrival of an Anglo-Spanish relief army of around 12,000 infantry and 800 cavalry under the overall command of Spanish General Manuel La Peña, with the British contingent being led by Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham. [122] Marching towards Cádiz on 28 February, this force defeated two French divisions under Victor at Barrosa. The Allies failed to exploit their success and Victor soon renewed the blockade. [123] From January through March 1811, Soult with 20,000 men besieged and captured the fortress towns of Badajoz and Olivenza in Extremadura, capturing 16,000 prisoners, before returning to Andalusia with most of his army. Soult was relieved at the operation's speedy conclusion, for intelligence received on 8 March told him that Francisco Ballesteros' Spanish army was menacing Seville, that Victor had been defeated at Barrosa and Masséna had retreated from Portugal. Soult redeployed his forces to deal with these threats. [124]

In March 1811, with supplies exhausted, Masséna retreated from Portugal to Salamanca. Wellington went over to the offensive later that month. An Anglo-Portuguese army led by the British general William Beresford and a Spanish army led by the Spanish generals Joaquín Blake and Francisco Castaños, attempted to retake Badajoz by laying siege to the French garrison Soult had left behind. Soult regathered his army and marched to relieve the siege. Beresford lifted the siege and his army intercepted the marching French. At the Battle of Albuera, Soult outmaneuvered Beresford but could not win the battle. He retired his army to Seville. [125]

In April, Wellington besieged Almeida. Masséna advanced to its relief, attacking Wellington at Fuentes de Oñoro (3–5 May). Both sides claimed victory but the British maintained the blockade and the French retired without being attacked. After this battle, the Almeida garrison escaped through the British lines in a night march. [126] Masséna was forced to withdraw, having lost a total of 25,000 men in Portugal, and was replaced by Auguste Marmont. Wellington joined Beresford and renewed the siege of Badajoz. Marmont joined Soult with strong reinforcements and Wellington retired. [127]

Wellington soon appeared before Ciudad Rodrigo. In September, Marmont repelled him and re-provisioned the fortress. [128] Sorties continued to be made out of Cádiz from April to August 1811, [129] and British naval gunboats destroyed French positions at St. Mary's. [130] An attempt by Victor to crush the small Anglo-Spanish garrison at Tarifa over the winter of 1811–1812 was frustrated by torrential rains and an obstinate defence, marking an end to French operations against the city's outer works.

French conquest of Aragon Edit

After a two-week siege, the French Army of Aragon under its commander, General Suchet, captured the town of Tortosa from the Spanish in Catalonia on 2 January 1811. MacDonald's VII Corps was defeated in a vanguard skirmish at El Pla. The Spanish commander Francisco Rovira captured in a coup-de-main the key fortress of Figueres with the help of 2,000 men on 10 April. The French Army of Catalonia under MacDonald blockaded the city to starve the defenders into surrender. With the help of a relief operation on 3 May, the fortress held out until 17 August, when lack of food prompted a surrender after a last-ditch breakout attempt failed. [131]

On 5 May, Suchet besieged the vital city of Tarragona, which functioned as a port, a fortress, and a resource base that sustained the Spanish field forces in Catalonia. Suchet was given a third of the Army of Catalonia and the city fell to a surprise attack on 29 June. [132] Suchet's troops massacred 2,000 civilians. Napoleon rewarded Suchet with a Marshal's baton. On 25 July, Suchet drove the Spanish out of their positions on the Montserrat mountain range. In October, the Spanish launched a counterattack that recaptured Montserrat and took 1,000 prisoners from scattered French garrisons in the area. In September, Suchet launched an invasion of the province of Valencia. He besieged the castle of Sagunto and defeated Blake's relief attempt. The Spanish defenders capitulated on 25 October. Suchet trapped Blake's entire army of 28,044 men in the city of Valencia on 26 December and forced it to surrender on 9 January 1812 after a brief siege. Blake lost 20,281 men dead or captured. Suchet advanced south, capturing the port town of Dénia. The redeployment of a substantial part of his troops for the invasion of Russia ground Suchet's operations to a halt. The victorious Marshal had established a secure base in Aragon and was ennobled by Napoleon as the Duke of Albufera, after a lagoon south of Valencia.

The war now fell into a temporary lull, with the superior French unable to find an advantage and coming under increasing pressure from Spanish guerrillas. The French had over 350,000 soldiers in L'Armée de l'Espagne, but over 200,000 were deployed to protect the French lines of supply, rather than as substantial fighting units.

Allied campaign in Spain Edit

Wellington renewed the allied advance into Spain in early 1812, besieging and capturing the border fortress town of Ciudad Rodrigo by assault on 19 January and opening up the northern invasion corridor from Portugal into Spain. This also allowed Wellington to proceed to move to capture the southern fortress town of Badajoz, which would prove to be one of the bloodiest siege assaults of the Napoleonic Wars. [133] The town was stormed on 6 April, after a constant artillery barrage had breached the curtain wall in three places. Tenaciously defended, the final assault and the earlier skirmishes left the allies with some 4,800 casualties. These losses appalled Wellington who said of his troops in a letter, "I greatly hope that I shall never again be the instrument of putting them to such a test as that to which they were put last night." [134] The victorious troops massacred 200–300 Spanish civilians. [135]

The allied army subsequently took Salamanca on 17 June, just as Marshal Marmont approached. The two forces met on 22 July, after weeks of maneuver, when Wellington soundly defeated the French at the Battle of Salamanca, during which Marmont was wounded. The battle established Wellington as an offensive general and it was said that he "defeated an army of 40,000 men in 40 minutes." [136] The Battle of Salamanca was a damaging defeat for the French in Spain, and while they regrouped, Anglo-Portuguese forces moved on Madrid, which surrendered on 14 August. 20,000 muskets, 180 cannon and two French Imperial Eagles were captured. [137]

French autumn counterattack Edit

After the allied victory at Salamanca on 22 July 1812, King Joseph Bonaparte abandoned Madrid on 11 August. [138] Because Suchet had a secure base at Valencia, Joseph and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan retreated there. Soult, realising he would soon be cut off from his supplies, ordered a retreat from Cádiz set for 24 August the French were forced to end the two-and-a-half-year-long siege. [14] After a long artillery barrage, the French placed together the muzzles of over 600 cannons to render them unusable to the Spanish and British. Although the cannons were useless, the Allied forces captured 30 gunboats and a large quantity of stores. [139] The French were forced to abandon Andalusia for fear of being cut off by the allied armies. Marshals Suchet and Soult joined Joseph and Jourdan at Valencia. Spanish armies defeated the French garrisons at Astorga and Guadalajara.

As the French regrouped, the allies advanced towards Burgos. Wellington besieged Burgos between 19 September and 21 October, but failed to capture it. Together, Joseph and the three marshals planned to recapture Madrid and drive Wellington from central Spain. The French counteroffensive caused Wellington to lift the Siege of Burgos and retreat to Portugal in the autumn of 1812, [140] pursued by the French and losing several thousand men. [141] [142] Napier wrote that about 1,000 allied troops were killed, wounded and missing in action, and that Hill lost 400 between the Tagus and the Tormes, and another 100 in the defence of Alba de Tormes. 300 were killed and wounded at the Huebra where many stragglers died in woodland, and 3,520 allied prisoners were taken to Salamanca up to 20 November. Napier estimated that the double retreat cost the allies around 9,000, including the loss in the siege, and said French writers said 10,000 were taken between the Tormes and the Agueda. But Joseph's dispatches said the whole loss was 12,000, including the garrison of Chinchilla, whereas English authors mostly reduced the British loss to hundreds. [143] As a consequence of the Salamanca campaign, the French were forced to evacuate the provinces of Andalusia and Asturias.

Defeat of King Joseph Edit

By the end of 1812, the large army that had invaded the Russian Empire, the Grande Armée, had ceased to exist. Unable to resist the oncoming Russians, the French had to evacuate East Prussia and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. With both the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia joining his opponents, Napoleon withdrew more troops from Spain, [144] including some foreign units and three battalions of sailors sent to assist with the Siege of Cádiz. In total, 20,000 men were withdrawn the numbers were not overwhelming, but the occupying forces were left in a difficult position. In much of the area under French control—the Basque provinces, Navarre, Aragon, Old Castile, La Mancha, the Levante, and parts of Catalonia and León—the remaining presence was a few scattered garrisons. Trying to hold a front line in an arc from Bilbao to Valencia, they were still vulnerable to assault, and had abandoned hopes of victory. According to Esdaile, the best policy would have been to have fallen back to the Ebro, but the political situation in 1813 made this impossible Napoleon wanted to avoid being seen as weak by the German princes, who were watching the advancing Russians and wondering whether they should change sides. [145] French prestige suffered another blow when on 17 March el rey intruso (the Intruder King, a nickname many Spanish had for King Joseph) left Madrid in the company of another vast caravan of refugees. [145]

In 1813, Wellington marched 121,000 troops (53,749 British, 39,608 Spanish, and 27,569 Portuguese) [6] from northern Portugal across the mountains of northern Spain and the Esla River, skirting Jourdan's army of 68,000 strung out between the Douro and the Tagus. Wellington shortened his communications by shifting his base of operations to the northern Spanish coast, and the Anglo-Portuguese forces swept northwards in late May and seized Burgos, outflanking the French army and forcing Joseph Bonaparte into the Zadorra valley.

At the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June, Joseph's 65,000-man army were defeated decisively by Wellington's army of 57,000 British, 16,000 Portuguese and 8,000 Spanish. [6] Wellington split his army into four attacking "columns" and attacked the French defensive position from south, west and north while the last column cut down across the French rear. The French were forced back from their prepared positions, and despite attempts to regroup and hold were driven into a rout. This led to the abandonment of all of the French artillery as well as King Joseph's extensive baggage train and personal belongings. The latter led to many Anglo-Allied soldiers abandoning the pursuit of the fleeing troops, to instead loot the wagons. This delay, along with the French managing to hold the east road out of Vitoria towards Salvatierra, allowed the French to partially recover. The Allies chased the retreating French, reaching the Pyrenees in early July, and began operations against San Sebastian and Pamplona. On 11 July, Soult was given command of all French troops in Spain and in consequence Wellington decided to halt his army to regroup at the Pyrenees.

The war was not over. Although Bonapartist Spain had effectively collapsed, most of France's troops had retreated in order and fresh troops were soon gathering beyond the Pyrenees. By themselves, such forces were unlikely to score more than a few local victories, but French troop losses elsewhere in Europe could not be taken for granted. Napoleon might yet inflict defeats on Austria, Russia and Prussia, and with the divisions between the allies there was no guarantee that one power would not make a separate peace. It was a major victory and gave Britain more credibility on the continent, but the thought of Napoleon descending on the Pyrenees with the grande armée was not regarded with equanimity. [146]

End of the war in Spain Edit

Campaign in the eastern Atlantic region Edit

In August 1813, British headquarters still had misgivings about the eastern powers moving into France. Austria had now joined the Allies, but the Allied armies had suffered a significant defeat at the Battle of Dresden. They had recovered somewhat, but the situation was still precarious. Wellington's brother-in-law Edward Pakenham wrote, "I should think that much must depend upon proceedings in the north: I begin to apprehend . that Boney may avail himself of the jealousy of the Allies to the material injury of the cause." [147] But the defeat or defection of Austria, Russia and Prussia was not the only danger. It was also uncertain that Wellington could continue to count on Spanish support. [148]

The summer of 1813 in the Basque provinces and Navarre was a wet one, with the army drenched by incessant rain, and the decision to strip the men of their greatcoats was looking unwise. Sickness was widespread—at one point a third of Wellington's British troops were hors de combat—and fears about the army's discipline and general reliability grew. By 9 July, Wellington reported that 12,500 men were absent without leave, while plundering was rife. Major General Sir Frederick Robinson wrote, "We paint the conduct of the French in this country in very . harsh colours, but be assured we injure the people much more than they do . Wherever we move devastation marks our steps". [149] With the army poised on the borders of France, desertion had become a problem. The Chasseurs Britanniques—recruited mainly from French deserters—lost 150 men in a single night. Wellington wrote, "The desertion is terrible, and is unaccountable among the British troops. I am not astonished that the foreigners should go . but, unless they entice away the British soldiers, there is no accounting for their going away in such numbers as they do." [150] Spain's "ragged and ill-fed soldiers" were also suffering with the onset of winter, the fear that they would likely "fall on the populace with the utmost savagery" [151] in revenge attacks and looting was a growing concern to Wellington as the Allied forces pushed to the French border.

Marshal Soult began a counter-offensive (the Battle of the Pyrenees) and defeated the Allies at the Battle of Maya and the Battle of Roncesvalles (25 July). Pushing on into Spain, by 27 July the Roncesvalles wing of Soult's army was within ten miles of Pamplona but found its way blocked by a substantial allied force posted on a high ridge in between the villages of Sorauren and Zabaldica, lost momentum, and was repulsed by the Allies at the Battle of Sorauren (28 and 30 July) [152] Soult ordered General of Division Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon commanding one corps of 21,000 men to attack and secure the Maya Pass. General of Division Honoré Reille was ordered by Soult to attack and seize the Roncesvalles Pass with his corps and the corps of General of Division Bertrand Clausel of 40,000 men. Reille's right wing suffered further losses at Yanzi (1 August) and the Echallar and Ivantelly (2 August) during its retreat into France. [153] [154] . [ better source needed ] [155] Total losses during this counter-offensive being about 7,000 for the Allies and 10,000 for the French. [153]

With 18,000 men, Wellington captured the French-garrisoned city of San Sebastián under Brigadier-General Louis Emmanuel Rey after two sieges that lasted from 7 July to 25 July (While Wellington departed with sufficient forces to deal with Marshal Soult's counter-offensive, he left General Graham in command of sufficient forces to prevent sorties from the city and any relief getting in) and from 22 August to 31 August 1813. The British incurred heavy losses during assaults. The city in turn was sacked and burnt to the ground by the Anglo-Portuguese: see Siege of San Sebastián. Meanwhile, the French garrison retreated into the Citadel, which after a heavy bombardment their governor surrendered on 8 September, with the garrison marching out the next day with full military honours. [156] Upon the day that San Sebastián fell Soult attempted to relieve it, but in the battles of Vera and San Marcial was repulsed [153] by the Spanish Army of Galicia under General Manuel Freire. [157] The Citadel surrendered on 9 September, the losses in the entire siege having been about—Allies 4,000, French 2,000. Wellington next determined to throw his left across the river Bidassoa to strengthen his own position, and secure the port of Fuenterrabia. [153]

At daylight on 7 October 1813 Wellington crossed the Bidassoa in seven columns, attacked the entire French position, which stretched in two heavily entrenched lines from north of the Irun–Bayonne road, along mountain spurs to the Great Rhune 2,800 feet (850 m) high. [158] The decisive movement was a passage in strength near Fuenterrabia to the astonishment of the enemy, who in view of the width of the river and the shifting sands, had thought the crossing impossible at that point. The French right was then rolled back, and Soult was unable to reinforce his right in time to retrieve the day. His works fell in succession after hard fighting, and he withdrew towards the river Nivelle. [159] The losses were about—Allies, 800 French, 1,600. [160] The passage of the Bidassoa "was a general's not a soldier's battle". [161] [159]

On 31 October Pamplona surrendered, and Wellington was now anxious to drive Suchet from Catalonia before invading France. The British government, however, in the interests of the continental powers, urged an immediate advance over the northern Pyrenees into south-eastern France. [153] Napoleon had just suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Leipzig on 19 October and was in retreat, [ citation needed ] so Wellington left the clearance of Catalonia to others. [153]

Campaign in the northern Mediterranean region Edit

In the northern Mediterranean region of Spain (Catalonia) Suchet had defeated Elio's Murcians at Yecla and Villena (11 April 1813), but was subsequently routed by Lieutenant General Sir John Murray, Commander of a British expedition from the Mediterranean islands [159] at the battle of Castalla (13 April), who then besieged Tarragona. The siege was abandoned after a time, but was later on renewed by Lieutenant General Lord William Bentinck. Suchet, after the Battle of Vitoria, evacuated Tarragona (17 August) but defeated Bentinck in the battle of Ordal (13 September). [159]

The military historian Sir Charles Oman wrote that because of "[Napoleon's] absurdly optimistic reliance on" the Treaty of Valençay (11 December 1813), [162] during the last month of 1813 and the early months of 1814 Suchet was ordered by the French War office to relinquish command of many of his infantry and cavalry regiments for use in the campaign in north-east France where Napoleon was greatly outnumbered. This reduced Suchet's French Catalonian army from 87,000 to 60,000 of whom 10,000 were on garrison duty. By the end of January through redeployment and wastage (through disease and desertion) the number had fallen to 52,000 of whom only 28,000 were available for field operations the others were either on garrison duties or guarding the lines of communication back into France. [163]

Suchet thought that the armies under the command of the Spanish General Copons and the British General Clinton amounted to 70,000 men (in fact they only had about as many as he did), so Suchet remained on the defensive. [164]

On 10 January 1814 Suchet received orders from the French War Ministry that he withdraw his field force to the foothills of the Pyrenees and to make a phased withdraw from the outlying garrisons. On ratification of the Treaty of Valençay he was to move his force to the French city of Lyons. [165] On 14 January he received further orders that because the situation was so grave on the eastern front he was to immediately send further forces to the east, even though ratification of the Treaty of Valençay had not been received. This would reduce the size of Suchet's field army to 18,000 men. [166]

The Allies heard that Suchet was hemorrhaging men and mistakenly thought that his army was smaller than it was, so on 16 January they attacked. Suchet had not yet started the process of sending more men back to France and was able to stop the Sicilians (and a small contingent of British artillery in support) at the Battle of Molins de Rey because he still had a local preponderance of men. The allies suffered 68 casualties the French, 30 killed and about 150 wounded. [165]

After Suchet sent many men to Lyons, he left an isolated garrison in Barcelona and concentrated his forces on the town of Gerona calling in flying columns and evacuating some minor outposts. However his field army was now down to 15,000 cavalry and infantry (and excluding the garrisons in northern Catalonia). [167]

The last actions in this theatre happened at the siege of Barcelona on 23 February the French sallied out of Barcelona to test the besiegers' lines, as they thought (wrongly) that the Anglo-Sicilian forces had departed. They failed to break through the lines, and forces under the command of the Spanish General Pedro Sarsfield stopped them. The French General Pierre-Joseph Habert tried another sortie on 16 April (several days after Napoleon had abdicated) and the French were again stopped with about 300 of them killed. [168] Habert eventually surrendered on 25 April. [169]

On 1 March Suchet received orders to send 10,000 more men to Lyons. On 7 March Beurmann's division of 9,661 men left for Lyons. With the exception of Figueras, Suchet abandoned all the remaining fortresses in Catalonia that the French garrisoned (and that were not closely besieged by Allied forces), and in doing so was able to create a new field force of about 14,000 men, which were concentrated in front of Figueras in early April. [170] [f]

In the meantime, because the Allies underestimated the size of Suchet's force and believed that 3,000 more men had left for Lyon and that Suchet, with the remnant of his army, was crossing the Pyrenees to join Soult in the Atlantic theatre, the Allies began to redeploy their forces. The best of the British forces in Catalonia were ordered to join Wellington's army on the river Garonne in France. [g] They left to do so on 31 March, leaving the Spanish to mop up the remaining French garrisons in Catalonia. [168]

In fact, Suchet remained in Figueras with his army until after the amnesty signed by Wellington and Soult. He spent his time arguing with Soult that he had only 4,000 troops available to march (although his army numbered around 14,000) and that they could not march with artillery, so he could not assist Soult in his battles with Wellington. [171] The military historian Sir Charles Oman puts this refusal to help Soult down to Suchet's personal animosity rather than strong strategic reasons. [172]

Invasion of France Edit

Battles of the Nivelle and the Nive Edit

On the night of 9 November 1813 Wellington brought up his right from the Pyrenean passes to the northward of Maya and towards the Nivelle. Marshal Soult's army (about 79,000), in three entrenched lines, stretched from the sea in front of Saint-Jean-de-Luz along commanding ground to Amotz and thence, behind the river, to Mont Mondarrain near the Nive. [159] Wellington on 10 November 1813 attacked and drove the French to Bayonne. The allied loss during the Battle of Nivelle was about 2,700 that of the French, 4,000, 51 guns, and all their magazines. The next day Wellington closed in upon Bayonne from the sea to the left bank of the Nive. [159]

After this there was a period of comparative inaction, though during it the French were driven from the bridges at Urdains [h] and Cambo-les-Bains. George Bell, a junior British officer in the 34th Foot during this period of inaction, told in his biography of an "Irish sentry who was found with a French and an English musket on his two shoulders, guarding a bridge over a brook on behalf of both armies. For he explained to the officer going the rounds that his French neighbour had gone off on his behalf, with his last precious half-dollar, to buy brandy for both, and had left his musket in pledge till his return. The French officer going his rounds on the other side of the brook then turned up, and explained that he had caught his sentry, without arms and carrying two bottles, a long way to the rear. If either of them reported what had happened to their colonels, both sentries would be court-martialled and shot. Wherefore both subalterns agreed to hush up the matter". [173] The weather had become bad, and the Nive unfordable but there were additional and serious causes of delay. The Portuguese and Spanish authorities were neglecting the payment and supply of their troops. Wellington had also difficulties of a similar kind with his own government, and also the Spanish soldiers, in revenge for many French outrages, had become guilty of grave excesses in France, so that Wellington took the extreme step of sending 25,000 of them back to Spain and resigning the command of their army (though his resignation was subsequently withdrawn). So great was the tension at this crisis that a rupture with Spain seemed possible, but this did not happen. [159] [i]

Wellington occupied the right as well as the left bank of the Nive on 9 December 1813 with a portion of his force only under Rowland Hill and Beresford, Ustaritz and Cambo-les-Bains, his loss being slight, and thence pushed down the river towards Villefranque, where Soult barred his way across the road to Bayonne. The allied army was now divided into two portions by the Nive and Soult from Bayonne at once took advantage of his central position to attack it with all his available force, first on the left bank and then on the right. [159] Desperate fighting now ensued, but owing to the intersected ground, Soult was compelled to advance slowly, and Wellington coming up with Beresford from the right bank, the French retired baffled. [159] Renewed French attacks on 13 December were also stopped. The losses in the four days' fighting in the battles before Bayonne (or battles of the Nive) were-Allies about 5,000, French about 7,000. [159] [j]

Operation resumed in February 1814 and Wellington went quickly over to the offensive. Hill on 14 and 15 February, after a battle of Garris, drove the French posts beyond the Joyeuse and Wellington then pressed these troops back over the Bidouze and Gave de Mauleon to the Gave d'Oloron. [k] An amphibious landing with 8,000 troops at the mouth of the Adour secured a crossing over the river as a preliminary to the siege of Bayonne. [175] On 27 February, Wellington attacked Soult at Orthez and forced him to retreat towards Saint-Sever, which he reached on 28 February. The allied loss was about 2,000 the French 4,000 and 6 guns. [176] Beresford, with 12,000 men, was now sent to Bordeaux, which opened its gates as promised to the Allies. Driven by Hill from Aire-sur-l'Adour on 2 March 1814, Soult retired by Vic-en-Bigorre, where there was a combat (19 March), and Tarbes, where there was a severe action (20 March), to Toulouse behind the Garonne. He endeavored also to rouse the French peasantry against the Allies, but in vain, for Wellington's justice and moderation afforded them no grievances. [176] [177]

Battle of Toulouse Edit

On 8 April, Wellington crossed the Garonne and the Hers-Mort, [l] and attacked Soult at Toulouse on 10 April. Spanish attacks on Soult's heavily fortified positions were repulsed but Beresford's assault compelled the French to fall back. [176] On 12 April Wellington entered the city, Soult having retreated the previous day. The Allied loss was about 5,000, the French 3,000. [176]

Abdication of Napoleon Edit

On 13 April 1814 officers arrived with the announcement to both armies of the capture of Paris, the abdication of Napoleon, and the practical conclusion of peace and on 18 April a convention, which included Suchet's force, was entered into between Wellington and Soult. [176] After Toulouse had fallen, the Allies and French, in a sortie from Bayonne on 14 April, each lost about 1,000 men, so that some 10,000 men fell after peace had virtually been made. [176] The Peace of Paris was formally signed at Paris on 30 May 1814. [176]

Ferdinand VII remained king of Spain having been acknowledged on 11 December 1813 by Napoleon in the Treaty of Valençay.

The remaining afrancesados were exiled to France.

The whole country had been pillaged by Napoleon's troops.

The Catholic Church had been ruined by its losses and society subjected to destabilizing change. [178] [179]

Louis XVIII was restored to the French throne.

Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba.

British troops were partly sent to England, and partly embarked at Bordeaux for America for service in the final months of the American War of 1812.

After the Peninsular War, the pro-independence traditionalists and liberals clashed in the Carlist Wars, as King Ferdinand VII ("the Desired One" later "the Traitor King") revoked all the changes made by the independent Cortes Generales in Cádiz, the Constitution of 1812 on 4 May 1814. Military officers forced Ferdinand to accept the Cádiz Constitution again in 1820, and was in effect until April 1823, during what is known as the Trienio Liberal.

The experience in self-government led the later Libertadores (Liberators) to promote the independence of Spanish America.

Portugal's position was more favorable than Spain's. Revolt had not spread to Brazil, there was no colonial struggle and there had been no attempt at political revolution. [180] The Portuguese Court's transfer to Rio de Janeiro initiated the independence of Brazil in 1822.

The war against Napoleon remains as the bloodiest event in Spain's modern history. [10]

Henry VII

When the public are asked about the Tudors they can always be relied upon to talk about Henry VIII, Elizabeth and the great events of those times the Armada perhaps, or the multitude of wives. It is however a rarity to find anyone who will mention the founder of the dynasty, Henry VII. It is my belief that Henry Tudor is every bit as exciting and arguably more important than any of his dynasty who followed.

Henry Tudor ascended the throne in dramatic circumstances, taking it by force and through the death of the incumbent monarch, Richard III, on the battlefield. As a boy of fourteen he had fled England to the relative safety of Burgundy, fearing that his position as the strongest Lancastrian claimant to the English throne made it too dangerous for him to remain. During his exile the turbulence of the Wars of the Roses continued, but support still existed for a Lancastrian to take the throne from the Yorkist Edward IV and Richard III.

Hoping to garner this support, in the summer of 1485 Henry left Burgundy with his troop ships bound for the British Isles. He headed for Wales, his homeland and a stronghold of support for him and his forces. He and his army landed at Mill Bay on the Pembrokeshire coast on 7th August and proceeded to march inland, amassing support as they travelled further towards London.

Henry VII is crowned on the battlefield at Bosworth

On 22nd August 1485 the two sides met at Bosworth, a small market town in Leicestershire, and a decisive victory was had by Henry. He was crowned on the battlefield as the new monarch, Henry VII. Following the battle Henry marched for London, during which time Vergil describes the whole progress, stating that Henry proceeded ‘like a triumphing general’ and that:

‘Far and wide the people hastened to assemble by the roadside, saluting him as King and filling the length of his journey with laden tables and overflowing goblets, so that the weary victors might refresh themselves.’

Henry would reign for 24 years and in that time, much changed in the political landscape of England. While there was never a period of security for Henry, there could be said to be some measure of stability compared to the period immediately before. He saw off pretenders and threats from foreign powers through careful political manoeuvring and decisive military action, winning the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Stoke, in 1487.

Henry had gained the throne by force but was determined to be able to pass the crown to a legitimate and incontrovertible heir through inheritance. In this aim he was successful, as upon his death in 1509 his son and heir, Henry VIII, ascended the throne. However, the facts surrounding the Battle of Bosworth and the swiftness and apparent ease with which Henry was able to take on the role of King of England do not however give a full picture of the instability present in the realm immediately before and during his reign, nor the work undertaken by Henry and his government in order to achieve this ‘smooth’ succession.

Henry VII and Henry VIII

Henry’s claim to the throne was ‘embarrassingly slender’ and suffered from a fundamental weakness of position. Ridley describes it as ‘so unsatisfactory that he and his supporters never clearly stated what it was’. His claim came through both sides of his family: his father was a descendant of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine, the widow of Henry V, and while his grandfather had been of noble birth, the claim on this side was not strong at all. On his mother’s side things were even more complicated, as Margaret Beaufort was the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, and while their offspring had been legitimised by Parliament, they had been barred from succeeding to the crown and therefore this was problematic. When he was declared King however these issues appear to have been ignored to some extent, citing he was the rightful king and his victory had shown him to be judged so by God.

As Loades describes, ‘Richard’s death made the battle of Bosworth decisive’ his death childless left his heir apparent as his nephew, the Earl of Lincoln whose claim was little stronger than Henry’s. In order for his throne to become a secure one, Gunn describes how Henry knew ‘Good governance was required: effective justice, fiscal prudence, national defence, fitting royal magnificence and the promotion of the common weal’.

That ‘fiscal prudence’ is probably what Henry is best known for, inspiring the children’s rhyme ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’. He was famous (or should that be infamous) for his avarice which was commented upon by contemporaries: ‘But in his later days, all these virtues were obscured by avarice, from which he suffered.’

Henry is also known for his sombre nature and his political acumen until fairly recently this reputation has led him to be viewed with some notes of disdain. New scholarship is working to change the King’s reputation from boring to that of an exciting and crucial turning point in British history. While there will never be agreement about the level of this importance, such is the way with history and its arguments, this is what makes it all the more interesting and raises the profile of this oft forgotten but truly pivotal monarch and individual.


Antoine, Michel. Louis XV. Paris, 1989.

Bluch, Fran ç ois. Louis XIV. Translated by Mark Greengrass. Oxford, 1990.

Buisseret, David. Henry IV. London and Boston, 1984.

Moote, A. Lloyd. Louis XIII the Just. Berkeley, 1989.

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The Regions of Spain


Aragon is a region of northeastern Spain on the Iberian peninsula. Aragon has a proud cultural heritage and its own unique language, Aragonese. In 1137, the regions of Aragon and Catalonia united to form the Crown of Aragon, whose illustrious line of kings led the reconquest of the eastern peninsula from the Muslims. The Crown of Aragon extended its Mediterranean empire with the recapture of Mallorca in 1229 and Sicily in 1282 and it remained an important power throughout the Middle Ages. In 1469, King Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabella of Castile and this union brought together the two most powerful kingdoms of Spain. This marriage was essential for the eventual united Spanish nation, known as the Kingdom of Spain. [ 2 ]

By 1590, the Spanish monarchy was extremely powerful, therefore tension began to grow between the Spanish Monarchy and the other Spanish regions. Under the leadership of Miguel Primo de Rivera, Prime Minister of Spain from 1923 until 1930, Aragon experienced an economic boom. In June of 1936, the possibility of Aragon becoming a self-governing state was presented however, the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) prevented this from happening. [ 4 ]

From 1936 to 1939, Aragon was divided into two sides, the East and the West. The East side was controlled by the Republican Regional Defence Council of Aragon and the West side was controlled by the Nationalists. The Second Spanish Republic was defeated in April 1939, therefore Aragon and the rest of Spain were run by the Francoist dictatorship from 1939 to 1975.


Asturias, which was the region of northern Spain and the birthplace of the Christian Reconquest of Spain from the Muslims. Asturias, which has a long and noble history, was colonized by the Romans who discovered Asturias to be rich in mineral deposits, particularly silver. The Romans established villas and towns, but the region was never completely Romanized. By the 7th century, Asturias had accepted Visigothic rule, and after the defeat of the last Visigothic king, Roderic, and the Arab invasion of 711, it became a refuge for Visigothic nobles.

They formed a court and elected the first King of Asturias, Pelayo, in 718. Very soon afterward Pelayo organized a concerted resistance to the Muslim invaders, and won the first battle of the Christian Reconquest, at Covadonga. In the 10th century, under King Alfonso III, Asturias included most of Galicia and some of the Basque country. However, Asturias was eclipsed by the rise of the Kingdom of Leon and Castile in the 10th century and it eventually became politically dependent on Leon.

Portrait of Ferdinand VII of Spain in his robes of state (1815) [ 5 ]

At first, Castile was an eastern county of the Kingdom of Leon. Castile was an important Christian kingdom of medieval Spain, especially during the 800 year Christian Reconquest of Spain, when the Spanish overturned Muslim rule. [ 8 ]

In 1085 New Castile separated from Leon and became one of the crown's territories, but by 1230 Castile and Leon were reunited. When Ferdinand II of Aragon married Isabella I of Castile in 1469, Aragon and Castile were united and this would eventually lead to the creation of the Kingdom of Spain in 1516, when Charles V, their grandson, ascended both thrones. [ 2 ]

Portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V [ 9 ]

Galicia, which was located in the northwestern region of the Iberian peninsula. Galicia is a region of Spain that has a unique cultural and linguistic heritage. In medieval times, the Celts and the Swabians, who were a Germanic tribe, settled this territory. Galicia was one of the most important Christian kingdoms of medieval Spain. [ 10 ]

Galicia was one of the most important Christian kingdoms of medieval Spain. In 1139, Galicia was divided into two territories and the southern half, called Portugal, became an independent kingdom under King Afonso I. Galicia remained within the Castilian sphere of influence after Portugal separated. During the later Middle Ages, Galicia declined in power as Castile became predominant, but the unique Galician culture and language continue to this day.

Afonso I (1109-1185), the first King of Portugal [ 11 ]
The Basques

The Basque country of northern Spain, located along the north coast of Spain, next to the western Pyrenees. The Basques, who are a pre-Roman people, have a proud and unique cultural heritage and language. The origins of the Basques remains shadowed in uncertainty although historians have attempted to link the Basques with Irish Celts, eastern European tribes or even North African peoples. The Basques were the last of the Pre-Roman tribes of Spain to accept Roman culture, laws and languages. However, they revealed no signs of Visigoth or Frankish culture.

The Basques remained distinct even after the Arab invasion of 711 because they took refuge in the valleys of the western Pyrenees and waited out the early wave of Arab conquest. As the Christian Reconquest that was launched by Asturias gathered momentum, the Basques became allied with Asturias and Navarre. In 778, Charlemagne entered Spain and sacked the city of Pamplona. In revenge, the Basques attacked and annihilated his forces as they were retreating through the Pyrenean mountain pass of Roncesvalles.

These events have been immortalized in the French epic poem "Chanson de Roland". After the 9th century, the Basques were politically aligned with a succession of kingdoms: Asturias, Navarre, and later Castile. Since the end of the Middle Ages and until today, the region was politically dependent on Castile. Nevertheless, the Basque language has never been lost and it is the symbol of this ancient culture that has survived so many centuries of contact and assimilation with other linguistic groups.


Valencia, which is a region located on Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast, colonized and was developed as a port region by the Romans. It was distinguished by its proud heritage and tremendous cultural diversity. It thrived for centuries, but by 713 Valencia was completely under Muslim rule and the city became a staging point for raids further north and west into Christian Spanish lands. Rodrigo D¡az "El Cid" reconquered Valencia from the Muslims in 1094, but after his death in 1099 the Christians could not hold the city.

Valencia remained in Muslim hands from 1102 until 1238, when the armies of King James I of Aragon and Catalonia, "The Conqueror", claimed it once and for all for the Christians. This initiated a cultural and linguistic relationship between Catalonia and Valencia that continues to this day.

  1. ^ "File:Escudo de España (mazonado).svg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 7 Oct 2019, 19:06 UTC.
  2. ^ Payne, Stanley G. A History of Spain and Portugal. Penguin Books, 1960.
  3. ^ "File:Ferdinand of Aragon, Isabella of Castile.jpg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 3 Oct 2019, 09:12 UTC.,_Isabella_of_Castile.jpg&oldid=369188197
  4. ^ Storrs, Christopher. The "Decline" of Spain in the Seventeenth Century. Cengage Learning EMEA Ltd., 2011.
  5. ^ "File:Francisco Goya - Portrait of Ferdinand VII of Spain in his robes of state (1815) - Prado.jpg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 28 Jan 2020, 19:01 UTC.
  6. ^ Oman, Charles. A History of the Peninsular War. Clarendon Press, 1902.
  7. ^ "File:Jacques-Louis David - The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries - Google Art Project.jpg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 15 Dec 2019, 07:19 UTC.
  8. ^ Martínez Díez, Gonzalo. El Condado de Castilla (711-1038) - La Historia Frente a la Levenda. Marcial Pons, Ediciones de Historia, 2005.
  9. ^ "File:Portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Hazart).jpg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 1 Nov 2018, 23:57 UTC.
  10. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica Or A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature. Archibald Constable, 1823.
  11. ^ "File:Afonso I de Portugal.png." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 11 Dec 2015, 04:56 UTC.
  12. ^ "File:Flag of the Basque Country.svg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 6 Jan 2020, 20:46 UTC.
  13. ^ "File:Barcelona (Plaça de Sant Jaume) City Hall. Neoclassical facade. Statue of King James I the Conqueror. 1841-1844. Josep Bover, sculptor (29432296700).jpg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 4 Jan 2017, 09:09 UTC.,_sculptor_(29432296700).jpg&oldid=228609046
  14. ^ Swyrich, Archive materials

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Bohemian Period

The Bohemian Revolt (1618–1620) was an uprising of the Bohemian estates against the rule of the Habsburg dynasty, in particular Emperor Ferdinand II, which triggered the Thirty Years’ War.

Learning Objectives

Describe the events surrounding the Defenestration of Prague

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Since 1526, the Kingdom of Bohemia had been governed by Catholic Habsburg kings who were tolerant of their largely Protestant subjects.
  • Toward the end his reign, Emperor Matthias, realizing he would die without an heir, arranged for his lands to go to his nearest male relative, the staunchly Catholic Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria.
  • Protestants in Bohemia were wary of Ferdinand reversing the religious tolerance and freedom formerly established by the Peace of Augsburg.
  • In 1618, Ferdinand’s royal representatives were thrown out of a window and seriously injured in the so-called Defenestration of Prague, which provoked open Protestant revolt in Bohemia.
  • The dispute culminated after several battles in the final Battle of White Mountain, where the Protestants suffered a decisive defeat. This started re-Catholicization of the Czech lands, but also triggered the Thirty Years’ War, which spread to the rest of Europe and devastated vast areas of central Europe, including the Czech lands.

Key Terms

  • Bohemian Revolt: An uprising of the Bohemian estates against the rule of the Habsburg dynasty.
  • defenestration: The act of throwing someone out of a window.


In 1555, the Peace of Augsburg had settled religious disputes in the Holy Roman Empire by enshrining the principle of Cuius regio, eius religio, allowing a prince to determine the religion of his subjects. Since 1526, the Kingdom of Bohemia had been governed by Habsburg kings who did not force their Catholic religion on their largely Protestant subjects. In 1609, Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia (1576–1612), increased Protestant rights. He was increasingly viewed as unfit to govern, and other members of the Habsburg dynasty declared his younger brother, Matthias, to be family head in 1606. Upon Rudolf’s death, Matthias succeeded in the rule of Bohemia.

Without heirs, Emperor Matthias sought to assure an orderly transition during his lifetime by having his dynastic heir (the fiercely Catholic Ferdinand of Styria, later Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor) elected to the separate royal thrones of Bohemia and Hungary. Ferdinand was a proponent of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and not well-disposed to Protestantism or Bohemian freedoms. Some of the Protestant leaders of Bohemia feared they would be losing the religious rights granted to them by Emperor Rudolf II in his Letter of Majesty (1609). They preferred the Protestant Frederick V, Elector of the Palatinate (successor of Frederick IV, the creator of the Protestant Union). However, other Protestants supported the stance taken by the Catholics, and in 1617 Ferdinand was duly elected by the Bohemian Estates to become the Crown Prince and, automatically upon the death of Matthias, the next King of Bohemia.

The Defenestration of Prague

The king-elect then sent two Catholic councillors (Vilem Slavata of Chlum and Jaroslav Borzita of Martinice) as his representatives to Hradčany castle in Prague in May 1618. Ferdinand had wanted them to administer the government in his absence. On May 23, 1618, an assembly of Protestants seized them and threw them (and also secretary Philip Fabricius) out of the palace window, which was some sixty-nine feet off the ground. Remarkably, though injured, they survived. This event, known as the Defenestration of Prague, started the Bohemian Revolt. Soon afterward, the Bohemian conflict spread through all of the Bohemian Crown, including Bohemia, Silesia, Upper and Lower Lusatia, and Moravia. Moravia was already embroiled in a conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The religious conflict eventually spread across the whole continent of Europe, involving France, Sweden, and a number of other countries.

Defenestration of Prague: A later woodcut of the Defenestration of Prague in 1618, which triggered the Thirty Years’ War.


Immediately after the defenestration, the Protestant estates and Catholic Habsburgs started gathering allies for war. After the death of Matthias in 1619, Ferdinand II was elected Holy Roman Emperor. At the same time, the Bohemian estates deposed Ferdinand as King of Bohemia (Ferdinand remained emperor, since the titles are separate) and replaced him with Frederick V, Elector Palatine, a leading Calvinist and son-in-law of the Protestant James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland.

Because they deposed a properly chosen king, the Protestants could not gather the international support they needed for war. Just two years after the Defenestration of Prague, Ferdinand and the Catholics regained power in the Battle of White Mountain on November 8, 1620. This became known as the first battle in the Thirty Years’ War.

This was a serious blow to Protestant ambitions in the region. As the rebellion collapsed, the widespread confiscation of property and suppression of the Bohemian nobility ensured the country would return to the Catholic side after more than two centuries of Protestant dissent.

There was plundering and pillaging in Prague for weeks following the battle. Several months later, twenty-seven nobles and citizens were tortured and executed in the Old Town Square. Twelve of their heads were impaled on iron hooks and hung from the Bridge Tower as a warning. This also contributed to catalyzing the Thirty Years’ War.

History Lessons: Five Myths about America’s Rise

Beijing assumes that America’s rise in its hemisphere was assured, and uses such as model to claim dominance over East Asia. It ignores the complicated history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Chinese officials are increasingly invoking examples from American history to justify their efforts to dominate the South China Sea and establish a broader sphere of influence throughout the Indo-Pacific theater. Beijing, they contend, is merely following America’s model as it rose to power in the nineteenth century. There is little difference, Chinese leaders argue, between China’s assertion of the nine-dash line and the President James Monroe's proclamation of his eponymous doctrine which in 1823 warned Europe not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere, with some American scholars in agreement, warning that the rejection of a similar Chinese sphere of influence by the United States could be considered hypocritical.

These assertions, shared by both Chinese and Americans are based, however, on a series of historical myths that have long misrepresented the impact of the Monroe Doctrine on the creation of an independent Latin America, the nature of American power and influence in the Western Hemisphere, the ambitions of its national objectives throughout the nineteenth century, and most important of all, its relationship with Great Britain. Their acceptance has allowed China to ignore the truly salient lessons it should take from America’s experience facing Great Britain, namely that rising powers must walk a dangerous tightrope as they ascend in a world already dominated by a great power.

Myth No.1: The United States Was the Rising Power in the Nineteenth Century

To most Americans, the rise of the United States had to have been the central story of the nineteenth century. However, this belief is incorrect. While the rise of the United States was obviously important, it played a secondary role in the emergence of Great Britain with its expanding commercial empire laying the foundations for the global economic system until World War II.

In 1815 the Duke of Wellington led an allied army to victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, ending 125 years of warfare between Britain and France. The new era of peace enabled Great Britain to become the first global superpower. Over the next hundred years, Britain would use its vast naval power to establish the world’s first global economy and a worldwide system of bases and “choke points” to control international trade. During the 1840s Britain began its experiment in free trade with the repeal of the “corn laws”—a series of tariffs designed to protect British agricultural production—unlocking enormous economic benefits to the British economy and allowing British commerce to dominate the world.

Britain would soon develop a global commercial and financial network that brought both Latin America and East Asia into its “informal empire.” The switch from sail to steam power in the mid nineteenth century further enhanced Britain’s global dominance as the great maritime powers became dependent on Welsh anthracite, the highest-grade coal for maritime use in the world. Britain sparked the first global telecommunications revolution by connecting the world with a network of undersea telegraph cables encased in a rubbery, waterproof substance called gutta percha, which Britain held the monopoly.

Far from a state in decline as many argue, Great Britain at the turn of the twentieth century would remain the world’s leading power with the Royal Navy and the city of London its most powerful instruments. British bankers financed 75 percent of the world’s investments, 50 percent of the world’s trade flowed on British ships, and 80 percent of its global communications on British cables. It would take two world wars to shake the foundation of British power and open the door for the United States.

Myth No. 2: The Atlantic Ocean Protected a Young United States from Europe’s Great Powers

One of the most enduring—and peculiar—myths in American history is that the “United States is the luckiest great power in history” with a geographical location that has enabled it to remain secure throughout much of its history. This argument is often supported by a quote from Jean-Jules Jusserand, France’s ambassador to the United States from 1902–1924, who enviously explained, “on the north, she has a weak neighbor on the south, another weak neighbor on the east fish, and the west fish.” In fact, the ambassador’s history was astonishingly wrong, an artifact of early twentieth-century European insecurities regarding America’s emergence as a great power and an effort to dismiss America’s rise as a consequence of providence.

Instead, a young United States faced hostile European powers eager to limit the nation’s expansion. British North America (later known as Canada) bordered it to the north and the Spanish Empire to its west and south. Along with France, both nations maintained naval bases only a few hundred miles from America’s shoreline with the easy ability to blockade American commerce and attack U.S. coastal cities. The Royal Navy’s powerful North American squadron operated out of Halifax, Bermuda, and Jamaica, the French maintained naval stations on the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and the Spanish kept bases in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

America’s strategic predicament only worsened as the century progressed. A U.S. military delegation observing the Crimean War (1853–1855) warned that British and French militaries had become so advanced that they could devastate American coastal defenses with floating “ironclad” batteries armed with massive guns, blockade the United States with powerful fleets, and land tens of thousands of troops at strategic points along the East coast, which the United States would be unable to repel. It would not be until the early twentieth century before President Theodore Roosevelt would build a navy that could credibly protect America’s shoreline from possible attack.

Myth No. 3: The Monroe Doctrine Established American Dominance over the Western Hemisphere in the Early Nineteenth Century

On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe transmitted his annual message to Congress, including four paragraphs warning European powers not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere. Monroe offered a deal the United States would leave Europe to the Europeans if Europe did not intervene against the newly established republics in the Western Hemisphere. He warned that the United States would consider any European effort to restore Spanish power or claim new colonies in the Western Hemisphere “a hostile act against the United States.” The Monroe Doctrine quickly secured its place in American lore as the moment the United States declared the “New World” its sphere of influence ending centuries of European dominance.

The story of the origins of the Monroe Doctrine, is just that, the story of how John Quincy Adams convinced President Monroe to include his famous warning to the European powers in his address to Congress. It is not, however, the story of how Spanish America became independent of Spain and how America established itself as the dominant power (or regional hegemon) over the Western Hemisphere. That tale begins and ends with Great Britain’s role in defining the future of Spanish America following the rebellions sparked by Napoleon’s overthrow of Spain’s King Ferdinand VII in 1808 and his replacement with Napoleon’s brother, Joseph.

Following Napoleon’s catastrophic retreat from Moscow in 1812 Britain’s foreign minister, the Viscount Castlereagh, laid out Britain’s strategy to its European partners: Europe’s powers would not intervene if Spain failed to regain control over its empire in the Americas, nor would they seek colonies of their own. Castlereagh achieved his objective by the 1818 conference at Aix la Chapel when he convinced Russia, Austria, France, and Prussia to reject a Spanish appeal for military assistance following a string of military defeats in the New World. Castlereagh implored Ferdinand VII to emulate Britain’s example following its defeat at Yorktown in 1781 and accept the loss of its colonies.

As only France had the naval power to assist Spain in retaking its lost empire Paris became the focus of Britain’s attention. Following Castlereagh’s death, the new Foreign Minister George Canning summoned the French Ambassador to London, Prince Jules de Polignac, for a series of “interviews” during which he convinced the Ambassador to accept a policy of non-intervention. In October of 1823 Canning and the Prince signed a memorandum of understanding known as the Polignac Memorandum where France declared that it would not intervene to restore Spanish power in the Western Hemisphere. This agreement freed Britain to begin recognition of the new countries following the announcement of the Monroe Doctrine two months later, Canning ordered lithographic copies of the memorandum distributed throughout Latin America to demonstrate Britain’s critical role in their independence.

With Latin America independent, British, French, and even German influence in the New World expanded by leaps and bounds. Both London and Paris had lusted after Spanish America’s wealth since the first galleons laden with gold and silver returned to Spain in the sixteenth century. Soon, the two capitols competed for influence among the new nations of South America building lucrative trade and investment ties throughout the region.

Britain and France quickly replaced Spain to become Latin America’s chief political and economic partner—all at the expense of America’s standing in the hemisphere. France appealed to a common “Latin” social, religious, linguistic, and cultural history while Britain used its vast financial and commercial power to tie the new states into its global economic system. During the 1820s alone the City of London approved massive investments in the region totaling twenty million pounds—resulting in Latin America’s first major debt crisis.



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