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The Napoleon Series > Military Information > Battles


The Inheritance of History: Ethics, Warfare, and the Bando of Móstoles in 1808 Spain

By Roberto A. Scattolin, Italy


In the annals of history, there are probably no warfare operations more brutal than guerrilla fighting or more futile for a large standing army such as the French occupation army in 1808-1814 continental Spain.  Early in the nineteenth century, a French autocrat named Napoleon sent invading troops to Spain and Portugal in order to block the British from using ports on the Iberian Peninsula to ship goods into the European Countries.

This project of extraordinarily exceeding ambition was thereafter named the “Continental Plan”, as it aimed to have British manufactured goods blocked from entering into the markets of France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and other nations under military imposed domination.

In this essay, the primary motives and the ensuing results of this invasion into the Iberian Peninsula have been examined.

The political and diplomatic blunderings of the Emperor of the French are another matter of disquisition, pointing out that although Napoleon’s conquering ambitions were claimant, he exhibited weakness in diplomacy, and that it was especially a colossal strategic stalemate violating the liberties and the legitimate sovereignty of the Spanish people.

His political decisions were inclined to a personal thinking autonomy and often based upon handing out favors to friends and relatives, a still reviving manifestation of nepotism, and an abuse of power, as when the crown of Spain was given to his brother Joseph. 

In the Peninsular conflict, Napoleon wholly underestimated the individual capabilities, the patriotic zeal, and the martial attitudes of the common people; further, he did not consider at all that the lived religious experience of the people, and their deep faith, would have been the true banner in the oncoming struggle against the foreign oppressors.

The Spanish Bourbons were devout Catholics as the majority of the Spanish people were since long centuries.  In metropolitan France the Church had greatly suffered the constrictions and persecutions during the social turmoil of the French Revolutionary events (1789-1794), as well were other parts of the Empire subjected to the days of Napoleon’s despotism.   Fidelity to God, to the Church, and the monarchy, was a much stronger and brighter horizon of life in the Peninsula.

History often repeats itself through the time: Rome’s legions tried to subdue Spain territories, but did not acquire better results than the French foreign armies obtained in years of convulsive reactions.   In the twentieth century, during the Second World War (1939-1945), Germany’s heavy casualties caused  two-front war against Russia armies and Western Europe Allied powers proved a disaster of endless proportions.  Guerrilla warfare had paramount analogies as it was the nemesis of the United States military confrontation in the Southern Asian strategic sphere (Vietnam). 

Pitilessly engaged in Spain and Portugal, Napoleon contended with both a double-front war (against the Anglo-Lusitanian-Spanish regular forces) and the guerrilla tactics of the Spanish insurrectional parties.   Against all odds, that proved an unbearable weight and the final destruction.

As the famous exile stated in his Memoirs at St. Helena, “That miserable Spanish affair is what killed me!”.

The Napoleonic invasion of Spain[1] was a reproachable military affair, and the similarities to a colossal blundering had a remarkably regressive strategic outline for the post 1804 conquering politics of the Empire.  From the year 1807 to 1814, French troops tried to overwhelm Portugal and Spain through major operational strategies; overall military planning attempted to hold the conquered territories against the determined efforts of the British forces, Portuguese militias, Spanish regulars, and Spanish unsurrectional levies: the guerrillas.

Military operations were conditioned by severely tested complications and hard fought resistance efforts on the battlefields by opposing forces.  Overawed by foreign phalanges (the French contingents numbered almost 300,000 equivalences on ground at the zenith of their presence; disappointing enough, the troops were quite often limited in tactics, such as the possibility of easy concentration), the belligerancy was usually referred as the Peninsular War.

When Spain’s royal dynasty were imprisoned by Napoleon, and their armies  defeated and partially destroyed, the Spanish people rose up in arms to oppose the foreign invader and the threat of war hung over the country.  New interim governments came into life – the juntas – corroborated by the vigour of newly formed insurrectional levies and aggressive fighting-parties (guerrilleros).  Contemporaries called these salient events the levantamiento de 1808, or revolución de 1808, straightly referred in English as the  Revolution of the year 1808.  However remarkable were the magnitude and the blood-sheddings of these conflicts they marked an inter-active turning point in the history of the contending countries.[2]

Portuguese and Spanish societies were  revolutionized by the shocking waves of years-long warfare.

Because of the compelling dictates of the military contest, fiercely fought siege operations ensued; towns underwent systematic destruction of houses, palacios (i.e. noble mansions), and churches.

The ravages and convulsions wrought by the invaders had a seemingly conditioning mark of despondency on the urban societies, which had to endure unmentioned spoliations and abominable recrudescences of cruelty and slaughter.

Food shortage, then heavy a burden, was a further incidence, therefore providing victuals became an onerous and demanding task; in consequence, countrysides and hamlets were subjected to excessive plundering. 

Although victorious were the opening strategic moves, French martial glories suffered telling blows to the laurels, like in the consuming defeat suffered at the batalla de Bailén, on July 18-22, 1808 (in the Prado Museum, a polychromatic reproduction of the clashing, entitled La Rendición de Bailén, or La Capitulación de Bailén, has been masterfully painted in 1864 by José Casado del Alisal).

Any history researcher delving deeper on this topic, will be prone to consider that, because of prolonged war emergencies and local intricacies on land, the strategic frame (and its cohesive applications concerning the defence of the Spanish Nation) did represented the main source of popular worrying, and the ultimate focus of everything happening in the devasted Iberian Peninsula[3].

The Hydra of the Political Power, and the Inefficiency of the Operations

Invading Spain was a cumbersome failure; its political incongruities were manifested by the contituted order of the peoples – largely substantiated on the centuries-old establishment of the monarchic sovereignty – and it strongly marked the devolution of the French system which was conditioned by Napoleon’s strong will (and quite unrestrained ambition for ever growing territorial annexations).

Under the circumstances, any right of applied democracy was – apparently – delegitimized to the Spanish society.  However, this unfolding adventure was as upsetting a paradox as in like manner were Napoleon’s mounting ambitions, and a blameful coup d’ epée which revealead his ineptitude in popular politics.[3]   The Corsican General exhibited all the limits of his actual political experience, and he should not have embarked upon the political contingencies of another country; on the contrary, in the sustained role of French emperor, he had to act as a shrewd moderator with acumen and diplomatic ductility.

His enthusiastic mental projections and easy military planning were to be eluded in a short period. Optimism made him consider the possibility of a rapid conquest.  Spanish territories, despite their rugged mountainous extension, were thought to be only a minor obstacle.  For one’s intellectual capabilities, and seemingly multifaceted history interests, ignoring the lessons of classical history that proved a colossal strategic mismatch with culture.

A stirring memento would have been sufficient to know that it took nearly two hundred years for Rome dominate the land, but not securing their sphere of dominance in Iberia.

The lesson of this peculiar theme of ancient history, and its military outcome, were not of marginal importance, but, due to conceited attitudes, these references of knowledge were practically neglected in the steps of diplomacy and political behavourism.

Fading glories

The Spanish quagmire, a most appropriate term used to suitably define the continued empasse facing the French invading armies, presented lacerating contradictions.  The real motivations of the military invasion were dictated by the ambiguity of Napoleon, and by severe discrepancies of his ego dominated by unquenching ambition and uncontained harassments of vainglory.   A further strident remark, by comparison with the military command, was represented by the 1804 honorific title of Emperor conferred by popular consent (the proclamation as emperor of the French was issued by the Senate on May 18; coronation followed instead on December 2, in the cathedral of Notre Dame, in Paris).

Beyond any fairly rethorical conception, the title had its majestic power and resonances.   Imperator, for the ancient Roman civilization, was the one who detained the supreme command – imperium – of the troops in one military campaign; Caius Iulius Caesar (100-44 B. C.) had this title, and so Iulius Caesar Ottavianus Augustus (63 B. C.-14 A. C.), it passed then to properly designate the head of the Empire.

La guerre d’ Espagne failed because Napoleon Bonaparte applied the only idiosyncratic paradigm he had wrongly followed and experienced since the first Italian campaign of 1796-1797: conquest, through military invasion; that meant hegemony (and geo-strategical accomplishment) through strong military powers.  It was the heavy toll of post-revolutionary military campaigns, and long range offensive pushings of the armées de la Republique.

And Napoleon’s steadly affected personality was subdued by this eighteenth century inheritance, as well as by the thematic postulations of the guerre preventive, contrast and weakness of the whole French society uprooted in the smoking forge of Mars.

The Corsican General had lost his projectual liberty and his life-giving personality in twelve years of conflits; quite on the contrary, intead of following the brigh horizon of his intellectual talents, he was enslaved to the dictacts of characterial instability.

As it seems, there is every evidence – reading through coeval historical narratives – that protracted warfare urgencies had effectively absorbed his human identity, and pushed him well ahead to the limits of his intellectual border zone.

The Man and His Mask: the Farce is Over

Nearly twenty-five years ago, I had the finest possibility to acquire a history work of definitely a talented English historian – to say the least.  This outstanding masterpiece, an invaluable detailed narrative, is well preserved in my collection.  Quite after a time, a narrative passage which focused the dichotomy of democracy imposed by coercive resources and heavy applied military constrictions, is still a spouting source of deep reflection. Words so ensued in a critic specification:

“[…] the summer of 1808 saw Napoleon’ s power stagger under terrible blows. Not only did he lose Spain and Portugal and the subsidies which they had meekly paid, but most of the 15,000 Spanish troops which had served him on the shores of the Baltic – in 1807, King Charles IV agreed to provide a divisional force to bolster French army contingents in Germany; this auxiliary division of the North was headed by a talented General-officer named Don Pedro Caro y Sureda, marqués de La Romana (October 2, 1761-January 23, 1811) – found means to slip away on British ships and put a backbone into the patriotic movements in the north of Spain.  But worst of all was the loss of that moral strength which he himself reckoned as three-fourths of the whole force in war.

Hitherto he had always been able to marshal the popular impulse on his side. As the heir of the Revolution he had appealed, and not in vain, to the democratic forces which he had hypnotized in France but sought to stir up in his favour abroad. Despite the efforts of Czartoryski and Stein to tear the democratic mask from his face, it imposed on mankind until the Spanish Revolution laid bare the truth; and at St. Helena the exile gave his own verdict on the policy of Bayonne: “It was the Spanish ulcer which ruined me”.

The author: John Holland Rose (1855-1942); the work, entitled The Life of Napoleon I, was a 1903 publication edited by George Bell and Sons, London.

Quotations is from Vol. II, p. 173.

                                                                *            *           *

Pondering on the Spanish problem, Napoleon had forever a mark of repentance:

«I embarked very sadly on the Spanish affair, I confess: the immorality of it was too patent, the injustice too cynical, and the whole thing wears an ugly look since I have fallen; for the attempt is only seen in its hideous nakedness deprived of all majesty and of the many benefits which completed my intention» – Napoleon.



For the King and for the Country: the bando of the Alcaldes of Móstoles

The municipal bando (i.e. proclamation) was issued and officially signed on May 2, 1808, by the Alcaldes (i.e. mayors) of Móstoles.

Its urgent necessity originated from the popular levantamiento (i.e. uprising) which had happened at Madrid, against the presidial French troops who were stationed in the capital town.

To gave it authority, and legitime ordinancy, the bando was signed by 73 years old Andrés Torrejón García, alcalde ordinario de Móstoles por el Estado Noble, and Simón Hernández Orgaz, Estado General u Ordinario, aged 62.

Further, the bando compilation was due to Don Juan Pérez Villamil y Paredes (he was born at Santa Marina, Puerto de Vega-Navia, on May 1, 1754), a jurisconsult and Asturian writer – and it was soon widespread in many places laying in the surroundings of the way to reach the Extremadura.

It is essentialy recognized that the bando had a very specific and basically determined intention.

That was aimed as a petition for auxiliary forces: that is to alert the people of Toledo and Extremadura to soon order into the field the milicias, and to provide adequate armed support and covering to Madrid.  Acting under the present circumstances of striking necessity, it was a most urgent calling to arms to repell the French invaders.  The text, asking for outstanding patriotic efforts to save the homeland, denoted reverberating exhortations of honour and popular determination; it read as follows:

"Señores Justicias de los pueblos a quienes se presentase este oficio, de mí el Alcalde de la villa de Móstoles:b

Es notorio que los Franceses apostados en las cercanías de Madrid y dentro de la Corte, han tomado la defensa, sobre este pueblo capital y las tropas españolas; de manera que en Madrid está corriendo a esta hora mucha sangre; como Españoles es necesario que muramos por el Rey y por la Patria, armándonos contra unos pérfidos que so color de amistad y alianza nos quieren imponer un pesado yugo, Después de haberse apoderado de la Augusta persona del Rey; procedamos pues, a tomar las activas providencias para escarmentar tanta perfidia, acudiendo al socorro de Madrid y demás pueblos y alentándonos, pues no hay fuerzas que prevalezcan contra quien es leal y valiente, como los Españoles lo son.

Dios guarde a Ustedes muchos años. Móstoles dos de Mayo de mil ochocientos y ocho.

Andrés Torrejón. Simón Hernández."


"Gentlemen Justices of the peoples to whom one was presenting this office, of me the Major of the town of Móstoles:

It is well-known that the Frenchmen placed in the outskirts of Madrid and inside the Court, have taken the defence, on this cardinal people and the Spanish troops: so that in Madrid it is pouring out at this hour a lot of blood; as Spaniards is necessary that we die for the King and for the Homeland, arming ourselves against the perfidious some that his colour of friendship and alliance they want us to impose a heavy yoke, After having taken possession of the August person of the King; let’ s proceed so, to take the active providence to punish so much perfidy, coming to the help of Madrid and other peoples and getting well, since there are no forces that prevail against whom it is loyal and brave, as the Spanish are.

God keeps to you many years. Móstoles on the second of May of one thousand eight hundred and eight. Andrés Torrejón. Simón Hernández."

The person who was entrusted to made known this bando in Andalucía was the postillion Pedro Serrano, and he soon progressed via Navalcarnero, and Talavera de la Reina.

Then to Casas del Puerco.

The news were to reach Sevilla, Córdoba, and Cádiz.

And it was nearly one month later, on June 6, 1808, that the Junta Suprema Central was established at Sevilla – aka: Junta Suprema Central de Sevilla.


1807, 27 October: in a secret convention signed at Fontainebleau, Spain agreed to support the Continental System, and Napoleon’s hegemony views implying the partition of Portugal (in three kingdoms: the kingdom of Northern Lusitania; the Algarve, in the South, plus the Alentejo; and the Portugal reduced with the remaining part of the territory) between France and Spain; November: in pursuance of the above-mentioned treaty, French army corps under the leadership of Jean-Andoche Junot occupied Portugal; the ruling family, the Braganza, and King João VI, escaped to Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) without opposing armed resistance.

1808, February: on the cunning pretensions to have reinforcements sent to Junot, exceeding numbers of French troops entered through Spain territories; Barcelona, Figueras, Monjuik, Pamplona (29 February), and St. Sebastian were put under French control – that was a fairly complex strategy to gain possessions of strongholds, and a political escamotage to secure Spain to France’s domination.

17 March: flanking of the Spanish monarchial establisment; mutiny and revolt of Aranjuez by which hereditary Prince Ferdinand VII eliminated the pernicious influences of  Godoy.

19 March: Palace revolution: deposition of King Charles IV (Carlos IV de Borbón; Portici, November 11, 1748-Rome, January 20 1819) and Minister Manuel Godoy Álvarez de Faria Ríos Sánchez Zarzosa (Badajoz, May 12, 1767-Paris, October 7, 1851); Ferdinand VII (Fernando VII de Borbón, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, October 14, 1784-Madrid, Sepetember 29, 1833) ascended to the throne.

23 March: French Marshal Joachim Murat, Grand Duke of Berg, entered the town of Madrid.

14 April: Napoleon arrives at Bayonne.

2 May: popular uprising in Madrid – levantamiento del dos de Mayo – against the French invaders – savagely crushed by Murat’s troops.    One of the townsfolk who lost their lives was Doña Manuela Malasaña Oñoro, a 15-year-old bordadora (i.e. seamstress) native of Móstoles.  The intrepid young girl (daughter of Juan, and of Maria Oñoro, lived in calle de San Andrés num. 18) had run to the prompt defence of the artillery park at Monleón (nowadays Plaza del 2 de Mayo), but she was put in chains and executed because she had been discovered carrying a pair of tijeras (i.e. scissors), that were considered in that brutal circumstance an offensive weapon.  Her mortal remains were buried in the Hospital de la Buena Dicha dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Concepción.

3 May: execution of hundreds Madrilene prisoners, who have been captured bearing white and fire weapons – considered as straight evidence of their connection and support with the violent anti-French rising.

5-6 May: the monarchs of Spain, Charles and Ferdinand met Napoleon at Bayonne, and were coerced to abdication thus favouring a foreign power, in the person of Joseph Bonaparte (one of Napoleon’s brothers).

6 June: first battle of the Bruch.

7 June: battle of the bridge of Alcolea.

14 June: second battle of the Bruch.

15 June: Joseph Bonaparte is proclamed king of Spain – it is the revolt against the invaders.

20 June: first siege of Gerona.

21 June: fight at the River Cabriels.

24 June: fight at the Cabrillas defile; Spanish efforts are uncessfull to prevent Marshal Bon-Adrien-Jannot de Moncey from reaching Valencia.

8 July: an assembly formed by seventy-five notables officially promulgated the Constitution of Bayonne. The document virtually transformed the Spanish absolute monarchy in a constitutional monarchy.  June-August: the heroic siege of Zaragoza was lead by José de Palafox.

14 July: victory of Jean-Baptiste Bessières at Medina del Rio Seco against the Anglo-Spanish troops leaded by Joaquín Blake y Joyes.

19-23 July: At Bailén, French army units sent to conquer Seville are captured by the insurretional forces.

General Pierre Dupont de l’Étang 18,000 army force is surrounded, and defeated by the Spanish troops lead by Don Francisco Javier Castaños Aragorri Urioste y Olavide, Count of Castaños y Aragones.

27 July - 20 August: second siege of Gerona.

1 August: King Joseph and the court evacuated Madrid.

August: a British expeditionary force counting a combat-manpower of 12,300 equivalences landed in Portugal, near Figuera da Foz, at the mouth of the River Mondego, under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley.

13 August: Madrid is taken by the Spanish.

14 August: the first siege of Saragozza is over; Dominique-Honoré-Antoine-Marie Vedel is forced to have his troops withdrawn largely on the tactical consequences of the débâcle at Bailén.

17 August: combat of Roliça (Portugal) – Wellesley defeated the French troops under Général Henri-François Delaborde.

21 August: the French forces are inflicted a signal battle success at Vimeiro (British losses: 720 killed and wounded; French casualties: 2,000 killed and wounded, plus 13 artillery pieces captured).

30 August: having not adequate strategic option to safely reach the French forces in Spain, Junot is compelled to negotiate a convention at Cintra; acting on its application, Lisbon is surrendered to the British, thus allowing the repatriation of his army units to metropolitan France on the Royal Navy sailing vessels.

27 October: Spanish defeat near Logrofio.  

29 October: defeat of Zornosa.

30 October: Napoleon enters in Spain with 135,000 men.

5 November : battle of Valmaceda.

7 November: Combat at Guenes.

9 November: French occupation of Burgos.

11 November: combat of Espinosa.

11 November: Napoleon enters Burgos, and staying up to 20 November.

10-11 November: victory of Espiñosa.

11 November: combat of Gamonal.

23 November: battle of Tudela.

30 November: battle at the mountain pass of Somo Sierra.

4 December: capitulation of Madrid.

The French sovereign promulgates the Décrets de Chamartin (i.e. decrees of Chamartin): the feudal rights are abolished, the Inquisition tribunal is abolished, the monasteries are secularized and theirs large possessions swallowed.

16 December: battle of Cardadeu.

21 December: cavalry action at Sahagun: Henry William Paget defeats César-Alexandre Debelle.

22 December: passage of the sierra de Guadarrama.

29 December: battle of Benavente.

Bibliographical note and further reading

1. English works:

Chandler, David, G.. The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1966.

Esdaile, Charles, J.  The Spanish Army in the Peninsular War. Manchester University Press, 1988.

Esdaile, Charles, J.  The Peninsular War. Penguin Books Ltd., 2003.

Esdaile, Charles, J.  Fighting Napoleon. Guerrillas, Bandits and Adventures in Spain 1808-1814. Yale University Press, 2004.

Fletcher, Ian, Cook, Andy. Fields of Fire: Battlefields of the Peninsular War. Da Capo Press, 1994.

Fletcher, Ian, Duke of Wellington (Foreword), Chandler, D., Esdaile, Charles, J., Haythornthwaite, Philip, J., Griffith, P., Gill, J., Chamberlain, P., Grehan, J.. The Peninsular War: Aspects of the Struggle for the Iberian Peninsula. Spellmount Publishers Ltd., 1998.

Fletcher, Ian. The Campaigns of Wellington, Vol 1. The Peninsular War 1808-1811, Vol. 2. The Peninsular War 1812-1814. The Folio Society, 2007.

Gates, David. The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War. Cambrige, MA.: Da Capo Press, 1986.

Glover, Michael. The Peninsular War, 1807-1814: A ConciseHistory. David & Charles, Newton Abbot; Archon Books, New York, 1974.

Glover, Michael. Legacy of Glory: the Bonaparte kingdom of Spain. Scribners, 1971; Leo Cooper, London, 1972.

Napier, William, F., P., Sir. History of  War in the Peninsula and in the South of France from the Year 1807 to the Year 1814. London, George Routledge & Sons, 1814.

Glover, Michael. English Battles and Sieges in the Peninsula. London, John Murray, 1910.

Oman, Charles, W., Sir. A History of the Peninsular War. Oxford, Claredon Press: 1902.

Oman, Charles, W., Sir. Wellington’ s army, 1809-1814. London: Edward Arnold, 1912.

Southey, Robert. History of the Peninsular War. J. Murray, 1837.

Suchet, Marshal Duke D’Albufera. Memoirs of the War in Spain. Pete Kautz, 2007.

Weller, J.. Wellington in the Peninsula. Greenhill Books, 1999.

2. French Works:

Amade. Voyage en Espagne. Paris, Auch, Encelin et Pochart, s.d.. (1822-1823).

Beauchamp, Alphonse. Histoire de la guerre d’ Espagne et de Portugal, pendant les années 1807 à 1813. Plus la campagne de 1814 dans le midi de la France, par le colonel sir John Jones, avec des notes et des commentaires. Paris, Germain Mathiot - Mongie - Lemmonier, 1819.

Belmas, J.. Journaux des Siéges faits ou soutenus par les français dans la Péninsule de 1807 à 1814. Paris, 1836.

Clerc, Lieutenant-Colonel. La Capitulation de Baylen. Paris, 1903.

Espinchal, Hippolyte, D’. Souvenirs militaires. Pub. par F. Masson et F. Boyer. Paris, Ollendorff, 1901.

Fugier, A.. Napoléon et l’ Espagne. Paris, 1930.

–––––––. Napoléon et le Portugal. Paris, 1931.

Gonneville (Colonel de). Souvenirs militaires. Publiés par la comtesse de Mirabeau, sa fille, et précédées d’une étude par le général baron Ambert. Paris, Didier, 1876.

Grasset, A.. La Guerre d’ Espagne. Paris, 1914.

Guillon, E.. Les Guerres d’ Espagne sous Napoléon. Paris, 1902.

Laffaille (Général). Mémoires. Toulouse-Paris, Privat et Didier, 1931.

Larchey, L.. Les Suites d’ une capitulation. Paris, 1884.

Lejeune (Général). Sièges de Saragosse. Paris, Firmin-Didot, 1840.

Nogues (Général). Mémoires sur les guerres de l’ Empire. Pub. par le baron A. de Maricourt. Paris, Lemerre, 1922.

Paulin (Général baron). Les Souvenirs. Pub. par le capitaine du génie Paulin-Ruelle son petit-neveu. Paris, Plon, 1895.

Percy (Baron). Journal de campagnes. Pub. d’après les manuscrits inédits avec une intro. par E. Longin. Paris, Plon, 1904.

Pichon, L. A.. De l’ État de la France sous la domination de Napoléon Bonaparte. Paris, H. Nicolle, 1814.

Rogniat, Joseph (Baron). Relation des Siéges de Saragosse et de Tortose par le Français dans la derniére guerre d’Espagne. Paris, 1814.

Roux, G.. Napoléon et le Guêpier espagnol. Paris, 1970.

Thiry, J.. La Guerre d’ Espagne. Paris, 1966.

Titeux, Eugène. Le Général Dupont. Puteaux-sur-Seine, Prieur et Dubois, 1903.

Vedel (Comte). Précis des opérations militaires en Espagne, pendant les mois de juin et de juillet 1808, avant la capitulation du général en chef Dupont, à Baylen et Andujar. Suivi de pièces justificatives. Paris, Gueffier, s.d..

Victoires, Conquêtes, désastres, revers et guerres civiles des Français, de 1792 à 1815. Paris, C. L. F. Panckoucke, 1818-1822.

3. Italian Works:

Chandler, David, G.  Le Campagne di Napoleone. Rizzoli Editore, Milano, 1981.

Oman, Charles, W., Sir.  I Marescialli di Napoleone. Rizzoli Libri S.P.A., Milano, 1988.

Las Cases, De, Emmanuel. Il memoriale di Sant’ Elena. Gherardo Casini Editore, Roma, 1962.

4. Spanish Works:

Alvarez Valdes, Ramon. Memorias del levantamiento de Asturias en 1808. Imprenta del Hospicio Provincial, Oviedo, 1889.

Armas, De, Rumeu Antonio. El bando de Móstoles. Madrid, 1940.

Artola, Miguel. Los afrancesados. Madrid, 1989.

Artola, Miguel. La Guerra de la Independencia. Madrid, 2007.

Arzadun, Juan. Fernando VII y su tiempo. Madrid, 1942.

Belmas, J.. Zaragoza, 1808 y 1809. Los Sitios vistos por un francés. Edición de Herminio Lafoz. Ed. Comuniter, 2003.

Casamayor, F.. Diario de Los Sitios de Zaragoza (1808-1809). Ed. Comuniter, 2000.

Daudevard de Ferussac, André-Etienne-Just-Paschal-Joseph-François. Diario histórico de los Sitios de Zaragoza. Vertido al español por F. J. J.. Casa Editora: Librería de C. Gasca, Zaragoza, 1908.             

Lafoz Rabaza, Herminio. El General Palafox. Heroe de la Guerra de la Independencia. 2006.

Lopez Tabar, Juan. Los Famosos Traitores. Los afrancesados durante la crisis del Antiguo Régimen (1808-1833). Madrid, 2002.

Madrid, el 2 de mayo de 1808. Viaje a un día en la Historia de España. Madrid, 1992.

Moral Roncal, Antonio M.. El reinado de Fernando VII en sus documentos. Ariel, 1998.


[1] Terminological definitions do sensibly vary, according to the parts (and responsabilities) involved in the conflict.  In France, this conflict is still denominated Guerre d’ Espagne.  In Portugal, it is generally mentioned as the French Invasions; in Spain, the most common and notorious definition is Guerra de la Independencia (i.e. War of Independence), otherwise stated as Guerra de Independencia Española (i.e. War of Spanish Independence).  

[2] Political, social and military consequences were terrific; this manifest violation must be stigmatized by any researcher and analytic scholar.  Ineffectual as it was, the invasion of Spain was a mark of infamy on account of the bloodsheding sustained by the French troops and cruel aggravations which incurred to the local civil population (most especially defenceless senescents, women, and preadolescents).

[3] For the long range military occupation (an appealing infringement tantamount to trepassing the National identity, the political institutions, and the right of self-determination of the people), this oppression would cause Napoleon to be considered under the imputation of military autocracy: in primis, toward the establishment of the French army, which was instrumental at mantaining the regime by coercive resources; in the second place, usurping the legitime claims of political liberty and democracy of the Spanish people, which were openly devouted to the monarchic establisment and to the institutionalised power. The influence of the clergy was then of remarkable incidence, and religion proved a true spreading force of social unity all over the country regions.

Since centuries, in Spanish society the lived experience of the Roman Catholic faith was a daily cohesive force, and it soon turned into a palpitating patriotic élan against the foreign oppressors. 

Worth mentioning, on May 23, 1808, are the promptitude and raising of arms which occurred in the province of Oviedo, due to the exhortative summons of Canon Lllan Ponte – a provisional Junta was steadly organized, and a declaration of hostilities against the usurper was soon set.

At Valencia (24 May, 1808), the town was taken under control, and on the night of 5 June an aggressive impetus was aimed at the French presence, with fatal casualties of many as 338 soldiers.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2008


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