Archive for August 10th, 2018

August 10, 2018

Independence, Peninsular War or simply War of 1808?

If you have read my posts, really…. you have noticed that of all the travel the section I like the most is the one dealing with history. I am an amateur history lover!!! It is a heavy subject and complicated and the reason not written a whole post on it ,until now. This is best in my black and white series, no pictures.

The Independence war of Spain, or the Peninsular War of all, or simply call the War of 1808. I like the latest. After all, it was fought in the Iberian Peninsula most of it, but it included parts of Southern France and with the heavy casting of the British. Therefore, War of 1808 is best me think.

Not many have given lots of thought or at least not written about huh! But it is a very important war, that determine the liberalism in Europe from the absolutism, clear the way for imposing invaders/dictators, and gave the light of freedom to many Nations, the Americas included. A bloody war indeed, but don’t they are all? Who is counting bodies! any count is a sad count. As with wars, dictators, etc there is no gold silver and bronze, is either good or bad, and to me they are all bad.

It is a touchy feeling for me because I am Spanish-French as well (citizen that is) and very much close to the Portuguese community from which I learned their language and my oldest son godfather is from there. And of course, the British know it well too one of my girlfriends for years in the University was from Leicester lol!! and a few pints buddies. So will try to be neutral ok ::)

The Spanish War of Independence was a conflict developed between 1808 and 1814 in the context of the Napoleonic Wars, which confronted the Allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal against the first French Empire, whose pretension was that of install in the Spanish throne the brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte, after the abdications of Bayonne.

It confuses with what the Anglo-Saxon historiography calls Peninsular War, begun in 1807 when declaring France and Spain the war with Portugal, traditional allied of the United Kingdom. It also had an important component of civil war at the national level between francized and patriots. Since the bicentennial of the War of independence, some historians have questioned the name of “War of independence ” because it is not a conflict of independence character, depending on the character that has been given to these Conflagrations In particular gains strength the denomination War of 1808 or the more complete Peninsula War (Iberian peninsula).

Initial invasion of Portugal with France and Spain: The Spanish division of Solano, leaving Badajoz, took meantime Elvas and Campo Maior, going to establish its headquarters in Setúbal, occupying also Alcácer do Sal, in the Algarve, Tavira and Lagos. The Division of General Francisco Taranco y Llano, with about 6000 men, entered by Valencia and was to ensure the taking of the city of Porto, where was already the general Juan Carrafa with 4000 men, coming from Tomar and Coimbra. On 9 May 1808, the Prince Regent of Portugal, in Brazil, declared null all the Treaties of Portugal with France, declaring war on the French and friendship with his former ally, Great Britain. In Porto, on 6 June, there will be a period of popular revolts against the French occupation, as a result of which the populations of Chaves, Miranda Do Corvo , Torre de Moncorvo, Ruivães , Vila Real, amongst others responded immediately to the call. The news of the Spanish people’s uprising prompted General Solano to withdraw with his troops to Spain. General Quesnel, a Frenchman who replaced General Taranco   upon his death, is arrested by the Spanish troops of Gen Balestra who, meanwhile, was also ordered to return to Spain. The economic and institutional crisis in mainland Portugal worsened with the permanence of the Portuguese court in Brazil, which strengthened the liberal ideas in the country, leading to the Porto Revolution of 1820 and forcing the return of the king to Europe in 1821.

The British Army, under then Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the 1st Duke of Wellington, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army. The demoralized Portuguese army was reorganized and refitted under the command of Gen. William Beresford, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese Royal family, and fought as part of the combined Anglo-Portuguese Army under Wellesley.

According to the Treaty of Fontainebleau of October 27, 1807, Prime Minister Manuel Godoy foresaw, in the face of a new Spanish-French invasion of Portugal, the logistical support necessary to the transit of the imperial troops, which stipulates the joint military invasion, the cession to the Crown of the new kingdoms of Lusitania and Algarves, as well as the distribution of the colonies, all in favor of Spain in exchange for this transit. Under the command of General Junot, the French troops entered Spain on October 18, 1807 , crossing its territory at full march in winter, and reached the border with Portugal on November 20. However, Napoleon’s plans went beyond, and his troops were taking positions in important cities and strongholds in order to overthrow the dynasty of the Bourbons in Spain ,and supplant it by its own dynasty, convinced of having the popular support. This reach the point that they already control several Spanish towns, such as Burgos, Salamanca, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Barcelona and Figueras. The total number of French soldiers stationed in Spain amounted to about 65 000, which controlled not only the communications with Portugal, but also with Madrid and the French border. In March 1808, fearing the worst, the Royal family withdrew to the Royal Palace of Aranjuez to, if necessary, continue on the way to the south, to Sevilla and embark for America, as had already done Joao VI of Portugal (Brazil).

The dissemination of the news of the brutal repression,and the abdications of Bayonne on 5 and 9 May, 1808. One of the reasons why the Peninsular Wars attained so much infamy is that the depravities committed by all sides were graphically portrayed by one of the greatest artistic geniuses ever, Francisco Goya, who in 1808 had already held the position of official Spanish court-painter for three decades. His numerous etchings (the series known as “The Disasters of War”), drawings, and paintings not only depicted the horrors of this holocaust, but also constituted an unforgettable indictment of all warfare. Among the many scenes pictorially documented by Goya were skeletal children and women desperately begging for food, firing-squad shootings, bare-breasted and terrified women encountering impending rape, impalement of a man on a tree, and disembowelment by sword.   Napoleon forced the transfer of the Spanish crown to his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as Joseph I  (José) in the abdications of Bayonne. Which extended throughout the Spanish geography the call, initiated in Móstoles (near Madrid), for action, the uprising against the French , coming for the most part from the popular classes and of the notable locals to confront the imperial troops, they decided the war by the way of the popular pressure in spite of the opposite attitude of the Board of government designated by king Fernando VII. Already in April there were riots in cities like León and Burgos, although, after the Madrid uprising, on May 2, 1808, the actions against the French was propagated throughout Spain. The war developed in several phases in which both sides took the initiative successively, and was highlighted by the emergence of the guerrilla phenomenon that, along with the regular Allied armies directed by the Duke of Wellington, caused the progressive wear to the Bonapartist forces.

The first successes of the Spanish forces in the spring and the summer of 1808, with the Battle of el Bruc, the resistance of Zaragoza and Valencia and, in particular, the victory of Bailen, meanwhile the situation in the Basque Country was tensing. Bilbao, the only provincial capital that had not been occupied by the invaders was relieved on the night of August 5 to 6 and proclaimed as King of Spain, Fernando VII. They provoked the evacuation of Portugal and the French withdrawal to the north of the Ebro, followed in the autumn of 1808 by the entrance of the Grande Armée, headed by Napoleon himself, in command of an army of 250 000 men culminated the maximum French deployment until mid-1812. After the entrance of the emperor in Madrid, after the Battle of Espinosa de los Monteros and the Battle of Somosierra (November 30, 1808) and the tremendous defeats of Uclés (January 13, 1809), the second of the sieges of Zaragoza (21 December 1808 to February 21, 1809) and Ocaña (November 1809), the Central Junta in charge of the government of the unoccupied Spain leaves the plateau for refuge, first in Sevilla, and then in Cadiz, which resists a long and brutal siege.

From there, the Central Junta assists defenselessly the capitulation of Andalusia. Napoleon was preparing to start in pursuit of the British expeditionary force of Moore, when it had to leave to France with urgency because the Austrian Empire had declared  war (January 6, 1809). He left the mission to finish the war in the northwest in the hands of Marshal Soult, who occupied Galicia after the Battle of Elviña and then turned south to attack Portugal from the north, leaving the group of Marshal Ney in his rear with the mission to collaborate in the occupation of Asturias. However, the popular resistance, supported by the weapons supplies by the British fleet, made it impossible to pacify Galicia, which had to be evacuated after the defeat of Ney in the Battle of Puentesampayo (June 1809). The popular uprising, directed by Captain Cachamuíña in Vigo, assumed that this was the first town reconquered to the French in Europe (March 28, 1809). Galicia and Valencia remained free of French troops, although Valencia ended up capitulated In January 1812. To this should be added the formal annexation, by decree of January 26, 1812, of Catalonia to the French Empire, with its division in four departments (Ter, Segre, Montserrat and Bocas del Ebro) and the incorporation of the Aragonese municipalities of Fraga and Mequinenza, while the Aran Valley was assigned to the Department of the Haute-Garonne in France.

By the end of 1812, the Grande Armée of Napoléon that had invaded the Russian Empire 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, including some foreign units and three battalions of sailors sent to assist with the Siege of Cadiz. The withdrawal of troops bound for the Russian campaign was exploited by the Allies to resume the initiative from their victory in the Arapiles (22 July 1812) forcing Joseph Bonaparte to flee temporarily from Madrid. And, counteracting the French offensive, advancing along 1813 to the Pyrenees, defeating the French in the Battles of Vitoria (June 21) and San Marcial (August 31). Meanwhile, Russia’s campaign absorbed the bulk of French resources. Therefore, during 1813 the French Army was withdrawing and losing territory. The French abandoned almost all their towns, and after the Battle of Vitoria on June 21, 1813, they were expelled from Spain. The Treaty of Valençay of December 11 ,1813 restored to king Fernando VII and left Spain free of the foreign presence, but did not prevent the invasion of the French territory. In October of 1813 the Allies crossed the Pyrenees. The war continued in the south of France. There were fighting in the Nivelle River, Bayonne, Orthez, Toulouse and again in Bayonne between the Allied army formed by English, Portuguese and Spanish against French. Being the Battle of Toulouse (April 10, 1814) the last confrontation of the war. Finally, Napoleon asked for peace. So paradoxically, the war ended in the same locality where it originated: Bayonne.

Allied troops had entered until Bordeaux, and possibly, if they had not been stopped, they had entered in Paris before the Austrians, Prussians and Russians. King Fernando VII was finally able to return to Spain on March 22nd, 1814. It must be pointed out that Catalonia formally continued to belong to the French Empire until 28 May 1814, with the orderly withdrawal of all its troops under the command of General Pierre Joseph Habert. At that time, even Napoleon had already abdicated (Treaty of Fontainebleau, April 14, 1814). The signing of the Treaty of Valençay, by which king Fernando VII was reconstituted on the throne,as the absolute monarch, was the beginning of a time of disappointment for all those who, like the deputies gathered in the courts of Cadiz, had believed that the fight against the   French was the beginning of the Spanish Revolution and also the beginning of the Latin American War of independence. It was a long and destructive war, most estimations of wartime dead in Spain place the number at over one million, which constituted more than 10% of the total population. In Portugal, the losses were recorded at 5-10%. The episode remains as the bloodiest event in Spain’s modern history, doubling in relative terms the Spanish Civil War.

In all, Spain deprived of its naval power and excluded from the great subjects dealt with in the Congress of Vienna, where it drew the subsequent geopolitical panorama of Europe. On the other side of the Atlantic, the American colonies would gain independence after the Spanish-American Wars of Independence , Spanish colonies (most except Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines) as well as Portuguese Brazil had achieved independence by 1822. At the internal political level, the conflict hatched the Spanish national identity and opened the doors to constitutionalism, concretized in the first Constitutions of the country, the Statute of Bayonne and the creation of Cadiz. However, it also initiated an era of civil wars between the supporters of absolutism and those of liberalism, called Carlist Wars, which would extend to the entire 19C and that would mark the becoming of the Nation. War and revolution against Napoleon’s occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, later a cornerstone of European liberalism. What made the Peninsular Wars so extraordinary and influential, however, is that never before had a guerrilla insurgency fought on such a large scale with such devastating effectiveness while contributing in major ways to the defeat of the most proficient armies the world had ever seen that were commanded nominally by the greatest military genius in history. Yet in less than six years after the Iberian insurrections of May, 1808 he was traveling toward exile on the tiny island of Elba. The Iberian “ulcer” had contributed mightily toward bleeding his empire of all life. Another adverse outcome of the wars for both Spain and Portugal was the deepening rift, chasm, or division in their societies between those favoring the regressive forces of absolute monarchy, aristocracy, and clergy and those favoring the progressive forces of constitutionalism, bourgeoisie, and secularism. Sound familiar!

A huge event indeed in my opinion, that allows for independence movements all over the participating countries in this war and for my beloved Spain, lucky to have Russia and Austria and Prussia battling Napoleon on the Central European front otherwise history will be another story. And this is not the last time it will play out as WWI and WWII would tell us. Hope you enjoy the historical reading compiles from British, French ,Portuguese,and Spanish sources.

Some webpages I like to complement the above are

Ministerio de Educacion, Cultura y Deportes:

Britannica in English:

Further reading in English, Peninsula War (another name for the Independence war of Spain into into consideration Portugal) :

La Guerre d’Espagne as known in Napoléon’s France:

Hope you enjoy the reading, and it may I am sure help understand these countries today a bit more. I am sure you will know Spain independant drive of today from it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 10, 2018

Some news from Spain LXV

And back to my beloved Spain, with the latest news and tidbits from glorious Madrid. The weather is nice and cool in my neck of the woods now with Madrid of course hotter ::)

A survery of travel tastes of Spaniards. Pointing out, 55.1% of Spanish travel from two,  although they also bet on escaping with another couple (13.6%) and even in groups of three (12.6%). Solo adventurers are reduced to 10%. Finally, the ranking would close the practice of travelling in groups of five (3.5%) and six people (2.4%). These are some of the data that emerge from the study carried out by Civitatis, the leading online distribution company of guided tours, excursions and activities in Spanish in the main destinations of the world. To this end, they interviewed 200,000 people who had booked their holidays with the Civitatis group during the month of July 2018. I would think in modern Spain the practices have change and now couples try more to get away than in the past.

Rome tops the list of the most desirable sites with 8.8% of bookings. The second position is occupied by the city that never sleeps, ie New York, with 7.1%, while the third occupies a place that can come to surprise: Krakow, with 6.4%. They tie Paris and London in the fourth position. Other European capitals follow: Berlin, Amsterdam and Budapest.

They are guided city tours to excursions in the most emblematic places of the country, passing by culinary routes directed to all the gastrolovers. And what is the Spanish favorite reservation? The New York contrasts tour. A four-hour excursion in the city of the Big Apple that runs through the neighborhoods with the greatest cultural diversity in the world. From Harlem to Brooklyn, through Bronx and Queens. In second place is the guided tour of the Colosseum of Rome, follows by the Vatican tours

Only 6.8% reserve with more than 60 days before departure. According to the report’s data, 20.1% does it between 10 and 19 days earlier. In the same way, there are many who prepare the escape from four to nine days before (19.9%). On the other hand, 19.5% do it one to three days before. On the other side of the scale, only 2% look for options on the same day of departure. I am not endorsing them , never used them but their webpage is here Civitatis:

Patria (fatherland), a great eye opener literatura work that I hope will be brought to the cinema eventually. Patria the “What happened” , words that refers to the history of violence and social exclusion that has been experienced in the Basque Country for the last 50 years. And Patria is obviously the novel by which Fernando Aramburu picked up last Monday the Francisco  Umbral Award for Best book published in Spain in 2017, awarded by the foundation Umbral and promoted by the newspaper El MUNDO. The value of the novel by Aramburu has not consisted in portraying the accomplice society, rather than in reporting the criminal acts themselves, which were already sufficiently documented. The main idea of  Patria is that the use of violence ruins people. Also the people who exercise it . It has won a battle, that of the defeat of ETA, is now the triumph of truth. and Patria contributes to that so nobel goal indeed. Get the book here:

Something from the neighbor to the north that had repercussions in Spain as well. As told from the Spanish point of view. The French Revolution was made in summer: on August 25, 1788, Necker, the minister of the People, replaced Brienne in Finances. It was the first cession of the King before the call of the States General, the last meeting of the Estates society. A week earlier, France had declared bankruptcy. The following year the events precipitated: in just three days Necker was stopped, Lafayette created the national militia and the Parisians took the Bastille on July 14, 1789.  On the 27th, King Louis XVI accepted the tricolor. August 4 was the height of the great fear or the reign of terror, the peasant revolt that was resolved with the abolition of feudalism. Within a few weeks, the National Assembly approved the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. After a first failed assault on the Palais de Tuileries, in July  some sources say that 5 and others 11-of 1792, the National Assembly declared the Fatherland in danger. Paris was brewing and bulling. The revolutionaries discovered the King’s treachery. He conspired to have foreign powers intervene in the country on his behalf. On August 3, all sections of the city ask for the cessation of Louis XVI. The commune disputed power to the assembly. Robespierre yielded to its pressure: it dissolved the assembly, suspended the king of its functions and summoned a convention by universal suffrage, subsequent pretext to concentrate the power, curtail the liberties recognized by the Constitution of the previous year and to unleash the Panic.

On August 10, the events that took place occurred the assault on the Palais de Tuileries opened the period of Terror in France. On 9 August, 30 sections concentrated in Paris sent commissioners to the commune to declare themselves insurrectional and to be endowed with full powers. Some community members are called to testify for their reactionary positions. They are judged right there. They’re sent to prison, but they don’t come to her. On leaving, the crowd lynched and decapitated them. Some of the militia members ran the same fate. Therefore, at the dawn of day 10 they preferred to retract and not contain the crowd. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette took refuge in the assembly. The Swiss Guard of the king tried to resist the assault. The king suggests his men by letter to lay down their weapons. They don’t.  The insurrectionists  made it to the castle and looted. The figures of dead vary according to the authors between 1,000 and 6,000, the revolution of 1789 becomes the terror of 1792. In such a way that finally absolute fear ended with absolute terror: In July 1794, Robespierre, who had already liquidated Danton, climbed to the podium of speakers of the Convention. He was already making a new list of delegates, many delegates feared to be included. They were stirred, imprisoned and executed. It was the coup de Thermidor that ended the revolutionary terror. In August of the following year, 1795, France approved a new constitution that distributed power between two chambers and a collegiate executive in a board of directors. And this was not the end, terror continue until the concordat of 1802 and even some like in Brittany and especially the Vendée continue until 1815 to fight the French revolution. Source El Mundo newspaper.Translation by yours truly.

Something from afar that is becoming popular late in Spain. The Cuban Sandwich. Typical snack of the Caribbean island, very popular also in Florida,USA  which is made with roast pork (the marinade of the meat is key), ham, gherkins, cheese and mustard, toasted on a double plate. Enjoy it very good! Some of the best places to try it in Madrid are

Midtown. Paseo de la Habana, 11. With Iberian pork (also bacon), provolone, gherkin, arugula, tomato and mustard with a touch of honey. It is served with potatoes (11.50 euros). More here:

La Negra Tomasa.Calle  Cadiz, 9. Piglet, ham, cheese, mustard and gherkins (8.50 euros). More here:

Havana Blues. Paseo de Santa Maria de la Cabeza, 56. With roasted pork in casserole cut in pieces with a knife, cooked ham, Edam cheese, mustard and gherkin (6.50 euros). No web but reviews here:

No more than nine years for the Casa Alberto in the Barrio de las Letras of Madrid arrive at 200 years old, very impressive age for a tavern or restaurant: Only one, Sobrino de Botin (1725), is oldest in Madrid and even some say the World. As I am  interested in the kitchen, the most relevant are not the 200 years of Casa Alberto, but the last 25. It was in 1993 when Alfonso Delgado acquired the tavern and set out to give it a culinary dignity which, in reality, had never reached.  The kitchen of Casa Alberto has settled as one of the most dignified representatives of the popular tradition of Madrid its greatest culinary claim, and with justice, are a Callos a la Madrilena(tripes) ,for the quality of the ingredients, the sweetness and flavor of it. However, there is more such as the correct ham croquettes, and perhaps better and more original squid in their ink with aioli; Perfect egg broken with squid Andalucian style;juicy cod coated with ratatouille; tender and tasty stews such as lamb shank confit with honey and shiitake mushrooms or veal cheeks with mashed potatoes. And finish with a unavoidable Torrijas (French toast) . Really, satisfaction guaranteed. Casa Alberto, wait until September. It will be closed for vacation the last three weeks of August . It is at Calle de las Huertas, 18; more here:

You can enjoy the work of the Manchego genius Pedro Almodovar  in the Marlborough Gallery. Until September 8th, the exhibition of Life in detention, a series of still lives, between pop and realism, photographed by the author and framed within the last edition of PhotoEspaña. The one thing that motivated him to take his camera was a painting by Isabel Quintanilla in which he saw simply a glass with a flower. Something so simple shot his imagination. In his still lives, the director uses several times this motive, although in his case, the presence of color, as in his feature films, gives him a special force, brings him closer to pop, the style that has marked him. Galeria de Arte Marlborough , Calle Orfila, 5. More here:

There you just the latest in the middle of Summer,and me just five more days to go on 3 weeks vacation here and there but not Spain in this Summer,sorry my beloved Spain, see you soon in Barcelona in October.

Enjoy, Spain everything under the Sun. And ,remember ,happy travels ,good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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