The Peninsular War: A New History
At the end of the eighteenth century Spain remained one of the world's most powerful empires. Thanks to a period of enlightened absolutism, Portugal, too, was prosperous. But by 1808, all this had changed. Portugal was under occupation and, ravaged by famine, disease, economic problems and... show more
At the end of the eighteenth century Spain remained one of the world's most powerful empires. Thanks to a period of enlightened absolutism, Portugal, too, was prosperous. But by 1808, all this had changed. Portugal was under occupation and, ravaged by famine, disease, economic problems and political instability, Spain had undergone and extraordinary implosion. Worse was to come: for the next six years, the Iberian peninsula, for three centuries a byword for religious and military aggression, became itself the helpless victim of others, suffering perhaps over a million deaths while troops from all over Europe tore it to pieces. Charles Esdaile's new history of the Peninsular War makes it clear that, in part because of the emergence of the phenomenon of guerrilla warfare, the war was an Iberian tragedy. Spain was ruined and endowed with a poisonous legacy that ultimately produced the Spanish civil war of 1936-1939. Portugal suffered unparalleled disaster, with casualties that have no comparison in its history. For Britain, the Peninsular War became the arena in which the redcoats of first Moore and the Wellington created one of her great national epics. For Britain, it was also the war that established a dazzlingly powerful military machine that both never lost a battle and became the first invading army to set foot on the soil of Napoleonic France. The Peninsular War tells this compelling, terrible story for a new generation with all of the detail, color, and painstaking research for which Charles Esdaile has become famous. It is a monumental work of military history that has all of the great military set pieces but never loses sight of the people of Spain and Portugal and teh suffering they endured. This is a classic work of history that will set the standard for all that will come after it.
Publish date: 2003-06-14
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Pages no: 640
Edition language: English
Napoleon Bonaparte's decision in 1808 to occupy Spain typically is ranked second only to his invasion to Russia in terms of the disastrous mistakes made by the French emperor. What began as a swift military operation soon degenerated into an "ulcer" that tied down thousands of troops, slowly bleedin...