Changing Views of the Contribution of Popular Spanish Resistance to Victory in the Peninsular War

5582 Words Apr 20th, 2011 23 Pages
Changing views of the contribution of popular Spanish resistance to victory in the Peninsular War.

The guerrillas have been viewed in a variety of different ways in the historiographical record of the Peninsular War. Until relatively recently, according to Tone, “historians have paid them scant attention” putting the focus on, according to Esdaile “great men, great armies and great battles”. This essay will explore some aspects of the guerrillas that have been the subject of debate in the historiography, focussing first on exploring who the guerrillas were and what their impact was on the war.
Tone, in a study of the English language historiography and that of France and Spain identified that there was a difference in the way each
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Meanwhile Glieg’s negative view of the Spanish army does not extend to the peasants who he claims make up the majority of the rank and file soldiers (and who Tone later claims made up the majority of the guerrilla forces) he states that they did not lack “personal courage.” What this implies is that the British held a different perception of the Spanish army officers than their men. Tone does not pursue this in any detail, but Esdaile explores it in an earlier article, where he indicates that the Spanish upper classes were held in low esteem by “virtually all those non-Spaniards who experienced Patriot Spain at first hand”. That these were “sweeping generalizations” is acknowledged by Esdaile who highlights the impact they have had on the succeeding historiography.
That there was popular resistance, seems to be generally agreed, Tone in a more recent article and Esdaile both mention famous examples of popular resistance while Joes highlights more anonymous incidents which involved guerrilla groups that “sprang into existence” soon after the war began but which “often made the mistake of trying to hold specific places and meet Imperial troops head on.” What these incidents had in common was that they were heroic failures and involved popular uprisings of ordinary Spaniards. These uprisings, were built by the Cadiz government into national or patriotic myths, playing a role for the Spanish similar to that played by the Dunkirk

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