Dos de Mayo Uprising

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Dos de Mayo
Part of the Peninsular War
El dos de mayo de 1808 en Madrid.jpg
The Second of May 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes , by Francisco de Goya (1814).
Date2 May 1808
Location
Madrid, Spain
Result
Belligerents
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spain Flag of France.svg French Empire
Commanders and leaders
Pedro Velarde y Santillán  
Luís Daoíz de Torres  
Jacinto Ruiz y Mendoza
Joachim Murat
Casualties and losses
200 [1] 500 dead, [2] including 113 prisoners executed [2] 31 [1] 150 dead [3]

The Dos de Mayo or Second of May Uprising of 1808 was a rebellion by the people of Madrid against the occupation of the city by French troops, provoking repression by the French Imperial forces.

Madrid Capital of Spain

Madrid is the capital and most populous city of Spain. The city has almost 3.3 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area population of approximately 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (EU), surpassed only by London and Berlin, and its monocentric metropolitan area is the third-largest in the EU, smaller only than those of London and Paris. The municipality covers 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.

Contents

Background

Second of May 1808: Pedro Velarde takes his last stand. Dos de mayo, por Joaquin Sorolla.jpg
Second of May 1808: Pedro Velarde takes his last stand.

The city had been under the occupation of Napoleon's army since 23 March of the same year. King Charles IV had been forced by the Spanish people to abdicate in favour of his son Ferdinand VII, and at the time of the uprising both were in the French city of Bayonne at the insistence of Napoleon. An attempt by the French general Joachim Murat to move the daughter and her children along with the youngest son of Charles IV to Bayonne [4] sparked a rebellion. Murat was the brother-in-law of Napoleon, and would later become king of Naples. Initially the governing council of the city refused the request from Murat, but eventually gave way after receiving a message from Ferdinand VII who was also in Bayonne at this time.

Charles IV of Spain King of Spain

Charles IV was King of Spain from 14 December 1788, until his abdication on 19 March 1808.

Ferdinand VII of Spain King of Spain

Ferdinand VII was twice King of Spain: in 1808 and again from 1813 to his death. He was known to his supporters as the Desired and to his detractors as the Felon King. After being overthrown by Napoleon in 1808 he linked his monarchy to counter-revolution and reactionary policies that produced a deep rift in Spain between his forces on the right and liberals on the left. Back in power in 1814, he reestablished the absolutist monarchy and rejected the liberal constitution of 1812. A revolt in 1820 led by Rafael de Riego forced him to restore the constitution thus beginning the Liberal Triennium: a three year period of liberal rule. In 1823 the Congress of Verona authorized a successful French intervention restoring him to absolute power for the second time. He suppressed the liberal press from 1814 to 1833 and jailed many of its editors and writers. Under his rule, Spain lost nearly all of its American possessions, and the country entered into civil war on his death.

Bayonne Subprefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Bayonne is a city and commune and one of the two sub-prefectures of the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwestern France. It is located at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers in the northern part of the cultural region of the Basque Country, as well as the southern part of Gascony where the Aquitaine basin joins the beginning of the Pre-Pyrenees.

Social aspects

The Dos de Mayo was among the few spontaneous popular uprisings of the war, occurring without significant fore-planning, funding or involvement by government elites. While various networks within the Spanish military and state bureaucracy envisioned military action to expel the French from the country, Murat's hold on Madrid was held to be unassailable in the short term. The military leaders of the most sustained foci of resistance, Daoíz and Velarde y Santillán, were caught unprepared by the actions of the labouring poor: Velarde, a 28-year-old artillery captain, was secretly plotting a campaign elsewhere in the country, but considered a direct attack on the Spanish capital impractical drawn to the sound of gunfire, he would perish leading the defense of the Monteleón artillery barracks against his own military instinct. [5]

Beginning of the uprising

On 2 May a crowd began to gather in front of the Royal Palace in Madrid. Those gathered entered the palace grounds in an attempt to prevent the removal of Francisco de Paula. Marshal Murat sent a battalion of grenadiers from the Imperial Guard to the palace along with artillery detachments. The latter opened fire on the assembled crowd, and the rebellion began to spread to other parts of the city.

Royal Palace of Madrid Official residence of the Spanish Royal Family

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish royal family at the city of Madrid, although now only used for state ceremonies. The palace has 135,000 square metres (1,450,000 sq ft) of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms. It is the largest functioning royal palace and the largest by floor area in Europe.

Imperial Guard (Napoleon I) Elite soliders of Napoleons Grande Armée

The Imperial Guard was originally a small group of elite soldiers of the French Army under the direct command of Napoleon I, but grew considerably over time. It acted as his bodyguard and tactical reserve, and he was careful of its use in battle. The Guard was divided into the staff, infantry, cavalry, and artillery regiments, as well as battalions of sappers and marines. The guard itself as a whole distinguished between the experienced veterans and less experienced members by being separated into three sections: the Old Guard, Middle Guard and Young Guard.

Artillery Heavy ranged guns or weapons

Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.

What followed was street fighting in different areas of Madrid as the poorly armed population confronted the French troops. Murat had quickly moved the majority of his troops into the city and there was heavy fighting around the Puerta del Sol and the Puerta de Toledo. Marshal Murat imposed martial law in the city and assumed full control of the administration. Little by little the French regained control of the city, and many hundreds of people died in the fighting. The painting by the Spanish artist Goya, The Charge of the Mamelukes , portrays the street fighting that took place.

Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid, Spain

The Puerta del Sol is a public square in Madrid, one of the best known and busiest places in the city. This is the centre of the radial network of Spanish roads. The square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year. The New Year's celebration has been broadcast live on national television since 31 December 1962.

<i>The Second of May 1808</i> 1814 painting by Francisco de Goya depicting rebellion against the French occupation of Spain

The Second of May 1808, also known as The Charge of the Mamelukes, is a painting by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. It is a companion to the painting The Third of May 1808 and is set in the Calle de Alcalá near Puerta del Sol, Madrid, during the Dos de Mayo Uprising. It depicts one of the many people's rebellions against the French occupation of Spain that sparked the Peninsular War.

There were Spanish troops stationed in the city, but they remained confined to barracks. The only Spanish troops to disobey orders were from the artillery units at the barracks of Monteleón, who joined the uprising. Two officers of these troops, Luis Daoíz de Torres and Pedro Velarde y Santillán are still commemorated as heroes of the rebellion. Both died during the French assault of the barracks, as the rebels were reduced by vastly superior numbers.

Barracks Accommodation for soldiers

A barracks is a building or group of buildings built to house military personnel. The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word "barraca" (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation. The word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes, and the plural form often refers to a single structure and may be singular in construction.

Pedro Velarde y Santillán Spanish soldier

Pedro Velarde y Santillán was a Spanish artillery captain famous for his heroic death in the Dos de Mayo uprisings against the French occupation of Madrid. He became a popular hero and martyr figure for Spain's subsequent War of Independence from the French Empire.

Impact of the uprising

The Heroes of the Second of May memorial, Madrid Monumento 2 mayo Madrid (Marinas) 02.jpg
The Heroes of the Second of May memorial, Madrid

The repression following the crushing of the initial rebellion was harsh. Murat created a military commission on the evening of 2 May to be presided over by General Grouchy. This commission issued death sentences to all of those captured who were bearing weapons of any kind. In a statement issued that day Murat said: "The population of Madrid, led astray, has given itself to revolt and murder. French blood has flowed. It demands vengeance. All those arrested in the uprising, arms in hand, will be shot." [6]

All public meetings were prohibited and an order was issued requiring all weapons to be handed in to the authorities. Hundreds of prisoners were executed the following day, a scene captured in a famous painting by Goya, The Third of May 1808. As the French had been attacked with a variety of improvised weapons, any craftsmen found with shearing scissors, kitchen knives, sewing needles or other tools of their trade were summarily shot. Only a handful of French-speaking madrileños were able to avoid execution by pleading in words intelligible to their executioners. [7]

On the same 2 May, in the nearby town of Móstoles, the arrival of the news of the repression prompted Juan Pérez Villamil, who was secretary of the Admiralty and prosecutor of the Supreme War Council, to encourage the mayors of the town, Andrés Torrejón and Simón Hernández, to sign a declaration of war calling all the Spaniards against the invaders. The name of this declaration was "Bando de los alcaldes de Móstoles" or "bando de la Independencia" which translates to "Declaration of Independence".

The uprising in Madrid, together with the subsequent proclamation as king of Napoleon's brother Joseph, provoked resistance across Spain to French rule. While the French occupiers hoped that their rapid suppression of the uprising would demonstrate their control of Spain, the rebellion actually gave considerable impetus to the resistance. In the weeks that followed there were further rebellions in different parts of the country.

The Second of May is now a public holiday in the Community of Madrid. The place where the artillery barracks of Monteleón was located is now a square called the Plaza del Dos de Mayo, and the district surrounding the square is known as Malasaña in memory of one of the heroines of the revolt, the teenager Manuela Malasaña, who was executed by French troops in the aftermath of the revolt.

Several memorials to the heroes of 2 May are located over the city, including the Monumento a los Caidos por España (Monument to those who fell for Spain).

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Glover, p. 51
  2. 1 2 Charles J. Esdaile in The Encyclopedia of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars by Gregory Fremont-Barnes (main editor) (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2006) 596.
  3. Chandler, p. 610
  4. Oman, Charles (1902). A History of the Peninsular War. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 60.
  5. Fraser, Ronald. Napoleon's Cursed War: Popular Resistance in the Spanish Peninsular War. Verso, 2008, pp. 56-7.
  6. Cowans, Jon. "Modern Spain: A Documentary History".University of Pennsylvania Press, May 2003. ISBN   0-8122-1846-9
  7. Fraser, Ronald. Napoleon's Cursed War: Popular Resistance in the Spanish Peninsular War. Verso, 2008, p. 66.

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