Fighting Napoleon. Guerrillas, Bandits and Adventurers in Spain 1808 – 1814.
AUTOREsdaile, Charles J.
EDITORIALYale University Press. New Haven and London
List of Illustrations. viii
Preface. ix
Map: The Iberian Peninsula, 1808-1814. xii

1The Guerrilla in History.1
2 The Guerrillas at War.27
3 The Guerrillas in Context. 61
4 The Origins of the Guerrillas. 90
5 The Reality of the Guerrillas.130
6 The End of the Guerrillas.160
“Alongside the Spanish army in the campaign against Napoleon (1808-1814) was an assortment of freebooters, local peasants and bandits, who were organised into ad hoc regional private armies. These “guerrillas” - a term introduced to the English language during the Peninsular War - ambushed French convoys, attacked French encampments, and pounced upon, dodged and fought French columns, often with extreme brutality. This book investigates for the first time the irregular Spanish forces and their role in resisting Napoleon. Delving deeply into previously untapped archival resources, Charles Esdaile arrives at an entirely new view of the Spanish guerrillas. He shows that the Spanish war against Napoleon was something other than the great popular crusade of legend, that many guerrillas were not armed civilians acting spontaneously, and that guerrillas were more often driven by personal motives than high-minded ideology. Tracking down the bandit armies and assessing their contributions, Esdaile offers important insights into the famous “little war” and the motives of those who fought it.”

El mismo Esdaile comenta en el prologo:

“In both Britain and Spain the most well-known aspect of the Peninsular War - the great struggle that convulsed the Iberian Peninsula between 1808 and 1814 following its invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte - is beyond doubt the participation in the fighting of large numbers of irregular bands of armed civilians. Renowned for having given the English language the word “guerrilla”, these forces are generally agreed to have inflicted huge damage on the invaders, and it has often been argued that their activities rendered the conquest of the Peninsula a task that was beyond the capacities even of Napoleon. Yet in neither England nor Spain (nor, indeed, anywhere else) has any attempt ever been made to write a detailed analysis of the guerrilla war. Nor, meanwhile, has any systematic attempt ever been made to make use of the wealth of material that exists on the subject in the Spanish archives (indeed, it has rather been assumed that the “people's war” cannot have left a footprint in the documents in an age when the vast majority of the populace was illiterate). In brief, this work seeks to remedy both wants, and at the same time to take account of the growing body of scholarship that has led the academic community to question traditional arguments in respect of popular responses to war, occupation and mobilisation in other parts of Napoleonic Europe. As such, it may certainly be deemed an exercise in revisionism: for too long has treatment of the subject been dominated by myth and propaganda. That said, it is only a beginning: extraordinary riches remain untapped in the Spanish archives (not to mention those of France and Portugal), whilst there is clearly much scope for regional studies of the sort that Jorge Sánchez Fernández has so admirably pioneered in respect of Valladolid. Whatever else may be said of it, then, let us hope that this work is never called the last word on the subject.”

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