Section IV Peninsula war

southern Europe is another branch of the expansion of France’s first empire. As the main road from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the Pyrenees Peninsula has become a strategic area eager to achieve control to coerce Britain and the Nordic countries. At the same time, in Spain and Portugal, separated by a mountain from France, anti French sentiment has intensified day by day. Napoleon then decided to use force to solve the contradictions in the South and launched a war on southern Europe.


since the French fleet was completely destroyed in the battle of Trafalgar, Napoleon’s only hope of subduing Britain was to rely on the continental blockade to suffocate Britain economically. However, one place that worried him was the Iberian Peninsula. The Iberian Peninsula has a long coastline. The British fleet has complete control of the bay of Biscay and the whole Atlantic and Mediterranean. Moreover, although Spain on the island is an ally of France, it seems to be divorced, especially after the battle of Trafalgar. Most of the Portuguese on the island are on the British side except for a few Pro French. Therefore, before the occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, it is impossible for the countries on the island to strictly implement the continental blockade policy, which has seriously damaged their economy. Although they accepted Napoleon’s “Continental blockade decree” without defense, they secretly adopted a tacit and tolerant attitude towards smuggling, and sometimes even flagrantly disobeyed Napoleon’s edict. In order to completely blockade Britain, Napoleon decided to conquer the Iberian Peninsula three weeks after the signing of the tilset peace treaty. The British government sent an expeditionary force to save Portugal, which unexpectedly played a huge potential, resulting in the “Spanish ulcer” out of control.


(1) Spanish guerrilla war

Peninsula war

at the end of November 1807, the French army occupied Portugal and realized the first step of Napoleon’s plan. In March of the following year, Napoleon sent more than 100000 troops to invade Spain, seized its military important places and main transportation lines, and drove into the capital Madrid in mid March. May coerced the king of Spain to abdicate. After the French army invaded the Iberian Peninsula, a surging people’s armed struggle against the French invaders set off rapidly in Spain. On May 2, the people of Madrid held an uprising. Although the uprising was suppressed, the fire of the uprising has spread all over the country. People attacked and killed French soldiers everywhere, and anyone suspected of being with Napoleon and Godoy was killed. In Cadiz, Seville, Catalina, and especially in Valencia, the streets are all red with blood. Napoleon did not pay attention to the people’s uprising, because what appeared before him was the peasants of Asturias armed with machetes; A shepherd on Mount Molina dressed in rags and holding a rusty shotgun; He is a handicraft worker in Catalonia with an iron rod and a long sword. But he never thought that it was these people’s uprisings that first dug the grave for his great empire. Although the Spanish people’s anti French struggle was brutally suppressed by the French army, as long as they survive, they will fight with the French army to the end. Almost every day, the French army was wildly retaliated by the Spaniards.

(2) Portugal liberated

. On August 8, 1808, a 10000 strong British force landed successfully in Montego Bay. Then he immediately marched to Lisbon. On the 17th, he met the French army near rorissa. After a bayonet fight, the French army was forced to retreat. Soon, the French army launched an offensive against the British army, and the two sides launched a bloody battle. As a result, the French army suffered heavy losses and was forced to withdraw to Lisbon. On August 30, the two sides signed an agreement to withdraw all French troops from Portugal in the prescribed manner. In this way, Portugal was liberated from the rule of the French army, and the British army gained a permanent foothold on the Iberian Peninsula.

(3) conquering Madrid

in October 1808, Napoleon decided to personally lead an army enough to sweep the entire Iberian Peninsula over the Pyrenees and solve the Spanish problem. The Spanish army was poorly equipped, poorly disciplined and difficult to cooperate, creating a good opportunity for Napoleon. Napoleon’s first step was to recover Madrid and ensure the transportation to France through Vitoria and Saint Sebastian. He ordered three armies to sweep westward in the autumn wind, and the Spanish army retreated one after another. On December 4, France finally captured Madrid.

(4) the British Expeditionary Force

in April 1809, the Duke of Wellington led the British Expeditionary Force to land on the Iberian Peninsula. In the following four years, the British army, with the cooperation of the Spanish regular army and guerrilla forces, repulsed the French offensive many times. In 1812, Napoleon sent French troops to join the expedition to Russia because of the need of the war against Russia. Wellington seized this favorable opportunity, multiplied the weakness of the army and took an active offensive. Relying on accurate judgment, he launched a large-scale attack on the French army in Victoria City, Spain, on June 21, 1813. He wiped out the French army in one fell swoop and went straight into Madrid, forcing the French army to abandon Spain and flee back to France. Wellington took advantage of the situation and pursued to the south of France, becoming the first force of the anti French Alliance coalition to enter French territory.

(5) Napoleon’s defeat was abolished and exiled

Napoleon suffered another devastating defeat in the battle of Leipzig in 1813. The following year, he announced his resignation and was exiled to Elba, a small island off the coast of Italy. In 1815, Napoleon miraculously fled back to France from Elba Island. In France, he regained the throne without a shot, which shocked Europe. But Waterloo became the stage for Napoleon’s final curtain call. After Waterloo, Napoleon was imprisoned by the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on St. Helena, a small island in the South Atlantic, where he died of cancer in 1821.


Napoleon’s military action did not cure “Spanish ulcer” as he wished, on the contraryOn the contrary, the protracted guerrilla warfare in southern Europe imprisoned Napoleon’s troop mobilization and caused considerable power depletion. Therefore, when the north-south line was in emergency at the same time and the decision-making and tactical command were wrong one after another, Napoleon finally admitted his complete failure. With the fall of this great military and political genius, the first empire of France also came to its end.

“influence ` evaluation of

Napoleon’s army was generally popular in overthrowing the old feudal autocratic rule at first, but when they invaded the peninsula, they gradually aroused the self-esteem of the Spanish nation and then resisted, which is a hidden danger to ruin their career. In the previous national war, the nationalist French revolutionary army against aggression defeated the invading alliance; In this national war, the nationalist soul awakened by the French revolution armed these oppressed nations. Unfortunately, France is an aggressor this time, and is destined to be submerged in the raging waves of the national war.