History talk – The Battle of Salamanca

A talk on the ‘Bicentenary of the Peninsular War: The Battle of Salamanca’ will be held by Algarve historian Peter Kingdon Booker at theBela Romão Croquet Club, near Moncarapacho, tomorrow (January 5) at 6pm.

With the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz in the winter of 1811-1812, the Duke of Wellington decided to take into Spain itself his continuing struggle with the French Army of Spain.

He knew that many French forces had been withdrawn from Spain to support Bonaparte’s invasion of Russia. The near disaster of Talavera in 1809 however caused Wellington to be wary of any reliance on Spanish commanders and, oddly, it was a Spanish commander who, failing to guard the French escape route, allowed the greater part of the French army to get away after Wellington’s stunning victory.

The French General Foy wrote of the Battle of Salamanca: “This battle is the most cleverly fought, the largest in scale, the most important in results of any that the English have won in recent times. It brings up Lord Wellington’s reputation to the level of Marlborough. The British went on from Salamanca to occupy Madrid and although they soon left, the fact that the French had been forced to evacuate their capital dealt a mortal blow to the French Empire in Spain. The most beautiful Plaza Mayor in the whole of Spain is that at Salamanca, built in honey coloured stone. It is decorated with 80 medallions commemorating heroes from the history of Spain, and among the Kings of Spain, Spanish saints, conquistadores and men of learning, Wellington is the sole foreign hero to be portrayed.”

The talk has been organised by the Algarve History Association and will be followed by dinner. Cost per person is €28.

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