British and Spanish Relations During the Peninsular War: The British Gracchi Joaquin García Contreras & Malcolm Marsh
Publisher: Pen and Sword Military (July 30, 2023)
Hardcover: 208 pages
The Spanish Peninsular War (1808–1814), which saw open confrontation between the Spanish people together with their British and Portuguese allies against Napoleon, was more than just a war of occupation and national liberation. Remembered for its violence and drama, it was unusual given that two countries who had traditionally been allies, France and Spain, entered into armed conflict without their governments declaring war.
Histories and memoirs drafted since then in France, England or Spain show clear bias in their interpretations, hence the difficulty in finding reliable information to draft a rigorous analysis of those historic events. However, two centuries having elapsed since the start of this conflict allow us to address the topic today with greater objectivity.
At the start of the war, the climate in London was favorable to cooperation with Spain. Yet the feeling of failure soon took hold of British society due to having embarked in another long and costly war, and many felt disappointment with the scarce cooperation of Spanish troops. However, among the few who defended the importance of the Spanish cause were the Wellesley brothers, the 'British Gracchi', who together maintained this fragile alliance between both countries until the final victory over the French.
Richard, the eldest brother and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the United Kingdom, changed the war against France and was decisive in the success on the Iberian Peninsula. Beside him, his younger brother Henry coordinated official relations between Britain and Spain in his role as ambassador plenipotentiary in Cádiz, maintaining a climate of collaboration up to the end of the war. But the efforts of the two brothers would not have borne fruit without the intervention of a third, Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington), who, in a five-year campaign defeated the French troops which outnumbered his, liberating Portugal and Spain from Napoleon’s grip. The same man who in 1815 commanded one of the allied armies which came together to defeat Napoleon at Waterloo.
Based on original sources, this book aims to clarify the setting in which these important events for the history of Spain unraveled, through the study of anglo-hispanic relations during the years of conflict.
Joaquín García Contreras (Ceuta, 1946) is a History graduate of the University of Seville. He taught History for three decades at the “Poeta García Gutiérrez” Secondary School in Chiclana, Cádiz, where he was the headmaster on two occasions. From the end of 2007, retired from his teaching duties, he has worked on the study and publication of topics related to local history, such as the Battle of Chiclana, the social and cultural enterprises of Father Salado, the member of Parliament José de Cea and the life and works of Antonio García Gutiérrez, which he outlined in several articles for the bicentenary celebrations of his birth. Among other works, he has published “Freemasonry in Chiclana de la Frontera (1888–1893)”, which was well-received, and “Father Salado’s Wine-growing Workers Union”, for which he obtained the “Dionisio Montero” III Prize for Local History Research organized by the Vipren Foundation. Malcolm Marsh (Wallasey, England, 1949) holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, Phonetics and Spanish and a Master of Arts in English Language Teaching from the University of Leeds. He has taught amongst other subjects Spanish to English translation for some twenty-five years at the University of Salford as well as two years before this appointment teaching English in the Department of English at the University of Salamanca and after retiring from Salford one year as visiting lecturer in the Department of Translation and Documentation also at the University of Salamanca. He has worked for many years as a professional translator. He has one published book translation, Rafa Benítez by Paco Lloret, Dewi Lewis Media (2005) and numerous articles in medical and other journals.