May 2 massacre: bullfighters against Mamluks

Year of publication: 1968

Country: Fujairah

French troops captured Spain quite easily. The army of King Charles IV was unable to provide decent resistance to hardened Napoleonic warriors. Having accepted the keys of the conquered Madrid, bowed to him with a bow, Bonaparte forced the weak and cowardly Carl to abdicate the throne in favor of his son Ferdinand.

The dynastic problems of the Spanish Bourbon Napoleon were of little concern: he wanted to free the throne for his brother Joseph. Karl and Ferdinand were invited to negotiate in French Bayonne and were there even under honorable, but still arrest. The population of Madrid complained. The people did not like the Bourbons, but few people liked such a clear insult to the patriotic feelings. Marshal Murat, who commanded the Madrid garrison, did not pay attention to the grumbling and sent the grenadier battalion to the royal palace on the morning of May 2, 1808. He wanted to detain the younger children of Charles IV and send them to Bayonne to daddy, thereby eliminating all who at least theoretically could claim the throne. Just in case, the expedition of horse grenadiers was reinforced with several artillery calculations.

In the palace, the French did not meet with any resistance, but the rumor that the royal palace was surrounded by cannons aimed at him, stirred up the Madrid. From all corners of the city, crowds of aggressively-minded citizens began to flock to the palace. Stones flew into the soldiers, the first shots sounded. Murat declared martial law in Madrid, but it was too late. In the narrow streets, the battles began to boil, and the French soldiers, hastily introduced into the city, showered flower pots from the balconies and tiles from the rooftops. Particularly fierce fighting began to boil near the squares of Toledo and Del Sol. The account of the dead rebels quickly passed for a hundred.

The big Spanish garrison did not support the rebellion, the officers did not release the soldiers from the barracks. Only the artillery unit, located on the street Monteleone, opened a quick fire on the French. They responded according to all the rules of military science, and after a fierce battle, the rebellious gunners were destroyed.

Among the rebels were many students and teachers of the Madrid school of bullfighting. The bullfighters trained on the bulls famously slaughtered the Napoleonic Mamluks and their horses. It is this episode captured in Francisco Goya's "Rise in Madrid on May 2".

The rebels had few weapons, ammunition, and in the evening the French took control of the whole of Madrid. The massacres began. Murat's order read: “The inhabitants of Madrid, who have given themselves the wrong way, have surrendered themselves to rebellion and murder. French blood was shed. It requires revenge. All those arrested during the riot with a weapon in their hands will be shot. ” During the day of the fighting and the night of repression, about 700 Spaniards and up to a hundred and fifty Frenchmen died.

The news of the uprising in Madrid stirred up the whole of Spain. Joseph Bonaparte seated himself on the throne, but the guerrilla was unfolding in the country - a merciless guerrilla war against the invaders. In hot Spain, Napoleon first encountered popular resistance. After four years in the cold Russian winter, he will remember this more than once.

Announcement image: author's personal collection
Photo lead: The last battle Monteleone (artist Joachim Sorolla). Source: en.

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