Yes, Napoleon, you read that right. We go back to the 19th century when the Spanish War of Independence took place in the context of the Napoleonic Wars, pitting Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal against the First French Empire, with the aim of installing Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother) on the Spanish throne. To understand its passage through our region, we move on to these seven municipalities in the Burgos region:
- Aranda de Duero
- Gumiel de Izán
- Peñaranda de Duero
- Hontoria de Valdearados
- La Vid
- Roa de Duero
The Spanish War of Independence took place between 1808 and 1814 within the context of the Napoleonic Wars, which pitted Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal against the First French Empire, whose aim was to install Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother, on the Spanish throne, following the abdication of Carlos IV and Fernando VII in Bayonne.
The first French occupation of Ribera del Duero took place in November 1807, when a division of the French army was installed in Aranda. During February and March 1808, an army of more than 20,000 men marched through the capital of the Ribera del Duero. On 11th April, Fernando VII arrived in Aranda, lodging in a house in the Plaza Mayor. The altercations between the civilian population and the foreign soldiers were continuous but increased from April onwards, the most serious being the one that occurred in Fuentespina on 24 April.
On 18 July 1808, José Bonaparte arrived in Aranda, where he spent the night before continuing his journey to his court, and in mid-August, the French presence disappeared from the region, returning to relative normality. The local authorities began to mobilise from that moment onwards in anticipation of the return of the French armies. The discomfort, the shocks and the enormous expenses they had to bear during the months of occupation, together with the destruction they caused to churches and monasteries, led to an increase in the number of guerrilla fighters.
In November 1808, the French entered the region for the second time, occupying Gumiel de Izán on the 14th. They were also in Vadocondes, where they extorted and robbed the local inhabitants. On the 16th they occupied Aranda and on the 19th they crossed Peñaranda de Duero with more than 15,000 men heading towards Osma and Almazán, looting and setting fire to one of its neighbourhoods.
The soldiers were able to enter the houses easily as they were empty and the neighbours fled in fear of the Gallic presence. The French looted and destroyed houses, convents and anything else that crossed their path, appropriating their belongings.
Napoleon entered Aranda on 23 November at the head of a large army. He took up residence in one of the main houses in the riverside capital, where he remained until the 29th. A few hours after his departure, his brother, Joseph I, arrived in the town, so that they both arrived in Aranda.