Brassey's Almanac - The Peninsular War: The Complete Companion to the Iberian Campaigns 1807-14

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Pavilion Books, 2004 M11 25 - 248 pages
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This second volume in the Brassey's Almanac series tackles the fierce war that saw Napoleon seek to gain control of neutral Portugal in an attempt to cut out British trade with continental Europe. The result, more than a dozen major battles in a complex war from 1807 to 1814, was a campaign that has remained central to studies of 19th century Europe ever since.

By the year 1808 Napoleonic France had achieved domination over the great majority of continental Europe. Through victories at Ulm (1805), Austerlitz (1805), Jena-Auerstädt (1806) and Friedland (1807) her armies had successively eliminated Austria, Prussia and Russia as military opponents. Britain alone had withstood the power of France, achieving security against invasion through Nelson's victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar (1805).

The tide began to turn in 1808 when Napoleon created a new enemy by usurping the Spanish throne in favour of his brother Joseph. The Spanish uprising that followed encouraged Britain to send an expeditionary force to the Iberian Peninsula. The ensuing war was to play a major part in Napoleon's downfall and cement Wellington's reputation as the pre-eminent British soldier of his era.

Events such as the famous retreat from Corunna by Sir John Moore, at which the 30,000 British troops in Portugal fended off Napoleon and 200,000 elite French troops before escaping into the sea (though Moore was killed in a desperate rearguard action) are still revered to this day in Iberian folk and British army memory.

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About the author (2004)

Philip J. Haythornthwaite is a military historian and author. He has written over 40 books including The Napoleonic Source Book and The Armies of Wellington.

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