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Unknown social identities: Spanish guerrillas in the Peninsular War, 1808–14

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Few aspects of the Peninsular War have been, and remain, more controversial among Spanish, French and British historians than the Spanish guerrilla. National perceptions, pride, prejudice and romantic mythology colour many an argument which in consequence does not greatly advance our knowledge. In an attempt to shift the debate onto a more solid socio-historical ground, the author initiated and directed the construction of two databases - one of 748 guerrilleros, the other of 343 persons who were sentenced to death as guerrilleros or bandits by the Bonapartist regime’s special courts, the so-called Juntas Criminales. The following essay uses material from these to study the guerrilleros’ social origins, a first step in the wider study of the guerrilla movement for a forthcoming book on the Spanish people’s role in the Peninsular War.

Keywords: Database guerrillas; Elite and labouring poor’s participation; Guerrillas’ average ages; Guerrillas’ social origins; Peninsular War; Spanish guerrillas

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2003

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  • The International Journal of Iberian Studies (IJIS) is the academic journal for scholars from around the world whose research focuses on contemporary Spain and Portugal from a range of disciplinary perspectives. IJIS is interested in history (20th century onwards), government and politics; foreign policy and international relations.
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