Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Badajoz

Well! I never knew! During the Napoleonic wars there was a siege of Badajoz... the French held the city and the English/Portuguese wanted it to cut off communications or something and laid siege.  According to Wikipedia, Badajoz had withstood two sieges already.  It seems it was quite a battle.

But Wikipedia did have a diagram of the city.  So you see the river, and there is a thin bridge running across it.  There was still a city wall and gate towers on the city side of that river in 1980.  And I lived just beyond.

Wikipedia notes references to Badajoz in popular culture.  I find all of this fascinating having lived there and never known anything about it.

Popular culture[edit source | editbeta]

In Thomas Hood's poem Faithless Nelly Gray (1826), the protagonist tells Nelly that, "At duty's call I left my legs, In Badajos's breaches."
The plot of both the novel and TV adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Company, revolves around the events of Badajoz. Richard Sharpe, and his handful of chosen men are finally successful storming the walls and holding them till reinforced, after many other attacks had been repulsed.
The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer is a historical novel which opens with the taking of Badajoz (spelled “Badajos” in the novel) and tells the story of the marriage of Juana de los Dolores de León (the Lady Smith after whom the town in South Africa was later named and who died in 1872[14]) and Brigade-Major (as he was then) Harry Smith. The same story formed part of the narrative of "The Other Side of the Hill" by Peter Luke.
In An Act of Courage by Allan Mallinson his hero Matthew Hervey is imprisoned in Badajoz in 1826, and recalls taking part in the siege. The bad behaviour of the British troops is emphasised; indeed, Hervey kills one of them himself.
The siege of Badajoz is also the setting for Old Sam's Christmas Pudding, a humorous monologue by Marriott Edgar featuring Sam Small, the character created by Stanley Holloway.
Ra's al Ghul, a near-immortal supervillain and arch-enemy of Batman claims to have led the siege on Badajoz after being foiled in his search for the Holy Grail, in the Batman comic The Chalice.

September 2013;
For JJ who may not see this but anyway;
In the book "We Saw Spain Die" Foreign Correspondents in the SPanish Civil War, page 299 begins an account of the Nationalist capture of Badajoz.  This is by the correspondent Jay Allen.  Jay Allen was also the first (not sure if only) foreign correspondent to interview Franco.  He was in Lisboa (Lisbon) when he heard about Badajoz and set off to find out for himself."What he wrote about Badajoz would cause Jay to be vilified for years after.  More importantly, what he saw was to haunt him for the rest of his life." pg 300
Jay Allen wrote:
Elvas Portugal August 25, 1936
This is the most painful story it has ever been my lot to handle....
I have come from Badajoz, several miles away in Spain.  I have been up on the roof to look back.  There was a fire.  They are burning bodies.  Four thousand men and women have died in Badajoz since General Francisco Franco's Rebel Foreign Legionnaires and Moors climbed over the bodies of their own dead through its many times blood-drenched walls."


JJ said...

This post sparks my interest. I know relatively nothing about it, and I don't trust Wikipedia. So off to do some research!

JJ said...

As a follow up, as you know, I am a huge Hemingway fan. My favorite novel of all time is For Whom the Bell Tolls. Your post sparked a great interest into more background on Hemingway to see whether he ever collaborated with Jay Allen. My research revealed that he did.

Artist Luis Quintanilla published a book of drawings in 1939 on the Nationalist capture of Badajoz. The book entitled, All the Brave: Drawings of the Spanish Civil War, contained text by Jay Allen and a Preface by Ernest Hemingway.

I have been reading the writings of Quintanilla’s son, who records that his father and Allen were good friends in Madrid. He also assumes from a great deal of correspondence that Luis Quintanilla did meet Ernest Hemingway. From what I have found so far, I would make the assumption that Hemingway and Allen did meet, but I have not yet verified it. I also have not yet read We Saw Spain Die, but you can bet I will soon. It is currently #3 on my list of books to read to complete research projects. My life is exciting!

I love this kind of research and I thank you for launching this new interest!