11

The Spanish Ulcer

IT WAS NOT SOLELY the logic of the Continental System, which required control of the whole coast-line of Europe, that led Napoleon to intervene in Spain. He had an exaggerated notion of the latent Spanish resources, naval and economic, which a decadent Bourbon monarchy was failing to administer or exploit. The feeble and disreputable trio of King Charles IV, Queen Maria Luisa, and the favourite Godoy, are mercilessly revealed for all time in the portraits of Goya. Nor was the heir, Ferdinand, much better. When Napoleon met the royal family at Bayonne in 1808 he wrote that `the Queen's love-life is written in her physiognomy; one need say no more'. And of Ferdinand he wrote, `The King of Prussia is a hero beside the Prince of Asturias. He has not yet said a word; he is indifferent to everything, very materialistic, eats four times a day and has no ideas of anything.'

Godoy had kept Spain in uneasy alliance with France since 1804, in the hope of conquering Portugal and even of obtaining it for himself, if Ferdinand succeeded to the throne of Spain. During the Jena campaign Godoy had shown signs of disloyalty to the French alliance. The English capture of Buenos Aires in 1806 aroused fears in Spain of the loss

-164-

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Napoleon
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Corsican Background 15
  • 2 - The Turn of the Wheel 24
  • 3 - Victory in Italy 34
  • 4 - The Eastern Adventure 55
  • 5 - Brumaire and Marengo 68
  • 6 - First Consul 88
  • 7 - The New Charlemagne 103
  • 8 - Austerlitz and the Defeat of the Third Coalition 120
  • 9 - The Napoleonic Empire 131
  • 10 - The Continental System 155
  • 11 - The Spanish Ulcer 164
  • 12 - Wagram and the Awakening of Europe 173
  • 13 - Catastrophe in Russia 185
  • 14 - Leipzig and Abdication 200
  • 15 - The Hundred Days and Waterloo 217
  • 16 - St. Helena 236
  • 17 - The Napoleonic Legend 255
  • Appendix I - The Diagnosis of Napoleon''s Illness 267
  • Appendix II - The Death-Mask of Napoleon 269
  • Select Bibliography 271
  • Index 291
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