Disillusioned by the Spanish provisional government and largely unprotected, Andalucía scarcely fired a shot in its defense when Joseph Bonaparte’s army invaded the region in 1810. The subsequent French occupation, however, broke down in the face of multiple difficulties, the most important of which were geography and the continued presence in the region of substantial forces of regular troops. Drawing on British, French, and Spanish sources that are all but unknown, Esdaile describes the social, cultural, geographical, political, and military conditions that combined to make Andalucía particularly resistant to French rule.
Esdaile’s study is a significant contribution to the new field sometimes known as occupation studies, which focuses on the ways a victorious army attempts to reconcile a conquered populace to the new political order. Combining military history with political and social history, Outpost of Empire delineates what we now call the cultural terrain of war. This is history that moves from battles between armies to battles for hearts and minds.
“Charles Esdaile’s account of Napoleonic Andalucía is important not only for what it tells us about the failure of France in Spain but also because it throws great light on the dynamics of Napoleonic rule and on the nature of political culture during an important period of Europe’s evolution.”—Jeremy Black, author of The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon
“Outpost of Empire sheds much new light on the goals and machinery of the French effort to expand their Empire into Andalucía. In the process, it enriches our understanding of the meaning of the Empire for the French and, more importantly, for the development and evolution of the French imperial army. It will reward readers interested in the Peninsular War or the nature of military occupation generally.” – Michigan War Studies Review