Eloquent silence: the transformation of Spain in British balladry between the Peninsular War and the Carlist Wars

J. Rubén Valdés Miyares


Among the ten items labelled “Peninsular War ballads” in the website Broadside Ballads Online of the Bodleian Libraries two evidently date from the First Carlist War, and show a different mood. The remaining eight items related to the 1807-1815 period are actually only five, as two of them are different editions of the same songs, and another is merely about the setting in the Horse Guards Parade, London, of a memorial to the lifting of the siege of Cádiz in 1812. While the five true Peninsular War ballads represent it as a patriotic enterprise on behalf of brave Spaniards fighting tyrannical invaders, the two set in the Carlist War portray a more individualized adventure of soldiers of fortune. This new approach after 1815 suggests a more limited popular understanding of Spanish politics. Spain is no longer a scenario for the defence of universal principles, but for the reckless adventure of particular men.


Broadside ballads; popular culture; 19th-century literature; war poetry; British interventionism in Spain

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DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.17561/grove.v23.a12


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