On August 21, 1808, early in the morning, Jose de Mazarredo y Salazar (1745-1812), a Basque naval commander, arrived at the city of Bilbao (Bizkaia). Immediately after his arrival, he wrote a letter to the French general Antoine Christophe Merlin, in which he asked diplomatically to move the foreign military forces away from the city. Some days earlier, on August 16, the French army had occupied Bilbao, plundering and pillaging the local population, in response to a Basque military rebellion against Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule. Mazarredo was profoundly affected by what the French occupiers did to his place of birth and its people. Finally, on September 19, the French troops were expelled from the city of Bilbao. Months before this event, Napoleon aimed to make his brother, Jose, King of Spain, after the aspirants to the crown, both Carlos IV and his son Fernando VII, had renounced royalty in favor of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon’s incursion into the Iberian Peninsula, as part of his desire to realize his expansionist ambition all over Europe, initiated another international war that lasted until 1814.


Portrait of Jose de Mazarredo y Salazar (1745-1812)

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day