Badajoz - (IPA [bað̞a'xoθ], formerly written Badajos in English), the capital of the Spanish province of Badajoz in the autonomous community of Extremadura, is situated close to the Portuguese border, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid-Lisbon railway. The population in 2007 was 145,257.
Badajoz is the see of a bishop. It occupies a slight eminence, crowned by the ruins of a Moorish castle, and overlooking the Guadiana. A strong wall and bastions, with a broad moat and outworks, and forts on the surrounding heights, give the city an appearance of great strength. The river, which flows between the castle-hill and the powerfully armed fort of San Cristobal, is crossed by a magnificent granite bridge, originally built in 1460, repaired in 1597 and rebuilt in 1833. The whole aspect of Badajoz recalls its stormy history; even the cathedral, built in 1238, resembles a fortress, with massive walls.
Owing to its position the city enjoys a considerable transit trade with Portugal; its other industries include the manufacture of linen, woollen and leather goods, and of pottery.
It is not mentioned by any Roman historian, and first rose to importance under Moorish rule. It was founded by the Galician Muslim Ibn Marwan around 875 and after 1022 it became the capital of a small Moorish kingdom (Emirate of Badajoz), and, though temporarily held by the Portuguese in 1168, it retained its independence until 1229; when it was captured by Alfonso IX of Leon. She was known as Batlabus and Batalyos during Moorish rule.
As a frontier fortress it underwent many sieges. It was beleaguered by the Portuguese in 1660, and in 1705 by the Allies in the War of the Spanish Succession. During the Peninsular War Badajoz was unsuccessfully attacked by the French in 1808 and 1809; but on March 10, 1811, the Spanish commander, José Imaz, was bribed into surrendering to a French force under Marshal Soult. A British army, commanded by Marshal Beresford, endeavoured to retake it, and on May 16 1811 defeated a relieving force at Albuera, but the siege was abandoned in June.
In 1812, Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) again attempted to take Badajoz, which had a French garrison of about 5,000 men. Siege operations commenced on March 16, and by early April there were three practicable breaches in the walls. These were assaulted by two British divisions on April 6, 1812.
The attacks were pressed with great gallantry for five hours, but repeatedly beaten back with heavy loss. Meanwhile the castle, and another section of undamaged wall, had been attacked by escalade and successfully taken by the British. At the cost of some 5,000 casualties, Wellington had succeeded in taking Badajoz. He wrote to Lord Liverpool "The capture of Badajoz affords as strong an instance of the gallantry of our troops as has ever been displayed, but I anxiously hope that I shall never again be the instrument of putting them to such a test as that to which they were put last night" (However, the storming of San Sebastián in 1813 was much like Badajoz)
In the Siege of Badajoz, a detachment of the 45th Regiment of Foot (later amalgamated with the 95th to form Sherwood Foresters Regiment) succeeded in getting into the castle first and the red coatee of Lt. James MacPherson of the 45th was hoisted in place of the French flag to indicate the fall of the castle. This feat is commemorated on the 6 April each year when red jackets are flown on Regimental flag staffs and at Nottingham Castle.
With the town taken, military discipline largely disappeared, and the town was subjected to two days of pillage, murder, rape and drunkenness by the British survivors. The only way to restore order was to erect the gallows and flog many soldiers.
(Sir Harry Smith undertook to protect two young ladies from any insult during the sack of Badajoz, one of whom he married. In consequence Ladysmith is named after a former inhabitant of Badajoz, Juana Maria Smith)
A military and republican rising took place here in August 1883, but completely failed.
Badajoz is the birthplace of the statesman Manuel de Godoy, the Duke of Alcudia (1767–1851), and of the painter Luis de Morales. Five pictures by Morales are preserved in the cathedral. The conqueror Pedro de Alvarado (c.1495–1541) was also born in Badajoz. Cristóbal Oudrid (1825–1877), one of the founding fathers of Spanish musical nationalism, was born here, son of the resident military bandmaster.