HISTORY OF THE WAR IN THE PENINSULA AND IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE From the Year 1807 to the Year 1814

HISTORY OF THE WAR IN THE PENINSULA AND IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE From the Year 1807 to the Year 1814

(London: John Murray [and] Thomas and William Boone, 1828-1840).

AN EXPECIALLY HANDSOME FIRST EDITION SET OF NAPIER'S INFLUENTIAL WORK, and the work for which he is best remembered. Napier, who would rise to become a British general and knighted historian, fought as a young Brigade Major in the Peninsular War. His history of the conflict, while subjective, remained the authoritative text on the Peninsular War for a long period and is still considered to be the most iconic work on the subject. His objective and the purpose for which he would try his hand at historiography was to defend the memory of Sir John Moore and to prevent the glory of his old chief being overshadowed by that of Wellington. Wellington in fact gave Napier much assistance in his endeavor, and handed over the whole of Joseph Bonaparte's correspondences that were captured at the battle of Vittoria.
The first volume of Napier's History appeared in 1828. The publisher John Murray was disappointed by the sales of the first volume so Napier published the remainder himself. But it was at once seen that the great deeds of the Peninsular War were about to be fittingly commemorated. The excitement which followed the appearance of each volume was proof of innumerable pamphlets issued by those who believed themselves to be victims, by dint of personal altercations with many distinguished officers. The success of the book proved still further an absence of competition amidst bitter controversy. The histories of Southey and Lord Londonderry fell still-born, and Sir George Murray, Wellington's quartermaster-general, who had been determined to produce an historical work, gave up the attempt in despair. Napier's success was due to a combination of factors. When in 1840 the last volume of the History was published, his fame not only in England but in France and Germany was well established.
The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was the military conflict fought by Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal against the invading and occupying forces of France for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. In Spain, it is considered to overlap with the Spanish War of Independence. After Napoleonic France had occupied Spain, which had been its ally, Napoleon forced the abdications of Ferdinand VII and his father Charles IV and installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne. Most Spaniards rejected French rule and fought a bloody war to oust them. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and it is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation and is significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.
The British Army, under then Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the 1st Duke of Wellington, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army. In 1812, when Napoleon set out with a massive army on what proved to be a disastrous French invasion of Russia, a combined allied army under Wellesley pushed into Spain, defeating the French at Salamanca and taking the capital Madrid. In the following year Wellesley scored a decisive victory over King Joseph Bonaparte's army in the Battle of Vitoria. Pursued by the armies of Britain, Spain and Portugal, Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult, no longer getting sufficient support from a depleted France, led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees during the winter of 1813–1814.
While the French were victorious in battle, they were eventually defeated, as their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units were frequently isolated, harassed or overwhelmed by partisans fighting an intense guerrilla war of raids and ambushes. The Spanish armies were repeatedly beaten and driven to the peripheries, but they would regroup and relentlessly hound and demoralize the French troops. This drain on French resources led Napoleon, who had unwittingly provoked a total war, to call the conflict the "Spanish Ulcer".
War and revolution against Napoleon's occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, but the burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and Spain, and ushered in an era of social turbulence, increased political instability, and economic stagnation. Devastating civil wars between liberal and absolutist factions, led by officers trained in the Peninsular War, persisted in Iberia until 1850. The cumulative crises and disruptions of invasion, revolution and restoration led to the independence of most of Spain's American colonies and the independence of Brazil, which remained a monarchy, after severing ties with Portugal. (Wiki. Peninsular War; William Francis Patrick Napier 2021). Item #31528

6 volumes. First Edition of all six volumes. Illustrated throughout with fifty-five finely engraved maps and plans. Large 8vo, very handsomely bound and signed by Sotheran & Co. in fine polished calf, the spines with gilt stopped raised bands separating six compartments featuring elaborate and fully gilt panels composed of gilt floral vines along the borders and gilt ornamental devices at the centers, two compartments with green morocco labels gilt trimmed and gilt lettered, the covers with double gilt fillet rules at the borders, corner floral tools and gilt edges, the turnovers decorated in blind, marbled end-leaves, all edges marbled. A beautiful set of the scarce first edition, the text remarkably bright, the plates all in proper order, occasional notes of foxing as is normal for the paper used, the handsome antique signed bindings all beautifully preserved, strong, tight and in excellent condition showing only the most superficial evidence of age or use.

Price: $2,350.00