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Badajoz, the capital of the Spanish province of Badajoz in the autonomous community of Extremadura, is situated close to the Portuguese frontier, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid-Lisbon railway. The population in 1990 was 126,781; in 2002 it was 136,851.
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 embattled 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. In 1031 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 Castile and León.
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 the French force under Marshal Soult. A British army, commanded by Marshal Beresford, endeavoured to retake it, and on the 16th of May defeated a relieving force at Albuera, but the siege was abandoned in June. The fortress was finally stormed on the April 6 1812, by the British under the Duke of Wellington, and carried with terrible loss. It was then delivered up to a two day’s pillage. A military and republican rising took place here in August 1883, but completely failed.
During the Spanish Civil War, Badajoz was taken by the Nationalists. A number of Republican prisoners were executed in the bullring.
Badajoz is the birthplace of the statesman Manuel de Godoy, Duke of Alcaldia (1767—1851), and of the painter Luis de Morales (1509—1586). Two pictures by Morales, unfortunately retouched in modern times, are preserved in the cathedral.
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