Badajoz is the ancient capital of Extremadura. Its position on the border with Portugal has exposed it to many sieges: by the Portugeuse (1660); by the Allies in the War of Spanish Succession (1705); the French (1808-09 and 1810-11) and the British (1812).

Badajoz was controlled by the Republican Army during the early days of the Spanish Civil War. General Juan de Yagüe and 3,000 troops attacked Cáceres on 14th August, 1936. Bitter street fighting took place when the Nationalist Army entered the city. Losses were heavy on both sides and when the Nationalists took control of Badajoz it was claimed they massacred around 1,800 people. General Yagüe also encouraged his troops to rape supporters of the Popular Front government. As a result Yagüe became known as "The Butcher of Badajoz".

With the support of President Antonio Salazar, the Portuguese border was closed to Republicans trying to escape from southern or central Spain.

Primary Sources

(1) The Manchester Guardian (17th August 1936)

The Spanish civil war goes on with ever-growing ruthlessness. After the capture of Badajoz by men of the Spanish Legion and by Moors a great slaughter of the defenders took place. The rebel general thought that 2,000 was perhaps an excessive estimate of the number murdered, but he stressed to a journalist the danger of entering the town as the 'Moors are excited'. A very gallant defence of the town was put up against these long-service and highly trained soldiers.

Following the capture of Badajoz it is reported that a column of foreign legionaries and Moorish troops is pressing by forced marches towards Merida, about 30 miles east of Badajoz. A strong column of Government troops is stated to have arrived at Merida with the intention of marching on Badajoz. Government forces at Olivenza, about ten miles south of Badajoz, are reported to have surrendered.