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Aranjuez and the Napoleonic period

Since the XVI century, Aranjuez has been intimately linked to the Spanish Monarchy and, by extension, to the History of Spain.

In 1801, during the Napoleonic period, the Treaty of Aranjuez was signed between Spain and France, with the aim of fighting together against the British Interests. This fact allowed the Napoleonic army cross our frontiers and start a concealed invasion and led Spain and France to fight the British Navy in Trafalgar Battle in 1805.

During that time, Manuel Godoy, Prime Minister of King Charles IV, headed the government of Spain and eased the way of the Napoleonic army supposedly passing by our country on their way to Portugal, the British ally in the Iberian Peninsula.

This created a great social upheaval due to the abuses suffered by civilians from the French passing by the Spanish territory. All these events led to the contempt of Fernando VII, son of Charles IV, to Manuel Godoy due to his policy.

The widespread annoyance among population, as a result of the French –Spanish alliance and looking out their true intentions, caused that, in 1808, the Royal Family retired to Aranjuez Palace fearing the intentions of the French army of Napoleon, with the idea in mind to leave to America.

On March 19th of 1808, Godoy was persecuted and lynched by the people in the uprising of Aranjuez due to this extreme political situation of an invaded Spain and the weakness of current Monarch, Charles IV.

Finally, Ferdinand VII, loved by people for confronting Godoy, took advantage of this situation and pushed his father to abdicate in his favour and the Mutiny of Aranjuez was a key fact to achieve his purposes.

Soon afterwards, Ferdinand VII was not able to reign as Napoleon enthroned his brother Jose I King of Spain in June 1808.

These were the first steps to the end of the Old Regime in Spain and the Mutiny of Aranjuez was the precedent of Madrid uprisings in May 2nd 1808 evoked in Goya's famous painting.

The happenings of Aranjuez inspired the creation of the Junta Suprema Central , Cádiz Courts and the Constitution of 1812, the very first enacted in our History. In 1814, Spain was free of the French invasion after the Independence War and Ferdinand VII was reinstated in the throne of Spain.

All these events have survived in people's memory and nowadays, this popular uprising that changed the course of our History is remembered and performed every year in the Mutiny of Aranjuez Feasts.

The Mutiny de Aranjuez feasts

The Mutiny of Aranjuez was declared a National Interest Touristic Feast in 1990 and an Internacional Interest Touristic Feast in 2014. This event is held in this unique and singular city of Aranjuez, 50 kms south of Madrid since 1982.

The unique setting of the Royal Site and Villa de Aranjuez is the place for the traditional staging of the popular uprising occurred in March 1808 as a result of popular discontent with the policy carried out by the minister of Carlos IV, Manuel Godoy. The Mutiny of Aranjuez pursued the dismissal of Godoy and the abdication of Charles IV in favour of his son Ferdinand.

Every September since 1982, coinciding with the celebration of the antique traditional fairs of cattle and harvest, residents of Aranjuez reminisce this historical event to an audience of more than 6.000 people, a historical fact that went far beyond the scope of the Royal Site. This was a time when the popular role greatly influenced throughout Spain and also influenced the events that took place in Europe, after those intense days of March 1808 in Aranjuez.

The Assault on the House Godoy

The first act of the celebration of the Mutiny of Aranjuez takes place at Godoy's Palace, where the assault to the house of the Prime Minister of King Charles IV, Manuel Godoy is represented. The neighbors go over the streets of Aranjuez with torches and beating drums to the Palace where Prince of Peace, as Godoy was before called, lived.
The facts represented by neighbors show the capture of Manuel Godoy, who was found hiding in his palace and taken to the headquarters of the Corps Guard between boos and beatings. The event ends with a fireworks display, emulating the burning of the palace of Godoy.

The representation of Mutiny

More than 140 residents of Aranjuez perform the chronicle of the facts written by Benito Pérez Galdós in his work "National Episodes" that narrates the popular discontent, the intrigues of the court, the fall of Manuel Godoy, the abdication of the Charles IV and the enthronement of his son Ferdinand VII.

The staging of the Mutiny takes place in the Plaza de Parejas and the Royal Palace becomes the scene of the popular uprising. In an open space of over 7,000 square meters, the spectacular representation of the events that took place between 17 and 19 March 1808 transport neighbors and visitors in time to the Spain of the court of Charles IV.

Aranjuez citizens annually proudly perform this show, leaded by renowned theater director Francisco Carrillo.

The Mutiny Feasts have their own identity and this is due to the fact that it's the neighbors of the city who participate each year with enthusiasm and effort to commemorate the History of Spain and the History of our own city.

The Chief Rioter

Every year, the local government, on behalf of the citizens of Aranjuez, name the Chief Rioter among distinguished personalities from public life for their professional or human labor.
The famous Spanish writer, Camilo José Cela, was the first Chief Rioter and he has been followed by other important personalities such as the president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Goyesca Bullfight

Toreros and their crews are dressed up with traditional early XIX century costumes and the bicentennial Bullring is also decorated to take residents and tourists to the time of the great painter Francisco de Goya, who also lived and worked in the Royal Site of Aranjuez. This bullfight, which also features the participation of hundreds of neighbors, recovers old sets that enhance the art of bullfighting and exalts the unique Bullring of Aranjuez to the place it deserves.