1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Salamanca (city)

37346891911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 24 — Salamanca (city)Charles Walker Robinson

SALAMANCA (anc. Salmanlica or Elmantica), the capital of the Spanish province of Salamanca, on the right bank of the river Tormes, 2648 ft. above sea-level and 172 m. by rail N.W. of Madrid. Pop. (1900) 2 5,690. Salamanca is the centre of a network of railways which radiate N. to Zamora, N .E. to Medina, E. to Peñaranda, S. to Plasencia, W.S.W. to Guarda in Portugal, and W. to Oporto in Portugal. The river is here crossed by a bridge 500 ft. long built on twenty-six arches, fifteen of which are of Roman origin, while the remainder date from the 16th century. The city is still much the same in outward appearance as when its tortuous streets were thronged with students. The university was naturally the chief source of wealth to the town, the population of which in the 16th century numbered 50,000, 10,000 of whom were students. Its decay of course reacted on the townsfolk, but it fortunately also arrested the process of modernization. The ravages of war alone have wrought serious damage, for the French in their defensive operations in 1811–1812 almost destroyed the western quarter. The ruins still remain, and give an air of desolation which is not borne out by the real condition of the inhabitants, however poverty-stricken they may appear. Side by side with the remains of a. great past are the modern buildings: two theatres, a casino, bull-ring, town hall and electric light factory. The magnificent Plaza Mayor, built by Andres Garcia de Quiñones at the beginning of the 18th century, and capable of holding 20,000 people to witness a bull-fight, is one of the finest squares in Europe. It is surrounded by an arcade of ninety arches on Corinthian columns, one side of the square being occupied by the municipal buildings. A The decorations of the facades are in the Renaissance style, and the plaza as a whole is a fine sample of Plateresque architecture.

The University.—Salamanca is still rich in educational establishments. It still keeps up its university, with the separate faculties of letters, philosophy, sciences, law and medicine; its university and provincial public library, with 80,000 volumes and 1000 MSS.; its Irish college, provincial institute, superior normal school, ecclesiastical seminary (founded in 1778), economic and other learned societies, and very many charitable foundations. The city has still its 25 parishes, 25 colleges, and as many more or less ruinous convents, and 10 yet flourishing religious houses. The university, the oldest in the Peninsula, was founded about 1230 by Alphonso IX. of Leon, and re founded in 1242 by St Ferdinand of Castile. Under the patronage of the learned Alphonso X. its wealth and reputation greatly increased (1252–1282), and its schools of canon law and civil law attracted students even from Paris and Bologna. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was renowned throughout Europe. Here Columbus, to whom a statue was erected in 1891, lectured on his discoveries, and here the Copernican system was taught long before it had won general acceptance. But soon after 1550 a period of decline set in. The university statutes were remodelled in 1757, but financial troubles and the incessant wars which checked almost every reform in Spain prevented any recovery up to 1857, when a fresh reorganization was effected. At the beginning of the 20th century the number of students was about 1200, and the number of professors 19—fewer than in any other Spanish university.

Principal Buildings.—The chief objects of interest in the city are the old and new cathedrals. The old cathedral is a cruciform building of the 12th century, begun by Bishop jeronimo, the confessor of the Cid (q.v.). Its style of architecture is that Late Romanesque which prevailed in the south of France, but the builder showed much originality in the construction of the dome, which covers the crossing of the nave and transepts. The inner dome is made to spring, not from immediately above the arches, but from a higher stage of a double arcade pierced with windows. The thrust of the vaulting is borne by four massive pinnacles, and over the inner dome is an outer pointed one covered with tiles. The Whole forms a most effective and graceful group. On the vault of the apse is a fresco of Our Lord in judgment by the Italian painter Nicolas Florentino (15th century. The reredos, which has the peculiarity of fitting the curve of the apse, contains fifty-five panels with paintings mostly by the same artist. There are many fine monuments in the south transept and cloister chapels. An adjoining building, the Capilla de Talavera, is used as a chapel for service according to the Mozarabic rite, which is celebrated there six times a year. On the north of and adjoining the old church stands the new cathedral, built from designs by Juan Gil de Ontanon. Though begun in 1509 the work of construction made little progress until 1513, when it was entrusted to Ontañon under Bishop Francisco de Bobadilla; though not finished till 1734, it is a notable example of the late Gothic and Plateresque styles. Its length is 340 ft. and its breadth 160 ft. The interior is fairly Gothic in character, but on the outside the Renaissance spirit shows itself more clearly, and is fully developed in the dome. Everywhere the attempt at mere novelty or richness results in feebleness. The main arch of the great portal consists of a simple trefoil, but the label above takes an ogee line, and the inner arches are elliptical. Above the doors are bas-reliefs, foliage, &c., which in exuberance of design and quality of workmanship are good examples of the latest efforts of Spanish Gothic. The church contains paintings by J. F. de Navarrete (1526–1579) and L. de Morales (c. 1509–1586), and some overrated statues by Juan de Juni (16th century). The treasury is very rich, and amongst other articles possesses a custodia which is a masterpiece of goldsmith's work, and a bronze crucifix of undoubted authenticity, which was borne before the Cid in battle. The great bell weighs over 23 tons. Of the university buildings the façade of the library is a peculiarly rich example of late 15th-century Gothic. The cloisters are light and elegant; the grand staircase ascending from them has a fine balustrade of foliage and figures. The Colegio de Nobles Irlandeses, formerly Colegio de Santiago Apostol, was built in 1521 from designs by Pedro de Ibarra. The double arcaded cloister is a fine piece of work of the best period of the Renaissance. The jesuit College is an immense and ugly Renaissance building begun in 1614 by Juan Gomez de Mora. The Colegio Viejo, also called San Bartolomé, was rebuilt in the 18th century, and now serves as the overnor's palace. The convent of Santo Domingo, sometimes called San Esteban, shows a mixture of styles from the 13th century onwards. The church is Gothic with a Plateresque façade of great lightness and delicacy. It is of purer design than that of the cathedral; nevertheless it shows the tendency of the period. The reredos, one of the finest Renaissance works in Spain, contains statues by Salvador Carmona, and a curious bronze statuette of the Virgin and Child on a throne of champlevé enamel of the 12th century. The chapter-house, built by Juan Moreno in 1637, and the staircase and sacristy are good examples of later work. The convent of the Augustinas Recoletas, begun by Fontana in 1616, is in better taste than any other Renaissance building in the city. The church is rich in marble fittings and contains several fine pictures of the Neapolitan school, especially the Conception by J. Ribera (1588–1656) over the altar. The convent of the Espirita Santo has a good door by A. Berruguete (c. 1480–1561). There is also a rather effective portal to the convent of Las Dueñas. The church of S. Marcos is a curious circular building with three eastern apses; and the churches of S. Martin and S. Matteo have good earl doorways. Many of the private houses are untouched examples of the domestic architecture of the prosperous times in which they were built. Such are the Casa de las Conchas, the finest example of its period in Spain; the Casa de la Sal, with a magnificent courtyard and sculptured gallery; and the palaces of Maldonado, Monterey and Espinosa.

In the middle ages the trade of Salamanca was not insignificant, and the stamped leather-work produced there is still sought after. Its manufactures are now of little consequence, and consist of china, cloth and leather. The transport trade is, however, of more importance, and shows signs of increasing, as a result of the extension of railway communication between 1875 and 1900. During this period the population increased by nearly 7000.

History.—The town was of importance as early as 222 B.C., when it was captured by Hannibal from the Vettones; and it afterwards became under the Romans the ninth station on the Via Lata from Merida to Saragossa. It passed successively under the rule of the Goths and the Moors, till the latter were finally driven out about 1055. About 1100 many foreign settlers were induced by Alphonso VI. to establish themselves in the district, and the city was enlarged and adorned by Count Raymond of Burgundy and his wife, the Princess Urraca. The Fuero de Salamanca, a celebrated code of civil law, probably dates from about 1200. Thenceforward, until the second half of the 16th century, the prosperity of the university rendered the city one of the most important in Spain. But in 1593 the establishment of an independent bishopric at Valladolid (then the seat of the court), which had previously been subject to the see of Salamanca, dealt a serious blow to the prestige of the city; and its commerce was shattered by the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1610 and the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries.

See Villar y Macias, Historia de Salamanca (3 vols., Salamanca, 1887); H. Rashdall, Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, vol. ii. pt. I. (London, 1895); Lapunya, La Universidad de Salamanca y la cultura española en el siglo XIII. (Paris, 1900).  (K. G. J.) 

Battle of Salamanca, 1812. (For the operations which preceded this battle see Peninsular War.) On the 22nd of July 1812 the Allied army under Wellington (about 46,000 with 60 guns) was drawn up south of Salamanca, the left resting on the river Tormes at Santa Marta, with a division under Pakenham and some cavalry on the north bank at Cabrerizos; the right near the village of Arapiles and two hills of that name. Wellington's object was to cover Salamanca and guard his communications through Ciudad Rodrigo with Portugal. The French under Marshal Marmont (about 42,000 with 70 guns) were collecting towards Wellington's right, stretching southwards from Calvariza de Ariba. The country generally is undulating, but crossed by some marked ridges and streams.

Until the morning of the battle it had been uncertain whether Marmont wished to reach Salamanca by the right or left bank of the Tormes, or to gain the Ciudad Rodrigo road, but Wellington now felt that the latter was his real objective. At daylight there was a rush by both armies for the two commanding hills of the Arapiles; the Allies gained the northern (since termed the "English"), and the French the southern (since termed the "French") Arapiles. While Marmont was closing up his forces, a complete change of position was carried out by Wellington. Pakenham was directed to march through Salamanca, crossing the Tormes, and move under cover to a wood near Aldea Tejada, while Wellington, holding the village of Arapiles and the northern hill, took up a line with four infantry divisions, a Portuguese brigade (Bradford), a strong force of cavalry, and Don Carlos's Spanish brigade, under cover of a ridge between Arapiles and Aldea Tejada. By noon his old right had become his left, and he was nearer to the Ciudad Rodrigo road, flanking Marmont should he move towards it.

Battle of SALAMANCA July 22nd 1812
Battle of SALAMANCA July 22nd 1812

Redrawn from Maj.-Gen. C. W. Robinson's Wellington's Campaigns, by permission of Hugh Rees, Ltd.

It was not Wellington's wish (Despatches, July 21, 1812) to light a battle "unless under very advantageous circumstances." He knew that large reinforcements were nearing the French, and, having determined to fall back towards Portugal, he began to pass his baggage along the Ciudad Rodrigo road. Marmont, about 2 p.m., seeing the dust of his baggage column, ignorant of his true position, and anxious to intercept his retreat, ordered two divisions under Maucune, the leading one of which became afterwards Thomiéres',[1] to push westward, while he himself attacked Arapiles. Maucune moved off, flanked by some cavalry and fifty guns, leaving a gap between him and the rest of the French. Wellington instantly took advantage of this. Directing Pakenham to attack the head of the leading French division, and a Portuguese brigade (Pack) to occupy the enemy by assaulting the south (or French) Arapiles, he prepared to 'bear down in strength upon Maucune's right flank. The French attack upon Arapiles was after hard fighting repulsed; and, at about 5 p.m., Maucune's force, when in confusion from the fierce attack of Pakenham and Wellington in front and flank and suffering severely, was suddenly trampled down "with a terrible clamour and disturbance" (Napier) by an irresistible charge of Le Marchant's and Anson's cavalry under Sir Stapleton Cotton. This counter stroke decided the battle, Marmont's left wing being completely broken. The French made a gallant but fruitless effort to retrieve the day, and repulsed Pack's attack upon the French Arapiles; but, as the light waned, Clausel, Marmont being Wounded, drew off the French army towards Alba de Tormes' and retired to Valladolid. Both armies lost heavily, the Allies about 6000, the French some 15,000 men, 12 guns 2 eagles and several standards. The rout would have been even more thorough had not the castle and ford at Alba de Tormes been evacuated by its Spanish garrison without Wellington's knowledge.

Salamanca was a brilliant victory, and followed as it was by the capture of Madrid, it severely shook the French domination in Spain.  (C. W. R.) 

  1. Some authorities differ as to this (see The Salamanca Campaii by Captain A. H. Marindin, 1906, appendix, pp. 51-59).