On May 2, 1808 the people of Madrid rose up against the French occupants. The Emperor Napoleon drove the Spanish Bourbons off the throne and gave it to his brother Joseph Bonaparte. The Madrid crowd, opposed to this change, is attacked the troops of Marshal Joachim Murat. They discovered at that moment the conditions of street fighting: neighborhood gangs assembled, ordered by improvised leaders, in obligation to find weapons. They were fighting with knives and stones facing swords, muskets and cannons to prevent the arrival of new French troops.
All this was not enough and Murat could implement a simple tactic. While the Madrilenos wanted to become masters of the gates to prevent the arrival of French forces stationed outside Madrid, the main body of Murat, some 30,000 men, had already entered the city, making a concentric movement to the Center.
However the resistance to the advance of French was much more effective than Murat anticipated, especially at the gates and the Artillery Park. So Murat put Madrid under military jurisdiction, and treated the inhabitants as rebels.
One after another, the pockets of resistance fell. At the Alcala street and Puerta del Sol, horse Chasseurs of the Guard, supported by the Mamelucks dispersed the rioters. Hundreds of Spaniards, men and women but also French soldiers died in these combats.
The famous Francisco de Goya painting “The charge of the Mamelucks” shows street fighting that occurred on that day.
Our diorama also depicts such a fight scene in the streets. We see riders of the French Imperial Guard and inhabitants in furious combat.