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.