Today is a bank holiday in the Community of Madrid. We celebrate Community’s Day on May 2nd.
This date was chosen to commemorate that “on the morning of May 2 (1808), a raging group of civilians revolted in front of the Palacio Real, fearing the French troops intended to send Francisco de Paula, King Carlos IV’s youngest son, to Bayona with his brother and father. Gunfire ensued, and word of the events spread all over the city. People rose up, fighting the mightier French troops with whatever they could use as weapons. Two captains, Daoiz and Velarde, and a lieutenant, Ruiz, disobeyed Madrid’s Captain General Francisco Javier Negrete orders and quartered at the Monteleón Artillery barracks, which stretched from what is now Plaza de 2 de mayo to Calle Carranza. Helped by a small group of soldiers and some brave citizens who had marched to the barracks from the Royal Palace, the group resisted the French for three hours, doing so with very little ammunition, since they couldn’t access the armoury.
Daoiz and Velarde died in the bloody fight. Ruiz managed to escape, only to die from his wounds later. Murat’s forces executed soldiers and civilians throughout the city, including in the Casa de Campo and what’s now the Parque del Oeste, captured by Goya in one of his two famous paintings of the executions—both restored in 2008 to celebrate the bicentennial of the events. The events marked the beginning of the five-year War of Independence (Peninsula War in the UK) against the French. The remains of the three military heroes, together with those who were executed at Paseo del Prado, are now held in an obelisk-mausoleum at Plaza de la Lealtad.” (taken from Fodor’s, the parenthesis are mine).