The heroine of Bailén, born in Porcuna and married to a Bailén local by the name of Luis Domingo Cobo Muela, she lived in Calle Las Eras, today known as Calle Sebastián Elcano.
Nicknamed “La Culiancha” (literally, “wide bottomed”) for her ample hips, along with the rest of the residents of the town of Bailén she was active in the battle of 1808. They contributed an element that became increasingly scarce and necessary as the struggle went on: water.
Our protagonist showed fortitude and courage when, whilst offering water from her canteen to General Reding, a bullet broke it. Without flinching, she picked up the pieces where there was still liquid to be found and continued her offering to the General, who praised her for her efforts.
Just eight months later, on 7th March, 1809, María Bellido died, her story giving rise to the legend as we know it today.
Bailén pays tribute to her by keeping her memory alive. The street where she lived is dedicated to her memory. It is also home to a special commemoration of the first Centenary of the Battle of Bailén, in the form of a plaque on the façade of the building that had once been her home. The plaque reads: “From the workers of Bailén to María Bellido, the embodiment of bravery and charity, on the centenary of her heroic feat: 19th July, 1808-1908”.