RealistasParticipant in Spanish American Wars of Independence
|Active||1810 - 1829|
|Political leader||Ferdinand VII of Spain|
|Constitutional monarchy||Cortes of Cádiz; Trienio Liberal|
|Absolute monarchy||Ominous Decade|
|Opponent(s)||Patriot Governments (Spanish American independence)|
|Banner of the Spanish Monarchy|
|Flag of the Spanish Fleet and Fortresses|
The royalists were the Latin American and European supporters of the various governing bodies of the Spanish Monarchy, during the Spanish American wars of independence, which lasted from 1808 until the king's death in 1833. In the early years of the conflict, when King Ferdinand VII was captive in France, royalists supported the authority in the Americas of the Supreme Central Junta of Spain and the Indies and the Cádiz Cortes that ruled in the King's name during the Peninsular War. After the restoration of Ferdinand VII in 1814, royalists supported his claim to rule Spanish America, but were split between those that supported his insistence to rule under traditional law and liberals, who sought to reinstate the reforms enacted by the Cádiz Cortes.
The creation of juntas in Spanish America in 1810 was a direct reaction to developments in Spain during the previous two years. In 1808 Ferdinand VII had been convinced to abdicate by Napoleon in his favor, who granted the throne to his brother, Joseph Bonaparte. The Supreme Central Junta had led a resistance to Joseph's government and the French occupation of Spain, but suffered a series of reverses resulting in the loss of the northern half of the country. On February 1, 1810, French troops took Seville and gained control of most of Andalusia. The Supreme Junta retreated to Cadiz and dissolved itself in favor of a Regency Council of Spain and the Indies. As news of this arrived throughout Spanish America during the next three weeks to nine months—depending on time it took goods and people to travel from Spain—political fault lines appeared. Royal officials and Spanish Americans were split between those who supported the idea of maintaining the status quo—that is leaving all the government institutions and officers in place—regardless of the developments in Spain, and those who thought that the time had come to establish local rule, initially through the creation of juntas, in order to preserve the independence of Spanish America from the French or from a rump government in Spain that could no longer legitimately claim to rule a vast empire. It is important to note that, at first, the juntas claimed to carry out their actions in the name of the deposed king and did not formally declare independence. Juntas were successfully established in Venezuela, Río de la Plata and New Granada, and there were unsuccessful movements to do so in other regions. A few juntas initially chose to recognize the Regency, nevertheless the creation of juntas challenged the authority of all sitting royal officials and the right of the government in Spain to rule in the Americas.
In the months following the establishment of the Regency, it became clear that Spain was not lost, and furthermore the government was effectively reconstituting itself. The Regency successfully convened the Cortes Generales, the traditional parliament of the Spanish Monarchy, which in this case included representatives from the Americas. The Regency and Cortes began issuing orders to, and appointing, royal officials throughout the empire. Those who supported the new government came to be called "royalists." Those that supported the idea of maintaining independent juntas called themselves "patriots," and a few among them were proponents of declaring full, formal independence from Spain. As the Cortes instituted liberal reforms and worked on drafting a constitution, a new division appeared among royalists. Conservatives (often called "absolutists" in the historiography) did not want to see any innovations in government, while liberals supported them. These differences would become more acute after the restoration of Ferdinand VII, because the king opted to support the conservative position.
Regional rivalry also played an important role in the internecine wars that broke out in Spanish America as a result of the juntas. The disappearance of a central, imperial authority—and in some cases of even a local, viceregal authority (as in the cases of New Granada and Río de la Plata)—initiated a prolonged period of balkanization in many regions of Spanish America. It was not clear which political units which should replace the empire, and there were no new national identities to replace the traditional sense of being Spaniards. The original juntas of 1810 appealed first, to sense of being Spanish, which was juxtaposed against the French threat; second, to a general American identity, which was juxtaposed against the Peninsula which was lost to the French; and third, to a sense of belonging to the local province, the patria in Spanish.More often than not, juntas sought to maintain a province's independence from the capital of the former viceroyalty or captaincy general, as much as from the Peninsula itself. Armed conflicts broke out between the provinces over the question of whether some provinces were to be subordinate to others in the manner that they had been under the crown. This phenomenon was particularly evident in New Granada and Río de la Plata. This rivalry also lead some regions to adopt the opposing political cause from their rivals. Peru seems to have remained strongly royalist in large part because of its rivalry with Río de la Plata, to which it had lost control of Upper Peru when the latter was elevated to a viceroyalty in 1776. The creation of juntas in Río de la Plata allowed Peru to regain formal control of Upper Peru for the duration of the wars.
The restoration of Ferdinand VII signified an important change, since most of the political and legal changes done on both sides of the Atlantic—the myriad of juntas, the Cortes in Spain and several of the congresses in the Americas that evolved out of the juntas, and the many constitutions and new legal codes—had been done in his name. Once in Spain Ferdinand VII realized that he had significant support from conservatives in the general population and the hierarchy of the Spanish Catholic Church, and so on May 4, he repudiated the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and ordered the arrest of liberal leaders who had created it on May 10. Ferdinand justified his actions by stating that the Constitution and other changes had been made by a Cortes assembled in his absence and without his consent. He also declared all of the juntas and constitutions written in Spanish America invalid and restored the former law codes and political institutions.
This, in effect, constituted a definitive break with two groups that could have been allies of Ferdinand VII: the autonomous governments, which had not yet declared formal independence, and Spanish liberals who had created a representative government that would fully include the overseas possessions and was seen as an alternative to independence by many in New Spain (today Mexico), Central America, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Quito (Ecuador), Peru, Upper Peru (Bolivia) and Chile.
The provinces of New Granada had maintained independence from Spain since 1810, unlike neighboring Venezuela, where royalists and pro-independence forces had exchanged control of the region several times. To pacify Venezuela and to retake New Granada, Spain organized in 1815 the largest armed force it ever sent to the New World, consisting of 10,500 troops and nearly sixty ships. (See, Spanish reconquest of New Granada). Although this force was crucial in retaking a solidly pro-independence region like New Granada, its soldiers were eventually spread out throughout Venezuela, New Granada, Quito, and Peru and were lost to tropical diseases, diluting their impact on the war. More importantly, the majority of the royalist forces were composed, not of soldiers sent from the peninsula, but of Spanish Americans. Other Spanish Americans were moderates who decided to wait and see what would come out of the restoration of normalcy. In fact in areas of New Spain, Central America and Quito, governors found it expedient to leave the elected constitutional ayuntamientos in place for several years in order to prevent conflict with the local society.Liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, nevertheless, continued to conspire to bring back a constitutional monarchy, ultimately succeeding in 1820. The most dramatic example of transAtlantic collaboration is perhaps Francisco Javier Mina's expedition to Texas and northern Mexico in 1816 and 1817.
Spanish Americans in royalist areas who were committed to independence had already joined guerrilla movements. Ferdinand's actions did set areas outside of the control of the royalist armies on the path to full independence. The governments of these regions, which had their origins in the juntas of 1810—and even moderates there who had entertained a reconciliation with the crown—now saw the need to separate from Spain, if they were to protect the reforms they had enacted.
Spanish liberals finally had success in forcing Ferdinand VII to restore the Constitution on January 1, 1820, when Rafael Riego headed a rebellion among troops which had been gathered for a large expeditionary force to be sent to the Americas. By March 7, the royal palace in Madrid was surrounded by soldiers under the command of General Francisco Ballesteros, and three days later on March 10, the besieged Ferdinand VII, now a virtual prisoner, agreed to restore the Constitution.
Riego's revolt had two significant effects on the war in the Americas. First in military matters, the large numbers of reinforcements, that were especially needed to retake New Granada and defend the Viceroyalty of Peru, would never arrive. Furthermore, as the royalist situation became more desperate in region after region, the army experienced wholesale defections of units to the patriot side. Second in political matters, the reinstitution of a liberal regime changed the terms under which the Spanish government sought to engage the insurgents. The new government naively assumed that the insurgents were fighting for Spanish liberalism and that the Spanish Constitution could still be the basis of reconciliation between the two sides. Government implemented the Constitution and held elections in the overseas provinces, just as in Spain. It also ordered military commanders to begin armistice negotiations with the insurgents with the promise that they could participate in the restored representative government.
The Spanish Constitution, it turned out, served as the basis for independence in New Spain and Central America, since in the two regions it was a coalition of conservative and liberal royalist leaders who led the establishment of new states. The restoration of the Spanish Constitution and representative government was enthusiastically welcomed in New Spain and Central America. Elections were held, local governments formed and deputies sent to the Cortes. Among liberals, however, there was fear that the new regime would not last, and among conservatives and the Church, that the new liberal government would expand its reforms and anti-clerical legislation. This climate of instability created the conditions for the two sides to forge an alliance. This alliance coalesced towards the end of 1820 behind Agustín de Iturbide, a colonel in the royal army, who at the time was assigned to destroy the guerrilla forces led by Vicente Guerrero. Instead Iturbide entered into negotiations, which resulted in the Plan of Iguala, which would establish New Spain as an independent kingdom, with Ferdinand VII as its king. With the Treaty of Córdoba, the highest Spanish official in Mexico approved the Plan of Iguala, and although the Spanish government never ratified this treaty, it did not have the resources to enforce its rejection. Ultimately, it was the royal army in Mexico that ultimately brought about that nation's independence.
Central America gained its independence along with New Spain. The regional elites supported the terms of the Plan of Iguala and orchestrated the union of Central America with the Mexican Empire in 1821. Two years later following Iturbide's downfall, the region, with the exception of Chiapas, peacefully seceded from Mexico in July 1823, establishing the Federal Republic of Central America. The new state existed for seventeen years, centrifugal forces pulling the individual provinces apart by 1840.
In South America independence was spurred by the pro-independence fighters that had held out for the past half decade. José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar inadvertently led a continental-wide pincer movement from southern and northern South America that liberated most of the Spanish American nations on that continent and secured the independence the Southern Cone had more or less experienced since 1810. In South America, royalist soldiers, officers (such as Andrés de Santa Cruz) and whole units also began to desert or defect to the patriots in large numbers as the royal army's situation became dire. During the end of 1820 in Venezuela, after Bolívar and Pablo Morillo concluded a cease fire, many units crossed lines knowing that Spanish control of the region would not last. The situation repeated itself in Peru from 1822 to 1825 as republican forces slowly advanced there. Unlike in Mexico, however, the top military and political leadership in these parts of South America came from patriot side and not the royalists.
The collapse of the constitutional regime in Spain in 1823 had other implications for the war in South America. Royalist officers, split between liberals and conservatives, fought an internecine war among themselves. General Pedro Antonio Olañeta, commander in Upper Peru, rebelled against the liberal viceroy of Peru, José de la Serna, in 1823. This conflict provided an opportunity for the republican forces under the command of Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre to advance, culminating in the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824. The royal army of Upper Peru surrendered after Olañeta was killed on April 2, 1825. Former royalists, however, played an important part in the creation of Peru and Bolivia. In Bolivia, royalists, like Casimiro Olañeta, nephew of General Olañeta, gathered in a congress and declared the country's independence from Peru. And in Peru after Bolívar's forces left the country in 1827, Peruvian leaders undid many of his political reforms.
There are two types of units: expeditionary units ( in Spanish: expedicionarios) created in Spain and militias (in Spanish: milicias), units which already existed or were created during the conflict in America. The militias, which were composed wholly of militiamen who were residents or natives of Spanish America, were bolstered by the presence of "veteran units" (or "disciplined militia") composed of Peninsular and Spanish American veterans of Spain's wars in Europe and around the globe. The veteran units were expected to form a core of experienced soldiers in the local defenses, whose expertise would be invaluable to the regular militiamen who often lacked sustained military experience, if any. The veteran units were created in the past century as part of the Bourbon Reforms to reinforce Spanish America's defenses against the increasing encroachment of other European powers, such as during the Seven Years' War.
Overall, Europeans formed only about a tenth of the royalist armies in Spanish America, and only about half of the expeditionary units. Since each European soldier casualty was substituted by a Spanish American soldier, over time, there were more and more Spanish American soldiers in the expeditionary units. For example, Pablo Morillo, commander in chief in Venezuela and New Granada, reported that he only had 2,000 European soldiers, in other words, only half of the soldiers of his expeditionary force were European. It is estimated that in the Battle of Maipú only a quarter of the royalist forces were European soldiers, in the Battle of Carabobo about a fifth, and in the Battle of Ayacucho less than 1% was European.
The American militias reflected the racial make-up of the local population. For example, in 1820 the royalist army in Venezuela had 843 white (español), 5,378 Casta and 980 Native soldiers.
|New Spain, Guatemala, Cuba & Puerto Rico Félix María Calleja||New Granada, Venezuela & Quito Pablo Morillo||Río de la Plata, Montevideo & Paraguay Santiago de Liniers||Chile, Lower & Upper Peru José Fernando de Abascal|
|Río de la Plata and Pacific Ocean||Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea|
The Bolivian war of independence began in 1809 with the establishment of government juntas in Sucre and La Paz, after the Chuquisaca Revolution and La Paz revolution. These Juntas were defeated shortly after, and the cities fell again under Spanish control. The May Revolution of 1810 ousted the viceroy in Buenos Aires, which established its own junta. Buenos Aires sent three military campaigns to the Charcas, headed by Juan José Castelli, Manuel Belgrano and José Rondeau, but the royalists ultimately prevailed over each one. However, the conflict grew into a guerrilla war, the War of the Republiquetas, preventing the royalists from strengthening their presence. After Simón Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre defeated the royalists in northern South America, Sucre led a campaign that was to defeat the royalists in Charcas for good when the last royalist general, Pedro Antonio Olañeta, suffered death and defeat at the hands of his own defected forces at the battle of Tumusla. Bolivian independence was proclaimed on August 6 of 1825.
The military and political career of Simón Bolívar,, which included both formal service in the armies of various revolutionary regimes and actions organized by himself or in collaboration with other exiled patriot leaders during the years from 1811 to 1830, was an important element in the success of the independence wars in South America. Given the unstable political climate during these years, Bolívar and other patriot leaders, such as Santiago Mariño, Manuel Piar, José Francisco Bermúdez and Francisco de Paula Santander often had to go into exile in the Caribbean or nearby areas of Spanish America that at the moment were controlled by those favoring independence, and from there, carry on the struggle. These wars resulted in the creation of several South American states out of the former Spanish colonies, the currently existing Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and the now defunct Gran Colombia.
The Venezuelan War of Independence (1810–1823) was one of the Spanish American wars of independence of the early nineteenth century, when independence movements in Latin America fought against rule by the Spanish Empire, emboldened by Spain's troubles in the Napoleonic Wars.
The Spanish Invasion of New Granada in 1815–1816 was part of the Spanish American wars of independence in South America. Shortly after the Napoleonic Wars ended, Ferdinand VII, recently restored to the throne in Spain, decided to send military forces to retake most of the northern South American colonies, which had established autonomous juntas and independent states. The invaders, with support from loyal colonial troops, completed the reconquest of New Granada by taking Bogotá on May 6, 1816.
The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, also known as the Constitution of Cádiz and as La Pepa, was the first Constitution of Spain and one of the earliest constitutions in world history. It was established on 19 March 1812 by the Cortes of Cádiz, the first Spanish legislature. With the notable exception of proclaiming Roman Catholicism as the official and sole legal religion in Spain, the constitution was one of the most liberal of its time: it affirmed national sovereignty, separation of powers, freedom of the press, free enterprise, abolished feudalism, and established a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It was one of the first constitutions that allowed universal male suffrage, through a complex indirect electoral system. It was repealed by King Ferdinand VII in 1814 in Valencia, who re-established absolute monarchy.
Spain in the 19th century was a country in turmoil. Occupied by Napoleon from 1808 to 1814, a massively destructive "war of independence" ensued, driven by an emergent Spanish nationalism. An era of reaction against the liberal ideas associated with revolutionary France followed the war, personified by the rule of Ferdinand VII and – to a lesser extent – his daughter Isabella II. Ferdinand's rule included the loss of the Spanish colonies in the New World, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico, in the 1810s and 1820s. A series of civil wars then broke out in Spain, pitting Spanish liberals and then republicans against conservatives, culminating in the Carlist Wars between the moderate Queen Isabella and her uncle, the reactionary Infante Carlos. Disaffection with Isabella's government from many quarters led to repeated military intervention in political affairs and to several revolutionary attempts against the government. Two of these revolutions were successful, the moderate Vicalvarada or "Vicálvaro Revolution" of 1854 and the more radical la Gloriosa in 1868. The latter marks the end of Isabella's monarchy. The brief rule of the liberal king Amadeo I of Spain ended in the establishment of the First Spanish Republic, only to be replaced in 1874 by the popular, moderate rule of Alfonso XII of Spain, which finally brought Spain into a period of stability and reform.
The First Republic of Venezuela was the first independent government of Venezuela, lasting from 5 July 1811, to 25 July 1812. The period of the First Republic began with the overthrow of the Spanish colonial authorities and the establishment of the Junta Suprema de Caracas on 19 April 1810, initiating the Venezuelan War of Independence, and ended with the surrender of the republican forces to the Spanish Captain Domingo de Monteverde. The congress of Venezuela declared the nation's independence on 5 July 1811, and later wrote a constitution for it. In doing so, Venezuela is notable for being the first Spanish American colony to declare its independence.
The period between 1810 and 1816 in the Viceroyalty of New Granada was marked by such intense conflicts over the nature of the new government or governments that it became known as la Patria Boba. Constant fighting between federalists and centralists gave rise to a prolonged period of instability. Similar developments can be seen at the same time in the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. Each province, and even some cities, set up its own autonomous junta, which declared themselves sovereign from each other.
The Cádiz Cortes was the first national assembly to claim sovereignty in Spain. It represented the abolition of the old kingdoms. The opening session was held on 24 September 1810, in the building now known as the Real Teatro de las Cortes. It met as one body and its members represented the entire Spanish empire. The sessions of the national legislative body met in the safe haven of Cádiz during the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. The Cádiz Cortes were seen then, and by historians today, as a major step towards liberalism and democracy in the history of Spain. The liberal Cortes passed the Spanish Constitution of 1812, which established a constitutional monarchy and eliminated many basic institutions that privileged some groups over others.
In the independence of Spanish America, the Reconquista refers to the period of Colombia and Chile, following the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, during which royalist armies were able to gain the upper hand in the Spanish American wars of independence. The term used in the past century by some Colombian and Chilean historians makes an analogy to the medieval Reconquista, in which Christian forces retook the Iberian Peninsula from the Caliphate.
Decolonization of the Americas refers to the process by which the countries in the Americas gained their independence from European rule. The American Revolution was the first in the Americas, and the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was a surprising victory against a great power. The French Revolution in Europe followed, and collectively these events had profound effects on the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and French colonies in the Americas. A revolutionary wave followed, resulting in the creation of a number of independent countries in Latin America. The Haitian Revolution lasted from 1791 to 1804 and resulted in the independence of the French slave colony. The Peninsular War with France, which resulted from the Napoleonic occupation of Spain, caused Spanish Creoles in Spanish America to question their allegiance to Spain, stoking independence movements that culminated in various Spanish American wars of independence, which lasted almost two decades. At the same time, the Portuguese monarchy relocated to Brazil during Portugal's French occupation. After the royal court returned to Lisbon, the prince regent, Pedro, remained in Brazil and in 1822 successfully declared himself emperor of a newly independent Brazil. Though the Russians also operated forts in California and Hawaii, the bulk of Russian America was sold to the United States in 1867 and became Alaska.
The Chilean War of Independence was a war between pro-independence Chilean criollos seeking political and economic independence from Spain and royalist creoles supporting continued allegiance to the Captaincy General of Chile and membership of the Spanish Empire.
The Spanish American wars of independence were the numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America with the aim of political independence that took place during the early 19th century, shortly after the French invasion of Spain in 1807 during Europe's Napoleonic Wars. Although there has been research on the idea of a separate Spanish American ("creole") identity separate from that of Iberia, political independence was not initially the aim of most Spanish Americans, nor was it necessarily inevitable. After the restoration of rule by Ferdinand VII in 1814, and his rejection of the Spanish liberal constitution of 1812, the monarchy as well as liberals hardened their stance toward its overseas possessions, and they in turn increasingly sought political independence.
Pedro Antonio Olañeta was a Royalist commander in the army of the Spanish Empire who fought the against the South American insurgency led by Simón Bolívar. His support for Spanish absolutism and rebellion against the moderate Royalists created conflicts within the Royalist army that aided the rebels. After the defeat of the main Royalist armies, he continued the resistance, becoming one of the last Royalist commanders to hold out.
Mariano Montilla was a major general of the Army of Venezuela in the Venezuelan War of Independence.
The invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807-08 by Napoleon Bonaparte's forces proved to be critical for the independence struggle in South America, during which the local elites of Upper Peru remained mostly loyal to Spain, supporting Junta Central, a government which ruled in the name of the overthrown king Ferdinand VII of Spain. A number of radical criollos in 1808-10 began a local power struggle. Pedro Domingo Murillo proclaimed an independent state in Upper Peru in the name of king Ferdinand VII. During the following seven years Upper Peru became the battleground between the armed forces of independent United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata and royalist troops from Viceroyalty of Peru.
The Colombian Declaration of Independence refers to the events of July 20, 1810, in Santa Fe de Bogota, in the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Granada. They resulted in the establishment of a Junta de Santa Fe that day. The experience in self-government eventually led to the creation of the Republic of Colombia.(Note: The initial ambitious area, in accordance with the Viceroyalty of New Granada and Captaincy of Venezuela, included much more than current Colombia; to differentiate it, historians call this supra-nation: Republic of Gran Colombia.)
The Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom formally was the Spanish organ that accumulated the executive and legislative powers during the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. It was established on 25 September 1808 following the Spanish victory at the Battle of Bailén and after the Council of Castile declared null and void the abdications of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII done at Bayonne earlier in May. It was active until 30 January 1810. It was initially formed by the representatives of the provincial juntas and first met in Aranjuez chaired by the Count of Floridablanca, with 35 members in total.
This is a timeline of events related to the Spanish American wars of independence. Numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America took place during the early 19th century, from 1808 until 1829, directly related to the Napoleonic French invasion of Spain. The conflict started with short-lived governing juntas established in Chuquisaca and Quito opposing the composition of the Supreme Central Junta of Seville. When the Central Junta fell to the French, numerous new Juntas appeared all across the Americas, eventually resulting in a chain of newly independent countries stretching from Argentina and Chile in the south, to Mexico in the north. After the death of the king Ferdinand VII, in 1833, only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule, until the Spanish–American War in 1898.
In attempts to retain or re-assert control over its colonies in America, the Spanish Empire deployed several expeditionary forces during and after the Spanish American wars of independence. The largest of these forces, known as "the expeditionary army of Costa Firme", and consisting of over 10,000 troops under General Morillo, undertook the Spanish reconquest of New Granada (1815–16). Forces were also sent to New Spain between 1812 and 1817. Later, after Mexican independence in 1821, a Spanish garrison was sent from Cuba to occupy Spain's last Mexican outpost, the fortress of San Juan de Ulúa; this force remained there until surrendering in 1825. Finally, a force under Isidro Barradas Valdés attempted to regain control of Mexico in 1829.