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The Napoleon Series > Government > Governments and Politics



King Joseph I�s Government in Spain and its Empire

Part 1: The �Josefinos� and the �Guerra de Partidas�

By Stephen Millar

�Next day [6 May 1808] the old King [Carlos IV], in his ignoble desire for revenge, encouraged by the Queen and the Prince of the Peace [Manuel de Godoy], made over to the Emperor all his rights to the throne of Spain on certain conditions, the principal one being that by which he was to have the estate of Compiegne with a pension of seven and a half million francs. Ferdinand [Prince of the Asturias] was cowardly enough also to renounce his hereditary rights in favour of Napoleon, in return for a pension of a million and the ch�teau of Navarre in Normandy...Thus was consummated the most iniquitous spoliation which modern history records. In all times, a conqueror in a fair and open war has been held to have the right to take possession of the dominions of the conquered, but I can say with sincerity that the conduct of Napoleon in this scandalous affair was unworthy of so great a man. To offer himself as mediator between a father and a son in order to draw them into a trap and then plunder them both�this was an odious atrocity which history has branded, and which Providence did not delay to punish. It was the war in Spain which brought about Napoleon's fall.�

�� Memoirs of Baron de Marbot, Vol. I, Ch. 36.

When Emperor Napoleon made his eldest brother Joseph King of Spain on 15 June 1808, he seriously underestimated the degree of opposition which his announcement would create. Instead of a peaceful transition to a Bonaparte monarch � as was the case with Louis in Holland (1806) or Jerome in Westphalia (1807) � Napoleon�s gamble in the Iberian Peninsula led to a full-blown military and political disaster.�

French troops had had already seized the Spanish cities of Pamplona (16 February), Barcelona (29 February), and Madrid (23 March) when Napoleon had summoned members of the Borbon royal family to Bayonne in France. At Bayonne, King Fernando VII was �persuaded� to abdicate in favour of his father, ex-King Carlos IV (Carlos had abdicated himself earlier in 1808). This achieved, Napoleon convinced Carlos IV to abdicated a second time � only this time to Joseph. It was a legal, but opportunistic, piece of French political manoeuvering:

�This was an act that took place with all the legal formalities and was adhered to by all the principal institutions and personnages of the kingdom. The political regime that the Bonapartes attempted to unite was that planned by the Statute of Bayonne on 8 July 1808. Although this document is of great importance from a historical point of view, it has no juridical or practical significance because it never came into force. However, it was the first constitutional text to appear in Spain.� [1]

However, even before the official announcement, a civilian rebellion had flared up in Madrid on 2 May. With thousands of French troops around Madrid (including foreign troops like the second battalion of the �Legion Irlandaise�) the rioters had no chance for success; nevertheless, distrubances during the day grew in size. Isolated French soldiers were attacked and killed; Marshal Joachim Murat ordered cavalry and artillery to be deployed in the Puerto del Sol, Madrid�s main square. Spanish casualties during �Dos de Mayo� were in the hundreds: 39 soldiers and 370 citizens were killed � including those executed along the Prado the next day � and 28 soldiers and 142 civilians were wounded.

After �Dos de Mayo�, it became obvious that French subjugation of the Iberian Peninsula was going to have to be conducted, not with proclamations, but with bayonets. In A History of Spain and Portugal, writer Stanley Payne explains:

�The reaction of the Spanish people to French domination was the great revolt of May 1808 � the broadest popular uprising anywhere in Europe during that era. The rebellion started on May 2 in Madrid as the last member of the royal family was being hustled into French exile, and spread throughout the country within a few weeks, even before Napoleon had officially imposed a Bonaparte king. It was supported by all classes of the population (though the nobility were the most tepid), to save national independence and also to save the primacy of traditional religion. The whole experience was incomprehensible to Napoleon, for nothing of the sort had happened in any other area occupied by French troops. In Spain, however, even the upward-striving middle classes � among the elements that elsewhere seemed to have most to gain from Napoleonic reform � were part of the backbone of resistance.�

Instead of welcoming Joseph�s regime, many Spanish officers and politicians supported ex-King Fernando VII and the deposed Borbons. Eighteen provincial �governing juntas� were established (which were superceded on 25 September 1808 by the �Supreme Central Governing Junta�). A Supreme Council of Regency was established on 31 January 1810, governing for the exiled Fernado VII until 22 March 1814.

Napoleon, now forced into a unexpected military campaign � and, later, into a relentless �guerra de partidas� (guerrilla war) � was obliged to detach an increasing-number of French units to the Peninsula. With the arrival of British troops in Portugal under Sir John Moore in 1808 and Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley in 1809, King Joseph�s political and military problems became increasingly acute.

Joseph�s government, forcibly imposed and maintained by foreign troops, never had a reasonable chance of success. The Bonaparte regime was totally dependent on the success � or failure � of the French marshals� military campaigns. Forced to flee Madrid in 1808 (after General de Division Pierre Dupont de l�Etang surrendered II Corps of Observation at Bailen) and, again, in 1813 at the end of the disastrous Peninsular War, Joseph never rose above the stature of a �puppet� king. Payne explains:

�Despite a conscientious effort by the new Corsican monarch, he was rejected by the great majority of Spaniards, who referred to him sneeringly as Pepe Botellas (Joe Bottles) because of his supposed fondness for drink. The only real support for the regime came from a small minority of the afrancesado intelligentsia [also called �josefinos�], supporters of Napoleonic-style enlightened despotism, who were no more than twelve thousand or so in a population of more than ten million. Some of the afrancesados were mere opportunists interested in positions. Others, however, were concerned patriots who chose to serve the new regime out of a desire to Hispanize it, reform the country along more modern lines, and above all save their homeland from the anarchy and destruction that threatened it in 1808. Yet the Bonapartist regime, imposed by force, remained always at the mercy of military events and never effectively controlled as much as half the country.�

Several ministers who served in King Joseph�s cabinet had previous governmental or military experience under King Carlos III [reigned 1759-1788] or his successor King Carlos IV. Miguel-Jose Azanza Alegria, duque de Santa Fe, served as Minister of War in 1793 and as Viceroy of Nueva Espana from 1798 to 1800 [see below]; Mariano Luis de Urquijo y Murga had negotiated the [second] Treaty of Ildefonso in 1800. However, in spite of introducing short-lived social reforms such as the abolition of the Spanish Inquisition, these �josefino� officials were seen by their peers (and King Fernando VII) as traitors; most fled into exile in France in 1813.

It was at the end of the Battle of Vittoria (21 June 1813) that Joseph must have realized his brief reign as King of Spain was well and truly over. In stark contrast to the troops� confident arrival in Spain in 1808, the defeated French army at Vittoria lost all cohesion during its general withdrawal; in the mad scramble to escape capture, muskets, field-packs, ammunition and the entire baggage-train were abandoned to the Duke of Wellington�s advancing British-Spanish-Portuguese army:

�The French abandoned the whole of their baggage train as well as 415 caissons, 151 of their 153 guns and 100 waggons. 2,000 prisoners were taken�More incredible, however, was the fantastic amount of treasure [estimated at 5 � million francs] abandoned by Joseph as he fled. The accumulated plunder acquired by him in Spain was abandoned to the eager clutches of the Allied soldiers who could not believe what they found. Never before nor since in the history of warfare has such an immense amount of booty been captured by an opposing force. Ironically, this treasure probably saved what was left of Joseph's army for while Wellington's men stopped to fill their pockets with gold, silver, jewels and valuable coins, the French were making good their escape towards Pamplona.� [2]

King Joseph I�s Government Ministers (7 July 1808 � 27 June 1813)

Estado (Ministry of State)

07.07.1808 � 03.08.1808: Urquijo y Murga, Mariano-Luis de
03.08.1808 � 06.11.1808: O�Farril y Herrera, Gonzalo [acting]
06.11.1808 � 23.04.1811: Urquijo, y Murga, Mariano-Luis de
23.04.1811 � 15.07.1811: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe [acting]
15.07.1811 � 27.06.1813: Urquijo y Murga, Mariano-Luis de

Negocios Extranjeros (Foreign Ministry)

07.07.1808 � 01.08.1808: Cevallos Guerra, Pedro
11.08.1808 � 15.06.1811: Negrete de la Torre, Manuel-Jose, marques de Campo Alanje
01.02.1810 � 05.04.1810: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe [acting]
05.04.1810 � 15.05.1810: Martinez Hervas, Jose, marques de Almenara [acting]
23.04.1811 � 23.07.1811: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe [acting]
23.07.1811 � 27.06.1813: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe

Justicia (Ministry of Justice)

07.07.1808 � 01.08.1808: Pinuela Alonso, Sebastian
05.09.1808 � 21.12.1809: Romero, Manuel [acting]
21.12.1809 � 27.02.1812: Romero, Manuel
27.02.1812 � 27.06.1813: Arribas, Pablo [acting]

Interior (Ministry of the Interior)

07.07.1808 � 07.07.1808: Jovellanos, Gaspar Melchor de [3]
20.08.1808 � 15.11.1808: Cabarrus, Francisco, conde de [acting] [4] 15.11.1808 � 21.12.1809: Romero, Manuel
21.12.1809 � 07.01.1810: Martinez Hervas, Jose, marques de Almenara
07.01.1810 � 13.05.1810: Cabarrus, Francisco, conde de [acting]
07.08.1810 � 10.12.1810: Angulo, Francisco [acting]
27.07.1811 � 27.08.1811: Romero, Manuel [acting]
27.08.1811 � 27.06.1813: Martinez Hervas, Jose, marques de Almenara

Indias (Ministry of the Indies)

07.07.1808 � 05.04.1810: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe
05.04.1810 � 04.12.1810: O�Farril y Herrara, Gonzalo [acting]
04.12.1810 � 27.06.1813: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe

Guerra (Ministry of War)

07.07.1808 � 23.04.1811: O�Farril y Herrara, Gonzalo
23.04.1811 � 15.07.1811: Martinez Hervas, Jose, marques de Almenara [acting]
15.07.1811 � 27.06.1813: O�Farril y Herrara, Gonzalo

Marina (Ministry of Marine)

07.07.1808 � 29.07.1812: Mazarredo Salazar y Gortazar, Jose de [died 29.07.1812]
29.07.1812 � 27.06.1813: O�Farril y Herrera, Gonzalo [acting]


07.07.1808 � 01.02.1810: Cabarrus, Francisco, conde de
01.02.1810 � 26.04.1810: Martinez Hervas, Jose, marques de Almenara [acting]
26.04.1810 � 07.08.1810: Martinez Hervas, Jose, marques de Almenara
07.08.1810 � 31.08.1810: O�Farril y Herrera, Gonzalo [acting]
31.08.1810 � 27.06.1813: Angulo, Francisco

Policia (Ministry of Police)

20.08.1808 � 05.09.1808: Arribas, Pablo [acting]
05.09.1808 � 01.02.1810: Arribas, Pablo
01.02.1810 � 13.05.1810: Amoros, Francisco [acting]
27.07.1811 � 21.01.1812: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe [acting]
21.01.1812 � 27.06.1813: Arribas, Pablo

Negocios Eclesiasticos (Ministry of Religous Affairs)

25.01.1809 � 07.01.1810: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe
07.01.1810 � 13.05.1810: Cabarrus, Francisco, conde de [acting]
05.04.1810 � 04.12.1810: Heros, Francisco de los, conde de Montarco [acting]
04.12.1810 � 27.06.1813: Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose, duque de Santa Fe


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[2] <>

[3] Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744-1811) had served as Spain�s Ambassador to Russia in 1797. He refused his appointment to King Joseph�s cabinet.

[4] Francisco Cabarrus (1752-1810) was a financier of French decent. He had been created �conde de Cabarrus� by King Carlos IV in 1789.





Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2005


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