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The Napoleon Series > Research > Miscellaneous Topics

Nominations to the Order of Golden Fleece by King Joseph I of Spain

By Stephen Millar

Although King Joseph had returned to Madrid, nevertheless he held no power over the surrounding country. All the inhabitants had taken up arms at the breaking-out of the insurrection; and in spite of our unexpected successes in the very first campaign, in which they had been signally defeated, they were making fresh preparations for a general resistance; armies were forming in all directions The new king could only establish his sway by the aid of the French armies, of which he was the generalissimo, in his capacity of lieutenant of the emperor his brother. The reinforcements arrived from the Grand Army had just reinstated him into his capital; but it required much greater ones, and often repeated efforts, before the whole kingdom could be brought under subjection.

-- memoirs of Marshal Jean-Gabriel Suchet (published 1829)

The Order of the Golden Fleece

When First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Legion d Honneur by decree on 29 floreal an X (19 May 1802) it was designed to replace previous awards of the House of Bourbon such as the Ordre de Saint-Michel (founded in 1469) and the Ordre du Saint-Esprit (founded 1578). The recently-created Legion d Honneur, however, lacked the ancient lineage of the more prestigious foreign orders. But, in a brief (and ironic) twist of history six years later, Napoleon s elder brother Joseph became the sovereign of one of the great European orders of chivalry Spain s Most Illustrious Order of the Golden Fleece.

Created on 10 January 1430 (some sources say the year before) by Duke Philip III of Burgundy, the Order of the Golden Fleece was intended to revive traditions of European chivalry; its motto, Pretium laborum non vile translates into Not cheap is the reward of labor . Sovereignty of the Order passed from Burgundy to the Austrian Hapsburgs in 1477 and to the Spanish Hapsburgs in 1519. Twelve years after the death of Carlos II of Spain in 1700, the Order of the Golden Fleece was split into a senior Spanish (Borbon) award and a junior Austrian (Hapsburg) award, but it continued to be considered like the United Kingdom s Most Noble Order of the Garter as one of the most prestigious orders of Europe.

In 1805, King Carlos IV of Spain awarded the Order of the Golden Fleece to Emperor Napoleon and to two of this three brothers (Joseph and Louis). [1] Included in this award were five other members of the Imperial family: Letizia Bonaparte s half-brother Joseph, Cardinal Fesch (1763-1839); Elisa Bonaparte s husband Felix Baciocchi, Prince of Lucca-Piombino (1762-1841); Pauline Bonaparte s husband Camille, Prince Borghese (1775-1832); Napoleon s step-son Prince Eugene de Beauharnais (1781-1824) and Caroline Bonaparte s husband Marshal Joachim Murat (1767-1815). [2]

When Napoleon named Joseph King of Spain (after the 1808 abdication of King Carlos IV and his son Ferdinando, Prince of the Asturias) Joseph became sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece [19 September 1808]. During his brief reign, King Joseph nominated his brother Jerome and five Spaniards to the Order: Miguel-Jose de Azanza Alegria, duque de Sante Fe (1746-1826); Manuel-Jose-Antonio-Hilario Negrete de la Torre, marques [later duque] de de Campo Alanje (1736-1818); Jose de Mazarredo Salazar y Gortazar (1745-1812); Gonzalo O Farril y Herrera (1754-1831); and Mariano Luis de Urquijo y Murga, (1769-1817). [3] All these men were cabinet ministers in King Joseph s government. [4]

Notably absent from these nominations were any French commanders. Although King Joseph s place on the Spanish throne depended on French officers (and their soldiers), men like General de Division Jean-Gabriel, Comte Suchet the only officer to gain the rank of Marshal in Spain and Marshal Jean-Baptiste, Comte Jourdan (King Joseph s long-time military advisor in Naples and Spain) failed to gain a nomination to the Order.

With the return of King Ferdinando VII and the Spanish Borbon family in 1814, Azanza, Negrete, Mazarredo, O Farril and Urquijo all became persona non grata . Those nominated by King Joseph Bonaparte were treated as traitors and were never considered to have been legally nominated, explains Guy Stair Sainty in his internet article The Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece. The surviving knights all retired to France where they spent their lives in obscurity, never returning to their homeland. In addition, seven of the eight Bonaparte nominees of King Carlos IV were expelled from the Order of the Golden Fleece by a Royal Decree dated 18 October 1814. [5] The sole remaining 1805 nominee was Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Napoleon s former Viceroy of Italy.

Awards dated 24.03.1810

Azanza Alegria, Miguel-Jose de (b. Aviz 1746 d. Burdeos 1826)

Duque de Sante Fe

1. Minister of the Indes: 07.07.1808-27.06.1813
2. Minister of Religious Affairs: 25.01.1809-27.06.1813
3. Acting Foreign Minister: 01.02.1810-05.04.1810
4. Acting Minister of State: 23.04.1811-15.07.1811
5. Acting Foreign Minister: 23.04.1811-23.07.1811
6. Foreign Minister: 23.07.1811-27.06.1813
7. Acting Minister of Police: 27.07.1811-21.01.1812

Azanza Alegria had served King Carlos IV as Minister of War in 1793 and Viceroy of New Grenada from 1798 to 1800. Like Gonzalo O Farril y Herrera [see below], he held several ministerial portfolios in King Joseph s government.

Negrete de la Torre, Manuel-Jose-Antonio-Hilario (b. Reinosa 1736 d. Paris 1818)

Marques [later duque] de Campo Alanje

Foreign Minister: 11.08.1808-15.06.1811

Negrete de la Torre subsequently served as Ambassador to France.

Award dated 14.04.1811

Mazarredo Salazar y Gortazar, Jose de (b. Bilbao 1745 d. Madrid 1812)

Minister of Marine: 07.07.1808-29.07.1812

Mazarredo Salazar y Gortazar died in Madrid on 29.07.1812.

Awards dated 03.03.1812

O Farril y Herrera, Gonzalo (b. Havana 1754 d. Paris 1831)

1. Minister of War: 07.07.1808-27.06.1813
2. Acting Minister of State: 03.08.1808-06.11.1808
3. Acting Minister of the Indes: 05.04.1810-04.12.1810
4. Acting Minister of Marine: 29.07.1812-27.06.1813

In the last year of King Joseph s reign, O Farril y Herrera simultaneously held the posts of Minister of Marine and Minister of War.

Urquijo y Murga, Mariano Luis de (b. Bilbao 1769 d. Paris 1817)

Minister of State: 07.07.1808-27.06.1813

Urquijo y Murga had previously served as a minister for King Carlos IV (he signed the [second] Treaty of San Ildefonso on 01.10.1800).


[1] It is interesting to note King Carlos IV did not award the Golden Fleece to Napoleon s remaining brother, Jerome. As King of Spain, Joseph later made up for the omission when he presented it to Jerome, King of Westphalia on 28 September 1808.

[2] The future King Louis XVIII of France returned his Order of the Golden Fleece to protest King Carlos IV s decision to admit the Bonapartes.

[3] In 1812, the acting Spanish government nominated Arthur Wellesley, Lord [later Duke of] Wellington to the Order. This act was later confirmed by King Ferdinando VII.

[4] Not all of King Joseph s ministers were nominated. For example, Manuel Romero (Minister of the Interior: 15.11.1808-21.12.1809; Minister of Justice: 21.12.1809-27.02.1812) and Pablo Arribas (Minister of Police: 05.09.1808-27.06.1813 and Acting Minister of Justice: 27.02.1812-27.06.1813) were both passed over.

[5] The exclusion of the Bonaparte family from the Order of the Golden Fleece lasted less than 40 years. In 1850, Queen Isabella II of Spain nominated Prince Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (1808-1873) President of France later Emperor Napoleon III. She also nominated his son, Napoleon-Eugene-Louis-Napoleon (1856-1879) Prince-Imperial of France, in 1856.



Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2005


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