Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Republican Bourbon – Infante Enrique, Duke of Sevilla

Infante don Enrique María de Borbón, grandson of King Carlos IV and Fernando VII's nephew, would go down in history with the nickname of the "Republican Bourbon." He would lose his status as Infante of Spain and would be banished to La Coruña for his radical opposition to the reign of his first cousin Queen Isabel II. He had the audacity of calling in 1848 for  Spanish citizens to bear arms against his cousin and sister-in-law and proclaim the Republic. Enrique, who was also created Duke of Sevilla, scandalized the royal houses of Europe that same year when celebrating the fall of the French crown with these exalted words: "The Republic stands strong, high and bright over the ruins of the monarchy ... To arms, citizens!"

 Infante don Enrique of Spain

The most amazing and less known fact about the Republican Bourbon is the close relationship he maintained in the 1840's, during his exile in La Coruña, with Galician nationalist revolutionaries, whose epicenter was in the progressive circle hosted by Juana de Vega, Countess of Espoz and Mina. This intellectual salon gathered at her residence on the Royal Street in La Coruña, where the Duke of Sevilla was a regular participant. His involvement came to the point of becoming one of the key figures of the so-called Revolution of 1846, historically regarded as the birth of Galician nationalism. Infante Enrique was one of the godfathers of the Galician uprising of 1846 in which the leader Antolin Faraldo reclaimed the independence of Galicia, forty years before Manuel Murguia, father of the Galician Academy, proclaimed in the pages of the newspaper La Region Gallega, that Galicia was a nation.

Francisco Tettamancy, leader of the Galician League of La Coruña, received an emotional letter in the spring of 1904, shortly after the inauguration of the monument to the martyrs of Carral and which commemorated the execution of the progressive leaders of the revolt of , today considered the birth of Galician nationalism. "Upon returning from abroad, where I went looking for health for my body and peace for my soul," the letter reads, "I read about the dedication of the monument to the Martyrs of Carral. (...) How should I not be moved to tears at the thought of those sad memories, since the soul, the center of national expansion was my unfortunate father, who felt so much love for Spain and for that noble land of Galicia." Hard to believe it is that this song to the freedoms of an emerging Galicia is signed by none other than General Francisco de Borbón, who was making a reference to the participation in the Galician revolt of 1846 of his late father, Enrique Maria de Bourbon-grandson Carlos IV and Fernando VII's nephew. "Great, very great was the emotion I felt," writes General Francisco Maria de Bourbon to Tettamancy on the monument to the martyrs of Carral – "when I see that nobles and the most worthy Galician patriots have agreed at celebrate the memory of those brave hearts who knew how to protest against the excesses of men who cruelly abused power."

During his exile in Galicia from 1842, Infante Enrique connected in La Coruña with the active liberal and republican movement in Galicia. This connection was provided by the Countess of Espoz y Mina,  Juana de Vega, whom he met during her time as a nanny and lady of the bedchamber of Queen Isabel II. Juana's residence in the Calle Real of la Coruña was the epicenter of the conspiracy against the conservative government of Narvaez. Juana de Vega acted as "courier" with the exiles in other European countries and especially with Genral Espartero, Narvaez enemy.

Historian Manuel Seijoso has said that the newspaper La Correspondencia Gallega published an article which documents the presence of Enrique de Borbón and his vessel, the Manzanares, anchored in the island of Tambo, and the attendance of the Infnte dressed in civilian clothes, accompanied by Jose Maria Santos, president of the liberal group of Pontevedra and future leader of revolutionary junta, to a meeting of conspirators. Narvaez's spies believe the Infante was one of the ringleaders of the revolutionary movement in Galicia. wit this in mind, the Government deported the INfante Enrique to France. This measure and the abortion of the uprising in La Coruña and Ferrol were key to derailing the Galician uprising of 1846.

The government blocked the port of Vigo with a fleet to prevent the arrival of a ship from England with arms and ammunition for the rebels. It was speculated by the press that the exiled Infante Enrique was on board.

From his exile in Bayonne, Infante Enrique remained in constant communication with Espartero, in exile in England, and although some say they had traveled back to Spain, it is now known that neither left their country of exile. "Although some authors question the participation of the Infante Enrique in the Galician uprising of 1846, the letter sent by his son to Tettamancy, or reading of the accounts of the rebels, they publicly demonstrating their commitment and loyalty to the Infante. This allows us to understand that originally he was the person intended to lead the uprising, together or alternately with Espartero," said Manuel Seijoso, who has documented in detail everything about the revolution of 1846 and the role played in it by the Duke of Seville.

The Galician revolt ultimately failed and its leaders were executed in Carral – condemned in a summary judgment held both i La Coruña or Santiago for fear of the actions of rebel sympathizers. This was achieved after a decisive battle between Colonel Solis – leader of the rebels – and General Concha Cacheiras. Government troops, more numerous than those of Solis, defeated the rebels on April 23, and then sacked Compostela. Murguia recalled that during short spring of 1846 hoped only emerged during a 24 day period of hope against the government of Narvaez. This revolutionary spring was supported by the middle and petty bourgeoisie, the universities and many professional people who were attracted to the republican ideal.

Paradoxically, the Bourbons owe their continuity on the Spanish throne to the tragic climax of the frenetic life of the Infante Enrique. He died in 1870 in a duel with Prince Antoine Marie d'Orleans, Duke of Montpensier, and youngest son of the late King of the French, Louis Philippe. Montpensier was greatly responsible for financing the opposition against his sister-in-law Isabel II, for after all the Frenchman wanted the throne for himself and his wife, who would the pass it to their branch of the royal family.  Enrique's death destroyed Montpensier's hopes of ever reaching the throne. Spaniards, once and for all, realized that Antoine's pernicious hand was responsible for much of the political instability consuming the nation. The violent death of the Infante Enrique, who had nominated himself as King consort in an effort to democratize the Spanish monarchy with the support of Masonry,and who even came to be regarded as a candidate for president, closed the door to Orleans.

Infante Enrique was one of the suitors proposed to marry the young Queen Isabel II, but was dismissed for being too liberal, especially after his statement that his selection would democratize the Spanish Crown. The candidate finally chosen was Infante Francisco de Asís, Duke of Cadiz, a rather dull and easily manageable person, with clear homosexual tendencies. To the Spanish people he was known as "king custard" and in the taverns across the country it was said that on his wedding night he wore more lace than his wife the queen.

Logically, and with these conditions, the marriage soon faces deep and serious challenges.  The royal; couple became estranged, each retreating to seek support among their own palace cliques. It all led to a further weakening of the monarchical institution. The royal prestige hit bottom in Spain with this couple and the problem was compounded by a succession of lovers who are going through the apartments of the queen, one of them being the ambitious General Serrano himself.

The deterioration of the Crown gives wings to the social and political unrest that spread across the country, inspired by the revolutions that convulsed Europe and cause the fall of the restored French monarchy.

The Republican Bourbon, who in life railed against the royalist establishment, finally managed to decisively influence the succession to the Spanish crown with his death in 1870. Criticism against Enrique written by Montpensier in a newspaper resulted in a duel to the death that some Masons tried in vain to prevent. Montpensier was known to be an expert marksman. Some of Enrique's friends and supporters believed that by challenging Montpensier, the Infante was about to commit suicide. Nothing, however, could be done to prevent the Infante from meeting Montpensier in the field of honor.

Infante Enrique of Spain was killed by a bullet fired in Carabanchel by the Duke of Montpensier. His death was seized by General Prim to destroy the candidacy of the Duke of Montpensier to the vacant Spanish throne. The elected monarch, at the request of Prim, was Amadeo I of Savoy, son of the Italian king Victor Emmanuel II. Amadeo departed for Spain on December 27. That same day Prim had a parliamentary session. in the evening of the fateful day, he went out for a carriage ride. On the Calle del Turco Prim met his fate. A assailant awaited him and shot the dictator, who died of his wounds three days later, but only after learning the landing of Amadeo on Spanish soil.

Antoine d'Orleans, Dike of Montpensier

The Duke of Montpensier was later rewarded for his long years of conspiracy to install his dynasty in Spain. King Alfonso XII, after the Bourbon restoration that followed the brief First Republic, married his daughter Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans. But fate cut short the ambitious plans of a man who stopped at nothing to achieve their purpose: Maria de las Mercedes died six months after the wedding, she was only 18 years old.

Galdós recalled in 1909 in one of his episodes – Tragic Spain – that the violence of 1870 – "beginning with the death in battle of Enrique de Borbon and ending with the shameful attack by bandits on Prim guided by the Republicans but paid with gold from Cuban slave traders " – as premonition of a revolutionary outbreak in Spain.

The celebrated lawyer Pedrol Rius concluded in a 1960 report that, the author of the assassination of Prim – the man who established the constitutional monarchy – was "the Republican Paul y Angulo," and also presents reasonable claims, although difficult to prove, that point to the Duke of Montpensier, uncle and father-in-law of Alfonso XII, as well as executioner of the Republican Bourbon, as an instigator of the conspiracy.

These episodes still surface today.Not long ago Henri d'Orleans, Count of Paris, starred in a controversy with King Juan Carlos by arguing that current Spanish Bourbons are illegitimate. The Count of Paris, a descendant of the Duke of Montpensier, who shot the Republican Infante, has argued that Alfonso XII was the son of one of the many lovers of Queen Isabel II, voicing in public what has always been discussed in private.

Montpensier died in 1890, leaving behind a massive fortune that was divided among his two surviving children, Infanta Isabel, Countess of Paris, and Infante Antonio, Duke of Galliera. His descendants, to this day, continue living in Spain where they own considerable properties in Andalucía and maintain close contact with the Royal House.

No comments:

Post a Comment