History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter V

History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter V

Revolution or Death.

A terrible bloodshed was unleashed by the forces of the French Revolution. Inspired by British Liberalism and the ideals of the «Enlightenment», the furious masses stormed the Bastille, the most famous prison of France, on July 14th, 1789. The main leader of the early stages of this dramatic and momentous event of World History was Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794), a radical member of the Jacobin Club who was, during his youth, an idealist reformer from Arras with no major desires of becoming the driving force behind the wheels of destiny. As a very competent historian once wrote (my translation from Spanish, as usual):

«The same way the English Revolution discovered in Oliver Cromwell, a modest landowner and member of the Parliament until that moment, the political and military genius on par to the great happenings of his time, in the same fashion the French Revolution revealed Robespierre. The quick raising of their revolutionary personalities presuppose the existence of the necessary raw materials (in their political environments)». [1]

In fact, the parallels were very easily drawn out by the most different of authors. We already mentioned Thomas Carlyle, an «one-of-a-kind» philosopher of the Victorian Era who talked about the «Sans Culotte Calvinism» of Oliver Cromwell and the «Levellers» in his New Model Army. Many of the principles of the French Revolution, Carlyle would add, were long present in the English Revolution (1642-1658). [2]

From very different coordinates, Liev Davidovitch Bronstein Trotsky a.k.a. León Trotsky (1879-1940), himself the «Cromwell» of the Russian Revolution, describes this with awe and admiration (the parenthesis are mine):

«Any historical analogies demand the greatest caution especially when we are dealing with the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries; yet nonetheless one cannot help being struck by some distinct features that bring the regime and character of Cromwell’s army and the character of the Red Army close together… Cromwell’s fighters felt themselves to be in the first place puritans and only in the second place soldiers, just as our fighters acknowledge themselves to be above all revolutionaries and conununists and only then soldiers…  The British social crisis of the seventeenth-century combined in itself features of the German Reformation of the sixteenth century with features of the French Revolution of the eighteenth century. In Cromwell, Martin Luther (the protestant reformer) joins hands with Maximilian Robespierre. The Puritans did not mind calling their enemies philistines but the matter was nonetheless one of class struggle. Cromwell’s task consisted of inflicting as shattering a blow as possible upon the absolutist monarchy, the court nobility and the semi-Catholic Church which had been adjusted to the needs of the monarchy and the nobility…». [3]

To summarize it in a «virological way», we could affirm that «Protestantism» (in Martin Luther’s Germany) was the breeding ground, and the original strain of «The Revolution» appeared in the Britain of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell, with deadly outcomes especially in Ireland. A more aggressive strain would outburst in 1789, the «French Variant» of «The Revolution» (inspired by its English and USA predecessors). Finally, the most pathological form of «The Revolution» surged in Russia in 1917, with all its catastrophic consequences (pretty much like the previous versions).

The «French Variant» of «The Revolution» was running rampant in Europe and arrived in the Iberian Penninsula thanks to the invasion of Napoleón Bonaparte (1769-1821). On 18 October 1807, the «Grand Armée» entered Spain heading to Portugal. The Spaniard «elites» were already dominated by the ideals of British Liberalism and French Radicalism and they accepted, pretty much without great disturbances, the advent of the «Revolutionary Emperor» at Madrid. In any case, it was the common people who resisted the occupation of the «afrancesados» and they wanted the King of Spain to stand firm against the invader. But the House Bourbon failed to deliver…

Charles IV (1748-1819), who reigned in 1788-1808, was the Catholic Monarch of Spain in those days. He had a very young and controversial Prime Minister, The Duke of Sueca Don Manuel de Godoy (1767-1851). This politician actually did his best to keep the Spanish Empire standing during those harsh and furious days, but his alliances with the French were increasingly unpopular and in 1808, both King and Prime Minister were repudiated during the «Motín of Aranjuez». Contrary to the advise of Don Manuel de Godoy (who asked the Monarch to flee to his American Territories in order to organize a resistence), Charles IV cowardly decided to abdicate in his son, the Prince of Asturias Ferdinand VII, on March 25 of that same year. Father and Son fought for the throne acrimoniously and Napoleon saw his chance to become «Emperor of the Americas». The Monarchs and the Great Corsican met at the city of Bayonne, where the infamous «Abdications of Bayona» took place. On April 30, the meetings officially started and in the whole Iberian Penninsula the rumours (that happened to be truthful) spread like powderfire: the Emperor wanted to replace the Catholic Monarchs with his own brother Joseph, a deal that was sealed on 7 May 1808. [4]

Of course, all of this was utterly rejected by the popular masses in the Spanish Empire, both in the metropoli and in the territories overseas. Many versions came and went and the Spaniard Patriots summoned the «Cortes» in different cities and towns of the realm, all of them joining in the «Junta Superior Gubernativa del Reino» (also known as «Consejo de Regencia», Regency Council) established in Aranjuez, on September 1808. The most famous amongst them was the Court of Cadiz (Cortes de Cadiz), where the Revolution had its hidden hand: the liberals who drafted the «Constitution of Cadiz» in 1812 (known as «La Pepa» for its promulgation in the Feast Day of St. Joseph). Moreover, «La Pepa» was a revolutionary act on its own, contrary to the spirit and traditions of the Hispanic Empire. The Sovereignty fell in the hands of the nation, and no longer in the person of the King; the Liberal State was created with the «Separation of Powers» a-la-Montesquieu; universal suffrage for men, though indirect, was introduced; freedom of press was accepted and the Spanish Inquisition, that legendary institution established by Isabella and Ferdinand the Catholic Kings, was de facto abolished. [5]

King Ferdinand VII of Spain swears allegiance to the Constitution of 1812 (known as "La Pepa"). During the "War of Independence of Spain" against Napoleón (1808-1814), the Liberal Doctrinnaires of the Iberian Penninsula and Overseas, working inside the "Juntas" and in the "Consejo de Regencia", imposed their revolutionary agenda. "The Revolution" landed on the River Plate Region in May 1810. [Image: "Arte Historia"].
King Ferdinand VII of Spain swears allegiance to the Constitution of 1812 (known as «La Pepa»). During the «War of Independence of Spain» against Napoleón (1808-1814), the Liberal Doctrinnaires of the Iberian Penninsula and Overseas, working inside the «Juntas» and in the «Consejo de Regencia», imposed their revolutionary agenda. «The Revolution» landed on the River Plate Region in May 1810. [Image: «Arte Historia»].

So, while the Spaniards were fighting their «Independence War» against the Napoleonic Occupation in 1808-1814, while the noble people were shedding their blood to stop the advance of the French Revolution in Spain, claiming for the restoration of whom they considered their legitimate monarch (Ferdinand VII) and refusing to accept the rule of the «afrancesado» usurper (Joseph I Bonaparte), in that meantime, the «doctrinnaires» born in Hispanic territories were with their «dirty deeds done dirt cheap», creating a very liberal «Constitutional Monarchy» with no real authority to support that act and with no one to approve it but themselves.

The news of the «War of Independence» in Spain reached the Overseas Territories shortly after the first victories of the «guerrillas» led by Juan Marín Diez aka «El Empecinado» (the Stubborn), who became a legend for his intense struggle against Napoleon (reaching the rank of Field Marshal of Spain) and for his fierce defense of the Constitution of Cadiz. In the River Plate, the «criollos and mestizos» felt pride about themselves after defeating the British Invasions of 1806-1807. And the victorious deeds in the Iberian Penninsula against Napoleon became «fuel» for new desires of glory. The spirits were very high in the novel Viceroyalty: in Bolivia, popular uprisings were taking place; in Uruguay and Buenos Aires, the «Vanquisher of the British», Viceroy Don Santiago de Liniers (1753-1810) was having intense problems with the Governor in Montevideo, Don Francisco Javier de Elío (1767-1822), who propelled versions that Liniers was an «afrancesado» covertly, something that was never proved; and even worse, a Venezuelan-born soldier and revolutionary politician, Field Marshal Don Francisco de Miranda y Rodríguez (1750-1816), after many years fighting as a mercenary in the USA Revolution and also in France, after living many years in London and becoming a freemason, launched his own separatist movement and in 1811-1812 he established the First Independent Republic of Venezuela (he was captured and died in prison some time later), earning for these acts the nickname «El Precursor». [6] «The Revolution» was lurking, seemed to be inevitable at that moment…

And if something else was missing, the conspicuous abjection of the weakling Ferdinand VII became a scandal. While Joseph I was ruling as an usurper in Spain, the King who was called «Felón» (that is, for fellony) by his enemies and «the Desired one» by his supporters, asked to the Bonaparte Family to become an adoptive son of Napoleón! Think about this for one second: the Spaniard people was fighting to death against the French invader while their alleged King was licking the boot of the Commander in Chief of the «Grande Armée». He pledged to Bonaparte: «My greatest desire is to become an adoptive child of His Majesty the Emperor and our Sovereign. I think I deserve the adoption that will become the greatest happiness of my life, not just for my love and affection towards His Majesty but also for my entire submission and obedience to his intentions and desires». [7]

This was the same King Ferdinand VII who swore to overrule the Constitution of Cadiz when he was restored in the throne on 4 May 1814 but, despite having major popular support on his side, ended up accepting it and he swore allegiance to «La Pepa» under the pressure of the «Trienio Liberal» on 10 March 1820. [8]

Now in Seville, the «Junta Suprema Gubernativa del Reino» appointed a new Viceroy of the River Plate, Don Baltasar Hidalgo de los Cisneros. He replaced Don Santiago de Liniers on July 1809. But on 13 May 1810, news reached Buenos Aires: Napoleón occupied Spain and the «Consejo de Regencia» in Seville was abolished. The «Liberal Doctrinnaires» were wating for this moment and through this pathway we arrive where we left the previous chapter: the «Junta de Mayo» was formed.

«The Revolution» landed on the River Plate… A long heritage of death and destruction was now infecting the American Territories of the Spanish Empire…

But something different would happen in Paraguay…


[1] Jordan, David P. (1990): «Robespierre: el Primer Revolucionario», page 43. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Vergara Editor S.A.

[2] Carlyle, Thomas (1871): «Cromwell», pages 33-50. Boston, USA: James R. Osgood Company.

[3] Trotsky, León (1999): «Writings on Britain», chapter VI, paragraph 15. Transcribed by Ted Crawford for the Trotsky Internet Archive. Available at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/britain/ch06.htm

[4] Sánchez Mantero, Rafael (2001): «Fernando VII», pages 74-76. Borbones 6. Madrid, España: Arlanza Editores.

[5] Marcuello Benedicto, Juan Ignacio (1996): «División de poderes y proceso legislativo en el sistema constitucional de 1812«, pages 219-231. Revista de Estudios Políticos, nº 93. Madrid, España.

[6] Francisco de Miranda was, in fact, the first «revolutionary» in Hispanic America. See: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). «Miranda, Francesco». Encyclopaedia Britannica, 18 (11th ed.), pages 573-574. Cambridge University Press.

[7] «El infame rey español que traicionó a su pueblo y pidió ser hijo adoptivo de Napoleón», article by Villatoro, Manuel P. Published in ABC Historia (Madrid), 29 February 2016. Link: https://www.abc.es/historia/abci-infame-espanol-traiciono-pueblo-y-pidio-hijo-adoptivo-napoleon-201512150256_noticia.html

[8] «Fernando VII jura la Constitución 1820», article by Cantos, Víctor. Published in Aula de Historia (Murcia), 9 February 2016. Link: https://www.auladehistoria.org/2016/02/fernando-vii-jura-la-constitucion-1820.html

Emilio Urdapilleta

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