History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter II

History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter II

An Empire and a Republic.

It was pretty much the idea of St. Thomas Aquinas. Monarchy as inherently superior to democracy, where the «Kingship» holds the highest position as the finest regime. On the other hand, «Tyranny» of one man being the worst possibility, should be avoided with the existence of intermediate branches of government. This is what was known universally as the «Tempered Monarchy». Stricto sensu, following Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas argued that there are six possible types of governments: «Rule of One», «Rule of Few» and «Rule of Many». In the following order, from finest to worst, we can arrange Aquinas’ idea: monarchy, aristocracy, republic, oligarchy, democracy, tyranny. As nature strives to imitate the Creator, healthy human societies also try to do it and that’s why a hierarchical order for the common good should always be preferred. A viced and vicious human society will attempt to invert this order. [1]

This «Tempered Monarchy» as mentioned, allowed and even required intermediate branches of government. In the Catholic Kingdom of the Spanish Empire, this was represented by the «Cortes» and the «Cabildos».

The «Cortes» were the representatives (the «hidalgos» and «nobles») of all the territories of the Kingdom who were summoned to recognize the new King; to swear allegiance to the King and for the protection of the Catholic and Civil Laws of the Realm; to appoint a «regent» in the case of absence or disease of the King; to analize and decide about the general situation of the nation in case of internal or external war; to analize and decide about taxes; to preserve and restore the ancient Laws in case of decadence and corruption, etcetera.

On the other hand, the «Cabildos» were established and conformed by some members of the «Cortes» and other people, usually workers from different corporations known as «gremios» (all of these, in their respective cities). The «Cabildos» of each city or town could choose their «Alcaldes, Regidores and Corregidores» (Lord Majors, Councillors and Sub Councillors, respectively).

As mentioned in the former chapter, Asunción del Paraguay was the first city of the River Plate and also had the first «Cabildo» by Royal Command (Real Cédula) of the King of Spain and Emperor Charles V, in 1537. The early Paraguayans could choose from the very beginning, not only their «Cabildo» members but even their Provisional Governor, in case the King didn’t appoint anyone for that charge. In the beginning, the Governors (and Viceroys) were hereditary charges, but later this was changed so the Monarch appointed them, generally for lifetime.

Here we can clearly see many things that were intrinsically part of the Paraguayan nation: «De Regno», as structured by the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas and followed by the Catholic Crown of Spain, was at the core of the Paraguayan system. A strong and unitary figure at the center ruling for lifetime (the Governor, appointed or approved by the King) tempered by Cortes and Cabildos.

Battle of Villalar (April 1521) where the "Comuneros" of Spain under the command of Juan Padilla were finally defeated by the Royalist Forces of the King of Spain and Emperor Charles V. The War of the Castillan Communities inspired, though loosely, the Paraguayan Comuneros of Asunción in 1544. Painting by Victoriano Ameller. [Wikimedia Commons].
Battle of Villalar (April 1521) where the «Comuneros» of Spain under the command of Juan Padilla were finally defeated by the Royalist Forces of the King of Spain and Emperor Charles V. The War of the Castillan Communities inspired, though loosely, the Paraguayan Comuneros of Asunción in 1544. Painting by Victoriano Ameller. [Wikimedia Commons].

In fact, many times the Paraguayans fought during the dominion of the Empire for defending the «Ancient Regime» of the Catholic Kings of Spain. Two «Revolt of the Comuneros» are well known. The first one (Primera Revolución Comunera del Paraguay) was inheriter of the spirit of the Spanish War of the Communities (Guerra de las Comunidades 1520-1522) and took place during the establishment of the first Governorate of Asunción and the River Plate. The «Adelantados y Gobernadores» Don Domingo Martínez de Irala and Don Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca confronted one another based on these liberties established by the Spanish Crown until 1544, when the famous warrior, explorer and discoverer of the Southern States of the North American Union was captured and exiled from Asunción back to Spain. Paraguayans, who were loyal to the Catholic Kings and the House of Austria (the Habsburgs), resented the outcome of the «War of Spanish Succession» (1701-1714) and refused to comply to the absolutist changes, increasing centralization and heavy taxation brought by the House Bourbon when Philip V became the first King of Spain from that dynasty. Shortly, the «Segunda Revolución Comunera del Paraguay» took place (the Bourbons, from French origins, will have a long quarrel against the Jesuits and eventually, will expel them from Spain in 1767 as we mentioned in the former chapter). The different reasons for this long and intense period of conflagration in Paraguay and neighboring provinces have opened intense debates among historians, but the central figure is Don José de Antequera y Castro, an enigmatic individual larger than life who became Governor of Asunción by overthrowing Diego de los Reyes Balmaceda and starting an open enmity against the Jesuits and the Indians. The long conflict took place for 14 years (1721-1735). Antequera and Fernando Mómpox, the two heroes (or villains, depending on the chronicler) of this outbreak were captured, the first one executed in Lima, year 1731. [2]

The Paraguayan Comuneros were inspired by the doctrines of the «School of Salamanca», especially the catholic and scholastic priests Francisco de Vitoria, Juan de Mariana and Francisco Suarez. All of them favoured a «tempered monarchy» in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas (whom they revived in popularity and vindicated) and they were also in favour of resisting tyranny by all legal and licit means. Of course, the concept of «tyranny» bein something very clear and restricted: not every ruler, simply for having a strong authority, was a tyrant. The aforementioned Juan de Mariana S.J. puts it very clear: «If the King crashes the republic, delivers to plunder all public money, damages and despises the laws of the realm and the Holy Religion, if his arrogance and impiety arrive to a point in which he even insults the Divinity, then he should not be tolerated, in any way». [3]

This was also mentioned by Atilio García Mellid, who also identified in the slogans of the Paraguayan Comuneros the doctrines of the School of Salamanca. Before any liberalism, before any marxism (and as matter of fact, completely against those ideologies as time would prove in the hispanic-guarani nation), only by scholastic and hispanic catholicism. That was the noble spirit of Paraguay. That’s the real history that some many enemies of everything truly Hispanic and truly Heroic desperately want to erase by imposing a fake narrative, a falsified version based purely on propaganda. The Independence of Paraguay was something different, completely different from what would happen some years after the ending of the Second Revolution of the Comuneros. In the year 1810, at the ancient city of Asunción, a «restoration» of the Old Ways would take place. A real «counter-revolution», for lack of a better term. [4]

Paraguay was born as an Empire and as a Republic. Paraguayans would fight to go back to those ways in the year 1810, at least, as close as possible.


[1] St. Thomas Aquinas (1949): «De Regno ad Regem Cypri», Book I, Chapters I to IV. English translation by G.B. Phelam. Toronto, Canada: The Pontifical Institute of Medieaval Studies.

[2] A very interesting study of these events in Spain and Paraguay was done by the Spaniard historian Viriato Díaz Pérez. See: Díaz Pérez, Viriato (1996): «La Revolución Comunera del Paraguay y sus Antecedentes Hispánicos», pages 123-148. Asunción, Paraguay: Editorial el Lector.

[3] Mariana, Juan de (1599): «De Rege et Regis Institutione», book III. Toledo, Spain.

[4] García Mellid (1963): «Proceso a los Falsificadores de la Historia del Paraguay», vol. I. pages. 26-28.

Emilio Urdapilleta

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