Morillo, leader of the royalists in the American emancipation

Morillo, leader of the royalists in the American emancipation

The emancipation of the Spanish colonies in America He also left some prominent figures on the realistic side. That is the case of Pablo Morillo, Count of Cartagena and Marquis de la Puerta, whom everyone came to know as “The peacemaker”. Highly respected among Spanish liberals, he was feared by the inhabitants of the American colonies due to the seizures he made to maintain the army.

Morillo was born on May 5, 1775 in Fuentesecas in Zamora into a family with a noble tradition. With only 13 years of age, he joined the Royal Marine Corps of the Spanish Army. There he performed functions as a command assistant, due to his age. However, in 1793 he was transferred to the front, specifically to the island of San Pedro in Sardinia, from where he went on to besiege Toulon. He was wounded and withdrawn from combat, but continued fighting in Catalonia and other areas of Spain. Thanks to these actions, he earned the rank of sergeant on October 1, 1797.

But it wasn't until outbreak of the Spanish War of Independence when Morillo really stood out. He joined the militia on June 2, 1808 with the rank of second lieutenant and shone especially in the battle of Bailén, where General Francisco Javier Castaños noticed him. He quickly rose to infantry lieutenant and was transferred to Extremadura and Cádiz, where he demonstrated his enormous talent.

Castaños followed the young Morillo's footsteps extremely closely, so he assigned him the task of command the guerrillas of Galicia. In that position he once again signed his status as a military man, to the point of earning a promotion to brigadier after the battle of Puentesampayo. In 1813 he joined the Duke of Wellington, who proposed that he be promoted to field marshal. This request materialized on July 3 of that same year and, just a few months later, the battle of Vitoria earned Morillo the rank of lieutenant general and a prestige at the height of the great strategists.

In 1814, Fernando VII appointed him leader of the "Peacekeeping Expedition", which was intended to calm the situation in the provinces of the Río de la Plata. However, the uprising in Montevideo and other areas, caused a change of route and Morillo reached Venezuela and New Granada. The campaigns were relatively fast and, in a few months, he managed to recover both viceroyalties. His victory in New Granada earned him the title of Count of Cartagena.

Morillo launched the so-called "kidnapping boards", which came to have the same role as those that were created in the War of Independence a few years earlier. Property and assets were seized to cover the army's living expenses, but they were not enough. The army gradually collapsed and, although it achieved some victories, it was defeated in Boyacá in 1819 by Bolivar, with which he signed the Trujillo armistice in 1820.

Seeing that the panorama in the colonies was very complicated, he returned to Spain, where he alternately supported absolutists and constitutionalists. This double trend was not seen with good eyes by either side, so he had to go to France. The absolutist return in 1823 caused a "purification court" to condemn him by removing all his titles and positions.

For about nine years he was in exile until in 1832 he returned to take charge of the General Captaincy of Galicia. The First Carlist War it exploded and Morillo positioned himself in favor of María Cristina and the Liberals, fighting against the absolutists of Carlos María Isidro de Borbón. But a serious illness pushed him away from the front. The queen granted him permission to seek medical attention in Bareges, where he died on July 27, 1837.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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