Miguel José de Azanza

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Miguel José de Azanza

Miguel José de Azanza Nabarlaz , Duke (Spanish: duque) of Santa Fé (born  December 20, 1746 in Aoiz , Navarra , Spain , † June 20, 1826 in Bordeaux , France ), was a Spanish officer and colonial administrator who served as Viceroy of New Spain officiated.


Education and early career

Azanza was born in Navarre and studied in Pamplona and Sigüenza . In 1763, at the age of seventeen, he traveled to America with his uncle José Martín de Alegría, a senior official in the colonial administration. After a detour in Havana , he came to Veracruz , the most important port between Mexico and Europe.

In 1768, José de Gálvez y Gallardo , the powerful Visitor General for New Spain, appointed Azanza to be its secretary. In this function he traveled large parts of the Viceroyalty to California and Sonora . When Gálvez returned to Europe in 1771, Azanza formally joined the army as a cadet in the Lombard Infantry Regiment and was promoted to lieutenant in 1774.

In 1774 he returned to Cuba. Azanza supported the governor and captain general of Cuba, Felipe de Fondesviela y Ondeano , Margrave of Torre , and in 1777 wrote a report on its infrastructure measures ( Noticia formada de orden del señor Marqués de la Torre Gobernador y Capitán general de la Isla de Cuba, de los caudales que se han invertido en las obras públicas ejecutadas durante su mando en la Havana y sus cercanías ).

Together with Felipe de Fondesviela, Azanza took part in the (unsuccessful) siege of Gibraltar in 1781 with the rank of captain . Fondesviela was then sent as ambassador of Spain to the Russian tsar's court in St. Petersburg ; Azanza accompanied him as secretary. He was promoted to charge of the Spanish embassy and later worked in the same function at the Spanish embassy at the Prussian court in Berlin .

He returned to Spain and took over functions in the army administration without commanding his own troops. In 1788 he was appointed Intendente y Corregidor by the Spanish cities of Toro and Salamanca , and in 1789 he was appointed Intendente of Valencia .

He commanded the Spanish troops against the French revolutionary army in the First Coalition War in Roussillon . His experience earned him the nomination for the Spanish War Council and finally the office of Minister of War. Due to differences with the powerful Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy , who was also the Queen's lover, he had to give up this office again in 1796.

Tenure as Viceroy of New Spain

In October 1797 he was appointed Viceroy of New Spain. This appointment was also interpreted as a measure by Godoy to place the adversary Azanza far away from the Madrid court without losing face. The (formal) overthrow of Godoy, who had to give up the office of Prime Minister in May 1798, occurred parallel to Azanza's departure. Azanza left in April and reached Veracruz on May 19, 1798. He took over the office from his predecessor Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca y Branciforte .

He removed the confidants of his predecessor from all important positions and appointed the garrison chief of San Luis Potosí , Félix María Calleja del Rey , who had proven himself in pacifying the Indians in the north, as the brigadier general in charge. Azanza had the troop gathering in Xalapa , which his predecessor had initiated, dismantled. The funds released were used to strengthen the port fortifications of San Blas on the Pacific coast.

Local arms production was boosted, and Azanza sent an expedition against British Belize , but failed due to British naval superiority.

On the Pacific coast he had the fortifications of San Diego , Monterrey and San Francisco expanded and six frigates stationed for coastal defense in Acapulco . In April 1799 he dispatched a relief force to liberate the port of Havana , which was besieged by the British .

Domestically, he still pursued the reform policy that Charles III. had initiated.

In October 1799 the " machete conspiracy " ( Conspiración de los machetes ) occurred . Under the leadership of Pedro de la Portilla , an employee of the administration of justice, around 20 Creoles rose against the predominance of the native Spaniards ( Peninsulares ). They captured the viceroy in a coup d'état, proclaimed the independence of Mexico and declared war on Spain. The uprising was quickly put down and Azanza was freed.

A little later, at the beginning of November 1799, the colonial administration in Madrid decided to replace Azanza and replace him with Lieutenant General of the Navy, Félix Berenguer de Marquina . Azanza resigned from his office on April 29, 1800, at which time his successor was still in British captivity in Jamaica . He was only able to take up office a month later.

Back in Europe

Before he embarked for Europe, Azanza married his cousin Josefa Alegría in Tacubaya . His return was delayed for several months because his ship was also seized by the British and first brought to Jamaica before Azanza could continue his voyage from Cuba.

Azanza settled in Granada, where his wife owned goods. He became a member of the Council of State, but had little influence there, as his old rival Manuel de Godoy determined war and foreign policy on the side of Napoleonic France.

With the uprising of Aranjuez in 1808 Godoy finally had to resign. King Charles IV renounced the throne and his son Ferdinand VII took over the reign. But this was captured by Napoleon Bonaparte in France, who instead appointed his own brother Joseph Bonaparte as King of Spain.

Miguel de Azanza had been appointed by Ferdinand as a member of the government junta that was to rule Spain in his absence. But Azanza changed sides: at the constituent assembly of Bayonne , in which the statute of Bayona was passed, which was to serve as the legal basis of Napoleonic Spain, he was the chairman of the assembly.

Together with the later head of government of Joseph Bonaparte, Mariano de Urquijo y Muga , he wrote open letters of homage to Napoleon. The Junta Suprema Central , which was loyal to Ferdinand, declared him a traitor, sentenced him to death in absentia and confiscated his property.

King Joseph Bonaparte, meanwhile, made Azanza minister of war and temporarily responsible for church affairs. Azanza received the Order of the Golden Fleece and was made Duke of Santa Fé.

After the defeat of the Napoleonic troops in the War of Liberation , Azanza had to emigrate to France in 1812. After the return of Ferdinand VII, he was granted amnesty in 1820 and was allowed to return to Spain. There, however, he encountered so much rejection and hatred that he preferred to settle back in France. He died in poverty in Bordeaux in June 1826.


Web links

Commons : Miguel José de Azanza  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca y Branciforte Viceroy of New Spain
Félix Berenguer de Marquina