Irrigation, 200 years of the coup for freedom

The Heads of San Juan, in the province of Seville, a villa nestled in the Lower Guadalquivir river, which even today is traffic bound to Cadiz, woke up at 8 the

Irrigation, 200 years of the coup for freedom

The Heads of San Juan, in the province of Seville, a villa nestled in the Lower Guadalquivir river, which even today is traffic bound to Cadiz, woke up at 8 the morning of the 1st of January, 1820, by typing the page that is most outstanding in its history. An episode that is also transcendental to frame the contemporary history in Spain: the decision of the general Rafael del Riego (Tuña, Asturias, 1784 – Madrid, 1823), which, risen in arms, sought to compel Ferdinand VII to abandon the absolutist regime restored in 1814, after the War of Independence, and to re-comply with the Constitution proclaimed by the Cortes of Cadiz in 1812. The triumph -though not immediately - this revolution opened the door to the so-called Trienio Liberal, a period in which, for the first time in history, Spain was to be governed by a constitutional system. “The lights of Europe do not permit, lord, that the nations be governed as possessions absolute of the kings (...). Resurrect the Constitution of Spain, here's your object: decide which is the Nation legitimately represented who has only the right of giving laws to itself,” read the manifesto, which led to the monarch's absolutist read by the military today called the plaza of the Constitution of the municipality of seville the first of the year that you comply with two centuries.

the Character which still does not exist today a consensus —“has gone down in history as a controversial figure, hero to some, a military coup to another,” acknowledges the former vice president of the Government, Alfonso Guerra, is however no doubt that Irrigation was the great protagonist of which is considered the first military coup in the history of Spain. Infiltrated since the end of the War of Independence in the clandestine movements of the Army who exercised the liberal opposition to the regime of Fernando VII —that he had abolished the Constitution of the 12 “as if it had not occurred ever”— the general was the 1 of January in the provinces bordering with Cádiz, along with other 20,000 men. All of them had to fly to America in order to quell the uprisings for independence were bursting in the territories of the even the Spanish Empire. But, in a twist that would turn the course of Spanish history, he left the script and proclaimed the Constitution of Cadiz.


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The most critical voices, including that of Manuel Moreno Alonso, professor of Contemporary History at the University of Seville, believes that “Irrigation found an excellent pretext, all the paraphernalia liberal triumph of the Constitution, not to go to the colonies. It has never been highlighted, but the key cause is that you do not want to go to America,” says the professor, for whom “the work of Irrigation was miserable in every way and plunged the country into chaos”. “The celebration of this event should prevent a unique historic vision determined," he insists Moreno Alonso. "You have to be critical of the things dissonant, which had the hit: what made leaving aside the doceañistas, that is, charged against the own liberals, and Irrigation was due, not to the popular will, but to the masonic lodges to which they should”. In them he had entered years before to find there one of the springs most powerful in the fight against absolutism.

on the contrary, War believes that “it is not possible to forget that, beyond all of the speculation about the personal motivation that led him to act as he did, Irrigation rebels claiming the liberal Constitution of 1812, is opposed to the felony of the absolutist King, and is brutally suppressed with a tragic end in dismemberment. Since 1812, spain's political life took the path of authoritarianism until 1978, the current Constitution, excepting the short period of the Republic of 1931, which also ended in a way authoritarian.”

this voice is joined by the professor Alberto González Troyano, professor of Literature at the universities of Fez (Morocco), Cadiz and Seville and Premio Iberoamericano Cortes de Cádiz of Social Sciences in 2012. “The feat of Irrigation has impacted way more than positive in the construction of the Spanish liberal. We should be focusing on the event of the announcement as the first example in the history of our country of a military rising in favour of the constitutional case. Irrigation is not himself, nor his particular causes, but what it represents: picked up the collective will and had, during three years, the liberalism to succeed in Spain,” he says.

Fernando VII took to react almost three months. It was necessary that a large crowd encircled the Royal Palace of Madrid to tend to the demands of Irrigation. He did so with a manifesto that included the historic proclamation by which it was nicknamed The felón, in connection with his disloyalty: “let's March, quite frankly, and I am the first, the path constitution.” Thus began the Liberal Triennium, a dream brief, you ended up with Irrigation guillotined in the Plaza of the Barley of Madrid by order of the monarch himself, who had left to maneuver to derail the trial as a liberal and that was completed with the entry into Spain of the Hundred Thousand Sons of San Luis commanded by the duke of Angoulême. “Irrigation attended only to his end, forsaken by all the world. He was a man of few lights, a myth inconsistent built on a character that was done with a wax that burned wrong,” insists the professor Moreno Alonso.

however, remember War, “is not our modern history so full of characters that have given their lives to defend the democratic values, constitutional as to pass up an anniversary round, 200 years, without remembering the general Irrigation. For more than two centuries in Spain was not reached, the construction of a modern State because the reactionary forces of the time were exorcised to prevent it: the throne, the sword, the altar and the large fortunes out of farming. The liberal tenet that proclaims the liberal Watering is confirmed by the Constitution of the 78, who looks much in the of 12, with an Army that assumes the role that he slogan the Constitution and a monarch —they are actually two— that defend the constitutional democracy, in February of 1981 and in October of 2017 as the dates of highlights”.

Himno de Riego

Another of the great milestones by which the name of Irrigation is still associated with the history of Liberalism in Spain is the hymn that bears his name and that he was born in that same January 1, 1812 to accompany the march of the general with the troops sublevadas that forced the king to sign the Constitution in 1820. Despite follow ifendo known by the name of Irrigation, the letter was the work of his friend Evaristo Fernández de San Miguel, lieutenant-colonel and a companion in insurrection. The author of the music, however, is not known in an official way, although there are several theories, among which stands the author of the romantic composer José Melchor Gomis. Despite its enormous popularity in the I and the II Republic –with the inclusion of a letter satirical - just became official anthem in the Liberal Triennium.

Date Of Update: 01 January 2020, 07:00