Ars Bellica

Battles In Brief

Battle of Trocadero

August 31, 1823

The opponents

Louis-Antoine de Bourbon, Duc d'Angouleme (Versailles, August 6, 1775 - Gorizia, June 3, 1844)

Eldest son of the Comte d'Artois, later King Charles X of France, and Maria Theresa of Savoy. It was Titular King of France, for a few minutes, with the name of Louis XIV, but never actually reigned. On June 10, 1799 he married his cousin Maria Theresa Charlotte, the only surviving heir of Louis XVI. In 1824 his father became king, and he was Dauphin of France. In 1823 he led the Spanish expedition, led by the Kingdom of France of Louis XVIII in order to restore the absolute power of the king Ferdinand VII of Spain, which ended with the Battle of Trocadero.

In 1830, after the revolution (the "Three Glorious Days"), Charles X abdicated in favor of his nephew Henry , Count of Chambord, who, a few minutes later, obtained the written waiver of the same or Louis Antony. The House of Peers of France did not ratify the two subsequent abdication of the throne and called his cousin Louis-Philippe: therefore on 2 August of the same year, Louis Anthony went into exile with his family. The time resolved the various interpretations that divided the Bourbon field. If the death of his father Charles X in 1836, helped to increase the different points of view, with the most intransigent legitimist who saw Luigi Antonio as the new king with the title of Louis XIX, while the legalists call attention to the text abdicated in order to recognize Henry the true pretender, the death of Louis Antony in exile in 1844 without heirs, sewed the schism, with Henry, at that point, as only heir from all points of view.

Manuel Cortina y Arenzana (Seville 1802 - Madrid 1879)

Jurist, and liberal politician, was a fervent liberal constitutionalist in the three years, the fervor that led him also to be among the participants in the clash of the Trocadero. Pardoned, later was in command of some liberals units in Andalusia during the First Carlist War (1833-1840). Minister of the Internal affairs in 1840, as supporter of Baldomero Espartero, was arrested and exiled in 1843 to the advent to power of General Narvaez. In 1846 he returned home and spoke at the Chamber some eloquent speeches against the government of the same Narvaez. He was appointed president of the "Real Academia de Jurisprudencia y Legislación" until 1857, was then a senator, a role she refused by virtue of his liberal ideas.

The genesis

He returned to Spain in 1814, at the end of the War of Independence, Ferdinand VII, retained his role as monarch until 1820, when in January the General Riego rebelled in Las Cabezas de San Juan proclaiming the value and "authority" of the Constitution of 1812. Due to this situation, Fernando VII swore on the Constitution of Cadiz March 7, an event that began the liberal triennium 1820-1823. This did not please the European monarchies that seek to stifle any hint of liberalism that could undermine the absolutist established regimes: already at the Congress of Vienna it was decided to fight to keep the legitims monarchies.

At the Congress of Verona, in 1822, to France was given the task to "rescue" the king Ferdinand VII, who showed their support for the invasion by the French, the Spanish territory April 7, 1823. The Spanish people, that fifteen years before had fought heroically the soldiers from the same country, this time did not see any reason to show its strength, so that the so-called "Hundred Thousand Sons of St. Louis", crossed part of the Spanish territory as if it was a turistic walk. The invasion of the 100,000 son of St.Louis was the most formidable interference in the internal affairs of a country from the time of Napoleon, and Spain found itself to face it because was one of the few European countries that tried to seek a breakthrough in the liberal period of the Restoration, in perfect disagreement with the autocracy ruling the rest of the continent.

In response to the invasion of this ancien regime, the liberal Spanish government moved to the south of the peninsula (from Madrid to Seville), and as a precaution, he was sent to the executive branch in the city of Cadiz, considered a fortress strong enough to withstand the attack the French army. The king, of course, refused to approve the moves of the government, but in the end he was "accompanied" in the provincial capital. The French troops took only three months to go through all the Spanish territory, but at least this time, the realists did not cause the terror and the disasters inflicted on Spain 13 years before by the army of Napoleon.

In July, 1823, arrived in Puerto Real. The Duke of Angouleme, head of the invading army, proved to be subtle and practical in decisions. During the three months of the siege of Cadiz, imposed a tax on residents of Puerto Real, which were also forced to supply the French army. In Cadiz had been taken serious measures to prevent the playback of the events that occurred during the War of Independence: that is not to bombard the city from the same positions as the previous conflict, Matagorda and Trocadero. For this task had been built Fort St. Louis at the end of the island of Trocadero, giving it an important military garrison. The construction of this fort, originally planned as an impenetrable defense, has not met the liberal expectations, in fact did not prevent the passage of troops under the command of Angouleme. The French troops were in fact too much, than the spanish ones, for both human resources (100,000 French against 2,000 Spanish libertarians) and for military resources, so as to tip the scales of battle clearly in favor of the French.

The battle

Despite the caution of operation, the first French assault, begin on July 16, 1823, did not give the expected results due to the tragic and heroic defense of the Spanish garrison. Between 06:00 to 7:00, there was a meeting between representatives of the two forces on the field in which the French command negotiated to suspend hostilities and remove the dead and wounded. But at the end of August, on 31 to be precise, the French attacked the fort of Trocadero surprise bayonet, taking advantage of a low tide. The final assault was tragic for the Spaniards, who lived between confusion and disorder. It was later also took the village of Trocadero, thanks to an assault on the flank. After this action, the French army was able to capture about 1,700 soldiers Spanish liberals.

Once French have taken the Trocadero, the batteries of Fort St. Louis were used to bombard Cadiz. Angouleme and a part of his army pointed on the island of Leon, which was taken without meeting any resistance and from where he could begin the attack on the French in Cadiz across the isthmus that connects the island with the city itself. After 3 weeks of bombing the city of Cadiz was forced to surrender on 23 September, and release the King Ferdinand to the French.

The battle, as described in the chronicle of Nebuchadnezzar, now preserved in the British Museum, shows that Nebuchadnezzar himself took the enemy by surprise by attacking quickly from west: "after crossing the Euphrates River, he attacked the Egyptian army that was in Karchemis". The battle was bloody and were the men of Neco to give up to for first and retire from the field. Their hasty escape led to a great massacre, as reported in the same chronicle: "the rest of the Egyptian army had escaped from the defeat so quickly to not bring any weapons, so, when they were joined by the Babylonians to Hamath they were again defeated, but this time in such a way that not a single man was able to return to his country. Later, Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of Hamath".

The aftermath

Once ended the hostilities, on October 2, the absolute monarchy was restored in Spain, and the king himself , after initially opted for amnesty to the rebels, decided a series of brutal repression against those who had revolted against him: 30,000 liberals were killed and at least another 20,000 were imprisoned. Thus began what is remembered as the ominously Década (1823-1833), characterized by a harsh repression of the Liberals, which would be solved, after the death of the sovereign, in the successive Carlist Wars.

But the clash Trocadero had a strong international resonance. The Battle of Trocadero was one of the events that triggered the United States of America, to the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine (2 December 1823), aimed to protecting the Americas by any intervention of the European powers.

The fall of the Trocadero was commemorated in Paris, with the Place du Trocadéro, close to the Bois de Boulogne, while the Duke of Angouleme, the winner of the battle, was honored with the title of "Prince of Trocadero".