La Saragossa (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: By her legendary act of courage during the French siege of Saragossa, Maria Agustina (La Saragossa) symbolized Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s forces during a crucial period of invasion in the Peninsular War.
Maria Agustina Saragossa y Domenech was born in Tortosa, Catalonia, in Spain. While little is known of her childhood in Barcelona, she grew up in a period during which Franco-Spanish relations were frequently tense and, at times, openly hostile and belligerent. After the French Revolution of 1789 and the establishment of the revolutionary regime in France, Spain occupied a precarious international position. The revolutionary regime, having tried and executed the Bourbon monarchs in France, had no qualms about dissolving the Family Compact of 1761, which had allied the Bourbon monarchs throughout Europe, and attacking the Spanish monarchy.
In 1793 France officially declared war on Spain, causing a vicious anti-French fervor throughout the Iberian Peninsula as religious leaders and village volunteers rallied around military leaders to fight the French. Although peace was declared between the countries three years later, intense hatred continued to strain their relations, which soured irrevocably in 1808 when Napoleon Bonaparte and his officials refused to recognize Fernando VII, the newly crowned Bourbon monarch. Instead, Napoleon installed his elder brother, Joseph...
(The entire section is 2041 words.)
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