Latin American Wars of Independence (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: At issue: Latin American independence from Spain. Result: Regional instability; political life dominated by charismatic military leaders known as caudillos; victory by the revolutionaries and the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas.
Three elements created the conditions for Latin America’s independence movements. The first was a growing nationalism among creoles (elite of European descent), characterized by extreme dislike of peninsular officials sent to rule them. The second was the spread of Enlightenment philosophies; the third was the inspiration of the American Revolution. Support for independence was dampened by deep-seated loyalty to the Crown, revulsion at the excesses of the French Revolution, and fear of a Haitian-style slave insurrection. Indeed, the Napoleonic Wars were the necessary catalyst of independence, and it is unlikely the colonies would have pursued it otherwise.
When Napoleon Bonaparte closed European ports to English shipping, Portugal refused to cooperate with his continental system. In 1807, Napoleon invaded Portugal through the territory of his ally, King Charles IV of Spain. Portuguese emperor João VI fled with his court to Brazil. Meanwhile, Spaniards attacked French garrisons and rioted in Madrid, forcing Charles to abdicate in favor of his son, Ferdinand VII. When, in 1808, Napoleon was forced to abdicate in favor of his brother, Joseph...
(The entire section is 1483 words.)
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South American Wars of Independence (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: At issue: The liberation of the Spanish American colonies of South America from the domination of royalist Spain. Result: Victory by the revolutionaries and the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas.
In 1808, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte sent his French army into Spain, overthrew the Bourbon monarchy there, and installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte as the new king. Napoleon also removed the Spanish royal family from Spain. The Spanish liberals refused to accept Joseph as their ruler. They organized a national junta, pledged their loyalty to the Spanish monarch, Ferdinand VII, and began active resistance to the French invaders. The Spanish colonies in America participated in this movement. However, the colonists were not given equal representation in the newly formed Cortes (parliament) of 1812 in Seville. The failure of the Spanish liberals to meet the expectations of the Americans led to an independence movement that developed throughout Spanish America.
In South America, the revolution proceeded through two great movements. The northern wave, led by Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan, began in that country and New Granada (present-day Colombia and Ecuador). The southern surge had its beginnings in the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, essentially Argentina and Uruguay. José de San Martín, an Argentinean, became its preeminent military leader.
(The entire section is 1664 words.)