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Joseph Bonaparte online

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as as King of Spain if it should appear that
Charles IV. had not been compelled to abdicate
through fear of his life. By this extraordinary
concurrence of circumstances Napoleon became
the judge between the father and the son, both
of whom had appealed to his decision.

Ferdinand, with his suite, crossing the fron-


Tne Royal Family follow.

tiers, hastened to Bayonne, and entered the city
on the morning of the 20th of April. He was
received by the Emperor with distinguished
marks of attention and kindness, but not with
regal honors. The Prince of Peace, whose liber-
ation Murat had secured, came hurrying on to
Bayonne, to plead his cause before the Emperor;
and he was followed, in a few hours, by Charles
IV. and the Queen. Thus the whole family was
assembled at Bayonne. The result of several
stormy interviews, in which the King, the
Queen, and their son exhausted upon each other
the language of vituperation, and in which the
enraged old King was with difficulty restrained
from a violent personal attack upon his son,
the parties all agreed to cede to Napoleon the
crown of Spain. Ferdinand first renounced his
rights in favor of his father, and Charles IV.
transferred the sceptre to Napoleon. The im-
perial palace of Campiegne, its parks and for-
ests, were placed at the disposition of Charles IV.
for himself, his Queen, and Godoy, during his
life, with an annual pension of thirty million
reals. He was also given the proprietorship of
the chateau of Chambord, with its parks, for-
ests, and farms, to dispose of as he pleased.
Upon the death of the King, the Queen was to


Remarks of Napoleon.

receive a pension of two million reals. The two
princes, Ferdinand and Don Carlos, were as-
signed to the castle of Valen9ay, its park, for-
ests, and farms, with an income amounting to
about half a million dollars.

It is said that Napoleon obtained at Bayonne
such developments of the character of Ferdi-
nand that he saw that it was utterly in vain to
attempt to make a respectable king of him ; one
upon whom he could repose the slightest reli-
ance ; and he could no longer think of sacrifi-
cing the daughter of Lucien to so worthless a
creature. Speaking upon this subject at Saint
Helena, Napoleon said to Las Casas :

" Ferdinand offered, on his own account, to
govern entirely at my devotion, as much so as
the Prince of Peace had done in the name of
Charles IY. And I must admit that if I had
fallen into their views I should have acted much
more prudently than I have actually done.
When I had them all assembled at Bayonne, I
found myself in command of much more than
I could have ventured to hope for. The same
occurred there, as in many other events of my
life, which have been ascribed to my policy, but
in fact were owing to my good-fortune.

" Here I found the Gordian knot before me.


Proclamation of Charles IV.

I cut it. I proposed to Charles IV. and the
Queen that they should cede to me their rights
to the throne. They at once agreed to it, I had
almost said voluntarily; so deeply were their
hearts ulcerated toward their son, and so de-
sirous had they and their favorite now become
of security and repose. The Prince of Asturi-
as did not make any extraordinary resistance.
Neither violence nor menaces were employed
against him. And if fear decided him, which
I well believe was the case, it concerns him

On the 8th of May Charles IV. issued a
proclamation to the Spanish nation, informing
them that he had ceded the crown to Napoleon,
and enjoining it upon them to transfer their
homage to him. "We have," said he, "ceded
all our rights over Spain to our ally and friend
the Emperor of the French, by a treaty signed
and ratified, stipulating the integrity and inde-
pendence of Spain and the preservation of our
holy religion, not only as dominant, but as
alone tolerated in Spain."

As the throne was thus transferred without
any action of the people whatever, Napoleon
felt the necessity of obtaining something like
a national sanction of the deed, and an expres-


Joseph Proclaimed King of Spain.

sion of the national will in respect to the sove-
reign who should be placed over them. Mu-
rat, at Madrid, announced to the council-gen-
eral of Castile, to the junta or council of the
Government, and to the municipality, that the
Emperor desired to know their opinion in ref-
erence to the choice of a sovereign from the
princes of his own family. All these three
bodies united in the expression of the wish
that the choice should fall upon Prince Joseph,
King of Naples. A deputation of distinguish-
ed men was sent to convey this wish to the
Emperor. Fortified by these documents, Na-
poleon, on the 6th of June, proclaimed that
the crown of Spain was transferred to his
brother Joseph.

Joseph was at that time on the road to Bay-
onne, not yet knowing the decision of his broth-
er, and in heart very reluctant to assume the
crown of Spain. Napoleon rode out from
Bayonne to meet Joseph, whom he sincerely
loved, and who was so ready to sacrifice his in-
clinations and his happiness to aid the Empe
ror in his gigantic plans. The Emperor made
the following statement to Joseph as they rode
back together to Bayonne :

" The passions of the princes of the House


Remarks of Napoleon.

of Spain have precipitated a crisis which has
arrived too soon. They could no more agree
together at Bayonne than they could in Spain.
Charles IV. preferred to retire to France upon
certain conditions, rather than go back to Spain
without the Prince of Peace. The Queen also
preferred to see a stranger ascend the throne
rather than Ferdinand. Neither Ferdinand
nor any other Spaniard wished for Charles
IV. if the reign of Godoy were to be recom-
menced ; they preferred a stranger to him. I
am fully satisfied," said the Emperor, ." that it
would require greater efforts to sustain Charles
and the Prince of Peace than to change the
dynasty. Ferdinand has shown himself so
moderate in ability, and so unreliable in char-
acter, that it would be inconsistent for me to
commit myself for him in sustaining a son
who has dethroned his father. This dynasty
is no longer suitable for Spain. With it no
regeneration is possible. The most prominent
personages of the monarchy, in rank, in intel-
ligence, and in character, assembled at Bay-
onne in a national junta, are, in general, con-
vinced of this truth. Since destiny has so or-
dered it, and since it is in my power now to
do that which I had no wish to undertake, I


Remarks of Napoleon.

have designed to regenerate Spain by placing
over it my brother, the King of Naples, who is
agreeable to the junta, and who will be also so
to the nation. Ferdinand has, for a long time,
sought one of my nieces in marriage. But
since the interview at Bayonne, knowing
more intimately the character of the prince,
I can not think it proper to accede to his de-

" The Spanish princes have already left for
France. They have ceded their rights to the
crown. I wish to transfer the crown to my
brother, the King of Naples. It is important
that he should not hesitate. The Spaniards,
as also foreign sovereigns, will think that I
wish to place that crown upon my head, as I
have done with that of Lombardy when Jo-
seph refused to accept it. The tranquillity of
Spain, of Europe, the reconciliation of all the
members of the family 1 depend upon the de-
cision which Joseph now makes. I will not
cherish the thought that the regret to leave a
beautiful country, where there are no longer
nny dangers to be encountered, can induce
Joseph to refuse a throne, where there are

Napoleon then contemplated making Lucien King of


Opinions of the Junta.

great obstacles to be overcome, and much good
to be accomplished."

When they reached Bayonne, Joseph found
all the members of the Junta assembled in the
chateau of Marrac. He responded vaguely to
the address of congratulation the Junta made
to him, wishing first to converse with each in-
dividual member of that body. The Spanish
princes left for Valengay, and Charles IV. had
no partisans whatever. The Duke of Infanta-
do and M. Cevallos had been considered the
warmest advocates of Ferdinand. They both
called upon Joseph, and held a long interview
with him. The duke offered him his services,
saying that he had possessions in the kingdom
of Naples, and that his agents there had in-
formed him of the wonders which Joseph had
wrought. " If Joseph," said he, " can be in
Spain what he has been in Naples, there is no
doubt that the entire nation will rally around
him." M. Cevallos expressed the same views.
Joseph then saw every member of the Junta
individually, nearly one hundred in number.
They all, without exception, described the
wretchedness into which Spain had fallen, and
the apparent facility with which it could be
regenerated. Upon one point they all agreed :


Motives of Joseph.

that it would be impossible to live in peace
under either the father or the son ; that Joseph
alone, sacrificing the throne of Naples that he
might ascend that of Spain, would meet the
wishes of all parties, and bring back prosperity
to the distracted realm.

These assurances, which were given to Jo-
seph by all the members of the Spanish Junta
assembled at Bayonne, that his acceptance of
the throne would calm all troubles, assure the
independence of the monarchy, the integrity
of its territory, its liberty, and its happiness,
roused his generous enthusiasm. " He yield-
ed," writes his biographer, "sacrificing his
dearest interests to the hope of doing good to
a greater number of people, and decided to ac-
cept the crown which was offered him. He
considered it his duty to occupy the most dan-
gerous post. Virtue, not ambition, led Joseph
to Spain."

The Emperor wished to introduce into Spain
the same advanced principles of popular liberty
which Joseph, by the Constitution, had con-
ferred upon Naples. With that object he con-
voked at Bayonne, on the 15th of June, a Span-
ish assembly, called the Constitutional Junta.
This Congress was to consist of one hundred and


Address of the Duke of InfanUdo. Addreesei from other Bodies.

fifty persons of the most distinguished orders
in the state, though but about one hundred
were actually convened. A large number had
already assembled when Joseph reached Bay-
on ne. They hastened to welcome him. Many
of them, however, afterward proved his most
inveterate enemies. The Duke of Infantado,
addressing him in the name of the grandees
of Spain, said,

"Sire, the Spaniards expect, from the reign
of your Majesty, all their happiness. They ar-
dently desire your presence in Spain to fix
ideas, to conciliate all interests, and to establish
that order so necessary for the regeneration of
the country. Sire, the grandees of Spain hare
always been distinguished by their fidelity to
their sovereigns. Your Majesty will experi-
ence this, as also our personal affection. Re-
ceive, sire, these testimonies of our loyalty
with that kindliness so well known by your
people of Naples, the renown of which has
reached even to us."

The deputation of the Royal Council of Cas-
tile said to the new King: "Sire, your Maj-
esty is a branch of a family destined by
Heaven to reign. May Heaven grant that our
prayers may be heard, and that your Majesty


Letter from Ferdinand.

may become the most happy King in the uni-
verse, as we desire for him in the name of the
supreme tribunal of which we are the deputies."

Even the Inquisitor, Don Raymond Esten-
hard, organ of the councils of the Inquisition,
declared in their name " that they were full
of fidelity and of affection ; that they offered
their prayers for Joseph, who was charged to
govern the country, that he might find happi-
ness in his own heart by contributing to the
happiness of his subjects, and that he might
elevate them to that degree of prosperity
which might be expected from him, particular-
ly when aided by the genius and power of his
august brother, Napoleon the Great."

The Duke of Pargue, at the head of a depu-
tation representing the army, gave the same
assurances of homage and support Even Fer-
dinand wrote Joseph a letter of congratulation,
dated Valengay, June 22. It was as follows :

"SlRE, Permit me,in the name of my broth-
er and of my uncle, 1 as well as in my own, to tes-
tify to your Majesty the part which we have
taken in his induction to the throne of Spain.
The object of all our desires having ever been
the happiness of the generous nation which he

1 Don Carlos and Den Antonio.


A Conitltution adopted.

is called to govern, that happiness is now com-
plete, in view of the accession to the throne of
Spain of a prince whose virtues have rendered
him so dear to the Neapolitans. We hope
your Majesty will accept our prayers for his
happiness, to which is united that of our coun-
try, and that he will grant to us his friend-
ship, to which we are entitled, for the friend-
ship which we feel for your Majesty. I pray
your Catholic Majesty to receive the oath
which I owe him as King of Spain, and also
the oath of the Spaniards who are now with
me. From your Catholic Majesty's affection-
ate brother."

The Constitutional Junta of Spain com-
menced its session at Bayonne on the 15th of
June. Ninety-one members were present. A
constitution was presented very much resem-
bling that which had been conferred upon Na-
ples. It was discussed and voted upon with
perfect freedom. Finally, on the 7th of July,
it was accepted as amended by the signature
of all the members; "considering," as the act
said, "that we are convinced that under the
regime which the Constitution establishes, and
under the government of a prince as just as the
one whom we have the happiness to possess,


Joneph leaves Bayonua.

Spain and all its possessions will be as happy
as we can desire it to be."

The Constitution being accepted, Joseph ap-
pointed his ministry and constituted his court;
placing all the important offices in the hands
of distinguished Spaniards. On the 9th of
July Joseph left Bayonne and entered Spain,
accompanied by the members of the Junta,
many grandees of Spain, his ministers, and the
officers of his household.

Many have reproached Joseph for having
accepted the crown. But it should be remem-
bered that when he arrived at Bayonne, the
treaty of abdication by the Spanish princes had
already been signed. An assemblage of Span-
ish notables met him there, and entreated him
to accept the crown, to rescue Spain from ruin.
There seemed to be no dissent from the opinion
that his presence would be the signal of peace
and harmony, that it would calm agitation, and
unite all parties. In a word, they declared
that it was the only way to rescue the country
from anarchy, and from those calamities which
menaced its entire ruin. The intelligence of
the nation exulted in the change, as promising
a new era of equality and prosperity.

On the 20th of July Joseph arrived in Ma


Efforts of the Monks.

drid. There were about eighty thousand
French troops in Spain. Much to Joseph's
surprise and disappointment, he found, all over
the kingdom, in the provinces, insurrection
rising against him. These scattered bands soon
amounted, it was estimated, to one hundred
and fifty thousand men. The fanatic monks,
alarmed in view of the changes which had
been effected in Naples, were very active in
rousing the peasantry to resistance. The Brit-
ish Government, which was then at war with
Spain because it was the ally of Napoleon, in-
stantly espoused the cause of the insurgents,
and contributed all its energies of fleet and
army and money to drive Joseph out of Spain.
The new sovereign had entered Madrid
without being greeted with any signal demon-
strations of enthusiasm. In accordance with
the established etiquette of the realm, he was
received at the foot of the grand stairs of the
palace by the nobility of the country, and was
proclaimed king in the public squares and prin-
cipal streets of Madrid with the accustomed
ceremonies upon the advent of a new sovereign.
Intensely occupied with the cares of his new
government, Joseph did not, for some time, ful-
ly comprehend the perils which menaced him.


Insurrections. Disappointment of Joseph.

Step by step be was led on, as be quelled here
and there a popular insurrection, until he found
himself involved in a stern war with the great
mass of the Spanish peasantry, with all the
priesthood fanning the flames of opposition, and
the British Government energetically co-opera-
ting with purse and sword. It would require
volumes to describe, with any degree of mi-
nuteness, the tremendous struggle. Napier has
performed that task in his immortal work upon
the Peninsular War.

Joseph soon awoke to a full realization of
the peril of his position. On the 13th of July
he wrote to the Emperor from Burgos at three
o'clock in the morning, "It seems to me that
no person has been willing to tell the exact
truth to your Majesty. I ought not to con-
ceal it. The task undertaken is very great.
To accomplish it with honor will requrre im-
mense resources. Fear does not make me see

" In leaving Naples, I have indeed yielded
my life to the most hazardous events. My life
is of but little consequence. I surrender it to
you. But in order not to live with the shame
attached to failure, great resources are requi-
site in men and money. I am not alarmed, in


The Friends of Joseph overawed and silenced.

view of my position. But it is unique in his-
tory. I have not here a single partisan."

Again, on the 19th, he wrote, "It is evi-
dent that we have not the soil, since all the
provinces are in insurrection or occupied by
considerable armies of the enemy."

On the 28th of July he wrote, "I have no
need to inform your Majesty that one hundred
thousand men are necessary to conquer Spain.
I repeat it, that we have not a partisan, and the
entire nation is exasperated, and decided to
sustain with arms the part which it has em-

" All my Spanish officers except five or six
have abandoned me. The disposition of the
nation is unanimous against that which has
been done at Bayonne."

On the 6th of August he wrote, "Your
Majesty recommends me to be happy. Never
have I been so tranquil and so well, and so in-
defatigable ; and if I have occasion to envy in
your Majesty a superior genius which has al-
ways enabled him to command victory, I have
that in common with all the world. But I
have no need to envy any person for composure
and tranquillity of soul. And I must avow
that I find that adversity enables me to ex-


Encouragement from the Emperor.

perience a sentiment which is not without a
certain charm ; it is to be above adversity."

The Emperor endeavored to cheer his de-
spondent brother with hopeful words. On the
19th of July he wrote him, "I see with pain
that you are troubled. It is the only misfor-
tune which I fear. You have a great many
partisans in Spain, but they are intimidated.
They are all the honest people. I do not the
less admit that your task is great and glori-
ous. You ought not to consider it extraordi-
nary that you have to conquer your kingdom.
Philip V. and Henry IV. were obliged to con-
quer theirs. Be happy. Do not permit your-
self to be easily affected, and do not doubt for
an instant that every thing will end sooner and
more happily than you think."

Again, on the 1st of August, Napoleon
wrote, "Whatever reverses fortune may have in
store for you, do not be uneasy ; in a short time
you will have more than one hundred thousand
men. All is in motion, but it must have time.
You will reign. You will have conquered
your subjects, in order to become their father.
The best of kings hare passed through this
school. Above all, health to you and happi-
ness, that is to say, strength of mind."


Capitulation of Junot.

On the 3d of August the Emperor again
wrote, "You can not think, my friend, how
much pain the idea gives me, that you are
struggling with events as much above what
you are accustomed to, as they are beneath
your natural character. . . . Tell me that you
are well, in good spirits, and are becoming ac-
customed to the soldier's trade. You have a
fine opportunity to study it."

General Junot, with a small French force, at
that time held possession of Portugal. The
Cabinet of Saint James offered to the Spanish
Junta at Seville to send an army of about
thirty thousand men to co-operate with the
Spaniards in their struggle against the French.
For some unknown reason the offer was de-
clined, and the troops were sent to Portugal.
These British troops, acting in vigorous co-op-
eration with the Portuguese, greatly outnum-
bered the French, and, after a severe battle at
Torres Yedras, Junot capitulated at the Con-
vention of Cintra, and his army re-embarked,
and was transported to France. This event
added greatly to the embarrassment of Joseph.
Junot had afforded him much moral and even
material support. Now Junot was driven from
the Peninsula, and a British army of over


Napoleon aromaed.

thirty thousand men, under the ablest officers,
and flushed with victory, was on the frontiers
of Spain, ready in every way to co-operate with
the Spaniards.

This roused Napoleon. He was the last
man to recoil before difficulties. He had the
honor of his arms to avenge, and his policy to
justify by success. Never before, in the histo-
ry of the world, was there such a display of
energy, sagacity, and power. He well knew
that all dynastic Europe was hostile to those
principles of popular liberty which were rep-
resented by his name, and that, notwithstand-
ing the obligations of treaties, they were ever
ready to spring to arms against him whenever
they should see an opportunity to strike him a
fatal blow.

Napoleon at once ordered eighty thousand
veteran troops of the grand army from the north
to assemble at Bayonne. He hastened to Er-
furt to hold an interview with Alexander to
strengthen their alliance, and to prevent, if
possible, a new coalition from being formed
against him while absent with his troops in
Spain. The Spanish insurgents, as they were
called for they had no established government
were everywhere triumphant. The French


Peril of Joseph's Government.

array was driven out of Madrid, and, in a state
of great destitution, was standing on the de-
fensive. Joseph and all his generals were
thoroughly disheartened, and were only anx-
ious to devise some honorable way by which
they could abandon the enterprise. The
priests, with a crucifix in one hand and a dag-
ger in the other, had traversed the realms of
Spain and Portugal, rousing the religious fa-
naticism of the unenlightened masses almost to
frenzy. Charles IV., his Queen, and Ferdi-
nand had all been intensely devoted to the in-
terests of the Church. The French were rep-
resented as infidels, and as the foes of the
Church. The whole nation was roused against
them. Even the women took an active part
in the conflict, perilling their own lives upon
the field, and inspiring the men with the cour-
age of desperation. The English, victorious
in Portugal, were now welcomed into Spain.
They lavished their gold in paying the Spanish
armies. Their fleet was busy in transporting
suppliea To all Europe the position of Jo-
seph seemed utterly hopeless.

On the 25th of October, Napoleon, on the
eve of leaving Paris for Spain, said, at the
opening of the Legislative Corps :


Speech to the Legislative Corps.

" A part of my troops are marching against
the armies which England has formed or dis-
embarked in Spain. It is an especial favor of
Providence, which has constantly protected our
arms, that passion has so blinded the counsels
of the English, that they have renounced the
protection of the seas, and at length present
their armies on the Continent.

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