The Sword of Luchana: Baldomero Espartero and the Making of Modern Spain, 1793–1879
Published: August 2021© 2021
480 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 1.25 in
Born into obscurity in a rural backwater of central Spain in the waning years of the eighteenth century, Baldomero Espartero (1793–1879) led a life resembling that of a character created by Stendhal or Gabriel García Márquez. As a seventy-five-year-old man he was offered – and turned down – the throne of an industrializing nation. During his illustrious life, he fought against Napoleon, Simón Bolívar, and other Latin American independence leaders; won a seven-year civil war; served as regent for the child queen Isabella II; and spent years in exile in England. He governed as prime minister and also received multiple noble titles, including that of prince, which was normally reserved for members of the royal family. By his sixties, Espartero represented an almost mythical figure.
Based on comprehensive archival research in Spain, Argentina, and the United Kingdom, The Sword of Luchana explores the public and private lives of this archetypal nineteenth-century hero. Adrian Shubert gives voice to the mass of ordinary Spaniards who revered Espartero as the embodiment of liberty and freedom, and to Jacinta Martínez de Sicilia y Santa Cruz, his wife of more than fifty years who played a key role in his public career. Including unprecedented access to Espartero’s personal papers, and set against the background of wars and revolutions in Spain and its American empire, The Sword of Luchana is a compelling account of the history of a crucial period of war, revolution, and political and social change.
List of Illustrations
1. From Gránatula to America, February 1793–February 1815
2. Defender of the Empire, February 1815–November 1825
3. Defender of the Throne, November 1825–September 1836
4. Commander in Chief, September 1836–August 1839
5. The Reluctant Revolutionary, August 1839–May 1841
6. The Regent, May 1841–July 1843
7. Exile and Return, July 1843–July 1854
8. “The Personification of Liberty”, July 1854–July 1856
9. “The Retiree of Logroño”, July 1856–September 1868
10. “King or president?”, September 1868–December 1870
11. The Necessary Man, January 1871–March 1876
Epilogue: Death and Afterlife, March 1876–
"Adrian Shubert’s historical biography of the enigmatic figure of General Espartero is an innovative and sweeping re-telling of Spain’s tumultuous nineteenth century, told from the perspective of Spain’s first public celebrity and, equally important, that of his impressive wife. Shubert builds on revisionist nineteenth-century historiography about liberalism, nationalization, and gender to weave a relevant and compelling story of a life and a time worth remembering."Pamela Radcliff, Professor and Chair of the Department of History, University of California, San Diego
"With this book, Adrian Shubert revendicates not only the figure of Baldomero Espartero but also the often misunderstood and neglected, especially in the English-speaking world, image of nineteenth-century Spain. This is a true tour de force of an ambitious, restless, and always original historian."Antonio Cazorla-Sánchez, Professor of History, Trent University
"This is a thorough biography of the most influential general in nineteenth-century Spanish politics. An early mixture of charismatic leadership and populism, General Espartero embodied both patriotic feelings and defense of the constitutional monarchy against absolutism."José Álvarez Junco, Professor Emeritus of the History of Thought and Political and Social Movements, Complutense University of Madrid
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The Sword of Luchana tells the story of the charismatic nineteenth-century figure Baldomero Espartero. Adrian Shubert tells us why he decided to write a biography on Baldomero Espartero, an enigmatic figure who went on to become the most influential general in nineteenth century Spanish politics.