History, Patriotic Awakening
decisive blows, Joseph Bonaparte, citizen army, Spanish throne, Viceroyalty
In June 1806, Buenos Aires was attacked by a British fleet under the command of Admiral Home Riggs Popham. The viceroy offered no defense against the attack, which was made without authorization by the British government. The invaders occupied the city but were expelled by a citizen army the following August. An expeditionary force subsequently dispatched by the British government against Buenos Aires was compelled to capitulate in 1807. These events had far-reaching consequences: the colonial patriots, imbued with confidence in their fighting ability, soon became active in the independence movement that had begun to develop in Spanish South America.
Revolutionary sentiment in La Plata reached its peak in the period following the deposing of King Ferdinand VII of Spain by Napoleon in 1808. The people of Buenos Aires refused to recognize Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleonís brother, who was then installed on the Spanish throne. On May 25, 1810, they overthrew the viceregal government and installed a provisional governing council in the name of Ferdinand VII. The provisional government shortly broke with the representatives of Ferdinand and launched an energetic campaign to revolutionize the La Plata hinterland. This campaign ended in failure. Several signal victories, however, were won over invading royalist armies in 1812 and 1813. The liberated part of the Viceroyalty was divided into 14 provinces in 1813. In 1814 the brilliant military leader Jose de San Martin took command of the northern army, which later struck decisive blows against Spanish rule in Chile and Peru.
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