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Agustín de Iturbide (1783-1824)


gustín de Iturbide—a royalist soldier and later emperor of Mexico—was born in Valladolid (today Morelia), Mexico, and son of José Joaquín de Iturbide, a Spaniard, and Josefa de Arámburu, whose family came from Michoacán. He studied in the seminary in Valladolid, and when he reached the age of 15, he devoted himself to working the land.

               Shortly thereafter, Iturbide joined the militia as second lieutenant of the provincial regiment of Valladolid. In 1809 he was linked to the conspiratorial group in Valladolid led by José Mariano Michelena that sought the independence of Mexico. He took part in various battles on the side of the royalist forces. He distinguished himself because of his bravery and the tenacity with which he went after the supporters of the insurgency.


               He fought against José María Morelos, and by 1820 had become a colonel in the royalist army. He was stationed in Mexico and had not seen much action when, that same year, a Spanish Constitution with liberal undertones was reestablished. This began the Profesa conspiracy, whose purpose was to prevent the reestablishment of that Constitution in Mexico in order to continue with absolutist rule. Iturbide joined this plot, and he convinced Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca to commission him to fight Vicente Guerrero, who organized the insurgent movement in the south of the country. Owing to the fact that he couldn’t defeat Guerrero militarily, Iturbide–named command of the Army of the South and now a brigadier–began an attempt to win Guerrero over. In January 1821, Iturbide wrote Guerrero a letter, inviting him to ask for a pardon, but Guerrero refused. Iturbide then sent him another letter, proposing that they join forces and fight for the independence of Mexico.


               After meeting in Acatempan, both leaders reached an agreement, and the Plan of Iguala was proclaimed by Iturbide. The last stage of the campaign for independence ended with Iturbide entering Mexico City at the head of the Army of the Three Guarantees in September 1821.


               Once independence was achieved, Agustín de Iturbide took charge of public affairs, creating a provisional governing board, made up of 38 members but excluding the veterans of the insurgency. He was also appointed president of the Regency.


               On May 18, 1822, Sergeant Pío Marcha and the people proclaimed Iturbide as the emperor. This proclamation was ratified by the Congress on May 19. The coronation of the emperor, who took the name of Agustín I, and his wife, Ana María Huarte, took place on March 21, 1823. The empire was soon attacked by republicans and some liberals. During his reign, he created the Order of Guadalupe.

               Difficulties soon started in the Congress; Iturbide dissolved it. He arrested and persecuted many of its members, but could not establish peace. The rebels started to gain ground. They were determined to force Iturbide’s abdication, which took place before the reinstalled Congress on March 19, 1823. On March 29, Iturbide departed for Veracruz, and from there went to Europe. He arrived in Livorno, Italy, in August 1823. From there, he went to Florence and then to England. Congress, which at first had granted him a pension, declared him a traitor and an outlaw on April 28, 1824; the emperor was not even informed.


               At the urging of some of his followers, Iturbide left from London for Mexico on May 4. He disembarked in Soto la Marina, Tamaulipas, on July 14. There he was arrested and sentenced to death by the Congress. He was executed on July 19, 1824.


               His name was banned and his remains were forgotten until 1833, when President Antonio López de Santa Anna ordered that they be brought to Mexico City and kept in an urn for the first heroes of the independence. His orders were not carried out until August 1838. Iturbide’s remains were brought to Mexico and buried with pump and circumstance in a sepulcher built in the chapel of the cathedral of Saint Philip of Jesus.



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