1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Álava, Don Miguel Ricardo de

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ÁLAVA, DON MIGUEL RICARDO DE (1770–1841), Spanish general and statesman, was born at Vittoria in 1770. He served first in the navy, and had risen to be captain of a frigate when he exchanged into the army, receiving corresponding rank. He was present as a marine at the battle of Trafalgar on board the flagship of his uncle Admiral Álava. In politics he followed a very devious course. At the assembly of Bayonne in 1808 he was one of the most prominent of those who accepted the new constitution from Joseph Bonaparte as king of Spain. After the national rising against French aggression, and the defeat of General Dupont at Bailen in 1808, Álava joined the national independent party, who were fighting in alliance with the English. The Spanish Cortes appointed him commissary at the English headquarters, and the duke of Wellington, who regarded him with great favour, made him one of his aides-decamp. Before the close of the campaign he had risen to the rank of brigadier-general. On the restoration of Ferdinand, Alava was cast into prison, but the influence of his uncle Ethenard, the inquisitor, and of Wellington secured his speedy release. He soon contrived to gain the favour of the king, who appointed him in 1815 ambassador to the Hague. It was therefore his remarkable fortune to be present at the battle of Waterloo with Wellington's staff. He is supposed to have been the only man who was present at both Waterloo and Trafalgar. Four years later he was recalled owing, it is said, to the marked kindness he had shown to his banished fellow-countrymen. On the breaking out of the revolution of 1820 he was chosen by the province of Álava to represent it in the Cortes, where he became conspicuous in the party of the Exaltados, and in 1822 was made president. In the latter year he fought with the militia under Francisco Ballesteros and Pablo Murillo to maintain the authority of the Cortes against the rebels. When the French invested Cadiz, Álava was commissioned by the Cortes to treat with the duc d'Angouleme, and the negotiations resulted in the restoration of Ferdinand, who pledged himself to a liberal policy. No sooner had he regained power, however, than he ceased to hold himself bound by his promises, and Álava found it necessary to retire first to Gibraltar and then to England. On the death of Ferdinand he returned to Spain, and espousing the cause of Maria Christina against Don Carlos was appointed ambassador to London in 1834 and to Paris in 1835. After the insurrection of La Granja he refused to sign the constitution of 1812, declaring himself tired of taking new oaths, and was consequently obliged to retire to France, where he died at Bareges in 1843.

Frequent and honourable mention of Alava is made in Napier's History of the Peninsular War, and his name is often met both in lives of the duke of Wellington and in his correspondence.