Today we journey far afield to South America and the last day in the life of Jacques de Liniers, a French military officer who served as Viceroy of the Río de la Plata. Liniers enjoyed a turbulent military and political career and though he did eventually retire, he could not stay away from public life and was destined to meet a violent end.
After being appointed viceroy in 1807, Liniers found that his time in office was not destined to be easy. He was soon challenged and ultimately deposed, handing over control of the government to Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros in 1809 and entering retirement. As Liniers went into retirement, the country entered a time of unrest that led to the May Revolution of 1810.
|Execution of Santiago de Liniers by Franz van Riel, 1921|
Following the Revolution, Liniers emerged from retirement and became involved in the counterrevolutionary movement, joining efforts to effect a monarchist uprising against the newly-installed government. His efforts to raise a force were to prove disastrous and he was arrested by Ortiz de Ocampo; although Ocampo brought an armed force to make the arrest this move was completely unnecessary. The counterrevolutionaries were badly organised and damaged by infighting, so when the government force arrived to make the arrest, they met with no resistance.
Without the benefit of a trial, Liniers was sentenced to death alongside a number of his fellow counterrevolutionaries. However, Ocampo recognised their popularity in Buenos Aires and refused to carry out the executions, taking them prisoner instead. The reprieve was temporary at best and Juan José Castelli took charge of the prisoners and executed them at Cabeza de Tigre in 26th August 1810.
Liniers lives on in the very fabric of Buenos Aires in street names and even the name of a province in the city. Liniers was buried without ceremony in Argentina and here he remained until 1861 when, at the request of Queen Isabella II of Spain, his remains were returned to Spain and laid to rest in the Pantheon of Cádiz.