Riego y Núñez, Rafael

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Riego y Núñez, Rafael

 

Born Oct. 24, 1785, in Santa María de Tunas, Asturias; died Nov. 7, 1823, in Madrid. Leader of the Spanish Revolution of 1820–23.

The son of an impoverished noble, Riego graduated from a military school in Oviedo in 1808. He fought in the national liberation war against the French occupation forces, was taken prisoner, and was transported to France. While in France, Riego joined a Masonic lodge, and upon returning to Spain in 1814 after the end of the war, he established contact with the Spanish Masons and with officers who were preparing a revolt against the despotic regime of Ferdinand VII. Riego participated in an abortive military plot on June 9, 1819.

On Jan. 1, 1820, Riego incited the battalion he commanded to a revolt that turned into the beginning of a revolution. Proclaiming the restoration of the Constitution of 1812, Riego, after an unsuccessful attempt to capture Cádiz, led a detachment of 1,500 men on a raid through Andalusia from Jan. 27 to Mar. 13, 1820. After the constitution entered into force on Mar. 7, 1820, he became a division commander of the Army of Observation, which was created from Andalusian revolutionary troops, and from June to August 1820 he was commander in chief of the army. From 1820 to 1823 he was one of the leaders of the party of the exaltados. In January 1821, at the demand of the exaltados, Riego, who had been banished to the Oviedo garrison for opposing the dissolution of the Army of Observation, took the post of captain general of Aragón and held this position until Aug. 29, 1821.

On Mar. 1, 1822, Riego became the first president of the Madrid Cortes. In July 1822 he played a leading role in the suppression of an absolutist mutiny of the royal guard in Madrid, which made it possible to oust the party of the moderados and form a government of the exaltados in August 1822. The political views of Riego at the time were growing closer to the platform of the comuneros movement. During the French intervention that began in April 1823, Riego’s detachments were routed by French troops from September 12 to 14 in battles at Jaén, Mancha Real, and Jódar. Riego was captured by the absolutists, transported to Madrid, and soon afterward executed by sentence of the royal court.

L. V. PONOMAREVA