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Iturbide, Agustín de (1783–1824)

Iturbide, Agustín de (1783–1824)

Agustín de Iturbide (b. 27 September 1783; d. 19 July 1824), military figure and emperor of Mexico. Born in Valladolid, Morelia, Iturbide entered the militia at age sixteen. Although vaguely involved with the Valladolid Conspiracy of 1809, he refused to join the revolt of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810. Instead, he served the royal government, distinguishing himself as an able officer and an implacable foe of the insurgents. In 1816 Colonel Iturbide was relieved of command because of charges of corruption. He spent the next years in Madrid defending himself. There he came into contact with important members of the elite who favored autonomy within the Spanish Empire. While New Spain's elite had reached a consensus regarding autonomy, only Iturbide acted decisively.

Restored to command, Iturbide negotiated in 1821 with the leading royalist officers as well as with the principal insurgents, convincing them to accept autonomy under the Plan of Iguala, which called for a constitutional monarchy with the Spanish king as sovereign, recognized the Constitution of 1812, and established equality among all groups. Independence was assured when Juan O'Donojú, the newly appointed Spanish Jefe Político Superior (Superior Political Chief) ratified the plan by signing the Treaty of Córdoba (24 August 1821). Thereafter, the autonomists, New Spain's elite who had sought home rule since 1808, rapidly came into conflict with Iturbide. While they believed that the legislature should be dominant, he insisted on exercising his personal power resulting from the immense popularity that he had gained when he proclaimed independence. When Spain refused to ratify Mexican autonomy, Iturbide crowned himself emperor on 19 May 1822 with the backing of the army and strong popular support.

The new nation faced immense problems, among them the near bankruptcy of the government. Although there was a widespread national desire to form a strong and unified nation, the empire failed primarily because Iturbide proved unwilling to accept the figurehead role that the new Spanish-Mexican parliamentary tradition required. As a result, he and Congress were continually at odds. On 26 August 1822 he ordered the arrest of sixty-six persons, including twenty congressmen, for conspiracy, and on 31 October he dissolved congress. Discontent emerged in the provinces, but the military finally undermined him. The Plan of Casa Mata, which provided the provinces the opportunity to gain home rule, ultimately forced him to abdicate on 19 March 1823. He and his family were exiled to Italy, but supporters convinced him to return in July 1824 in an effort to regain the throne. He was captured, court-martialed, and executed. Although he succeeded in emancipating his country, he failed, like his contemporaries throughout the region, to establish a stable regime and, thus, became an ambiguous figure in Mexican history.

See alsoValladolid Conspiracy .


Timothy E. Anna, The Mexican Empire of Iturbide (1990).

Christon I. Archer, "'La Causa Buena': The Counterinsur-gency Army of New Spain and the Ten Years' War."

William S. Robertson, Iturbide of Mexico (1952).

Jaime E. Rodríguez O., "From Royal Subject to Republican Citizen: The Role of the Autonomists in the Independence of Mexico."

Jaime E. Rodríguez O., "The Struggle for the Nation: The First Centralist-Federalist Conflict in Mexico," in The Americas 49 (July 1992): 1-22.

Barbara A. Tenenbaum, "Taxation and Tyranny: Public Finance During the Iturbide Regime, 1821–1823," in The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation, edited by Jaime E. Rodríguez O. (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Archer, Christon I. The Birth of Modern Mexico, 1780–1824. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 2003.

Caudet Yarza, Francisco. Agustín de Iturbide. Las Rozas, Madrid: Dastin, 2003.

                                 Jaime E. RodrÍguez O.

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