Morillo, Pablo (1778–1837)

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Morillo, Pablo (1778–1837)

Pablo Morillo (b. 5 May 1778; d. 27 July 1837), Spanish general. General Pablo Morillo was sent to northern South America by Ferdinand VII in 1815 with the title of Pacificador de Tierra Firme. His orders included the charge that he replace General Juan Manuel de Cajigal as captain-general of Venezuela. Morillo's career and meteoric rise to the rank of general paralleled that of many of the generals serving in Ferdinand's army. From the lower class, young Morillo became an officer in 1808 at the age of thirty due to leadership and loyalty displayed against the French at the Battle of Bailén. He was made a general just three years later.

The 1815 expedition to Venezuela under his command included ten thousand men and a fleet of sixty ships. The end of the Napoleonic Wars allowed the metropolitan authorities to confront the Venezuelan insurrection with considerably more manpower. The first military confrontations between Morillo's forces and those of the Venezuelan patriots in April 1815 changed the nature of the war. No longer a civil war between factions of Venezuelans, the hostilities became more directed toward complete separation from Spain. Morillo allied himself with the wealthy planter class that had called for the break with Spain in 1811. Unfortunately for Morillo, too much had changed between 1811 and 1815. The forces unleashed in 1811, especially the castas, were too powerful to be ignored, and Morillo's vision of a royalist Venezuela—perhaps a realistic alternative in 1811—was no longer possible. In effect, the arrival of this expeditionary force ended royalist government in Venezuela. The lack of efficient bureaucracy forced Morillo to confiscate property to supply his army of pacification. Relying on terror and the military prowess of his experienced corps, Morillo conquered Venezuela and most of New Granada. He is perhaps best remembered today in Venezuela as a tyrant who ordered the execution of such men as Dr. Camilo Torres and the scientist Francisco de Caldas.

It soon became clear that the final chapter in the war between Spain and Venezuela would be settled by force of arms. The patriot victory at the battle of Boyacá in August 1819 caused Morillo to see the end was at hand. After the liberal rebellion in Spain in 1820, he was ordered to negotiate with the patriots on the basis of the Constitution of 1812. In November 1820 representatives of Símon Bolívar and Morillo signed a six-month armistice. Morillo then returned to Spain, where he was granted the titles of conde de Cartagena and marqués de la Puerta and during the next decade held a number of government offices.

See alsoVenezuela: The Colonial Era .


Miguel Izard, El miedo a la revolución: La lucha por la libertad en Venezuela, 1777–1830 (1979).

Stephen K. Stoan, Pablo Morillo and Venezuela, 1815–1820 (1974).

Francisco Xavier Arámbarri, Hecos del general Pablo Morillo en América (1971).

Additional Bibliography

Archer, Christin I. The Wars of Independence in Spanish America. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2000.

Quintero Saravia, Gonzalo M. Pablo Morillo: General de dos mundos. Bogotá: Planeta, 2005.

                                             Gary Miller

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Morillo, Pablo (1778–1837)

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