Rosas, Encarnación de (1795–1838)

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Rosas, Encarnación de (1795–1838)

Argentinean first lady and wife of dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. Name variations: Encarnacion de Rosas; Encarnación Ezcurra de Rosas. Born Encarnación Ezcurra y Arguibel on March 25, 1795; died on October 19, 1838; came from an upper-class Buenos Aires family; married Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793–1877), whose dictatorship was one of the harshest in 19th-century Latin American history, in 1813; children: daughter Manuela; sons Juan Bautista and Juan Manuel. Juan Manuel de Rosas also had five illegitimate offspring with his mistress María Eugenia Castro (two sons, Joaquín and Adrian, and three daughters, Nicanora, Angela, and Justina).

Born in Buenos Aires in 1795 to immigrant parents, Encarnación Ezcurra y Arguibel spent a childhood that witnessed the final years of Spanish rule and the rebellion that brought independence to Argentina. In 1813, she fell in love with and married Juan Manuel de Rosas, despite opposition from his mother, who aspired to a more prestigious match. Grazing land was easily obtained on the vast Argentine pampas by those willing to seize it from the Indians who roamed there. Juan Manuel soon acquired a huge ranch and set up a saladero, or meat-salting plant, to export beef. Encarnación remained in their home in Buenos Aires, receiving frequent visits from Juan Manuel, who spent much of the year attending to his growing interests in the countryside. In the political turmoil that beset the new nation, Juan Manuel also emerged as a military leader, who opposed liberalism, democracy, and disorder. Encarnación's own forceful personality was much like her husband's, and she shared his political and cultural views.

In 1829, Rosas was elected governor of the Buenos Aires province and granted absolute power. For three years, he ruled as dictator. Encarnación worked to rally support for her husband among the lower classes through extra-official patronage. He left power in 1832, chaos ensued, and he was returned as dictator in 1835, partly through the support of the Sociedad Popular Restaurador. Encarnación distributed gifts and public offices to the Sociedad's leaders, and they in turn harassed her husband's enemies, especially the liberal Unitarios. She also ran his urban household and raised their two surviving children, Juan and Manuela. Following a long illness, Encarnación de Rosas died in 1838.


Lynch, John. Argentine Dictator: Juan Manuel de Rosas, 1829–1852. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.

Kendall W. Brown , Professor of History, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah