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May Revolution

May Revolution

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The May Revolution was a week-long series of events that took place from May 18 to 25, 1810, in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

, capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, , was the last and most short-lived Viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire in America.The Viceroyalty was established in 1776 out of several former Viceroyalty of Perú dependencies that mainly extended over the Río de la Plata basin, roughly the present day...

, a Spanish colony that included roughly the territories of present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. The result was the ousting of Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros
Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros
Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros de la Torre was a Spanish naval officer born in Cartagena. He took part in the Battle of Cape St Vincent and the Battle of Trafalgar, and in the Spanish resistance against Napoleon's invasion in 1808. He was later appointed Viceroy of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la...

 and the establishment of a local government, the Primera Junta
Primera Junta
The Primera Junta or First Assembly is the most common name given to the first independent government of Argentina. It was created on 25 May 1810, as a result of the events of the May Revolution. The Junta initially had representatives from only Buenos Aires...

 (First Junta), on May 25. These events are commemorated in Argentina as "May Week" .

The May Revolution was a direct reaction to Spain's Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 of the previous two years. In 1808 King Ferdinand VII of Spain, abdicated
Abdications of Bayonne
The Abdications of Bayonne is the name given to a series of abdications of kings of Spain that led to the Peninsular War.The Mutiny of Aranjuez forced king Charles IV to abdicate and give the throne to his son, Ferdinand VII. Napoleon Bonaparte forced Ferdinand to abdicate as well, ending the...

 in favor of Napoleon, who granted the throne to his brother, Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily , and later King of Spain...

. A Supreme Central Junta led resistance to Joseph's government and the French occupation of Spain, but eventually suffered a series of reversals that resulted in the loss of the northern half of the country. On February 1, 1810, French troops took Seville and gained control of most of Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

. The Supreme Junta retreated to Cadiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

 and dissolved itself, being replaced by the Council of Regency of Spain and the Indies. News of these events arrived in Buenos Aires on May 18, when British ships brought newspapers from Spain and the rest of Europe.

Viceroy Cisneros tried to conceal the news in order to maintain the political status quo, but a group of criollo
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

 lawyers and military officials organized an open cabildo
Open cabildo
The open cabildo was a special mode of assembly of the inhabitants of Latin American cities during the Spanish colonial period, in case of emergencies or disasters. Usually, the colonial cities were governed by a Cabildo, municipal-type institutions composed of officials appointed by the colonial...

 (an extraordinary meeting of notables of the city) on May 22 to decide the future of the Viceroyalty. Delegates denied recognition to the Council of Regency in Spain and established a junta to govern in place of Cisneros, since the government that appointed him Viceroy no longer existed. To maintain a sense of continuity, Cisneros was initially appointed president of the Junta. However, this caused a great deal of popular unrest, so Cisneros resigned under pressure on May 25. The newly formed Primera Junta, which had initially only included representatives from Buenos Aires, then invited other cities of the Viceroyalty to send delegates to join them. This resulted in the outbreak of war between the regions that accepted the outcome of the events at Buenos Aires and those that did not.

The May Revolution is considered the starting point of the Argentine War of Independence
Argentine War of Independence
The Argentine War of Independence was fought from 1810 to 1818 by Argentine patriotic forces under Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli and José de San Martín against royalist forces loyal to the Spanish crown...

, although no formal declaration of independence was issued at the time and the Primera Junta continued to govern in the name of the deposed king, Ferdinand VII. As similar events occurred in many other cities of Spanish South America when news of the dissolution of the Spanish Supreme Central Junta arrived, the May Revolution is also considered one of the starting points for the Spanish American wars of independence. Historians today debate whether the revolutionaries were truly loyal to the Spanish crown or whether the declaration of fidelity to the king was a necessary ruse to conceal the true objective—to achieve independence—from a population that was not yet ready to accept such a radical change. A formal declaration of independence
Argentine Declaration of Independence
What today is commonly referred as the Independence of Argentina was declared on July 9, 1816 by the Congress of Tucumán. In reality, the congressmen that were assembled in Tucumán declared the independence of the United Provinces of South America, which is still today one of the legal names of the...

 was finally issued at the Congress of Tucumán
Congress of Tucumán
The Congress of Tucumán was the representative assembly, initially meeting in Tucumán, that declared the independence of the United Provinces of South America on July 9, 1816, from the Spanish Empire....

 on July 9, 1816.

International causes



The United States Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 from Great Britain in 1776 led criollos
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

 to believe that revolution and independence from Spain could be realistic aims. Between 1775 and 1783, the American patriots
Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots is a name often used to describe the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. It was their leading figures who, in July 1776, declared the United States of America an independent nation...

 of the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 waged the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 against both the local loyalists
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 and the Kingdom of Great Britain. The fact that Spain aided the colonies
Spain in the American Revolutionary War
Spain actively supported the Thirteen Colonies throughout the American Revolutionary War, beginning in 1776 by jointly funding Roderigue Hortalez and Company, a trading company that provided critical military supplies, through financing the final Siege of Yorktown in 1781 with a collection of gold...

 in their struggle against Britain weakened the argument that ending one's allegiance to the parent state could be considered a crime.

The ideals of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 of 1789 were spreading as well. With the overthrow and execution of King Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 and Queen Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

, that revolution brought to an end centuries of monarchy; it also removed the privileges of the nobility. The French Revolution boosted liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 ideals in the political and economic fields. Liberal ideas expanded through the Atlantic Revolutions
Atlantic Revolutions
"Atlantic Revolutions" is a cover term for a wave of late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century revolutions associated with Atlantic history during the The Age of Enlightenment.* Corsican Revolution * American Revolution...

, and the concept of the divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

 was questioned by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

, by the oft-quoted statement that "all men are created equal
All men are created equal
The quotation "All men are created equal" has been called an "immortal declaration", and "perhaps" the single phrase of the United States Revolutionary period with the greatest "continuing importance". Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase in the Declaration of Independence as a rebuttal to the...

" in the United States Declaration of Independence and even by the Spanish church.

However, the spread of such ideas was forbidden in the Spanish territories, as was the sale of related books or their unauthorized possession. These bans were first instituted when Spain declared war on France after the execution of Louis XVI and were retained after the peace treaty of 1796. News of the events of 1789 and copies of the publications of the French Revolution spread around Spain despite efforts to keep them at bay. Many enlightened
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 criollos came into contact with liberal authors and their works during their university studies, either in Europe or at the University of Chuquisaca
University of Saint Francis Xavier
The Royal and Pontificial Major University of Saint Francis Xavier of Chuquisaca is a public university in Sucre, Bolivia. It is one of the oldest universities of the new world, ranking as the second oldest university in the Americas behind Peru's National University of San Marcos...

. Books from the United States found their way into the Spanish colonies through Caracas, due to the proximity of Venezuela to the United States and the West Indies.


The Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 started in Britain, with the use of plateway
Plateway
A plateway is an early kind of railway or tramway or wagonway, with a cast iron rail. They were mainly used for about 50 years up to 1830, though some continued later....

s, canals and steam power. This led to dramatic increases in the productive capabilities of Britain, and created a need for new markets to sell its products. The Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, in which Britain was at war with France, made this a difficult task, after Napoleon imposed the Continental System
Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a large-scale embargo against British trade, which began on November 21, 1806...

, which forbade his allies and conquests from trading with Britain. Thus Britain needed to be able to trade with the Spanish colonies, but could not do so because the colonies were restricted to trade only with their parent state. To achieve their economic objectives, Britain initially launched the British invasions of the Río de la Plata
British invasions of the Río de la Plata
The British invasions of the Río de la Plata were a series of unsuccessful British attempts to seize control of the Spanish colonies located around the La Plata Basin in South America . The invasions took place between 1806 and 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars, when Spain was an ally of...

 to conquer key cities in Spanish America. When that failed, they chose to promote the Spanish-American aspirations of emancipation from Spain.

The mutiny of Aranjuez
Mutiny of Aranjuez
The Mutiny of Aranjuez, or Motín de Aranjuez as it is known in Spain, was an early nineteenth century popular uprising against King Charles IV, which managed to overthrow him and place his son, Ferdinand VII, on the throne...

 in 1808 led King Charles IV of Spain
Charles IV of Spain
Charles IV was King of Spain from 14 December 1788 until his abdication on 19 March 1808.-Early life:...

 to abdicate in favor of his son, Ferdinand VII. Charles IV requested that Napoleon restore him to the throne; instead, Napoleon crowned his own brother, Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily , and later King of Spain...

, as the new Spanish King. These events are known as the Abdications of Bayonne
Abdications of Bayonne
The Abdications of Bayonne is the name given to a series of abdications of kings of Spain that led to the Peninsular War.The Mutiny of Aranjuez forced king Charles IV to abdicate and give the throne to his son, Ferdinand VII. Napoleon Bonaparte forced Ferdinand to abdicate as well, ending the...

. Joseph's coronation was met with severe resistance in Spain, starting the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

, and the Supreme Central Junta
Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom
The Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom formally was the Spanish organ that accumulated the executive and legislative powers during the Napoleonic occupation of Spain...

 took power in the name of the absent king. Until then, Spain had been a staunch ally of France against Britain, but at this point Spain allied itself with Britain against France instead. Sevilla was eventually invaded, and the Supreme Central Junta was disbanded and replaced by a Council of Regency based in Cadiz.

National causes



Spain forbade its American colonies to trade with other nations or foreign colonies, and imposed itself as the only buyer and vendor for their international trade. This situation damaged the viceroyalty, as Spain's economy was not powerful enough to produce the huge supply of goods that the numerous colonies would need, which caused economic shortages and recession. The Spanish trade routes favored the ports of Mexico and Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, to the detriment of Buenos Aires. As a result, Buenos Aires smuggled those products that could not be obtained legitimately. This smuggling, even though it was illegal, was allowed by most local authorities as a lesser evil, and it occasionally equalled in volume the legal commerce with Spain. Two antagonistic factions emerged: the hacendados (owners of hacienda
Hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

s) wanted free trade so they could sell their products abroad, while the merchants, who benefited from the high prices of smuggled imports, opposed free trade because prices would come down.

The Spanish monarchy appointed their own candidates to most of the political offices in the viceroyalty, usually favoring Spaniards from Europe. In most cases, the appointees had little knowledge of or interest in local issues. Consequently, there was a growing rivalry between criollos
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

 (people born in America) and peninsulars (those born in Spain). Most criollos thought that peninsulars had undeserved advantages and received preferential treatment in politics and society. The lower clergy had a similar sentiment about the higher echelons of the religious hierarchy. Events developed at a slower pace than in the United States independence movement. This was in part because the entire educational system in Spanish America was controlled by the clergy, leading the population to hold the same conservative ideas and follow the same customs as in Spain.
Buenos Aires and Montevideo
Montevideo
Montevideo is the largest city, the capital, and the chief port of Uruguay. The settlement was established in 1726 by Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, as a strategic move amidst a Spanish-Portuguese dispute over the platine region, and as a counter to the Portuguese colony at Colonia del Sacramento...

 successfully resisted two British invasions
British invasions of the Río de la Plata
The British invasions of the Río de la Plata were a series of unsuccessful British attempts to seize control of the Spanish colonies located around the La Plata Basin in South America . The invasions took place between 1806 and 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars, when Spain was an ally of...

. In 1806, a small British army led by William Carr Beresford
William Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford
General William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, 1st Marquis of Campo Maior, GCB, GCH, GCTE, PC , was a British soldier and politician...

 seized Buenos Aires for a brief time; the city was liberated by a Montevidean army led by Santiago de Liniers
Santiago de Liniers
Jacques de Liniers was a French officer in the Spanish military service, and a viceroy of the Spanish colonies of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. He is more widely known by the Spanish form of his name, Santiago de Liniers...

. The following year, a bigger army seized Montevideo, but was overwhelmed by the forces of Buenos Aires; the invaders capitulated and returned Montevideo to the viceroyalty. There was no aid from Spain during either invasion. Preparations for the second invasion included the formation of criollo militias, in spite of the prohibition against them. The biggest criollo army was the Patricios Regiment, led by Cornelio Saavedra
Cornelio Saavedra
Cornelio Judas Tadeo de Saavedra y Rodríguez was a military officer and statesman from the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata...

. These events gave criollos military power and political influence that they did not have before and, since the victory was achieved without any help from Spain, it boosted criollo confidence in their independent capabilities.

The Portuguese royal family left Europe and settled in colonial Brazil
Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil
The Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil was an episode in the history of Portugal and the history of Brazil in which the Portuguese royal family and its court escaped from Lisbon on November 29, 1807 to Brazil, just days before Napoleonic forces captured the city on December 1...

 in 1808, after escaping the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal. Carlota Joaquina, sister of Ferdinand VII, was the wife of the Portuguese prince regent, but had her own political projects. As she avoided the later capture of the Spanish royal family, she attempted to take charge of the Spanish viceroyalties as regent. This political project, known as Carlotism
Carlotism
Carlotism was a political movement that took place in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata between 1808 and 1812; it intended to make Carlota Joaquina of Spain its queen. After Napoleon's invasion of Spain, Fernando VII was forced to abdicate and give the throne to Joseph Bonaparte...

, was begun in hopes of preventing a French invasion of the Americas. A small secret society of criollos, composed of politicians such as Manuel Belgrano
Manuel Belgrano
Manuel José Joaquín del Corazón de Jesús Belgrano , usually referred to as Manuel Belgrano, was an Argentine economist, lawyer, politician, and military leader. He took part in the Argentine Wars of Independence and created the Flag of Argentina...

 and Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli was an Argentine lawyer. He was one of the leaders of the May Revolution, which started the Argentine War of Independence...

, and military as Antonio Beruti
Antonio Beruti
Antonio Luis Beruti was an Argentine revolutionary who participated in the May Revolution that started the Argentine War of Independence, and later fought in the Argentine civil wars....

 and Hipólito Vieytes
Hipólito Vieytes
Juan Hipólito Vieytes, was an Argentine merchant and soldier. He was born in San Antonio de Areco, Buenos Aires Province on 6 August 1762, son of Juan Vieytes and Petrona Mora Fernández de Agüero...

, supported this project. They considered it an opportunity to get a local government instead of a European one, or a step towards a potential declaration of independence. The project was resisted by Viceroy Liniers, most peninsulars, and some criollos, including Mariano Moreno
Mariano Moreno
Mariano Moreno was an Argentine lawyer, journalist, and politician. He played a decisive role in the Primera Junta, the first national government of Argentina, created after the May Revolution....

, Juan José Paso
Juan José Paso
Juan José Paso, was an Argentine politician who participated in the events that started the Argentine War of Independence known as May Revolution of 1810....

 and Cornelio Saavedra. They suspected that it concealed Portuguese expansionist ambitions over the region. The supporters of Carlota Joaquina intended her to head a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, whereas she wanted to govern an absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

; these conflicting goals undermined the project and caused it to fail. Britain, which had a strong influence in the politics of the Portuguese Empire, opposed the project as well: they wanted to prevent Spain from splitting into several kingdoms, and considered Carlota Joaquina unable to prevent this.

Liniers government



After the British invasion of 1806, Buenos Aires was successfully reconquered. The population did not allow Rafael de Sobremonte
Rafael de Sobremonte
Don Rafael de Sobremonte y Núñez del Castillo, 3rd Marquis of Sobremonte , third Marquis of Sobremonte, was an aristocrat, military man and Spanish colonial administrator, and Viceroy of the Río de la Plata...

 to continue as Viceroy. He had escaped to Cordoba with the public treasury while the battle was still in progress. A law enacted in 1778 required that the treasury be moved to a safe place in the case of foreign attack, but Sobremonte was still seen as a coward by the population. The Royal Audiencia of Buenos Aires did not allow his return to Buenos Aires and elected Santiago de Liniers, acclaimed as a popular hero, as an interim Viceroy. This was an unprecedented action, the first time that a Spanish viceroy was deposed by local government institutions, and not by the King of Spain himself. But the appointment was ratified later by King Charles IV. Liniers armed all the population of Buenos Aires, including criollos and slaves, and defeated a second British invasion attempt in 1807.

The Liniers administration was popular among criollos, but not among peninsulars such as the merchant Martín de Álzaga
Martín de Álzaga
Martín 'Macoco' de Álzaga was an Argentine racecar driver.-Indy 500 results:-External links:*...

 and the Governor of Montevideo, Francisco Javier de Elío
Francisco Javier de Elío
Francisco Javier de Elío , was a Spanish military, governor of Montevideo and the last Viceroy of the Río de la Plata. He was also instrumental in the Absolutist repression after the restoration of Ferdinand VII as King of Spain...

. They requested the Spanish authorities to designate a new viceroy. In the wake of the outbreak of the Peninsular War, de Elío created a Junta in Montevideo, which would scrutinise all the orders coming from Buenos Aires and reserved the right to ignore them, without openly denying the authority of the Viceroy or declaring Montevideo independent.

Martín de Álzaga began a mutiny
Mutiny of Álzaga
The Mutiny of Álzaga was an ill-fated attempt to remove Santiago de Liniers as viceroy of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. It took place on January 1, 1809, and it was led by the merchant Martín de Álzaga...

 to remove Liniers. On January 1, 1809, an open cabildo
Open cabildo
The open cabildo was a special mode of assembly of the inhabitants of Latin American cities during the Spanish colonial period, in case of emergencies or disasters. Usually, the colonial cities were governed by a Cabildo, municipal-type institutions composed of officials appointed by the colonial...

 (an extraordinary meeting of vecino
Vecino
In Spanish-speaking areas, a vecino is nowadays a neighbor, or a resident of a place.In older times throughout the Spanish Empire, a person who has a house and home in a town or city and contributes to its expenses, not necessarily living near to the person referring to him; a local figure of some...

s
, prominent people of the city) chaired by Álzaga demanded the resignation of Liniers and the appointment of a local junta. The Spanish militia and a group of people summoned by the meeting gathered to support the rebellion. A small number of criollos, notably Mariano Moreno, supported the mutiny as a means to independence, but most of them did not. They felt that Álzaga wanted to remove the Viceroy to avoid his political authority while intending to keep the social differences between criollos and peninsulars unchanged. The riot was quickly routed when criollo militias led by Cornelio Saavedra surrounded the plaza and dispersed the insurgents. As a result of the failed mutiny, the rebel militias were disarmed. This included all peninsular militias, and the power of the criollos increased as a result. The leaders of the plot, with the exception of Moreno, were exiled to Carmen de Patagones
Carmen de Patagones
- Geography :It is located 937 km from the city of Buenos Aires, on the north bank of the Río Negro , near the Atlantic Ocean, and opposite Viedma, capital of the province of Río Negro...

. Javier de Elío freed them and gave them political asylum at Montevideo.

Cisneros government



The Supreme Central Junta replaced Liniers with the naval officer Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros
Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros
Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros de la Torre was a Spanish naval officer born in Cartagena. He took part in the Battle of Cape St Vincent and the Battle of Trafalgar, and in the Spanish resistance against Napoleon's invasion in 1808. He was later appointed Viceroy of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la...

, a veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

, to end the political turmoil in the Río de la Plata. He arrived in Montevideo in June 1809 for the handover. Manuel Belgrano proposed that Liniers should resist on the grounds that he had been confirmed as Viceroy by a King of Spain, whereas Cisneros lacked such legitimacy. The criollo militias were willing to support Liniers against Cisneros, but Liniers handed over the government to him without resistance. Javier de Elío accepted the authority of the new Viceroy, and dissolved the Junta of Montevideo. Cisneros rearmed the disbanded peninsular militias, and pardoned those responsible for the mutiny. Álzaga was not freed, but his sentence was commuted to house arrest.

There was concern about events in Spain and about the legitimacy of local governors in Upper Peru
Upper Peru
Upper Peru was the region in the Viceroyalty of Peru, and after 1776, the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, comprising the governorships of Potosí, La Paz, Cochabamba, Los Chiquitos, Moxos and Charcas...

 as well. On May 25, 1809, the Chuquisaca Revolution
Chuquisaca Revolution
The Chuquisaca Revolution was a popular uprising on 25 May 1809 against the governor and intendant of Chuquisaca , Ramón García León de Pizarro. The Real Audiencia of Charcas, with support from the faculty of University of Saint Francis Xavier, deposed the governor and formed a junta...

 deposed Ramón García de León y Pizarro
Ramón García de León y Pizarro
Ramón García de León y Pizarro , was a Spanish military officer and administrator. As president of the Real Audiencia of Charcas, he governed the Intendancy of Chuquisaca during the final colonial years of Upper Peru. He was also the founder of the city San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, in the north of...

 as Governor of Chuquisaca and replaced him with Juan Antonio Alvarez de Arenales. On July 16 the La Paz revolution
La Paz revolution
The city of La Paz experimented a revolution in 1809 that deposed Spanish authorities and declared independence. It is considered one of the early steps of the Spanish American wars of independence, and an antecedent of the independence of Bolivia...

, led by Colonel Pedro Domingo Murillo
Pedro Domingo Murillo
Pedro Domingo Murillo was a patriot of Upper Peru who played a key role in Bolivia's independence.-Biography:Born in the city of La Paz on September 17, 1757. Belonging to an elite family La Paz, his father is Juan Ciriaco Murillo, seminarian who shortly after his birth became a priest and a...

, deposed the Governor of La Paz and elected a new junta. A swift reaction from the Spanish authorities defeated those rebellions. An army of 1,000 men sent from Buenos Aires found no resistance at Chuquisaca, took control of the city and overthrew the Junta. Murillo tried to defend La Paz, but his 800 men were completely outnumbered by the more than 5,000 men sent from Lima. He was beheaded later, along with other leaders, and their heads were exhibited as a deterrent. These measures contrasted sharply with the pardon that Martín de Álzaga and others had received after serving a short time in prison, and the resentment of criollos against the peninsulars deepened. Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli was an Argentine lawyer. He was one of the leaders of the May Revolution, which started the Argentine War of Independence...

 was present at the deliberations of the University of Saint Francis Xavier
University of Saint Francis Xavier
The Royal and Pontificial Major University of Saint Francis Xavier of Chuquisaca is a public university in Sucre, Bolivia. It is one of the oldest universities of the new world, ranking as the second oldest university in the Americas behind Peru's National University of San Marcos...

, where Bernardo Monteagudo developed the Syllogism of Chuquisaca, a legal explanation to justify self-governance
Self-governance
Self-governance is an abstract concept that refers to several scales of organization.It may refer to personal conduct or family units but more commonly refers to larger scale activities, i.e., professions, industry bodies, religions and political units , up to and including autonomous regions and...

. This influenced his ideas during the "May week".

On November 25, 1809, Cisneros created the Political Surveillance Court with the aim of pursuing afrancesado
Afrancesado
Afrancesado was the term used to denote Spanish and Portuguese partisans of Enlightenment ideas, Liberalism, or the French Revolution, who were supporters of the French occupation of Iberia and of the First French Empire.-Origins:...

s
and independentists. However, he rejected economist José María Romero's proposal to banish a number of people considered dangerous to the Spanish regime, such as Saavedra, Paso, Vieytes, Castelli and Moreno, among others. Romero warned Cisneros against spreading news that might be considered subversive. Criollos felt that soon any pretext would be enough to lead to the outbreak of revolution. In April 1810, Cornelio Saavedra uttered his famous quote to his friends: "it's not time yet, let the figs ripen and then we'll eat them". He meant that he would not support rushed actions against the Viceroy, but would do so at a strategically favourable moment, such as when Napoleon's forces gained a decisive advantage in their war against Spain.

May week



The May Week is the period of time in Buenos Aires beginning with the confirmation of the fall of the Supreme Central Junta and ending with the dismissal of Cisneros and the establishment of the Primera Junta
Primera Junta
The Primera Junta or First Assembly is the most common name given to the first independent government of Argentina. It was created on 25 May 1810, as a result of the events of the May Revolution. The Junta initially had representatives from only Buenos Aires...

.

On May 14, 1810, the British war schooner HMS Mistletoe arrived at Buenos Ares from Gibraltar with European newspapers reporting the dissolution of the Supreme Central Junta the previous January. The city of Seville had been invaded by French armies, which were already dominating most of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

. The newspapers reported that some of the former members of the Junta had taken refuge on the Isla de León
Isla de León
Isla de León is a historical name for the piece of land between the city of Cádiz and the Spanish peninsula.In 1813 it was renamed San Fernando in honour of King Fernando VII of Spain for his courage in the defense of the city during the Siege of Cádiz by the French....

 in Cadiz. This was confirmed in Buenos Aires on May 17, when the British frigate HMS John Paris arrived in Montevideo; the most recent newspapers reported that members of the Supreme Central Junta had been dismissed. The Council of Regency of Cadiz was not seen as a successor of the Spanish resistance but as an attempt to restore absolutism in Spain. The Supreme Central Junta was seen as sympathetic to the new ideas. South American patriots
Patriot (Spanish American Revolution)
Patriots was the name the peoples of the Spanish America, who rebelled against Spanish control during the Spanish American wars of independence, called themselves. They supported the principles of the Age of Enlightenment and sought to replace the existing governing structures with Juntas...

 feared both a complete French victory in the peninsula and an absolutist restoration. Cisneros tried to conceal the news by monitoring British warships and seizing every newspaper that arrived, but one of them came into the hands of Manuel Belgrano
Manuel Belgrano
Manuel José Joaquín del Corazón de Jesús Belgrano , usually referred to as Manuel Belgrano, was an Argentine economist, lawyer, politician, and military leader. He took part in the Argentine Wars of Independence and created the Flag of Argentina...

 and his cousin Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli was an Argentine lawyer. He was one of the leaders of the May Revolution, which started the Argentine War of Independence...

. They spread the news among other patriots and challenged the legitimacy of the Viceroy, who had been appointed by the fallen junta. When Cornelio Saavedra, head of the regiment of Patricians, was informed of this news, he decided that it was finally the ideal time to take action against Cisneros. Martín Rodríguez proposed to overthrow the Viceroy by force, but Castelli and Saavedra rejected this idea and proposed the convening of an open cabildo.

Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19



Although Viceroy Cisneros attempted to conceal the news of the Spanish defeat, the rumor had already spread throughout Buenos Aires. Most of the population was uneasy; there was high activity at the barracks and in the Plaza, and most shops were closed. The "Café de Catalanes" and the "Fonda de las Naciones", frequent criollo meeting places, became venues for political discussions and radical proclamations; Francisco José Planes shouted that Cisneros should be hanged in the Plaza as retribution for the execution of the leaders of the ill-fated La Paz revolution. People who sympathized with the absolutist government were harassed, but the fights were of little consequence, because nobody was allowed to take muskets or swords out of the barracks.

The Viceroy, trying to calm the criollos, gave his own version of events in a proclamation. He asked for allegiance to King Ferdinand VII, but popular unrest continued to intensify. Despite being aware of the news, he only said that the situation on the Iberian Peninsula was delicate; he did not confirm the fall of the Junta. His proposal was to make a government body that would rule on behalf of Ferdinand VII, together with Viceroy of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa
José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa
José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa, 1st Marquis of La Concordia , was a Spanish military officer and colonial administrator in America...

, Governor of Potosí Francisco de Paula Sanz and President of the Royal Audiencia of Charcas Vicente Nieto
Vicente Nieto
Vicente Nieto was a Spanish general, a royalist of the Spanish American wars of independence.-Biography:Vicente Nieto had a long military career in Spain, fighting in the French Revolutionary Wars. He was under the command of Antonio Ricardos, during the War of the Pyrenees, which ended with the...

.

Not fooled by the Viceroy's communiqué, some criollos met at the houses of Nicolás Rodríguez Peña
Nicolás Rodríguez Peña
Nicolás Rodriguez Peña was an Argentine politician. Born in Buenos Aires in April 1775, he worked in commerce which allowed him to amass a considerable fortune. Among his several successful businesses, he had a soap factory partnership with Hipólito Vieytes, which was a center of conspirators...

 and Martín Rodríguez. During these secret meetings, they appointed a representative commission composed of Juan José Castelli and Martín Rodríguez to request that Cisneros convene an open cabildo to decide the future of the Viceroyalty.

During the night of May 19, there were further discussions at Rodríguez Peña's house. Saavedra, called by Viamonte, joined the meeting. There was a meeting with military and civilian leaders. They arranged that Belgrano and Saavedra would meet with Juan José de Lezica, a senior alcalde
Alcalde
Alcalde , or Alcalde ordinario, is the traditional Spanish municipal magistrate, who had both judicial and administrative functions. An alcalde was, in the absence of a corregidor, the presiding officer of the Castilian cabildo and judge of first instance of a town...

 (municipal magistrate), while Castelli would meet with the procurator Julián de Leiva, to ask for their support. They asked the Viceroy to allow an open cabildo, saying that, if it was not freely granted, the people and the criollo troops would march to the Plaza, force the Viceroy to resign by any means necessary, and replace him with a patriot government. Saavedra commented to Lezica that he was suspected of being a potential traitor because of his constant requests for cautious and measured steps. This comment was designed to pressure Lezica into speeding up the legal system to allow the people express themselves, or otherwise risk a major rebellion. Lezica asked for patience and time to persuade the Viceroy, leaving a massive demonstration as a last resort. He argued that, if the Viceroy was deposed in that way, it would constitute a rebellion, turning the revolutionaries into outlaws. Manuel Belgrano gave the following Monday as the deadline to confirm the open cabildo before taking direct action. Leiva would later act as a mediator, being both a confidante of Cisneros and a trusted negotiator for the more moderate revolutionaries.

Sunday, May 20



Lezica informed Cisneros of the request for an open cabildo and the Viceroy consulted Leiva, who spoke in favor of it. Before deciding, the Viceroy summoned military commanders to come to the fort at 7 pm. There were rumors that it could be a trap to capture them and take control of the barracks. To prevent this, they took command of the grenadiers that guarded the Fort and seized the keys of all entrances while meeting with the Viceroy. Cisneros demanded military support. Colonel Cornelio Saavedra, head of the Regiment of Patricios, responded on behalf of all the criollo regiments. He compared the current international situation with that prevailing at the time of the mutiny of Álzaga
Mutiny of Álzaga
The Mutiny of Álzaga was an ill-fated attempt to remove Santiago de Liniers as viceroy of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. It took place on January 1, 1809, and it was led by the merchant Martín de Álzaga...

 over a year earlier, pointing out that Spain was now almost entirely under Napoleonic control and that the undefeated Spanish provinces were very small in comparison with the Americas. He rejected the claim of sovereignty of Cadiz over the Americas, and concluded that the local armies wanted to look after themselves, rather than following the fate of Spain. Finally, he pointed out that the Supreme Central Junta that appointed Cisneros as Viceroy no longer existed, so he rejected Cisneros' legitimacy as Viceroy and denied him the protection of the troops under his command.

Castelli and Martín Rodríguez were sent to the Fort for an interview with Cisneros. Juan Florencio Terrada, commander of the Infantry Grenadiers, joined them, because their barracks were located under Cisneros' window, and his presence would prevent the Viceroy from requesting military aid to take Castelli and Martín Rodríguez prisoners. The guards let them pass unannounced, and they found Cisneros playing cards with Brigadier Quintana, prosecutor Caspe and aide Coicolea. Castelli and Rodríguez demanded once again the convening of an open cabildo, and Cisneros reacted angrily, considering their request an outrage. Rodríguez interrupted him and forced him to give a definitive answer. After a short private discussion with Caspe, Cisneros reluctantly gave his consent.

That night, a theatre production on the theme of tyranny, called Rome Saved, was attended by many of the revolutionaries. The lead actor was Morante, playing Cicero. The police chief requested Morante to feign illness and not appear, so that the play could be replaced with Misanthropy and Repentance by the German novelist and playwright August von Kotzebue
August von Kotzebue
August Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue was a German dramatist.One of Kotzebue's books was burned during the Wartburg festival in 1817. He was murdered in 1819 by Karl Ludwig Sand, a militant member of the Burschenschaften...

. Rumors of police censorship spread quickly; Morante ignored the request and performed the play as planned. In the fourth act, Morante made a patriotic speech, talking about Rome being menaced by the Gauls and the need for strong leadership to resist the danger. This scene lifted the revolutionaries' spirits and led to frenzied applause. Juan José Paso
Juan José Paso
Juan José Paso, was an Argentine politician who participated in the events that started the Argentine War of Independence known as May Revolution of 1810....

 stood up and cried out for the freedom of Buenos Aires, and a small fight ensued.

After the play, the revolutionaries returned to Peña's house. They learned the result of the meeting with Cisneros, but were unsure as to whether Cisneros intended to keep his word. They organized a demonstration for the following day to ensure that the open cabildo would be held as decided.

Monday, May 21



At 3 pm, the Cabildo began its routine work, but was interrupted by 600 armed men calling themselves the "Infernal Legion", who occupied the Plaza de la Victoria
Plaza de Mayo
The Plaza de Mayo is the main square in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is flanked by Hipólito Yrigoyen, Balcarce, Rivadavia and Bolívar streets....

 and loudly demanded the convening of an open cabildo and the resignation of Viceroy Cisneros. They carried a portrait of Ferdinand VII and the lapels of their jackets bore a white ribbon symbolizing criollo-Spanish unity. The rioters were led by Domingo French
Domingo French
Domingo French was an Argentine revolutionary who took part in the May Revolution and the Argentine War of Independence.- Biography :...

, the mail carrier of the city, and Antonio Beruti
Antonio Beruti
Antonio Luis Beruti was an Argentine revolutionary who participated in the May Revolution that started the Argentine War of Independence, and later fought in the Argentine civil wars....

, an employee of the treasury. Rumors circulated saying that Cisneros had been killed, and that Saavedra would take control of the government. Saavedra was at the barracks at that moment, concerned about the demonstration. He thought the violence should be stopped and that radical measures such as the assassination of Cisneros should be prevented, but he also thought that the troops would mutiny if the demonstrations were suppressed. The people in the Plaza did not believe that Cisneros would allow the open cabildo the next day. Leiva left the Cabildo and Belgrano, representing the crowd, requested a definitive commitment. Leiva explained that everything would go ahead as planned, but the Cabildo needed time to prepare. He asked Belgrano to help the Cabildo with the work, as his intervention would be seen by the crowd as a guarantee that their demands would not be ignored. The crowd left the main hall but stayed in the Plaza. Belgrano protested about the guest list, which consisted of the wealthiest citizens, and thought that if the poor people were left outside there would be further unrest. The members of the Cabildo tried to convince him to give his support, but he left.

Belgrano's departure enraged the crowd, as he did not explain what had happened, and the people feared a betrayal. The demands for an open cabildo were replaced by demands for Cisneros' immediate resignation. The people finally settled down and dispersed when Saavedra intervened to say that the claims of the Infernal Legion were supported by the military.

The invitations were distributed among 450 leading citizens and officials in the capital. The guest list was compiled by the Cabildo, and they tried to guarantee the result by selecting people that would be likely to support the Viceroy. The revolutionaries countered this move by making a list of their own. Agustín Donado, in charge of printing the invitations, printed nearly 600 instead of just the 450 requested, and distributed the surplus among the criollos. During the night, Castelli, Rodríguez, French and Beruti visited all the barracks to harangue the troops and prepare them for the following day.

Tuesday, May 22



According to official records, only about 251 out of the 450 officially invited guests attended the open cabildo. French and Beruti, commanding 600 men armed with knives, shotguns and rifles, controlled access to the square to ensure that the open cabildo had a majority of criollos. All noteworthy religious and civilian people were present, as well as militia commanders and many prominent residents. The only notable absence was that of Martín de Álzaga, still under house arrest. The troops were garrisoned and on alert, ready to take action in case of commotion.

A merchant called José Ignacio Rezábal attended the open cabildo but explained his doubts about doing so in a letter to the priest Julián S. de Agüero and said that these doubts were shared by other people close to him. He feared that, no matter which party prevailed in the open cabildo, it would take revenge against the other, the Mutiny of Álzaga being a recent precedent. He felt that the open cabildo would lack legitimacy if too many criollos were allowed to take part in it as a result of the aforementioned manipulation of the guest list.

The meeting lasted from morning to midnight, including the reading of the proclamation, the debate and the vote. There was no secret ballot; votes were heard one at a time and recorded in the minutes. The main themes of the debate were the legitimacy of the government and the authority of the Viceroy. The principle of retroversion of the sovereignty to the people
Retroversion of the sovereignty to the people
The Retroversion of the sovereignty to the people, which challenged the legitimacy of the colonial authorities, was the principle underlying the Spanish American Independence processes....

 stated that, with the legitimate monarch missing, power returned to the people; they were entitled to form a new government. This principle was commonplace in Spanish scholasticism
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 and rationalist philosophy
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

, but had never been applied in case law. Its validity divided the assembly into two main groups: one group rejected it and argued that the situation should remain unchanged, this group supported Cisneros as Viceroy; the other group supported change, and considered that they should establish a junta, like the ones established in Spain
Junta (Peninsular War)
In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders...

 to replace the Viceroy. There was also a third position, taking the middle ground. The promoters of change did not recognize the authority of the Council of Regency, and argued that the colonies in America were not consulted in its formation. The debate tangentially discussed the rivalry between criollos and peninsulars; proponents of keeping the Viceroy felt that the will of peninsulars should prevail over that of criollos.

One of the speakers for the first position was the bishop of Buenos Aires, Benito Lue y Riega, leader of the local church, who said:

Not only is there no reason to get rid of the Viceroy, but even if no part of Spain remained unsubdued, the Spaniards in America ought to take it back and resume command over it. America should only be ruled by the natives when there is no longer a Spaniard there. If even a single member of the Central Junta of Seville were to land on our shores, we should receive him as the Sovereign.


Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli
Juan José Castelli was an Argentine lawyer. He was one of the leaders of the May Revolution, which started the Argentine War of Independence...

 was the main speaker for the revolutionaries. He based his speech on two main ideas: the government's lapsed legitimacy—he stated that the Supreme Central Junta was dissolved and had no rights to designate a Regency—and the principle of retroversion of sovereignty. He spoke after Riega, arguing that the American people should assume control of their government until Ferdinand VII could return to the throne.

Nobody could call the whole nation a criminal, nor the individuals that have aired their political views. If the right of conquest belongs by right to the conquering country, it would be fair for Spain to quit resisting the French and submit to them, by the same principles for which it is expected that the Americans submit themselves to the peoples of Pontevedra. The reason and the rule must be equal for everybody. Here there are no conquerors or conquered; here there are only Spaniards. The Spaniards of Spain have lost their land. The Spaniards of America are trying to save theirs. Let the ones from Spain deal with themselves as they can; do not worry, we American Spaniards know what we want and where we go. So I suggest we vote: that we replace the Viceroy with a new authority that will be subject to the parent state if it is saved from the French, and independent if Spain is finally subjugated.


Pascual Ruiz Huidobro
Pascual Ruiz Huidobro
Pascual Ruiz Huidobro , Spanish soldier in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, who fought against the British invasions of the Río de la Plata as Governor of Montevideo....

 stated that, since the authority that appointed Cisneros had expired, Cisneros should no longer have a place in the government. Huidobro felt that the Cabildo should be in government, as it was the representative of the people. His vote was supported by Melchor Fernández, Juan León Ferragut, Joaquín Grigera and others.
Attorney Manuel Genaro Villota, representative of the conservative Spanish, said that the city of Buenos Aires had no right to make unilateral decisions about the legitimacy of the Viceroy or the Council of Regency without the participation of other cities of the Viceroyalty. He argued that such an action would break the unity of the country, establishing as many sovereignties as there were cities. His intention was to keep Cisneros in power by delaying any possible action. Juan José Paso
Juan José Paso
Juan José Paso, was an Argentine politician who participated in the events that started the Argentine War of Independence known as May Revolution of 1810....

 accepted his first point, but argued that the situation in Europe and the possibility that Napoleon's forces could conquer the American colonies demanded an urgent resolution. He then expounded the "argument of the elder sister", reasoning that Buenos Aires should take the initiative and make the changes deemed necessary and appropriate, on the express condition that the other cities would be invited to comment as soon as possible. The rhetorical device of the "elder sister", comparable to negotiorum gestio
Negotiorum gestio
Negotiorum gestio , or agency without specific authorisation under the German Civil Code, undertaking formed without agreement under the French Civil Code or management of business of another under the Japanese Civil Code, is a form of spontaneous agency in which an agent, the gestor, acts on...

, makes an analogy between the relationship of Buenos Aires and other cities of the viceroyalty with a sibling relationship.

The priest Juan Nepomuceno Solá then proposed that provisional command should be given to the Cabildo, until the formation of a governing junta made up of representatives from all populations of the Viceroyalty. His motion was supported by Manuel Alberti, Azcuénaga, Escalada, Argerich (or Aguirre) and others.

Cornelio Saavedra suggested that control should be delegated instead to the Cabildo until the formation of a governing junta in the manner and form that the Cabildo would deem as appropriate. He said "...there shall be no doubt that it is the people that create authority or command." At the time of the vote, Castelli's position coincided with that of Saavedra.

Manuel Belgrano was standing near a window so that, in the event of a problematic development, he could give a signal by waiving a white cloth, upon which the people gathered in the Plaza would force their way into the Cabildo. However, there were no problems at all and this emergency plan was not implemented. The historian Vicente Fidel López
Vicente Fidel López
Vicente Fidel López was an Argentine historian, lawyer and politician. He was a son of writer and politician Vicente López y Planes.-Biography:...

 revealed that his father, Vicente López y Planes
Vicente López y Planes
Alejandro Vicente López y Planes was an Argentine writer and politician who acted as interim President of Argentina from July 7, 1827 to August 18, 1827...

, who was present at the event, saw that Mariano Moreno was worried near the end in spite of the majority achieved. Moreno told Planes that the Cabildo was about to betray them.

Wednesday, May 23


The debate took all day, and the votes were counted very late that night. After the presentations, people voted for the continuation of the Viceroy, alone or at the head of a junta, or his dismissal. The ideas explained were divided into a small number of proposals, designated with the names of their main supporters, and the people then voted for one of those proposals. The voting lasted for a long time, and the result was to dismiss the Viceroy by a large majority: 155 votes to 69.

Manuel José Reyes stated that he found no reason to depose the Viceroy, and that it would be enough to designate a junta headed by Cisneros. His proposal had nearly 30 votes. Another 30 votes supported Cisneros continuing with no change to the political system. A small group supported the proposal of Martín José de Choteco, who also supported Cisneros.

There were also many different proposals involving the removal of Cisneros. Many of them required the new authorities replacing him to be elected by the Cabildo. Pascual Ruiz Huidobro
Pascual Ruiz Huidobro
Pascual Ruiz Huidobro , Spanish soldier in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, who fought against the British invasions of the Río de la Plata as Governor of Montevideo....

 proposed that the Cabildo should rule in the interim and designate a new government, but this proposal made no reference to popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

 or the creation of a junta. This proposal received 35 votes, and sought simply to replace Cisneros with Huidobro exercising a similar office: Huidobro was the most senior military, and thus the natural candidate under current laws to replace the viceroy in the lack of a new appointment from Spain. Juan Nepomuceno Solá proposed that the Cabildo should govern in the interim, while making a junta composed of delegates from all the provinces of the viceroyalty; this proposal received nearly 20 votes. Cornelio Saavedra, whose aformentioned proposal was that the Cabildo should appoint a Junta and rule in the interim, got the largest number of votes. A number of other proposals received only a few votes each.

At dawn on May 23, the Cabildo released a document stating that the Viceroy would end his mandate. The highest authority would be transferred temporarily to the Cabildo until the designation of a governing junta. Notices were placed at various points throughout the city announcing the imminent creation of a junta and the summoning of representatives from the provinces. The notices also called for the public to refrain from attempting actions contrary to public policy.

Thursday, May 24



The Cabildo interpreted the decision of the open cabildo in its own way. When it formed the new Junta to govern until the arrival of representatives from other cities, Leiva arranged for former viceroy Cisneros to be designated president of the Junta and commander of the armed forces. There are many interpretations of his motives for departing from the decision of the open cabildo in this way. Four other members were appointed to the Junta: criollos Cornelio Saavedra and Juan José Castelli,and peninsulars Juan Nepomuceno Solá and José Santos Inchaurregui.

Leiva wrote a constitutional code to regulate the actions of the Junta. It stipulated: that the Junta could not exercise judicial power, which was reserved for the Royal Audiencia of Buenos Aires; that Cisneros could not act without the support of the other members of the Junta; that the Cabildo could dismiss anyone who neglected his duty; that the Cabildo's consent would be required to create new taxes; that the Junta would sanction a general amnesty for those who had aired opinions at the open cabildo; and that the Junta would invite the other cities to send delegates. The commanders of the armed forces, including Saavedra and Pedro Andrés García, agreed to this code. The Junta swore the oath of office that afternoon.

These developments shocked the revolutionaries. They were unsure of what to do next, and feared that they would be punished, like the revolutionaries of Chuquisaca and La Paz. Moreno abjured relations with the others and shut himself in his home. There was a meeting at Rodríguez Peña's house. They felt that the Cabildo would not pursue such a plot without the blessing of Saavedra and that Castelli should resign from the Junta. Tagle took a different view: he thought that Saavedra may have accepted out of weakness or naivety and that Castelli should stay in the Junta to counter the others' influence on him. Meanwhile, the Plaza was invaded by a mob led by French and Beruti. Cisneros staying in power, albeit in an office other than Viceroy, was seen as an insult to the will of the open cabildo. Colonel Martín Rodriguez warned that, if the army were to commit support to a government that kept Cisneros, they would soon find themselves having to fire on the people, and that they would revolt. He said that "everyone without exception" was demanding the removal of Cisneros.

That night, Castelli and Saavedra informed Cisneros of their resignation from the newly formed Junta. They explained that the population was on the verge of violent revolution and would remove Cisneros by force if he did not resign as well. They warned that they did not have the power to stop that: neither Castelli to stop his friends, nor Saavedra to prevent the Regiment of Patricians from mutiny. Cisneros wanted to wait for the following day, but they said that there was no time for further delays, so he finally agreed to resign. He sent a resignation letter to the Cabildo for consideration on the following day. Chiclana felt encouraged when Saavedra resigned, and started to request signatures for a manifesto about the will of the people. Moreno refused any further involvement, but Castelli and Peña trusted that he would eventually join them if events unfolded as they expected.

Friday, May 25



On the morning of May 25, in spite of bad weather, a crowd gathered in the Plaza de la Victoria, as did the militia led by Domingo French
Domingo French
Domingo French was an Argentine revolutionary who took part in the May Revolution and the Argentine War of Independence.- Biography :...

 and Antonio Beruti
Antonio Beruti
Antonio Luis Beruti was an Argentine revolutionary who participated in the May Revolution that started the Argentine War of Independence, and later fought in the Argentine civil wars....

. They demanded the recall of the Junta elected the previous day, the final resignation of Cisneros, and the appointment of a new junta that did not include him. Historian Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre Martínez was an Argentine statesman, military figure, and author. He was the President of Argentina from 1862 to 1868.-Life and times:...

 stated that French and Beruti distributed blue and white ribbons, similar to the modern cockade of Argentina
Cockade of Argentina
The Argentine cockade is one of the national symbols of Argentina, instituted by decree on February 18, 1812 by the First Triumvirate, who determined that "the national cockade of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata shall be of colours white and light blue [...]".The National Cockade Day...

, among those present. Later historians doubt it, but consider it possible that the revolutionaries used distinctive marks of some kind for identification. It was rumored that the Cabildo might reject Cisneros' resignation. Because of delays in issuing an official resolution, the crowd became agitated, clamoring that "the people want to know what is going on!".

The Cabildo met at 9 am and rejected Cisneros' resignation. They considered that the crowd had no legitimate right to influence something that the Cabildo had already decided and implemented. They considered that, as the Junta was in command, the demonstration should be suppressed by force, and made the members responsible for any changes to the resolution of the previous day. To enforce those orders, they summoned the chief commanders, but these did not obey. Many of them, including Saavedra, did not appear. Those that did stated that they could not support the government order, and that the commanders would be disobeyed if they ordered the troops to repress the demonstrators.

The crowd's agitation increased, and they overran the chapter house. Leiva and Lezica requested that someone who could act as spokesman for the people should join them inside the hall and explain the people's desires. Beruti, Chiclana, French and Grela were allowed to pass. Leiva attempted to discourage Pancho Planes from joining them, but he entered the hall as well. The Cabildo argued that Buenos Aires had no right to break the political system of the viceroyalty without discussing it with the other provinces; French and Chiclana replied that the call for a Congress had already been considered. The Cabildo called the commanders to deliberate with them. As had happened several times in the last few days, Romero explained that the soldiers would mutiny if forced to fight against the rioters on behalf of Cisneros. The Cabildo still refused to give up, until the noise of the demonstration was heard in the hall. They feared that the demonstrators could overrun the building and reach them. Martín Rodríguez pointed out that the only way to calm the demonstrators was to accept Cisneros' resignation. Leiva agreed, convinced the other members, and the people returned to the Plaza. Rodríguez headed to Azcuenaga's house to meet the other revolutionaries to plan the final stages of the revolution. The demonstration overran the Cabildo again, this time reaching the hall of deliberations. Beruti spoke on behalf of the people, and said that the new Junta should be elected by the people and not by the Cabildo. He said that, besides the nearly 400 people already gathered, the barracks were full of people who supported them them, and he threatened that they would take control by force if necessary. The Cabildo replied by requesting their demands in writing. After a long interval, a document containing 411 signatures was delivered to the Cabildo. This paper proposed a new composition for the governing Junta, and a 500-man expedition to assist the provinces. The document—still preserved—listed most army commanders and many well-known residents, and contained many illegible signatures. French and Beruti signed the document, stating "for me and for six hundred more". However, there is no unanimous view among historians about the authorship of the document.

Meanwhile, the weather improved and the sun broke through the clouds. The people in the plaza saw it as a favorable omen for the revolution. The Sun of May
Sun of May
The Sun of May is one of the national emblems of Argentina and Uruguay, and it is featured on the countries' flags.-Features and specifics:The Sun of May is a representation of the Inca sun god Inti...

was created a few years later with reference to this event.

The Cabildo accepted the document and moved to the balcony to submit it directly to the people for ratification. But, because of the late hour and the weather, the number of people in the plaza had declined. Leiva ridiculed the claim of the remaining representatives to speak on behalf of the people. This wore the patience of the few who were still in the plaza in the rain. Beruti did not accept any further delays, and threatened to call people to arms. Facing the prospect of further violence, the popular request was read aloud and immediately ratified by those present.

Thus the Primera Junta came into being. The rules governing it were roughly the same as those issued the day before, with the additional provisions that the Cabildo would watch over the members of the Junta and that the Junta itself would appoint replacements in case of vacancies. Saavedra spoke to the crowd, and then moved on to the Fort, among salvos of artillery and the ringing of bells. Meanwhile, Cisneros dispatched a post rider to Córdoba, Argentina
Córdoba, Argentina
Córdoba is a city located near the geographical center of Argentina, in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas on the Suquía River, about northwest of Buenos Aires. It is the capital of Córdoba Province. Córdoba is the second-largest city in Argentina after the federal capital Buenos Aires, with...

, to warn Santiago de Liniers about what had happened in Buenos Aires and to request military action against the Junta.

Members



The Primera Junta was composed as follows:

President
  • Cornelio Saavedra
    Cornelio Saavedra
    Cornelio Judas Tadeo de Saavedra y Rodríguez was a military officer and statesman from the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata...



Voting members
  • Dr. Manuel Alberti
    Manuel Alberti
    Manuel Máximo Alberti was a priest from Buenos Aires, when the city was part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. He had a curacy at Maldonado, Uruguay during the British invasions of the Río de la Plata, and returned to Buenos Aires in time to take part in the May Revolution of 1810...

  • Col. Miguel de Azcuénaga
    Miguel de Azcuénaga
    Miguel de Azcuénaga was an Argentine general who fought for the Province of Buenos Aires.Born in Buenos Aires, he was the son of Vicente de Azcuénaga and Rosa de Basavilvaso. He received an Spanish education in Málaga and Seville...

  • Dr. Manuel Belgrano
    Manuel Belgrano
    Manuel José Joaquín del Corazón de Jesús Belgrano , usually referred to as Manuel Belgrano, was an Argentine economist, lawyer, politician, and military leader. He took part in the Argentine Wars of Independence and created the Flag of Argentina...

  • Dr. Juan José Castelli
    Juan José Castelli
    Juan José Castelli was an Argentine lawyer. He was one of the leaders of the May Revolution, which started the Argentine War of Independence...

  • Domingo Matheu
    Domingo Matheu
    Domingo Matheu was a Spanish businessman and politician. He was a member of the Primera Junta, the first national government of modern Argentina.- Biography :...

  • Juan Larrea


Secretaries
  • Dr. Juan José Paso
    Juan José Paso
    Juan José Paso, was an Argentine politician who participated in the events that started the Argentine War of Independence known as May Revolution of 1810....

  • Dr. Mariano Moreno
    Mariano Moreno
    Mariano Moreno was an Argentine lawyer, journalist, and politician. He played a decisive role in the Primera Junta, the first national government of Argentina, created after the May Revolution....


Aftermath


The Council of Regency, the Royal Audiencia of Buenos Aires and the peninsulars opposed the new situation. The Royal Audiencia secretly swore allegiance to the Council of Regency and sent communiqués to the other cities of the Viceroyalty, calling on them to deny recognition to the new government. To put an end to these activities, the Junta assembled Cisneros and all the members of the Royal Audiencia on the pretext that their lives were in danger, and shipped them into exile aboard the British ship Dart. Captain Mark Brigut Larrea was instructed to avoid American ports and deliver all of them directly to the Canary Islands. The Junta then appointed a new Audiencia composed entirely of criollos loyal to the revolution.

Every city in the territory of modern Argentina other than Córdoba endorsed the Primera Junta. The cities of the Upper Peru
Upper Peru
Upper Peru was the region in the Viceroyalty of Peru, and after 1776, the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, comprising the governorships of Potosí, La Paz, Cochabamba, Los Chiquitos, Moxos and Charcas...

, however, did not take a position, due to the recent outcomes of the Chuquisaca and La Paz Revolutions. Asunción del Paraguay rejected the Junta and swore loyalty to the Council of Regency. The Banda Oriental
Banda Oriental
The Banda Oriental del Uruguay was the South American territory east of the Uruguay River and north of the Río de la Plata, coinciding approximately with the modern nation of Uruguay, the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul and some parts of Santa Catarina...

, under Francisco Javier de Elío
Francisco Javier de Elío
Francisco Javier de Elío , was a Spanish military, governor of Montevideo and the last Viceroy of the Río de la Plata. He was also instrumental in the Absolutist repression after the restoration of Ferdinand VII as King of Spain...

, remained a royalist stronghold.

Former Viceroy Santiago de Liniers organized a counter-revolution
Liniers Counter-revolution
When the May Revolution took place in Buenos Aires in 1810, the former viceroy Santiago de Liniers led an ill-fated counter-revolutionary attempt from the city of Córdoba. It was quickly thwarted by the patriotic forces from Buenos Aires led by Ortiz de Ocampo, who captured the leaders and...

 in Córdoba, and this became the first military campaign of the independent government. Despite the importance of Liniers himself, and his prestige as a popular hero for his role when the British invaded, the population of Córdoba preferred to support the revolution. This reduced the power of the counter-revolutionary army by means of desertions and sabotage. Liniers's troops were quickly defeated by the forces led by Francisco Ortiz de Ocampo. Ocampo refused to shoot the captive Liniers, so the execution ordered by the Junta was carried out by Juan José Castelli. After quelling this rebellion, the Primera Junta sent military expeditions to many other cities, demanding support and the election of representatives to it.


Montevideo, which had a historical rivalry with Buenos Aires, opposed the Primera Junta and was declared the new capital of the Viceroyalty by the Council of Regency, which appointed Francisco Javier de Elío
Francisco Javier de Elío
Francisco Javier de Elío , was a Spanish military, governor of Montevideo and the last Viceroy of the Río de la Plata. He was also instrumental in the Absolutist repression after the restoration of Ferdinand VII as King of Spain...

 as the new Viceroy. The city was well defended, so it could easily resist an invasion. Peripheral cities in the Banda Oriental acted contrary to Montevideo's will and supported the Buenos Aires Junta. They were led by José Gervasio Artigas
José Gervasio Artigas
José Gervasio Artigas is a national hero of Uruguay, sometimes called "the father of Uruguayan nationhood".-Early life:Artigas was born in Montevideo on June 19, 1764...

, who kept Montevideo under siege. The final defeat of the Montevidean royalists was carried out by Carlos María de Alvear
Carlos María de Alvear
Carlos María de Alvear was an Argentine soldier and statesman, Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata in 1815....

 and William Brown
William Brown (admiral)
Admiral William Brown was an Irish-born Argentine Admiral. Brown's victories in the Independence War, the Argentina-Brazil War, and the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata earned the respect and appreciation of the Argentine people, and today he is regarded as one of Argentina's national...

.

The Captaincy General of Chile followed a process analogous to that of the May Revolution, electing a Government Junta
Government Junta of Chile (1810)
Government Junta of the Kingdom of Chile , also known as the First Government Junta, was the organ established to rule Chile following the deposition and imprisonment of King Ferdinand VII by Napoleon Bonaparte...

 that inaugurated the brief period known as Patria Vieja
Patria Vieja
Patria Vieja refers to a time period in the History of Chile occurring between the First Junta of the Government and the Disaster of Rancagua . This period was characterized by the transformation from a movement of temporary autonomy to one of total independence...

. The Junta was defeated in 1814 at the Battle of Rancagua, and the subsequent Reconquista of Chile would made it a royalist stronghold once more. The Andes provided an effective natural barrier between the Argentine revolutionaries and Chile, so there was no military confrontation between them until the Crossing of the Andes
Crossing of the Andes
The Crossing of the Andes was one of the most important feats in the Argentine and Chilean wars of independence, in which a combined army of Argentine soldiers and Chilean exiles invaded Chile leading to Chile's liberation from Spanish rule...

, led by José de San Martín
José de San Martín
José Francisco de San Martín, known simply as Don José de San Martín , was an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America's successful struggle for independence from Spain.Born in Yapeyú, Corrientes , he left his mother country at the...

 in 1817, a campaign that resulted in the defeat of the Chilean royalists.

The Primera Junta increased in size when it incorporated the representatives sent by the provinces. From then on, the Junta was renamed the Junta Grande
Junta Grande
Junta Grande is the most common name for the executive government of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata , that followed the incorporation of provincial representatives into the Primera Junta .- Origin :...

. It was dissolved shortly after the June 1811 defeat of the Argentine troops at the Battle of Huaqui
Battle of Huaqui
The Battle of Huaqui , was a battle between the Primera Junta's revolutionary troops and the royalist troops of the Viceroyalty of Peru on the border between Upper Peru, , and the Viceroyalty of Peru on June 20, 1811.- Prelude :The army commanded by Juan...

, and two successive triumvirates exercised executive power over the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. In 1814, the second triumvirate
Second Triumvirate (Argentina)
The Second Triumvirate was the governing body of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata that followed the First Triumvirate in 1812, shortly after the May Revolution, and lasted 2 years....

 was replaced by the authority of the Supreme Director
Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata
The Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata , was a title given to the executive officers of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, according to the form of government established in 1814 by the Asamblea del Año XIII...

. Meanwhile, Martín Miguel de Güemes
Martín Miguel de Güemes
Martín Miguel de Güemes was a military leader and popular caudillo who defended northwestern Argentina from the Spanish during the Argentine War of Independence.-Biography:...

 contained the royalist armies sent from the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 at Salta
Salta
Salta is a city in northwestern Argentina and the capital city of the Salta Province. Along with its metropolitan area, it has a population of 464,678 inhabitants as of the , making it Argentina's eighth largest city.-Overview:...

, while San Martín advanced towards the royalist stronghold of Lima by sea, on a Chilean–Argentine campaign. The war for independence gradually shifted towards northern South America. From 1814, Argentina descended into civil war.

Consequences



According to historian Félix Luna
Félix Luna
Félix Luna was a prominent Argentine writer, lyricist and historian.-Life and times:Luna was born in Buenos Aires to a family originally from La Rioja Province, in 1925...

's Breve historia de los Argentinos
Breve historia de los Argentinos
Breve historia de los Argentinos is a book written by Argentine historian Félix Luna. It was published in 1993 by Grupo Editorial Planeta, reedited many times, and translated to English and Portuguese...

, one of the most important societal consequences of the May Revolution was the shift in the way the people and its rulers related. Until then, the conception of the common good prevailed: while royal authority was fully respected, if an instruction from the crown of Spain was considered detrimental to the common good of the local population, it was half-met or simply ignored. With the revolution, the concept of common good gave way to that of popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

, as theorized by Moreno, Castelli and Monteagudo, among others. This idea held that, in the absence of a legitimate authority, the people had the right to appoint their own leaders. Over time, popular sovereignty would give way to the idea of majority rule
Majority rule
Majority rule is a decision rule that selects alternatives which have a majority, that is, more than half the votes. It is the binary decision rule used most often in influential decision-making bodies, including the legislatures of democratic nations...

. This maturation of ideas was gradual, taking many decades to crystallize into stable electoral and political systems, but it was what ultimately led to the adoption of the republican system
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 as the form of government for Argentina. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was an Argentine activist, intellectual, writer, statesman and the seventh President of Argentina. His writing spanned a wide range of genres and topics, from journalism to autobiography, to political philosophy and history...

 stated similar views in his Facundo
Facundo
Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism is a book written in 1845 by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, a writer and journalist who became the seventh president of Argentina...

, noting that cities were more receptive to republican ideas, while rural areas were more resistant to them, which led to the surge of caudillo
Caudillo
Caudillo is a Spanish word for "leader" and usually describes a political-military leader at the head of an authoritarian power. The term translates into English as leader or chief, or more pejoratively as warlord, dictator or strongman. Caudillo was the term used to refer to the charismatic...

s.

Another consequence, also according to Luna, was the disintegration of the territories that once belonged to the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata into several different units. Most of the cities and provinces had distinctive populations, economies, attitudes, contexts, and interests. Until the revolution, all of these peoples were held together by the authority of the Spanish government, but with its disappearance, people from Montevideo, Paraguay and the Upper Peru began to distance themselves from Buenos Aires. The existence of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, lasting barely 38 years, impeded the consolidation of a patriotic feeling and failed to bring a sense of community to all of the population. The new country of Argentina lacked an established concept of national identity capable of uniting the population under a common idea of statehood. Juan Bautista Alberdi
Juan Bautista Alberdi
Juan Bautista Alberdi was an Argentine political theorist and diplomat. Although he lived most of his life in exile in Montevideo and Chile, he was one of the most influential Argentine liberals of his age.-Biography:...

 sees the May Revolution as one of the early manifestations of the power struggles between the city of Buenos Aires and the provinces—one of the axial conflicts at play in the Argentine civil wars. Alberdi wrote in his book "Escritos póstumos":

The revolution of May 1810 in Buenos Aires, intended to win the independence of Argentina from Spain, also had the consequence of emancipating the province of Buenos Aires from Argentina or, rather, of imposing the authority of this province upon the whole nation emancipated from Spain. That day, Spanish power over the Argentine provinces ended and that of Buenos Aires was established.

Historical perspectives



Historiographical
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 studies of the May Revolution do not face many doubts or unknown details. Most of the information was properly recorded at the time and was made available to the public by the Primera Junta as patriotic propaganda. Because of this, historical views on the topic differ in their interpretations of the meanings, causes and consequences of the events, rather than in the accuracy of their depiction of the events themselves. The modern version of events does not differ significantly from the contemporary one.
The first people to write about the May Revolution were participants who wrote memoirs, biographies and diaries. However, their works were motivated by purposes other than historiographic ones, such as to explain the reasons for their actions, clean their public images, or express their support or rejection of the public figures and ideas of the time. For example, Manuel Moreno
Manuel Moreno
Manuel Moreno was an Argentine politician, brother of Mariano Moreno. He was one of the founders of the Federal Party in the province of Buenos Aires.-Biography:...

 wrote the biography of his brother Mariano to use as propaganda for the revolutions in Europe, and Cornelio Saavedra wrote his autobiography at a moment when his image was highly questioned, to justify himself to his sons.

The first remarkable historiographical school of interpretation of the history of Argentina
History of Argentina
The history of Argentina is divided by historians into four main parts: the pre-Columbian time, or early history , the colonial period , the independence wars and the early post-colonial period of the nation and the history of modern Argentina .The beginning of prehistory in the present territory of...

 was founded people of the 1837 generation
1837 generation
The 1837 generation was an Argentine literary group. Influenced by the new romantic ideas, they rejected the cultural Spanish heritage of the country. They considered themselves the "sons of the May Revolution", as they were born shortly after it, and wrote some of the earliest Argentine literary...

, like Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre
Bartolomé Mitre Martínez was an Argentine statesman, military figure, and author. He was the President of Argentina from 1862 to 1868.-Life and times:...

. Mitre regarded the May Revolution as an iconic expression of political egalitarianism: a conflict between modern freedoms and oppression represented by the Spanish monarchy, and an attempt to establish a national organization on constitutional principles as opposed to the charismatic authority
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

 of the caudillos. These authors' views were treated as canonical until the end of the 19th century, when the proximity of the centennial encouraged authors to seek new perspectives. The newer authors would differ about the relative weight of the causes of the May Revolution
Causes of the May Revolution
The May Revolution was a series of revolutionary political and social events that took place during the early nineteenth century in the city of Buenos Aires, capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a colony of the Spanish Crown which at the time contained the present-day nations of...

 and about whose intervention in the events was more decisive, but the main views expressed by Mitre were kept, such as considering the revolution to be the birth of modern Argentina and considering it an unavoidable event. These authors introduced the idea of popular intervention as another key element. By the time of the World Wars, liberal authors attempted to impose an ultimate and unquestionable historical perspective; Ricardo Levene and the Academia Nacional de la Historia were exponents of this tendency, which still kept most perspectives of Mitre. Left-wing authors took a revisionist
Historical revisionism
In historiography, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event...

 view based on nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and anti-imperialism
Anti-imperialism
Anti-imperialism, strictly speaking, is a term that may be applied to a movement opposed to any form of colonialism or imperialism. Anti-imperialism includes opposition to wars of conquest, particularly of non-contiguous territory or people with a different language or culture; it also includes...

; they minimized the dispute between criollos and peninsulars and portrayed events as a dispute between enlightenment and absolutism. However, most of their work was focused on other historical periods.

The May Revolution was not the product of the actions of a single political party with a clear and defined agenda, but a convergence of sectors with varying interests. Thus, there are a number of conflicting perspectives about it because different authors choose to highlight different aspects. Mitre, for example, referred to The Representation of the Hacendados
The Representation of the Hacendados
The Representation of the Landowners is an 1809 economic report written by Mariano Moreno that described the economy of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. It was written by Moreno on behalf of the Hacendados , to request the then viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros to reconsider the...

(an 1809 economic report by Mariano Moreno) and the role of the merchants to support the view that the May Revolution intended to obtain free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

 and economic integration
Economic integration
Economic integration refers to trade unification between different states by the partial or full abolishing of customs tariffs on trade taking place within the borders of each state...

 with Europe; right-wing revisionists center around Saavedra and the social customs of the time to describe the revolution under conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 principles; and left-wing revisionists use the example of Moreno, Castelli and the rioters led by French and Beruti to describe it as a radical
Political radicalism
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...

 revolution.

Revolutionary purposes



The government created on May 25 pronounced itself loyal to the deposed King of Spain Ferdinand VII, but historians disagree on whether this was genuine or not. Since Mitre, many historians think that this professed loyalty was merely a political deception to gain autonomy. The Primera Junta did not pledge allegiance to the Council of Regency, which was still in operation, and in 1810 it still seemed unlikely that Napoleon would be defeated and Ferdinand returned to the throne (which finally happened on December 11, 1813, with the signing of the Treaty of Valençay
Treaty of Valençay
The Treaty of Valençay , after the château of the same name belonging to French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, was drafted by Antoine René Mathurin and José Miguel de Carvajal y Manrique on behalf of the French Empire and the Spanish Crown respectively...

). The purpose of such a deception would have been to gain time to strengthen the position of the patriotic cause and avoid reactions that may have led to a counter-revolution, by making it appear that monarchical authority was still being respected and that no revolution had taken place. The ruse is known as the "Mask of Ferdinand VII". It was upheld by the Primera Junta, the Junta Grande and the First Triumvirate. The Assembly of Year XIII
Asamblea del Año XIII
The Assembly of Year XIII was a meeting called by the Second Triumvirate governing the young republic of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata on October 1812....

 was intended to declare independence, but failed to do so because of other political conflicts between its members. However, it suppressed mention of Ferdinand VII in official documents. Before the declaration of independence of 1816
Argentine Declaration of Independence
What today is commonly referred as the Independence of Argentina was declared on July 9, 1816 by the Congress of Tucumán. In reality, the congressmen that were assembled in Tucumán declared the independence of the United Provinces of South America, which is still today one of the legal names of the...

, the supreme directors
Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata
The Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata , was a title given to the executive officers of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, according to the form of government established in 1814 by the Asamblea del Año XIII...

 considered other options, such as negotiating with Spain or becoming a British protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

.

The change was potentially favorable for Britain, as trade with the cities of the area was facilitated, without being hampered by the monopoly that Spain had maintained over their colonies for centuries. However, Britain's first priority was the war against France in Europe, and they could not appear to support American independence movements or allow the military attention of Spain to be divided onto two different fronts. Consequently, they pushed for independence demonstrations not being made explicit. This pressure was exerted by Lord Strangford, the British ambassador at the court of Rio de Janeiro; he expressed support for the Junta, but under the condition that "...the behavior is consistent, and that [the] Capital [is] retained on behalf of Mr. Dn. Ferdinand VII and his legitimate successors". Later conflicts between Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Artigas led to internal conflicts on the British front, between Strangford and the Portuguese regent John VI of Portugal
John VI of Portugal
John VI John VI John VI (full name: João Maria José Francisco Xavier de Paula Luís António Domingos Rafael; (13 May 1767 – 10 March 1826) was King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (later changed to just King of Portugal and the Algarves, after Brazil was recognized...

.

Juan Bautista Alberdi
Juan Bautista Alberdi
Juan Bautista Alberdi was an Argentine political theorist and diplomat. Although he lived most of his life in exile in Montevideo and Chile, he was one of the most influential Argentine liberals of his age.-Biography:...

 and later historians such as Norberto Galasso
Norberto Galasso
Norberto Galasso is a historian and essayist from Argentina, who wrote many books related with the history of Argentina. His career as historian spans nearly forty years.-Biography:He studied economy in the University of Buenos Aires, graduating in 1961....

, Luis Romero
Luis Romero
Luis Alberto Romero is a former Uruguayan footballer currently played for clubs of Uruguay, Peru and Italy....

 and José Carlos Chiaramonte doubted Mitre's interpretation and put forward different ones. Alberdi thought that "the Argentine revolution is a chapter of the Hispanoamerican revolution, as also of the Spanish one, as also of the French and European one". They did not consider it a dispute between independentism and colonialism, but instead a dispute between new libertarian ideas and absolutism
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

. The intention was not to cut ties with Spain, but to reformulate the relationship; similarly, the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 was not separatist at its initial steps either. Thus, it would have the characteristics of a civil war instead. Some points that would justify the idea would be the inclusion of Larrea, Matheu, and Belgrano in the Junta and the later appearance of José de San Martín: Larrea and Matheu were Spanish, Belgrano studied for many years in Spain, and San Martín had spent most of his adult life waging war in Spain against the French. When San Martín talked about enemies, he called them "royalists" or "Goths", but never "Spanish".

According to those historians, the Spanish revolution against absolutism got mixed up with the Peninsular War. When Ferdinand VII stood against his father Charles IV, who was seen as an absolutist king, many Spaniards got the mistaken impression that he sympathized with the new enlightened ideas. Thus, the revolutions made in the Americas in the name of Ferdinand VII (such as the May Revolution, the Chuquisaca Revolution, or the one in Chile) would have been seeking to replace absolutist power with power formulated under the new ideas. Even if Spain was at war with France, the ideals of the French Revolution (liberty, equality and fraternity
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Liberté, égalité, fraternité, French for "Liberty, equality, fraternity ", is the national motto of France, and is a typical example of a tripartite motto. Although it finds its origins in the French Revolution, it was then only one motto among others and was not institutionalized until the Third...

) were still respected. Those revolutions pronounced themselves enemies of Napoleon, but did not face any active French military attack; they promoted instead fights between Spanish armies for keeping the old order or maintaining the new one. This situation would change with the final defeat of Napoleon and the return of Ferdinand VII to the throne, as he began the Absolutist Restoration and persecuted those holding the new libertarian ideas within Spain. For people in South America, the idea of remaining part of the Spanish Empire, but with a new relationship with the mother country, was no longer a feasible option: the only remaining options at this point were to return to absolutism or to adopt independentism.

Legacy




May 25 is a national day
National Day
The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

 in Argentina, known as First Patriotic Government, with the character of a public holiday
Public holiday
A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year....

. The public holiday is set by law 21.329 and is always celebrated on May 25, regardless of the day of the week. The Argentina Centennial
Argentina Centennial
The Argentina Centennial was celebrated on May 25, 1910. It was the 100th anniversary of the May Revolution, when viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros was ousted from office and replaced with the Primera Junta, the first national government.-Context:...

 and the Argentina Bicentennial
Argentina Bicentennial
The Argentina Bicentennial is a series of celebrations and observances celebrated on May 25, 2010, and throughout the year. They commemorated the 200th anniversary of the May Revolution, a sequence of historical events that led to the Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros' being ousted from office...

 were celebrated in 1910 and 2010.

May 25 was designated as a patriotic date in 1813, but the Argentine Declaration of Independence
Argentine Declaration of Independence
What today is commonly referred as the Independence of Argentina was declared on July 9, 1816 by the Congress of Tucumán. In reality, the congressmen that were assembled in Tucumán declared the independence of the United Provinces of South America, which is still today one of the legal names of the...

 suggests July 9 as an alternative national day. At first this added to the conflicts between Buenos Aires and the provinces during the Argentine Civil War
Argentine Civil War
The Argentine Civil Wars were a series of internecine wars that took place in Argentina from 1814 to 1876. These conflicts were separate from the Argentine War of Independence , though they first arose during this period....

, because the date in May related to Buenos Aires and the date of July 9 related to the whole country. Thus the unitarian
Unitarian Party
Unitarianists or Unitarians were the proponents of the concept of a Unitary state in Buenos Aires during the civil wars which shortly followed the Declaration of Independence of Argentina in 1816. They were opposed to the Argentine Federalists, who wanted a federation of independent provinces...

 Bernardino Rivadavia
Bernardino Rivadavia
Bernardino de la Trinidad Gónzalez Rivadavia y Rivadavia was the first president of Argentina, from February 8, 1826 to July 7, 1827 . He was a politician of the United Provinces of Río de la Plata, Argentina today...

 canceled the celebration of July 9, and the federalist
Federales (Argentina)
Federales was the name under which the supporters of federalism in Argentina were known, opposing the Unitarios that claimed a centralised government of Buenos Aires Province, with no participation of the other provinces of the custom taxes benefits of the Buenos Aires port...

 Juan Manuel de Rosas
Juan Manuel de Rosas
Juan Manuel de Rosas , was an argentine militar and politician, who was elected governor of the province of Buenos Aires in 1829 to 1835, and then of the Argentine Confederation from 1835 until 1852...

 allowed it again, but without giving up the May celebrations. By 1880, the federalization of Buenos Aires removed the local connotations and the May Revolution was considered the birth of the nation.

The date, as well as a generic image of the Buenos Aires Cabildo
Buenos Aires Cabildo
The Buenos Aires Cabildo is the public building in Buenos Aires that was used as seat of the ayuntamiento during the colonial times and the government house of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata...

, are used in different variants to honor the May Revolution. Two of the most notable are the Avenida de Mayo
Avenida de Mayo
Avenida de Mayo , is an avenue in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. It connects the Plaza de Mayo with Congressional Plaza, and extends in a west-east direction before merging into Avenida Rivadavia.-History and overview:...

and the Plaza de Mayo
Plaza de Mayo
The Plaza de Mayo is the main square in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is flanked by Hipólito Yrigoyen, Balcarce, Rivadavia and Bolívar streets....

in Buenos Aires, near the location of the Cabildo. The May Pyramid
Pirámide de Mayo
The Pirámide de Mayo , located in the center of the Plaza de Mayo, is the oldest national monument in the City of Buenos Aires. Its construction was ordered in 1811 by the Primera Junta to celebrate the first anniversary of the May Revolution. It was renovated in 1856, under the direction of...

was erected in the Plaza a year after the revolution, and was rebuilt in its present form in 1856. Veinticinco de Mayo ("May 25") is the name of several administrative divisions, cities, public spaces and landforms of Argentina. There are departments of this name in the provinces of Chaco, Misiones, San Juan, Rio Negro and Buenos Aires, the latter holding the town of Veinticinco de Mayo
Veinticinco de Mayo, Buenos Aires Province
Veintecinco de Mayo is a town situated in the centre of Buenos Aires Province in Argentina and has a population of 22,581 . Founded on 8 November 1836, it is the capital city of the partido of the same name...

. The cities of Rosario (Santa Fe), Junín (Buenos Aires) and Resistencia (Chaco) have eponymous squares. King George Island, which is claimed by Argentina, Britain and Chile, as part of the Argentine Antarctica
Argentine Antarctica
Argentine Antarctica is a sector of Antarctica claimed by Argentina as part of its national territory. The Argentine Antarctic region, consisting of the Antarctic Peninsula and a triangular section extending to the South Pole, is delimited by the 25° West and 74° West meridians and the 60° South...

, the British Antarctic Territory
British Antarctic Territory
The British Antarctic Territory is a sector of Antarctica claimed by the United Kingdom as one of its 14 British Overseas Territories. It comprises the region south of 60°S latitude and between longitudes and , forming a wedge shape that extends to the South Pole...

 and the Chilean Antarctic Territory respectively, is referred to as Isla 25 de Mayo in Argentina.

A representation of a cabildo is used on Argentine 25-cent coins, and an image of the Sun of May appears on the 5-cent coin. An image of the Cabildo during the Revolution appeared on the back of the 5-peso banknote of the former peso moneda nacional
Argentine peso moneda nacional
The peso moneda nacional was the currency of Argentina between November 5, 1881 and December 31, 1969. It was subdivided into 100 centavos, with the argentino worth 5 pesos. Its symbol was m$n or $m/n. Its ISO 4217 code was ARM.-History:...

.

External links