Francisco Javier Venegas
Francisco Javier Venegas de Saavedra y Ramínez de Arenzana Marqués de la Reunión y de Nueva España (Zafra, Badajoz 1754-1838, Spain) was a Spanish military officer and viceroy of New Spain from September 14, 1810 to March 4, 1813, during the first phase of Mexico's War of Independence.
Army career 
He began studies for a literary career, but gave them up to serve in the military. He rose in rank to lieutenant colonel, taking part in the fighting against the French Republic. He had retired from service at the time of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, but returned then to active duty. He took part in the Battle of Bailén, and was named commander of a division in Andalucía. His services in the war with the French were valuable, and he demonstrated his intelligence, energy and courage. With the protection of the minister Saavedra, he advanced rapidly.
In 1810 he was named governor of Cádiz, the seat of the central government of Spanish resistance to France. He was serving in this position when the Supreme Central Junta named him viceroy of New Spain.
Venegas was a man of few words, active, cruel and calculating.
On February 20, 1810 he was named viceroy of New Granada. He held the title until August, but never took up the position. Apparently he was diverted to New Spain before his arrival in New Granada.
He arrived in Veracruz August 28, 1810, and made his formal entry into Mexico City to take up the position on September 14, 1810. One of his first measures was to enforce the decree suspending tribute from Indians and Mulattos.
He prohibited publications that could foster revolutionary ideas. He set up special police tribunals and founded a military junta in the capital of each province of New Spain.
Venegas recognized that this was not a minor disturbance. He quickly had recourse to the army to suppress the rebels. The capital was left without a garrison in order to increase the number of troops in the field. He ordered the clergy to preach against them.
With the fall of Celaya (September 21), Guanajuato (September 28), Zacatecas (October 7) and Valladolid (October 17) to the rebels, Venegas began to refer to them as insurgentes, the name by which they are still known in Mexico. He raised the regiment Tres Villas, with troops from Córdoba, Xalapa and Orizaba, and accepted a contingent of 500 Negroes freed from the haciendas of Gabriel J. de Yermo. These troops were put under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Torcuato Trujillo.
On October 19, 1810, in Valladolid, Father Hidalgo issued a decree freeing the slaves. On November 29, in Guadalajara, he extended it to all of New Spain and also abolished tribute payments.
Trujillo knew the insurgents were now marching in the direction of the capital, from Tepetongo to Toluca, so he moved to occupy the latter place. (Toluca is less than 75 kilometers from Mexico City.) Toluca, however, had to be abandoned and the royalists fell back to a canyon known as Monte de las Cruces. Here the insurgents under Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende defeated the royalists on October 30, 1810. Trujillo, Agustín de Iturbide, and other royalist leaders escaped.
Venegas was now greatly alarmed. He raised a battalion of volunteers, which he stationed at Paseo de Bucareli, on the western edge of the city. However, in a moment of apparent indecision, Father Hidalgo, after a series of triumphs and within striking distance of the poorly defended capital, ordered a retreat toward Vallodalid. The reason for this has never been adequately explained.
After the retreat of the insurgents, Venegas recovered from his surprise, and began decisive action against them. He ordered General Félix María Calleja to march to the aid of the capital from San Luis Potosí. In his march from Querétaro to Mexico City, Calleja met the insurgents in the plains of San Jerónimo Aculco, where he defeated and decimated them (November 7). Another group of rebels took Guadalajara on November 11. Calleja retook Guanajuato on November 25 and Guadalajara on January 21, 1811.
Calleja defeated the insurgents again, disastrously, in the battle of Puente de Calderón on January 17, 1811. The insurgents were on the point of victory when a grenade ignited a munitions wagon in their camp, sowing confusion. The royalists took advantage, and routed the insurgents. A remnant of the rebel forces began retreating northward, where they hoped to receive moral and material aid from the United States.
However the principal rebel leaders — Hidalgo, Allende, Juan Aldama, Jiménez and Abasolo — were taken prisoner at the Wells of Baján (Norias de Baján) near Monclava, Coahuila, on 21 March 1811. They were sent to Chihuahua, where, on July 26, 1811 Allende, Aldama and Jiménez were shot as traitors. Hidalgo was shot July 30, 1811. Abasolo was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment; he died in Cádiz in 1816.
Venegas now believed the insurrection over, but then came the news of the activities of Ignacio López Rayón in the center of the country and the victories of Father José María Morelos in the south. Guerrillas roamed freely around the country. Royalist troops shot prisoners immediately. The slightest suspicion of collaboration with the insurgents was grounds for arrest and imprisonment.
The Constitution of Cádiz 
The Cádiz Cortes, which had written and promulgated the first Spanish constitution, ordered that it be published in all the Spanish possessions. Venegas, a supporter of absolutism, delayed its publication in New Spain for 24 days. Officials of the New Spain government swore to uphold it on September 30, 1812, but it was moot because Venegas had declared a state of siege. (Less than two years later the next viceroy, General Calleja, declared it void in New Spain.) Under the state of siege, Venegas also disregarded other directives from the Junta. After much vacillation he published the press law, but soon abolished it, claiming "abuses have been committed".
Removal and return to Spain 
The Cádiz Cortes blamed Venegas for his arbitrary measures, believing that they impeded the pacification of the country. The Audiencia of Mexico and the Spanish party in New Spain accused him of a lack of energy in suppressing the rebellion. He was relieved of his post September 16, 1812, but this did not take effect until March 4, 1813, when General Calleja was installed as viceroy.
Venegas then returned immediately to Spain, where the king rewarded him with the title of Marqués de la Reunión y de Nueva España. He was captain general of Galicia when he died in 1818.
- (Spanish) "Venegas de Saavedra, Francisco Javier," Enciclopedia de México, v. 14. Mexico City: 1988.
- (Spanish) García Puron, Manuel, México y sus gobernantes, v. 1. Mexico City: Joaquín Porrua, 1984.
- (Spanish) Orozco L., Fernando, Fechas Históricas de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1988, ISBN 968-38-0046-7.
- (Spanish) Orozco Linares, Fernando, Gobernantes de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985, ISBN 968-38-0260-5.
Further reading 
- Anna, Timothy E. (1978). The Fall of Royal Government in Mexico City. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-0957-6.
- Archer, Christon I. (1989). "La Causa Buena: The Counterinsurgency Army of New Spain and the Ten Years' War". In Jaime E. Rodríguez O. The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation. UCLA Latin American Studies. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications. ISBN 978-0-87903-070-4.
- Archer, Christon I. (2003). "Years of Decision: Félix Calleja and the Strategy to End the Revolution of New Spain". The Birth of Modern Mexico. Willmington, Delaware: SR Books. ISBN 0-8420-5126-0.
- Hamill, Hugh M. (1966). The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.
- Hamnett, Brian R. (1986). Roots of Insurgency: Mexican Regions, 1750–1824. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521-3214-8* Check
- Timmons, Wilbert H. (1963). Morelos: Priest, Soldier, Statesman of Mexico. El Paso: Texas Western College Press.
Antonio José Amar
|Viceroy of New Granada
Manuel de Bernardo Álvarez (dictator)
Later Benito Pérez Brito
Francisco Javier de Lizana
|Viceroy of New Spain
1810 - 1813
Félix María Calleja del Rey