Pedro Cevallos Guerra (1760 – 1840) was a Spanish statesman and diplomat who served as Chief Minister between 1799 and 1808 during the Napoleonic Wars, although Manuel Godoy, a personal favourite of the Spanish King had a vast influence over political affairs.
Cevallos was born in Cantabria in 1760. He was educated at various schools and convents before in 1777 attending Valladolid University to study law. He was very successful, and in 1781 he joined the faculty as a professor remaining there until 1790.
Diplomatic and Political Career
In 1799 the Spanish King Charles IV appointed him as Secretary of State, the De Facto Chief Minister, although Cevallos lacked the power and discretion of many of his predecessors as he was forced to share power with the ambitious Manuel de Godoy, a former Secretary, who held no official role but wielded enormous power.
Spain's situation had been precarious since the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars and in 1808 it grew worse. Spain and France had agreed to launch a joint invasion of their traditional and mutual enemy Portugal – but France had planned to betray their Spanish allies and conquer Spain as well. When this dawned on the Spanish elite, they pressed the King to abdicate. His successor, Crown Prince Ferdinand, chose to meet Napoleon in the Pyrenees and try to negotiate a cessation of hostilities but was seized by the French and taken as a prisoner to France.
Cevallos tendered his resignation and fled to take refuge in London for the remainder of the war, returning once Madrid had been liberated in 1814. He briefly headed the new government, before retiring. He died in 1840.
Francisco de Saavedra
|Secretary of State