Heroines and Heroes in Latin American Independence

This website forms part of the AHRC-funded project, based at the University of Nottingham, on Women and Independence in Latin America. It is for use by school-pupils who would like to find out more about the nineteenth-century Wars of Independence in Latin America

The Spanish American Wars of independence from Spain were triggered by Napoleon's invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1808 and the retention of the Spanish King, Ferdinand VII, in France. Thus began the Peninsular War between Spain and France. Napoleon placed his brother, Josef, on the Spanish throne but he was rejected by the governing elites in Spain and across the Spanish dominions, which stretched from San Francisco and Los Angeles in the north, to Patagonia in the south.

The local councils in the Spanish American cities and towns such as Caracas, Buenos Aires and Bogotá, set up their own governments and so began the long, complex and very violent process of independence. The wars were civil wars between those who wanted to remain loyal to the Spanish crown, backed by Spanish troops sent in 1815, and those who wanted political and economic independence. The wars lasted between 1810 more or less until 1826. The two great military strategists who persisted in the campaign for independence were the Venezuelan Simón Bolívar, in the north of South America, and the Argentine, José de San Martín, in the south. By 1830 some 25 new countries had been created. Brazil meanwhile secured its independence from Portugal by a less violent route. Women played a vital and often forgotten role in the wars which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands across the continent over a period of sixteen years. Once independence had been secured the civil wars and interstate wars between the new republics raged on into the 1860s and 1870s and later.

. The database contains the biographies in both Spanish and English of the men and women who made significant contributions to the struggles for Independence between 1780 and 1850. You can also consult our schools page for further information.

To search this database, select a name from the list above and click on the button 'Show details'. The biography of the person selected and any images that we have associated with them will be shown here. Places that they visited will also be indicated on the map with markers.

Juana dibujo

Juana Azurduy - heroine of independence


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