On this date in 1831, one of the great Spanish liberal officers was shot along with dozens of comrades attempting to spark a revolution.
Jose Maria Torrijos y Uriarte (Spanish Wikipedia page) was one of the heroes of that downtrodden cause from way back, a noble-born officer who had been made a captain at the precocious age of 13 and been around for all of Spanish liberalism’s greatest early 19th century tragedies.
Lucky for Torrijos, and luckier still: as a prisoner, he might have been in line for the ensuing mass execution, but an aide-de-camp of General Murat let him go in gratitude for chivalrously preserving a French officer from the Spanish mob.
A few years after the Peninsular War, with independent Spain yoked to a reactionary Bourbon-backed monarchy, Torrijos’ dangerous opinions made him a prisoner once more.
The execution of Rafael del Riego
Pushing forty and a bit emptyhanded for all his strivings, Torrijos’ restless soul was not satisfied knocking about the shores of England. He soon assembled a company of like-minded folk (such as Robert Boyd) to make another bid at liberating Iberia. But he was induced to put ashore under the misapprehension of support, and promptly rounded up.
The Malaga governor’s message to Madrid requesting instruction returned the simple order: shoot them all.* (Spanish link)
El fusilamiento de Torrijos y sus compañeros en la playa de Málaga, by Antonio Gisbert
Helos allí: junto a la mar bravía
cadáveres están ¡ay! los que fueron
honra del libre, y con su muerte dieron
almas al cielo, a España nombradía.
Ansia de patria y libertad henchía
sus nobles pechos que jamás temieron,
y las costas de Málaga los vieron
cual sol de gloria en desdichado día.
Españoles, llorad; mas vuestro llanto
lágrimas de dolor y sangre sean,
sangre que ahogue a siervos y opresores,
y los viles tiranos con espanto
siempre delante amenazando vean
alzarse sus espectros vengadores.
Monument to Torrijos at Malaga’s Plaza de la Merced.
* Around 50 or so were shot. The exact figure is differently accounted by various sources; I have been unable to determine if any among them are authoritative.