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The Frenchman has taken with him Colonel Munive on his flight. When the city is organized and the cabildo is set, they will inform you in more detail. Several aspects of this letter merit further comment. First, the cacique envisioned his actions in a conflict that concerned, if not royalism per se, then at least the rights of King Fernando VII and the monarchical order. Not only did he start the letter with a salute to the king, but in the short note he specifically mentions the proclamation in favor of the king which was made in Santa Marta once Labatut was evicted.

There are no references to other enemies, either by name or more indirectly to groups or ideas. Although the letter was welcome news for royal officials and royalists in neighboring provinces, the tone with which the cacique addressed the governor of Riohacha must have troubled him.


Far from signaling submission to royal officials, the cacique approaches the governors with what seem more like direct orders and commands than polite requests. Instead of signaling subordination to royal officials, the cacique tells them what to do and makes promises on behalf of the city authorities.

The news about the royalist takeover of Santa Marta was quickly disseminated. Copies of the letter from the cacique to the governor were forwarded to the viceroy and to royal officials across Spanish America and Spain. First, the Indians held more than a hundred inhabitants imprisoned for suspicion of secretly supporting the Cartagena rebels. An even more astonishing example of popular interference in royal government occurred when the commoners of Santa Marta and the Indians of the surrounding towns refused to accept the newly-appointed governor of Santa Marta in , and insisted that Ruiz de Porras continue in his position, which he in fact did until the final fall of royalist government in Santa Marta six years later.

The bishop agreed that every 5 March a Te Deum would be sung accompanied by a solemn mass devoted to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The decree explicitly stated that the cacique of Mamatoco should participate. Captain-General Montalvo greeted this initiative wholeheartedly, and stated that he would gladly attend the ceremony.

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To call this an alliance between Indians and royalists is perhaps inaccurate. The Indians of Mamatoco and the other tributary towns around Santa Marta were on good terms with the Spanish-born governor, who in turn provided them considerable leeway and influence in the running of the city the next years. But far from displaying the kind of blind obedience that absolutist rhetoric called for, their support for monarchical rule implied more influence, greater autonomy and more privileges than they had enjoyed previously and certainly more than what they could hope for should the republicans be victorious Echeverri, What did the decoration itself mean to royal officials, military commanders, and the recipient himself?

The distinction that Morillo initially meant to bestow upon the cacique was the gold medal with the bust of Fernando VII, with a ribbon and a diploma. One of the paragraphs explicitly stated that the inhabitants of Coro and Santa Marta should be rewarded for their loyalty. The event was duly noted in the official diary of the Expeditionary Army and at more length in a letter from Morillo to the Council of Indies two days later. But Morillo himself was not very enthusiastic about decorations of this type.

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In his memoirs, there are no mentions of decorations, medals, and distinctions. In the letter, he apparently reproduces the words of Captain-General Montalvo, who was no fan of the cacique. The medal was awarded on the basis of. He used all his extraordinary courage and the power that he wields over those of his class and the rest of these lands, who respect him and consider him great. Awarding medals, ribbons, and diplomas to loyal and useful subjects and soldiers was not new. In eighteenth-century Spanish America, many medals were awarded, and not only to individuals who belonged to the highest strata of civil, military, or ecclesiastic hierarchies.

They were especially frequent during times of violent conflicts, for instance during the large Andean rebellions in the s. Nevertheless, the crown was careful to ensure that the awards conformed to the ideals of social stratification. As we shall see, this was also a major point of discussion when the Order of Isabel was instituted and especially during its first years of existence.

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They were not only symbolic recognitions of past heroic actions, but also meant to bind the recipient to the king in the future. This occurred in January , during the first phase of the Haitian insurrection when the black rebels still fought with the Spanish against the French.

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At stake was not only future loyalty of the cacique himself, but also more important, the support of the Indians and the popular classes in general for the royalist cause. There are many indications that decorations were coveted. He tells the story of one Indian who willingly accepted that his mother be executed for helping the republicans in exchange for him being awarded with a medal from the king Santos Vargas; Mendoza L. Fernando VII himself and many of his highest-ranking ministers and generals were convinced that decorations were effective in fomenting popular support and loyalty.

At the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, they introduced a series of new distinctions. It represented a remarkable and uneasy mix of Hispanic tradition and enlightened innovation. In Medieval Iberian history, the religious, military and civil orders had been of singular importance. During the sixteenth century, however, the Spanish orders were substantially reformed.

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Cavalry lost relative importance to artillery and infantry. Kings - especially in Spain - acquired more power, while the nobility were subordinated to the Crown. The king of Spain gradually became the grand master of all the significant orders, which meant that the knights were now direct vassals of the monarch and had to swear loyalty to him.

Simultaneously, the orders lost lands to the crown or the Church. In Spain, the medieval chivalric orders maintained their names, and no new dynastic orders were instituted until the late eighteenth century. The importance of purity of blood and noble lineage, as well as a life of service to the crown, preferably near the court, became more important than experience in war and conquest. Although their economic and military importance were reduced, and chivalric life was moralized into a set of norms that were acceptable to the Church, some historians have argued that the ideals of chivalry survived longer on the Iberian peninsula than elsewhere in Europe.

He was not alone. Contemporary European and American rulers, both republican and royalist, established new orders and decorations to instill patriotism and obedience, and seem to have had little doubt about their effectiveness.

The eighteenth-century renaissance of honorific orders was also spurred by the learned discussion among contemporary philosophers about systems of rewards and punishments. New systems would replace the old dynastic orders, which were seen to uphold a system of hereditary privileges that promoted vanity and corruption rather than virtue and true patriotism Bruni, ; Dijn, ; Borges da Silva, ; Ihl, The new orders would be socially inclusive, not limited to certain corporate groups.

Hereditary claims would not be considered and recipients would not be permitted to simply buy a distinction without proving individual merit and patriotic virtue. When First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte founded the famous Legion of Honor in France, it was first met with skepticism, especially by the more radical elements of the State Council who argued that it was too similar to old-regime decorations that only fomented the quest for superficial vanity. The Legion was approved, however, in by a vote of 14 to 10, after Napoleon himself had argued strongly in favor of distinctions.

Then Napoleon went on to say something that is seldom quoted:. I would not say this in public, but in an assembly of wise statesmen it should be said. They have one feeling: honor. We must nourish that feeling. The people clamor for distinction.

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See how the crowd is awed by the medals and orders worn by the foreign diplomats. We must recreate these distinctions. There has been too much tearing down; we must rebuild. A government exists, yes and power, but the nation itself - what is it?

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Scattered grains of sand Roberts, , p. The Legion of Honor was meant to be a visible demonstration of patriotic and republican virtue based on individual merit alone, open to any citizen regardless of birth and rank, while most of the old orders had been reserved for the nobility and military officers. According to Michael J. Hughes, the Legion represented the triumph of a new patriotic honor based on merit and loyalty to the emperor over the old quest for noble status, privilege, and glory Hughes, , p.

In Spain and Spanish America, republicans and royalists alike followed suit. Although the king personally took a keen interest in decorations of this kind, the initial idea for a new American order came from below. Events overseas evidently played a part. Winning the loyalty of the population was obviously an important aim in a time of war, and it may not be coincidence that the Order of Isabel was established right after the Order of the Libertador. Neither the king nor the notables who were appointed to serve in the first Supreme Assembly of the Order were prepared to make the order quite as socially inclusive and meritocratic as Goossens had envisioned.

The Enlightenment principle of individual merit would from the outset come into conflict with traditional views on social rank.

That they could receive medals was beyond dispute. In an early manuscript version of its constitution, the order would include three classes: Grand Cross, Cross of the First Order, and Cross of the Second Order. The latter two could be awarded in gold or in silver. Article 6 of the manuscript version stated that only whites and Indians could be awarded the crosses in gold, while castas could only receive the silver crosses and never the Grand Cross. The assembly proposed that the Order should include Grand Cross, Comendador instead of Cross of the First Order , and Caballero instead of Cross of the Second Order , and that the insignia of all three should be of gold.

Instead, the assembly argued, blacks and mestizos who deserved an honorific distinction should receive a gold medal ingrained with the bust of Fernando VII. The same medal could also be given to soldiers of lower rank corporals, sergeants, drummers, and trumpeters , and if they were not castas, they would receive medals with a laurel wreath. This racialized system of ranks prevailed, and was included in the first published versions of the constitution of the Order.

Although the constitution explicitly stated that the order would be open to any subject and that the beneficiaries did not need to prove nobility, it nevertheless maintained a system of rank to ensure that individual distinctions awarded to blacks, mestizos, and castas in general did not upset the social hierarchy of the Spanish domains. Instead, the members met regularly often several times per month to discuss applications for Grand Cross, Comendador, and Caballero.

Several hundred of these distinctions were awarded during the first years. In practice, the dilemmas of race and social rank did not much bother the assembly. Most crosses were in any case awarded to viceroys, admirals, generals, archbishops, and ministers, in other words more or less loyal members of the highest echelons of the military, civil, and ecclesiastical hierarchies in Spain and Spanish America. The issue of race did not enter into the discussion in these cases Ceballos-Escalera y Gila, However, at least two other Indians in addition to the cacique of Mamatoco were considered in those years, the Count of Moctezuma and the Marquis of Oropesa.

Respectively descendants of the last Aztec ruler and the Inca dynasty, both had established themselves in Spain and been educated at prestigious schools there. They were unquestionably considered nobility and, in both instances the Supreme Assembly thought they were worthy of the Grand Cross. However, the king himself denied their requests, possibly fearing that they were potential pretenders to the thrones of independent American kingdoms; anything that might bolster their social and political standing was too risky.

However, the king thought otherwise, granted a dispensation, and ordered that he should receive the award. Only in exceptional circumstances were the agraciados exempted from paying the fee. They were not allowed to wear the insignia nor use the titles associated with the Order, until the fee was paid.