~ Chapter 35: The Rifts of the Empire ~
The second major disruption in Spanish America happened in the Rio de la Plata, where Francisco Javier de Elío, governor of Montevideo, rejected the authority of viceroy Liniers, accusing him of being a French puppet and conspiring to land French forces in Buenos Aires . This line of thought was also supported in Spain, where the Junta of Seville realised that he had not been confirmed as viceroy of Buenos Aires, and thus sent Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros to be the new governor. However, when Cisneros arrived in the summer of 1809 the situation had changed drastically. A group of prominent Peninsulares, headed by the mayor of Buenos Aires, Martín de Álzaga , had launched a coup d’état that deposed Liniers on January 1st . A new government composed exclusively of Peninsulares taking the form of a Junta presided by Mariano Moreno and Julián de Leyva, with the title of viceroy falling on the oldest active official, that being Pascual Ruiz Huidobro.
Ruiz refused to recognise Cisneros a viceroy and he stated that he would act as interim viceroy until the government of Spain had been completely restored. Cisneros, mad at this insubordination, turned to the Junta of Montevideo, presided by an equally angry de Elío, who submitted to Cisneros as he was proclaimed Viceroy in Montevideo. This double government caused a civil war within the Viceroyalty between the Montevideo and Buenos Aires governments. The Buenos Aires government was supported by the Peninsular city militias, mostly composed of Galician, Basque and Catalan troops as well as the Corrientes Hussars, while the forces of Cisneros were smaller, albeit he controlled the navy. Buenos Aires was also a powderkeg, as the power of the criollos had been crushed by the coup d’état, and many expected that a victory of the Montevideo faction would restore the balance or even tip the scale in favour of the criollos.
Pascual Ruiz Huidobro, self-proclaimed Viceroy of La Plata
With two competing governments on each side of the Río de la Plata, the interior of the viceroyalty exploded in anarchy without clear instructions. Some supported the government of Ruiz, while others preferred to follow the orders of Cisneros, acknowledging the Supreme Central Junta of Spain and Indies as the legitimate government of Spain acting in the name of his majesty Ferdinand VII. Other cities and local governments proclaimed their own juntas inspired by the successful Chuquisaca Uprising that had deposed the president of the Royal Audiency. Those city-scale uprising are often grouped under the historical term “Republiquetas” , with some lasting several years until order could be restored by Spanish troops coming from Peru, resulting in the effective annexation of Charcas and Upper Peru into the Viceroyalty of Peru, stripping La Plata of almost half of its territory .
Ruiz intended to crush the anarchy in the north and was forced to rely increasingly on criollo militias and power brokers, while employing the Peninsular troops for garrison duties. In order to finance a new army for the expedition up north he increased taxes, further alienating the Buenos Aires citizenship from the new government. Álzaga refused all petitions from the merchants to allow free trade with other powers, being an opponent of free trade himself, and considering an act that would undermine his control. The price of bread increased through the summer of 1809 to 1810, as reserves were stockpiled for the army and the cereal and meat-producing provinces north of the Rio de la Plata were under Cisneros’ control, while the intermittent blockade of Montevideo’s navy further reduced supplies. Further north the governor of the Province of Paraguay, Bernardo de Velasco, sided with Cisneros and sent an army down the Paraná.
Throughout 1809 and 1810 the situation worsened for the royalists, as new government juntas sprang up in New Granada, with the most powerful ones being proclaimed in Quito, Cartagena, Caracas and Santa Fe de Bogotá. However the most relevant act of 1810 would be the uprising of the members of the Querétaro Conspiracy in October 1st in the New Galician town of San Juan de los Lagos , headed by priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and the commander of the Queen’s Dragoons, Ignacio Allende, also receiving support from relevant figures like Mariano Abasolo. The conspirators initially pledged allegiance to Ferdinand VII, quickly gathering an army of 100.000 men that , despite taking horrendous casualties, defeated the Spanish under Torcuato Trujillo near San Juan del Río, seizing the towns of Querétaro and Valladolid. A hastily assembled defence led by Iturrigaray himself was defeated at the Battle of Santa Cruz del Monte on December 8, where Iturrigaray himself was captured by the rebel cavalry. The viceroyalty passed to general Félix Calleja del Rey, the most respected commander in the Viceroyalty, but he could do little to stop Hidalgo and Allende from taking Mexico City, retreating towards Veracruz with hopes of receiving reinforcements.
Capture of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, Guanajuato, by the Mexican rebels
The new government in Mexico City reorganised itself in the form of a Junta, dubbing itself the Supreme National Junta of Septentrional America . In their first legal act they expelled the Peninsular administrators from the government, replacing them with criollos and even some mestizos. The new junta took advantage of the antagonism towards Iturrigaray, who had exploited his time as viceroy to grow richer out of taxpayers’ money, rallying liberal elements and even conservatives. Within a year the Junta had drafted a constitution (Constitution of the Anáhuac), inspired by the Charter of Seville, that officially proclaimed the independence of Septentrional America, in the form of a centralist republic, with separation of powers and a tripartite government that rotated its presidency each four months.
The claims of Mexico City over so much territory would never be realised, as parallel uprisings had taken place elsewhere. The most notable of them was the Louisianan Revolution. Louisiana, while under the administration of Count of Hédouville, was theoretically a colony of Napoleonic France, but in real terms it behaved like a sovereign state, signing lucrative trade deals with the American republics, especially with Virginia, as their control of the Ohio River granted them leverage of upstream trade, and they required an amicable government in New Orleans to keep trade uninterrupted. During this period, extending from 1801 to 1808, Louisiana had attracted many political exiles, merchants and settlers from the Americas and even Europe, with the ideas of the French Revolution rooting deep in the colony. The Spanish takeover was a return to the monarchist regime, with the Spanish governor, Manuel Caballero y Masot, derogating all of the laws and acts passed by Hédouville.
Once the Napoleonic Wars ended and the Second French Republic was crushed in a wave of White Terror, many promiment revolutionaries and administrators fled France towards the Americas, initially following the example of Jean Victor Marie Moreau . Chief among those “émigrés” was Bernadotte, who had rejected a proposal by Napoleon to name him governor of Louisiana in 1802 . Bernadotte soon took notice of the situation in the colony, and began to organise a plot thanks to an extensive net of contacts in the Americas provided by Adrien-Nicolas Piédefer, Marquis of La Salle. As soon as he gathered enough supporters and supplies, Bernadotte launched a coup in New Orleans on April 23 1811, deposing Caballero without complications and proclaiming the Republic of Louisiana, with the fur traders and trappers of the Upper Mississippi supporting the Republic. The new state stylised itself after the First French Republic, adopting revolutionary colours and raising a militia commanded by Bernadotte himself, with funds provided by American merchants. New Orléans quickly signed an alliance with Georgia, in no small part due to the country’s francophilia following Moreau’s arrival, and also to secure the eastern border, as Georgia claimed West Florida from Spain.
Flag of the Republic of Louisiana
To the west, Juan Bautista de las Casas deposed the Spanish governor of Texas for a brief time before royalist forces regrouped and captured him, executing de las Casas at Monclova, as northern Mexico was still controlled by the royalists. However, the remaining rebels headed west towards Louisiana and America, securing funds and men for a renewed expedition, now under the command of Virginian pioneer and experienced Indian fighter John Gordon. The expedition defeated the forces of governor Salcedo at the Battle of San Antonio de Béxar in early 1813, proclaiming Texas as an independent republic soon after, with John Gordon acting as temporary president, inviting many American settlers and pioneers into the country with the hope of turning the young republic into an extension of Angloamerica, an act that received sporadic complaints from the Hispanic Texans, as the collapse of Spanish authority had resulted in an increase of Comanche raids. Both Texas and Louisiana were unpopulated and peripheral territories, with the Spanish attempts at a reconquest of America focused in the richer and more populated Mexico, mostly ignoring the two northern republics, while the Mexicans had their hand fulls with Spain so their attempts at projecting authority north of the Nueces River never materaliased.
 - Those were all lies, Liniers would always be loyal to the Spanish crown. Also, due to the different timing of the British invasions , Liniers ascended to the post of Viceroy in 1808 and not in 1807, with him being less popular due to the second British invasion never happening. When news of Liniers’ proclamation reached Spain the country was already in chaos.
 - Álzaga is an interesting fella. Despite arriving at Buenos Aires being only eleven, without a single coin and only speaking Basque, he managed to create an arms emporium in the city thanks to his natural leadership skills, IOTL he created a “shadow army” under the nose of British occupation forces, and forced the capitulation of William Beresford.
 - A successful “Asonada”. This happened due to the alternate British invasions, that never saw Cornelio Saavedra rise to prominence, thus he did not stop the coup, keeping Liniers in power and making the criollo faction way more powerful. Saavedra not rising to prominence also butterflies away OTL’s May Revolution of 1810.
 - Little Republics in Spanish. IOTL they were mostly confined to OTL Bolivia, however ITTL they extend to the Argentinian Andes.
 - This annexation would not be formally acknowledged by the Spanish until many years down the line.
 - IOTL the conspiracy was uncovered by a mailman. ITTL due to the alternate government in Mexico City and the criollo faction being more powerful, the conspiracy goes by and begins as planned.
 - A slightly larger army than the 80.000 men that fought in the OTL Battle of Monte de las Cruces. Like OTL, though, most of the army is composed of unexperienced natives that followed Hidalgo with barely any weapons.
 - A name similar to the OTL Junta of Zitácuaro. The term “Septentrional America” refers not only to the lands of New Spain but all Spanish possessions north of Panama, including Louisiana, the Caribbean, and the claims on the Oregon Country.
 - Who left for Georgia, he couldn’t go to the US since the Union does not exist anymore, training and modernising the army of the small republic. When he heard news of Napoleon’s death he returned to France, where he was granted the title of Marshal of France by Louis XVIII.
 - This happened both IOTL and ITTL, with him refusing to accept due to Napoleon not wanting to give soldiers, settlers and funding to the colony.