27.06.

1806: The British conquered Buenos Aires

1806: The British conquered Buenos Aires
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Rio de la Plata around 1600

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 27 June 1806
  • The Spanish Viceroy Marquis Rafael de Sobremonte escaped from Buenos Aires to the interior of what is now Argentina carrying the royal treasure with him.

On this day, in 1806, the British occupied Buenos Aires, the former Spanish colonial city in South America. 

Buenos Aires had great significance as the capital of Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (Spanish: Virreinato del Río de la Plata). This viceroyalty covered the present day territories of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and even part of Chile.

On the eve of the British arrival, Buenos Aires was the seat of the Spanish Viceroy Rafael de Sobremonte, who had an aristocratic title of Marquis of Sobremonte (Spanish: Marques de Sobremonte). In that year of 1806, Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata seemed as fair game to the British, because the Spaniards were busy elsewhere (it was the time of Napoleonic wars in Europe).

After the British, led by Admiral Nelson, defeated the joint Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar the year before (1805), they got precedence in world’s oceans. Already in January 1806, the British occupied Dutch possessions in South Africa (based at Cape of Good Hope). From then on, South Africa remained a lasting possession of the British, until the proclamation of independence of South Africa in the 20th century.

A similar move to the one made in South Africa, the British tried to carry out in Buenos Aires. British troops were led by William Carr Beresford, military commander who later distinguished himself on European battlefields and even gained a rank of Marshal in Portugal and the aristocratic title of British lord and Portuguese marquise. British troops under Beresford landed near Buenos Aires and attacked.

Spanish Viceroy Marquis Rafael de Sobremonte escaped from Buenos Aires to the interior of what is now Argentina carrying the royal treasure with him. Admittedly, the British managed to seize that treasure during his escape, which was then sent to London. On this day the British have occupied Buenos Aires. They managed to maintain it for only 46 days as local residents organized under the leadership of Santiago de Liniers and forced them out. Interestingly, Santiago de Liniers was actually a Frenchman by birth and, after this victory over the English, he personally became viceroy of Río de la Plata (instead of the aforementioned Marquise de Rafael de Sobremonte). Liniers later also got an aristocratic title of Earl of Buenos Aires (Spanish: conde de Buenos Aires).

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