Maroto was baptized in the San Cristóbal parish church, where his baptismal certificate was preserved and later helped biographers clarify details of his family. During his childhood, he lived on the Calle Mayor (Main street) of the Barrio de San Cristóbal, across from Plaza de la Estrella. He married Antonia Cortés García, a Chilean, in 1816, and had seven children with her. Antonia and two of his daughters died in a shipwreck in 1830 en route to Chile.
At the age of 18, Maroto took part in the conflicts and campaigns of Manuel de Godoy, which were collectively known as the War of the Oranges. He also fought in the Spanish War of Independence, in which he was wounded and made a prisoner in Zaragoza. He then received a position in Peru and later fought in the war against the pro-independence Chileans. However, he was defeated by General José de San Martín in the Battle of Chacabuco (1817). In Spain, he also participated in the First Carlist War and was one of the signers, along with liberal general Espartero, of the Convention of Vergara (Convenio de Vergara, also called the Abrazo de Vergara: "embrace of Vergara"), which ended the civil war between Carlists and the Isabelinos with the victory of the latter.
Maroto also fought as a soldier in the Spanish War of Independence against Napoleon's army. The French attacked the plaza of Valencia on June 28, 1808. Maroto defended the city with the batteries that he had at his position, in Santa Catalina and Torres de Cuarte (this was the name that was given to it at the time). Forced to surrender to the enemy after a heroic defense, he was recognized with distinction to the mother country and was awarded a Shield of Honor.
On November 23 he took part in the Battle of Tudela in Navarre. On December 24, Monte Torrero and Casa Blanca—suburbs of Zaragoza—were attacked, and shortly after Maroto used bayonets in order to dislodge the enemy that had taken them.
With the grade of captain (promoted September 8), Maroto participated also in the Siege of Zaragoza in 1809. He gained control of Pilar, the batteries of San José, Puerta Quemada and Tenerías. He made forays from these batteries, often receiving gunfire. When the city of Zaragoza was captured, Maroto was made a prisoner of war by the French, but managed to escape. For his heroic acts in Zaragoza he received a Shield of Distinction that held the motto "Recompensa del valor y patriotismo" ("Reward for Valor and Patriotism"). He was declared a "benemérito de la patria en grado heroico y eminente", roughly "Distinction of the Fatherland, in Heroic and Distinguished Degree". On March 9 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
In 1811 he was assigned to the Infantry Regiment of the line in Valencia. On October 24 and 25, he occupied the defense of the attacks against Puzol, Heights of Sagunto Castle, and Murviedro. On October 25, 1812, he defended the lines of Grao, Monte Olivet, Cuarte, the line of Valencia, and the square of the city. When this plaza was captured, he was made a prisoner, along with his regiment, and once again, he seized the opportunity to escape. After these events, he was assigned control of the General Depot of troops destined overseas.
On November 16, 1813, he was named colonel in charge of the Queen's Talavera Regiment. At the head of this unit, he set sail for Peru on December 25, 1813. On April 24, 1814 they disembarked at Callao to aid the Viceroy José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa, who had been working arduously to maintain his viceroyalty and the bordering territories under Spanish control. Maroto and his troops, placed under the orders of Brigadier Mariano Osorio, were sent to Chile, which, during the Napoleonic Wars, had risen in rebellion. They embarked July 19, 1814, arriving at the naval base of Talcahuano, the nucleus of royalist activity, August 13. Osorio succeeded in organizing, along with local elements, a mobile army of some five thousand men, of whom Maroto's troops were practically the only Spaniards.
On October 1, the insurgents started to battle in Rancagua in an attempt to prevent the expeditionaries from taking Santiago, Chile. Maroto, manifesting a disdain for his opponents typical of officials recently arrived in the Americas, ordered his troops to attack the enemy fortifications without bothering to send in either scouts or guerrillas. The result was that Maroto's Talaveras, bombarded by the volley of shots, were forced to retreat with heavy losses. On the next day, Bernardo O'Higgins managed to make his way past the royal troops and retreat to the capital, where his opponents entered without resistance a few days later. Whether due to a belief that Maroto had conducted himself clumsily in battle or due to other, unknown reasons, although the list of officials who ought to be promoted after the latest victories sent by Osorio to viceroy Abascal included Maroto's name, the messenger who delivered the list nonetheless had confidential instructions to let Abascal know that Osorio believed that Maroto should not be promoted. When Maroto received word several months later that the list that had been sent to Madrid did not include his name, he lodged the appropriate complaint with Abascal, who had not liked the confusing way of proceeding and ended up finding in Maroto's favor on May 10 1815, granting him the grade of brigadier, backdated to 8 November 1814.
During his stay in Santiago, Maroto entered into a relationship with Antonia Cortés, who belonged to a noble and wealthy family of the local oligarchy; they married at the end of March 1815, just before he left Santiago, a place which he apparently did not find particularly to his taste. Immediately after, leading two companies, Maroto headed to Arica to aid in the campaign of Joaquín de la Pezuela in Alto Perú, now Bolivia. On July 15 he joined his troops, but he did not remain with them long because, for unknown reasons, Pezuela sued him and sent him to Lima. The trial was interrupted through the mediation of Abascal, who convinced Pezuela that it wasn't worth the trouble to continue. After spending some time in Lima, Maroto returned to Chile, whose command had fallen back into the hands of Field Marshal Casimiro Marcó del Pont, with whom he soon fell in disfavor.
At the beginning of February 1817 the troops of José de San Martín crossed the Andes to put an end to Spanish dominion in Chile. In the face of the disintegration of the royalist forces, Maroto proposed abandoning the capital and retreating southward, where they could hold out and obtain resources for a new campaign. The military conference called by Marcó on February 8 adopted Maroto's strategy, but the following morning the captain changed his mind and ordered Maroto to prepare for battle in Chacabuco. The night before the combat, Antonio Quintanilla, who would later distinguish himself extraordinarily in the defense of Chiloé, confided with another official regarding the ill-chosen strategy and that, given the position of the insurgents, the royalist forces ought to retreat a few leagues towards the hills of Colina: "Maroto overheard this conversation from a nearby chamber and either couldn't or refused to hear me because of his pride and self importance, called on an attendant with his notorious hoarse voice and proclaimed a general decree on pain of death, to whomever suggested a retreat." Although Maroto and his troops fought with valor, the battle turned into a complete defeat. Maroto, who succeeded in escaping thanks to the speed of his horse, was slightly injured during the retreat.
After another military conference in Santiago, Maroto, his wife, and most of the troops left for Valparaíso, from where they sailed to Peru. Pezuela, now the new viceroy, who still didn't much care for Maroto, considered nonetheless that "if perhaps he was not so skillful a commander in the unfortunate battle of Chacabuco, at the very least he performed with the valour and serenity expected of a Spaniard and an honourable officer, for which he received due consideration. Maroto was then sent to Cuzco at the head of two companies from Talavera which had remained in Peru, with instructions to organize a new battalion. Unhappy with everything and everybody, on February 22 1818 he was appointed President and Head of Government of the City and Province of Charcas, in Alto Perú, a village far removed from war, where he performed a notable administrative labor. After the 1820 Revolution in Spain, and once having received appropriate stipulation, Maroto proclaimed the Constitution in Charcas October 23 1820. Four of his children were born and baptized in Charcas: Manuel María Rafael, María del Carmen Agustina, Margarita Antonia, and Justa María Mercedes Rufina. Rafael Abdón Ignacio, Víctor, Cándida, and Faustino were born later, the last the child of a maidservant with whom he had a relationship during his stay in Asturias, and whom he did not initially acknowledge, but to whom he had to grant a pension following the accusation formulated by his mother.
The garrison of Potosí rebelled January 1, 1821 and Maroto marched against them, defeating the insurgents and taking the city. Nonetheless, on the arrival of General Pedro Antonio Olañeta, who as deputy of the viceroy exercised his authority throughout Alto Perú, he was ordered to return to Charcas. After a heated argument, Maroto complied with the orders he'd received. The disagreements between the two were further amplified when, during the brief invasion of Alto Perú by Andrés de Santa Cruz, Maroto refused to comply with the orders of Olañeta, who protested hotly against him to viceroy José de la Serna, stating, among other things, that "ever since this man set foot in America, he has done nothing but foment insubordination and express ill against the authorities. The viceroy, who did not have excessive confidence in Olañeta, opted to promote both to the rank of field marshal, despite the fact that Olañeta had played only a limited role in the campaign, and Maroto none at all.
The disagreements between Maroto and Olañeta culminated in 1824, when Olañeta, who had proposed to reestablish the absolutist regime in Peru, as it had now been established in Spain, marched with his troops against him, obligating them to abandon their positions. Despite the viceroy's intentions in favor of dialogue, the matter degenerated into a civil war that weakened the royalist troops and permitted the loss of Peru. Maroto was next named by La Serna as chief of one of the three divisions that, under the orders of General José de Canterac had to face the invasion by Antonio José de Sucre. After the Battle of Junín, Maroto maintained strong disagreements with Canterac and ended up resigning, since he considered that the withdrawal of the Royalist forces was being carried out in an inadequate way. Named governor of Puno, he was there taken by surprise by the capitulation of Ayacucho, in which Puno was included. Accompanied by La Serna and others officials, Maroto and his family embarked on the French frigate Hernestine, which arrived in Burdeos in the middle of 1825.
He went to Madrid, where Negri gave him instructions, and where the Carlist party was formally organizing. The first meetings of the revolutionary committees took place there. King Ferdinand VII was already gravely ill and near death. Maroto then proposed to Don Carlos that they proclaim him regent during his brother's illness, but the Infante opposed the idea, "and those who suggested it were not brought up as loyal servants, because they did not wear habits or cassocks, because they claimed in earthly matters it is necessary to do something with the aid of heaven". The government found out about the conspiracy and many of those involved were jailed. Maroto not only survived these first persecutions, but also was named second in command of the Basque Provinces, a command that he resigned immediately. This action was not well-received by the government, which found out about the general's new ideas thanks to the investigations carried out after the rebellion of Colonel Campos y España, and brought about his arrest on that very spot, in the ministry where he had just presented his resignation, in person and with great formality.
From Granada he headed for Madrid, then to Extremadura, then headed to Valencia, where he chartered a boat that was to bring him to Gibraltar but ended up in Algeciras. Finally, he arrived in Gibraltar, and from there managed in a few days to head for Portugal where he met Don Carlos, who was accompanied by a small and varied entourage. With the Infante were other generals, soldiers of other ranks, clergy and various other people. One of the individuals that had the most influence in Don Carlos's decisions was the bishop of León Joaquín Abarca, named Minister of War, advisor, and court favorite. Historians affirm that the bishop had neither military knowledge nor ability and that he was nothing more than a capable courtier with the talent of pleasing a prince.
In Portugal, Maroto demonstrated to Don Carlos his skills as an expert soldier and as a loyal man without courtly ambitions. There, Maroto was involved in the first military encounters with the royal troops devoted to the Isabeline cause, saving Don Carlos and his followers from ambushes and useless battles (where, aimless and doubtful, they wasted crucial moments) and organizing the constant escapes necessitated by how badly they were carrying out his military plans. After the Carlist military failures in Portugal, and helped by the British commissioner Colonel Wylde, who had been sent by the English Crown as an observer and witness, the Pretender, his retinue and some soldiers—among them Maroto—embarked from the port of Lisbon on board the vessel Donegal, which brought them to England.
Upon arriving in Carlist-controlled territory, Maroto was well received by the Pretender, who seated him on numerous occasions at his table and tried to give him a responsible command, which he was unable to accomplish because of the opposition of General Tomás de Zumalacárregui, who always had a negative view of Maroto. When Zumalacárregui was injured in Bilbao, Maroto received a direct order from Don Carlos to replace him and took command of his army. However, the written order, manipulated, was confusing and almost contradictory: Don Carlos ordered that Maroto remain in the army, but under the orders of field marshall Francisco Benito Eraso, until, for reasons of health, the latter retired from the Army of the North. He was told to remain patient and in the meantime to obverse the actions of said general, which could be suspicious. Maroto's serious, authentically soldierly character won him at this time the friendship and confidence of the members of the forces, especially the common soldiers.
He confronted the Isabeline general Baldomero Espartero for the first time in the Siege of Bilbao; the citizens of Bilbao had decided to surrender to the Carlists if Espartero's troops weren't able to offer aid. Both armies besieged the city for several days. It was then that Carlist general Vicente González Moreno arrived, who had been named upon the death of Zumalacárregui (25 June 1835) to the command of the Army of the North, a command that had been promised to Maroto (who before the start of the war was the only field marshall, and Moreno a lieutenant general). General Moreno was not a good strategist and soon showed his antagonism against Maroto, which led to a series of actions that were quite unfortunate from a military point of view. This general's orders in the confrontation with Espartero resulted in the supremacy of the Isabeline forces who entered the plaza of Bilbao with only token opposition.
After some months of military inaction, in which it was necessary to follow the entourage of Don Carlos in the manner of a courtier, Maroto was named commanding general of the forces of the Lordship of Biscay; the position had been vacated because of the imprisonment of José María de Orbe y Elío, marquis of Valdespina and Zabala. Once at the head of his army, he considered the best way to effect good military organization and discipline. He obtained great help from the delegation of the Lordship and from the men of the battalions. With the army on point, he marched over the plaza of Bilbao, took the Estuary of Bilbao, cut communications and obstructed all the exits, all without using artillery, which he lacked completely. He gained considerable advantage in skirmishes against the British forces who had disembarked to support the cause of Queen Isabella. General Maroto continued defending his encampment around Bilbao as well as he could while pleading for artillery and reinforcements that never arrived. In the event, his forces were diminished rather than reinforced: two battalions were separated from his command and sent to the lines at San Sebastián.
At this point, Espartero arrived with a large army. The confrontation was on the heights of Arrigorriaga, which the Carlist army domininated, forcing Espartero's forces to retreat to Bilbao in a precipitous and disorderly fashion.
Control of Bilbao was very important, but the lack of united action by the Carlist forces made it impossible to take the town by conventional military means. The internecine rivalries and the lack of military sense among most of the commanding officers made it infeasible to carry out Maroto's proposed strategy. A few days later, he was ordered to transfer control to Brigadier Sarasa and to await orders for a new destination. The war continued, and the Carlists could not carry out a successful campaign due to the schemes and disagreements of their own leaders and generals.
Upon arriving in the principality, Maroto took charge of an army of less than 11,000 men, whose instruction, if one may call it that, left much to be desired. On September 7, Maroto began the siege of Prats de Lluçanès, which he was forced to abandon owing to the defeat of the forces that tried to prevent the arrival of a column of assistance. He did not allow himself to be discouraged by this and dedicated the following days to instructing the battalions under his orders, "and established in them such rigorous discipline in eight days… that one would not have seen better in the vanguard division formed later by the Count of Spain'. However, on October 4 his second in command, the Baron of Ortafá was defeated and he died in San Quirico in an action whose result was attributed by the Catalans to his not having been assisted in a timely manner by Maroto.
But the reason for Maroto's leaving Catalonia was not the opposition of the leading Catalans, but his belief that he had been betrayed in not having received the resources he had counted on when he left Navarre. So, after submitting to the Intendant Díaz de Labandero a series of petitions for armaments and uniforms that were totally impossible to fulfill, Maroto abandoned Catalonia 5 October on the pretext of going to see Don Carlos to notify him of the true situation of the war in that territory, thereby fulfilling "my intent of resigning the command of the Catalan forces… it not being my character to carry on a disastrous life with no higher dignity than that of a captain of brigands. It should come as no surprise that the Catalans despised the man who had abandoned them, and that the court of Don Carlos did not look favorably on a man who appeared not to have exerted all possible force to achieve his assigned task.
In his return trip he found himself entangled in new adventures in France where he was incarcerated in Perpignan and Tours, until he could escape with the help of his field assistant José Burdeos and some legitimists.
He planned the defence of Estella and its surrounding area, ordering the evacuation of villages on the path which Maroto believed Espartero's army would follow, as it was public knowledge that the latter had decided to besiege the town. Maroto managed to achieve the general's retreat, subsequently improving the mood and hopes of his people as a result.
Maroto's idea was to maintain the entire Basque Provinces (Provincias Vascongadas, as they were known in that era) as a base of support and the residence of the future court of Don Carlos until the gates of Madrid were opened. In order to do this, he tried to put himself in contact with General Ramón Cabrera to establish a line of operations through Alto Aragón. Maroto formed five battalions, increased the cavalry by contracting with foreign horsemen and for some time led skirmishes, defenses and attacks against the royalist troops for the Navarrese lands.
New conspiracies, denunciations and disagreements accumulated into a conspiracy to assassinate Maroto, but without success. His greatest enemy in this period was the Carlist José Arias Teijeiro, named by the Pretender as undersecretary of justice. He signed many death sentences against the principal generals, accusing them of sedition. It was said pejoratively of these generals that they were "de carta y compás" ("of the square and compass"), that is, Freemasons.
Maroto sent Carmona (who had also conspired against him) to Estella as an emissary to communicate his orders to the soldier Francisco García, ringleader of the conspiracy against Maroto in that city. This soldier had been Comisario de Guerra during the reign of Ferdinand VII and now belonged to Teijeiro's group, enemies of general Maroto, ready to inspire the troops in Estella to insubordination and to disobey their general's orders. He accused them of sedition. Maroto's orders were that they wait in a determined place, with the entire regiment, in order that he might harrangue them. The chronicles that recount these events record that Maroto entered Estella in the company only of his escort, but with other forces following him at a distance. The streets were empty and Francisco García waited in his home, devising extralegal contingencies from the orders he previously received. At 8 o'clock in the evening Maroto received the news that García had been preparing to flee disguised as a priest when he was arrested by Maroto's men. The Estella army supported its general, and did not accept orders other than his, which gave Maroto great comfort. After the arrest Carmona and the followers of Francisco García were imprisoned. Their military sedition was publicly proven.
The generals Juan Antonio Guergué, Francisco García and Pablo Sanz Baeza had been arrested by this time, along with the quartermaster general Úriz. They were imprisoned in the castle of Puig together with other rebels, and on February 18, 1839, all four were executed, as were the officials Sanz e Ibáñez and the brigadier Carmona.
Following these events, Maroto wrote Don Carlos a detailed letter with information about the conspiracies and disagreements in the very heart of the northern Carlists, as well as a report of the current condition of the imprisoned military leaders. At the same time this letter reached its addressee, it was published and released to the public.
All of these events were compiled and recorded by a soldier of the time, Manuel Lassala y Soleras, in a book which carried the lengthy title of: "History of the Carlist party, of its divisions, of its government, of its ideas, and of the Convention of Vergara: with biographical notes that explain who were Don Carlos, his generals, his favorites and principal ministers.
Pío Baroja, in his work "Aviraneta, or the life of a conspirator", gave the following narration of what happened in Estella:
Maroto commanded the battalions to assemble on the Camino Real from Vitoria to Pamplona (in total, more than 7,000 men). Surrounded by a respectful silence he ordered that the accusatory decree be read in a loud voice. At its conclusion, he asked those whose consciences so dictated to comply. But he was acclaimed and cheered with a great cry by the soldiers and officers alike. Maroto closed his address by saying "I have triumphed over the arbitrariness, injustice and blindness of a prince, and history will judge me in due course.
The Carlists Urbiztondo, Silvestre, Izarbe and Count Negri met with Don Carlos, making him see that Maroto's conduct as a soldier had been correct, after which the prince signed a new decree in which he retracted the earlier decree, ordering the gathering and burning of the pages of the published manifesto, and returned military honors to Maroto. Twenty-five individuals implicated in the attacks on Maroto were exiled: soldiers, clergy and civilians. They were taken to France by General Urbiztondo, Colonel Leandro Eguía, and Lieutenant-Colonel Rafael Erausquin, guarded by a company of Alavesan soldiers.
After the failure of the Royal Expedition, General Espartero received an official letter signed by Queen Isabella II's Secretary of War, in which he was given responsibility for the termination of the war along with 25 million reales for the proceedings. General Isidro de Alaix Fábregas, in the name of Espartero, communicated this letter to Maroto. Maroto insisted that he would do what was best for the good of Spain. The result was a meeting between the two opposing generals that took place in the hermitage of San Antolín de Abadiano near Durango. The English colonel Wylde attended the Abadiano conference as an observer, because of Britain's recent role as mediator; also present was brigadier Francisco Linage, secretary to Espartero. But the negotiations were stymied by the matter of fueros: Maroto had promised to defend the fueros and Espartero held that they were unconstitutional.
As negotiations took place, both armies were positioned and prepared, although they did not battle. Espartero soon insisted on the negotiations proceeding. The leaders present at the reading of the manifesto decided to name a commission in order to negotiate with him. La Torre and Urbiztondo went before the commission without Maroto and formalized with Espartero the Convention of Vergara, whose first written version still lacked Maroto's signature, although everything that it expounded was in his name. Later, Espartero sent a copy to Maroto with a request to sign it formally.
The first article of the accord was related to fueros, and declared that "Captain General Don Baldomero Espartero will recommend with interest to the government compliance with its offer to compromise formally to propose to the Court the concession or modification of the fueros.
Despite the treaty having been signed by these high-ranking officers, the Navarrese battalions, above all, felt a certain repugnance, distrust and discontent, to the point that some officials still intended military revolt.
Alterwards, Rafael Maroto gave a stirring speech:
The words of Maroto and Espartero are preserved in the minutes of the meeting, and have been duly preserved. In the Cuartel General of Vergara, on 1 September 1839, Espartero addressed the Basque and Navarrese people for the last time, notifying them of the peace that had been reached in Vergara and of the incorporation of the armies under his command:
With the conflict at an end, he resumed the rank of lieutenant general and was named Minister of the Supreme Tribunal of War and Marine.
He passed away in Valparaiso, on 25 August 1853, after moving there to receive better medical care for his illness. On his gravestone is mentioned that he was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Spanish Army and his nobiliary titles of "Viscount of Elgueta" and "Count of Casa Maroto". Later on his remains were moved to an Army Memorial mausoleum in the anniversary of the Battle of Chacabuco, on 2 June 1918, to be buried in wall tomb number 77 with a new epitaph: "The Army of Chile to the Spanish Army Brigadier Don Rafael Maroto"
Rafael Maroto is a controversial figure. Some historians labelled him a traitor to the Carlist cause because his intervention in the Convention of Vergara, while others believe it was an intelligent and reasonable action, considering the hopeless state of the almost defeated Carlist army.
|Year||Month and Day||Employment|
|1794||April 1||Joined the Regiment of Infantry "Asturias" as enlisted cadet before reaching his age of majority.|
|1798||June 15||Promoted to Ensign.|
|1801||October 23||Promoted to Second Lieutenant (First Ensign).|
|1806||October 15||Promoted to Lieutenant|
|1808||September 8||Promoted to Captain|
|1809||March 9||Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel|
|1811||December 6||Promoted to Sergeant Major|
|1813||November 16||Promoted to Colonel|
|1823||October 5||Field Marshal|
|1832||Commanding General of the Province of Toledo|
|1836||Commanding General of the forces of Lordship of Vizcaya|
|1839||As a result of the Vergara Convention, his rank of Lieutenant General, obtained in 1834 after joining the army of Don Carlos in Portugal, was accepted as valid and reaffirmed.|
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