Regiment of Patricians - The May Revolution and The Patricians

The May Revolution and The Patricians

The May Revolution's main protagonists, Saavedra and the Patricians Corps, would be successful during the days leading up to the May 25, 1810 open cabildo of Buenos Aires, which resulted to the Viceroy's forced resignation and the birth of the Primera Junta. This is the reason why the Patricians Regiment is often called The Sword of May.

Monday, May 14-Thursday, May 17
Upon hearing the news that by January, the Junta of Seville had fallen, Saavedra decided to let everyone take advantage of Napoleon's Peninsular Campaign to act against the Viceroyal government. He and Juan Jose Castelli suggested having an open cabildo for this purpose, as against Martin Rodriguez's plan of revolutionary action against the Viceroy.

Saturday, May 19
Saavedra then joined the meetings at the Pena residence, together with other military leaders. The meetings decided that he and Manuel Belgrano meet with the senior mayor of Buenos Aires, Juan Jose de Lezica, and Castelli meet with Julian de Levya, a procurator, to ask for their support for the holding of an open cabildo session, and tell them to go to the Viceroy to approve the plan

Sunday, May 20
Saavedra, as commander of the Patrician Corps, later attended the military officers meeting with the Viceroy at a fort, and together with the other officers, returned to the Pena residence that midnight for another meeting with the military officers.

Monday, May 21
A riot led by the Legion Infernal (Infernal Legion) which demanded an Open Cabildo meeting and was interrupting the work of the Cabildo was quickly stopped by Col. Saavedra and he then called on the crowds gathered at the Plaza de la Victoria (today's Plaza de Mayo) to leave at once.

Tuesday, May 22
The Open Cabildo session with Col. Saavedra as one of the invited delegates convened that day. The Patricians Corps, together with the other military units, were on alert and were garrisoned to prepare for any major commotion outside the Cabildo. This did not happen since the session went on peacefully.

Wednesday, May 23
Two days of sessions by the Open Cabildo finally resulted in the vote and resolution formally calling the Viceroy to conclude his duties as the Viceroy of Rio de la Plata. Just like the day earlier, the Patricians Corps was represented by Saavedra in the session. The Corps stood on alert all day to avoid riots and mass actions and to ensure a peaceful outcome of the session.

Thursday, May 24
The cabildo, now with the session done, formally announced the formation of a Junta with now ex-Viceroy Cisneros as president and Saavedra and Castelli as two of the four members (The two were Criollos while Spaniards occupied the other two). When news of it was known, everyone was shocked and as a result, Domingo French, the city mail carrier, and treasury employee Antonio Beruti led a mob that made its way to the Cabildo for Cisneros's new job was against the Cabildo's will of his full resignation. Col. Martin Rodriguez, who was there at the Cabildo told everyone inside that a revolt among the soldiery of the city was possible enough if they some of them still had loyaties to Cisneros. The Patrician Corps was there at the plaza that day, ready for any commotion but this did not happen.

Saavedra and Castelli led a delegation that night to the Cisneros residence to report on what happened, as well as to recommend their (and Cisneros's) resignation from the new Junta being formed.

Friday, May 25
Despite the rains, the proudest moment of the Patrician Regiment came that day.

That morning a big crowd plus a militia unit commanded by French and Beruti was at the Plaza de la Victoria for a demonstration asking for the dissolution of the Junta formed yesterday, Cisneros' resignation as its president and a formation of new Junta minus the former Viceroy. Then, the Cabildo was overrun and because the Cabildo hadn't met yet, the crowd began to stir.

By 9:00 the Cabildo began its work and issued an order for the dispersal of the crowd. The Patrician Corps led by Saavedra was there, together with the other military units whose commanders came to the Cabildo to ask for their compliance. But they didn't comply. Saavedra and some unit commanders were outside the Cabildo, and the commanders who were there told the Cabildo that the order could not be executed and obeyed. While this was happening the Patrician Corps was guarding the Cablido and the surrounding streets, on orders from Eustoquio Diaz Velez, together with soldiers from the other militia battalions.

When the crowd went inside again, they were told to write to the Cabildo what they have been rallying for. Minutes after that a document with 411 signatures (still conserved) was delivered to the Cabildo, with illegible signatures made. (The full document was made by a Patricians Corps officer, Sublieutenant Nicolas Pombo de Otero.) The contents of the letter include:

  • The formation of a new Junta with Saavedra as President, with 6 members and two secretaries
  • The formation of a 500-man expedition to the viceregal provinces for assistance

Later, despite the rain, the Cabildo went to the balcony to ask for everyone's vote for the request to be ratified by all. Then, due to the heavy rain, the crowd thinned up, but several of them heard the request read aloud, and then approved it. Saavedra then spoke to everyone on what happened, and left the Cabildo on his way amid cannon salutes and bells, happy on his now concurrent posts as Patrician Corps Commander and as the new Junta President as well.

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