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Francisco Serrano, 1st Duke of la Torre

Francisco Serrano
Portrait by Nadar
President of Spain
In office
3 January 1874 – 31 December 1874
Prime MinisterHimself
Juan de Zavala
Práxedes Mateo Sagasta
Preceded byEmilio Castelar
Succeeded byAlfonso XII
(as King of Spain)
Prime Minister of Spain
In office
3 January 1874 – 26 February 1874
Preceded byEmilio Castelar
Succeeded byJuan de Zavala
In office
26 May 1872 – 13 June 1872
MonarchAmadeo I
Preceded byPráxedes Mateo Sagasta
Succeeded byManuel Ruiz Zorrilla
In office
4 January 1871 – 24 July 1871
MonarchAmadeo I
Preceded byJuan Bautista Topete (acting)
Succeeded byManuel Ruiz Zorrilla
In office
3 October 1868 – 18 June 1869
MonarchAmadeo I
Preceded byJosé Gutiérrez de la Concha
Succeeded byJuan Prim
Regent of Spain
In office
18 June 1869 – 27 September 1870
Preceded byIsabella II of Spain (as Queen of Spain)
Succeeded byAmadeo I of Spain (as King of Spain)
Personal details
Born(1810-12-17)17 December 1810
Isla de León, Spain
Died25 November 1885(1885-11-25) (aged 74)
Madrid, Spain

Francisco Serrano Domínguez, 1st Duke of la Torre, Grandee of Spain, Count of San Antonio (17 December 1810 – 25 November 1885) was a Spanish marshal and statesman. He was Prime Minister of Spain in 1868–69 and regent in 1869–70.

Early life and education

Serrano was born on 17 December 1810 in the Isla de León (current day San Fernando),[1] in the Bay of Cádiz. He was son of Francisco Serrano y Cuenca and Isabel Domínguez de Guevara Vasconcelos.[1] His father, born in Lopera, parish of Purísima Concepción, was a general officer and a Liberal. His mother was born in Marbella circa 1780.

Serrano began his studies at Vergara in the Basque provinces.

Military career

Following his father into the military, he became a cadet in 1822 in the Sagunto regiment,[1] cornet in 1833 in the lancers of Sagunto, and passed into the carabiniers in 1829. When the Carlist agitation began in 1833, he transferred into the cuirassiers. He formed part of the escort that accompanied Don Carlos, the first pretender and brother of Ferdinand VII, to the frontier of Portugal.[2]

As aide-de-camp of Espoz y Mina, then under the orders of generals Córdova and Espartero, in the armies of Queen Isabella, Serrano took such an active part in the First Carlist War from 1834 to 1839, that he rose from the rank of captain to that of brigadier-general. He was awarded the Cross of San Fernando and many medals. He was also granted the 155th Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword.[2]

In 1839, he was elected as a member of Cortes for the first time for Málaga. In 1840 he was promoted to the rank of general of division and commander of the district of Valencia, which he relinquished to take his seat in congress.

Political career

Portrait by Antonio Gisbert.

From that day Serrano became one of the chief military politicians of Spain. In 1841, he helped Espartero to overthrow the regency of Maria Christina of Bourbon-Sicily. In 1843, at Barcelona he made a pronunciamiento against Espartero. He was appointed as the minister of war in the cabinet of Joaquín María López y López, which convoked the Cortes that declared Queen Isabella of age at thirteen. He served in the same capacity in an Olozaga cabinet, sulked as long as the Moderates (Moderados) were in office.

In 1845, he was appointed as a senator, and in 1848 as captain-general of Granada. From 1846 to 1853, he was away from politics, living on his Andalusian estates or traveling abroad.[2]

On 29 September 1850 in Madrid, Serrano married his first cousin, Antonia Domínguez y Borrell, Guevara y Lemus, 2nd Countess of San Antonio,[n. 1] with whom he had five children.

Serrano assisted Marshal Leopoldo O'Donnell in the military movements of 1854 and 1856, and was his staunch follower for twelve years.

Captain-General of Cuba

O'Donnell appointed Serrano as marshal in 1856 and captain-general of Cuba from 1859 to 1862. Serrano governed that island with success, and helped carry out the war in Santo Domingo. He was the first viceroy to advocate political and financial reforms in the colony.[2]

Return to the Peninsula

On his return to Peninsular Spain, O'Donnell made him Duke of la Torre (Duque de la Torre), Grandee of Spain of the first class, and the 139th Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving from 18 January to 2 March 1863. Serrano risked his life in helping O'Donnell quell the insurrection of 22 June 1866 at Madrid. He was awarded with the Order of the Golden Fleece.

After the death of O'Donnell, Serrano became the leader of the Liberal Union Party. As president of the senate, he assisted Ríos Rosas to draw up a petition to Queen Isabella against her Moderate ministers, for which both were exiled.[2]

The Glorious Revolution

Serrano began to conspire with Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, Prim and Sagasta. On 7 July 1868, González Bravo had Serrano and other generals arrested and taken to the Canary Islands. There Serrano remained until Admiral Topete sent a steamer to bring him to Cadiz on 18 September that same year.

On landing he signed the manifesto of the revolution with Prim, Topete, Sagasta, Martos and others, and accepted the command of the revolutionary army. He routed the troops of Queen Isabella under the orders of the Marquess of Novaliches at the bridge of Alcolea. The queen fled to France, and Serrano, having entered Madrid, formed a Provisional Government.

1868–1871 Provisional Government

Serrano (center) among the members of the Provisional Government in 1869, by J. Laurent.

In February 1869, he convoked the Cortes Constituyentes; he was appointed successively as president of the executive, Prime Minister of Spain, and Regent from 3 October 1868 to 18 June 1869. Serrano ruled impartially, respecting the independence of the Cortes and cabinets. He acceded to their selection of Amadeus I of Savoy as king, although he would have preferred Montpensier.[2]

As soon as Amadeus reached Madrid, after the death of Prim, Serrano consented to form a coalition cabinet, which lasted only a few months. Serrano resigned and took the command of the Italian king's army against the Carlists in northern Spain. He tried to form one more cabinet under King Amadeus as the 65th Prime Minister of Spain on 6 June 1872, but resigned on 12 June when that monarch declined to give his ministers dictatorial powers and sent for Ruiz Zorrilla. His mistakes led to Amadeus abdicating the throne on 11 February 1873.

Conspirations against the Republic

Serrano opposed the federal republic, and conspired with other generals and politicians to overthrow it on 23 April 1873. Having failed, he went into exile in France. On the eve of his coup d'état of 3 January 1874 that sought to thwart the Federal Republic, the leading instigator, the General Manuel Pavía, sent for Serrano to take the leadership.[2]

The Duke of la Torre's coat of arms

Dictatorship of Serrano

Serrano again took the title of president of the executive; he tried to form a coalition cabinet, but Cristino Martos and Sagasta soon quarrelled. His next cabinet was presided over by Sagasta. The military and political unrest continued, and at the end of December 1874, the Bourbons were restored by another pronunciamiento.

During the eleven months he remained in office, Serrano devoted his attention chiefly to the reorganization of finance, the renewal of relations with American and European powers, and the suppression of revolt.[2]

Later life

After Alfonso XII ascended the throne in 1875, Serrano spent some time in France. He returned to Madrid in 1876, attended palace receptions, took his seat as a marshal in the senate, and flirted politically with Sagasta and his party in 1881.[2] He finally gave his support to the formation of a dynastic Left with a democratic program defended by his nephew, General López Domínguez.

He died in Madrid on 25 November/26 November 1885, twenty-four hours after Alfonso XII,[2] son of Isabella II, and purportedly, her husband and cousin Francis, although Alfonso's true biological paternity is uncertain.[n. 2]


  1. ^ Born in Havana, baptized on 19 March 1831. Died in Biarritz, 7 January 1917. Daughter of his maternal uncle Miguel Domínguez y Guevara-Vasconcellos, Pérez de Vargas y Alburquerque (1789–1858), 1st Count of San Antonio, and María Isabel Borrell y Lemus, Padrón y de la Cruz-Jiménez (1809–1877).
  2. ^ Isabella enjoyed an active sexual life, with plenty of attributed lovers including the very same General Serrano, the singer José Mirall, the composer Emilio Arrieta, the Colonel Gándara, the captain José María Arana and the Captain of Engineers Enrique Puig Moltó.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Borrego 1892, p. 7.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Houghton 1911.
  3. ^ Lozano, Balbino (29 October 2015). "Isabel II, la alegre vida de una reina". La Opinión de Zamora.



Political offices Preceded bySaturnino Calderón de la Barca Minister of State 17 January 1863 – 2 March 1863 Succeeded byThe Marquis of Miraflores Preceded byPascual Madoz Prime Minister of Spain 3 October 1868 – 18 June 1869 Succeeded byThe Marquis of los Castillejos VacantTitle last held byThe Duke of la Victoria Regent of Spain 18 June 1869 – 27 December 1870 VacantTitle next held byMaria Christina of Austria Preceded byIsabella IIas Queen of Spain Head of State of Spainas Regent 18 June 1869 – 27 December 1870 Succeeded byAmadeoas King of Spain Preceded byJuan Bautista Topete Prime Minister of Spain 4 January 1871 – 24 July 1871 Succeeded byManuel Ruiz Zorrilla Prime Minister of Spain 4 June 1872 – 13 June 1872 Succeeded byThe Marquis of Mendigorría Preceded byEmilio Castelar President of the Executive Power of Spain 3 January 1874 – 30 December 1874 Office abolished Monarchy restored in 1874 Head of State of Spainas President of the Executive Power 3 January 1874 – 30 December 1874 Succeeded byAlfonso XIIas King of Spain President of the Provisional Government of Spain 4 January 1874 – 26 February 1874 Succeeded byThe Marquis of Sierra Bullones Government offices Preceded byThe Marquis of Havana Captain General of Cuba 24 November 1859 – 3 December 1862 Succeeded byThe Marquis of Castell-Florite Diplomatic posts Preceded bySalustiano de Olózaga Spanish Ambassador to France 11 January 1856 – 2 June 1856 Succeeded bySalustiano de Olózaga Spanish nobility New creation Duke of la Torre 24 November 1862 – 26 November 1885 Succeeded byFrancisco Serrano
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Francisco Serrano, 1st Duke of la Torre
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