19th Century´s militar history in the Basque Country



The Carlists received financial help from the absolutist powers, though not military aid. Nonetheless, there were some foreign volunteers among Carlist lines. The best known of these was Karl F. Henningsen, a British subject and the first biographer of Tomás Zumalacárregui .

Henningsen was born in Scotland in 1815 and enlisted as a volunteer with the Carlists when he was just 19 years old. He joined Zumalacárregui's cavalry and fought in many battles. He also attended the signing of the Elliot Convention in 1835, much to the surprise of the British diplomat at seeing a Scot among the Carlists. He returned to England after the death of Zumalacárregui.

HENNINGSEN, C.F. "The most striking events of a twelvemonth´s campaign with Zumalacárregui in Navarre and the Basque Provinces." There, he worked to defend the Carlist stance and promote British neutrality. It was around this time that he wrote his book on Zumalacárregui, which was published in London in 1836, The most striking events of a twelvemonth´s campaign with Zumalacarregui in Navarre and the Basque Provinces. The book was a best seller and within just a few years, it had been translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish. The work generated a great deal of controversy among the British because it glorified the figure of Zumalacárregui and applauded the Carlist position.

After the Carlist Wars, Henningsen fought in many losing battles, such as that against the Russians in Caucasus or Kossuth's battle against the Austrians in Hungary, in 1849. Afterwards, he travelled to the United States with the Pirate Walter with the aim of creating a slave state in Central America. When he arrived, he joined in with the wars waged there, as was his way, and enlisted as an officer on the Southern Confederate side. He died in 1877 without ever winning any of the causes for which he fought.

Another 250 foreign volunteers, like Henningsen, fought in the Carlist lines. The majority were French monarchists, but there were also Portuguese, British, Belgians and Piedmontese. The Germans Schwarzenberg, Lichnowsky, Von Radhen, Von Goeben and Dembowsky were particularly well known because they all wrote books afterwards.

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