Augustin Fernandez Munoz, duke of Riansares - Encyclopedia

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AUGUSTIN FERNANDEZ MUNOZ RIANSARES, DUKE OF (1808 or 1810-1873), morganatic husband of Maria Christina, queen and regent of Spain, was born at Tarancon, in the province of Cuenca, in New Castile. His father was the keeper of an "estanco" or office for the sale of the tobacco of the government monopoly. He enlisted in the bodyguard, and attracted the attention of the queen. According to one account, he distinguished himself by stopping the runaway horses of her carriage; according to another, he only picked up her handkerchief; a third and scandalous explanation of his fortune has been given. It is certain that the queen married him privately, very soon after the death of her husband on the 29th of September 1833. By publishing her marriage, Maria Christina would have forfeited the regency; but her relations with Munoz were perfectly well known. When on the 13th of August 1836 the soldiers on duty at the summer palace, La Granja, mutinied and forced the regent to grant a constitution, it was generally, though wrongly, believed that they overcame her reluctance by seizing Munoz, whom they called her "guapo," or fancy man, and threatening to shoot him. When in 1840 the queen found her position intolerable and fled the country, Munoz went with her and the marriage was published, and on the overthrow of Espartero in 1843 the couple returned. In 1844 Queen Isabella II., who was now declared to be of age, gave her consent to her mother's marriage, which was publicly performed. Munoz was created duke of Riansares and made a knight of the Golden Fleece. By Louis Philippe, king of the French, he was created duke of Mont-Morot and Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. Until his wife was finally driven from Spain by the revolutionary movement of 1854, the duke is credibly reported to have applied himself to making a large fortune out of railway concessions and by judicious stock exchange speculations. Political ambitions he had none, and it is said that he declined the offer of the crown of Ecuador. All authorities agree that he was not only good-looking, but kindly and well-bred. He died five years before his wife at L'Adresse, near Havre, on the 11th of September 1873. Several children were born of the marriage.

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