Alexandre Dupont

The Cannons of Newport. An Inquiry in the Worlds of the Counter-revolutionary International

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Transnational Solidarity; Arms Smuggling; European Royalism.

In the end of 1873, the Carlists, who were leading a civil war against the Spanish liberal government since 1872, decided to acquire cannons in England and send them off to Spain. It was one of the main smuggling operations the counter-revolutionaries organized during that war. Aware of this clandestine manoeuvre, the ambassador managed to regain the cannons. Despite its finale failure, this vast smuggling operation reveals the modernity of the transnational structuration of counter-revolution in modern times. This article aims to use this case as an observatory of the counter-revolutionary international in the 19 th century. The Carlists and their supports were able to build a complex transnational political solidarity that connected together different places and spaces. The cannons of Newport were part of a huge circuit of arms and goods for the Carlists at a transnational scale. Such a transnational organization was made possible by the contacts and the circulations between counter-revolutionaries from all Europe. It supposed the participation of another world of actors: arms dealers, smugglers, ship-owners, sailors who put their skills at the service of the royalists. On the other side, the governments also had to work together in order to make the repression possible. This repression determined the dynamics of counter-revolutionary transnational politics, and supposed the development of secrecy skills. In the end, this case underlines how much this international solidarity relied on serious and well-prepared projects and on a real capacity of innovation of the counter-revolutionaries. The transnational solidarity in 1872-1876 was essential to the Spanish royalists as it provided to them money, weapons, men and supplies. The counter-revolutionaries were perfectly able to deal with this situation. This contrasts greatly with the traditional image of counter-revolution in 19 th century Europe. In spite of the finale failure for the Carlists, the case of the cannons of Newport offers therefore an incredible immersion in the multiple worlds of the counter-revolutionary internationalism.

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