Biography of Agustina de Aragón (1786-1857)

Famous heroin Spanish the Guerra of the Independencianacida in the parish of Santa María del Mar, in Barcelona, on March 4, 1786, and dead in Ceuta on May 29, 1857, whose real name was that of Agustina Raimunda María Saragossa Doménech. From the moment of its heroic participation in the siege of Zaragoza during the aforementioned war, it became known by the nickname of Agustina de Aragón and also as "the artillera". As often happens with the popular myths, the feat performed by Agustina is so great and greatly distorted with the passage of time, idealizing the occurred events.

On his birth certificate, that the pastor of Santa María del Mar, is still preserved, Ramón Albert, says: "on March 6, 1786. On this day, month and year have christened Raymunda María Agustina, legitimate daughter of Pedro Juan Saragossa, worker, and Raymunda Doménech, spouses. They were her godparents Juan Altarriba, gunsmith, and Agustina Vilumara, woman of the godfather. I instructed them from existing obligations that contracting. Ramon Albert and Juliana, priest Subvicario"

His parents, Pedro Juan Francisco Ramón Saragossa Labastida and Raimunda Doménech Gasull, were Lleida, Fulleda village. Due to the shortage of work and family needs, they marched to Barcelona, a city where the family settled.

April 16, 1803, aged just seventeen, Agustina married Juan Roca Vilaseca, young natural military of Cabrenys Masanet, who at that time serving as second place of the first Regiment of the Real body of artillery, designed in Barcelona.

When in 1808 erupted the war of independence against Napoleon's French troops led by general Murat, Juan Roca participated in all the skirmishes that took place in Catalonia. As it was customary at the time, Agustina and their small son, who was just four years old, joined the army by all fields of battle. In this way they came to Zaragoza.

In the plaza de Zaragoza, Juan Roca was Sergeant. In the month of July 1808 the French troops began the siege of the city, under the command of general Lefebvre. The general Palafox, responsible for the Organization of the defense of the city, rejected the proposal for surrender made by his French counterpart. Lefebvre then began preparations to conquer the city. The French plans were attacked by three places: the door of Carmen, and el Portillo and Santa Engracia. The morning of June 15, 1808 the French bombardment hit, and the town was attacked on all sides. The citizens of the siege were put at the forefront of the resistance and put up barricades in the attacked places.

On 2 July the defenses of the door of the door began to weaken. These defenses were entrusted to Francisco Marco del Pont , which had just arrived to Zaragoza after escaping from its prison of Pamplona. At that moment was when Agustina entered into history and earned the nickname of the Artillera. Agustina del Portillo was helping the troops like so many other women, who were in charge of transporting munitions and attend to the wounded. When French troops prepared to enter through the gap opened in the Zaragoza defense, Agustina, at just 22 years old, captured a Spanish battery whose workers had died and shot it over the surprised French soldiers, which were forced to retreat before the unexpected defensive fire. This setback was vital to obtain the necessary time and that the reinforcements take positions and it sealed the gap. In a memorial that, some time later, on August 12, 1810 in Seville, the own Agustina went to Fernando VII, tells follows what happened: "[...] under attack with greater fury, hastens is among the gunners, it helps them, help them and says: encourage gunners, that there are women when you can no more!. Had not spent much time when falls shot into the chest of the Cape that he/she sent in the absence of other Xefe, which withdrew for dead; and also fall from a grenade, and burned cartridges that flew nearly all the gunners, and unfortunately this unused battery and exposed to be assaulted: effect, a column was already approaching enemy when taking the exponent a passes botafuego through dead and injured, unloading a cannon of a 24 with bullet and shrapnel, exploited in such a waythat arose the few Gunners surprise that lay in view of such sudden random, argues with them fire until it reaches a reinforcement of another battery, and they oblige the enemy to a shameful and abrupt withdrawal. In this day of glory through the part of the battery Commander Colonel who was of grenadiers of Palafox, it decorates the General with the title of Artillera and salary of six real daily [...] "."

When general Palafox had news of the courageous action of Agustina, wife of one of the soldiers under his command was in their search and on the same battlefield gave him the distinction of second lieutenant and the use of two shields with the slogan: "Defender of Zaragoza" and "Reward of courage and patriotism".

Once rejected the first site to Zaragoza, Agustina remained in the city and took part in the defense of the same before the second attempt of the French, on December 20, this time led by generals Moncey and Mortier. December 31, Agustina received Palafox a new distinction by the value displayed in the fighting. Currently Agustina ill, possibly from plague, and had to pull out of the defensive line. Prostrate bedridden in the convent of San Agustín, he/she received the news of the entrance in Zaragoza from the French troops.

Agustina was taken prisoner as well as his son, who died shortly after victim of the plague and famine. Born the deposit of Casablanca, there found her husband, which escaped in Puente la Reina. On August 30, 1809, already released, he/she was awarded by Fernando VII the rank and salary of Lieutenant of infantry, rank he/she held until his death.

In the decision of Fernando VII had everything to do the report referring to the King about what happened in the defense of Zaragoza the own Palafox. Paradoxically, this report of Palafox is the beginning of the legend of Agustina and first idealization and aggrandizement of the events. In it, Palafox says about Agustina: "[...] linked with Terminal with a Gunnery Sergeant, with whom he/she was arranged his marriage; It served this umisha that a canon 24, and then a bullet enemy hits him and tends to the ground; came the Agustina bring you refreshment and were not allowed entry, content in contemplating her lover from the Gorge of the battery, see him fall and presented it at the same site was the work of a moment, corpse starts the botafuego that was still in the hand, filled with heroic enthusiasm says: here I am to getting revengeshake the botafuego and applies it to the canon declaring it would not separate from the side of his beloved to losing her life [...]"

According to the writings of Palafox, Agustina came Zaragoza shortly before the first siege to the city, since June 6 you position it in the skirmish of the asparagus next to her husband; This was not in Zaragoza at the time which came the success of the canon, since it was intended for temporarily with his regiment in Belchite. Little is known of what happened later in the life of Juan Roca with the exception that the 31 December 1816 serving as a second lieutenant in the Royal artillery body.

In the final moments of the Guerra de Agustina independence was the subject of many tributes both by the people who made her into a national heroine, military commanders, who praised its value. Thus, he/she moved to Seville where the general Blake and the Marqués de Lazán prepared you a warm welcome. Your stay in Seville was short since he/she soon showed his desire to return to Catalonia together with her husband, since in this region still continued the war against the French. He/She then participated in the defense of Tortosa, and when this square collapsed, he/she joined the guerrillas led by Francisco Abad, vest.

It is not safe, even if likely, their participation in the battle of Vitoria in 1813. Later, rock was sent to America, and Agustina stayed in Spain. In August 1814, Agustina came back to Zaragoza. In this city he/she received a letter from Palafox in which communicated you the desire of the King to know. On 25 August he/she was received in audience by Fernando VII, which exposed the bad economic conditions of the family. Fernando VII took into account the heroic defence of Zaragoza and the good reports of Palafox, so assigned, on September 5, 1814, a life pension of one hundred real monthly, in addition to having of second lieutenant. Soon after, Agustina returned with her husband to Barcelona. By these dates was born the second son of the marriage and, due to the poor health of the child, the family moved to Segovia in the spring of 1817. Juan Roca was then promoted to Lieutenant of artillery. On May 12, 1822 he/she requested low by illness and died on 1 August of the following year in Barcelona.

In March 1824 Agustina married a doctor's name Juan Cobos Mesperuza, next to which settled in Valencia. In this city was born in 1824 his third daughter, Carlota name. The family moved to Seville, where he/she remained until 1847, date this in which Charlotte married an administrative officer of the army stationed in Ceuta. This town Agustina moved with the young couple, while her husband and another son were left in Seville.

Agustina died in 1857 in Ceuta, where preserved his death certificate, which reads as follows: "[...] In the fidelisima city and plaza of Ceuta, the twentieth day and nine of may of the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven, died of a lung condition, in the House of his dwelling and communion of our Holy Mother Church, of seventy-one years old, Doña Agustina Saragossa Doménech, natural in Barcelona, graced by S. M. The King Don Fernando (Q.E.P.D) with the nature and prerogatives of vivid and effective army officer, awarded several crosses of distinction by heroic deeds of war in the famous independence, legitimate daughter of Don Pedro Zaragoza and Mrs. Raimunda Doménech, natural of Juneda, in the province of Lleida. He/She was widow of Don Juan Roca Vilaseca, whose marriage leaves a son, and being married in second marriage with Don Juan Cobo Belchite and Reperma, native of Almeria, whose marriage has left a daughter. Received the Holy sacraments of penance, Holy Viaticum and extreme unction. He/She made a testament. His corpse was buried today, following his death, expressed in the General Cemetery of Santa Catalina, outside the walls of this city"

The Ceuta cemetery where he/she was buried, is not conserved but if the inscription for his tombstone: "here lie the remains of the illustrious heroine, whose acts of courage and virtue in the independence war filled the world's admiration. "His life, type of Christian morality, ended in Ceuta on May 29, 1857 at the age of seventy-one: her husband Don Juan Cobos, his daughter Doña Carlota and political son don Francisco Atienza, engaged in this memory dear remainders".

On June 14, 1870 his remains were moved to Zaragoza, where they were buried in the Cathedral of the pillar then be definitively buried in the parish of Nuestra Señora del Portillo.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most representative figures of the resistance from the Aragonese people against the French troops during the war of independence. Its popularity from the episode of the Portillo was enormous, becoming the great Hispanic symbol before the attack of Napoleon's troops, together other many heroes of popular mythology, considered the numantines modern times according to Pérez Galdós: "Those countrymen half-naked, with Sandals on the feet and a handkerchief head wound".


Archivo General military of Segovia.

ROOM VALDÉS and GARCIA room, Mario of the: historic obelisk in honor of the heroic defenders of Saragossa (1808-1809). Zaragoza, 1908.

PAEZ RIOS, Elena: Hispanic iconography. Madrid, 1966. 5 vols.