agustina de aragon

Agustina de Aragón (1786-1857) was a heroine of the Spanish War of Independence, sometimes dubbed as the ‘Joan of Arc of Spain’. She was first a civilian, then became an officer in the Spanish Army.

In 1808, during the First Siege of Zaragoza, she arrived on the ramparts to bring food to the soldiers, but ended up lighting the fuse to a cannon and annihilating a wave of attackers. She then became an officer, being promoted up to the rank of Captain. She is still a popular figure in Spanish art, culture, and mythology.

Painting above by Juan Galvez.

Agustina de Aragón by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau 
Agustina de Aragon
 was a Spanish heroine who defended Spain during the Spanish War of Independence, first as a civilian and later as a professional officer in the Spanish Army. Known as “the Spanish Joan of Arc, she has been the subject of much folklore, mythology, and artwork, including sketches by Francisco de Goya and the poetry of Lord Byron.

In the summer of 1808, Zaragoza was one of the last cities in northern Spain not to have fallen to the forces of Napoleon and was therefore, by the time of the siege, choked with vast numbers of refugees fleeing the advancing Grande Armée. In early June, the French began to advance on Zaragoza, which had not seen war for about 450 years and was held by a tiny provincial force under José de Palafox, whose heroism would come to rival Agustina’s.

On June 15, 1808, the French army stormed the Portillo, an ancient gateway into the city defended by a hodgepodge battery of old cannons and a heavily outnumbered volunteer unit. Agustina, arriving on the ramparts with a basket of apples to feed the gunners, watched the nearby defenders fall to French bayonets. The Spanish troops broke ranks, having suffered heavy casualties, and abandoned their posts. With the French troops a few yards away, Agustina herself ran forward, loaded a cannon, and lit the fuse, shredding a wave of attackers at point blank range.

The sight of a lone woman bravely manning the cannons inspired the fleeing Spanish troops and other volunteers to return and assist her. After a bloody struggle, the French gave up the assault on Zaragosa and abandoned their siege for a few short weeks before returning to fight their way into the city, house-by-house

Agustina de Aragón (1786-1857)

It was 1808.  Napoleon’s forces were descending upon Zaragoza, one of the last Spanish cities that had not fallen.  The Spanish defense was unprepared and heavily outnumbered, and those that did not fall to French bayonets abandoned their posts in terror.  Then, out of the fray came Agustina, who had been distributing food amongst the Spanish gunners.  With the French only a few yards away and advancing, Agustina loaded a cannon and fired point-blank into the French lines.  The sight of bits of Frenchmen falling from the sky gave the Spaniards renewed courage, and they eventually won the day.  This is the most famous story about Agustina, but the French hadn’t seen the last of her.  The second siege of Zaragoza was a French victory and Agustina was captured and imprisoned.  After seeing her son die at the hands of the guards, she decided she wasn’t going to have any more of this nonsense and organized an escape.  Soon afterwards, she became a leader of a band of guerrilla fighters, gradually weakening the French.  The Duke of Wellington recruited her as his only female officer, and she eventually rose to the rank of Captain.  She was a front line commander at the Battle of Vitoria, a decisive victory that drove the French out of Spain for good.  After the war, she settled down and married a doctor in Zaragoza.  She is said to have been a familiar sight around the town, a respectable old lady strolling about with a chest full of medals.  Hey, if you got it, flaunt it.

Agustina de Aragon (1786 - 1857)

Agustina Raimunda María Saragossa Domènech, was a Spanish woman who defended Spain during the Spanish War of Independence, first as a civilian and later as a professional officer in the Spanish Army.

In 1808, her town Saragossa, was surrounded by Napoleanic armies. They Spanish were highly outnumbered and were losing hope soon. Agustina was passing out apples to the artillerymen. When she noticed them lose courage and leave the battlefield, she loaded an abandoned canon and fired at the French at close range. Her actions encouraged the other soldiers to come back to their positions. The French soon gave up the siege only to come back weeks later, when they successfully defeated the Spanish. 

She was captured later but made an escape from the Frech and became a guerrillero leader who helped organize raids and attacks to harrss the Frech. She went on to become Wellington’s only female officer at the time, and was made a captain She was a front line battery commander at the Battle of Vitoria, which drove the French out of Spain.

She married a doctor after the war, and died at 71. Her remains lie in Chapel of the Annunciation in the Church of Our Lady.

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Agustina de Aragón (1786 - 1857)

Spanish heroine who defended Spain during the Peninsular War. Mostly known for her bravery during the Siege of Zaragoza.

“On June 15, 1808, the French army stormed the Portillo, an ancient gateway into the city defended by a hodgepodge battery of old cannons and a heavily outnumbered volunteer unit. Agustina, arriving on the ramparts with a basket of apples to feed the gunners, watched the nearby defenders fall to French bayonets. The Spanish troops broke ranks, having suffered heavy casualties, and abandoned their posts. With the French troops a few yards away, Agustina herself ran forward, loaded a cannon, and lit the fuse, shredding a wave of attackers at point blank range.

The sight of a lone woman bravely manning the cannons inspired the fleeing Spanish troops and other volunteers to return and assist her. After a bloody struggle, the French gave up the assault on Zaragoza.”

After Zaragoza was captured, Agustina was imprisioned and saw her firstborn child die at the hands of the French. She escaped and became a leader in the guerrilla. Agustina began to fight for the allied forces as Wellington’s only female officer and ultimately rose to the rank of Captain.

Agustina de Aragon, the “Spanish Joan of Arc”

In 1808, Napoleon’s forces surrounded a small city in Spain called Saragossa. Saragossa was being defending by volunteer soldiers who were vastly outnumbered. They had been cut of from supplies and amunitions and Napoleon’s army continued to bear down on them. Soon, they broke the defences and the Spanish soldiers started to retreat.

Agustina had been on the battlements handing out food to the soldiers during the battle. When she saw the troops fleeing, she went up to one of the cannons and started to fight off the French troops on her own. The Spanish soldiers saw her efforts and went back to fighting. They forced the French soldiers back and launched a counter-attack that forced Napoleon to lift the siege on Saragossa.

A few months later, however, the French returned and Agustina was captured as a prisoner of war. She promptly escaped and joined the Spanish guerilla movemement. She participated in raids against French supply depots and military bases to help liberate her country.

After a few years of fighting, Agustina’s guerilleros joined the Free Spanish Regular Army serving under the Duke of Wellington and during the campaign she was promoted to the rank of Captain and was placed in charge of a full artillery battery. At the Battle of Victoria in 1813, she and her men fought bravely and Wellington managed to drive the French Army out of Spain.