Agustín Fernando Muñoz Duke of Riánsares - Husband of Queen Maria Christina of Spain 1844

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Don Agustin Fernando Muñoz y Sánchez (1808-1873), Duke of Riánsares and Montmorot, Marquis of San Agustín, was the second and morganatic husband of Maria Christina, Regent of Spain. The letter is addressed to Adolphe-Ernest Fould (1824-1875). He was a French banker and politician and played a key role in the foundation of Banque de Paris (now part of BNP Paribas) and the Ottoman Bank. He was the son of Achille Fould, who served as French minister of finance during the Presidency of Napoleon III. The letter is written in French on embossed stationery dated 28th August 1844, discussing a King Charles III award for Mr. Bart, Prefect of the Hautes-Pyrenees, and an accident that happend to him and his friend on a road whilst in a carriage under the direction of Fould.

"My Dear Mr Fould,

As I had promised you, yesterday I wrote to the President of the Council of the Minister of Spain, recommending to him Mr Bart, Prefect of the Hautes-Pyrénées for the Cross of Charles III. I hope that the services rendered to the Spanish people, by the Prefect, will be the greatest recommendation to obtain the grace that is requested. On my part, I will do all that might depend on me to obtain it, both to prove my friendship to you, and for the pleasure that I will have to be amiable to the Prefect, to whom I am very indebted for the courtesies he showed to me under your guide.

I do not wish to end this letter without saying a word to you about the unhappy road that I spoke to you about: yesterday, when descending to Bagnères, my carriage was overturned and broken, and my friend Prado was nearly maimed. You had said to me that the matter was going well, and I hope that the road is made quickly to avoid other more unpleasant accidents.

I will not go to Pau for the Race because of my upcoming departure to Paris. If you have something to order I will be able to receive your orders here for three or four days yet. As always I will have the small horse taken to Mr Dupont's home to ride it to xxx.

Please accept, Sir, the assurance of my most perfect consideration.

The Duke of Riánsares

Bagnères-de-Bigorre 28 August 1844

Mr Fould, Deputy of the Hautes-Pyrénées"

Muñoz was born at Tarancón, 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.

Muñoz enlisted in the royal bodyguard, and attracted the attention of Maria Christina. 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[citation needed]. Maria Christina's husband, King Ferdinand VII of Spain died on 28 September 1833, and on 29 December 1833 she and Muñoz were privately married.

If Maria Christina had officially made the marriage public, she would have forfeited the regency; but her relations with Muñoz were perfectly well known within the Spanish court. When on 13 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 Muñoz, whom they called her guapo, or fancy man, and threatening to shoot him. In 1840 Maria Christina found her position intolerable; she renounced the regency and left Spain with Muñoz. In 1842 Maria Christina purchased the Château de Malmaison as their residence. In 1843, on the overthrow of General Baldomero Espartero they returned to Spain.

In 1844, Muñoz's stepdaughter Queen Isabella II was declared to be of age. On 23 June 1844 Isabella gave to Muñoz the title duque de Riánsares, to which was attached a Grandeza de España; the title came from the river Ánsares, near Muñoz's birthplace in Tarancón. On October 12, 1844 Isabella gave official consent to the marriage between her mother and Muñoz, and it was publicly performed. In 1846 Isabella made Muñoz a Knight of the Golden Fleece. On 30 May 1846 she gave Muñoz a second title, marqués de San Agustín. Muñoz was made a Captain General, the highest rank in the Spanish Army. In 1847 Louis Philippe, King of the French, gave Muñoz the title duc de Montmorot; he also invested Muñoz with the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur.

Until driven from Spain with Maria Christina by the revolutionary movement of 1854, Muñoz is credibly reported to have applied himself to making a large fortune out of railway concessions and by judicious stock exchange speculations. Of political ambitions he had none. All authorities agree that he was not only good-looking, but kind and well-bred.

Muñoz died in 1873, five years before his wife, at his home, Villa Mon Désir in Le Havre, near Sainte-Adresse, in France. His remains are buried in the crypt of the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Riánsares, several kilometres outside Tarancón.

Size: 20 x 13 cm approx

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