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If Argentina was a monarchy – who would be their king?

Monarchy isn’t necessarily the most fashionable form of government in the 21st century. In the world today, we have republics which were once monarchies. Among them are Serbia, a nation with a strong royal family even though the nation officially is a republic. On the other hand, we have countries like France, where three different families claim the title of King or Emperor of the nation, and the monarchist cause is quite weak. And then we have countries like Argentina – a republic without any individual royal or monarchical past. So, what if that nation suddenly wanted a monarch? Who would be their king?

Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and disputed de jure extension. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In Argentina, we can find traces of two monarchies. While the nation Argentina has never been ruled by a separate monarch they have had a monarch in parts of the country or as a part of a bigger country. Argentina was for centuries a Spanish colony and therefore under the rule of the king of Spain.

In 1776 the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was established. It would be the last created and also the shortest-lived of the Viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire in America. The Viceroyalty consisted of the present-day territories of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, extending inland from the Atlantic Coast. Buenos Aires in today’s Argentina was chosen as the capital.

Orélie-Antoine I, King of Araucanía and Patagonia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1809, the Criollo elite revolted against colonial authorities at La Paz and Chuquisaca, establishing revolutionary governments, juntas. The revolution spread across the Viceroyalty, except for Paraguay which declared itself an independent nation in 1811 and Upper Peru which remained controlled by royalist troops from Lima, and was eventually re-incorporated into the Viceroyalty of Peru. The final fall of the Viceroyalty came in 1814.

In 1860 the Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia was proclaimed by a French lawyer, Antoine de Tounens, after winning support from leaders of the Mapuche people. He had promised them support from France to retain their independence from Chile. The man who had travelled from southwest France to South America to set up a new monarchy then declared himself King Orelie-Antoine I.

The kingdom consisted of parts of the regions of Araucanía and eastern Patagonia, parts of Chile and Argentina. The nation faced hostile military and economic encroachment by the governments of Chile and Argentina from day one.  Chilean president José Joaquín Pérez authorized Cornelio Saavedra Rodríguez, commander of the Chilean troops invading Araucanía to capture Antoine de Tounens on January 5, 1862. He was then imprisoned and declared insane, and the kingdom came to an end. The kingdom tried three times to re-establish itself without success.

If we look at this in a historical light, there are perhaps two people who might have claimed the title of King of Argentina if it had ever been relevant. Either it must have been the king of Spain or the present pretender to the throne of Araucanía and Patagonia, who is 45-year-old Frédéric Luz.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.