Don Juan Prim y Prats, Marquis of Los Castillejos, Grandee of Spain, Count of Reus, Viscount of El Bruch (Spanish pronunciation: Catalan: Joan Prim i Prats. 12 December 1814 in Reus, Spain – 30 December 1870 in Madrid) was a Spanish general and statesman.
Prim was the son of lieutenant colonel Pablo Prim. He entered the free corps known as the volunteers of Isabella II in 1834, and in the course of the Carlist War he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and had two orders of knighthood conferred upon him. After the pacification of 1839, as a progressist opposed to the dictatorship of General Espartero, he was sent into exile.
However, in 1843 he was elected deputy for Tarragona, and after defeating Espartero at Bruch he entered Madrid in triumph with General Serrano. The regent Maria Christina promoted him major-general, and made him conde de Reus (Count of Reus) and vizconde del Bruch (Viscount of El Bruch).
General Narváez, the prime minister, failed to understand what constitutional freedom meant, and General Prim, on showing signs of opposition, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in the Philippine Islands. The sentence was not carried out, and Prim remained an exile in England and France until the amnesty of 1847. He then returned to Spain, and was first employed as captain-general of Puerto Rico (Governor of Puerto Rico) and afterwards as military representative with the sultan during the Crimean War.
In 1854 he was elected to the cortes, and gave his support to General O’Donnell, who promoted him lieutenant-general in 1856. In the war with Morocco he did such good service at Castillejos (Fnideq), Cabo Negro, Guad al Gelu and Campamento in 1860 that he was made marqués de los Castillejos (Marquis of Los Castillejos) and Grande de España (Grandee of Spain).
Prim commanded the Spanish army in Mexico when it refused to consent to the ambitious schemes of Napoleon III. On his return to Spain he joined the opposition, heading pronunciamentos in Catalonia against generals Narváez and O’Donnell. All his attempts failed until the death of Narváez in April 1868, after which Queen Isabella fell more and more under the influence of the Jesuits, and became increasingly tyrannical, until at last even Serrano was exiled.
In September 1868 General Serrano and General Prim returned, and Brigadier Topete, commanding the fleet, raised the standard of revolt at Cádiz. In July 1869 General Serrano was elected regent, and Prim became president of the council and was made a marshal.
“Amadeo I in front of the coffin of General Prim (1870)” by Antonio Gisbert
On 6 November 1870 Amadeo, Duke of Aosta, was elected king of Spain, but General Prim, on leaving the chamber of the Cortes on 28 December, was shot by unknown assassins and died two days later. The Cortes took his children as wards of the country; three days afterwards King Amadeo I swore in the presence of the corpse to observe the new Spanish constitution.
This is due to the fact that Prim had searched all the European courts of the time trying to find a monarch who was not opposed to being democratically elected. He is quoted for saying that “looking for a democratic monarch in Europe is like trying to find an atheist in heaven”.