Eliza Lynch and the English in Paraguay 1853-1875

In the 1860s the Republic of Paraguay, under its dictator, Francisco Solano López, and his Irish consort, Eliza Lynch, became engaged in a desperate seven-years war with its neighbours. The memoirs of a small group of British doctors and engineers provide the basis for this account of the struggle.

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, for many years dictator of the land-locked South American state of Paraguay, died in 1840. His death was followed by months of uncertainty and disorder, until in 1841 a congress assembled and set up a dual consulate to govern the country. The more powerful of the two consuls, Carlos Antonio Lopez, became Paraguay’s first president when a new and authoritarian constitution was promulgated three years later.

The president was in fact an absolute ruler. An English visitor wrote:

“The President himself rarely sees or receives any society: he is, I suppose, more utterly alone than any man in the world, for, unlike other kings, he has neither ministers nor advisers of any kind; everything is arranged by his own hand, every officer of the executive appointed by him. The Bishop is his brother too, and the General of the army his son. The President is immensely fat: as he sat to receive me with his hat on, cocked a little to one side, he looked like George the Fourth... .

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