|Doña Manuela Sáenz|
Libertadora del Libertador
December 27, 1797|
November 23, 1856 (aged 58)|
|Occupation||Revolutionary and spy|
|Parents||Simón Sáenz Vergara and Maria Joaquina Aizpuru|
Doña Manuela Sáenz (December 27, 1797, or possibly 1795, in Quito, Ecuador – November 23, 1856 in Paita, Peru), "Libertadora del Libertador", was the mistress of the South American revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar.
Manuela Saénz was a revolutionary hero of South America. Venezuelan historian Denzil Romero calls her "perhaps the most important woman in Latin American history" and says that she "had more political influence than even Eva Perón."[cite this quote]
Manuela was born in Quito, the illegitimate child of the married Spanish nobleman Simón Sáenz Vergara (or Sáenz y Verega) and Maria Joaquina Aizpuru from Ecuador. Her mother was abandoned by her modest family and young "Manuelita" went to school at the Convent of Santa Catalina where she learned to read, to write and express herself. She was forced to leave the convent at the age of seventeen, when she was discovered to have been seduced by army officer Fausto D'Elhuyar, nephew and son of Juan José and Fausto de Elhuyar y de Suvisa, the co-discoverers of tungsten.
For several years, she lived with her father, who in 1817 arranged her marriage to a wealthy English merchant, James Thorne, twice her age. They moved to Lima, Peru, in 1819 where she lived as an aristocrat and held social gatherings in her home where guests included political leaders and military officers. These guests shared military secrets about the ongoing revolution with her, and, in 1819, when Simón Bolívar took part in the successful liberation of New Granada, Manuela Sáenz became an active member in the conspiracy against the viceroy of Perú, José de la Serna e Hinojosa 1820.
In 1822, she left her husband and traveled to Quito, where she met Simón Bolívar. They felt an instant attraction to each other and, for the following eight years, she dedicated her life to Bolivar. She exchanged love letters with him, visited him while he moved from one country to another, and supported the revolutionary cause by gathering information, distributing leaflets and protesting for women's rights. As one of the first women involved, Manuela received the "Order of the Sun" ("Caballeresa del Sol"), honoring her services in the revolution. During the first months of 1825 and from February to September 1826, she lived with Bolívar near Lima, but as the war continued, Bolívar was forced to leave. Manuela later followed him to Bogota. On September 25, 1828, mutinous officers attempted to assassinate Bolívar, but with Manuela's help he was able to escape, which made him later call her "Libertadora del Libertador".
Bolívar left Bogotá in 1830 and died in Santa Marta from tuberculosis on his way out of the country in exile, without leaving anything to Manuela. She became a thorn in the side of Francisco de Paula Santander, who returned to power after Bolívar's death. Santander exiled Manuela and she went to Jamaica. When she attempted to return to Ecuador in 1835, the Ecuadorian president Vicente Rocafuerte revoked her passport and she ended up in northern Peru, living in the small coastal town of Paita. While there, she met the American author, Herman Melville.
For the next 25 years, despised and destitute, Manuela sold tobacco and translated letters that North American whale hunters wrote to their lovers in Latin America.
In 1847, her husband was murdered in Pativilca and she was denied the 8,000 pesos inheritance by her enemies. Disabled after the stairs in her home collapsed, "Manuelita" died in Paita, on November 23, 1856, during a diphtheria epidemic. Her body was buried in a communal mass grave and her belongings, including most of Bolivar's love letters, were burned.
There is an impressive statue of her outside the entrance to the Mitad del Mundo Equatorial Line Monument outside Quito, Ecuador
Museum Manuela Sáenz
- "Museo Manuela Sáenz"
- Barrio San Marcos, Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador
- The museum contains her history, paintings, stamps and personal effects.
- Casa de Manuelita Sáenz, Downtown-Bogota Colombia
- "The Four Seasons of Manuela". Biography by Victor Wolfgang von Hagen (1974)
- "Manuela". Novel by Gregory Kauffman (1999). ISBN 0-9704250-0-7
- "Manuela Sáenz - La Libertadora del Libertador". Author: Alfonso Rumazo González (Quito 1984)
- "En Defensa de Manuela Sáenz". Authors: Pablo Neruda, Ricardo Palma, Victor von Hagen, Vicente Lecuma, German Arciniegas, Alfonso Rumazo, Pedro Jorge Vera, Jorge Salvador Lara, Jorge Enrique Adoum, Mario Briceño Perozo, Mary Ferrero, Benjamín Carrión, Jorge Villalba S.J., Leonardo Altuve, Juan Liscano (Quito)
- "Manuela Sáenz - presencia y polémica en la historia". Authors: María Mogollón and Ximena Narváez (Quito 1997)
- "la Vida Ardiente De Manuelita Sáenz". Author: Alberto Miramón (Bogota 1946)
- For Glory and Bolívar: The Remarkable Life of Manuela Sáenz. Biography by Pamela S. Murray. (Austin, TX 2008). ISBN 978-0-292-71829-6