Joaqnin Baldomero Espartero, duke de la Vitoria, a Spanish soldier, born at Granatula, near Ciudad Real, Feb. 27, 1792. He is the son of a wheelwright, and was intended for the church, but in 1808 entered the army. He engaged in 1815 under Morillo in the war against the insurgents of South America, fought in Venezuela and Peru, and rose to the rank of brigadier general. After the surrender of the Spanish troops at Ayacucho in 1824, he returned to Spain with a considerable fortune. He favored the succession of Isabella II. to the throne, and the appointment of Queen Christina as regent during her minority. Upon the breaking out of the civil war after the death of Ferdinand VII. (1833), he was made commander-in-chief of the province of Biscay, and afterward lieutenant general. In the contest with the Carlists he displayed energy and ability, and was appointed general-in-chief of the army of the north, viceroy of Navarre, and captain general of the Basque provinces. In December, 1836, with the assistance of the British fleet, he drove the Carlists from Lu-chana, raised the siege of Bilbao, and was created count of Luchana. As a member of the constituent cortes he supported the new constitution of 1837. In that year he compelled the army of Don Carlos, which had advanced to the walls of Madrid (September), to retreat across the Ebro in 1838 defeated the Carlist generals Negri and Guergue; and having gained new victories early in 1839, was created a grandee of the first class, with the title of duke de la Vitoria and of Morella. In August, 1839, he concluded with the Carlist general Maroto the convention of Vergara which amounted to a submission on the part of the Carlists. Don Carlos left the country, and Cabrera, the only Carlist general who remained, was soon after defeated by Espartero. Queen Christina endeavored to strengthen her power by placing Espartero at the head of the ministry; and when in 1840 she was compelled to resign the regency and retired to France, Espartero was appointed regent.
During his administration insurrections broke out in different parts of Spain, especially at Pamplona and Barcelona. Espartero asserted his authority with ability and energy, refused several demands of the Christinos, and gave further offence by some commercial arrangements with England. A revolutionary junta assembled at Barcelona in 1843, and declared that Isabella had attained her majority, and that the regency was at an end. . Espartero was deserted by all parties, and Narvaez, his personal enemy, in July entered Madrid in triumph at the head of an army. Espartero retired to England, where he resided till 1847, when he was restored to his honors, and resumed his position as senator. When Christina was again forced to leave Spain in 1854, Espartero was placed by Queen Isabella at the head of the cabinet, O'Donnell, the principal leader of the Christinos, being made minister of war. This coalition ministry was short-lived, and Espartero resigned in July, 1856. After the expulsion of Queen Isabella in 1868, he supported the provisional government.
In 1870 several members of the cortes offered him the crown, but he declined it on the ground of his great age and his want of heirs.