Don Jose Nicholas De Azara (1731-1804), Spanish diplomatist, was born in 1731 at Barbunales, Aragon, and was appointed in 1765 Spanish agent and procurator-general, and in 1785 ambassador at Rome. During his long residence there he distinguished himself as a collector of Italian antiquities and as a patron of art. He was also an able and active diplomatist, took a leading share in the difficult and hazardous task of the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain, and was instrumental in securing the election of Pius VI. He withdrew to Florence when the French took possession of Rome in 1798, but acted on behalf of the pope during his exile and after his death at Valence in 1799. He was afterwards Spanish ambassador in Paris. In that post it was his misfortune to be forced by his government to conduct the negotiations which led to the treaty of San Ildefonso, by which Spain was wholly subjected to Napoleon. Azara was friendly to a French alliance, but his experience showed him that his country was being sacrificed to Napoleon. The First Consul liked him personally, and found him easy to influence.
Azara died, worn out, in Paris in 1804. His end was undoubtedly embittered by his discovery of the ills which the French alliance must produce for Spain.
Several sympathetic notices of Azara will be found in Thiers, Consulat et Empire. See also Reinado de Carlos IV, by Gen. J. Gomez de Arteche, in the Historia General de España, published by the R. Acad. de la Historia, Madrid, 1892, etc. There is a Notice historique sur le Chevalier d'Azara by Bourgoing (1804).
His younger brother, Don Felix de Azara (1746-1811), spent twenty years in South America as a commissioner for delimiting the boundary between the Spanish and Portuguese territories. He made many observations on the natural history of the country, which, together with an account of the discovery and history of Paraguay and Rio de la Plata, were incorporated in his principal work, Voyage dans l'Amérique méridionale depuis 1781 jusqu'en 1801, published at Paris in 1809 in French from his MS. by C. A. Walckenaer.