After the embarrassing episode of the Abdications of Bayonne, Joseph Bonaparte was appointed king of Spain by his brother Napoleon. He was the official king of Spain during the Peninsular War, even though he was a convinced republican. Joseph I tried to modernize the country, but he was not loved by his subjects. The Spaniards invented several nicknames to mock him and spread rumours about his supposed vices. For example, he was called "Pepe Botella" and "El rey de copas", because rumours said that he was an alcoholic. However, he didn´t drink alcohol: he was a teetotaller. The story of his supposed passion for alcohol comes from his petition of wine for his troops when they were close to Calahorra, in La Rioja.
Joseph I was also called "Pepe Plazuelas" in Madrid, because he ordered to demolish several churches and convents to open squares in this city (for example, the Orient Square (Plaza de Oriente, in front of the Royal Palace). Other nicknames he received were "El Empeorador" (although his reforms were aimed to improve the Spanish administration and modernize the country), "El rey Pepino" (probably because his first name was Giuseppe and the Italian diminutive of Giuseppe is Beppino or Peppino), "Pepino el Tuerto" (he was not one-eyed, but he used a monocle), "Rey Pepe, Pepino, Pepillo y Pipote", "José Postrero" (instead of José Primero)...
Joseph I tried to gain the love of his subjects. He hated bullfighting, but he restored it (it had been forbidden by Charles IV) and allowed free bullfights to gain his people´s sympathy. He was also accused of being a compulsive gambler, only because he allowed the sale of playing cards.
His wife didn´t come with him in Spain. During his stay, he had several mistresses. One of them was the Marchioness of Montehermoso. The Marquis of Montehermoso agreed with this relationship and in exchange for his "consent" he received the Royal Order of Cavalry and was appointed Grandee of Spain. Here you have a popular tune the people sung about this relationship:
La señora marquesa
tiene un tintero
donde moja la pluma
And this his a portrait of the Marchioness, painted by Goya in 1811:
María Pilar de Acedo y Sarriá, Marchioness of Montehermoso (1811), by Goya
Here you have some satirical drawings depicting Joseph I:
Source of the pictures above:
Ni es caballo, ni yegua, ni pollino en el que va montado, que es pepino
If you click on the link below, you will have a complete explanation of this last satirical drawing:
And these are some popular tunes sung "in his honour":
Es mi voluntad, y quiero
ha dicho Napoleón
que sea Rey de esta Nación
mi hermano José Primero.
Es mi voluntad, y quiero
responde la España ufana
que se vaya a cardar lana
este rey José Postrero.
¿Los franceses a España
a qué han venido?
A robar gallinas
y a beber vino.
Pepe Botella, baja al despacho,
no puedo ahora que estoy borracho.
Pierde cuidado, Pepe,
que aunque no quieras,
has de ser rey de España
por tus botellas,
pues ellas solas
de tus estados
gran rey de copas...
y le decía su hermano:
borracho, tunante, perdido, ladrón...
Tráelo, Marica, a Napoleón,
Tráelo, y le pagaremos la contribución
Ya viene por la ronda
con un ojo postizo
y el otro huero
Ya se va por las ventas
el rey pepino,
con un par de botellas para el camino
Joseph I left Spain in June 1813, after the French defeat in the Battle of Vitoria. He brought with him a huge loot, including important works of art. This loot has been called Joseph I's baggage. Part of these works of art ended in the hands of the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Vitoria. ellington offered to give all these works of art back to Ferdinand VII, but this one surprisingly rejected to recover them. That is the reason why some of the paintings which had belonged to the Spanish royal collection and were recovered by Wellington are displayed in Apsley House, Wellington's Museum in London.
Here you have a link where you can learn about the works of art included in Joseph I's baggage:
If you want to learn more about Joseph I as king of Spain, here you have some links in Spanish: