If you get elected president of the Andalusian Regional Government, you can live in the Saint Telmo Palace, if you want. And, I’m sure you would after listening to what we are about to tell you.
The building, a grand Baroque Palace, was built between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to teach orphaned children nautical skills and then use them on ships that went to the New World. As you already know in those days, they didn’t do anything for nothing.
That is already a story itself but the more exciting thing was really going to get to the palace in 1849, and his name was Antoine de Orleans, Duke of Montpesier. A charismatic and ambitious French prince, married to the sister of Isabell II, Queen of Spain at that time.
The man was a true survivor: he had fought in Algeria, got to be Field Marshal, toured the Middle East in the company of his Secretary and escaped from France when the Revolution of 1848 threw his father, Louis Philippe I, from the Throne.
He also survived the anger of British Queen Victoria for de Duke’s marriage to a Spanish princess. But the character still had many shots to hit when he arrived in Spain, he believed that his kinship would make things easier for him, then he found out that Isabel II had other ideas, inviting him to settle far away with his wife, precisely, in Seville’s lands.
It was then that they bought the San Telmo Palace and where Antoine began with his new machinations. He was no fool and didn’t take him long to realise that the future lay more in industry and commerce than in sceptres and ermine cloaks. So, with the idea of doing business, he planted in the back of the palace thousands of orange trees that earned him the nickname of Duque Naranjero (orange tree Duke). But, with his commercial vision and all, the one from Orleans had a weakness for the thrones, and he kept on thinking on the way to sit his backside on one.
Many conspirators marched through San Telmo, they took advantage of Isabel’s errors to bring Montpesier closer to the Royal seat. The Duke mortgaged the Palace to finance the revolution of 1868 that finally overthrew the Queen, but afterwards, he didn’t have a better idea than to challenge his cousin Enrique de Borbón to a duel and shot him dead.
The matter had such an impact that Antoine was left with no chance to get the crown, after all he had worked for it! But he wasn’t going to give up easily; shortly after, he was one of the instigators of General Prim’s murder, thinking that this way and with another couple of strikes he would get to be the King.
But it wasn’t to be.
He continued trying until his death, several volumes of serials could be inspired with his tries, such as those of Alejandro Dumas, who, by the way, was one of the many guests the incorrigible Duke had in Seville.
Finally, we must tell you that in 1952 the building had to deal with a fire that burnt part of its archives. And that today on its north facade you can see twelve sculptures representing the twelve most illustrious Sevillians.