PALAFOX Y MELZI, JosE DE (1780-1847), duke of Saragossa, was the youngest son of an old Aragonese family. Brought up at the Spanish court, he entered the guards at an early age, and in 1808 he accompanied Ferdinand to Bayonne, but made his escape after the king's abdication. While he was living in retirement at his family seat near Saragossa, the inhabitants proclaimed him governor of that city and captain-general of the kingdom of Aragon (May 25, 1808), an honour which he owed to his rank, and, it is said, to his appearance, rather than to talent or experience in military affairs. Despite the want of money and of regular troops, he lost no time in declaring war against the French, who had already overrun the neighbouring provinces of Catalonia and Navarre, and soon afterwards the attack he had provoked began ; Saragossa was bombarded on July 22, and on August 4 the French were masters of nearly the half of the town. Summoned to surrender, Palafox sent the famous reply of "War to the Knife," and on the following day his brother succeeded in forcing a passage into the city with 3000 troops. It was resolved, amid the enthusiasm of the inhabitants (whose real leaders belonged to the lower orders), to contest possession of the remaining quarters of Saragossa inch by inch, and if necessary to retire to the suburb across the Ebro, destroying the bridge. The struggle, which was prolonged for nine days longer, resulted in the withdrawal of the French (August 14) after it siege which had lasted sixty-one days in all. Operations, however, were resumed by Marshals Mortier and Moneey in November, and after more than 50,000 (it is said) of the inhabitants had perished, partly through the ravages of an epidemic by which Palafox himself was attacked, a capitulation was signed on February 21.
After his recovery Palafox was sent into France and closely confined at 'Vincennes, but was liberated on the restoration of Ferdinand. In June 1814 he was confirmed in the office of captain-general of Aragon, but soon afterwards withdrew from it, and, having indeed no real aptitude for them, ceased to take part in public affairs. Ile received the title of duke of Saragossa in 182.1, and died at Madrid on February 15, 1847.