The story of the unit dates back to 1807, during the Fourth Coalition, in which both France, Spain, and Denmark were co-belligerents in the war, which was fought against Prussia, Russia, Britain, and Sweden, among others. In order to support their allies militarily, Bourbon Spain founded an expeditionary force called the "División del Norte". The division was led by the Marquis de La Romana, Pedro Caro y Sureda. It consisted of four regiments of infantry, five regiments of cavalry, two battalions of light infantry, and artillery support. The Division would be deployed to garrison Hamburg in Northern Europe (hence the name) with the goal of supporting the French Armies which advanced toward Prussian & Swedish lands in Germany & Pomerania. Throughout 1807, they aided the French in the Pomeranian War, sacking Swedish held towns on the coast and taking part in the Siege of the Swedish garrison at Strålsund.
Following the cessation of conflict between France and their enemies Russia & Prussia by the Treaty of Tilsit, the Pomeranian War continued and soon escalated due to intervention from Britain, and from France, which had recently allied Denmark. Their primary objective was to encourage them to join the continental system, but the military support of Denmark would be beneficial since they had been spited by their common enemies, the British, which attacked Copenhagen in 1807 and Sweden, their ongoing rivals. The Division arrived in Denmark in early 1808 and would serve as a garrison against Swedish attack, remaining there throughout the year.
Meanwhile, in the Iberian peninsula, there was considerable unrest. Napoleon's armies there had invaded Portugal in 1807, and the elder King Charles IV of their native Spain had abdicated due to the Mutiny of Aranjuez. As a result, the Spanish nobility turned to Napoleon for the protection of the state. Ferdinand, the heir apparent, only 23 at the time, was being kept under the wing of Napoleon's cronies in Valençay, and so, Napoleon instead decided to enforce his brother Joseph, who was installed on the Spanish throne on the 6th of June, 1808. This proved to be a highly polarizing move; one supported by the French and Spanish nobility, but vehemently opposed by the administration of Prime Minister Godoy, and most importantly, the Spanish Army, and the people of Spain.
As such, the División del Norte, now marooned in hostile Denmark, broke all ties with the French and pledged allegiance to the British. The Marquis de La Romana, who was in charge of the division, began a secret operation to contact the nearest British fleet in hopes of being able to evacuate Denmark and return the armies to Spain. Rear Admiral Keats and his squadron under HMS Superb agreed to aid them, and together in August, the two forces seized control of the Danish town of Nyborg and its port. While the vast majority of the Division were able to escape, members of the Nr. 9 "Algarve" Cavalry Regiment, who remained loyal to the French, revealed the plot and over the next few weeks a total of 3,500 soldiers, including two of the four infantry regiments, were overwhelmed, disarmed, and captured by the Danish and French authorities.
Soon, the question of an army for Bonapartist Spain was raised, seeing as most of the fighting in Spain was being done by the French army proper. This coupled with the suggestions of the Bonapartist officer Jean de Kindelan and King Joseph that the regiment was organized by a decree on the 13th of February 1809. The unit of former Spanish Prisoners of War was fitted to French standards, including ranks, weapons, uniforms, and training, even allowed to execute orders in Spanish.
However, despite the suggestion of Joseph Bonaparte and now Colonel Kindelan for the regiment to serve in Spain, Napoleon saw the regiment to be too young and have loyalties too questionable to serve there. In 1810 the regiment was fully trained, and was organized into four battalions, with one battalion being stationed in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and France respectively.
Upon the outbreak of the War of the Sixth Coalition, the regiment reunited and was organized into the Napoleon's Invasion force of Russia, under Marshal Davout (2nd & 3rd Btns.) and Prince Eugène de Beauharnais (1st & 4th Btns.). They served honorably throughout the campaign, especially at Shevardino, which took place two days before Borodino. The unit fought gallantly, forming a square to fend off a Russian cavalry charge against a routed French unit. At Borodino, all four battallions were present, with the 3rd & 4th Battalions fighting to capture the great redoubt which dominated the battlefield.
The regiment continued fighting past the occupation of Moscow, even into the grueling weeks of retreat, at battles such as Krasnoi and Berezina. They also later fought in Germany, at the Battles of Lützen, Bautzen, Leipzig, and Hanau. By this time the regiment had been practically exhausted and had been reduced to one battalion and the depot battalion. On the 25th of November 1813 the regiment was officially disbanded and by 24th December surrendered their weapons and were converted to a Pioneer regiment, which lasted until 17th April 1814.