A year after Charles IV came to the throne, the French Revolution began. Initially, Spain joined the international coalition against France. However, the French armies defeated Spain in 1795, and this led to a change of strategy by Godoy, Charles IV’s PM. He made an alliance with Napoleon against England, France’s main enemy. This way, the treaty of Fontainebleau (1807) allowed French troops to pass through Spain to invade Portugal, an ally of the British.

The presence of French in Spanish territory and the intrigues of Ferdinand, the heir against his father, led to the Mutiny of Aranjuez (1808). As a result, the king abdicated in favour of his son, Ferdinand VII. Napoleon noticed the weakness of the new Spanish monarch and persuaded Charles IV and Ferdinand VII to give the Spanish crown to his brother, Joseph Bonaparte in the process known as the abdications of Bayonne.

Angered by the French occupation, a popular revolt began in Madrid on 2 May 1808. It spread rapidly across the country and started the War of Independence. Its most important phases were:

-Popular resistance (1808). Irregular troops began guerrilla warfare and the Spanish army stopped the French advance southwards at the Battle of Bailén.

-French offensive (1808-1812). Napoleon occupied most of Spain. Once he had control over the country, Napoleon took many of his troops to invade Russia in 1812.

-Anglo-Spanish victories (1812-14). The British army commanded by General Wellington attacked from Portugal in support of the Spanish troops, defeating the French in the Battle of Arapiles. In December 1813, the French signed the Treaty of Valençay. They withdrew from Spain and returned the crown to Ferdinand VII.

During the war, Joseph I, with the support of the afrancesados (Spanish liberals), tried to introduce part of the liberal revolutionary programme. The Statute of Bayonne abolished the AR and introduced criminal, civil and commercial codes, as well as fiscal reforms.

THE CÁDIZ CORTES AND THE 1812 CONSTITUTION        The abdications of Bayonne left power in the hands of a foreign monarch. This situation stimulated the formation of local Juntas composed of patriots opposed to the occupation. Their goal was to repel the invasion and create a legitimate government. In 1810, the Central Supreme Junta was established to coordinate the provincial Juntas. The CSJ convened a Cortes in Cádiz, a city that was not occupied by the French, with the aim of drafting a constitution. Representatives of the Juntas throughout the country, met in Cádiz. The Constitution adopted in 1812, established national sovereignty, the separation of powers, censor male suffrage and individual freedoms. However, the war made it difficult to implement the Constitution and to consolidate liberalism.


Goya is one of the most important artists in Spanish history. He is considered one of the precursors of contemporary art. He was also a printmaker who developed his own critical style around the time he became deaf and moved to the Quinta del Sordo, an isolated estate on the outskirts of Madid. Goya mastered many different techniques (tapestry cartoons, frescos, oil painting and prints (engraves). The themes of his art ranged from scenes form everyday life and portraits to religious themes and mythology. Goya was exceptionally gifted at drawing, and his first works were tapestry cartoons for royal palaces. These paintings were influenced by the rococo and were optimistic portrayals of ordinary people and scenes from everyday life. In 1775, Goya became court painter and painted various portraits of the families of Charles III, Charles IV and the Spanish nobility. His portraits show the personality of his subjects.

Goya’s deafness influenced his art from 1792. His work became more pessimistic, with an emphasis on the defects and superstitions of 19th century society. The complex compositions and the use of dark colours where the main features of his works at that time.

Goya was the chronicler of the crisis of the AR. His Caprichos were a critique of religious fanaticism and superstitions of the era. Goya painted many violent scenes that he himself had witnessed during the War of Independence such as The Third of May 1808 and The Second of May 1808. In The Disasters of War, he revealed the brutality of war. Goya identified with the liberal Enlightenment ideas of the FR which explains why he went into exile in France in the last years of his life.

Goya is considered the precursor of both Expressionism (Black Paintings, 1814-1820) and Impressionism (The Milkmaid of Bordeaux, 1826).


The French troops withdrew in 1814 and Ferdinand VII, known as the Desired, returned to Spain to re-establish an absolutist monarchy. His reign was divided in three stages:

-The Absolutist Sexennium (1814-1820): with the support of the absolutists (Manifiesto de los Persas), Ferdinand repealed the Constitution of 1812 and the reforms proposed by the Cádiz Cortes. Liberals were persecuted, although some of them organised pronunciamientos (Espoz y Mina, Torrijos, etc.) demanding the reinstatement of the Constitution, but they were not successful. Many liberals were forced into exile and others were executed.

-The Liberal Triennium (1820-1823): in 1820, a pronunciamiento led by Commander Riego in a Sevillian village was successful, and the king was forced to reinstate the Constitution of 1812. The National Militia, made up of armed liberal volunteers, was created to defend the Constitution. Ferdinadn VII appealed to other European absolute monarchs and, in 1823, a coalition of European monarchs called the Holy Alliance, sent troops known as the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis, that restored absolutism under the command of the Duke of Angoulême.

-The Ominous Decade (1823-1833): The return of absolutism annulled all the legislation of the Liberal Triennium. However, the political and economic problems n Spain led to the final crisis of the absolute monarchy. The war against the French had made Spain bankrupt, and the independence of the colonies in the Americas caused a major loss of revenue. The crisis intensified in 1830 with the birth of Ferdinand’s daughter, Isabella who was prevented from reigning because of Salic Law, which excluded women from the right to inherit the throne. In order to ensure his daughter’s reign, Ferdinand VII issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which repealed Salic Law. The most intransigent absolutists argued that the throne belonged to the king’s brother, Charles María Isidro, a fervent absolutist.


The crisis of the AR in Spain coincided with the independence of the American colonies. Uprisings were organised by the criollo bourgeoisie (people of Spanish descent born in the Americas, such as Simón Bolívar or José de San Martín) who saw Spain as an obstacle to the development of their economy. The main causes of the independence movement were:

-The spread of the principles of freedom and equality of the FR and the USA Declaration of Independence of 1776.

-The discontent among the local bourgeoisie due to heavy taxation and Spain’s control of trade.

-The fact that most of the administrative posts in the colonies were given to the Spanish.

-The weakness of the Spanish monarchy, which had lost most of its fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and had suffered Napoleon’s invasion in 1808.

The independence process had two phases:

-First phase (1808-1814): during the War of Independence, Juntas were formed in the Americas, which were controlled by elite criollos. Paraguay was the first colony to declare its independence from Spain in 1811.

-Second phase (1816-1826): uprisings spread throughout the Americas and a war against the colonial troops began. After several military victories, the majority of Spanish colonies declared their independence. As a result, in 1825, Spain had lost all its colonies except Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Spain no longer controlled trade with the Americas or received colonial tax revenues.


A liberal state was established in Spain in the midst of an armed conflict: the I Carlist War (1833-39). The war was not just about who would occupy the throne of Spain, but also whether to retain an absolutist political system or give way to a liberal monarchy. Absolutists supported Infant Carlos, who represented the AR. Liberal supporters of Isabella argued for a constitutional monarchy.

On the death of Ferdinand VII in 1833, the absolutists refused to recognise his three-year-old daughter, Isabella. They started an uprising against the government of María Christina of Bourbon, who acted as regent on behalf of her daughter. Maria Christina had the support of liberals (called isabelinos or cristinos), who implemented reforms to build a new constitutional monarchy in Spain. The new liberal government had the support of most of the army, the bourgeoisie and most of the urban population.

Carlism was a political movement of people who were reluctant to accept liberalism. The privileged (the rural nobility and the clergy) feared having to pay taxes on their land and losing some of their property. The Church was also worried about its loss of power and social influence. There were also many peasants who feared losing access to the common land (as in England), and worried about the implications of the abolition of manorialism. Most Carlists came from rural areas. They were strongest in the Basque Country, Navarre and in the mountainous areas of Catalonia, Aragón, and Valencia, where they defended their ancient privileges. Major cities on the other hand remained loyal to Isabella II and the liberal government.

God, country, fueros and king was the motto of Carlism which defended the divine origin of the monarchy, the absolute power of the king, the active presence of the Church in public life and the maintenance of the fueros. They represented a society mistrustful of the new liberalism. In addition, they demanded the continuation of their traditional institutions, their own tax system and exemption from military conscription (quintas).

-The I Carlist War (1833-39) began in the Basque Country. After Carlist general Zumalacárregui’s death, the liberal army, commanded by general Espartero, the latter won and imposed the sign of peace at the Convention of Vergara.

The II Carlist War, considered just as a simple uprising in Catalonia, took place between 1846 and 1848. It is also known as the Revolt of the Matiners

-The III Carlist War (1872-1876): when the Spanish throne became vacant after the exile of Isabella II, the Carlists formed a parallel government in Estella until their final defeat.


This period is divided in five different moments:

The Regency of Maria Christina (1833-40). Initially, M. Christina supported the moderate liberals. However, a series of military uprisings (the Mutiny of La Granja, 1836) and popular revolts forced her to hand power over to the progressive liberals. Mendizábal, the leader of them, began the abolishment of the AR by introducing fiscal reform, dissolving manorialism, and through the disentailment of property and the confiscation of Church property. The payment of tithes, the Mesta, internal custom duties and guilds were also abolished. A new progressive Constitution was drafted in 1837. It recognised national sovereignty with census suffrage, the separation of powers and the two chambers (the Congress of Deputies and the Senate), and it granted many rights and individual liberties.

-The Regency of Espartero (1840-43). In 1837, moderate liberals took control of the government. Maria Christina was forced to step down and the progressive General Espartero was appointed regent. Espartero’s authoritarian ideas created strong opposition. Isabella II was then proclaimed queen at 13 years old.

The Moderate Decade (1843-54). Spain’s Moderate Liberal Party, led by General Narváez, remained in power. The new Cortes adopted a moderate Constitution (1945), in which suffrage was highly restricted, civil liberties were limited and sovereignty was shared between the Cortes and the Crown. Only the Basque Country and Navarre held on to their statutory laws. Moderate liberals also centralised taxes, created a penal code, and developed a national education system. In 1851, the state signed the Concordat with the Holy See, in which it agreed to finance the

Church and stop the privatisation of its properties. In 1844, the Guardia Civil was set up to maintain law in the countryside. The authoritarian tendencies of Narváez and electoral fraud caused another progressive military revolt. Confiscation: expropriation of land by the state and its subsequent sale to private owners. Disentailment: cuts all manorial ties to a property and privatises it, which means it can be bought and sold freely.

The Progressive Biennium (1854-56). In 1854, the Vicálvaro pronunciamiento led by General O’Donnell, brought the progressive liberals to power. Isabella gave power to Espartero again and the Cortes drafted a new Constitution (1855), which was not approved, and the government made major economic reforms concerning three fundamental laws: the confiscation of municipal property (Madoz, 1855) and the General Railway Law and the Mining Act, both financed by foreign capital.

-The Liberal Union period (1856-68). A new crisis in Espartero’s government caused the arrival of O’Donnell to power, who had created a new party called the Liberal Union. Unionists and moderates alternated in power, but the government remained very authoritarian and kept repressing opposition. Despite repression, new political groups emerged: the democrats who defended universal male suffrage, and the republicans, who aspired to establish a republic. During this period there were some failed military campaigns in Indochina and Mexico. Nevertheless, the campaign in Morocco was successful. Finally, in 1868 economic crisis led to further social unrest and a new military revolt.


In September 1868, the crisis of the monarchy led to the Glorious Revolution an insurrection to overthrow Isabella II and establish a democratic political system. However, the governments that emerged from the revolution could not establish a democratic system. During six years of democracy (Sexenio Democrático) several different political solutions were tried out.

The Glorious Revolution and the provisional government (1868-1869)

The Revolution of 1868 was triggered by the progressives and democrats and led by Admiral Topete, General Prim and General Serrano. Among the causes of the revolution were the general discontent caused by the economic crisis, which caused unemployment and raised prices; the opposition to the moderates and unionists who were authoritarian; the increasing lack of popularity of Isabella II; the spread of democratic and republican ideas, especially among the working classes and the poor. Revolutionary Juntas were formed all over the country. The Battle of Alcolea finally forced Isabella II and her heir Alfonso into exile. A provisional government was formed to establish a democratic political system. The Cortes drafted a new constitution, and it was ratified in 1869. The Constitution established national sovereignty and universal male suffrage, recognised the individual’s rights, and decreed the separation of Church and state (although the state remained officially Catholic). The Constitution also established a parliamentary monarchy, for which they had to choose a new king.

The monarchy of Amadeo I (1870-1873)

Amadeo of Savoy was chosen to take the throne. A few days before his arrival, his main supporter, General Prim, was assassinated. However, he had two strong opponents: the moderates and some representatives of the Church who remained loyal to the Bourbons. The Carlists declared Charles VII as king and the republicans aspired to establish a republic, and the war that broke out on the island of Cuba in 1869 forced Amadeo I to abdicate and leave the country.

The I Republic (1873-1874)

When Amadeo I abdicated in February 1873, the Cortes voted to forma a republic. However, deputies were monarchists and did not support the new form of government. The republicans prepared a programme of social and economic reforms. The 1873 elections were won by the federal republicans. The Cortes drafted a federal constitution that divided powers between the central government and the federal

republics, but this never took effect. The Republic had four presidents (Figueras, Pi i Margall, Salmerón and Castelar), but a series of problems made its establishment impossible: the divisions between the republicans; the Cuban insurrection; a new Carlist war; the social unrest known as cantonalismo; and the monarchist opposition that conspired to restore the monarchy through Alfonso, the son of Isabella II. In January 1874, a coup led by General Pavía dissolved the Cortes and made General Serrano head of State. He tried to establish a conservative republican regime.


The Canovist system

The new monarchy adopted a political system created by Cánovas del Castillo that allowed political parties to alternate in power and promised political and social stability. This put an end to the Carlist war in 1876 and in 1878, the Pact of Zanjón ended the Cuban Ten Years’ War. The Constitution of 1876 was drafted. It proposed a constitutional monarchy, assigned shared power to the Cortes and the king, established bicameral Cortes gave broad powers to the monarch (who named the government) and declared a confessional state. To put an end to the military pronunciamientos, the army was made subordinate to civil power. Under the new bipartisan system, two political parties were created to share power in the government: The Conservative Party, led by Cánovas, and the Liberal Party, led by Sagasta. Both parties were in favour of the monarchy, the Constitution, private ownership and a centralised, unitary state. However, the conservatives favoured the confessional state, while the liberals were more secular and supported comprehensive social reforms. The two parties alternated in power using a system called the turno pacífico (peaceful alternation). The parties marginalised by the system (the Carlists, democrats, republicans, and socialists) could only aspire to have minority representation in parliament. During the regency of Maria Christina, the system was consolidated through the Pact of Pardo, and in 1890, the liberals introduced universal male suffrage. The alternation of power was secured by caciquismo, a form of social coercion in rural areas in which individuals controlled economic power. The caciques were both conservatives and liberals. They were powerful local figures who manipulated election results through all kinds of vote-rigging (electoral fraud): altering official records buying votes, threatening voters…



To take over territories with no state organisation, between 1870 and 1914, European countries created colonial empires, mainly in Africa and Asia. They were in search of new markets where they could sell their surplus products. They also wanted to obtain raw materials (coal, iron, cotton, rubber…) and colonial products (sugar, chocolate, tea…) at the best possible prices. Lastly, they wanted to invest their excess capital in where cheap labour brought them increased profits.

For his part, European population was rising more and more; by 1900 it had reached 450 million. This overpopulation encouraged people to emigrate to colonies. Migration provided a solution for the metropole (the occupying state) since it could avoid social problems like unemployment or strikes.

In addition, imperial expansion also occurred because the industrial powers wanted to expand their areas of influence. Creating colonial empires was a way to demonstrate their influence in international diplomacy. This led to a race to control new territories before rival powers did.

Finally, the imperialism developed in the context of racist and nationalistic attitudes of the time. The idea of a white master race was presented as scientific fact. Philosophers, scientists, writers and politicians subscribed to this idea. They also imposed the idea that this justifiable domination by any means, including war. As a result, people started to believe that Europeans had a duty to spread their culture and civilisation among peoples who were considered inferior.


During the Second Industrial Revolution, new energy sources emerged and were developed. The invention of Gramme’s industrial dynamo in 1869 made it possible to generate electricity in hydropower plants. Shortly after, the invention of the alternator and the transformer in 1897 made it possible to transport electric current. Electricity had many applications in industry (powering machines), transport (trams), communication systems (telegraphs), entertainment (phonographs) and lighting.

Oil extraction began in the USA in the mid-19th century, and the invention of the combustion engine gave way to cars (1885).

The great technological leap meant the emergence of new industrial sectors: the chemical industry (dyes, medicines), the aluminium industry and the automotive and aviation industries. Scientific discoveries were quickly applied to materials and devices that revolutionised daily life, including the light bulb, vacuum cleaner, radio, telephone…

Moreover, in 1903, F. Taylor invented scientific management or Taylorism. Manufacturing focused on mass production to increase productivity, reduce the time taken to make things and lower manufacturing costs. In the new assembly lines, each worker performed a specific task in the production process. In the USA, the Ford Motor Company was one of the first companies to use an assembly line in its car plant (Fordism). This led to standardised mass production, which allowed consumption to be extended to broader sectors of the population.

In the late 19th century, Europe carried out half of the world’s exports and received three quarters of the world’s imports. It also controlled shipping routes, major commercial ports, fleets, and stock markets. There were revolutionary advances in transport such as the extension of transcontinental railways or the opening of the Suez and Panama Canals

In turn, technological innovations stimulated the relationship between banking and industry, and banks started to fund the industrial process. Industry was becoming concentrated in fewer companies, which were getting bigger and bigger. The major companies signed agreements to set prices. This led to the creation of cartels, trusts, holdings, and monopolies. These activities provided banks and individuals with huge profits.


Despite the economic growth caused by the IR, there was a surplus population, especially of peasants. For many people, the only option was migration to other countries of the colonies. In the 19th century, 60 million people left Europe and settled outside the continent.

Agricultural reforms, industrialisation and advances in medicine and hygiene (vaccines, drugs) had caused a huge reduction in the death rate in Europe. The gap between the birth and death rates caused a population explosion the European population doubled and a portion f this population migrated to other continents.

Migration was facilitated by new means of transport, like transoceanic steamships. Travel times decreased dramatically from a month to just over a week. The majority of the immigrants were poor peasants and middle-class people in search of better opportunities.


Colonial ambitions inspired a number of scientific journeys and geographic explorations. Many were carried out by the British who travelled around  Central Africa.          The imperialism was characterised by constant wars. The clash of interests between rival powers due to the partition of Africa (the Scramble for Africa) resulted in the Berlin Conference of 1885, which established the rules for dividing the territory and the areas that each power would occupy. However, disputes between imperialist interests were inevitable. France and Britain clashed in Fashoda in 1898, which almost resulted in a war.

The Boer Wars were fought between GB and the Dutch settlers (Boers) who had inhabited southern Africa since the 17th century, where they had crated two independent republics. The main cause was the discovery of large gold deposits in the Transvaal. This led the British to invade those republics and annex them.

Much of Asia was also occupied by the European powers and also by Russia, the USA and Japan. China’s market was important due to its large population. The Opium Wars forced

China to open up to western trade. But the foreign intrusion was met with several uprisings, including the Boxer Rebellion in 1899.

After a colony had been conquered, an administration was established to organise the territory. However, not all colonies had the same characteristics. Some territories were colonised for economic exploitation of raw materials. They could be governed entirely by the metropole or though local governments controlled by the settlers.


Great Britain had the largest colonial empire and controlled maritime trade routes, with bases in the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean. In Africa, from Cairo in the north to Cape Town in the south. The main British colony was India, a major market for British products and an important supplier of raw materials. Other territories belonging British Empire were Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, Canada, South Africa Union, Australia, New Zealand, Burma.      France had the second largest colonial empire, especially North Africa. West Africa, Equatorial Africa, and Southeast Asia.        Germany had territories in Africa . The Dutch occupied Malaysia; the Belgians, the Belgian Congo; the Spanish, areas of Morocco; the Portuguese, Angola and Mozambique, and the Italian Libya and Somalia.       The United States and Japan were the last industrial powers to start a colonial enterprise. The USA became a great power thanks to its technology, raw materials, and resources. US colonial expansion extended towards the Pacific and the Caribbean. Japan occupied the Kuril Islands, Korea, and Formosa.


Colonialism caused suffering among the indigenous people and profoundly disrupted their way of life. Europeans created new countries and drew their borders and turned large untouched natural spaces into agricultural areas. They also built ports, roads, railways, telephone lines and new cities. All of this changed the occupied areas without any consideration for the indigenous peoples’ tribal, linguistic and religious differences. Many of the indigenous peoples’ customs and oral tradition did not survive the impact of western culture, which altered their beliefs and way of life. As education spread, missionaries spread Christianity. The colonisers showed no respect for the social structures of the indigenous peoples. Ethnic groups were divided or united artificially, which forced opposing groups to live together. This acculturation phenomenon was more pronounced in Africa than in Asia.               In the counterpart, there were fewer epidemics, the death rate dropped, and the population increased. However, this demographic growth altered the balance between population and resources and led to chronic malnutrition.            In some areas, the local bourgeoisie maintained a privileged position. By contrast, most indigenous people became subjects and their living conditions worsened. The colonisers abandoned traditional crops and replaced them with large plantations to grow products that benefitted the metropole: cocoa, coffee, cotton, fruits, rubber… the indigenous peoples were forced to work in the plantations. The production of traditional crafts ended with industrial products imported from the metropole.


Artists began to break with tradition. As photography developed, there was no longer a need to paint realistic images. As a result, painters focused on depicting impressions and feelings. In architecture, new technology made it possible to construct enormous buildings in urban areas.                 The Impressionist movement emerged in the last third of the 19th century. It emphasized on light and how it could alter a scene. In Impressionism, colour took precedence over form. Artists observed reality by painting en plein air. They incorporated quick brushstrokes, juxtaposing colours so that they blended into one another when seen from a distance. The idea was not to paint what the artist saw, but to reflect how he saw it. The main Impressionists painters were Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley. A decade after, it emerged the Post-Impressionism, with authors like Van Gogho, Gaugin.         In architecture, new construction materials were developed, and mass production grew. The use of iron and steel, more flexible and ductile than iron, the invention of cement and the increased use of glass resulted in many innovative buildings. New cities needed functional, practical, and spacious buildings that were quick and inexpensive to build: bridges, factories, warehouses, train stations, libraries, commercial buildings… The functionality of a building became as important as its aesthetics.