This primary source is a selection of articles of the Railway Law, an economic law that was issued on the 3rd of June 1855 and sanctioned by Isabel II. It was issued during the Progressive biennium in which Espartero was the head of government and Madoz the minister of treasury. Many changes were undertaken in this period, and more than 200 laws referring to the economy were issued, such as the General Disentailment Law of Madoz (1855), The Banking laws, or the Company laws. 

By means of this law they wanted to promote industrialization and modernize the country that had been delayed. The industrial revolution needed to create a home market, so they needed a revolution in transportation. Besides, they wanted to promote foreign investment,and that is what we can see in these articles, which contain some advantages of how the law would guarantee those investments.

Article 4 says that both the state or private companies would build those public lines. But later Article 6 declares that in case of wanting to build a line, the state would have to give a permission to those companies or individuals.

Article 8 proposes some ways of using public funds in order to support the project, which are: collaborating in some constructions, giving the companies part of the invested capital, or guaranteeing a  minimum interest rate. There, we can see that the government is very interested on the project and that is why they take these compromises.

Article 19 claims that the state would protect those foreign investors, and guarantees that those capitals could not be expropriated due to war.

Article 20 declares a long list of advantages for the railway companies, which includes tariff exemption for all the materials needed and shows the big interest of the government in the promotion of building the new lines. They wanted to promote foreign investment.

Finally, article 30 establishes the width of the railways, which in Spain was different from other countries. Later on this fact would create problems with trade. 

Spain at that moment was a backward country, as no process of modernization was being carried out. This process of building railways was set up in England after 1830, and worked as a model for other following ones. Spain used them as reference, but was not built until 1848, so it was quite delayed. 

Almost half of the investments in building those railways came from two French capitalist companies. 

In 1860, already 1917 km of railways had been built, but compared to Great Britain it was not much. Moreover, the shape of the railway lines was not which most benefited the industry of the country. They had radial shape, it was centralized in Madrid and it did not connect the most economic activity zones. All over Europe the same measurement was established in order to create a unification between all the countries, and in this way helping trade. There were two many reasons why Spain did not want to follow it. First, they thought that building a broad gauge would help trade because of the high mountain ranges in Spain. What is more, they did it in order to prevent the French invasion. This way a difficulty in trade was created.

In 1866 an economic crisis related to the building of the railway broke out, as all the investments that were being done were too much for the economic development of the country. However, the effects of the railway law were not at all good. The lines were not a good business for the promoters as most of the trains were empty. Moreover all the iron and manufactures had to come from England or France as Spain did not promote iron industry at all. Nonetheless, it also had positive effects as it was a big step in the process of modernizing the country, and also since it created pre-conditions of industrialization that later would become very important. 

After the unrest of the 1st Republic, the Cuban War, and the second Carlist war, the stability of the restoration period (after 1875) gave way to the development of a modern industry, and the economic and social changes it provoked. But change happened mainly in the Basque Country and Catalonia, while the rest of the country remained rural and unchanged. 

To conclude, the law, we have seen, was an important step in the economic development of Spain. Railways were especially important in Spain because the topography of the country was a big obstacle for other means of transportation.

This primary source is a preamble to the law of disentailment addressed to Maria Cristina, who was the regent at that moment as her daughter Isabel II was still too young to take the rights to the throne. Isabel came to the throne after the death of her father Fernando the VII, having him changed the law to ensure that she would be the queen. This was not accepted by Fernando’s brother Carlos, and he proclaimed himself as king, triggering off a civil war in Spain.This war was called “the Carlist war” (1833-40). Carlos was backed by absolutist, so Maria Cristina had to find support in the liberals. 

Mendizabal, the author of this law, was progressive financer and politician who was that time the minister of the treasury. When he became head of the government in 1835, he issued his first decree, the one that is mentioned in the first line, in which he established the suppression of the regular clergy that were expropriated in 1835. Then, in 1836, he wrote this preamble where he explained the goals of the Law, and in order to convince the regent to sanction it, he uses different type of arguments:Firstly, some social advantages are written, in which he explains how landowners and citizens would have a positive effect, such as when he says that it would be a source of happiness. Also he wanted to show the queen some economic positive consequences it would have. He explains that giving some productivity to those lands that were dead would increase production, and as a result, economy, trade and industry would get better. Finally, he explains some political arguments as that to maintain their new properties, new land owner would depend on liberals and Isabel keeping power,so they would have more supporters.

Disentailment was a process in which aristocratic privileges were swept away in order to grew capitalist relations of production of the land. During the Old Regime, most of the lands were entailed, and this way they could not be sold or divided. This led to a separation of the land just between the municipalities, the church and the nobility. In contrast with that, the new liberal capitalist system required the private property, in which all the rights resided in the owner. 

Mendizabal’s disentailment was not the first law regarding this process. First, under Carlos III, lands of the Jesuits were nationalized and sold after the order was suppressed. During Carlos IV reign, Godoy had disentailed and sold the lands belonging to some religious orders in order to solve the financial problems of the crown. In liberal systems of Jose I and the Cadiz Cortes these process was again established, and also during the liberal triennium, until absolutism was restored.

Finally, Maria Cristina sanctioned Medizabal’s law, and the lands belonging to the regular clergy were sold at public auction, where the buyers could pay with cash or with debt bonds. This had important consequences, as only the wealthiest (old nobility and bourgeoisie) could buy the lands.

As as result, private property was created, becoming most of the lands part of them. Moreover, this process reduced the public debt, something that enabled them to get loans from England. This way, liberals won the Carlist War in 1840, and they also won the support of the nobility and the bourgeois, something that reinforced liberalism.

Mendizabal’s disentailment benefied nobility, bourgeoisie and holders of Debt Bonds, because they could buy lands in exchange for their bonds. The Church did not benefit from it, because monasteries were suppressed, and peasants neither, because they hadn’t long term contracts and they had a fixed rent instead of paying a percent of what they got. 

The Clergy broke relations with the current government, something that Moderates did not want to happen. Due to this fact, when Moderates came to power in 1844, all this process was stopped, and all the lands that still had not been sold were given back to the Church, but the buyers of the land, did not lose their rights over the lands, as the Concordant with the Church in 1851 accepted the sales that had already been done.

Some years later, during the progressive biennium, Madoz issued in 1855 another disentailment law. This time, all the lands that did not belong to private properties were subject to disentailment. This way the disentailment process finished in Spain, although these laws were in force until 1924, when the sales ended.

To sum up, the arguments of Mendizabal were successful and had the desired effect on the regent queen. The Disentailment Law was enforced and many properties of the church were sold in public auctions, providing Spain the money that was necessary to finance the Carlist war and to repay loans. Furthermore, the work would be continued with the Madoz Law of 1855 until 1924. Capitalism made an important progress due to this kind of laws, by which entailed property became private property, allowing to be bought or sold without restriction.