Tema 4

1. The Spanish War of independence (1808-1814) 

The end of the reign of Carlos IV: When the French Revolution broke out and Louis XVI was executed, Spain, like other European monarchies, declared war on France. Spain was defeated and had to sign the Treaties of San Ildefonso in 1796 and 1800. These treaties made Spain and France allies against the British Empire. In 1805, the Anglo-Portuguese alliance was reinforced by the defeat of Spain and France in the naval Battle of Trafalgar. Napoleon wanted to occupy Portugal in order to weaken the British position. Manuel Godoy, Carlos IV’s prime minister, signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1807) with France, which allowed French troops to cross Spain on their way to Portugal. However, the French army occupied a few Spanish cities along the way. These events, added to the general discontent, led to the Mutiny of Aranjuez in March 1808. Godoy was deposed and Carlos IV abdicated in favour of his son, Fernando VII. Taking advantage of the crisis in the Spanish monarchy, Napoleon called an assembly in Bayonne, where Fernando VII abdicated in favour of Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte.

The War of Independence: In Spain, many people considered that Joseph, who became José I, was not the legitimate monarch. This led to a popular uprising on 2nd May 1808 in Madrid, followed by further uprisings across Spain. These marked the beginning of the Spanish War of Independence. The Spanish population divided into afrancesados, who recognised José I as king, and fernandinos, who were loyal to Fernando VII. It was a long, bitter conflict. The French army was better equipped and trained, but the Spanish guerillas attacked them continuously. There were three stages in the war:

• Up to late 1808. After the uprising in Madrid, the French laid siege to Zaragoza and Girona, but were defeated at Bailén.

• From late 1808 to 1812. Napoleon’s troops occupied nearly the entire Peninsula.

• From 1812 to 1814. France suffered military decline in this period. Spanish and British troops led by the Duke of Wellington definitively defeated the French, who then withdrew from Spain. Fernando VII returned to the throne.

2. The Parliament of Cadiz The Spanish War of Independence had major political consequences. In pro-Fernando areas, local governments called juntas were created to organise resistance against Joseph Bonaparte. Later, the Junta Central Suprema was formed. In 1810, the Junta Central called a Constituent Parliament (Cortes Constituyentes). This met in Cádiz, the only city on the Peninsula not occupied by the French. Many deputies could not attend because of the war, and they were replaced by local substitutes. There were three main groups in the Parliament of Cádiz. Most were liberals who favoured political reform but there were also conservatives who supported absolutism. Some deputies represented the American colonies.

Parliamentary legislation: The legislation written at the Parliament of Cádiz had great influence on later Spanish history:

• The Parliament produced the Constitution of 1812, which was the first Spanish constitution.

• It also passed reforms that ended the Old Regime. Freedom of the press was established, torture was abolished, and the Inquisition, noble estates and guilds were suppressed. In addition, all citizens were declared equal before the law.



The Constitution of Cádiz: The first Spanish constitution was approved on 19th March 1812. It reflected the principles of liberalism:

• It recognised national sovereignty. This means that power belonged to the nation and was exercised through its representatives.

• It established a moderate hereditary monarchy, in which the king approved laws.

• It adopted the principle of the separation of powers.

- Legislative power was held by the king and a single-chamber parliament. Deputies were elected via universal male suffrage. However, candidates needed to have a certain amount of wealth.

- Executive power was held by the king, who appointed ministers, managed foreign relations, declared war on other nations and signed peace treaties.

• Judicial power was held by courts of justice. • It established Catholicism as the only religion of Spain.

In addition, the Constitution of 1812 established several important rights, such as equality before the law, the right of ownership and freedom of the press. The war environment made it difficult to apply this constitution, but its spirit and main features made it a key point of reference in later Spanish history.

3. The Restoration of the Old Regime

The liberals in power (1820-1823): In 1820, Colonel Rafael del Riego led a successful liberal pronunciamiento that brought back the Constitution of 1812. The king was forced to swear by the Constitution, free imprisoned liberals and call Parliament. The reforms introduced by the Parliament of Cádiz were restored. This initiated a three-year liberal period known as the Trienio Liberal. It was marked by constant conflict between moderate and radical liberals: -The moderates were in favour of moderate reforms that would be accepted by the elite and the monarch. -The radicals pushed for more radical reforms and then full application of the Constitution of Cádiz.

During the liberal government there were several absolutist coup attempts, supported by the king or other countries. In 1823, the Holy Alliance sent a large army known as The Hundred Thousand Sons. of Saint Louis to Spain, and Fernando VII was restored as absolute monarch.

4. The independence of Latin America

Independence movements in Spanish America: In the early 19th century, several factors contributed to the rise of independence movements in Spain’s American colonies:

• Creoles (who were mainly descended from Spaniards) and peninsular Spaniards formed the ruling elite in Spanish America. In general, the creoles were wealthy, but they resented peninsular Spanish control of public administration, tax collection and trade,

• Liberalism and nationalism spread throughout the continent and favoured movements for emancipation from colonial rule. The independence of the United States and the French Revolution served as an inspiration.

• Britain supported independence for the Spanish colonies because it could then trade freely with them.



5. Isabel II and the liberal state (1833-1868)

The ‘Moderate Decade’ (1844-1854): During the Moderate Decade (Decada Moderada) of Isabel II’s reign (1844-1854) there were moderate governments, often headed by Narváez. Sovereignty was shared between the monarch and parliament according to the constitution of 1845. Only a small minority of the male population could vote, and individual rights, such as freedom of the press, were also restricted. The state was centralised. The new civil and penal codes and tax reforms unified laws and taxes in all Spanish territories. The government controlled the provinces via provincial councils and civil governors, and appointed mayors directly in large cities. The ultraconservative policies of the government led to the radicalisation of the progressives, who split into two groups:

• The democrats, who favoured universal male suffrage.

• The republicans, who wanted to make Spain a republic.

In 1854, General Leopoldo O’Donnell led a pronunciamiento against the government, called La Vicalvarada. (This was named after the place near Madrid where it started.)

6. The Glorious Revolution and the First Republic (1868-1874) 

The Glorious Revolution, 1868-1873: A severe crisis marked the final years of Isabel II’s reign and the queen grew increasingly unpopular:

• Progressives, republicans and democrats were excluded from government, and they rejected the government’s conservatism.

• The bourgeoisie and the military rejected the regime’s authoritarianism. • Economic problems led to rural and urban revolts.

In 1866, progressives, democrats and republicans signed the Pact of Ostend, in which they agreed to overthrow Isabel II and make Spain a democratic country. The Liberal Union joined the pact later on.

In 1868, Generals Francisco Serrano and Juan Prim led a pronunciamiento to depose Isabel II. The Glorious Revolution (La Gloriosa) was successful, and the queen was forced to leave Spain. This marked the beginning of a democratic period called the Sexenio Democrático. A provisional government was formed and presided by Serrano, who called elections for a Constituent Parliament. This parliament passed the democratic Constitution of 1869, which contained a declaration of rights and recognised universal male suffrage. The monarchy was maintained, and Spain’s democratic Parliament elected Amadeo of Savoy as a constitutional monarch in 1871. Amadeo’s election coincided with the assassination of his main backer, General Prim. Amadeo I faced problems on all sides, and as a foreigner, he was rejected by much of the population. In the face of opposition from monarchists, republicans and the Church, he abdicated in 1873.



The First Spanish Republic (1873-1874): The First Spanish Republic lasted from 1873 to 1874, under four different presidents. It faced numerous problems:

• The Cantonal Revolution. Cantonalism was a radical version of federalism proposing the transformation of Spain into a federal republic made up of separate states (or cantons). From July 1873, independent states were formed in Valencia, Cartagena and other regions.

• The Third Carlist War. Between 1872 and 1876, there was a new Carlist uprising, which received support in Navarre, the Basque Country and in some parts of Catalonia.

• Cuba. Between 1868 and 1878, Cuban rebels fought the first of three wars against Spanish rule.

These events created a situation of great political instability. There were two pronunciamientos in 1874; firstly, when Parliament was dissolved; and secondly, when General Martínez Campos restored the Bourbon Dynasty.

7. The Bourbon Restoration

Alfonso XII and the Bourbon Restoration: In 1874, Isabel II’s son, Alfonso became King Alfonso XII of Spain. The main political objective during the Bourbon Restoration was to establish stability after a long period of pronunciamientos and civil wars. The Constitution of 1876 established a constitutional monarchy, a Parliament based on limited suffrage, and a range of rights and liberties.

Under a system of rotation of power, known as the turno pacífico, two parties alternated in government:

• The conservatives, led by Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, supported the Church and social order.

• The liberals, led by Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, favoured moderate social reforms. In 1890, for example, they established universal male suffrage.

This system brought stability to Spanish politics, but it was based on political manipulation. The king decided which party was going to rule, and the election results were then arranged accordingly:

• In rural areas, powerful individuals called caciques used intimidation and violence to force the local population to vote one way or another. This practice was known as caciquismo.

• In cities, where caciques had less power, election results were manipulated fraudulently. This type of election was known as a pucherazo.

In the long term, the arrangement between conservatives and liberals prevented new parties from participating in government. These groups included the socialists, led by Pablo Iglesias, and the Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalists. The anarchists were another growing movement.



8. The economy in 19th century Spain

An agrarian society: Throughout the 19th century, Spain remained a mainly agrarian society, and 70% of the population worked in agriculture. The main crops were grains, grapes and olives. Production of citrus fruits, legumes and crops for animals increased in the late 19th century. Liberal politicians took several measures to free agricultural land from the conditions of the Old Regime, and to promote the growth of private property and the commercialisation of farm production. Their key measure was desamortización. Land that could not be bought or sold (for example, because it was held by the Church) was expropriated by the state and sold to individuals. Two campaigns of desamortización were especially important:

• The first was promoted by the liberal politician Juan Álvarez Mendizábal in 1836-1837, when the state expropriated lands belonging to the Church.

• The second was promoted by Pascual Madoz (1855), when the state also sold lands held by town halls and other institutions.

Many bourgeois families bought land in this way. The new landowners improved farming techniques, and made use of machines such as the mechanical thresher: Consequently, agricultural production increased. However, most peasants could not afford to buy land, and they continued in poverty as day labourers.

Was there an Industrial Revolution in 19th-century Spain?: Some parts of Europe (like Britain or Germany) became industrial powers in the 19th century, but this was not the case in Spain. Industrialisation developed slowly, and only in certain regions, for the following reasons:

• Energy sources were limited: -Coal was scarce and of poor quality, and its extraction was expensive. – Spain had iron deposits, but these were only exploited in the north. – Moreover, part of Spain’s iron production was exported, especially to Britain.

• Transport infrastructures were deficient, partly as a consequence of Spain’s mountainous and irregular relief. It was difficult to build railways in mountainous areas.

• Capital was scarce in Spain. As a result, most investors in Spanish industry were foreign businessmen.

• The domestic market was not very well developed in Spain, which had a less prosperous bourgeoisie than in many parts of northern Europe.



Industry, the railway and finance: Although Spain remained mainly rural, important industries developed in some areas while there were also significant innovations in transport, banking and finance:

• The cotton textile industry. This was especially important in Catalonia. It grew thanks to the investment of income from farming and trade, and the rapid mechanisation of production.

• The iron and steel industry. The first blast furnaces were built in Málaga in the 1820s. However, the Andalusian iron and steel industry could not compete with the Basque Country and Asturias from the mid-19th century. The industry developed greatly around Bilbao from around 1870 onwards. The Altos Hornos de Vizcaya (founded in 1902) became one of Spain’s biggest companies.

• Transport. The first Spanish railway opened in 1848 and ran between Barcelona and Mataró. The railway law of 1855 promoted railway construction. Over the following decade the railway network expanded rapidly, helped by state support, technical advances and foreign investment, especially from France.

• Banking. The Spanish Bank of San Fernando was formed in 1829. its main function was to lend money to the government. In 1856, it became the Bank of Spain. The following year it was granted a monopoly on printing money.

• The Spanish Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Comercio) was created in 1831, so that company shares could be bought and sold.