Unidad 5 y 6



The industrialization process in the Basque Country is linked to the development of a modern iron industry in Biscay during the Restoration period.


The Basque Country, especially the area around Bilbao, was endowed with natural resources, a geographical location and a tradition in iron forges which offered a good set of conditions for the development of modern industry:

  • Good quality and easy to exploit iron deposits.

  • Long tradition in the iron industry.

  • Good location.

  • Commercial and financial tradition.

2. THE FIRST PERIOD: 1840-1876

The commercial Bilbao bourgeoisie started the modernization of the economy.

They set the financial framework: banks and financial entities.

The first attempt to modernize the traditional iron industry began after the end of the First Carlist War.

  • Santa Ana de Boleta

  • Nuestra Señora de la Merced

  • Nuestra Señora del Carmen

But these enterprises did not change the economy, they were isolated attempts and did not reach an important role in the economy.

3. THE SECOND PERIOD: 1876-1923

The development of the modern iron industry started in 1876. Several factors had a great influence in the industrialization process:

  • The invention of the Bessemer process.

  • The General Mining Law (1868) and the abolition of the Fueros (1876) set the conditions for the development of the iron industry.

  • The foreign investment.

  • The development of a new industrial concern: the creation of a native steel industry.

A modern iron industry was created in Biscay in the left bank of the Nervion river. In 1902 it would be created Altos Hornos de Vizcaya by the fusion of 2 enterprises.

The industrial bourgeoisie got real protection legislation. This protectionism in 1891 led to the emergence of a metallurgical industry.

It also developed the ship-building industry.

The accumulated economic potential required the creation of some services:

  • In 1891 the Bolsa of Bilbao was founded.

  • Banco de Bilbao (1857).

  • Banco de Vizcaya (1901).

The First World War was a period of great expansion and capital accumulation. Spanish neutrality provided a great demand for export products to belligerents.

The Industrial development carried out deep social changes: it demanded a large influx of workers from surrounding provinces, so there was a big population growth, a immigration process.

The industrialization settled new social classes, a wealthy oligarchy and a proletarian class, with new social values and new social conflicts.


It was dispersed geographically.

There was not a wealthy oligarchy, but a small and medium local bourgeoisie.

Most enterprises were small.

Many industrial sectors developed.


Real industrialization process did not reach these territories until the 1960´s, the moment of the real transformation of the Spanish economy.

They remained rural and linked to traditional economy, society and values.

It was a concentration in Gasteiz and Iruña.




Capitalism and industrialization brought about class society and a new social class, the proletariat appeared.

The working conditions worsened.

Workers were unprotected.

In response to the appalling working and living conditions of the proletariat, workers began to organize themselves founding associations in order to help each other and fight for their rights.

The main ideologies of the labourmovement were:


A political philosophy which consideres the state undesirable and unnecessary and promotes a stateless society

Anarchist favored individual freedom of action, spontaneous and unplanned methods of struggle, including violent methods as terrorist outrages, bombing, land seizing and assassination.

In 1911 Spanish anarchists founded the CNT.


An economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources-

Marx and Engels published the Communist manifesto in 1848 and founded the communist party and Working Men´s International Association in 1864.

Socialist thought that a proletarian state would be set after the revolution.

Methods of struggle included strike and political participation.

They set up a political party, the PSOE in 1789 and a trade union, the UGT in 1888.



COUNTRY (1886-1921)

Labour movement in the Basque Country did not start until 1886.

They were mainly immigrants from Castilian rural areas, and their living and working conditions were appalling.

Miners worked more than 11 hours per day for very low wages in a dangerous work, in which casualties were frequent.

They were forced to lodge in patron-owned barracks where living conditions were horrible, and to buy their supplies at patron-owned canteens.

They were paid for the days they worked, and work had to stop whenever it rained.

Labor protest and labor organizations did not start until 1890´s.

1886 the first labor organization in Bilbao was set by Facundo Perezuega, a member of PSOE who come to Bilbao to proselytize.

In 1891 Mauel Orte was the first councilor of the PSOE to be ever elected, and it was elected in Bilbao.

Affiliation grew after the first successful general strike of 1890. The spark that started the conflict was the repression after the demonstrations held in Bilbao and La Arboleda, at the first world call for the celebration of the may 1st. Several miners were sacked and the response of the miners was strike. They claimed the readmission of the workers, but also 10 hours workday and the suppression of barracks and canteens.

The call strike was followed in the mining district and it spread to the industrial workers of the left bank of the Nervion. It was the first general strike.

The government declared the state of emergency and General Loma was appointed mediator between workers and patrons. In the Pacto de Loma, he forced the patrons to accept the reduction to 10 hours of work per day and the suppression of barracks and canteens.

It was a great victory for socialist and it consolidated the socialist movement in Biscay.

In the late XIX century socialism was introduced also in GIpuzkoa, mainly in Eibar, which had a large arms industry.

The socialism of Eibar had some different characteristics, like the importance they gave to Basque culture and to Euskara (Toribia Etxebarria…)

Although the Pacto de Loma was very important it did not change radically the lifestyle of workers.

Even though the strike of 1890 had positive outcomes for workers, the one of 1892 was a failure. The ones of 1903 and 1910 repeated the same claims, but the barracks and the canteens continued to exist 20 years later.

The industrialization also had political effects: the new bourgeoisie was no longer “fuerista” but españolista and controlled the representation in Cortes, Provincial government and local power.

A new political map developed withe 2 new forces: the labor movement and EAJ/PNV.

The growth of socialism produced a reaction of Basque nationalists, which formed in 1911 their own trade union ELA to bring Basque workers to the nationalism and to the social teaching of the Church.

Since 1914 the attitude of the socialist became more moderate, especially since Indalecio Prieto became the leader of Biscayan socialism. He developed an alliance with the republicans, which made possible the election of his person as a deputy in the Cortes.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the most radical sector decided to leave the PSOE and in 1921 the founded the PCE (Partido Comunista Español).




At the end of the 19th century nationalism started in Catalonia, Basque Country and Galicia.

In Catalonia it started at the end of the 19th century as social elites were abandoning the native Catalan language, so groups of writers and poets tried to revive their language and exalt their traditions.

In 1901 “Liga Regionalista” was founded. It was very important for nationalism until the II Republic because of their compromises with the central government.

In Spain the type of State adopted was a centralist one. So all the liberal constitutions kept the same centralist organization. Federal republican constitutional project ones were the only ones envisioned a different model, but they finally failed. Regional reality was overlooked and a uniform administration was set.

Reasons for the weakness of the Spanish nationalism:

  • Regional diversity. The education system tried to eliminate regional identities, although they did not succeed because of the traditions and language of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia, where they continued having their own traditions and languages.

  • A war against a foreign enemy, it increased the national unity, but it was not enough.

  • Economic backwardness prevented the creation of a strong national bourgeoisie sharing common interest but distinct regional bourgeoisies.

Basque nationalism:

  • In the 19th century liberal states attempted to centralize administration and abolish Fueros, moreover attacking Church and developing some disentailment laws, which led to direct conflict with the State and to 3 Carlist Wars.

  • The abolition of the fueros had 3 reactions:

  • The industrial bourgeoisie accepted the abolition and allied with the parties.

  • The losers (Carlist) defended that the Fueros had to be restored. They envisioned those changes as a threat to Basque Identity, language, culture and race. Historians and intellectuals interpreted the situation as the end of the golden age. They make a transition between tradition and nationalism.

Social and ideological basis of Basque nationalism

The abolition of the Fueros in 1876 was followed by a deep economic and social change.

  • Industrialization in Biscay shook the social and economic structure which resulted in new social tensions and conflicts.

  • Immigrants who worked began to join PSOE and UGT. This produced a virulent reaction in some traditional Basque circles, where some of them interpreted the new situation as the end of the “golden age” and they created an idealization of the past.

  • Industrialization and the massive influx of immigrants were identified as enemies of the traditional society


The founder of the Basque Nationalism Party (Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea) was Sabino

Arana, who gathered all the Carlist ideas and feelings and organized them. He thought the Basque people were a different race with a different language and culture.

Basque people had to regain its traditional Fueros, which, according to Arana, meant full sovereignty should be back. He thought the only defense against all the evils of the modern world (racism, immigrants and industry) was to cut all links to Spain and reach full independence.

To achieve the independence was a merely returning to the original freedom to the

historical essence of the Basque people.

The Basque nationalism slogan was “GOD AND OLD LAW”- “JEL: JAUNGOIKOA ETA LAGAIZARRA”.

In 1894 he founded the first nationalist association (Euskaldun Batzokia) and in 1895

the EAJ/PNV.

His defense was an independent Basque Country (nation one) based on Catholicism, religion identity, ruralism, anti-capitalism and anti-emigration.

In 1898, PNV expanded its base to a more modern and industrial bourgeoisie. His first followers were Bilbao’s traditional urban middle class and jauntxoak. It was when internal tension appeared between defenders of independence and those who defended a more viable and practical goal, autonomy.

This new trend was represented by Ramon de la Sota (he was in favor of Free trade, in favor of autonomy not independence). They were influenced by Catalan nationalism and the idea of rebuilding Spain from Basque Country.

2.3. The growth of the PNV

Sabino Arana died in 1903, and the struggle between moderates and radicals continued. The Euskalduna magazine supported autonomists, while independents were supported by Aberri.

In 1916 the followers of Ramon de la Sota could remove to Luis Arana from the

leadership of the party, which changed its name to Comunión Nacionalista Vasca

The autonomist claim gap the nationalist the triumph in 1917 local elections in Biscay

and in the 1918 election to Cortes.

This pragmatic nationalism supported the modern values of industrialization and the local culture. De la Sota promoted all these values in the Hermes magazine, directed by Jesus de Sarria.

From 1907 on, the political party started gaining influence. The PNV was able to build a mass conservative party with a social base that included native Basque workers (ELA), rural and urban middle classes, professional and industrial elites. This party was the first one in Spain to become the most important political party among all the society. The claims for autonomy gave them victory in 1917 in Biscay and in 1918 in the Cortes. Nevertheless, the PNV had little impact in Spanish politics as its ideal held little attraction.

Independentists were expelled from the party in 1921 and the founder a new PNV

headed by Elías Gallastegui and Luis Arana.

Rural life versus urban une, jauntxoak versus bourgeois. Finally both trend

unity and tension between claims of independence and autonomy became a characteristic of the PNV.

In 1930 the reconciliation of the 2 nationalist parties, CNV and PNV created a

unified PNV, but in this moment, another nationalist group, which favorable to a

secular and republican nationalism left the PNV and created ANV (Acción Nacionalista Vasca)