French Revolution
Impact on Spain
Spain 1814-1833

Spain 1808-1814

A.) The Royal Administration

In 1808, French troops were stationed in Spain (for the War in Portugal), France being allied to Spain. Most Spanish trusted neither the French nor their own, moderately liberal Spanish government. Rumours caused a riot in the course of which minister Godoy was arrested; King Carlos IV. abdicated. His son Ferdinand VII. asked Napoleon to recognize his succession; he was cited to meet Bonaparte at Bayonne, where he was pressured to abdicate (April 21st 1808). The rule reverted to Carlos IV., who abdicated in favour of Napoleon's brother Joseph. Ferdinand VII. would spend the remainder of the war as a "guest" of Napoleon in France.
Joseph had a number of Spanish notables come to Bayonne, where a constitution was drafted; many notables declined.The cabinet installed by Joseph was regarded discredited. Only by July 25th would Joseph arrive in Madrid; by that time, most of Spain was in open rebellion, and Britain sided with the rebels. The new administration implemented a number of reforms, such as abolishing the inquisition; however these were limited to the areas under French control.

B.) The Junta and the Constitution of 1812

The overwhelming majority of the Spaniards rejected the installation of Joseph Bonaparte as King of Spain. While Joseph was still at Bayonne, in many regions of Spain, insurgents took up arms. Regional juntas were formed, which proclaimed their loyalty to King Ferdinand VII. Priests agitated against the atheistic French. The British were asked for help, and on June 15th 1808, London promised such aid.
With Madrid under the control of the French, the Junta of Sevilla declared herself Supreme Junta for Spain, thus proclaiming a provisional government. A Central Junta was formed, composed of representatives of regional juntas. A French offensive in 1809 forced it to move to Cadiz.
The Cortes was summoned, charged with drafting a constitution. In the Cortes, moderate reformers (liberals) dominated; the Constitution of 1812 (of Cadiz) foresaw Spain as a constitutional monarchy, in which the power of the king was limited and a unicameral Cortes had significant. The inquisition was abolished; Catholicism remained state religion, heresy was a crime. The guilds were abolished. Freedom of speech, of assembly, universal manhood suffrage were provided.
France, in reaction, annexed Catalonia (1812), a temporary acquisition.
The constitution was drafted without the approval of the Spanish Catholic church. The Spanish clergy condemned it, and the vast majority of the Spanish population followed their priests in rejecting it. When King Ferdinand VII. returned to Spain in 1814, he was asked by many to nullify the constitution; he refised to swear on it and declared it invalid on May 4th 1814.

For a description of military events, go to Popular War

The Peninsular War and the Constitution of 1812, from SiSpain
Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, article from Catholic Encyclopedia
Biography of Joseph Bonaparte, from Histofig
Battle of Busaco, Sept. 27th 1810, from Dictionary of Battles
Napoleonic Medals : the Spanish Campaign, by Fortiter
History of Spanish Literature : El Romanticismo, from Don, in Spanish
DOCUMENTS Map of Spain during the Peninsular Campaign, from Gardiner's Atlas of English History, 1892, shows provinces
Napoleonic Wars, Wars on the Iberian Peninsula, June-Aug. 1808, Oct. 1808-Jan. 1809, 1808, Strategic Overview, from US Military Academy, Dept. of History, Map Dept.
Retreat to Corunna. An Account by Dr. Adam Neale (Jan. 1809), from
Proclamation Medal King Ferdinand VII., 1809, from Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 9th 2004

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