The Kingdom under Joseph
Popular War
Spain 1833-1849

Spain 1814-1848

A) Foreign Policy

Spain was represented at the Vienna Congress, but did not have much influence in its decisions. The Spanish sideline in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies was restored; the sideline of Bourbon-Parma was to be restored after the death of Marie-Louise of Habsburg (the wife of Napoleon). The French annexation of Catalonia was annulled; Spain held on to Olivenza, Britain held on to Gibraltar, but returned Menorca.

During the years of the French Alliance (1796-1808) and the subsequent Popular War (1808-1813), communications between Spain and her colonies in Latin America had been disrupted. In 1810, the Latin American struggle for independence had begun, in Venezuela and in Argentina. King Fernando VII. wanted to hold on to the colonies and sent troops (since 1814), which temporarily restored Spanish control, but the revolt renewed, and in 1826 Spain lost her last stronghold in continental South America (Chiloe). Spain, however, did not recognize the independence of the Latin American republics until into the 1860es.
Santo Domingo had been conquered by Haiti in 1822. Of her once vast colonial empire, Spain only held on to the Philippines, the Marianas (Guam), Cuba, Puerto Rico and Fernando Poo.
When Spanish liberals succeeded in having King Fernando VII. sign the constitution in 1820, Spain became a matter of concern for the Concert of Europe. At the Congress of Verona 1820 France was authorized to send troops, in order to restore absolute rule; 60,000 French troops invaded (April 1823), proceeded to Madrid without meeting resistance. The government surrendered, King Fernando VII. annulled the constitution. Spain was an object of European diplomacy, not an actor in it.

B) Domestic Policy

King Fernando VII. in 1814 refused to swear an oath on the constitution of 1812 and, supported by public sentiment, restored absolute rule. The Inquisition was reintroduced; outspoken supporters of a liberal policy jailed.
The military expeditions sent to Latin America (to quell liberal risings there) were unpopular, all the more as Spanish soldiers were paid irregularly. In 1820 soldiers destined to be shipped to Latin America mutinied, at Cadiz, and demanded the reinstatement of the Constitution of 1812. Garrisons all over Spain expressed their support of the mutineers of Cadiz. King Fernando VII. reluctantly accepted the constitution and the formation of a liberal cabinet; but he expressed his antipathy toward them.
A number of reforms were implemented; the inquisition once again was abolished, as were feudal rights. Monastic orders were placed under state supervision, their land sold off. An administrative reform reorganized Spain in 52 provinces. Not all of these reforms were popular; the regions which traditionally had enjoyed political autonomy (the Basque lands, Navarra, Aragon, Catalonia) resented the loss of that regional autonomy which had enabled them to keep their Basque resp. Catalan etc. identity; Catholic peasants resented the sale of land belonging to the monasteries, the abolition of the inquisition. Weavers etc. felt the impact of the industrialization of the textile industry and had other reasons to complain. A liberal trade policy failed to offer native industries the protection some industries required.
The liberals were not a uniform group; in 1820 a cabinet of moderate liberals had been formed. In 1822 more radical liberals won the election. They pursued an anticlerical policy, banning the (recently reestablished) Jesuit Order. A regiment in Madrid mutinied against the government; the mutiny was suppressed. Then, in 1823, a French force invaded and restored Fernando VII. as absolute ruler; the constitution once again was cancelled.
Fernando VII.'s absolute rule was less divisive, because he did not try to reshape society. His rule was repressive; outspoken liberals were eliminated from the state administration, even jailed. However, both the liberal and the absolute administration aimed at raising the state revenue, at reducing the state debt. The termination of the wars in Latin America reduced the expenses.
An 1827 rebellion in Catalonia was crushed. In 1830 a daughter, Isabel, was born to Fernando VII.; the King picked the child as his successor to the throne (to the displeasure of his brother, Don Carlos). Fernando VII. died in 1833, merely 49 years old.

Spain, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 edition
Spain Civil War 1820-1823, from ACED
Franco-Spanish War, 1823, from ACED
Congress of Verona, from Columbia Encyclopedia
El Reinado de Fernando VII., from Info Goya, in Spanish
Los Borbones : Fernando VII, from Cervantes Virtual, in Spanish
Biografia - Fernando VII, from ArteHistoria
Biography of Rafael de Riego, from EB 1911
Article Ferdinand VII., from Wikipedia
Gold and Silver Standards, Stable (?) Prices 1815-1914 : Spanish Empire, by Hugo S. Cunningham
DOCUMENTS Treaty of Amity, Settlement, and Limits Between the United States of America and His Catholic Majesty, the King of Spain. 1819 (1) (ceding Florida), from Avalon Project
Ministerios Espanoles - Reinado de Fernando VII, posted by Jose Ramon Urquijo Gorbia, Elecciones Parlamentarias 1808-1876, Diccionario Biografico de Ministros
Revolutionary Spain by Karl Marx 1854, from
Accion Premiente de la Compania de Reales Diligencias (bond of royal mail), 1831, posted by Auktionshaus Reinhild Tschöpe, comment in German
REFERENCE Peter Pierson, Six turbulent Decades (1800s-1860s), in : P. Pierson, The History of Spain, London : Greenwood 1999

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

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