Spain 1849-1898 Spain in World War I, 1914-1918

Spain 1898-1914

Foreign and Colonial Policy. In 1898 Spain lost the SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR, and with it almost her entire colonial empire. Cuba, the main battleground, gained her independence; PUERTO RICO, GUAM and the PHILIPPINES were ceded to the USA (TREATY OF PARIS, 1898), the Spanish claim over the MARIANA (except Guam) and CAROLINA ISLANDS sold to Germany. Spain only held on to her African colonies. Spain no longer was a major political power. The country did not feature in the various alliance systems that preceded World War I, while countries such as Italy, Bulgaria and Rumania were wooed by Europe's military powers as potential partners.
Spain, having century-old outposts in Morocco, played a role in the Moroccan crises; the country hosted the ALGECIRAS CONFERENCE and gained three stretches of Moroccan territory - the RIF, IFNI and CAPE JUBY, as well as the (northern part of the) SPANISH SAHARA. Especially the claim over the Rif required an effort toward pacification.

Domestic Policy. In the 1890es Spain found itself in a political crisis. The CANOVITE SYSTEM with government-controlled elections (CACIQUISMO), insuring the regular alternation of liberal and conservative cabinets ("dynastic politicians"), showed signs of breaking up. The political movements denied fair competition - Anarcho-Syndicalists, Socialists, regional movements (Basques, Catalans) voiced their demand for participation in the political process on equal terms or for another change of the constitution. The PSOE (Socialist Party) had been founded in 1879. The Basque Nationalist Party was founded in 1894, the Catalan Lliga Regionalista in 1901; the Republicans formed an electoral alliance in 1903 which turned into the Reformist Party in 1912.
King ALFONSO XIII. (ruled 1902-1931) was not satisfied with the function of a figurehead and used the powers granted to the king by the constitution of 1876, by repeatedly forcing a government to resign etc. Spain saw a succession of short-lived cabinets. In 1906 an attempt to assassinate the king failed.
In 1905 a Catalan magazine published a cartoon criticizing the Spanish army. A mob consisting of Spanish officers vandalized the magazine office; while the outraged Catalan public demanded the responsible to be punished, the king dismissed the pm and his successor gave in to pressure from the army, passing a law that foresaw offenses against the army as falling under military jurisdiction; thus the military was placed beyond control of civil authorities. Mass protests in Barcelona escalated into riots ("tragic week") and were suppressed by force. The enlistment of soldiers in 1909 (for the purpose of pacifying the Rif) caused unrest; Barcelona again erupted in revolt. In 1912/14, Catalonia saw a major reform, the establishment of the MANCOMUNITAT, a major step on the road to Catalonian autonomy.
While republicans, anarchists, socialists and the regional organizations, the Basque and Catalonian parties, were virtually excluded from the political process, the liberal and conservative governments were at least in part instruments of royal policy. The most prolific polititian of the era was ANTONIO MAURA (cons.), prime minister 1907-1909; he repeatedly refused a royal offer to form a cabinet, thus expressing his protest against royal interference in party politics. The assassination of prime minister CANALEJAS in 1912 again showed the resentment of the caciquismo by a significant segment of the population.

Intellectual Life. In 1901 JOAQUIN COSTA published "Oligarchy and Caciquism as the present form of Government in Spain"; in his analysis of the situation he came to the conclusion that it would take a caudillo (leader) to overcome it and implement necessary reform. Other intellectuals who saw the defeat in the Spanish-American War as an indicator for the necessity of thorough reforms included writer MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO, JOSE ORTEGA Y GASSET, ANTONIO MACHADO.

The World of 1898 : the Spanish American War, from the Library of Congress, several subfiles, detailed
The Spanish American War Centennial Website
Armed Conflict Events Data : Spain 1800-1999, from
Biography of Antonio Maura y Montaner, from Base documental d'Historia Contemporania de Catalunya, in Spanish
Biography of Jose Ortega y Gasset, from Books and Writers
Biography of Miguel de Unamuno, from Books and Writers
Biography of Jose Canalejas Mendez, from Base documental d'Historia Contemporania de Catalunya, in Spanish
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Spain by Ben Cahoon
Treaty of Paris, 1898, from the Avalon Project at Yale Law School
General Act of the Conference of Algeciras, 1906, from Historical Text Archive, in French; from, in English translation
Article Spain, from Catholic Encyclopedia 1912 edition; from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition
REFERENCE Peter Pierson, A Search for Stability, 1869-1898, and A Troubled New Century, 1898-1931, in : P. Pierson, The History of Spain, London : Greenwood 1999, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 946 P624t
Francisco J. Romero Salvado, Twentieth Century Spain, Politics and Society in Spain 1898-1998, NY : St. Martin's, 1999, 219 pp.; KMLA Lib. Call Sign 946.08 S182t
Article : Spain, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1913 pp.1135-1139 on events of 1912) [G]
Article : Spain, in : Statesman's Year Book 1901 pp.1054-1071, 1905 pp.1143-1161, 1910 pp.1216-1230 [G]
Article : Spain, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.722-724, 1899 pp.749-751, 1900 pp.836-838 [G]
Article : Spain, in : New International Year Book 1907 pp.732-735, 1908 pp.660-663, 1909 pp.663-667, 1913 pp.647-649 [G]
Article : Spanish-American War, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.724-744 [G]
Article : Spain, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1902 pp.645-648 [G]
Algernon Bastard, The Gourmet's Guide to Europe (1903), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, chapter X pp.178-196 on Spain and Portugal
Frederic Augustin Ogg, The Governments of Europe (1913), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, Pt.9 pp.603-629 on Spain
News from Spain, from "The Great Round World and What is Going on in it", Vol.III No.15, April 1899, pp.506-508, 530-535, Vol.16 April 1899 pp.565-566 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 2nd 2007

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