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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Troubled reign of Amadeo of Savoy


Nevertheless,

very important gains were made for democracy in this period, in addition to the recognition of the constitutional principle. Most vital of all was that a large proportion of the people had now joined with the intellectual class among the civilian element in a desire for a more liberal government. The reaction had at first been welcomed as assuring the country of peace, but the promise was not fulfilled. Insurrections soon began to occur on behalf of Liberalism, and people got to believe that there would be no security from anarchy until the policies of that party triumphed. The Liberal opposition more and more directed its attacks against the queen, whose instability of character seemed to preclude the attainment, or at least the continued practice, of any political ideal. Prim at length became convinced that the dynasty must be swept away, and headed an unsuccessful revolution in 1866. The queen's position was steadily weakened, however. Radical newspapers had been founded which exposed her immorality, and the government was unable to suppress these publications. The deaths of O'Donnell in 1867 and of Narv?ez in 1868 were also fatal to her. The last-named was succeeded by Gonz?lez Bravo, who had held the leadership of the ministry from 1843 to 1844, only to lose it because he was not a soldier, and could not control the army. This time he proposed to defeat the generals, and sought to do so by banishing all of them known to hold Liberal views. But the generals returned with Prim
at their head, though Serrano was the nominal leader. At last the blow had fallen, and as the year 1868 drew toward a close the long, corrupt reign of Isabella II came to an end with the dethronement of the queen. The first question now to resolve was that of the type of government to be established. This was left to the _Cortes_, which voted for a continuance of monarchy; it is significant of the advance of democratic ideas that 71 votes in a total of 285 favored the establishment of a republic. The next problem was to find a monarch. Prince after prince was approached, but it seemed as if nobody cared to be king of Spain. Leopold of Hohenzollern consented to become king, but later withdrew his candidacy, and it was this trifling incident which served as the occasion, hardly the cause, for the outbreak of war in 1870 between France and Prussia. Finally, after a search which had lasted two years, the Duke of Aosta, Amadeo of Savoy, gave a reluctant consent. On the very day when Amadeo touched Spanish soil, December 30, 1870, General Prim died of wounds received a few days before from a band of assassins. It meant that the new king (who was crowned a few days later, in January, 1871) was to lack the support of the only individual who might have saved him from the difficulties of his position.

[Sidenote: Troubled reign of Amadeo of Savoy.]

Amadeo found himself king in a country where he had no party. At his accession there were three well-defined groups, the Alfonsists, the Republicans, and the Carlists. The first-named favored the principle of limited monarchy, under Alfonso of Bourbon, son of Isabella II. This party as yet had a meagre following, owing to the hatred of her family which Isabella had inspired among Spaniards. Republicanism was loudly proclaimed, but was untried and not trusted. The Carlist faction, standing for absolutism as well as for the accession of the heir of the earlier Don Carlos, was by all odds the strongest group of the day. Its backbone was the clergy, who were especially influential in the country districts of the north and east. They were deeply offended by the choice of a monarch from the House of Savoy, which had just occupied the last remnant of the Papal States and made the pope a "prisoner of the Vatican." They also feared that the new government might withdraw its financial support of the church, leaving them to the uncertain contributions of the faithful. Carlism was aided by the disintegration of the regular army, growing out of Prim's promise to abolish compulsory service, a policy which the Republicans included in their program, although no definite enactment to this effect was made. The morale of the army was thus destroyed, depriving the state of its only sure resort, disgusting the officers, and leading to a renewal of brigandage, anarchy, and an aggressive type of socialism. Altogether there was a recrudescence of grave disorder. There were six changes in ministry and three general elections in two years. At last Amadeo was told that he must suspend the constitution and rule with an iron hand. This he refused to do, seizing the first opportunity which offered to resign his crown, leaving the country once more without a king, in February, 1873.


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