The Restoration (Spanish: Restauración), or Bourbon Restoration (Spanish: Restauración borbónica), is the name given to the period that began on 29 December 1874—after a coup d'état by General Arsenio Martínez Campos ended the First Spanish Republic and restored the monarchy under Alfonso XII—and ended on 14 April 1931 with the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic.

Kingdom of Spain
Reino de España (Spanish)
Motto: Plus Ultra
"Further Beyond"
Anthem: Marcha Real
"Royal March"
The Kingdom of Spain and its colonies in 1898
The Kingdom of Spain and its colonies in 1898
Common languagesSpanish
Roman Catholicism (state religion)
Demonym(s)Spanish, Spaniard
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• 1874–1885
Alfonso XII
• 1886–1931
Alfonso XIII
• 1885–1902
Maria Christina
Prime Minister 
• 1874–1875 (first)
Antonio Cánovas
• 1931 (last)
Juan B. Aznar
LegislatureCortes Generales
Congress of Deputies
29 December 1874
30 June 1876
25 Apr.–12 Aug. 1898
17 August 1930
14 April 1931
CurrencySpanish peseta
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Spanish Republic
Second Spanish Republic

After nearly a century of political instability and several civil wars, the Restoration attempted to establish a new political system that ensured stability through the practice of turnismo, which involved the systematic rotation of liberal and conservative parties in government, often achieved through electoral fraud. Critics of the system included republicans, socialists, anarchists, Basque and Catalan nationalists, and Carlists.

The Restoration period in Spain (1874–1931) was characterized by political instability, economic challenges, and social unrest. Key issues that defined this period in Spanish history include:[1][2]

  • Political conservatism: The Restoration was marked by a resurgence of conservative politics and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. King Alfonso XII successfully restored stability after years of political upheaval and turmoil. However, this stability was often maintained through repression and the silencing of genuine opposition.
  • Economic struggles: During the Restoration, Spain faced economic difficulties such as high unemployment and inflation. The country also suffered from significant social inequality, with a small but wealthy elite controlling most of Spain's resources.
  • Social unrest: The period witnessed social upheaval and the growth of socialist and anarchist movements. These groups sought to address the social and economic inequalities within Spanish society and often clashed with the conservative government.
  • Regional tensions: Spain has a long history of regional tensions, which intensified during the Restoration. Various movements for greater autonomy emerged in regions such as Catalonia and the Basque Country.
  • The Spanish-American War: In 1898, Spain lost nearly all of its remaining colonies in the Spanish-American War, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. This defeat was a major blow to Spanish national pride and had a significant impact on the country's economy and politics.
  • Cultural revival: Despite the political and economic challenges of the Restoration, Spain experienced a cultural revival during this period. Spanish art, literature, and music experienced renewed interest, and many important cultural figures emerged.

Alfonso XII and the Regency of Maria Christina (1874–1898) edit

Portrait of Alfonso XII

On 29 December 1874, General Arsenio Martínez Campos's pronunciamiento overthrew the First Spanish Republic and restored the monarchy, with Alfonso XII (son of the exiled Isabella II) as king. This was followed by the Constitution of 1876, which remained in force throughout the Restoration. This constitution established Spain as a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature (Cortes Generales), consisting of an upper house (Senate), and a lower house (Congress of Deputies). This constitution gave the king the power to appoint senators and to annul laws at his discretion. He was also given the honorific title of Commander-in-Chief of the army.

These were years of economic prosperity. Since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Spain's economy had lagged even further behind that of other European countries. During this time, the country underwent significant modernization. Domestic production was expanded in most areas, supported by a highly protectionist policy.

The Liberal Party, led by Sagasta, and the Conservative Party, led by Canovas del Castillo, alternated in power through the controlled process of el turno pacífico. Local figures, known as caciques, manipulated the election results, fueling growing resentment of the system. This led to the formation of major nationalist movements and unions in Catalonia, Galicia, and the Basque Country.

Alfonso XII died in November 1885 from a recurrence of dysentery.[3] At that time, his wife Maria Cristina was pregnant with their son Alfonso XIII, who was born on 17 May 1886, and a Regency was formed, headed by the Queen Mother, Maria Cristina.

Reign of Alfonso XIII and crisis of the system (1898–1923) edit

Alfonso XIII

In 1898, Spain lost its last major overseas colonies, including Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, as a result of the Spanish–American War. This rapid collapse devastated Spain and damaged the credibility of both the government and its associated ideologies. It also nearly led to a military coup d'état led by General Camilo García de Polavieja. This event marked the beginning of the country's decline, giving rise to numerous conflicting opposition movements at both local and national levels.[4]

Alfonso XIII came of age in May 1902 and was crowned on 17 May 1902, ending the regency of the Queen Mother.[5]

Spain began its international rehabilitation after the Algeciras Conference of 1906.[6] In 1907, it signed the Pact of Cartagena with France and Great Britain, a defensive alliance in the scenario of war against the Triple Alliance.[7] Spain's neutrality in World War I led to economic growth.[8] The Spanish flu resulted in the death of 200,000 Spaniards (1% of the population).[9][10]

The failed attempts to conquer Morocco, particularly the War of Melilla, led to considerable domestic discontent, culminating in a revolt known as the Semana Tragica in Barcelona. The rebellion, largely led by lower-class citizens and supported by anarchists, communists, and republicans, was a response to what they saw as unfair practices in the recruitment of soldiers. The government declared a state of war and sent in troops to put down the uprising, which resulted in more than a hundred deaths and the execution of Francisco Ferrer. The socialist Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) and the anarchist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) attempted to organize a national general strike, but the unions were only able to mobilize urban workers.

The conflict in Morocco escalated when a group of Moroccan militants launched a surprise attack on the Spanish army. With their military prowess, led by the Moroccan chieftain Abd-Al-Krim, they nearly annihilated the Spanish forces and pushed them back toward Melilla in the Battle of Annual. The top military officers were blamed for the Spanish defeat as a result of poor planning. This led to considerable discontent among the military, who felt misunderstood as they were ordered to advance inland without adequate resources to occupy the difficult terrain.

Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923–1930) edit

Miguel Primo de Rivera

Military discontent, fears of anarchist terrorism or proletarian revolution, and the rise of nationalist movements led to tremendous unrest among both civilians and military personnel. On 13 September 1923, Miguel Primo de Rivera, Captain General of Catalonia, staged a coup d'état and deposed Prime Minister Manuel García Prieto after issuing a manifesto blaming Spain's problems on the parliamentary system. Alfonso XIII supported the general and appointed him as the new prime minister. Primo de Rivera suspended the constitution and assumed absolute powers as a dictator. He created the Unión Patriótica Española, the only recognized political party, and banned all others. He increased government spending on businesses and public services, which led to the bankruptcy of his government. As a result of these actions, the military withdrew its support and he suffered serious health problems. Alfonso XIII withdrew his support due to significant opposition to his regime and forced his resignation in January 1930.[11]

Final year (1930–1931) edit

Alfonso XIII attempted to gradually restore the previous system and bolster his prestige by enlisting General Dámaso Berenguer to form a government. However, this proved unsuccessful due to the king's perceived support of the dictatorship, leading to growing calls for the establishment of a republic. Berenguer eventually resigned, and Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar was appointed by the king to lead the government. Aznar called for local elections on 12 April 1931 to appease the democrats and republicans, replace the local governing bodies of the dictatorship, and gradually restore the restoration.

Although the monarchists still had some support, the republican and socialist parties won an overwhelming victory. This led to street riots and demands for the abolition of the monarchy. On 14 April, the king fled Spain after the army announced that it would not defend him. A provisional government led by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora immediately established the Second Spanish Republic.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Raymond Carr, Spain, 1808-1975 (1982) pp. 347–602. online
  2. ^ Stanley G. Payne, A History of Spain and Portugal. Vol. 2 After 1700 (1973) pp 488-512, 578-629. online.
  3. ^ "Death of the King of Spain", The Times (26 November 1885): 7.
  4. ^ Earl Ray Beck, Time of Triumph & Sorrow: Spanish Politics during the Reign of Alfonso XII, 1874–1885 (1979)
  5. ^ "ALFONSO'S REIGN BEGINS MAY 17.; He Will Take the Oath on That Day -- Festivities to Last a Week". The New York Times. 29 March 1902.
  6. ^ Antonio Ñíguez Bernal .p. 94. Las relaciones políticas, económicas y culturales entre España y los Estados Unidos en los siglos XIX y XX
  7. ^ By which, with the transfer of technology from the United Kingdom and France, the Spanish government was able to begin to rebuild the fleet and built the España-class battleship and projected the Reina Victoria Eugenia-class battleship that were canceled by the beginning of the First World War. When the Great War broke out in 1914, the Italian government declared its neutrality so that the Spanish government had scope to also declare its neutrality in the conflict.
  8. ^ McEvoy, William P. (2003). "Spain During the First World War". Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  9. ^ "La gripe del siglo". La opinión de Zamora. 22 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Cien años de la pandemia de la "gripe española"". La opinión de Zamora. 22 October 2018.
  11. ^ Shlomo Ben-Ami, "The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera: A Political Reassessment," Journal of Contemporary History, Jan 1977, Vol. 12 Issue 1, pp 65–84

Sources edit

  • Barton, Simon. A History of Spain (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Beck, Earl Ray. Time of Triumph & Sorrow: Spanish Politics during the Reign of Alfonso XII, 1874–1885 (1979)
  • Ben-Ami, Shlomo. "The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera: A Political Reassessment," Journal of Contemporary History, Jan 1977, Vol. 12 Issue 1, pp 65–84 in JSTOR
  • Carr, Raymond, ed. Spain: A History (2001) online
  • Esdaile, Charles J. Spain in the Liberal Age: From Constitution to Civil War, 1808–1939 (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Hall, Morgan C. "Alfonso XIII and the Failure of the Liberal Monarchy in Spain, 1902–1923"  (PhD dissertation, Columbia University; ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2003. 3095625)
  • Luengo, Jorge, and Pol Dalmau. "Writing Spanish history in the global age: connections and entanglements in the nineteenth century." Journal of global history 13.3 (2018): 425–445. DOI:
  • Payne, Stanley G. A History of Spain and Portugal. Vol. 2 After 1700 (1973) pp 488-512, 578-629. online
  • Payne, Stanley G. "Spanish Conservatism 1834–1923," Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 13, No. 4, (Oct. 1978), pp. 765–789 in JSTOR
  • Winston, Colin M. "The Proletarian Carlist Road to Fascism: Sindicalismo Libre," Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 17, No. 4 (Oct., 1982), pp. 557–585 in JSTOR