The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire.

1516: On the death of Fernando of Aragon, the Spanish Crown goes to Charles I of Spain and V of Germany, who unites under a single sceptre the Spanish kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, plus the Italian and European dominions of the Habsburgs. 1519: Charles is crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (June 28th), which involves Spain in endless wars; the monarch confronts the Ottoman Empire, takes Francois I of France prisoner at Pavia and tries to solve the serious problem of the Reformation. 1556: Charles abdicates and enters the monastery of Yuste (where he dies two years later), dividing his dominions between his son Philip II and his younger brother Ferdinand I. Most of the Empire remains in the hands of the Spanish branch of the House of Austria. 1571: Don Juan de Austria, the half-brother of Philip II, defeats the Turks in the naval battle of Lepanto. 1588: Disaster of the Invencible Armada against England. The decline of Spains becomes more noticeable. 1700: With the death of Charles II, the dinasty of the Habsburg comes to an end and the War of the Spanish Succession breaks out, in which France, England and Austria are involved. 1714: The war ends. France imposes Philip of Anjou (Philip V), the grandson of Louis XIV, as king of Spain. Spain loses Belgium, Luxemburg, Milan, Naples, Sardinia, Minorca and Gibraltar.

The Discovery of America.
One of the most significant dates during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs was 12th October 1492: the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. The fact that Christopher Columbus (who was not originally Spanish) appealed to a foreign court to offer his services proved that the discovery of America was not incidental. Portugal and Castilla (Spain) were well-advanced in the exploration of overseas mercantile routes and Sevilla, a wealthy and populous Spanish city, was by then an important commercial centre. We know that the African routes were closed to Castilla in favour of Portugal, In 1479, under the Treaty of Alcacoba, Alfonso V of Portugal renounced his claims to Castilla and recognized the rights of Castilla over the Canary Islands, while Castilla recognized the rights of Portugal over the Azores, Cape Verde and Madeira. The Canary Islands were an excellent bridgehead for alternate routes. This is what Christopher Columbus offered and he offered it to a State that needed them, but which was also accustomed to and prepared for this type of venture. Unified Spain possessed in 1492 a powerful war machine, a solid economy, an exterior projection, naval experience including the exploration of trade routes and notable scientific-technical potential mathematicians, geographers, astronomers and shipbuilders who had been formed in a melting-pot of three cultures (Jews, Muslims and Christians). Its only rival was its neighbour, Portugal, which, as we know, had put a stop to Spanish expansion in Africa. Columbus' offer was rapidly accepted in spite of his acknowledged errors. But during his journey to Asia his caravels unexpectedly came across the American continent. The Spanish were especially well prepared by history to conquer, occupy, populate and exploit new lands and assimilate new people. America thus became the new frontier-land for those people used to its ways and with the military, diplomats and administrative arms at their disposal to face the challenge. By the middle of the 16th century, they had settled in the two most important viceroyalties, Mexico on the Atlantic, and Peru on the Pacific.

                            The Catholic Monarchs.

1474 to 1516: During the reign of Isabel and Fernando, the outstanding elements are:
The taking of Granada (that completed in 1492, January 2nd, the Christian Reconquest against Muslim rule in Spain.
The Discovery of America (12 October 1492) by Christopher Columbus.
The setting up of the Inquisition: a Tribunal that not only had religious implications, but was also an instrument allowing royal power to reinforce the authority of the State. The unity of Spain was possible after the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs in 1464.
The expulsion of the Jews. The search for unity did not stop with the final military gesture of 1492 but was prolonged in pursuit of religious and cultural uniformity, culminating in the expulsion of the Jews who refused to convert in the same year that the Reconquest was completed, and in the ensuing expulsion of the Muslims.
The pacification of the kingdoms. They tried to reinforce the state apparatus and royal authority to do so and they used the juridical and administrative institutions already existing. The Spanish monarchy appears then as one of the first modern states of Renaissance Europe.
An international policy of marriage alliances to consolidate Spanish power. The Spanish monarchy had a foreign policy influenced by the creation of a permanent state, served by functionaries and diplomats, shaped by a unitarian concept, which was both flexible and confederal, of the monarchical institution.

The Reconquest.

718: Pelayo, a noble Visigoth who has been elected king, defeats the Muslim Army in Alcama in the neighbourhood of Covadonga, thus beginning the Christian Reconquest of Spain. 750: The Christians, under Alfonso I, occupy Galicia, which had been abandoned by revolting Berber troops. 778: The army of Charlemagne suffers the defeat of Roncesvalles at the hands of the Vascons; death of Roland. 791 to 842: Alfonso II conquers a number of strongholds and settles the lands south of the river Duero. 873 to 898: Wilfredo the Hairy, Count of Barcelona, sets up a Christian kingdom with a certain degree of independence from the Frankish kings. 905 to 926: Sancho I Garces creates a Basque kingdom centred on Navarre. 930 to 950: Ramiro II, king of Leon, defeats Abd al-Rahman III at Simancas, Osma and Talavera. 950 to 951: Count Fernan Gonzalez lays the foundations for the independence of Castile. 981: Ramiro III is defeated by Almansur at Rueda and is obliged to pay tribute to the Caliph of Cordova. 999 to 1018: Alfonso V of Leon reconstructs his kingdoms. 1000 to 1033: Sancho III of Navarre subdues the counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza, takes possession of the County of Castile and makes an arrangement with Bermudo III of Leon with the idea of taking away his dominions from him and proclaiming himself as emperor. However, on his death, he leaves Navarre to his son Garcia III, Castile to Fernando I, and Aragon, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza to Ramiro I. 1035 to 1063: Fernando I conquers Coimbra and obliges the Muslims of Toledo, Seville and Badajoz to pay him tribute. Before his death, he shares out his territories between his sons: Castile goes to Sancho II and Leon to Alfonso VI. 1065 to 1109: Alfonso VI unites the two kingdoms under his sceptre and takes Toledo. 1086: The Christian advance ogliges the Muslim kings of Granada, Seville and Badajoz to call to their aid the Almoravides. 1102: The followers of the Cid leave Valencia and the African Muslims occupy the Peninsula as far as Saragossa (Zaragoza). 1118: Alfonso I of Aragon conquers Saragossa. 1135: Alfonso VII of Leon restores the prestige of the Leonese monarchy and is proclaimed emperor. 1151: The Almohades, another African dynasty who have displaced the Almoravides, retake Almaria. 1162: Alfonso II, son of Petronila and Ramon Berenguer IV, unites in his person the kingdom of Aragon and the County of Barcelona. 1195: The Almohades defeat the Castilians at Alarcos. 1212: Culmination of the Reconquest. Alfonso VIII of Castile, helped by Sancho VIII of Navarre, Pedro II of Aragon and some troops from Portugal and Leon, is victorious in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. 1229: Jaime I of Aragon, the Conqueror, reconquers Marllorca. 1230: Alfonso IX of Leon advances along the River Guadiana, takes Merida and Badajoz and opens up the way for the conquest of Seville. 1217 to 1252: Fernando III, king of Castile and Leon, conquers Cordova, Murcia, Jaen and Seville. Granada remains as the sole independent Muslim kingdom. 1252 to 1284: Alfonso X the Wise continues the reconquest and is obliged to face the 'Mudejar' revolts of Andalusia and Murcia. He seeks election as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1257. Alfonso X drafts the 'Fuero de las Leyes', the forerunner of the 'Siete Partidas'. 1284: An assembly of nobles, prelates and citizens depose Alfonso X and hand over power to his son Sancho IV. 1309: Fernando IV takes Gibraltar. 1312 to 1350: Alfonso XI fights the kingdom of Granada for 25 years and in 1340 wins the battle of Rio Salado. 1369: Pedro I the Cruel is murdered in Montiel by his half brother Enrique de Trastamara, who then governs as Enrique II. 1385: The Portuguese defeat the Castilians in Aljubarrota. 1464: Enrique IV of Castile names as heir to the throne his sister, the future Isabel I, the Catholic, and disinherits his daughter Juana, nicknamed 'La Beltraneja'. 1469: Isabel I of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon are married, thus cunsummating the unity of Spain. 1492: The Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, complete the Reconquest by taking Granada (January 2nd), taking advantage of the rivalry of the last Muslim governors of Spain. Discovery of America (October 12th).

                              Muslim Spain.

If you come from Chapter number 6 because you had some problems in understanding the history of Andalucia, please be welcome! If you a newcomer, please be welcome too, and see how interesting is this topic about Muslim Spain! It was one of the noble clans, the Witiza family, that, at the beginning of the 8th century, caused the decline of the Visigoth kingdom, by appealing for aid to Muslim and Berbers warriors from across the Strait of Gibraltar to fight the royal usurper. In fact, the Visigothic state apparatus' disintegration allowed the Muslims to make isolated pacts with an aristocracy that was semi-independent and opposed to the Crown. By the middle of the 8th century, the Muslims had completed their occupation and the Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman, who had fled from the Abbasid slaughter of 750 A.D., took refuge among the Berbers. Finally, supported by one of the Peninsular Muslims tribes, the Yemenies, he managed to defeat, in 755, the Abbasid governor of Al-Andalus and have himself proclaimed in Cordoba Emir, independent of Damascus. In the first thrid of the 10th century, one of the Spanish Umayyads, Abd al- Rahman III, restored and extended the Al-Andalus emirate and became the first Spanish Caliph. The proclamation of the Caliphate had a double purpose. In the interior, the Umayyads wanted to strenghten the Peninsular kingdom. Outside the country, they wanted to consolidate the commercial routes of the Mediterranean, guarantee an economic relationship with the east-Byzantium, and assure the supply of gold. Melilla was occupied in 927 and, by the middle of the same century, the Umayyad controlled the triangle formed by Algeria, Siyimasa and the Atlantic. The power of the Andalucian Caliphate also extended to western Europe, and by 950, the Germano-Roman empire was exchanging ambassadors with the Cordoban Caliphate. A few years prior, Hugo of Arles appealed to the powerful Spanish Caliphate for safe conduct f r his merchant ships in the Mediteranean. The small Christian strongholds in the north of the Peninsula became modest feudal holdings of the Caliphate, recognizing its superiority and arbitrage. The foundations of Andalucian hegemony rested on a considerable economic capacity based on important trade, a developed craft industry and an agriculture know-how which was much more efficient than anything else in the rest of Europe. The Cordoban caliphate had a currency-based economy, and the injection of coinage played a central role in its financial splendour. The gold Cordobes coin became the principal currency of the period and was probably imitated by the Carolingian empire. Therefore, the Cordoban caliphate was the first urban and commercial economy that had flourished in Europe since the disappearance of the Roman Wmpire. The capital and most important city of the Caliphate, Cordoba, had some 100,000 inhabitants, making it Europe's principal urban concentration during that epoch. Muslim Spain produced a flourishing culture, aboce all after the Caliph Al-Hakam II (961-976) came to power. He is credited with founding a library of hundreds of thousands of volumes, which was practically inconceivable in Europe at that time. The most distinctive feature of this calture was the early readoption of classical philosophy by Ibn Masarra, Abentofain, Averroes and the Jew Maimonide. But the Spanish-Muslim thinkers stood out, abouve all in medicine, mathematics andastronomy. The fragmentation of the Cordoban Caliphate took place at the end of the first decade of the 11th century; this came about as a result of the enormous war effort deployed by the last Cordoban leaders and the suffocating fiscal pressures. The thirty-nine successors of the united Caliphate became known as the first (1009-1090) Ta'ifas (petty kingdoms), a name which has passed into the Spanish language as a synonym for the ruin generated by the fragmentation and disunity of the Peninsula. This division occurred twice again, thereby creating second and third Ta'ifas and producing a series of new invasions from the north of Africa. The first time the Almoravides (1090), invaded the Peninsula, the second time it was the Almohads (1146) and the third, the Banu Marins (1224). This progressive weakening meant that by the middle of the 13th century, Islamic Spain was reduced to the Nasrid Kingdom in Granada. Located between the Srait of Gibraltar and Cape Gata, this historical relic did not capitulate until 2 January 1492, at the end of the Reconquest.

Roman Presence.
The Roman presence in the Peninsula followed the route of the Greek commercial bases; however, it commenced with a struggle between this great empire and Carthage for the control of the western Mediterranean during the second century B.C. In any case, it was at that time that the Peninsula would enter as an entity in the international political circuit then in existence, and from then on became a coveted strategic objective due to its singular geographic position between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and to the agricultural and mineral wealth of its southern part. The penetration and the subsequent Roman conquest of the Peninsula covered the prolonged period streching from 218 to 19 B.C. Significant dates of that period are: 209 B.C.: Decline of Hannibal's army in Italy and beginning of the great Roman conquest of Spain. Rome annexes the country and divides it into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. 143 to 139 B.C.: Viriatus and the Lusitanians fight the Roman legions. 133 B.C.: The inhabitants of Numantia prefer to die in the flames of their city rather than surrender to Scipio Aemilianus. 27 B.C.: The Romans pacify the Peninsula once and for all and divide it into three provinces: Tarraconense, Baetica and Lusitania. The Roman presence in Hispania lasted for seven centuries during which the basic frontiers of the Peninsula in relation to other European countries were shaped. However the Romans did not only bequeath a territorial administration, but also left a legacy of social and cultural characters such as the family, language, religion, law and municipal government, the assimilation of which definitively placed the Peninsula within the Greco-Latin and later the Judeo-Christian worlds. 98 A.D.: Beginning of rule of Trajan, the first Roman emperor of Spanish origin. 264 A.D.: Franks and suevi invade the country and temporarily occupy Tarragona. 411 A.D.: The Barbarian tribes sign an alliance with Rome, which enables them to establish military colonies within the Empire. 568-586.: The Visigoth king Leovigild expels the imperial civil servants and attempts to unify the Peninsula. The end of the Roman empire in Spain.

First Human Settlements.

25,000 to 10,000 B.C.: The cave paintings of Pinal, Pena de Candamo, El Pendal, Pasiega, Ribadesella and Altamira express the existence of a fine culture in the Magdalenian period. 1,100 B.C.: The Phoenicians found Gadir or Gades (Cadiz), Baria Adra, Almunecar and Malaga. 1,000 B.C.: Civilization of the Tartessians. The Celts begin to arrive from across the Pyrenees. 7th century B.C.: The Greeks found Hemeroscopion and Manake. 6th century B.C.: Emporio (Ampurias) and Rhodaes (Rosas) founded. 237 B.C.: Hamilcar takes the S. and SE. and founds Akra Leuke (Alicante). Hasdrubal founds Cartago Nova (Cartagena) 218 to 201 B.C.: Hannibal takes Saguntum (Punic War). The Carthaginians invade Italy. Scipio lands in Spain and defeats Hasdrubal in Tarraco (Tarragona), Illipa (Alcala del Rio) and Gadir. Rome annexes the country and divides it into two provinces: Hispanis Citerior and Hispania Ulterior.


One of the characteristic features of the early history of Spain is the succesive waves of different peoples who spread all over the Peninsula. The first to appear were the Iberians, a Libyan people, who came from the south. Later came the Celts, a typically Aryan people, and from the merging of the two there arose a new race, the Celtiberians, who, divided into several tribes (Cantabrians, Asturians, Lusitanians) gave their name to their respective homelands. The next to arrive, attracted by mining wealth, were the Phoenicians, who founded a number of trading posts along the coast, the most important being that of Cadiz. After this came Greek settlers, who founded several towns, including Rosas, Ampurias and Sagunto. The Phoenicians, in their struggle against the Greeks, called on the Carthaginians, who, under the orders of Hamilcar Barca, took possession of most of Spain. It was at this time that Rome raised a border dispute in defence of the areas of Greek influence, and thus began in the Peninsula the Second Punic War, which decided the fate of the world at that time. After the Roman victory, Publius Cornelius Scipio, Africanus, began the conquest of Spain, which was to be under Roman rule for six centuries. Once the Peninsula had been completely subdued, it was Romanized to such an extent that it produced writers of the stature of Seneca and Lucan and such eminent emperors as Trajan and Hadrian. Rome left in Spain four powerful social elements: the Latin language, Roman law, the municipality and the Christian religion. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Suevi, Vandals and Alans entered Spain, but they were defeated by the Visigoths who, by the end of the 6th century, has occupied virtually the whole of the Peninsula. At the beginning of the 8th century the Arabs entered from the south. They conquered the country swiftly except for a small bulwark in the North which would become the initial springboard for the Reconquest, which was not completed until eight centuries later. The period of Muslim sway is divided into three periods: the Emirate (711 to 756), the Caliphate (756-1031) and the Reinos de Taifas (small independent kingdoms) (1031 to 1492). In 1469, the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, prepared the way for the union of the two kigdoms and marked the opening of a period of growing success for Spain, since during their reign, Granada, the last stronghold of the Arabs in Spain, was conquered and, at the same time, in the same historic year of 1492, the caravels sent by the Crown of Castile under the command of Christopher Columbus discovered America. The Canary Islands became part of Spanish territory (1495), the hegemony of Spain in the Mediterranean, to the detriment of France, was affirmed with the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples, and Navarre was incorporated into the Kingdom. The next two centuries, the 16th and the 17th, witnessed the construction and apogee of the Spanish Empire as a result of which the country, under the aegis of the Austrias, became the world's foremost power, and European politics hinged upon it. The War of Succession to the Spanish Crown (1701-1714) marked the end of the dynasty of the Habsburgs and the coming of the Bourbons. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 formalized the British occupation of the Rock of Gibraltar, giving rise to an anachronistic colonial situation which still persists today and constitutes the only dispute between Spain and the United Kingdom. In 1808 Joseph Bonaparte was installed on the Spanish throne, following the Napoleonic invasion, although the fierce resistance of the Spanish people culminated in the restoration of the Bourbons in the person of Fernando VII. In 1873, the brief reign of Amadeo of Savoy ended with his abdication, and the First Republic was proclaimed. However, a military pronunciamiento in 1875, restored the monarchy and Alfonso XII was proclaimed King of Spain. He was succeeded in 1886 by his son Alfonso XIII, although his mother Queen Maria Cristina of Habsburg acted as regent until 1902, when he was crowned king. Prior to this, a brief war with the United States resulted in the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, in 1898, thus completing the dissolution of the Spanish overseas empire. In the municipal elections of April 12th, 1931, it became clear that in all the large towns of Spain the candidates who supported the Monarchy had been heavily defeated. The size of the Republican's vote in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona was enormous. In the country districts the Monarchy gained enough seats to secure for them a majority in the nation as a whole. But it was well known that in the country the 'caciques' were still powerful enough to prevent a fair vote. By the evening of the day following the elections, great crowds were gathering in the streets of Madrid. The king's most trusted friends advised him to leave the capital without delay, to prevent bloodshed. As a result, Alfonso XIII left Spain and the Second Republic was established in April 14th. During its five-year lifetime, it was ridden with all kind of political, economic and social conflicts, which inexorably split opinions into two irreconcilable sides. The climate of growing violence culminated on July 18th 1936 in a military rising which turned into a tragic civil war which did not end until three years later. On October 1st, 1936, General Franco took over as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Spanish State embarked on a period of forty years' dictatorship, during which the political life of the country was characterized by the illegality of all the political parties with the exception of the National Movement. Franco died in 1975, bringing to an end a period of Spanish history and opening the way to the restoration of the monarchy with the rise to the Throne of the present King of Spain, Juan Carlos I de Borbon y Borbon. The young monarch soon established himself as a resolute motor for change to a western-style democracy by means of a cautious process of political reform which took as its starting point the Francoist legal structure. Adolfo Suarez, the prime minister of the second Monarchy Government (july 1976) carried out with determination and skill -though helped, certainly, by a broad social consensus- the so-called transition to democracy which, after going through several stages (recognition of basic liberties, political parties, including the communist party, the trade unions, an amnesty for political offences, etc.), culminated in the first democratic parliamentary elections in 41 years, on June 15th, 1977. The Cortes formed as a result decided to start a constituent process which concluded with the adoption of a new Constitution, ratified by universal suffrage, on December 6th, 1978. Between 1980 and 1982, the regions of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia and Andalusia approved statutes for their own self-government and elected their respective parliaments. In January 1981, the prime minister, Adolfo Suarez, resigned and was succeeded by Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo. On August 27th, 1982, Calvo-Sotelo presented to the King a decree for the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of a general election to be held on October 28th. Victory of the polls went to the Spanish Socialist Worker Party (PSOE) and its secretary general, Felipe Gonzalez. The socialists obtained 202 seats out of the 350 of which the Lower House consists and approximately 48% of the popular vote. Felipe Gonzalez was elected prime minister (December 2nd) after the parliamentary vote of investiture. The major losers were the Union of the Democratic Centre -which has split up following the defection of a number of its members- and the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). The Popular Alliance, whose chairman was Manuel Fraga Iribarne, made considerable gains (106 seats and approximately 26% of the vote). The subsequent general elections of 1986, 1989 and 1993 were also won by the Spanish Socialist Party and consolidated the the position of the Popular Party, led by Jose Maria Aznar, as the second largest political force in the country. (End of Introduction) If you need more details about the contents of this Chapter number 4, you can get more information about the 18 topics at:         Cultural Section of the Embassy of Spain350 Sparks Street, Suite 802Ottawa, OntarioK1R 7S8CanadaPhone Number 613-237-2193Fax - 613-236-9246The 18 Topics Are:

First Human Settlements
Roman Presence
Visigothic Kingdom
Muslim Spain
The Reconquest
The Catholic Monarchs
The Discovery of America
The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire
The Bourbons ans the Enlightment
The Peninsular War and the Constitution of 1812
The 19 Century
Loss of the colonies
Spain and the First World War
2nd Republic
Spanish Civil War
Francoist Dictatorship
Democratic Transition
The Constitutional Monarchy Please, ask for any of these topics in the menu. Thank-you, very much.

The Peninsular War and the Constitution of 1812.

1808-1813: The Spanish people rise against French domination (May 2nd, 1808) and with English help defeat Napoleon. The Peninsular War (Guerra de la Independencia) was a key factor in the cristalization of Spanish Nationality. 1808: The crisis of the Old Order that had opened the doors to the Napoleonic invasion, also coincided with a dynastic crisis that seriously undermined the enormous prestige of a millenary crown. Fernando the prince of Asturias and heir to the throne, intrigued against Godoy, the Prime Minister, who had been accused by public opinion of being the Queen's lover, and was blamed for all the ills of those troubled times. In March 1808, Godoy fell and Carlos IV abdicated in favour of his son, but the monarchic institution had been irreparably damaged. Napoleon, who had not recognized the rule of Fernando VII, decided to take advantage of the Spanish dynastic crisis to substitute Bonapartes for Bourbons. To do so, he summoned the Spanish royal family to Bayonne and compelled Fernando VII to abdicate in favour of his father, who abdicated in favour of Jospeh Bonaparte. This was an act that took place with all the legal formalities and was adhered to by all the principal institutions and personnages of the kingdom. The political regime that the Bonapartes attempted to unite was that planned by the Statute of Bayonne on 8 July 1808. Although this document is of great importance from a historical point of view, it has no juridical or practical significance because it never came into force. However, it was the first constitutional text to appear in Spain. The reforms established by this Statute could not be applied by Joseph Bonaparte since a great part of the Spanish people rejected them as they considered the new monarchy to be illegitimate and the product of a treason. The result was a generalized uprising which began on 2 May, immortalized by Goya in his paintings. The Spanish War, as it was known in France, lasted six years. The Spaniards called it the War of Independence, and it was an all-encompassing national war. 1810: But if the Peninsular War was a landmark in the history of revolutions, it is also important to emphasize the juridical and administrative bodies that were created so that the country could defend itself from the invaders using other means. The opening session of the new Cortes was held on 24 September 1810. The following basic principles were ratifies: sovereignty resides in the Nation, the legitimacy of Fernando VII as King of Spain, and the iviolability of the deputies. The work of the Cortes of Cadiz was very intense and the first Spanish constitutional text was promulgated in the city of Cadiz on March 12th 1812. 1812: This is the beginning of the Spanish constitutionalism. Since that time, Spain had a total of seven fully-feldged constitutions, including the one currently in force (1978). This list does not include the Statute of Bayonne, approved by Joseph I in 1808, which many authors do not regard as a constitution in the proper sense, since it was imposed as a result of the Napoleonic invasion.

The Bourbons and the Enlightment.

                        The 19th Century.

When the Spanish diplomats attended the Congress of Vienna in 1814, they represented a victorious State, but a ruined and divided nation. The profound crisis of Spain had seriously undermined the Spanish American empire, because many of the American colonies claimed their independence in the first decades of the 19th century. The history of the rest of the 19th century was dominated by the dynastic dilemma produced by the death without male heir of Ferdinand VII. His daughter took the throne as Isabel II, but her uncle, the legendary Don Carlos, opposed her claim, thus giving rise to the first of the two Carlist Wars, which chiefly affected Navarre, the Basque Country and El Maestrazgo, the region which bestrides Castellon, Tarragona and Teruel. Significant dates of the 19th century are: 1808 to 1813: The Spanish people rise against French domination (May 2nd 1808) and with English help defeat Napoleon. 1814 to 1833: During the reign of Fernando VII, the Spanish colonies of America gain their independence, except Cuba and Puerto Rico. 1833 to 1868: On the death of Ferdinand VII, the rise to power of Isabel II brings about the first Carlist War as the Salic law is abolished. 1841 to 1843: General Espartero is proclaimed regent of the kingdom. 1843: General Narvaez deposes General Espartero. 1854: Leopoldo O'Donnell rebels against Narvaez and alternates with him as Prime Minister. 1868: The revoluction which overthrows Isabel II is headed by Generals Serrano and Prim. 1870: Amadeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, is elected king of Spain. General Prim is assassinated. 1873: Amadeo I abdicates and the Cortes proclaim a republic. 1873 to 1874: The First Republic.- The Republic has to deal with war in Cuba, the third Carlist war and the cantonalist rising of the South and South East of the country. After the presidencies of the Republic by Figueras, Pi y Margall, Salmeron and Castelar, the 'pronunciamiento' of General Pavia dissolves the Cortes and establishes the government of General Serrano. 1874: The Restoration.- General Martinez Campos rises in Sagunto and proclaims the restoration of the Bourbons (Borbones) under Alfonso XII. 1876 to 1878: The defeat of Carlism and the peace of El Zanjon, which brings to an end the ten year war in Cuba, makes it possible to set up a stable Government. 1885 to 1886: Alfonso XII dies and is succeeded by his posthumous son, Alfonso XIII, under the regency of his mother, Maria Cristina de Habsburgo y Lorena. 1895: The Cuban war of independence breaks up. 1898: The war with the United States puts an end to the remains of the Spanish colonial empire: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines are turned over to the victors.

Loss of the Colonies.

1898: In 1898, Spain lost the last of its overseas colonies (Cuba, Puerto Rico and Philippines) but took on Morocco as a protectorate, which was to prove a new source of friction. The nation's delicate economic and social situation was expressed in serious internal tension, with anarchist uprisings in several regions, and street fighting in Barcelona in 1909 and 1917. 1909: The Moroccan war enters a disastrous stage, giving rise to a wave of protest all over the country and sparking off the events of the 'Semana Tragica' in Barcelona. 1914 to 1918: Spain remains neutral in the First World War. 1921: The troops fighting in Morocco suffer the disaster of Annual. 1923: General Primo de Rivera gained power by a coup d'etat (Sept. 13, 1923) and at first he ruled via the army through a Military Directory. Primo de Rivera's dictatorship solved some of the multiple problems plaguing the country: he ended the war in Africa, developed local governments and presented an ambitious public works programme. However, the attempt to return to a constitutional government by integrating a consultative National Assembly (1926) failed with the rejection of the Drafts of the Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy (1929).

                          Spanish Civil War.


1936 to 1939: A military rising originating in Morocco, headed by General Francisco Franco, spreads rapidly all over the country, thus starting the Spanish Civil War. After a number of bloody battles in which fortunes changed from one side to the other, the 'nacionales' finally prevailed and made a victorious entry into Madrid (March 28th, 1939). Significant Events:

1936: The tragic death of Calvo Sotelo had the effect of accelerating a military coup that had been under preparation for a long time. Actually, the conspirators had been awaiting General Franco's decision to begin the uprising. On July 18th it spread to other garrisons in metropolitan Spain and the following day Franco took command of the army in Morocco. The rising was succesful in Seville (directed by General Queipo de Llano), the Balearic Islands (General Goded), the Canary Islands and Morocco (Franco), Navarra (Mola), Burgos and Saragossa. General Yague advanced through Extremadura and Mola took Irun. By the end of 1936 the Nationalist troops controlled the greater part of Andalucia, Extremadura, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Valladolid, Burgos, Leon, Galicia, a part of Asturias, Vitoria, San Sebastian, Navarra and Aragon, as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands with the exception of Menorca. Castilla la Nueva, Catalunya, Valencia, Murcia, Almeria, Gijon and Bilbao remained in Republican hands. The Republican government formed a coalition Cabinet headed by Giralt which was succeeded by another one under Largo Caballero. It brought the CNT (Confederacion Nacional de Trabajo, the anarcho-syndicalist union) into the Cabinet and moved to Valencia. On September 29, the Junta de Defensa Nacional named Franco head of the government and commander of the armed forces. To offset these circumstances, the Republican government created a Popular army and militarized the militia. Both sides were soon receiving aid from abroad: the International Brigades were supporting Republican Spain and Italian and German troops, Nationalist Spain. Jarama, Brunete, Quinto, Belchite, Fuentes de Ebro, Teruel, The Retreats and The Ebro are the battlegrounds of the Spanish Civil War in which over twelve hundred Canadian soldiers supporting Republican Spain took part. These men created the most unique military unit in the history of Canada: the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion of the XVth International Brigade of the Spanish Republican Army: 'the Mac-Paps.' 1937: The year 1937 was characterized by fighting in the north of the country: Guernica was bombed in April, Bilbao taken in June, Santander in August, and Gijon in October. The reaction of the Republicans was to open fronts in Guadalajara (March),Brunete (July), and Belchite (August). The Battle of Teruel was launched at the end of the year. 1938: The Nationalist transferred their efforts to Aragon, recovered Teruel and divided the Republican zone in two parts after entering Castellon in July 1938. The government replied with the so-called Battle of the Ebro (July-November 1938) which ended with a Republican defeat and 70,000 casualties. 1939: Once government resistance was exhausted, the Republican exile began with many Spaniards fleeing accross the border into France. Catalunya fell on February 10, 1939. Madrid was the only city still resisting, and the proposals of peace made by its Junta de Defensa (headed by Casado and Besteiro) were useless. Nationalist forces occupied the capital on March 28, 1939, and on April 1, General Franco officially ended the war.

Francoist Dictatorship.

1939 to 1945: Spain stays out of the 2nd World War. 1947: Franco announces the restoration of the monarchy when he dies or retires (Law of Succession). 1953: Spain and the US sign a co-operation agreement providing for the establishment of bases for joint use. 1955: An agreement between the US and the Soviet Union enables Spain to enter the United Nations with other fifteen nations. 1956: Sidi Mohamed ben Yusef, the Moroccan Sultan, reaches an agreement with Franco to end the Spanish protectorate over Morocco. 1958: The Spanish government hands over Tarfaya (an area in the South of Morocco) to Morocco. The Moroccan Government also claims Ifni. 1962: HRH Prince Juan Carlos marries the royal princess Sofia de Grecia. 1963: The Co-operation Agreement with the United States is extended for five years more. 1968: Spain grants Equatorial Guinea its independence (October 12th). 1969: The territory of Ifni is handed over to Morocco. The border with Gibraltar is closed. Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon is formally invested as Crown Prince, one day after Franco names him as successor with the title of King. 1970: The Friendship and Co-operation Agreement with the US is renewed for five years. 1973: The head of the government, Luis Carrero Blanco, is assassinated in the bombing attack by ETA, the Basque separatist organization (December 20th). 1975: In collective pastoral -the first since 1937- the bishops state that the guaranteeing of 'the rights of assembly, association and expression' are 'obligatory'. The US and Spain announce an agreement of principle on the military bases, which establishes American military aid for Spain (October 4th). A decree declares the regional languages -Catalan, Basque and Galician- to be national languages. The Cortes approve the end of the Spanish presence in Spanish Sahara and the transfer of the territorial administration of the colonial Government (November 18th). General Franco dies (November 20th). King Juan Carlos takes the oath as King of Spain at a joint session of the Cortes and the Council of the Realm. A chapter of Spanish history was forever closed and the doors of freedom and hope were opened for the Spanish people.

The Parliamentary Monarchy.

The Spanish Constitution, which was unanimously approved by Parliament and voted by 87.8% of the citizens in a referendum held on 6 December 1978, provides in his article 1 for a Parliamentary Monarchy of the classical liberal European style, with certain peculiarities to take into account the Spanish situation. Article 1.3 reads: 'The political form of the Spanish State is that of a Parliamentary Monarchy' The Constitution provides for separation between legislative, executive and judiciary and gives institutional backing to the King as Head of State and supreme head of the Armed Forces. Sovereign power is held by a two-chamber Parliament, called the Cortes, whose members are elected by all of the citizens who are 18 or over, for a maximun term of four years. The people's representatives are elected by voting from closed lists drawn up by the political parties or election coalitions, the number of deputies and senators elected for each party being in proportion to the number of votes that each list has received. The proportion is weighted in favour of the lists that receive most votes according to the so-called d'Hondt rule which allocates a larger share of the seats in Parliament to the lists that carry more votes in small constituencies. The rule was introduced by consensus among the different political parties to avoid the possibility that a strictly proportional system would result in too many parties being represented in Parliament, thus leading to weak governments. The concern over the stability of elected governments is also reflected in the procedure for appointing the Government. This is appointed by the President of the Government (Prime Minister), and the ministers answer directly to him. Therefore, it is the candidate to President of the Government who, upon being entrusted with forming a Government by the King, presents his programme to the Cortes and is chosen by majority vote. In order to be chosen, the Prime Minister must receive an absolute majority of the votes in the firt round or a relative majority in a subsequent round. In order to strengthen the stability of the Government thus elected, any motion of no-confidence must include the name of the candidate nominated to replace the President of the Government, and in the event of the motion being approved a new Government will be formed according to this same procedure. The procedure, introduced by the 'Fathers of the Constitution' (Gabriel Cisneros, Manuel Fraga, Miguel Herrero y Rodriguez de Minon, Gregorio Peces-Barba, Jose Perez Llorca, Miguel Roca and Jordi Sole Tura), is an effective protection against instability resulting from sudden changes in governing coalitions. A Government can only fall if a viable majority reaches an agreement on its replacement. The stability of Spanish democracy has also benefited from an unconditional backing from the Crown. In restoring Monarchy in Spain King Juan Carlos I has shown intelligence and sensivity, to the point of placing the good name of the Monarchy at the highest level in modern Spanish history both among Spanish people and in other countries. The Royal Family's open and straightforward style, their simple way of life, the absence of a Royal Court and the support given by the King, the Queen, the Crown Prince and the two Infantas to various moral and humanitarian causes have succeeded in placing the Crown above political and ideological confrontations within a period of a few years, turning it into the final guarantor of democratic values and institutions. Please, if you need more information about Spanish politics and the Spanish Royal Household, ask for Chapter number 6 of our menu. Thank-you very much.

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In conclusion Spain was chosen for historical research and inclusion on this site due to its distance from what is believed to be the origin of man. The above article reveals the great mixture of nationalities that migrated to and eventually became Spain. In studying the development of Europe we see the great diversity of races that settled the area and we can look back into time and observe our genetic blue print in progression.

By, Dolores Marlena
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Grandee's Of Spain
Grandee's Of Spain