Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/574

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
HISTORY]
553
SPAIN


Gibraltar was made in 1733, and a serious war was only averted by the resolute peace policy of Sir Robert Walpole. But in 1739 trade difficulties, which had arisen out of the Asiento in America, led to a great war with England, which became merged in the War of the Austrian Succession (q.v.). The king, who had become almost entirely mad at the end of his life, died on the 9th of July 1746. His successor, Ferdinand VI., the second son of his first marriage, whose reign lasted till the 10th of August Ferdinand 1759, was a retiring and modest man, who adopted vi., 174b- a policy of peace with England. His ministers, of 1759. whom the most notable were Zenon de Somadevila,

marquis of Ensenada, and Richard Wall, an Irish Jacobite, carried on the work of financial and administrative reform. The advance of the country in material prosperity was consider- able. Foreign influences in thought and literature began to modify the opinions of Spaniards profoundly. The party known as the Rcgalistas, the lawyers who wished to vindicate the regalities, or rights of the Crown, against the encroachments of the pope and the Inquisition, gained the upper hand.

The new sovereign was one of the most sincere, and the most successful, of the " enlightened despots " of the 18th century. He had had a long apprenticeship in Naples, and was 1759-1788. ' a man °f forty-three when he came to Spain in 1759. Until his death on the 14th of December 1788 he was engaged in internal politics, in endeavouring to advance the material prosperity of Spain. His foreign policy was less wise. He had a deep dislike of England, and a strong desire to recover Minorca and Gibraltar, which she held. He had also a strong family feeling, which induced him to enter into the "Family Com- pact " with his French cousins. He made war on England in 1 761, with disastrous results to Spain, which for the time lost both Havana and Manila. In 1770 he came to the verge of war with England over the Falkland Islands. In 1778 he joined France in supporting the insurgent English colonists in America. The most statesmanlike of his foreign enterprises, the attempt to take the piratical city of Algiers in 1775 (see Barbary Pirates) , was made with insufficient forces, was ill executed, and ended in defeat. Yet he was able to recover Minorca and Florida in the War of American Independence, and he finally extorted a treaty with Algiers which put a stop to piratical raids on the Spanish coast. The worst result for Spain of his foreign policy was that the example set by the United States excited a desire for independence in the Spanish colonies, and was the direct incitement to the rebellions at the beginning of the 19th century. The king's domestic policy, on the contrary, was almost wholly fruitful of good. Under his direction many useful public works were carried out—roads, bridges and large schemes of drainage. The first reforms undertaken had provoked a disturbance in Madrid directed against the king's favourite minister, the Sicilian marquis of Squillacci. Charles, who believed that the Jesuits had promoted the outbreak, and also that they had organized a murder plot against him, allowed his minister Aranda {q.v.), the correspondent of Voltaire, to expel the order in 1766, and he exerted his whole influence to secure its entire suppression. The new spirit was otherwise shown by the restrictions imposed on the numbers of the religious orders and on the Inquisition, which was reduced to practical subjection to the lay courts of law. Many of the king's industrial enter- prises, such as the Bavarian colony, established by him on the southern slope of the Sierra Morena, passed away without leaving much trace. On the other hand the shipping and the industry of Spain increased greatly. The population made a considerable advance, and the dense cloud of sloth and ignorance which had settled on the country in the 17th century was lifted. In this work Charles III. was assisted, in addition to Squillacci and Aranda, by Campomanes {q.v.), who succeeded Aranda as minister of finance in 1787, and by Floridablanca (q.v.), who ruled the country in the spirit of enlightened bureaucracy.

Charles III. was succeeded in 1788 by his son Charles IV. The father, though " enlightened," had been a thorough despot; the son was sluggish and stupid to the verge of imbecility, but the despotism remained. The new king was much under the


influence of his wife, Maria Louisa of Parma, a coarse, passionate and narrow-minded woman; but he continued to repose confi- dence in his father's ministers. Floridablanca was, however, unable to continue his earlier policy, i^ss-ilos " in view of the contemporaneous outbreak of the Revolution in France. The revival of Spain depended on the restoration of her colonial and naval ascendancy at the expense of Great Britain, and for this the support of France was needed. But the " Family Compact," on which the French alliance depended, ceased to exist when Louis XVI. was deprived of power by his subjects. Of this conclusive evidence was given in 1791. Some English merchants had violated the shadowy claim of Spain to the whole west coast of America by founding a settlement at Nootka Sound. The Spanish government lodged a vigorous protest, but the French National Assembly refused to lend any assistance, and Florida- blanca was forced to conclude a humiliating treaty and give up all hope of opposing the progress of Great Britain. This failure was attributed by the minister to the Revolution, Spain and of which he became the uncompromising opponent, the French The reforms of Charles III.'s reign were abandoned H evolutioa - and all liberal tendencies in Spain were suppressed. But Floridablanca was not content with suppressing liberalism in Spain; he was eager to avenge his disappointment by crushing the Revolution in France. He opened negotiations with the emigres, urged the European powers to a crusade on behalf of legitimacy, and paraded the devotion of Charles IV. to the head of his family. This bellicose policy, however, brought him into collision with the queen, who feared that the outbreak of war would diminish the revenues which she squandered in self- indulgence. She had already removed from the ministry Campo- manes and other supporters of Floridabianca, arid had compelled the latter to restrict himself to the single department of foreign affairs. Early in 1792 she completed her task by inducing Charles IV. to banish Floridablanca to Murcia, and his place was entrusted to the veteran Aranda, who speedily found that he held office only by favour of the queen, and that this had to be purchased by a disgraceful servility to her paramour, Emanuel Godoy. Spain withdrew from the projected coalition against France, and sought to maintain an attitude of neutrality, which alienated the other powers, while it failed to conciliate the Re- public. The repressive measures of Floridablanca were with- drawn ; society and the press regained their freedom ; and no opposition was offered to the propaganda of French ideas. Aranda's policy might have been successful if it had been adopted earlier, but the time for temporizing was now past, and it was necessary to choose one side or the other. In November 1792 the queen felt herself strong enough to carry out the scheme which she had been long maturing. Aranda was dismissed, and the office of first minister was entrusted to Godoy, who had recently received the title of duke of Alcudia. Godoy, who was at once the queen's lover and the personal favourite of the king, had no experience of the routine of office, and no settled policy. Fortunately for him, the course now to be pursued was decided for him. The execution of Louis XVI. (Jan. 2i, 1793) made a profound impression in a country where loyalty was a superstition. Charles IV. was roused to demand vengeance for the insult to his family, and Spain became an enthusiastic member of the first coalition against France. The number of volunteers who offered their services rendered conscription unnecessary; and the southern provinces of France welcomed the Spaniards as deliverers. These advantages, however, were nullified by the shameful incompetence and carelessness of the government. The troops were left without supplies; no plan of combined action was imposed upon the commanders; and the two campaigns of 1793 and 1794 were one long catalogue of failures. Instead of reducing the southern provinces of France, the Spaniards were driven from the strong fortresses that guarded the Pyrenees, and the French advanced almost to the Ebro; and at the same time the British were utilizing the war to extend their colonial power and were establishing more firmly that maritime