Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/575

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
554
[HISTORY
SPAIN


supremacy which the Spanish government had been struggling for almost a century to overthrow. Under the circumstances the queen and Godoy hastened to follow the example set by Prussia, and concluded the treaty of Basel with France (1795)- The terms were unexpectedly favourable, and so great was the joy excited in Madrid that popular acclamation greeted the bestowal upon Godoy of the title of " Prince of the Peace." But the modera- tion of the treaty was only a flimsy disguise of the disgrace that it involved. Spain found herself tied hand and foot to the French republic. Godoy had to satisfy his allies by the encouragement of reforms which both he and his mistress loathed, and in 1796 the veil was removed by the conclusion of the treaty of San Ildefonso. This was a virtual renewal of the " Family Compact " of 1761, but with terms far more disadvantageous to Spain. Each power was pledged to assist the other in case of war with twenty-five ships, 18,000 infantry and 6000 cavalry. The real object of the treaty, which was to involve Spain in the war against Great Britain, was cynically avowed in the 18th article, by which, during the present war, the Spanish obligations were only to apply to the quarrel between Great Britain and France. A scheme was prepared for a joint attack on the English coast, but it was foiled by the battle of St Vincent (g.v.), in which Jervis and Nelson forced the Spanish fleet to retire to Cadiz. This defeat was the more disastrous because it deprived Spain of the revenues derived from her colonies. Great Britain seized the opportunity to punish Spain for its conduct in the American War by encouraging discontent in the Spanish colonies, and in the Peninsula itself both nobles and people were bitterly hostile to the queen and her favourite. It was in vain that Godoy sought to secure the friendship of the reforming party by giving office to two of its most prominent members, Jovellanos and Saavedra. Spanish pride and bigotry were offended by the French occupation of Rome and the erection of a republic in the place of the papal government. The treat- ment of the duke of Parma by the Directory was keenly resented by the queen. Godoy found himself between two parties, the Liberals and the Ultramontanes, who agreed only in hatred of himself. At the same time the Directory, whose mistrust was excited by his attitude in the question of Parma, insisted upon his dismissal. Charles IV. could not venture to refuse; the queen was alienated by Godoy's notorious infidelities; and in March 1798 he was compelled to resign his office.

Godoy's office was entrusted to Saavedra, but the reformers did not obtain the advantages which they expected from the change. Jovellanos was compelled in August to retire on account of ill health — the result, it was rumoured — of attempts on the part of his opponents to poison him. His place was taken by Caballero, an ardent opponent of reform, who restored all the abuses of the old bureaucratic administration and pandered to the bigoted prejudices of the clergy and the court. The only advantage which Spain enjoyed at this period was comparative independence of France. The military plans of the Directory were unsuccessful during the absence of their greatest general in Egypt, and the second coalition gained successes in 1799 which had seemed impossible since 1793. But the return of Bonaparte, followed as it was by the fall of the Directory and the establishment of the Consulate, commenced a new epoch for Spain. As soon as the First Consul had time to turn his attention to the Peninsula, he determined to restore Godoy, who had already taTspain. regained the affection of the queen, and to make him the tool of his policy. Maria Louisa was easily gained over by playing on her devotion to the house of Parma, and on the 1st of October 1800 a secret treaty was concluded at San Ildefonso. Spain undertook to cede Louisiana and to aid France in all her wars, while Bonaparte promised to raise the duke of Parma to the rank of king and to increase his territories by the addition either of Tuscany or of the Roman legations. This was followed by Godoy's return to power, though he left the depart- ment of foreign affairs to a subordinate. Spain was now more servile to France than ever, and in 1801 was compelled to attack Portugal in the French interests. The Spanish invasion, commanded by Godoy in person, met with no resistance, and the prince ventured to conclude a peace on his own authority by which Portugal promised to observe a strict neutrality on condi- tion that its territories were left undiminished. But Bonaparte resented this show of independence, and compelled Charles IV. to refuse his ratification of the treaty. Portugal had to submit to far harsher terms, and could only purchase peace by the cession of territory in Guiana, by a disadvantageous treaty of commerce, and by payment of twenty-five million francs. In the pre- liminary treaty with Great Britain he ceded the Spanish colony of Trinidad without even consulting the court of Madrid, while he sold Louisiana to the United States in spite of his promise not to alienate it except to Spain.

Godoy, since his return, had abandoned all connexion with the reforming party. The Spanish Church was once more placed in strict subjection to the Roman see, from which for a short time it had been freed. As soon as Bonaparte saw himself involved in a new war with England, he turned to Spain for assistance and extorted a new treaty (Oct. 9, 1803), which was still more burdensome than that of 1796. Spain had to pay a monthly subsidy of six million francs, and to enforce strict neutrality upon Portugal, this involving war with England. The last remnants of its maritime power were shattered in the battles of Cape Finisterre and Trafalgar, and the English seized Buenos Aires. The popular hatred of Godoy was roused to passion by these disasters, and'Spain seemed to stand on the brink of revolution. At the head of the opposition was Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, as insignificant as his rival, but endowed with all good qualities by the credulous favour of the people. Napoleon was at this time eager to humble Great Britain by excluding it from all trade with Europe. The only country which had not accepted his " continental system " was Portugal, and he determined to reduce that kingdom by force. It was not difficult to bribe Godoy, who was conscious that his position could not be maintained after the death of Charles IV. In October 1807 Spain accepted the treaty of Fontainebleau. (See Portugal: History.) The treaty was hardly concluded when a French army under Junot marched through Spain to Portugal, and the royal family of that country fled to Brazil. Ferdinand, whose wife had died in 1806, determined to imitate his rival by bidding for French support. He entered into secret relations with Eugene Beauharnais, Napoleon's envoy at Madrid, and went so far as to demand the hand of a Bonaparte princess. Godoy, who discovered the intrigue, induced Charles IV. to order his son's arrest (Oct. 27, 1807), on the charge of plotting to dethrone his father and to murder his mother and Godoy. The prince indeed was soon released and solemnly pardoned; but, meanwhile, Napoleon had seized the opportunity afforded by the effect of this public scandal in lowering the prestige of the royal family to pour his troops into Spain, under pretext of reinforcing Junot's corps in Portugal. Even this excuse was soon dropped, and by January and February 1808 the French invasion had become clearly revealed as one of conquest. Charles IV. and his minister determined on flight. The news of this intention, how- ever, excited a popular rising at Aranjuez, whither the king and queen had gone from Madrid. A raging mob surrounded the palace, clamouring for Godoy's head; and the favourite's life was only saved by Charles IV. 's announcement of his abdication in favour of Ferdinand (March 17). Murat, however, who commanded the French, refused to be turned aside by this change of circumstances. He obtained from Charles IV. a declaration that his abdication had been involuntary, and, occu- Napoleon pied Madrid (March 23, 1808). Meanwhile Napoleon attacks had advanced to Bayonne on the frontier, whither, at Spain. his orders, Murat despatched the old king and queen and their favourite Godoy. The emperor had already made up his mind to place one of his brothers on the Spanish throne; but in order to achieve this it was necessary to cajole the young king Ferdinand VII. and get him into his power. Ferdinand, instead of retiring to Andalusia and making himself the rallying point of national resistance, had gone to Madrid, where he was at the mercy of Murat's troops and whence he wrote grovelling letters to Napoleon. It was no difficult matter for the emperors