Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/578

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HISTORY]
557
SPAIN


The immediate result of the dead king's decision was to throw Spain back into a period of squalid anarchy. Maria Christina would have ruled despotically if she could, and began by an- nouncing that material changes would not be made in the method of government. But the Conservatives preferred to support the late king's brother Don Carlos, and they had the active aid of the Basques, who feared for their local franchises, and of the mountaineers of Navarre, Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia, who were either quite clerical, or who had become attached, during the French invasion and the troubles of the reign of Ferdinand, to a life of guerrilkro adventure. Maria Christina Christina. nac ^ tne su PP ort °f the army, and the control of the machinery of government; while the mass of the people passively submitted to the powers that were, while as far as possible eluding their orders. The regent soon found that this was not enough to enable her to resist the active hostility of the Carlists and the intrigues of their clerical allies. She was eventually driven by the necessities of her position to submit to the establishment of parliamentary institutions. She advanced only when forced, first by the need for buying support, and then with the bayonet at her back. First the historic Cortes was summoned. Then in April 1834, under the influence of the minister Martinez de La Rosa, a charter (Estatudo Real) was issued establishing a Cortes in two Estamentos or Estates, one of senators (prdceres) and one of deputies, but with no rights save that of petition, and absolutely dependent on the Crown. This constitution was far from satisfying the advanced Liberals, and the supporters of Christina — known as Cristinos — broke into two sections, the Moderados, or Moderates, and Progrcssisias or Exaltados, the Progressists or Hot-heads. In August 1836 a military revolt at the palace of La Granja in the hills above Segovia drove the regent by sheer otiS37 violence to accept a.democratic constitution, based on that of 1812, which was issued in 1837. Mean- while' Cristinos and Carlistas, the successors of the " Liberates " and " Servilcs," were fighting out their quarrel. In 1835 a violent outbreak against the monastic orders took place. In some cities, notably in Barcelona, it was accompanied by cruel massacres. Though the measure was in itself repugnant to Maria Christina, the pressing needs of her government com- pelled her to consent when Juan Alvarez y Mendizabal (1790- 1853), a minister of Jewish descent, forced on her by Liberals, secularized the monastic lands and used them for a financial operation which brought some relief to the treasury.

The Carlist War lasted from the beginning of Isabella's reign till 1840. At first the Carlists were feeble, but they gathered strength during the disputes among the Cristinos. War ^ S Their leaders, Tomas Zumalacarregui in Biscay and Navarre, and Ramon Cabrera in Valencia, were the ablest Spaniards of their time. The war was essentially a giterrilleros struggle in which the mountaineers held their ground among the hills against the insufficient, ill- appointed, and mostly very ill-led armies of the government, but were unable to take the fortresses, or to establish themselves in central Spain south of the Ebro; though they made raids as far as Andalusia. At last, in August 1839, exhaustion brought the Basques to recognize the government of Queen Isabella by the convention of Vergara in return for the confirmation of their privileges. The government was then able to expel Cabrera from Valencia and Catalonia. Great Britain and France gave some help to the young queen, and their intervention availed to bring a degree of humanity into the struggle.

Maria Christina, who detested the parliamentary institu- tions which she had been forced to accept, was always ready Revolt and to nullify them by intrigue, and she was helped Regency of by the Moderados. In r84i the regen*. and the Espartero. Moderados made a law which deprived the towns of the right of electing their councils. It was resented by the Liberals and provoked a military rising, headed by the most popular of the Cristino generals, Baldomero Espartero. The queen regent having been compelled to sign a decree illegally revoking the law, resigned and left for France. Espartero was


declared regent. He held office till 1843, during an agitated period, in which the Carlists reappeared in the north, muti- nies were common, and a barbarous attempt was made to kidnap the young queen in her palace on the night of the 7th of October 1841. It was only defeated by the hard fighting of eighteen of the palace guards at the head of the main stair- case. In 1843 Espartero, a man of much personal courage and of fitful energy, but of no political capacity, was expelled by a military rising, promoted by a combination of discontented Liberals and the Moderates. The queen, though only thirteen years old, was declared of age.

The reign of Queen Isabella, from 1843 till her expulsion in 1868, was a prolongation of that of her mother's regency. It was a confused conflict between the constant attempt of the court to rule despotically, with a mere i sabeUa u pretence of a Cortes, and the growing wish of the Spaniards to possess a parliamentary government, or at least the honest and capable government which they hoped that a parliament would give them. In 1845 the Moderates having deceived their Liberal allies, revised the constitution of 1837 and limited the freedom it gave. Their chief leader, General Ramon Narvaez, had for his guiding principle that government must be conducted by the stick and by hard hitting. In 1846 Europe was scandalized by the ignominious intrigues connected with the young queen's marriage. Louis Philippe, king of the French, saw in the marriage of the The young queen a chance of reviving the family alliance "SpnnJsh which had, in the 18th century, bound Bourbon â– Marriages." Spain to Bourbon France. The court of Madrid was rent by the intrigues of the French and the English factions; the former planning an alliance with a son of the French king, the latter favouring a prince of the house of Coburg. The episode of the Spaiiish marriages forms an important incident in the history of Europe; for it broke the entente cordiale between the two western Liberal powers and accelerated the downfall of the July monarchy in France. There can be no doubt, in spite of the apology for his action published by Guizot in his memoirs, that Louis Philippe made a deliberate attempt to overreach the British government; and, if the attempt issued in disaster to himself, this was due, not to the failure of his statecraft so much as to his neglect of the obvious factor of human nature. Palmerston, on behalf of Great Britain, had agreed to the principle that the queen should be married to one of her Bourbon cousins of the Spanish line, and that the younger sister should marry the duke of Montpensier, son of Louis Philippe, but not till the birth of an heir to the throne should have obviated the danger of a French prince wearing the crown of Spain. Louis Philippe, with the aid of the queen-mother, succeeded in forcing Isabella to accept the hand of Don Francisco d'Assisi, her cousin, who was notoriously incapable of having heirs; and on the same day the younger sister was married to the duke of Montpensier. The queen's marriage was miserable; and she consoled herself in a way which at once made her court the scandal of Europe, and upset the French king's plans by pro- viding the throne of Spain with healthy heirs of genuine Spanish blood. But incidentally the scandals of the palace had a large and unsavoury part in the political troubles of Spain. Narvaez brought Spain through the troubled revolutionary years 1848 and 1849 without serious disturbance, but his own unstable temper, the incessant intrigues of the palace, and the inability of the Spaniards to form lasting political parties made good government impossible. The leaders on all sides were of small capacity. In 1854 another series of outbreaks began which almost ended in a revolution. Liberals and discontented Moderates, supported as usual by troops led into mutiny by officers whose chief object was promotion, imposed some restraint on the queen. Another revision of the constitution was undertaken, though not carried out, and Espartero was brought from retirement to head a new govern- o'Donaeii. ment. But the coalition soon broke up. Espartero was overthrown by General Leopold O'Donnell, who in 1858 formed the Union-Liberal ministry which did at last give Spain