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Restoration (Spain)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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
April - August 1898
• Rif War
14 April 1931
CurrencySpanish peseta
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Spanish Republic
Second Spanish Republic

The Restoration (Spanish: Restauración) or Bourbon Restoration (Spanish: Restauración borbónica) was the period in Spanish history between the First Spanish Republic and the Second Spanish Republic from 1874 to 1931. It 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.

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 turno, an intentional rotation of liberal and conservative parties in leadership often achieved through electoral fraud. Critics of the system included republicans, socialists, anarchists, Basque and Catalan nationalists, and Carlists.



The Restoration period was characterized by political instability, economic challenges, and social unrest. Key issues that defined the period 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.
  • War: In 1898, Spain lost nearly all 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 significantly impacted the country's economy and politics. Conflict with Morocco, coming to a head in the Rif War, worsened economic conditions and morale.
  • Cultural revival: Despite political and economic challenges, 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)

Portrait of Alfonso XII

On 29 December 1874, General Arsenio Martínez Campos's pronunciamiento overthrew the First Spanish Republic and restored the monarchy, crowning Alfonso XII, son of the exiled Isabella II, as king.

The Constitution of 1876 was soon established; it 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). The king held the power to appoint senators and to annul laws at his discretion. He was 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 Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, and the Conservative Party, led by Antonio Cánovas 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.[3] 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.[4] At that time, his wife Maria Cristina was pregnant. Their son Alfonso XIII 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)

Alfonso XIII

In 1898, the Spanish–American War led to the loss of Spain's last major overseas colonies, including Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. This rapid collapse devastated Spain and damaged the credibility of the government and its associated ideologies. It also nearly caused 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 local and national levels.[5]

Alfonso XIII came of age in May 1902 and was crowned on 17 May 1902, ending the regency of the Queen Mother.[6]

Spain began its international rehabilitation after the Algeciras Conference of 1906.[7] In 1907, it signed the Pact of Cartagena with France and Great Britain, a defensive alliance against the Triple Alliance. The Spanish government was able to begin rebuilding its fleet and built the España-class battleship and the Reina Victoria Eugenia-class battleship.

In 1909, failed attempts to conquer Morocco led to domestic discontent, culminating in a revolt known as the Semana Tragica in Barcelona. The rebellion, led mainly by lower-class citizens and supported by anarchists, communists, and republicans, was a response to what they saw as unfair practices in recruiting 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.

When World War I broke out in 1914, the Italian government declared its neutrality, allowing Spain to do the same. Spain's neutrality led to economic growth.[8] In 1918-1920, the flu pandemic resulted in the death of 200,000 Spaniards (1% of the population).[9][10]

In 1921, conflict in Morocco escalated, beginning the Rif War. A group of Moroccan militants launched a surprise attack on the Spanish army. Led by the Moroccan chieftain Abd-Al-Krim, Moroccans 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 due to poor planning. This led to lowered morale 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)

Miguel Primo de Rivera

Military and civil unrest grew, amplified by fears of anarchist terrorism or proletarian revolution and the rise of nationalist movements. 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 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 spending on businesses and public services, which led to the bankruptcy of his government. As a result of these actions, the military withdrew their support. Alfonso XIII did the same and forced him to resign in January 1930.[11]

Final year (1930–1931)


Alfonso XIII attempted to gradually restore the previous system and bolster his prestige by enlisting General Dámaso Berenguer as Prime Minister. However, due to the king's perceived support of the dictatorship, this proved unsuccessful and led to growing calls for the establishment of a republic. On 17 August 1930, republican groups formed the Pact of San Sebastián, forming a revolutionary committee that would later become the leadership of the Second Spanish Republic.

Berenguer eventually resigned, and the king appointed Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar in his place. On 12 April 1931, Aznar called for local elections 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. Their victory led to street riots and demands for the abolition of the monarchy. On 14 April, the king fled Spain after the army announced it would not defend him. A provisional government led by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora immediately established the Second Spanish Republic.

See also



  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. ^ Luzón, Javier Moreno (July 2007). "Political Clientelism, Elites, and Caciquismo in Restoration Spain (1875--1923)". European History Quarterly. 37 (3). Complutense University of Madrid: 417-441. doi:10.1177/0265691407078445. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  4. ^ "Death of the King of Spain", The Times (26 November 1885): 7.
  5. ^ Earl Ray Beck, Time of Triumph & Sorrow: Spanish Politics during the Reign of Alfonso XII, 1874–1885 (1979)
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ Antonio Ñíguez Bernal .p. 94. Las relaciones políticas, económicas y culturales entre España y los Estados Unidos en los siglos XIX y XX
  8. ^ McEvoy, William P. (2003). "Spain During the First World War". FirstWorldWar.com. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  9. ^ "La gripe del siglo". La opinión de Zamora. 22 December 2012. Archived from the original on 7 June 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  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


  • 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: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1740022818000220
  • 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