HISTORY: THE RESTORATION AND THE CARLIST WARS
After the fall of Napoleon, the absolutist Restoration, personified in Spain by Ferdinand VII, lasted for twenty years, until the death of the king (1833), with a period of three years (1820-23) during which a revolt of Liberal military and Freemasons, led by Riego, forced him to restore the Constitution of Cádiz (voted in 1812, but suppressed by the king in 1814 at the time of his return to Spain), which had been exemplified on the French one of 1791. How is it known, this constitutional triennium ended dramatically, by a French army (the “hundred thousand sons of St. Louis” of the Duke of Angoulême), sent by the Holy Alliance to restore order (Battle of the Trocadero, 1823). On the other hand, the three-year period itself, characterized by tremendous political chaos, had demonstrated the democratic immaturity of the Spaniards and in particular the indifference of the peasant and illiterate masses towards the “freedoms” enshrined in the Constitution. Dull tyrant (even if equipped with a certain gross mischief), Ferdinand VII ruled despotic, trusting more in his camarilla than fearful ministers and hating above all intellectuals and culture in general. The loss of the American colonies in the 1920s was clearly due to his political blindness. After the end of the constitutional three-year period, his spirit of resentment and revenge against the liberals led to a phase of true “white terror”. Eventually, however (starting from 1828), the rigor eased and more enlightened ministers (FL Ballesteros, F. Cea Bermúdez) were able to give some impetus to the economic progress of the semi-ruined country. But on the death of the king, who left his three-year-old daughter Isabella heir, under the regency of his mother Maria Cristina of Bourbon-Naples, his brother Don Carlos – recognized as Charles V by a minority of fanatical reactionaries – unleashed the first of the Carlist wars (1834-39) which for decades had to bloodied the country. Faced with the grave danger, the regent had to rely on the liberals and issue a decree of amnesty that allowed the return to Spain of tens of thousands of political emigrants of 1808 and 1823. Born in such precarious conditions, the second Spanish democracy could not fail to have a languid life. The ferocious civil war, in addition to costing a lot of blood and money, caused a more serious consequence: the political dominance of the generals. The following forty years is in fact dominated by the golpesor pronunciamientos of these, and in particular of four: B. Espartero, RM Narváez, J. Prim and L. O’Donnell, different as a political “coloring” (Espartero, for example, leaned on the progressives; Narváez, on the other hand, on the conservatives, and O’Donnell headed a Babelic party called Unión Liberal), but similar in the methods of government. Finally, in 1868, a revolution ousted the inept Isabella II from the throne, by the work of General Prim. The latter called Amedeo di Savoia, son of Vittorio Emanuele II, to replace her, but he was assassinated by Bourbon assassins at the same time as the new king arrived in Spain (1870). Amedeo I reigned for just over two years, always amidst crisis and unrest, and at his abdication (February 1873) the Republic was proclaimed, while the civil war raged once again, by the Carlists, alphonsists, cantonalists, etc. In a few months of life, the Republic had 4 presidents: E. Figueras, F. Pi y Margall, N. Salmerón and E. Castelar, and the chaos was complete. On December 29, 1874, yet another general, A. Martínez de Campos, “pronounced” himself in Sagunto, proclaiming the monarchical restoration in the person of Alfonso XII, son of the deposed Isabella II.
HISTORY: THE RISE OF FRANCO AND HIS DICTATORSHIP
On the political level, according to Thedresswizard, Franco’s assumption of all civil and military powers (1 October 1936) and the “unification decree” of 17 April 1937 which created a single Falangist-traditionalist party, the backbone of the dictatorship; while, on the republican side, the weakness of the government towards the powerful anarchist organizations (CNT-FAI), communist (with its strong 5th regiment, commanded by E. Lister and J. Modesto), socialist (PSOE-UGT) and Trotskyist (POUM) – the latter later liquidated in the middle of the war by order of Stalin – brought about a situation of chaos that explains all too well the military successes of the Francoists. When, from the end of 1937, the government of the socialist J. Negrín he managed to impose a certain discipline in the rearguard and to reorganize the administration, it was by now too late. In reality, the obstinacy of the anarchists, the Trotskyists and part of the socialists in wanting “first the revolution and then the war”, contributed to Franco’s victory no less than the powerful military aid provided to him by Hitler and Mussolini.. The civil war cost Spain, apart from material losses (destruction, economic regression), approx. 300,000 dead on the battle fronts, plus an unspecified (but perhaps even higher) number of victims in the rearguards. The executions of enemies of the regime continued for years, after 1939, in Francoist Spain. Hundreds of thousands were political emigrants, including many intellectuals. During the Second World War, the new regime openly sympathized with Germany and Italy, but limited its intervention to a “blue division” (División azul) who fought alongside the Germans on the Russian front. After 1945 he found himself isolated on the international level, but he was literally saved by the Cold War which, by dividing the former Allies, led the United States and England to consider Spain a useful pawn on the anti-Russian chessboard. Thus, Spain entered the FAO (1950), the UNESCO (1952) and finally the UN (1955), which had also condemned it as an undemocratic country in 1946. Meanwhile the regime had begun a formal evolution, proclaiming Spain kingdom (1947) – only in 1969 Franco officially recognized Juan Carlos as the future successordi Borbone, nephew of King Alfonso XIII -, decreasing the political weight of the Falange, while more political space was given to personalities of Catholic extraction, especially after the Concordat with the Holy See (1953). However, the absolute authority of the caudillo remained in force (only in 1973 he renounced the position of head of government to hand it over to his loyalist, Admiral L. Carrero Blanco), the single party renamed the National Movement (despite increasingly clear dissensions between Falangists and monarchists), the military courts with strict laws against strikes, “illegal” associations, etc.; and also the censorship of the press and the theater, the “vertical” or state trade union, the governmental dominance of industry (INI), trade, oil, etc. A cautious step in the liberal direction was the entry into force of the “organic law”, approved in a referendum on December 14, 1966. However, the opposition against the regime found an ever wider following among various strata of the population (workers, students, low clergy) and especially in the Basque Country (by the ETA) and in Catalonia, where autonomist demands were stronger. In 1973 Prime Minister Carrero Blanco was killed in an attack claimed by ETA; he was replaced by C. Arias Navarro who accentuated the authoritarian direction of a government by now dying, the target of indignant protests by democratic governments all over the world.