· Sección BilingüeUnits in english:
Ancient history of Spain
The end of old regime in Spain.
We are currently enjoying the longest democratic period in our history. However, to be able to make a suitable assessment of this, we need to know how our country has evolved over the last two centuries.
After the success of the French Revolution (1789-1799), Napoleon Bonapartetook over the government of France. In 1808, Spain was invaded by Napoleonic troops.
After the French invasion of Spain in 1808, Napoleon took the royal family (painted by Goya in Charles IV of Spain and His Family, in 1800) to Bayonne, France. Once there, he forced the monarch and his son to abdicate in his favour.
19th century Spain
Interactivity that presents the main stages and episodes of 19th century Spain in chronological order
The Spanish War of Independence
The events of the Second of May 1808 represented the beginning of the Spanish War of Independence (1808-1814). That day, there was an uprising in Madrid against the occupying French. The uprising quickly spread to the rest of the country.
During the French occupation of Spain, the throne was occupied by Joseph Bonaparte(1808-1813). The Spanish nicknamed him Pepe Botella (Joe Bottle), because they said he was much too fond of drink. In Madrid he was also known as Pepe Plazuelas, because he encouraged the creation of numerous open spaces.
During the conflict, the representatives of the Kingdom of Spain met in Cadiz, the only city not occupied by the French. There, they drafted and approved the SpanishConstitution of 1812 , a liberal, progressive document.
The Constitution of Cadiz recognised Spain as a monarchy, although it put an end to the absolute power of the king. To do this, it established the separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial) and national sovereignty, which meant that the power belonged to the Spanish people and not the king.
The Constitution of 1812 was the first attempt to introduce the liberal regime in Spain. It was nicknamed la Pepa, because it was approved on 19 March, the day of St Joseph.
For more information about the Constitution of 1812, see the special produced edition of the newspaper ABC that commemorates its 200th anniversary [See].
Napoleon’s need to use most of his armies on other fronts contributed to theSpanish Victory in the War of Independence in 1814.
The War of Independence
Video about the evolution of the Spanish War of Independence, its causes and consequences
The reign of Fernando VII
The return of Ferdinand VII in 1814 meant the abolishment of the Constitution of Cadiz and a return to absolute monarchy. The liberals were severely persecuted.During his reign he was unable to avoid losing most of the Spanish colonies in America.
Ferdinand VII (1814-1833), nicknamedFerdinand the Desired by the Spanish during the War of Independence, brutally repressed the liberals. Many of them were sent into exile during his reign.
The Liberal Triennial (1820-1823)
After the triumph of the pronouncement of Rafael de Riego, Spain entered a second period of constitutional government known as the Liberal Triennial (1820-1823). Ferdinand VII returned to the throne with the help of the The Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis, a great army sent by France (absolute monarchy).
The independence of the American colonies
The outbreak of the War of Independence created a power vacuum which the Spanish colonies in America took advantage of to start fighting for their independence. Most of these colonies became independent between 1808 and 1825.
The liberal regime in Spain was only consolidated after the death of Ferdinand VII, the last absolute monarch to sit on the Spanish throne.
The reign of Isabel II
When Ferdinand VII died in 1833, his queen consort Maria Christina of Bourbonsought the support of the liberals to defend the throne of her daughter, Isabella II(1833-1868), from the absolutists (or Carlists), who wanted the throne to go to her brother Carlos María Isidro.
A regency is a government established when a king is a minor, absent or incapable.
When her father died, Isabella II (1833-1868) was only a three-year-old child. This meant that there was a period of regencies between 1833 and 1843.
During the reign of Isabella II, the Liberal State was established and Spain finally became a Parliamentary monarchy.
The Constitution of 1837 recognised the division of powers (the legislative, the executive and the judicial), national sovereignty and the individual rights of all citizens. However, the Constitution of 1845, was more conservative and gave greater powers to the queen.
In the same era, the capitalist economy progressively developed in Spain. This was linked to the industrialisation progress, which was particularly intensive inCatalonia and the Basque Country. The railway also spread during this time, which helped to improve commerce.
The industrial revolution in Spain
Interactivity to see the reality of a 19th century industrial mill village by reading a text
The six-year democracy and the First Republic
Growing discontent with Isabella II culminated in the outbreak of the Spanish revolution of 1868 or the Glorious Revolution. After this, the queen was forced to leave the country.
When Isabella II left the country, the Six-Year Democracy (1868-1874) began, a period during which there was important progress in democracy in Spain. TheConstitution of 1869 established universal (male) suffrage for the first time.
After the brief reign of Amadeo de Saboya (1871-1873), there was no alternative but to proclaim the First Spanish Republic (1873-1874). Due to serious internal problems, this only lasted for one year.
The reign of Amadeo de Saboya(1871-1873) was short lived. In 1873 he decided to abdicate because he considered the Spanish “ungovernable”. After abdicating, he went back to his native Italy.
The six-year democracy
Video to learn about the main facts of the six-year democracy, the period between the Glorious Revolution of 1868 and the Restoration
At the end of 1874, after the failure of the First Republic, Isabella II’s son ascended to the throne: Alfonso XII (1875-1885).
The early death of Alfonso XII in1885 obliged Maria Christina of Bourbon to act as regent until her son Alfonso XIII, came of age.
In 1898, Spain lost its colonial possessions. Cuba, Puerto Rico and thePhilippines.
Spain in the time of Alfonso XIII.
During the first third of the 20th Century, Alfonso XIII (1902-1931) held the Spanish throne. Given the political and social problems experienced during those times, the sovereign supported the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930).
The kingdom of Alfonso XIII (1902-1931) was blighted by serious problems such as the workers’ strikes and theSpanish-Moroccan War.
In 1931, after democracy was restored, the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1936) was proclaimed. Alfonso XIII and his family were forced to leave the country.
The second Spanish Republic and The Spanish Civil War.
On 14 April 1931, the Second Spanish Republic (1939-1936) was proclaimed.During this time, some important reforms took place that aimed at modernising and bringing democracy to the country. The Constitution of 1931 established women’sright to work for the first time.
Manuel Azaña founded the Republican Action (Acción Republicana) in 1925, and later became head of the government (1931-1933) and president of the Second Republic (1936-1939).
However, opposition from the most conservative sectors and tension between the right and the left led to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
The Spanish Civil War began with the military uprising of the nationalists, led byFrancisco Franco, and the Republicans, who defended democracy. The conflict ended on 1 April 1939 with the victory of the insurgents.
After the victory of the rebels in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), GeneralFrancisco Franco held all the powers of the state and a long dictatorship began.
During the Franco regime, democratic freedom was suppressed and any type of opposition to the regime was persecuted. Political parties and syndicates were prohibited, with the exception of the Falange Española, the only party.
Francisco Franco received the title of Caudillo of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The photo shows him in command during the Battle of the Ebro. After his victory in the conflict, a long dictatorship began (1939-1975).
In the post-war years, the Spanish had to live in extremely hard conditions, because the war had destroyed the country. Many of the people who opposed Franco were sent to prison, while others were sent into exile.
During the 60s and 70s, Spain underwent important economic development.There was spectacular growth in industry and mass migration from the countryside to big cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao (industrial cities).Many Spanish people also emigrated to other European countries to find a job.These decades also saw a rapid expansion of tourism.
The Seat 600, know as the Seiscientos (six hundred), was one of the main symbols of economic development in Spain in the 60s.
The Spanish Tansition.
After the death of Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos I was proclaimed King of Spain (November 1975). Once on the throne, the monarch appointed Adolfo Suárez(1976) as president of the government and made him responsible for leading thetransition towards democracy.
After legalising the political parties, Suárez called the first democratic elections(June 1977). He then organised the drafting of a new Constitution in which the different political parties took part. It was ratified by referendum (December 1978).
Video that shows the first steps of the transition to democracy after Franco’s death
The Constitution of 1978 defines Spain as a parliamentary monarchy in which sovereignty is vested in the Spanish people.
On 23 February 1981, there was an attempted coup d’état (23 F). A group of 200 armed officers of the Guardia Civil burst into the Spanish Congress of Deputies to take control of the country, but with the support of the king, democracy prevailed.
After Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo‘s (1981-1982) short-lived government, on October 1982, new elections were held. These were won by the workers’ party or Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) and Felipe González became president of the government. No longer in danger of coups, Spain became a fully democratic country.
The socialists remained in power until 1996. That was the year when power went to the Partido Popular (PP) and José María Aznar (1996-2004) became president of the government.
After the elections in 1996, Felipe González (PSOE) was replaced as head of the government by José María Aznar (PP).
Until the middle of the 90s, Spain underwent an important economic and social transformation. One of the most outstanding events during this period was membership of the European Economic Community (1986).
During this time the economy also grew, infrastructures were modernised and important social reforms were introduced in Spain, making it a target for foreign immigrants. In 2002, our country abolished the peseta and adopted the euro.
Learn about 20th century Spain
Activity to learn about the main features of Spain in the last century
The 2004 election was won by socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (2004-2011). He drove important social reforms, but in 2008 he had to deal with a deep economic crisis.
After the elections in 2011, Mariano Rajoy (PP) became president of the government. He introduced a series of anti-crisis policies, which many citizens consider are a threat to their labour and social rights.
Contemporary art in Spain.
Spanish art in the 19th and 20th centuries was extremely rich. Some of the most important artists of the period were born in Spain.
19th Century Art
Francisco de Goya was a unique artist. He spent many years in the court, where he painted the royal family and other important people, as well as folk scenes.Because of the war of Spanish Independence (1808-1814), he started painting subjects such as the horrors of the war and the misery of the society of the time.
In the series The Disasters of War, Francisco de Goya depicted the horrors he witnessed during the War of Spanish Independence (1808-1814).
In 19th century Spain, neoclassical architecture (Parliament Building, National Library, etc.) and the architecture of new materials (Triana Bridge, Seville; the Crystal Palace, El Retiro in Madrid, etc.). At the same time, modernism was very important in Barcelona.
In the field of sculpture, José Álvarez Cubero (The defence of Zaragoza), Ricardo Bellver (The Fallen Angel, in El Retiro) and Mariano Benlliure (monument to Alfonso XII, in El Retiro) are excellent examples.
20st Century Art
The most important 20th century Spanish artists were Pablo Ruiz Picasso (The Young Ladies of Avignon, Guernica, etc.) and Salvador Dalí (The Persistence of Memory, Christ of Saint John of the Cross, etc.). Other well-known names are Juan Gris, Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Antonio López and Miquel Barceló. All their works are easy to recognise.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga. He was a painter, sculptor, engraver and ceramist, and is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
20th century Spanish architecture followed international trends during this time. One leading figure is Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, responsible for the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia.
In the field of sculpture there are, as well as painters like Tàpies, López and Barceló, the husband and wife team of Juan Muñoz (La plaza, Thirteen Laughing at Each Other, Many Times, etc.) and Cristina Iglesias (Lattices, Deep fountain, the doors of the extension to the new Prado Museum, etc.).
For more information about the work of Juan Muñoz, see the chapter of the RTVE programme Imprescindibles [See].
|1808-1814||The Spanish War of Independence.|
|1812||The Constitution of Cadiz.|
|1814-1833||The reign of Ferdinand VII.|
|1833-1868||The reign of Isabella II.|
|1868-1874||The Six-Year Democracy.|
|1871-1873||The Reign of Amadeo de Saboya.|
|1873-1874||The First Republic.|
|1875-1885||Reign of Alfonso XII.|
|1902-1931||Reign of Alfonso XIII.|
|1923-1930||The dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera.|
|1931-1939||The Second Republic.|
|1936-1939||The Spanish Civil War.|
|1939-1975||The dictatorship of Francisco Franco.|
|1976-1981||The government of Adolfo Suárez (UCD).|
|1978||The 1978 Spanish Constitution.|
|1981||The events of 23 February 1981 (23 F).|
|1981-1982||The government of Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo (UCD).|
|1982-1996||The government of Felipe González (PSOE)|
|1986||Spain joins the European Economic Community.|
|1996-2004||The government of José María Aznar (PP)|
|2004-2011||The government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (PSOE).|
|Since 2011||The government of Mariano Rajoy (PP)|
900 BC The Phoenicians trade with Spain
227 BC The Carthaginians from North Africa found Cartagena
218 BC The Romans send an army to Spain and they gradually drive out the Carthaginians
197 BC The Romans divide the Iberian Peninsula into 2 areas, Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior
171-73 AD People from North Africa raid Spain
409 AD Alans, Sueves and Vandals invade Spain
456 The Visigoths conquer Spain
587 King Reccared becomes a Catholic
654 King Recceswinth makes a code of laws
711 The Moors invade Spain
10th-11th centuries The kingdoms of Aragon, Castile and Navarre emerge
1085 The Castilians capture Toledo
1212 The combined armies of Aragon, Castile and Navarre win a victory at Las Navas de Tolosa
1250 Only Granada is still in Muslim hands
1340 The Christians win the Battle of Salado
1343 The Aragonese capture the Balearic Islands
1348 The Black Death reaches Spain
1469 Ferdinand heir of Aragon marries Isabel heir of Castile
1492 Ferdinand and Isabel capture Granada. All Jews are ordered to convert to Christianity or leave.
1516 Charles V becomes king of Spain
1580 Spain annexes Portugal
1587-1604 England fights Spain
1609 Moriscos (Muslims who had converted to Christianity) are expelled from Spain
1640 The Portuguese rebel against Spanish rule
1659 Spain is forced to cede territory to France
1704 The British capture Gibraltar
1708-11 Spain suffers poor harvests
1763-66 Spain has poor harvests again. Nevertheless agriculture is expanding so is the population and trade and commerce.
1767 The Jesuits are expelled from Spain
1808 Napoleon forces the Spanish king to abdicate and he makes his own brother king of Spain. The Spaniards refuse to accept him so the French send an army. The Spanish begin a guerrilla war.
1813 The French are driven out of Spain
1820 The Spanish rebel
1823 The French army restores Ferdinand to absolute power
1833-39 Civil War in Spain
1834 The Spanish Inquisition is finally abolished
1848 The first railway is built in Spain
1868 A rebellion takes place against Queen Isabella
1876 Spain gets a new constitution
1880-82 Famine in southern Spain
1892 All men are given the vote
1898 Spain loses a war with the USA
1909 Riots take place in Catalonia
1917 A General Strike is held in Spain
1923 General Primo de Riviera stages a coup
1930 de Riviera resigns
1931 Spain gains a new constitution
1933 An uprising takes place in Asturias
1936 In February the left wing wins an election
1936 In July the Spanish Civil War begins. On 1 October General Franco becomes the leader of the Nationalist army.
1937 The Nationalists capture Bilbao
1939 The Nationalists capture Barcelona and Madrid.
1953 Franco signs a treaty with the USA
1955 Spain joins the UN
1975 Franco dies
1977 Elections are held
1981 Army officers attempt a coup in Spain
1999 Spain unwisely joins the Euro