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Old April 8th, 2012, 09:03 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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The Legacy of the Glorious (Milarqui's Cut)

This is going to be the thread for The Legacy of the Glorious, as written for me. I hope to post next chapter tomorrow morning, so that you can enjoy my stile, at least partially.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:01 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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EL LEGADO DE LA GLORIOSA (The Legacy of the Glorious)


Chapter 1: An End and a Beginning


Part I: The Road to La Gloriosa

It was the second of September of the year 1868. Isabel II, Queen of Spain and all of its colonies, and the last in a long line of monarchs that descended from the Sun King and Emperor Carlos I of Spain, was walking along the La Concha Beach, in the northern city of San Sebastián. Accompanying her were her son and heir Alfonso, her four daughters Isabel, María del Pilar, María de la Paz and Eulalia, and a large group of courtesans, ready to do anything that may grant them the favour of the Queen, and thus benefits of many kinds.

They did not know that any benefits they may gain would soon turn to ashes, dust and nothing else.


Queen Isabel II of Spain and her husband Francisco de Asís

Isabel II had risen to the throne in a tumultuous period of the history of Spain: she was just three years old when her father, the absolutist tyrant Fernando VII, nicknamed El Rey Felón (the Felon King) for his total intransigence that had ruined the start of Spanish liberalism and provoked Spanish America's independence, died from age and illness. Her crowning had been opposed by the Infante Carlos María Isidro de Borbón, who was supported by the reactionary elements of Spanish society, while the liberal politicians and troops had stepped behind her, hoping that she would be the one to bring new glory and freedom to the Spanish nation.

However, that hope was, not shattered, but eventually broken: Isabel had become a sad, capricious woman, who thought of the Crown and what it represented as her own property, to do as she wished; forced into a marriage with Francisco de Asís de Borbón, an homosexual and ambitious man she intensely disliked, both of them sought young attractive men to bed them, an attitude that was causing scandals in the nation; the political system formed by General Ramón María Narváez's Partido Moderado (Moderate Party) and also General Leopoldo O'Donnell's Unión Liberal (Liberal Union), which excluded the more liberal Partido Progresista (Progressive Party) and Partido Demócrata (Democrat Party) had stagnated, and was seen as an absolute failure, as very soon it became clear that the Presidency of the Council of Ministers was open for any high-ranking military officer that managed to seduce the Queen and sleep with her; and the Royal Court was dominated by Neo-Catholic councilors who were trying to convince Isabel to return to the Ancien Régime her father had imposed during his reign.

Not all done during Isabel's reign was bad: the relatively long periods of peace between pronunciamientos and revolts allowed for the industrialization of Spain, which had been destroyed by the Independence war and halted by the anti-liberal purges launched by Fernando VII, and a railway network was starting to expand, connecting all towns and cities of Spain to each other. Unfortunately, these economical reforms came with even more problems: Mendizábal's land seizures, while they had given much money to the Spanish battered Treasury, had culminated in the concentration of lands in the hands of a few landowners; the industrial and railroad businesses had been darkened due to great swindles forged by the richest families of the time, including the Royal Family itself; and the dissatisfaction of the lower classes with their economical situation was becoming greater as time passed.

It was all these factors that had led many military men and politicians to realize that Spain was a boiler, and that it would explode if it was not given a proper valve. One of them was other General, Juan Prim, who at the time was the leader of the Progressive Party. Seeing that, if he did not act soon, Spain would not end well, he decided to plan and execute several military uprisings, which led to several short-lived exiles to other European nations.

The last, definite impulse to the would-be revolutionaries was the European economic crisis of 1866, which acquired even greater strength in Spain due to many factors that had highlighted the many problems the economic policies of the successive governments chosen by Isabel, among them the inadequate industrialization of Spain and the concentration of the credit risk on the railroad business and in the public debt, compounded by the loss of many harvests due to floods and the First Pacific War, which had brought no benefits to Spain. The crisis would also highlight the many differences and contradictions of Spanish society, that threatened to break the nation:
  • Most of the population, which worked in the agricultural sector, was given paltry wages for long hours of hard and strenuous work in the fields, while the landowning oligarchy was able to squander their riches without any care.
  • The industrial and commercial bourgeoisie, which was starting to appear in the Spanish cities, had to contend with the financial oligarchy in order to manage to face the many problems they had to expand their businesses.
  • The problems that already existed in Catalonia and were starting to appear in the Vascongadas and Asturias, between the bourgeoisie and a worker class who had to work in very deplorable conditions to earn enough money to feed themselves and their families.
This, and much more, would be the start of the end for Isabel's reign.

Last edited by Milarqui; April 11th, 2012 at 04:49 PM..
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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:14 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter I, Part II: The Last Years of Bourbon Spain

June 1866 had seen the Sargentada of the San Gil Barracks, which had led to the executions of many sergeants that had tried to support another uprising. Prim was exiled to Geneva, from where he left for Ostende (Belgium): it was in this city where the Progressive Party and the Democrat Party (led by Cristino Martos and Francisco Pi y Margall) signed the Ostende Pact in August of that same year, by which both parties agreed to work together in order to force the end of Isabel's monarchy, which was destroying Spain, and replace the current regime with an actual democratic system, with a Constituent Assembly chosen by male universal suffrage deciding the future of the nation after the revolution ended.


The San Gil Barracks

1867 say how the plans of the Ostende Pact members gave their first fruits, and, while it was yet too early to sing victory, it did allow for another step to be given in the desired direction. Leopoldo O'Donnell's death in 1867 gave the leadership of the Liberal Union to General Francisco Serrano, previously known as one of the queen's lovers, as well as being suspected to be Alfonso's father. After seeing how the Moderates were monopolizing power and how the Neo-Catholics were gaining more influence with the Queen, the Unionists believed that, in order to keep their influence in Spain, their only choice was to join the winning side, and thus they joined the opposition to Isabel's rule. Serrano was able to bring with him the support of many soldiers and army officers, as well as the generous economic aid of the Duke of Montpensier, Antoine de Orléans, who was Isabel II's brother-in-law by virtue of having married Isabel's sister Luisa Fernanda, and who aspired to become King of Spain, either by his own right or as a consort.


General Leopoldo O'Donnell and Antoine d'Orléans, Duke of Montpensier

The definite wounding of the Isabeline regime happened in April 1868: Ramón María Narváez, nicknamed El Espadón de Loja and main defender of the monarchy, died. Isabel II decided then to support the continuity of power of the Moderates, giving the position of President to Luis González Bravo. In order to not give the Neo-Catholics or any other military man the chance to take his position, González Bravo decided to govern against everyone, slowly turning Spain into a dictatorship through repression, exile and censure, thus earning the hate of all Spaniards. González Bravo could be heard proclaiming his pride at showing how a civilian could also direct a dictatorship.


General Ramón María Narváez and Luis González Bravo, the last leaders of the Isabeline Moderate Party and of the Governments of Isabel II

Luis González Bravo would soon become known as the last President of Isabel's reign. For this was the situation when an honorable sailor that worked with the opposition decided it was the moment to shout Enough! and initiate the revolution that would conduct them to freedom or death.

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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:35 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter I, Part III: La Gloriosa

September 18th 1868. Port of Cádiz, birthplace of Spanish constitutionalism. Juan Bautista Topete, Admiral of the Spanish Fleet anchored in the city, and member of the opposition, rises up against González Bravo's government and proclaims the end of the Bourbon monarchy, represented by Isabel II.


Admiral Juan Bautista Topete, the man who initiated La Gloriosa

During the previous sixty years of Spanish history, the Spanish Army had led many interventions against the government in order to impose order, interventions that would become part of the popular memory under the name of pronunciamientos militares. However, this was the first time that the Navy participated actively in a pronunciamiento, and not only that, but they were the ones to lead it. And this time, the uprising was being done with a clear intention: to oust Isabel II from power, to eliminate her dictatorial monarchy and to finally give to Spain the liberalization it deserved, through the recognition of citizens' rights and where national sovereignty would reside in the nation, who would choose their representatives through male universal suffrage.

A day later, Generals Juan Prim (who had arrived from his London exile after a brief stopover in Gibraltar) and Francisco Serrano (who brought with him all the generals that had been exiled in the Canary Islands by González Bravo) arrived to the city of Cádiz, from where they would take the reigns of the revolution that would initially be named the Revolución de Septiembre (September Revolution) but would become part of the history of Spain as La Gloriosa.


Generals Francisco Serrano y Domínguez and Juan Prim y Prats, the leaders of La Gloriosa

Very soon, the revolution found great support from the people, who were fed up with Isabel's reign and wanted to gain their freedom, and rebellions rose up in Andalusia and Eastern Spain. Prim and Topete traveled from port to port along the Mediterranean coast in order to feed the fire that had been lit in the hearts of the Spaniards, while Serrano took an overland route from Cádiz to Seville, from where he would leave for Madrid at the head of an army with which he expected to invade the capital.

However, this advance was stopped in the town of Alcolea (Córdoba), when Serrano received news that troops loyal to the Queen and led by Manuel Pavía y Lacy, Marquis of Novaliches were advancing towards Andalusia. On September 28th, the two armies met: both armies had a similar number of troops, and the loyalists had more artillery, but the revolutionaries had the knowledge that the events in the rest of Spain were playing in their favour, and this gave them greater courage.


Manuel Pavía y Lacy, Marquis of Novaliches

After an initial assault by the loyalists was repealed by Serrano's troops, Novaliches decided to personally lead a second assault in order to prevent demoralization from seeping into his men. This assault ended in complete failure, for not only were the revolutionaries able to stop it, but Novaliches was gravely injured in the face. The loyalist army was forced to retreat towards the north, allowing the revolutionaries to have free passage to Madrid, which they were able to occupy with the support of the local people.


Entry of Serrano's troops in Madrid

When the defeat of Novaliches' troops arrived to the Court, which was staying in San Sebastián, they realized there were only two options the Queen could take: the forced exile of the Royal Family to nearby France, where they would be able to wait for news about the revolution, and perhaps the possibility of returning, or the immediate abdication of the Queen in the person of her son and heir, Prince Alfonso, perhaps saving in this way the Spanish throne for the Bourbon dynasty. The courtiers gave the queen the best advice they had, which would be forever the best they would offer, and suggested her to choose the first option. Thus, Isabel II decided to keep her historical rights to the Crown of the Catholic Monarchs, exiling herself and her family on September 30th to the city of Biarritz, France, where Emperor Napoleon III put comfortable chambers to their disposition.


The Royal Family goes into exile

The entrance of Serrano's troops in Madrid, and the exile of the Royal Family, meant the end of the revolution. Power was locally transferred from the Isabeline authorities to Revolutionary Juntas that had been chosen by popular acclaim or through democratic elections.


Celebrations in Puerta del Sol (Madrid) after the final success of La Gloriosa

Finally, on October 5th, the Provisional Government was formed. Its task would be long and arduous, for they would have to initiate the process for the establishment of the Constituent Assembly and the development and ratification of a new Spanish Constitution, but when that moment came, Spain would be ready.

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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:42 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter I, Part IV: The Provisional Government and the Constituent Assembly

The Provisional Government was presided by General Serrano and represented, in equal parts, by Unionists and Progressives. Unionists Juan Bautista Topeta, Juan Álvarez Lorenzana, Antonio Romero Ortiz and Adelardo López de Ayala from the Liberal Union took the Ministries of the Navy, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Overseas, respectively, while Progressives Juan Prim, Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla and Laureano Figuerola were chosen as Ministers of War, Home Affairs, Public Works and Treasury.


The Provisional Government. From left to right: Figuerola, Ruiz Zorrilla, Sagasta, Prim, Serrano, Topete, López de Ayala, Romero Ortiz y Lorenzana.

The election of the Provisional Government was met with the first frictions in the coalition, as the Democrats, who were suffering an internal division between the Francisco Pi y Margall's Republicans and Cristino Martos' Monarchists, had been left out of the government, despite having been on the coalition for far more time than the Unionists.


Cristino Martos and Francisco Pi y Margall, leaders of the monarchist and republican factions of the Democrat Party

This, fortunately, did not cause many problems save for a few complaints which were easily handled by the government, especially considering the trove of problems they had to get through: their first actions were aimed at the concession of the promises given to the people, especially those concerning public and political rights. The government also published a manifest to announce the many political reforms they had already established, as well the first economic reforms, impulsed by Minister Figuerola, that would finally allow the Spanish economy to recover from the many disasters of the past.

The local elections to select the mayors that would replace the Revolutionary Juntas would be held in December, while January 1869 would have the long-awaited national election to the Constituent Assembly. During the months between the establishment of the Provisional Government and the national election, the former approved several decrees that would be temporary replacements for the law on certain important matters, and would be legal until the Constitution was finally approved. Thus, the freedom of press, right to assemble and associate, freedom of religion and academic freedom were legislated and confirmed, while the the institution of the jury was recognized, and male universal suffrage was finally granted.

The previous problems within the Democrat Party became exacerbated when the Provisional Government chose the Constitutional Monarchy as the form of government, citing the little success republics had had in Europe, as well as the distrust a Spanish Republic would awake in the rest of Europe: the Republican faction, with Pi y Margall at the helm decided to break up with the Democrats and form their own party, the Partido Republicano, which supported a United States-like federal republic, a move also supported by some of the Revolutionary Juntas and, later, by the local governments where the Republicans had won the local elections, showing that the federalism from the pre-Bourbons' times was not dead, and their anti-militarist and anti-clerical discourse was finding many adepts and supporters.

Unfortunately for those that disliked it, the first main problem the government was forced to concentrate was the Cuban insurrection. Cuba and Puerto Rico, which for years had been treated almost as personal fiefdoms by General Captains that had almost absolute power and that were still held under the yoke of a slave-based economy, had been on the brink of exploding, which happened around the same time La Gloriosa started. The rebellion in Puerto Rico, which started five days before the Battle of Alcolea, had been easily put down by local forces, and although the rebels were condemned to death, the new governor, José Laureano Sanz, dictated a general amnesty for the rebels, some of which were nonetheless exiled.

The Cuban rebellion, which was started by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes on October 10th with the so-called Grito de Yara, was not as easy to put down due to the fact that the rebels would soon initiate a brutal guerrilla war, whose main scenario were bloody machete charges by former slaves that were liberated by the rebels, that would engulf the whole island, thanks to local support for the guerrillas. Many factors came into play, among them Spain's almost brutal economic exploitation of the island, the lack of support for the local economy, the Cuban people's complete lack of political rights and freedoms, and the existence of a society tacitly approved by the Isabeline governments consisting on a class division based on racial prejudices and the existence of slavery. In spite of the rebels' inability to take control of any great city, and the arrival of new Captain General Domingo Dulce with the new measures approved by the Provisional Government, the rebels did not surrender.


Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, initiator of the Grito de Yara and first President of Revolutionary Cuba

Considering the situation as very alarming, the Provisional Government was forced to do what they did not want and initiate a conscription program to form an army with which the rebels could be defeated. This played into the hands of the Republicans, who supported the establishment of a Spanish federal nation where Cuba would be one state, and the popular classes started to feel a certain letdown, and considered that Cuba would become La Gloriosa's cancer if something was not done soon.


Spanish volunteers embarking to travel to Cuba

All these problems did not mean that political life stopped: on January 15th, the Spaniards were called to the urns, so that they could vote in the Constituent Assembly. 70% of the electoral census, for the first time formed by all Spanish males, chose their representatives to the Assembly, which was formed by the following:
  • Government Coalition: 236 Deputies
    • Partido Progresista: 134 Deputies
    • Unión Liberal: 69 Deputies
    • Partido Demócrata: 33 Deputies
  • Republican Party: 85 Deputies
    • Federalist faction: 83 Deputies
    • Centralist faction: 2 Deputies
  • Carlist Party: 20 Deputies
  • Isabeline independents: 11 Deputies
  • Non-elected: 29 Deputies
    • Cuban representatives: 18 Deputies
    • Puerto Rican representatives: 11 Deputies

The opening of the Spanish Constituent Courts on February 11th 1869

After the results were made public, and desiring a continuation with respect of the Provisional Government, Serrano maintained the Presidency of Government with the support of War Minister Juan Prim and the same composition as the Provisional Government, and a Constitutional Commission was formed, consisting on equal numbers of Progressive, Unionist and Democrat politicians and legislators, whose task would be to develop a new Constitution for the Kingdom of Spain.

Last edited by Milarqui; April 13th, 2012 at 03:23 PM..
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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:51 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter I, Part V: The New Constitution

Fortunately for the people of Spain, the Constitutional Commission worked very fast and finished the text, of medium extension, in only three months: having been finished by the end of May, it was approved on June 1st by 214 Ayes, 55 Nays and several abstentions, and finally promulgated five days later by the Constituent Assembly in the name of the Spanish Nation that had chosen them as their representatives. The text would be further expanded with the addition of the Law of June 10th of 1870, related to the election of the King.


The Constituent Courts are finally opened in the Congress of Deputies

As many would be able to read, the Spanish Constitution of 1869 drank from many sources to write down the most important matters: the Constitution of the United States of America gave it a broad declaration of rights and freedoms, the Belgian Constitution provided the role of the Crown in the new kingdom, and, above all, the historical 1812 Constitution, La Pepa, which had a general influence in the text.

The Constitution was a clearly democratic one, a declaration based on the recognition of national sovereignty based on male universal suffrage, as well as an advocacy of individual rights as natural rights, so any posterior legislation could only regulate the bad use of those rights. This stance was opposed by Isabeline politician Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, who stated that individual rights had to be regulated and limited through legislation to prevent social disorders and the violation of those rights.

A very harsh discussion was held around the religious question, the role religion would have in the new Spain. The first days of La Gloriosa had seen the demolition of many convents by the Revolutionary Juntas, and the Provisional Government had already ordered the closure of all monasteries and religious houses built after 1837 (the year of the 1837 Constitution, which established the obligation by the nation to maintain the Catholic cult and clergy as compensation for the land expropriations of 1836) and had banned the Jesuit Company from Spanish territory.

Despite the Spanish Catholic Church's efforts to get the new government to accept the Concordat of 1851, which established Spain's religious union and Catholic denomination, broad jurisdictional attributions and the compliance of the Catholic dogma in public education, among other privileges, the government was clear in that freedom of religion would be an inalienable right, and part of the Constitution. This led to the ironic situation of liberals supporting freedom of religion with religious arguments while conservatives supported religious union with political arguments.

In the end, to keep everybody content, the maintenance of Catholic cult and clergy was kept in the Constitution, while public and private exercise of all cults was allowed for both Spaniards and foreigners, and access to public office and acquisition and exercise of civil and political rights became independent of the religion professed by the Spaniards.

The political system would also gain a complete change, as separation of powers would become effective in order to turn Spain into an actual, effective parliamentary monarchy.

Legislative power would reside in the General Courts, which would be formed by two chambers, the Congress of Deputies and the Senate. Both would be elected through male universal suffrage, and among their attributions was the control of the government's actions. Congress would be voted in every three years through direct suffrage, with each deputy representing a district, while the Senate would be chosen through indirect suffrage, would represent local interests and only a fourth of it would be renewed every three years (so one Senator would hold its position for twelve years) unless the King ordered a renovation. Although both chambers were supposedly equal in functions, Congress would be the most powerful one, as they would be the ones to approve projects of law, taxes and many others, although several other powers were reserved to the Senate to make up for this.

Executive power would, theoretically, reside in the Crown and King, but, as the person of the King was inviolable and legal non-responsibility, executive power would in practice be held by the Government, who would exercise it through the ratification system. The King would also have the power to freely appoint and dismiss his ministers (although this still required the confidence of the Courts), to call and suspend the Courts, the sanction and promulgation of laws and the legal authority and competences concerning the executive power, as well as the classical attributions of a Head of State.

Judicial power would finally become independent from the government and responsible before the law, reinforcing its members' independence through competitive examinations in the judicial career – although the King still had the power, with the approval of the Council of State, to appoint no more than a fourth of the judges of the Courts and the Supreme Court without them having to pass through examinations. Judge by jury was established for all political crimes and those crimes determined by common law. It also advocated the union of codes of law – save for the now limited military and ecclesiastical jurisdictions – which had yet to be finished from the first attempts in the Cádiz Courts.

It was also established that towns' and province's interests would correspond to the respective councils; that, after the deputies from Cuba and Puerto Rico took their seats, the government system in both islands would be reformed, and that a similar reform would be undertaken in the Philippines and the rest of the Spanish Pacific Islands.


Promulgation of the Spanish Constitution of 1869

Now that the Constitution – the most advanced in all of Europe until then – had been promulgated, Serrano gave the Presidency of Government to Prim to become Regent of the Kingdom of Spain in June 18th. Meanwhile, Prim named a new government, formed by equal numbers of Unionists and Progressives in order to keep the coalition united, and started the difficult task that might consolidate or sink the newly formed Spanish democracy: the search for an adequate King for Spain.

THE END OF CHAPTER ONE

I hope that you liked this. If you have read the original version, you will see that this is basically the same, although I hope that you liked it. Hope to post next chapter soon. Don't forget to write your opinions!

Last edited by Milarqui; April 11th, 2012 at 04:52 PM..
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Old April 9th, 2012, 07:00 PM
Mr. Magi Mr. Magi is offline
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You have me interested even though I know about jack all about Spain in this time period, except for what I learned from the Victoria VIP patch (Carlist Wars and that terrible economic plan).
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Old April 9th, 2012, 08:30 PM
Nivek Nivek is offline
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What happen to the Original Thread? that one was in a koma post the 'leopold war'(alt Franco-Prussian War), thus Linense simple Throw out the towel and give you the veil to continue?.

so far good OTL resume, Spain Situation was pretty bad(even worse than LatAm)
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Old April 9th, 2012, 08:41 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nivek View Post
What happen to the Original Thread? that one was in a koma post the 'leopold war'(alt Franco-Prussian War), thus Linense simple Throw out the towel and give you the veil to continue?.

so far good OTL resume, Spain Situation was pretty bad(even worse than LatAm)
Check the original thread (it is still in my sig) for the explanation.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 07:23 PM
Nivek Nivek is offline
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Well i saw now what happen there... so when we going to see the new update of the timeline?
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Old April 11th, 2012, 04:16 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Now.

Chapter II: General Serrano's Regency:

Chapter II, Part I: The Initial Problems

Serrano's appointment as the Regent of the Kingdom of Spain, and thus Head of State of the Spanish Nation until such a time that the King of Spain was finally found, was something that satisfied most everyone in the government: Serrano now found that his political ambitions had been, at least temporarily, satisfied, as being the Regent meant holding the country's highest institutional position, and, at the same time, it calmed the monarchical Democrats, who had feared that either Serrano or Prim might decide to throw it all to the wind and become worse tyrants than Isabel had been, as Serrano's position meant he lacked any actual troop command.

Unfortunately, there several problems and frictions within the Government Coalition and within the Progressive Party, divided between those led by Práxedes Mateo Sagasta who believed that reforms should now end and supported some of Cánovas del Castillo's ideas for a monarchical nation where individual rights were legislated, and those led by Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla (the Radicals) who supported the continuation of reforms, the non-legislation of individual rights and the transitional nature of the new monarchy towards a Republic. Trying to bring the balance of the Government Coalition within the Government proper, President Prim, who intended to keep the Progressives as the central party between the Unionists and the Democrats decided to replace Lorenzana and López de Ayala as Ministers of Home Affairs and Overseas with Democrats Cristino Martos and Manuel Becerra in July 1869, a move that earned him the Unionists' suspicions.


Manuel Becerra, new Minister of Overseas; Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, Minister of Governance; and Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla, Minister of Public Works

Of course, many in the Courts claimed that this was not the time to start reshuffling the government, but of looking for the new King of Spain. Now that things within the government had, at least partially, calmed down, Prim agreed to that, and accepted the Courts' choice for the members of the commission that would be in charge of determining and controlling the Government's actions. However, this was not of much help, because, as some comic strip drawers joked, the Commission had ten candidates and nine members.

The first candidate to be considered was Antoine d'Orléans, Duke of Montpensier, who had partially financed the revolutionary cause. Unfortunately for him, despite the support of part of the Unión Liberal, among them Navy Minister Topete, Prim and many others immediately rejected him because of his kinship ties to the recently dethroned Bourbons, both by marriage to Isabel II's younger sister and by blood (as he was part of the Borbon-Orléans dynasty), as well as the fact that he had not returned to Spain from his exile in Lisbon until the revolution triumphed, despite his presence being required as General Captain of the Spanish Army.

Other potential candidates considered from Spanish dynasties were the eternal Carlist pretender Carlos María de Borbón y Austria-Este, the one naturally preferred by the Carlists and the Catholic fundamentalists, who called him Carlos VII following the the Carlist line of succession, and Prince Alfonso de Borbón, son of Isabel II. Both were, naturally, rejected by the government, the former because he would never accept being a king without any actual power (in the words of Carlos de Borbón himself, I did not fight for my rights only to become the puppet of the Parliament) and the latter because he would be clearly influenced by his mother and those who had been at the former Queen's side.


The Carlist pretender, Carlos María de Borbón y Austria-Este, and young Prince Alfonso de Borbón

Thus, it became clear that perhaps it might be better to start looking for other candidates out of Spain. Portugal, being the nearest nation, was the first place where a potential candidate was looked for and found: former Portuguese king Fernando de Coburgo, admired for his political impartiality and his already great experience in the matter, as he had been Consort King of Maria II and then Regent for his son Pedro V, who died without issue and was succeeded by his brother Luís I. His candidacy was supported by those who believed in the idea of an united Iberia, like Republican Nicolás Salmerón, but Fernando rejected it: he disliked the idea of unifying the Spanish and Portuguese crowns against the will of the people, he knew that such an attempt would immediately bring an answer from the British and, probably, the French government, and he had just married with opera singer Elisa Hensler, with whom he wished to have a quiet life, away from institutional roles.


Former King Fernando de Coburgo and his second wife, Elisa Hensler

Fernando's rejection meant that the search was continued, and the commission's eyes were cast at Italy, which had very recently been nearly unified by the Savoia dynasty. Two members of the family were sounded out: Amedeo di Savoia, second son of Italian king Vittorio Emmanuele II, and Tomasso Alberto di Savoia, Duke of Genoa. Amedeo, although somewhat tempted by the idea, rejected the throne, because the instability Spain had shown in the last decades made him wary of becoming the king of Spain: in everyone's mind was Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico at France's behest, who had ended up shot by the Republicans when the Mexican Civil War ended. Meanwhile, the 13-year-old Duke of Genoa's candidacy was initially accepted by the Courts for 128 votes in favor and 52 against, and supported by the Duke of Montpensier as long as the pretender married one of his daughters, hoping to be able to have influence on the young man. However, in the end Tomasso's mother and the Italian government gave a refusal, arguing the Spanish instability as well, although some thought it could be revenge for Isabel's support of the Papal States in 1848 and the promises to Napoleon III to send Spanish troops to defend the Latium, the last territories held by the Pope.


Prince Amedeo di Savoia and Tomasso Alberto di Savoia, Duke of Genoa

The search for the new king constrained even more the political situation, especially in the aftermath of the Duke of Genoa's rejection, because Ruiz Zorrilla started to support the possibility of starting what he called a Liberal Dictatorship, in order to develop the newest aspects of the 1869 Constitution without waiting for the new King and without Unionist support. The intra-coalition division was fostered by Treasury Minister Laureano Figuerola's economical plans, who wished to establish a free trade plan to foment industrial and commercial growth with the elimination of tariffs, but this plan was opposed by the Unionists, the Radical Progressives and the protectionist Progressives, the latter of which wished to support the Catalan industries.


Treasury Minister Laureano Figuerola and one of the first 1 Peseta coins issued by the Provisional Government

The search for the new king was further complicated when, on March 12th 1870, the Duke of Montpensier dueled and killed Infante Enrique de Borbón, brother of former Consort King Francisco de Asís de Borbón and another rejected candidate for the crown. Montpensier was exiled because of this assassination, and thus his hopes to become the King of Spain were shattered.


Deceased Infante Enrique de Borbón, Duke of Seville

Some deputies, angry with the failures at finding a good King for Spain, suggested that the crown was given, not to a foreign prince, but to an actual Spanish hero. Thus, Juan Prim and Pascual Madoz wrote a letter to now retired General Baldomero Fernández Espartero, who had been Regent for Isabel II and was a hero among the lower and middle classes. His advanced age and lack of issue made him the favorite candidate of the Radical Progressives and the Republicans, because, after his death, the probability of Spain becoming a Republic was a greater one. However, the general declined the offer, arguing that he had chosen to retire from politics after the events of 1856, and he did not want to leave neither his ailing wife nor his beloved Logroño.


Retired General Joaquín Baldomero Fernández-Espartero Álvarez de Toro, former leader of the Progressive Party and Spanish war hero

Due to the string of failures, the ravages from the bloody Cuban guerrilla war and the brutal repression of a Carlist uprising and a Federal Republican insurrection that had brought furious criticizing by the Republican and Democrat deputies, the Liberal Union tried to pass a motion of no confidence against Prim on May 19th, but Prim survived the motion thanks to the support of his party and the Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Radicals in the Government (among them Ruiz Zorrilla, who had been Minister of Public Works until July 1869, when he was shuffled to Justice, and then in January 1870 he became President of the Courts) had started a labor that wished to modernize Spain through their advanced policies: they approved liberty of professorship, the secularization of Spain (civil marriage was legalized), the liberalization of the market and several administrative and judicial reforms. These measures, although approved by the Courts, were constantly rejected by the Isabeline nostalgic deputies and the Carlists, as well as arousing distrust in the conservative sectors of the Liberal Union and the Progressive Party.

The search of a king continued unabated, although unsuccessful (Prim himself would famously state Finding a democrat king in Europe is harder than finding an atheist in Heaven!), which was strengthening the Republican position. Prim tried to win them by offering Emilio Castelar and Francisco Pi y Margall the positions of Minister of Treasury and Public Works, but both of them rejected the offer, believing that soon the monarchical regime would fail and Prim would have no other choice than to accept the proclamation of a Spanish Republic.

Having failed in Southern Europe, the commission started to look for potential candidates in Central Europe. There were many possibilities initially in there, due to the many political changes the last years had brought, but the requirements placed by Prim's government (that the candidate was Catholic, that he accepted to swear allegiance to the 1869 Constitution and that he did not meddle in the Spanish political life beyond his constitutional duties) ruled out many candidates: the Habsburg dynasty that ruled in Austria, although it had ties with the monarchs that had preceded the Bourbons, was rejected because of their traditionalism and Neo-Catholicism, especially that of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I; the Wittelsbach dynasty of Bavaria was also rejected, but this time due to the congenital madness most of its members suffered; and the Prussian Hohenzollerns, who, although seen as perfect thanks to the titanic job they had done in the last years by turning Prussia into Europe's emergent great power, mostly thanks to Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's negotiations, and slowly managing to unify all of Germany in one sovereign state, were not desired due to the fact that they were Protestants.


Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, and Ludwig II of Bavaria

All of this seemed to corroborate President Prim's statement, but then, on June 21st 1870, an agent of the Spanish government in Berlin informed through telegraph of the existence of a candidate that would be perfect for the Spanish Crown.

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Old April 11th, 2012, 04:36 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter II, Part II: The Prussian Candidate

The agent was a former member of the Spanish diplomatic mission in Berlin, Eusebio Salazar y Mazarredo, who had also been Deputy to Courts. Being a part of the conspiracy to topple Isabel II nearly from the start, Salazar had been, even then, projecting what he considered the perfect candidacy for the post-revolutionary Spanish throne. In summer of 1866, two years before La Gloriosa started, he met with Baron von Werthern, the Prussian ambassador to France, in the summer resort of Biarritz, where many dignitaries and rich people of the time went (the choice was not random: one of Biarritz most faithful visitors was Chancellor Bismarck, and Salazar had hoped to meet the Chancellor there) for a lunch meeting. Salazar introduced the subject of the possibility of the Spanish throne becoming vacant for any reason, and asked the Baron what was his opinion. The Prussian ambassador answered that, if that were to happen, and in his personal opinion, the best candidate for the Spanish throne was Leopold zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.



Eusebio Salazar y Mazarredo, the architect of Leopold's candidacy


The Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was a Hohenzollern branch that, in the 16th Century, had planted its dominion in the region of Swabia, and had ceded their rights to their Prussian relatives after the 1848 Revolution. Karl Anton zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Leopold's father, had been Prussian Chancellor between 1858 and 1862, Leopold was an officer in the Prussian Army, and Karl, Leopold's younger brother, had become King of Romania in 1866 under the name of Carol I. Thus, it could not be argued that Leopold's chances did not lack precedents.



Prince Karl Anton zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and his second son, King Carol I of Romania

Besides, Leopold had several characteristics that made the idea of his becoming the King of Spain even more attractive. Most important of all, Leopold was Catholic, like his whole family, for the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen had remained faithful to Catholicism after the Protestant Reform; he was a very educated man, of great intelligence, who would surely be a great support in improving Spain; his personal fortune was among the most considerable in the continent; he was married to Portuguese Infanta Antónia de Saxe-Coburgo-Gota e Bragança, Portuguese King Luís I's sister, so that could give him the support of those that looked for a candidate that unified Spain and Portugal, and his succession was secured thanks to his sons Wilhelm (born in 1864) and Ferdinand (born in 1865), as well as, shortly after La Gloriosa's triumph, a third son, Karl Anton.


Prince Leopold zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, candidate to the Crown of Spain, and his wife Antónia de Saxe-Coburgo-Gota e Bragança

Along 1869, Salazar, with the official support of the Spanish ambassador in Berlin, Count Juan Antonio Rascón, worked greatly in order to inform Bismarck of his suggestion and to win the Chancellor's support for the candidacy. Rumours of Salazar's schemes appeared in several corners in Europe, prompting newspapers to ask about them, but the protagonists managed to fake ignorance of the matter while vital contacts were developed. One of these contacts was a secret visit of President Prim to Prince Karl Anton's house, in order to propose him his son's candidacy. The candidate himself and Prussian King Wilhelm I had several doubts about this, due to both Spain's internal politics and the pro-coup philosophy developed in the Spanish Army, but the candidacy gained a great support in Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.


Count Juan Antonio Rascón, Spain's Ambassador to Prussia, and Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck

At first sight, it seemed that Bismarck was indifferent towards the idea, in spite of his liking of the Spanish Ambassador, but his closest confidants could see that he was excited by the idea of not only gaining another ally in Europe, but also of helping to produce German unification: Bismarck was sure that the affair could be used to attract France into a war with Prussia, a war that would surely be won by Prussia. He decided that the best way to go was to wear down Wilhelm I's and Leopold's reluctance.

With that objective in mind, Bismarck managed to convince Wilhelm I and Prince Karl Anton to organize a private dinner, which would be attended by the Prussian government, General Helmuth von Moltke, Prince Leopold, the Prussian King and his son and heir, Kronprinz Friedrich. During the dinner, Leopold's candidacy was floated by Bismarck, and most of those present were in favor of it, as it would gain them France's southern neighbour as an ally. Only the King and the Kronprinz remained unconvinced, while Leopold remained ambiguous awaiting the King's settlement. That settlement would come soon after, thanks to Bismarck's sibylline pressures to convince the King, the Kronprinz and Leopold of the great opportunities the latter's accession to the Spanish throne would generate for Prussia.


From left to right: King Wilhelm I of Prussia, Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm and General Helmuth von Moltke


Salazar then notified through telegraph to Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla, the President of the Courts, that he would arrive to Madrid with Leopold's acceptance of his candidacy and Wilhelm I's approval on July 6th (*), right in time to present it before the Courts, whose members were restlessly awaiting for the end of the parliamentary session period. At the same time, many secret agents of Bismarck's maximum confidence entered Spain, in order to join the agents that were already in place, in order to help the candidacy's success.

(*): This is the Point of Divergence. Leopold had accepted his candidacy, and Eusebio Salazar had sent the telegram. The Divergence happened when, by a strange and trascendental transmission mistake, the telegram received by Ruiz Zorrilla stated that Salazar would arrive on July 26th. With this information on hand, Ruiz Zorrilla decided that he could not keep the Deputies waiting for eighteen more days, especially since July 8th had been declared the last day of parliamentary sessions, and thus sent them away earlier. The delay meant that, in the meeting between French Ambassador Mercier de L'Ostende and Ruiz Zorrilla, the latter talked about Leopold, and the Ambassador notified his government. The French government's answer would eventually become the catalyst for the start of the Franco-Prussian war.

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Old April 11th, 2012, 04:44 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter II, Part III: French Meddlings... ¿or not?

The Prussians were not the only ones that were spying what was going on in Spain. Among the most interested ones were the French, especially Emperor Napoleon III, who had looked at Isabel II's overthrow with a mix of interest, distrust and worry, so he had sent more agents than ever in order to be the first to know (and, thus, to be able to manipulate) what was happening in Spain.


Emperor Napoleon III of France, and his wife, Spanish-born Eugénie de Montijo

This was not the first time France had done this. In fact, this would be but the last in the interventions France had carried out in Spain in the last decades. The most notorious, recent examples were the invasion of the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis, who had invaded Spain in 1823 to end the constitutional experience started three years before by Liutenant Colonel Rafael de Riego and reestablish Fernando VII's absolutism, and their meddling in Isabel II's marriage in 1846, preventing the young queen from marrying Leopoldo de Coburgo, Fernando de Coburgo's younger brother, who was the British preferred candidate.

However, this time there was a great difference with previous French interventions. For starters, this time France was diplomatically isolated due to the many mistakes of Imperial France's foreign policy: French support for the Polish rebellion in 1863 had broken the alliance with Russia; lack of French support to Austria during the Seven Weeks War against Prussia offended the Habsburg; French defense of the Pope so that he could keep the Latium had greatly angered the previously friendly Italians, who had given them their Savoy and Nice possessions, after two popular referendums, in 1860; France was also seen from Istanbul as a vulture that encouraged the Ottoman Empire's disintegration through their help to the Egyptians (who showed their gratefulness by giving permission for the construction of the Suez Canal, which was inaugurated in 1869 by Eugenia de Montijo, the Spanish-born Empress) and the Greek, to keep all of their colonies; and, in the New World, the United States of America didn't forget neither the Imperial venture in Mexico nor the tentative support Napoleon III had given the Confederates during the American Civil War. By the year 1868, there were only two European nations that could be said to be amicable towards France: Isabel II's Spain, and Victoria I's United Kingdom.


Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Unfortunately, the United Kingdom maintained a policy of neutrality in most continental affairs, and they did not trust Napoleon III, after French pretensions to annex Belgium and Luxembourg were made public by Bismarck, and Spain was a great unknown factor due to the unexpected revolution of September 1868.

From his personal point of view, Napoleon was opposed to the possibility of Montpensier accessing the Spanish throne, whether it was directly or through his wife. Such accession could destabilize Napoleon III's internal power in France, as the Duke was one potential candidate to the French crown since he was the tenth son of Louis-Philippe I, whom Napoleon had overthrown in 1848, and his crowning as King of Spain could provoke the reemergence of the Orléanist movement.

Napoleon III's agents were the first, after the Portuguese, to hear about Fernando de Coburgo's possible candidacy. This was one Napoleon III supported, because he thought that, if he did it from its infancy, the resulting Iberian nation would become a French ally. However, Fernando's rejection was a setback for his plans and prospects.

The rumors of the Prussian candidacy were also heard in Paris, but these rumors only reached the City of Lights through the newspapers, as the Spanish and Prussian governments were denying even that any contacts existed. Both groups knew that France would be completely opposed to it, and that a French threat of war might set back all of Bismarck's efforts to convince Leopold and the Prussian King of the worthiness of the idea. On the Spanish side, it helped that France had treated Spain like dirt for many years, as well as Napoleon III's support of the Bourbon monarchy, either for Isabel II or for her son Alfonso, to whom the Queen was willing to transfer her dynastic rights due to the advice of the Isabeline monarchists. These circumstances meant that it was absolutely forbidden for anything about the secret negotiations to reach Paris. It was this, and the great disinformation effort done by the Prussian agents in Madrid, that undermined all French efforts to know the results of the search for the new King of Spain.


Mercier de L'Ostende, French Ambassador to Spain


In a triumph of French diplomacy, the French ambassador in Madrid, Mercier de L'Ostende, managed to arrange a private dinner with President of the Courts Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla on June 4th. Dinner took place normally, with both politicians talking about trivial affairs, and when the ambassador thought the way was prepared, L'Ostende pounced on the matter as if he was a tiger pouncing on its prey. There are many accounts of what could have happened during that dinner, but the best one that could be determined was, perhaps, Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla's own account of the encounter in his autobiography, “From El Burgo de Osma to San Jerónimo”:

Quote:
We had just reached the desserts when L'Ostende asked, as if he was speaking about the weather:

How is President Prim? It is my supposition that the search for your new King must have been very bad for him. Am I right?”

You are correct,” I answered, my wariness increasing. “I met him this morning, and he was still working on a great number of matters that had his complete attention.”

Tell me, did he find an answer to this problem of yours?”

I resisted my nearly unconscious response of raising an eyebrow. I had known, from the moment L'Ostende had sent the petition for this encounter, that the meeting would be neither of pleasure nor of diplomacy, but an attempt to gain information. However, the Ambassador's audacity surprised me. Whomever had taught him the art of interrogation was clearly not versed in the art.

There are... several candidates, and we hope that one of them will be of the liking of both the members of Congress and the Spanish population.” I slightly stressed the word Spanish, because I wanted to let L'Ostende know in a subtle way that we did not care about the French people's opinion.

Such as...Montpensier, perhaps?” L'Ostende asked, in an apparent jovial tone.

I snorted. It was unavoidable.

Monsieur Ambassador, believe me when I tell you that we did not expel Queen Isabel only to put her sister and brother-in-law in the throne. He is a buffoon, an idiot, and the most he will receive from Congress will be a few votes from his staunchest supporters in the Liberal Union. Of which there are very few, let me tell you.”

Surely, there must be a candidate Presidente Prim prefers over the others. After all, you are a member of his Government, as well as a man of his greatest confidence.”

L'Ostende's audacity was slowly becoming an annoyance. In retrospect, I suppose that this was what he had been taught to do: if you want to get answers out of someone that does not want to give them, annoy them until they speak, even if it is to make you shut up.

I nearly told him about the Prussian candidate, Leopold. However, I stopped myself from doing so, thankfully remembering on time that any word of that candidacy would result in its end, death and burial: its success would mean France would be surrounded by their enemies, as history proved soon enough. Then, I remembered that Prim had sent Madoz to Italy, in order to restart negotiations with the Italians. This was being done as a fallback precisely in case the French heard about Leopold, who was the favorite candidate of, not only Prim, but most of the government. So I chose that as a way to misdirect L'Ostende.

Yes, there... might be someone,” I said, slowly. It was a conscious attempt on my part: any apparent reluctance in stating who was Prim's favored candidate meant that L'Ostende would be more pliable to believe me.

Who it is?”

Well, it is someone who said no before, but we are restarting the negotiations with him, and we are hopeful that he might say yes. It's... Prince Amadeo de Savoya, the Italian prince. The President certainly likes him.”

It was not a lie: Prim had liked Amadeo, and that was the reason why Madoz had traveled to Italy. But it was not the whole truth, either: while we hoped that he may affirm his will to become King, we expected that negotiations would end very soon, when the first voting went on.

Fortunately, L'Ostende was satisfied. Conversation turned to more pleasing matters, and soon after we finished desserts he left for his home.

Little did we know that, soon, this gentle relationship would turn as bitter as hemlock.
The morning after their encounter, Ambassador L'Ostende went to the nearest telegraph station and communicated to the French Government and Emperor what he had found: Montpensier had no chance. None whatsoever. No mention of the Prussians who were apparently not even being considered. The favored, and most probable candidate, was Amedeo di Savoia, the Italian Prince.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 04:48 PM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter II, Part IV: The Voting

The day after L'Ostende sent his telegram, July 6th, Eugenio Salazar y Mazarredo arrived to Madrid, carrying with him Prince Leopold's acceptance of his candidacy to the throne of Spain. Being adverted of his arrival, Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla convened an extraordinary session of the Courts for the following day. The only matter to be debated would be who would become the new holder of the Spanish crown.

The debate lasted several hours, and some angry discussions were held, but peace among the deputies was held, and Salazar's presentation of Leopold's signed acceptance was met with great applause on part of many deputies. At five PM, after a two-hour recess ordered by the President of the Courts, a voting was finally held, and the results, out of 381 Deputies, were these:
  • Prussian Prince Leopold zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen: 210
  • Proclamation of a Federal Republic: 76
  • Carlos María de Borbón y Austria-Este: 20
  • Antoine d'Orléans, Duke of Montpensier: 13
  • Alfonso de Borbón y Borbón, Prince of Asturias: 11
  • General Baldomero Fernández Espartero: 8
  • Infanta Luisa Fernanda de Borbón, Duchess of Montpensier: 2
  • Proclamation of an Unitary Republic: 1
  • Null or none of the above: 5
  • Absent: 35, including 18 from Cuba and 11 from Puerto Rico
When the result of the voting became know, the President of the Courts, Radical Manuel Zorrilla, solemnly declared Queda elegido, como Rey de la Nación Española, el señor Leopoldo de Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (It has been agreed that the new King of the Spanish Nation is Leopold zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen) in the middle of a thunderous ovation in the chamber of the Palace of the Courts in the Carrera de San Jerónimo, Madrid.

The next morning, July 8th 1870, all Spanish newspapers had in their front page grand titles, stating the proclamation of the Prussian candidate as new King of Spain. Most Spanish people were excited at said proclamation and about their new King, whom many newspapers compared with the man who had created the Spanish Empire, Emperor Carlos I of Spain (and V of Germany), and said that Leopold would bring new greatness to Spain, just like Carlos I had done in his time.

However, this explosion of popular joy did not prevent some jokes to appear about the King's surname, which many found difficult to pronounce, and soon Leopold was nicknamed by the Spanish people as ¡Olé, olé si me eligen! (Olé, olé if I am chosen!), referencing as well how difficult it had been the search for the new king.

This nickname was soon acquired by those sectors that had opposed Leopold's election, among them the Carlists and Isabelines, who started to use it as a derogatory way to refer to Leopold. It would be those same sectors who would start to use the international consequences of this choice as ways to prevent the Prussian Prince from taking the Catholic Monarch's throne.

THIS IS THE END OF CHAPTER TWO

Hope that you liked this chapter! I'll try to get next chapter out there soon!

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Old April 11th, 2012, 08:44 PM
Nivek Nivek is offline
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When Napoleon el Pequeño(aka Nappy III) will lauch his scream and Bismarck will have his 'satisfaction' for the sweet sound of music?

the way to answer my question was nice, so far has been good, expecting for the big things...

Att
Nivek von Beldo

P.S. how long will you reach in the timeline? until 1900? an Alt-WW1?
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Old April 12th, 2012, 07:35 PM
Archangel Archangel is offline
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(I assume all my readers are from OTL...)
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Old April 12th, 2012, 07:39 PM
flo flo is online now
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Nice chapter! I am glad that there will be another try with the idea of a Prussian on the Spanish throne...
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Old April 13th, 2012, 09:35 AM
Faralis Faralis is offline
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Poor Nappy, so far from heaven, so near Otto von Bismark

Excellent to see this back, I jope Linense can continue this too.

Good work
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Old April 14th, 2012, 11:09 AM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter III: The Hohenzollern War

Chapter III, Part I: Casus Belli

As the Spanish government expected, the proclamation of Prince Leopold zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as the new King of Spain provoked many different reactions among the main nations of Europe.

Italy and Portugal welcomed the news with great relief. Both countries had been sounded out by Spain, and they hoped now that, with this announcement, Prim would stop pressuring them to get a member of their dynasties to accept the crown, in spite of the Portuguese Iberist supporters (one of which was the Duke of Saldanha, Portugal's Prime Minister) and of Vittorio Emanuele II's ambition to place his son Amedeo in the Spanish throne. They also hoped for Spain to become politically stable once more, as well as an improvement in their bilateral relations with Spain and its new King: the Portuguese Royal Family was related to Leopold's family twice over (besides Leopold's marriage to the current Portuguese king's sister, late Pedro V had married one of Leopold's younger sisters) and the Prussian Hohenzollerns had recently helped the Italians to gain the Veneto in the Seven Weeks War from an Imperial Austria that opposed the German and Italian unifications.


D. João Carlos de Saldanha Oliveira e Daun, Duke of Saldanha, and Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Italy

In London, William Gladstone's government also saw this new development as a good thing. The stabilization of the Spanish democracy meant that now Spain could become a prosperous, liberal and capitalist nation that might become a great trade partner for the United Kingdom. It also was a way to reduce France's influence in Spain, which was too great since Louis Philippe I imposed the marriage of his son Antoine to Isabel II's sister.

William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Great support also came from the Balcanic nations that had recently rebelled against the Ottoman yoke, like Romania, where Leopold's brother reigned as Carol I. Meanwhile, the Scandinavian monarchies took these news as acceptable, although Denmark would have probably preferred that it were someone other than a Hohenzollern, after being defeated by Prussia and Austria during the Second Schleswig War of 1864.

This was not to happen everywhere in Europe: the absolutist regimes of Russia and Austria-Hungary were worried about the replacement of Queen Isabel II with a constitutional monarchy of democratic features led by a Hohenzollern, as they were more sympathetic to the Carlist rebels. The presence of a Hohenzollern especially worried Emperor Franz Joseph I, because the Austrian defeat in the Seven Weeks War had meant the loss of main German nation to Prussia.

There was little surprise, however, in that the greatest opposition in Europe came from the Second French Empire. Napoleon III felt the greatest indignation when the news reached the Tuileries Palace, because he had not been told about this through diplomatic means, nor had he been told about it by his ambassadors in Berlin or Madrid. No, he had read it in the press!


The Tuileries Palace, official residence of the French Imperial Family

The French government was also surprised by the news: they had suspected that Spain might have made negotiations with several German princes, but they would have never guessed that the chosen one would have turned out to be one of the Prussian Hohenzollerns who were challenging France's predominance in Europe.

Once his angry rant had subsided, and he was able to think rationally, Napoleon III realized that this was even worse than what it looked like: if Leopold was crowned in the Royal Palace of Madrid, France would be surrounded by the Hohenzollerns, and his government would probably choose to declare war on Prussia to end the latter's continuous provocations, in spite of his personal opposition to a war that might destabilize his consolidation of the constitutional monarchy appeared after the recent referendum of May 8th. Thus, it was clear that France had to act now, in order to prevent worse things to happen.

Mercier de L'Ostende knew this as well, and when he received a telegram from Paris, ordering him to do anything in his hands to force the Spaniards to change their minds, he went to protest before President Prim, but Prim, perfectly knowing what the ambassador wanted to talk (or shout) about, he categorically refused to meet with him. L'Ostende would have to content himself with meeting with Home Affairs Minister Sagasta, who, although received him in conciliatory tones, finally lost any sympathy for him in a meeting that lasted a few minutes and whose minutes were never found. The version of the events held by historians as the most credible was, once more, that of the Spaniard in the meeting, Sagasta, who wrote about it in his memories:

Quote:
That day had started calmly enough. I had started it with reviewing several documents related to the actions of the police, who had arrested a few gentlemen that had protested in a violent manner about our choice of King. I knew this would have happened, independently of who was chosen as the new King: at least, it had not brought outright riots.

I then picked some messages sent from Seville, speaking about the state of prisons in the region and requesting money to rebuild them to a better degree. I decided to write to Laureano about this when the door opened violently.

I raised my eyes, and saw Monsieur L'Ostende, the French ambassador, entering the office without asking for permission and really furious. Behind him ran Adolfo, my secretary, who seemed to be a bit dazed and was apologizing for not being able to advert me of L'Ostende's presence. I stood up and invited L'Ostende to take a seat, while I took Adolfo outside and told him that he had nothing to fear, since it was not his fault that L'Ostende was so angry, and to take some time off to calm down.

After closing the door, I returned to my seat and faced the ambassador. Despite his obvious anger, I did not step back, and instead tried to calm him down.

What is it that brings you here, Monsieur Ambassador? It must be a very important matter for you to come here without even asking for a meeting,” I asked him as diplomatically as I could.

Would you explain me what the hell this means, Sagasta?” L'Ostende asked angrily, dropping a newspaper over the table and hitting it with the palm of his hand. It was La Gaceta de Madrid, an issue from two days before, that proclaimed Leopold zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as the new King of Spain under the name of Leopold I.

I would say that the article is quite clear. Spain has spoken through its representatives, and has made its choice about who it want as its King.”

France will not tolerate this insult! We will never allow a Prussian to sit in the Throne of Spain!”

It was clear that nothing was going to stop L'Ostende in his attempt to do things his way, or rather, the way of Napoleon. However, he did not count on the fact that, this time, we would not step back.

Monsieur, please, calm down, while I tell you the reasons why France has nothing to fear. In the first place, even if you dislike our king, at least he is not Montpensier, which I am quite sure His Imperial Majesty would have been horrified with. Our Constitution only gives the King a symbolic power, which I doubt he will be able to use to declare war on France, which Spain still regards as an ally. Finally, if I am not mistaken, His Imperial Majesty and our King are distant relatives through Joachim Murat, so, please, tell your government there is no need to get overexcited.”

Believe me when I tell you that His Imperial Majesty would rather see that buffoon of Montpensier as your pathetic King before any Prussian in the world, whether he is kin or not!”

I am a patient man, but even I have my limits. And L'Ostende, with his arrogant attitude, had consumed most of my patience.

Monsieur L'Ostende, you, your government and His Imperial Majesty may believe that Spain is France's playground, to do or undo at your wish, but that time is over. Spain has chosen its King, and we will not tolerate any more interferences in such an important affair. Please, leave, and advice your government to take things calmly before they reach the point of no return.”

If L'Ostende was angry before, now he seemed incensed. I have to say that, for a few seconds, I feared for my life.

I have been allowed to tell you that, if Spain continues on this stubborn path and does not reject the Prussian, it will suffer the serious consequences of not following France's suggestions.”

At the moment, I thought that France had not only gone past the point of no return, but that it did not plan to find the way to go back. However, some time later I would learn that they were already planning to cut off the candidacy from its origin, but, fortunately, in the end it was not successful. Either way, I had to show L'Ostende that, in this matter, we cared not about their opinion and 'suggestions'.

Let me tell you a bit about our common story. In 1808, the Emperor's uncle, Napoleon Bonaparte, thought the same as you, and invaded Spain to force us his brother Joseph as our King. Four years later, Joseph was out of Spain, Napoleon's empire was shattered, and his soldiers had already retreated from Spain and Russia. History tends to repeat itself, Monsieur Ambassador, so I can tell you without any problem that, if His Imperial Majesty orders an invasion of Spain, it will end up with his empire shattered, Napoleon III exiled to Cochinchina, and the Bonapartes finished forever. Now, please, leave this office.”

Without a word of goodbye, L'Ostende stood up and left. Independently of what the future brought to Spain, it was clear that the meeting, for good or bad, was the end of the friendship between Spain and France.
Right after the meeting, L'Ostende sent a telegram with a slightly edited summary of his meeting with Sagasta to Paris. There, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Duke Antoine de Gramont, took the telegram with him to an extraordinary meeting of the Corps Législatif, the lower chamber of the Napoleonic Parliament, and claimed that the interests and the honor of the great French nation were in danger if something was not done soon to prevent what they regarded as an insult to France. The day after, the main newspapers of the Gaulish nation showed in their first pages a message from the French government:

We, the Government of France, wish to state our repulse and worry over the fact that the Prussian prince Leopold zu Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen has been proclaimed King of Spain by its government this past July 6th. We stand with the brave Spanish people, our allies, against those foreign dynasties that wish to meddle in Spain for their own benefit and upset the European political balance, and will do everything in our hand so that a proper king is crowned in Madrid.


Antoine Alfred Agénor, Duke of Gramont, French Minister of Foreign Affairs

Of course, when other nations pointed out the hypocrisy of that statement, since France was doing exactly what they were accusing Prussia of, the French government paid no attention to them, only to the many people that were claiming on mass demonstrations for a war against Bismarck and Prim, for their “audacity” in not following the suggestions of the leading European nation.

The French position, apart from sparking the reappearance of the Republicans, who had remained quiet after the voting and were now demanding that all votes in favor of Leopold were declared null and that the second most popular option, the formation of a Federal Republic, was accepted and applied as soon as possible, it only helped to reinforce General Prim's resolve to bring Leopold to Spain. Prim, a fervent Spanish nationalist, had wanted to eliminate all foreign interference in Spain, especially the French influence, so one of the factors that had become part of the search for a King was that the candidate was one disliked by Napoleon III (the only exception to that was Fernando de Coburgo). His anti-French stance was influenced by many factors, among them Prim's personal experience: the general had led the Spanish expedition to Mexico, in collaboration with France and the United Kingdom, to force the Aztec nation to pay its debts. However, the French had taken advantage of the situation to attempt to place Maximilian of Habsburg as the Mexican Emperor, a move Prim never supported, getting his troops out of Mexico as soon as all debts to Spain were paid (a choice, undoubtedly, also influenced by Francisca Agüero, his Mexican-born wife, who had important contacts in the Republic of Mexico).

Thus, on a secret session of the Spanish courts celebrated on July 9th, Prim's government announced that a general mobilization would be decreed, in order to help prepare the defenses of the Spanish nation in the case that France declared war, bringing out the continuous French insults towards Spain as a way to rile them up and bring them to his position.

In Prussia, the French demands sparked the reemergence of Leopold's and King William's doubts about putting the former in the Spanish throne, since they were not very willing to go to war over it. Leopold even thought about the possibility of immediately renouncing to the Spanish throne in order to prevent a war with France. However, he was prevented from doing by Chancellor Bismarck. The Chancellor knew that Leopold's accession to the throne would mean taking a faithful ally from the vain French, and Bismarck intended to use this to needle the French into declaring war and eventually give the definite impulse to German unification, the last step in a road that started in 1864 after the victory in the Second Schleswig War, and continued with the Seven Weeks War of 1866, that had allowed the formation of the Northern German Federation in replacement of the German Confederation.

However, the southern Catholic states (Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden and Hesse) still distrusted Protestant Prussia and did not want to join the NGF, although they felt free from the Austrian imperialism that had dominated them since the Vienna Congress.

Bismarck needed France to be the aggressor in a potential Franco-Prussian War because he had signed secret defensive pacts with the four southern German states, and only a French attack would get the Catholic states to help. Besides, he also expected that their inhabitants, on whom the memories of the Napoleonic hordes' brutalities were still heavily weighing, would trigger a wave of popular Pan-Germanic euphoria after a victory in such a war, and the people would push for integration in Bismarck's project for German unification, independently of the individual rulers' feelings.

The French reaction had been the one Bismarck expected, which he was glad for. When it became clear that the Spanish government would not follow the request to drop Leopold and choose a more acceptable candidate, Gramont decided that the best way to end such claims was at its origin, Prussia. While the different Bourbon branches pressured the French government (the most vocal being Isabel II and Carlos María de Borbón) to intervene in their favor and place their own candidate in the Spanish throne, Gramont ordered the French Ambassador in Berlin, Count Vincent Benedetti, to speak with King Wilhelm I and get verbal and written guarantees that he would vet Leopold's candidacy to the Spanish throne and would never allow it, since, as King of Prussia, he had to give his permission for any of his subjects to accept foreign commitments.


Count Vincent Benedetti, French Ambassador to Prussia

With this objective in mind, the French diplomat left for Bad Ems' spa, where the Prussian Royal Family was resting for the summer. On July 12th, the count met with Wilhelm I, told him that the only way to avoid war with France was for Leopold to renounce to the Spanish crown, and urged him to speak with his relative and convince him to change his opinion. Three days later, Prince Karl Anton told the Ambassador that his son, although he would have liked to become a good king for the Spanish people, he renounced the Spanish crown if that was the only way to avoid war. When they received the news, Bismarck and Count Rascón felt upset, but after speaking in a meeting on the 16th, they decided to wait for France's reaction and the eventual official answer by Wilhelm I before informing the Spanish government of the events, because there was yet a possibility of saving the candidacy. By awaiting, they struck gold.

The Prussian concessions, although they may have been enough in the past, now were insufficient for the French, who felt inflamed with the idea of a war with the upstart Prussians and had felt that the latter backing down was a let down. The more hawkish and anti-liberal elements of the Imperial government (led by Gramont and the Consort Empress, who were trying to raise the Emperor's falling popularity) decided that this was not enough and decided to push the Prussians even further, so on July 16th they ordered Benedetti to ask for a written confirmation, with Wilhelm I's Royal Seal on it, that the Prussian candidacy would be dropped and never be taken up again. In case this was not enough, the French Minister of War, Marshal Edmond LeBoeuf, ordered a general mobilization of the French Imperial Army, for their deployment if there was war with Prussia.


Marshal Edmond Leboeuf, French Minister of War

The next day, July 17th, the French ambassador, who had remained in the city of Bad Ems, met again with Wilhelm I and presented him the request from the government, but the old King answered that he had nothing else to say to the ambassador, as everything had been done already, and politely ended the meeting. That afternoon, Wilhelm I sent, through his diplomatic advisor Heinrich Abeken, a telegram retelling the encounter with Count Benedetti, to Chancellor Bismarck, who was in Berlin. The telegram arrived that night to the Berliner Wilhelmstrasse Palast, where Bismarck was dining with General Helmuth von Moltke.

As soon as he read the telegram, Bismarck shrewdly saw it as the thing that could finally provoke the French into declaring war, so he took his quill and wrote a communication in regards to the telegram. He did not transcribe it entirely, though: he condensed the telegram's text into a few words. Only then did he send it so that it could be published on the newspapers.

On July 18th, the main Prussian newspapers showed in their first pages the communication sent by Bismarck:

After the news of the renunciation of the Prince von Hohenzollern had been communicated to the Imperial French government, the French Ambassador in Ems made a further demand on His Majesty the King that he should authorize him to telegraph to Paris that His Majesty the King undertook for all time never again to give his assent should the Hohenzollerns once more take up their candidature. His Majesty the King thereupon refused to receive the Ambassador again and had the latter informed by the Adjutant of the day that His Majesty had no further communication to make to the Ambassador.

The actual text, as sent by Abeken, was far longer, and contained things that would have changed everything if they had become known, but Bismarck had seen the chance and taken it by the horns: this telegram, which would be known by posterity as the Ems telegram, turned what had been a polite meeting between Wilhelm I and Count Benedetti into an arrogant order of the French ambassador and a blunt royal answer before the ambassador's offensive manners.


Memorial stone to the Ems Telegram in Bad Ems

His genial maneuver had the rewards Bismarck anticipated: in Prussia, people were angry at the arrogance the French were displaying when treating with their emergent nation, and thus did not bat an eye when the Prussian order of mobilization was given on July 19th, while the French went volcanic. Upon receiving the news about the communication, Napoleon III, incensed, gave a blunt ultimatum to the Prussian government in which he demanded immediate apologies from the Prussian King and Government for the falsities stated in the telegram, and the conformation that a Prussian would not be allowed to be candidate to the Spanish crown, ever: the alternative was war, a war the French expected to win.

Other news also appeared in Spanish newspapers, mostly because their transcendence would only affect these people: the Carlist pretender, Carlos María de Borbón y Austria-Este, had managed to meet with Duke Gramont and had asked him to support an invasion of Spain in order to reestablish the absolutist monarchy around his person, which he promised would always be a faithful ally of France. In the end, however, Napoleon III decided to show his support for Alfonso, son of Isabel II (who had, just recently, renounced to her dynastic rights in her son's favor), both because of the great friendship between Empress Eugénie and the exiled queen (so great it was, they were already planning to join their families by marrying Napoleon Eugéne, the French heir, with one of Isabel II's daughters) and the personal and political affinities Napoleon had with young Alfonso. These two political moves, although they could have worked in other circumstances, instead caused far-reaching consequences that neither the Carlist pretender nor Alfonso could have guessed.

Of course, both the Prussian and the Spanish government rejected the French ultimatum: the Prussians were not going to stand down against what was described by Prussian newspapers as the second round of the Napoleonic invasions, while Spain was also encouraging the people by both keeping legitimizing Leopold's appointment as the King (since they had not been officially notified of Leopold's renounce to the throne, which Prim had classed as pure French lies) and reminding everyone of the heroic deeds of Generals Castaños and Reding, of the Battle of Bailén, of Agustina de Aragón and the Sieges of Zaragoza, of the Siege of Cádiz and of the guerrilleros who had made the French invaders' lives an absolute hell, all to remind the people that the French could be beaten and would be beaten once more.

The French government, thinking that this was the end of the rope, issued, on July 20th 1870, a declaration of war against the Kingdoms of Prussia and Spain, with the objectives of teaching the Prussians a lesson on war, annexing the Rhineland and reestablish the Bourbon monarchy in Spain.

Last edited by Milarqui; May 1st, 2012 at 05:04 PM..
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Old April 14th, 2012, 11:19 AM
Milarqui Milarqui is offline
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Chapter III, Part II: The War Preparations

Prussia's Reaction
Prussia's initial reaction, which was equal to Chancellor Bismarck's, was joy: the war with France would finally allow Prussia to show its political and military superiority over France, who would be put into its true place, and at the same time they would be gaining a faithful ally in Spain. This was formalized when, on July 21st, all Europe woke up to an official note, sent by the Prussian government, in which Prince Leopold definitely accepted the Crown of Spain and Wilhelm I showed his support. The note added that Leopold would travel to his new country as soon as the danger for both himself and his family ended, a danger cause by the French's cocky and defying attitude as the meddled in Spain's internal affairs. Of course, the note and the attitude displayed on it did nothing but anger the French even more, which suited Bismarck just fine.

The Prussian Armed Forces could already count on the support of the Catholic German states, which had declared war against France on the 21st, and they also had two unique elements that gave them certain advantages over the French: their recruiting system was based on universal military service, which meant a great number of potential soldiers, and the existence of a branch of the army called General Staff, which so far did not exist in other armed forces and which was exclusively dedicated to administration, logistics and planning. It was something that gave them a great advantage, as the Prussians would be better able to plan a fast and organized mobilization of the great number of troops that would be required for the war against France.

Thanks to their preparations, the Prussians had 1,200,000 soldiers ready for battle eighteen days after the mobilization order was given. Due to their numerical superiority, the Prussian higher echelons of the Army, led by General Moltke, made plans that would allow them to make use of the extensive German railway network and, at the same time, force the French into traps. In the first place, they would let the French troops enter in Germany (raising, at the same time, the Southern German nations' fear of French imperialism, which also played into Bismarck's plans) and then launch massive enveloping movements that would allow them to surround and destroy the enemy formations. These maneuvers would be facilitated by the Dreyse needle gun, which was the main infantry rifle used by the Prussian troops and which had played a decisive role in the Prussian victory in the Battle of Königgrätz in the Seven Weeks War, and the famed Krupp six-pound cannon, the Prussian artillery's most distinguished weapon due to its lethal power and its average 4,500 meters of range.



The Prussian Army's main weapons, the Dreyse needle gun and the Krupp six-pound cannon.

With these strategies in hand, their main objective would be to, first, destroy all French troops that invaded German territory, and then enter into France, where a series of debilitating victories would allow them to reach, besiege and conquer Paris, with which they hoped to force the surrender of French authorities and their acceptance of German terms.

France's Reaction
The mood in France was a bit double-sided: on one side, they were finally going to hand Prussia the defeat they deserved, and reinforce France as the great power of Continental Europe, but, on the other side, it would be a war with two fronts very far away from each other. However, all worries were brushed away in the wave of nationalism and that hit the nation, especially after certain memorandums of the French Imperial Forces stated that defeating Spain, Prussia and its German allies in a two front war was, not only possible, but almost certain.

However, soon France realized that they were completely alone, due to Napoleon III's diplomatic mistakes: Belgium and Luxembourg had made it clear to them that they would send their armies to fight the Germans nor let the French pass through, as the memory of Napoleon's willingness to annex them both was still fresh; Portugal and Italy had stated their unwillingness to fight against Spain (which both nations wished to have better relationships with) and Prussia (which had helped Italy very recently), and Italy added the French support for the Pope as another reason not to help; Denmark had learned its lesson from 1864; Russia was too far away to act fast enough in this war; and the United Kingdom had reminded them that their actions were very much against the Quadruple Alliance of 1834, by which United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal would agree to work together to maintain stability in the Iberian Peninsula, and thus considered France would now have to sleep in the bed they had made.

In the end, the only ally Napoleon III could find was Austria-Hungary, and their support was conditioned to the support of the German Catholic states for France, something made impossible after the former declaration of war against the latter, and Austria-Hungary stated their neutrality on July 22nd. Ironically, Austria's declining prevented the entrance of the Russian Empire in the war... on the Prussian side: a secret pact between Prussia and Russia stated that both nations would be automatically allied to each other if Austria-Hungary were to ally with France at any moment.

The French Imperial Army was a professional army, formed by about 500,000 soldiers, most of which were battle-hardened veterans from the many wars France had been part of, or started, in the last decades: the Crimean War, the colonization of Algeria, the Second Italian War of Independence or the French Intervention in Mexico, among others. The number of soldiers could be at least doubled when adding the forces of the National Guard, a reserve corps created in 1866 during the military reorganization started after the end of the Seven Weeks War. There was also the French Foreign Legion, which could be counted on to protect the colonies, as well as helping to defend Metropolitan France if there was risk of invasion of the metropolis.

Two technical inventions that had been recently introduced in the French Armed Forces were heavily weighing in the French generals' conviction that victory would fall on their side: the Chassepot rifle, a single-shot breech-loading rifle with the highest power, accuracy and penetration amongst the existent rifles at that time; and the Reffye and Bollée mitrailleuses, static weapons that were able to shoot 100 rounds per minute at 2000 yards.


The Chassepot rifle and the Reffye mitrailleuse, which were expected to help France gain victory.

The French strategy was simple: in the German front, they would invade the Rhineland, take Saarbrücken and then advance to smash the German forces before they managed to group together and use their numerical superiority as an advantage, while the Spanish front would consist of following the path the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis had taken in 1823 to restore Fernando VII's absolutist monarchy, entering Spain through the passes of La Junquera and Fuenterrabía and advancing in three corps, one along the northern coast, the second towards the south of Spain and the third along the Mediterranean coast.

Spain's Reaction
Spanish society saw, astonished, how the election of their new king had suddenly turned into an international crisis and a declaration of war by France. At first, the people of Spain had wanted to avoid war against their northern neighbors, whom they still held (although that feeling had diminished very fast) as their allies. However, when the news that Napoleon III intended to impose 12-year-old Alfonso, Isabel II's son, as the King of Spain, the Spanish exploded in a never seen wave of French-hating popular nationalism, an explosion that many would later compare to the one that sparked the Dos de Mayo and started the Peninsular War. General Prim's government, which had decreed high levels of conscription to face the Napoleonic menace for the second time in a century, did nothing to prevent this: instead, they did as much as possible to fan the flames as high as possible, reminding the people of the innumerable French affronts to the Motherland, like their support for the hated Bourbons, their constant interventions in Spain and their blocking Spanish attempts to recover its rightful place in the world, like their pressure to force Spain to sign the Wad-Ras Treaty to establish peace with Morocco, a peace that gave Spain much less than what it deserved after the smashing victories its armies had gained (Prim conveniently “forgot” that the greatest pressure had come from the United Kingdom, not France).

Unfortunately, the war was but the last in a series of events that were preventing Prim from implementing his plan for the elimination of the unfair recruitment system of quintas (by which one out of every five men had to serve in the army, but that could be avoided by paying a certain price, which only the high-class families were able to pay) and replace it with a professional army similar to the one used by the United Kingdom and France. However, the ugly situation of the Spanish treasury and the revolts and rebellions had forced Prim to maintain conscription. The disproportionate number of officers in the army (a trend started after the First Carlist War, when the Vergara Embrace allowed the Carlist officers that accepted Isabella II to join the Royal Army with the same rank they held in the Carlist Army) and the lack of experience in foreign conflicts (save for a few honorable exceptions, such as the African War, the brief re-annexation of Santo Domingo and the First Pacific War) had weighed down on the Armed Forces and prevented their modernization. This was fortunately compensated by the construction of a powerful navy (the fourth in the world) and the use of the Berdan Rifle (a weapon between the Dreyse needle gun and the Chassepot in terms of quality) since 1867 as the Army's regulated weapon.


The Spanish Army main infantry weapon, the Berdan rifle.

These, however, did not mean the Spanish Army should be underestimated: the hard situation, with limited economic and material resources, was balanced with how, with a little motivation, the Spanish soldiers became fearsome fighters, something that the French learned themselves during the Peninsular War.

All sides thought that Spain's role and military strategy would be only defensive, using their limited forces to prevent the entrance of French troops into Spanish territory, as they awaited for the development of events in the French-German frontline. However, things would be a bit different than what everybody expected.

Last edited by Milarqui; April 14th, 2012 at 04:43 PM..
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