Summary of Events
The origin of this alternate retelling of Spanish (and a bit of the world) history comes from here.

In 1766 Carlos, heir to the Spanish throne, dies, and his brother Fernando becomes king of Spain (OTL Fernando I of the Two Sicilies. His son Leopoldo Juan would inherit the kingdom of the Two Sicilies in that TL). After the defeat of Napoleon and the end of the French Invasion, the Constitución española de 1812 (Spanish Constitution of 1812) becomes the first step in the transition from an almost absolute monarchy to a parliamentary one. The Constitution of 1834 introduced in Spain a bicameral system, following the British model, but Fernando VIII (OTL Fernando II of the Two Sicilies) attempted to return to absolutist ways in 1847, sparking the civil war (1847-1848), that ended with a parlamentarian victory. Even then the king, dominated by paranoia and fear, released a wave of terror and repression that ended when Fernando VIII was murdered in 1856.

By then most of the American colonies had been lost. Since 1760 there had been attempts to reform the Spanish Empire, but too slowly. After the Napoleonic invasion and the rise of the American Juntas, the Spanish Crown decided to put the "autonomist" reform by Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, earl of Aranda into work: to grant the independence to all colonies but for Cuba and Puerto Rico, creating the kingdoms of Mexico, Peru and the "Tierra Firme", that would include the remaining lands, all subordinated to the king of Spain, that would take the title of Emperor.

The Mexican kingdom (1830-36) ended in failure and the Republic of México moved away from Spain; the Capitanía General de Guatemala (the Captaincy General of Guatemala) became the República Federal de Centroamérica (RFC - Federal Republic of Central America) in 1836, moving away from the absolutist ways of Fernando VIII, but soon fell under the control of a dictator, Manuel José Arce unitl he was deposed. Eventually, the RFC broke up in 1838, when Nicaragua left the federation and began the civil war. Eventually, the Federation would break up in 1841 when Costa Rica and Honduras proclaimed their independence, which marked the end of the Federation that same year.

The next attempt took place in the Viceroyalty of New Spain became the Reino de Argentina in 1832, when Luis, earl of Oviedo, the younger brother of Fernando VII, was crowned as Luis II of Argentina under a Regency Council until 1840, when Luis became 16 years old and was considered ready to reign. The Reino de Argentina was the first to join the Mancomunidad Hispánica, created in 1855, to formally replace the old colonial system, which, by then, was long dead.

The Junta de Montevideo became the Estado Oriental del Uruguay (Eastern State of Uruguay) in 1830 and the Junta de Santiago de Chile turned, after several war betqewen independentists and loyalists, the Provincias Unidas de Chile (United Provinces of Chile), that would join the Mancomunidad Hispánica a few days later than the Reino de Argentina did in 1855. Paraguay became a Republic in name but a de facto dictatorship led by Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia from 1814 to 1840.

While Panamá became a loyalist stronghold, Peru and Bolivia became merged in the so-called Estados Unidos de Sudamérica (United States of South America), from 1827 to 1830, when the confederation splitted in two, the Estados Unidos de Perú (United States of Perú), which was to join the Mancomunidad Hispánica in 1859; and the Reino de Bolivia (Kingdom of Bolivia), created when the royalist general Pedro Antonio Olañeta proclaimed himself Pedro I of Bolivia, who was deposed and killed in 1829 by a group of armed officers led by Colonel Carlos Medinaceli, who proclaimed the República Boliviana (Bolivian Republic). Thus was the end of the Spanish Empire. Cuba, Puerto Rico and Filipinas, the last Spanish colonies, were to become Dominions within the Mancomunidad Hispánica

The first modern elections in Spain took place in 1865 under Francisco I and Spain began to modernize its economy, industry and education, even if a low pace (but faster than IOTL). Thrilled by the sucess of Prussia (from 1871 Germany) colonizing Africa (Creation of the colonies of Cameroon in 1851, of Nigeria in 1855, Tanganika in 1860 and the Upper Congo in 1867), Spain used the chance given by the French defeat in 1871 to expand in North Africa. Morocco became a virtual Spanish protectorate after the Spanish-Moroccan War of 1876 and even the French department of Oran was transformed into a Spanish colony in all but name for a short while, until the Berlin Conference of 1873 fixed the colonial borders.


Cuba would become a thorn in the side of the Spanish government for its demands of self-government as the "Special Laws" that ruled the island since 1845 were not enough. This would give rise to a series of rebellions that began in 1885 and, in spite of the two Cuban Home Rules, were to end with the Great Rebellion of 1892, which begin a guerrilla war along the whole island. By 1900 the guerrillas would be almost defeated and the Spanish government would begin to withdraw its forces from the island, which was ruled by the loyalist government of Tomás Estrada since 1896. Cuba became in 1899 the Estado Libre de Cuba (Cuban Free State).

In the mainland, the alternative victories of the Conservative and the Liberal party were moving the country fowards, with the premierships of Cánovas (1880-1885, 1890-1895) and Sagasta (1885-1890, 1895-1900) setting the pace of the advance in a quite peaceful Spain.

The rest of the world had seen the unification of Germany, which meant the dissolution of the Austrian Empire in 1866 and the German annexation of Austria and Bohemia, and the defeat of France in 1871. The new German Empire is one of the most powerful countries in the continent. It expanded its African colonies and took Britain's side in their war against the Boer Republics (1899-1900). Berlin also keps good relations with Russia and, due to this, saw itself involved in the two Balkan Wars (1891 and 1898-99), that led to the creation of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania and the expansion of Greece at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. By the end of the century, Germany was the Puppet Master of the Balkans, much to the changrin of its Russian ally.

Russia, under Alexander III (IOTL, Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov, second son of OTL Alexander III), went on with the liberalization process started with Alexander III. They had kept close links with Germany and had some troubles with the British in Afghanistan, along with several attempts to take control of the Straits, linking the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, much to London's annoyance. This has caused a very cold Russian-British relations.

In the British Empire bussines went as usual until the end of 19th century, when troubles began to arise. Ireland was pacified with the Home Rule Bill of 1885, but due to the Venezuela crisis and some communications mistakes during the Boer War, the relations with Washington and Paris reached their lowest point since 1776 and 1802, respectively

Italy is still divided, in part because the weakness of France (where the Republic system seems to be on the verge of collapse) allowed Germany to trash all the attempts of Vittorio Emmanuele and Garibaldi to unify the country and this led to an angered country that poisons the peace of the Southern Europe.
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1. Third Sagasta Ministry (1900 - 1903) / Montero Ríos (1903-1905)

Third Sagasta Ministry (1900 - 1903) / Montero Ríos (1903-1905)

With the victorious ending of the Cuba War, the Liberal victory in the General Elections of 1900 was a sure thing. The delicate health of Cánovas del Castillo, the leader of the Conservative party, also contributed to the defeat, as it political campaign was marred by his health troubles that, eventually, would cause the death of the historical leader in 1901.

Sagasta's standing was never higher than in his last ministry. He had taken the Cuban nightmare into a successful ending and had given the Liberal Party a clear "imperial" vision that stood alone in front of the Conservative one, that looked not only outdated, but also clearly out of touch with the times. Not even the long tenure of Sagasta (he had remained in office since 1885) had managed to diminish the position of the Liberal Party. However, Sagasta was aware of that and began to groom his replacement in the leadership of the party: Eugenio Montero Rios, but Montero's position was weakened by the opposition he faced from within his own party in the cabal lead by José Canalejas.

Canalejas had been minister of justice in 1888-1890 and finance in 1890-1895, when he resigned. He was highly critical with the Cuban policy of Sagasta, and the replacement of Weyler by Blanco fired Canalejas' anger, who claimed that the goverment was weak. Magnanimous in victory, Sagasta had recalled him in 1900 to become his Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce. Seguismundo Moret, an important leader of the Liberal party that had been involved in the Prim cabinet and in all of Sagasta's, also joined Canalejas in his opposition to Montero Ríos, starting a civil war in the party that would weaken it when Sagasta resigned from the leadership in 1903, and choosing Montero Ríos as his replacement as both leader of the party and as Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the crisis of the Conservative Party was to take a turn for the worse. Under Alejandro Pidal, the party moved closer to the interests of the the bourgeoisie and upper classes, who were pressing by then for a more protectionist policy that improved the trade betweeen the members of the Mancomunidad Española, but this proved a costly mistake, as the average Spanish worker felt disconected from the politics of the party. This would be only partialy solved when Antonio Maura replaced a disgraced Pidal in 1904.

However, an unexpected crisis would not only demolish the good standing of the Liberal Party and Montero Ríos, but it would also throw Spain into disarray when Japan fixed its attention in the Spanish East Indies, which would erupt into the Spanish-Japanese war of 1905.
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I don't see Britain backing Japan this time around. Heck France and the Dutch might even use it go cut Japan down to size, esp. since unlike with Russia Japan will be the clear aggressor here.
I don't see Britain backing Japan this time around. Heck France and the Dutch might even use it go cut Japan down to size, esp. since unlike with Russia Japan will be the clear aggressor here.

I have some doubts about what to do with the Anglo-Japanese relations, but I have the feeling that, after this war, they are going to go down in flames.
2. Spain in the 20th century.

One of the most popular corners of Barcelona in 1905:
el Paralelo.

2. Spain in the 20th century.

By 1905 it was obvious that Spain needed a change. The reforms that Prim had instituted in 1868-1873 and the ones that Sagasta and Cánovas del Castillo had added in the decades that followed were not enough for the country. However, there was no intention to reform the institutions or the legal system for a while. This was the source of social frictions and the reason why part of the working class turned away from the Conservative and Liberal parties and embraced the ideas of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE - Socialist Workers Party of Spain), led by Pablo Iglesias since its creation in 1879, mainly in Madrid and the Basque Country; or became anarchist, as it was the case of the workers of Barcelona, which would to lead to the creation of Solidaridad Obrera - (Worker's Solidarity) in 1907, a trade union centered mainly in Barcelona and led by Salvador Seguí and Antoni Badia. In 1910, it would become a national trade union under the name of Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores (SNT - National Trade Union), that, on the following year, was named Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT - National Confederation of Labour).

The change in the leadership in the Liberal and Conservative parties, when Sagasta was replaced by Montero Ríos and Cánovas del Castillo by Antonio Pidal, offered little hopes for the Spanish workers, who were growing tired of a political system that, in their opinion, protected only the interests of the political and economic elite. Thus, the workers demanaded for the participation of the PSOE in the general elections of 1905. The Marxist content of the political program of the party worried both Liberals and Conservatives, who reacted by delaying or simply blocking the PSOE's access to national politics. However, as we shall see, an unforeseen crisis threatened to forestall this political change and to break the bipartidism nature of the Spanish political system.

The crisis came from the East. After the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, Japan had become a powerful nation that could fight the major powers in Europe with success. This had been source of worry for the Western powers that were increased when Japan took a more active and leading role in Asian affairs, which in turn had been the source of widespread nationalism throughout the region.

The Philippines were in turmoil since 1896, when the Spanish colonial authorities discovered the existence of the Katipunan (1), an anti-colonial organization led by José Rizal, and which exploded into a guerrilla war that lasted until 1898, when the movement was dismebered after the execution of its two main leaders, Rizal and Andrés Bonifacio. A faction headed by Emilio Aguinaldo exiled itself to Hong Kong and, there, Aguinaldo would have the first contacts with Japanese agents that, eventually, were to lead to the Spanish-Japanese War of 1905.

Japan and Spain had established diplomatic relations with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation of 1868. Since then, both countries had an intermitent diplomatic exchange that began to fade in the 1890s with the Cuban troubles. Then, as the Katipunan began its guerrilla campaign, a Japanese ship was requisitioned (November 1898) by the Spanish authorities in Manila. Apparently, the ship's cargo were weapons for the Katipunan. As Japan's naval power was not the one who crushed the Russian fleet at Tushima (it had barely beaten the Chinese navy in 1895), Tokyo defused the situation.

However, Japan had an European ally: France. Tokio had supported Paris in its war on China in 1884-1885, which led to the first Japanese landings in Korea, much to the dismay of Russia. As the French-Japanese relations grew, so did the Russian distrust of both countries that, eventually, would explode in the short Russian-Japanese War of 1904. Thus, another Phillipine rising in 1903 gave Tokio the chance to move against Spain.

(1) Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan: Suprema y Venerable Asociación de los Hijos del Pueblo ("Supreme and Venerable Association of the Children of the Nation")
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3. The Spanish-Japanese War of 1905 (1)

The Spanish battleship Carlos V

3. The Spanish-Japanese War of 1905 (1).

General Valeriano Weyler had been Governor-General of the Philippines from 1888 to 1891 before being sent to Cuba. Thus, when he was sent there again in 1903. He had been the Minister of War since 1901 with Sagasta, who, in spite of all the faults of Weyler, decided to send him there for his knowledge of the country and his harsh politics. Sagasta considered that his politics of "concentración" would not be so criticised as they were not going to be applied to non-white population, even if he had been quite vicious in his criticism of this strategy in Cuba. It goes without saying that Weyler wasted no time to create safe havens, protected by loyal Spanish troops, in the Philippines while starting military operations to destroy the enemy guerrillas.

Japan, on its part, felt free to commence hostilities, if necessary since the Anglo-Japanese Alliance was signed in 1902. This had been proved right with the short war with Russia. In any case, Japan opened talks with Spain about to the Philippines. Many historians consider today that the Japanese offer to by the archipielago as a ruse to lure the Spanish diplomatics into a false sense of security. However, it seems that, initially, Tokio was really interested in that kind of offer and that only the Spansh refusal, the path of war was taken. On his part, Prime Minister Sagasta, at the beginning of the talks, was not interested in hearing a word about the issue, not even when his ministers pointed out the problems in transporting troops and supplies from Europe to Asia. Then, Alfonso XII, who had not said a word about politics since his coronation in 1894, made a fatal mistake. Worried that the good standing that Spain had in international politics (but for the Cuban war), the king feared than any concession to Tokio might damage in a fatal way the dignity, honor, and worth of Spain. It is still claimed that Aflonso XII stated that "Más vale sucumbir con gloria en mares enemigos que volver a España sin honra ni vergüenza" (1).

When the negotiations failed, Tokio issued a declaration of war on May 1, 1895 when Admiral Togo repeated the successful strategy that had annhilated the Russian fleet in Port Arthur (2). His fleet, consisting of his flagship Mikasa, 5 other pre-dreadnought battleships, 9 armoured cruisers and 10 destroyers faced the Spanish Eastern Asia Squadron led by Vice-Admiral Fernando Villaamil (3). He commanded two out-dated pre-dreadnought battleships (4), the Carlos V and the Pelayo, 4 cruisers, and 6 destroyers. Aware than in a naval battle his fleet was doomed, Villaamil trusted to cause as much damage and chaos with his destroyers to give a change for his main ships to give Togo a bloody noose. However, he had not that opportunity.

The battle began when the Japanese screen of destroyers met two of the Spanish ships that were searching for the enemy fleet and opened fire at 08:00. Meanwhile, two Japanese cruisers that were on a reconoissance mission detected the Spanish ships through the morning mist. The Spanish cruisers opened fire on their enemies, that turned and fled. When the two fleet came into contact, the Japanese gunnery then took its toll as it had happened in Port Arthur, keeping the enemy destroyers at bay and focusing the heavy guns on the enemy battleships. Two hours later, with the Spanish fleet destroyed and its remmnats scattered (the Carlos V was on fire and her crew had beached her to avoid the ship from sinking, while the remaining five destroyers fled the battle), Togo withdrew and the invasion began.

(1) "Better to die with glory in enemy seas than to return to Spain without honour and pride".
(2) In TTL, Togo managed to "do a Pearl Harbour" and destroyed the bulk of the enemy fleet in his attack.
(3) IOTL, Villaamil died in the naval battle of Santiago of 1898. Here he had better luck... until 1905.
(4) Spain had finally began to modernize its fleet in the 1890s, even if at a slower pace that the other European navies.
So... They declared war because they couldn't buy the territory? That isn't going to fly. And the Spanish army should be much better and far more experienced than the Sadist Army had been, esp. for a war in the geography like the Philippines.
So... They declared war because they couldn't buy the territory? That isn't going to fly. And the Spanish army should be much better and far more experienced than the Sadist Army had been, esp. for a war in the geography like the Philippines.

The Spanish army had most been fighting guerrilla war in Cuba and now in the Phillipines. With no Carlist wars, the closest thing to a "real" war the Spanish army has fought in this TTL are a two small things with Morocco. Of course, the geography helps them, but also the local anti-Spanish guerrillas.
4. The Spanish-Japanese War of 1905 (2).


Japanese 11-inch (280 mm) howitzer firing during the Siege of Manila;
shell visible in flight

4. The Spanish-Japanese War of 1905 (2).

By 1905, the Spanish garrison in Phillipines mustered 75,000 men, including native volunteers, most of them used to protect Manila or deployed in the main islnds of the archipielago. After the Japanese naval force withdrew and the invasion fleet arrived, one week later, Weyler had changed little that deployment but for 6,000 men that had been sent to cover the northern coast of Luzon, deploying two brigades to protect Vigan and the third one to garrison Gonzaga, plus a had-hoc infantry division to man the defenses around the Lingayen Gulf, where he expecte the main attack. Weyler was right. There was where the Japanese force landed with the protection of the guns of Togo's ships, that had been refuelled in Formosa and had returned to join the landings.

The Japanese force, the 16th Infantry Division landed on May 8, 1895, between Apoo and Damortis, faced a spirited defence from the Spanish brigade, made up by the 69th Infantry Regiment "Iberia" plus a batallion of the 74th Manila. The Spanish and local soldiers fought hard until the superior enemy firepower and numerical superiority forced them to withdraw. By the end of the following day, May 9, with two thirds of the Spanish brigade destroyed, its commanders ordered its tattered remants to withdraw to the south-west, hoping to be able to join Weyler's corps. The Japanese casualties were not light, either (around 4,000 killed, wounded or missing), but, with more reinforcements on the way, General Sakuma Samata, commanding the 16th ID, decided to press on to avoid the enemy recovering from the battle.

Weyler, who had dispatched the bulk of his army -30,000 men- to the north and followed the troops, his surprised when he's informed that a second Japanese force has landed at Legazpi and with the local guerrillas attacking his supply lines, withdraws his force back to Manila. Then, at least a tenth of the native soldiers changed sides or simply went home, as, for instance, the members of the 3rd Company of the Penal Batallion, deployed at Mindanao, who killed his officers and NCOs and joined hands with the rebels; or half of the 68th Infantry Regiment "Legazpi", the garrison of the island of Jolo, that rose in arms against its Spanish officers.

It's still surprising that Weyler hoped to withdraw to Manila and trusted the old walls to resist the enemy fire, specially if we keeo in mind what the heavy guns of the Imperial Japanese Army had achived during the siege of Port Arthur. However, as Weyler died during the siege when his command post was blown to pieces by a shell of an enemy land-based 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns, we can only suppose what the general had in mind in those days. In any case, if he hoped to withstand the enemy fire with the old defences, he has soon proved to be wrong.

The shelling began on May 15th, 1905. Seven days later, with the outter walls reduced to rubble and with shell hitting Intramuros hard, Colonel Jáudenes, who had taken command after Weyler was killed, sent a message to General Tamemoto Kuroki, offering to surrender. The surrender was accepted and signed on May 23.
5. Spain in defeat: El Desastre de 1905.

Spanish soldiers posing for a photo
after returning to the mainland

5. Spain in defeat: El Desastre de 1905.

The effects of the defeat, the so-called El Desastre de 1905 (The Disaster of 1905), were more of a psychological order than of a political or economica one. The least remnant of the Empire had been lost in a fast and shameful way. The dithering behaviour of the Montero Ríos cabinet had been heavily censored by many in Spain, mainly by the press, the same one that, in an irresponsible way, had been whipping up patriotic and anti-Japanese sentiments in Spain until the very moment when the first news of the defeat arrived to the mainland. Public opinion was led to believe that people that the Japanese were greedy barbarians shamelessly wanting to snatch away Spanish possessions, and that the Japanese armed forces could not defeat the glorious military tradition of Spain. The Spanish press did not report on the comparative military strength of the two nations, which in so many ways favored the Japanese Empire, especially with regard to the navy. And, out of the blue, the news of the defeat fell upon an unready nation.

In the long term, this defeat would transform Spain and solidify the reform process that had started with the Constitution of 1812, as it acted as a definitive catalyst for the regeneration of the politics, the society, and the arts and sciences of Spain. Now Spain was free from the shackles of the imperial ideology that had ruled its fate for the last four centuries. Now Spain could look into the future, aware of its historical being and its place in the modern world. In this sense, then, the war of 1905 had liberated Spain as well. Despite its small overall direct impact on the Spanish economy, the loss of the Philippines and the defeat at the hands of the Japanese force started a process of intense political nationalism and extreme pragmatism. As Pio Baroja, one of the best Spanish writers of the beginning of the 20th century, wrote: ''Before, in the period of adventures, Spain was led by Don Quixote. From now on, it would be directed by Sancho Panza.''

However, in the short term, there were many troubles to solve. The military was furious with the government. Montero Ríos had mismanaged the war and had been slow at reacting at the fast pace of the war. The task force that had been sent to reinforce the garrison of the archipielago had been delayed by the troubles that Spain was finding to supply it along the way, and it was still steaming through the Red Sea when the news of the capitulation of Manila arrived to Madrid. This, along with the indecisiveness of the Monterio Rios cabinet, resulted in the resentment of the military towards the politicians, as the army felt that they had been abandoned by the government while forcing them to fight a lost war that had been caused by the politicians. In addition to this, an antimilitarist feeling began to appear among the popular classes, as most of the soldiers who had fought in Philippines (and in Cuba before) had been recruited from the lowers classes as the scions of the well-to-do familes were able to avoid joining the ranks just by paying an amount money, the so-called "redención en metálico" (1). Of course, the lower classes resented that system and the military. As the trade union campaigned against it, the military directed their dislike towards the workers and the trade unions.

Furthermore, the disaster would led to the raise of a poweful intelectual movement, the Regeneracionismo (Regenerationism), which had its roots in the social criticism made by writers like Ricardo Macías Picavea, whose first anylisis of the shortocommings of the Spanish political system had appeared in 1890, raising topics and questions that were later on resumed by Joaquín Costa, Rafael Altamira and José María Salaverría. The Regeneracionismo, however, was not to be reduced to be a literary topic, and it would be adapted to politics by Francisco Silvela (Conservative Party) and José Canalejas (Liberal Party). Futhermore, Joaquín Costa would create a short-lived political party, the Union Nacional (UN- the National Union), created in 1907 and dissolved in 1910 (2).

(1) IOTL, this unfair "system" was not forbidden until 1912.
(2) IOTL, the UN lasted from 1900 to 1902.
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6. The heated elections of 1905.

6. The heated elections of 1905.

Pressured by his own party and the opposition and with an angered population demanding explanations and punishments to those who had caused the defeat, Montero Ríos attempted to resign both as prime minister and as leader of the Liberal party. While the king agreed to dissolve Parliament and Montero Rios called for new elections, his party refused to accept his resignation. Nobody wanted to take his place, and this was further damaging to the Liberal standing in the elections, as it was clearly seen that his own colleagues blamed Montero Ríos for the defeat and were unwilling to take the blame for the disaster. Along the whole electoral campaign, the Conservative Party led by Fernando Silvela launched a barrage of vicious criticism against the weak cabinet of Montero Ríos, who could not find a way to explain his actions without proving the Conservative point: he had hesitated too much.

In this situation, the regenerationist proposals of Fernando Silvela fell into fertile ground and the Conservative Party won the elections, even if not by a slanslide, as it was expected. Montero Ríos, on his part, could boast that his party has not suffered such a defeat as the Conservatives in the past elections. In some way, he was right, as many people -even in his own party- had foreseen a debacle that would reduce the Liberal Party to be the third political force of the country. That this almost apocalyptical vision was not fulfilled did not avoid the Liberal leader his final fate and he was finally forced to resign in November 1905.

However, the Conservative victory was almost eclipsed by the unexpected results of Iglesia's party. The Socialist Party had achieved an outstanding feat: to have thirty of their members sitting in the Cortes, must to the bewilderment of the two "classic" parties. Suddenly, the workers had a voice of their own in the Spanish Parliament.


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Spanish officers,
Madrid, 1902.

7. Foreign policy (1900-1905)

Since the end of the Cuba war, the Sagasta government focused on improving the Spanish relations with its former colonies. The first target was Mexico, but the critical situation that the country was undergoing in the final years of Porfirio Díaz's dictatorship made that Madrid decided not to embroil itself in what looked as a dangerous quagmire. Spain would not try again to create closer links with México until 1914, during the last months of the first tenure (1911-1915) of Francisco Madero as president of the Mexican Republic, as we shall see.

The attempts to open diplomatic links made by Sagasta, Montero Ríos and Silvela with the remaining former colonies bore little positive results and Spain lost interest in those countries as soon as Madrid understood that the influence of the United States on the area made any approachment with those states quite difficult and dangerous. Ironically, the bad relations of José Santos Zelaya, president of Nicaragua, with the United States, offered Spain a chance to "win" a friend in the area, but Spain was not interested in having bad relations with the United States and Spain dropped the issue.

Meanwhile, the Mancomunidad Hispana was giving too many headaches to Spain. For a while, in 1903 (1), two members of the Mancomunidad were close to go to war against each other, as it had happened in 1879, when, in spite of the best efforts of the Spanish primer minister Cánovas del Castillo to find a peaceful solution to the border questions between Chile and Peru, the crisis developed into open war between Chile, in one side, and Perú and Bolivia in the other, which were defeated. However, this time, with Spain and Argentina acting as go-betweens with the two countries, a peaceful solution to the issue avoided the conflict.

The bone of contention of the Spanish international relations was Argentina. After the end of the conquest of the Chaco and of the Desert, the kindom had undergone an incredible economical boom that had seen increase trade relations with Spain and the United Kingdom. However, in spite of the best efforts of the Spanish ambassadors, the absolutist ways of King Luis II, the son of the first king of Argentina, Luis Carlos de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Borbón (Luis I of Argentina), and the monopoly of the government that the Partido Nacional (PN - National Party) had through rigged elections since 1880, would end up in a bloody way with the murder of Luis II in 1906 and the proclamation of the República Argentina (Republic of Argentina), which remained the Mancomunidad.

The European relations of the Spanish diplomacy, traditionally aimed at France and the United Kingdom since the 1830s, underwent a change in the 1870-1880s, when the weak France was replaced by the mighty new power of Germany. However, neither London not Berlin worried too much about the Spanish "afections", as the country, in spite of its advances and improvements, was too far away of being an ally that was worth being considered. In spite of this, both empires kept warm relations with Spain, the former because of Gibraltar and the latter because of Spain's long border with France.

(1) IOTL, this took place in 1909.
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8. Silvela Ministry (1905) / First Antonio Maura Ministry (1905-1910) -1-

Antonio Maura talking with Alfonso XII,
Madrid, 1909.

8. Silvela Ministry (1905) / First Antonio Maura Ministry (1905-1910) -1-

To this day, Francisco Silvela has the honour of having the shortest tenure as Prime Minister in Spanish history (from September 10 to November 25, 1905). His death moved Antonio Maura from the Ministry of Justice to the premiership, as Silvela had been grooming him to become his succesor. Maura started what he called "the revolution from above", that is, a transformation of the country carried out by the government, to open the country to Europe and to modernize Spain for good. He began with a new electoral census and a new electoral law that replaced the existing one, which had been enacted in 1890. With the Electoral Law 1906 voting became compulsory to promote the participation of the citizens and the compilation of the electoral census was removed from the minicipalities. From then on, it would be made by the Instituto Geográfico y Estadístico (Geographic and Statistical Institute), which had been created in 1870.

Maura also reformed the educational system. In 1901, the literary rate in the British Empire was 97% and in France 83%, while in Spain, in spite of the reforms developed so far, only 60% of the Spanish adult males were literate (1). Hardly 57% (2) of the children went to school, and the sons of the farmers left the studies when it was harvest time. To fight this, a Ministry of Education was created in 1905 by Silvela (his only achievement). The first minister was Antonio García Alix, who put himself to work with energy and determination. Under him, the salaries of the teachers experimented substantial raises and new schools were built; by 1910 the Spanish literacy rate had risen to 70% (3). The big reform, however, would have to wait until the 1910s.

Maura also faced an outburst of strikes in Barcelona. The delicate situation of the workers and the Desastre of 1905 led to a wave of strikes from 1906 to 1910. The General Strike of 1908 and the Coal Strike of 1909, that soon developed into violence in spite of the trade unions, which deplored this vicious turn. The second strike was solved by the intervention of General Emilio Zappino, Captain General of the Basque Country, and ended with the recognition of the demands of the workers -a rise in the pay. The PSOE strongly deplored the General Strike of 1908 while supported the Coal Strike, which damaged the standing of the party, as the workers felt betrayed by the PSOE and the public opinion linked the violence of the Coal Strike with the Socialist support. Pablo Iglesias and his followers did not trust the revolutionary tactics of their rivals, as they considered that they were doing more harm than good; furthermore, the PSOE leaders were in favour of those actions that will strenghten the workers unions and that they were scientifically planned and when victory was in sight.

Another question was the finances of the State. The colonial wars in Cuba and the war of 1905 had left a exhausted Treasury with an internal debt. To pay it, 70% of the government revenue was used, and this made a fiscal consolidation. This had started with Silvela and his Ministry of the Treasury, Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, and his succesor, Guillermo de Osma, who Maura trusted with the Ministry when Fernández Villaverde died in January 1906, and thus began a decade of surplus and a reasuring restraint of the prices. It must be added that the Disaster of 1905 was not too harmful for the Spanish economy. Only the textile industry was affected by the loss of the Phillipines markets, but the reinvestment of money from Mexico and Cuba caused a quite noticeable economic boom and the formation of a powerful private banking system (creation of the Banco de Vizcaya in 1908 and the Banco Español de Crédito in 1909).

(1) 44% IOTL.
(2) 47% IOTL.
(3) 50% IOTL.
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8. Silvela Ministry (1905) / First Antonio Maura Ministry (1905-1910) -2-

Spanish soldiers trainning in 1936 with
Trubia AP1910

8. Silvela Ministry (1905) / First Antonio Maura Ministry (1905-1910) -2-

The defeat had given some good reasons to Silvela and Maura to modernizwith the Spanish Armed Forces. In spite of the previous reforms (1872, 1876, 1880), the war with Japan had proved that Spain was not up to fight a modern country. Furthermore, the lessons of the Boer War were being slowly understood, while there was a sudden burst of interest in the battles of the short Russo-Japanese war.

The first measure taken by Mara came in 1906, when corporal punishments and other harsh disciplinary measures were forbidden in the Army during peacetime. Then, on the following year, Maura approved the modernization of the artillery, which saw the replacement of the outdated and short ranged Sotomayor guns with Krupp and Schneider guns and howitzers built in Sevilla and Trubia. Also, the Maxim-Nordenfelt machine guns were replaced by the M1895 Colt-Browning in 7×57mm Mauser caliber (the same cartridge used by the standard Spanish rifle, the Model 1893 Mauser). This machine gun was not too successful and, in 1910, Spain adopted the Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun, built in Oviedo, as its replacement, the Hotchkiss Mle 1914 machine gun, in use with the Spanish army since 1915. Furthermore, the designers of the Fábrica de Armas de La Vega (La Vega Guns Factory), placed in Oviedo, presented in 1910 a heavy machine gun design, very similar to Hiram Maxim's Maxim Gun, but chambered for the standard Spanish 7x57 mm rifle cartridge. It was mounted on a wheeled mount, to which was, latern on, added a gun shield. Named as Ametralladora Pesada Trubia modelo 1910 or Trubia AP1910 (Trubia Heavy Machine Gun Model 1910), it would remain in service with the Spanish armed forces until 1945, even if it was still in use with reserve units until the 1960s.

The next reform would take place in 1909, just a the Melilla War erupted, as we shall see. The militias that came to life during Napoleonic invasion were resurrected again during the civil war of 1847-1848 and used at local level in Cuba, reappared to become a part-time volunteer force to support the regular army and the reserve force. However, the army officers did not trust this Guardia Nacional (National Guard), as they still rememberd how the National Guardia units became highly politicized and less reliable during the mentioned civil war. The militias were to be reformed again by the Cuesta comission in 1911, when they were incorporated in to the Reserve Army.


Battleship España seen here during her
sea trials in 1915.​

Finally, Maura also worked hard to modernize the navy, which had proved to be fatally outdated against the Japanese ships. For that reason, the Maura-Ferrándiz plan was accepted in 1908. Just after the defeat, there had been several proposals to update the Spanish navy, as the Auñón plan (1), who proposed to build twelve 12,000 tons battleships, plus cruisers, destroyers, etc; the Gómez Imaz (1899), who proposed to build 14,000 tons battleships; and the Sánchez de Toca plan, that suggested building seven 15,000 tons battleships, plus cruisers, destroyers, etc. In the end, the Maura Ferrándiz plan ordered the construction of six battleships (España class, twelve 305 mm guns, 18,000 tons -4-), even if only three were laid and finished; nine destroyers (Bustamante class, 550 tons), of which six were finished; twenty four torpedo boats (T class, 250 tons) and 4 gunships (Recalde class, 800 tons). No submarines were proposed, as the ships of this plan were to be the core of the fleet and a new plan for the navy was to follow in 1914. This plan also included the improvement of the three naval bases at Cartagena, Ferrol and San Fernando and its defences,

(1) Ramón Auñón y Villalón (1844-1925), an army officer, Minister for the Navy in 1898-1900, during the first Sagasta Ministry in TTL.
(2) José Gómez-Imaz Simón (1838-1903), a navy officer, Minister for the Navy in 1899-1900 IOTL.
(3) Joaquín Sánchez de Toca y Calvo (1852-1942), Conservative politician, Minister for the Navy in 1900-1901 in TTL.
(4) Instead of OTL España battleships, Spain gets a less armoured version of the Dreadnought (for instance, the British battleship had a belt armor of 279 mm, while the Spanish ships had one of 229 mm).
9. The Melilla War (1909) (First part)

Spanish soldiers marching towards the Gurugu Montains
9. The Melilla War (1909) (First part)

In 1904, France had forced the Sultan of Morocco, Abd-al-Aziz, to sign several treaties that were the first steps to turn the country into a French protectorate. However, in the Rif, which was part of the Bled es-Siba (Unruly Country), the authority of the Sultan was hardly recognized by the Riffians, a Berber-speaking people. Thus, they did not consider themselves forced to accept the agreemets signed with the European powers. Furhtermore, since 1903, a part of the Rif area was under the control of Mohamed el-Yusfi ez-Zerhun, also known as the Rogui ("the pretender") by his followers, and Abu Himara ("the donkey") for his enemies. He claimed that he had the holy duty of cleaning Morocco of any foreign presence. Thus, Bu Himara was proclaimed Sultan in 1902, but the mehala (the regular Moroccan army) forced them to flee to Zeluan, where he had command ober the kabyles of Guelaya, in the western Rif.

In 1907, two Spanish societies reached an agreement with Bu Humara to exploit mines around Melilla. They were the Compañía del Norte Africano (a Spanish society with French assets) and the Compañía Española de Minas del Rif (Spanish Society of the Rif mines), owned by the earls of Romanones and of Güell. To link this settlements with the harbour of Melilla, the two societies were given the rights to built a railway in the area. This agreement angered the kabyles and, in October 1908, they rose against Bu Hamara and began harrassing the Spanish workers but without causing any casualties. On December 4, Bu Hamara was deposed and the works in the mines and in the railway were stopped. The two societies pressed the Maura government for send troops from the Melilla garrison to pacify the area. However, Maura waited for the new Sultan, Muley Hafid, who had dethroned his half-brother Abd el-Azid, to settle his authority over the country but, as time went on and as the pressure kept building over him, Maura ordered to go on the construction of the railway and tasked General José Marina y Vega, military commander of Melilla, with the protection of the workers. To do so, Marina asked Madrid for reinforcements, but none were sent. On 9 July 1909, a new attack occurred and four Spanish railway workers were killed by tribesmen.

As a result of these deaths, Prime Minister Maura ordered to increase the Spanish garrison at Melilla from 5,000 men to 22,000 in preparation for an offensive. All the Spanish forces involved were conscripts, with good basic trainning, well equipped but lacking basic maps. On July 10, two companies from the 68th "Africa" Regiment were sent to support the Spanish workers and captured 19 tribesmen, two of them were jailed for their role in the attack. On the following days, a stronger Spanish forced moved along the railway, recovering the train stations of Sidi Musa, Sidi Amet and Sidi Alí. This operation ended with the death of four Spanish soldiers plus 25 more wounded. On that day, the Spanish government ordered the mobilization of three Brigades, the 1st (Madrid), the 2nd (Campo de Gibraltar) and the 3rd (Catalonia). The 2nd Brigade was ordered to embark at once to Morocco. This mobilization meant calling to arms many reservists, most of them married and with children, and this caused some riots in Barcelona and Madrid -1-. Rebels franctireurs began to open fire against Melilla from their positions in the Gurugu Montain and increased the pressure over the troops that had been deployed to protect the railway (7 kms long). In spite of that, the workers of the railway resumed their task on July 12 under the protection of the soldiers and the kabyle of Mazuza, "loyal to Spain", according to General Marina.

On July 18th, the rebels attacked the Spanish strongholds at Sidi Amet and Sidi Alí, but, by the 20th, the attacks were aimed against the whole line of forts. The enemy numbers and their courage made Marina to inform the Government about the inminent danger. Thus, the Spanish government ordered the other two brigades to depart to Melilla, where they arrived by July 23. They began their offensive actions on the following day, but, due to the lack of preparation and of coordination, the attempted ended in failure: the casualties were 69 killed and 225 wounded. Undaunted, Marina decided to press further, and, to disloge the enemy from the Gurugu Mountain, he sent there six companies under the command of Colonel Álvarez Cabrera. They left Melilla at nightfall but got lost and, in the morning, found themselves ambushed by the enemy, who opened fire from their positions in the heights. Colonel Cabrera and 14 men were killed, and 250 were wounded (2)

After this disaster, the Spanish paused its military operations and waited for the arrival of reinforcements. Marina reorganized the troops while Maura decided to send three more Divisions from the Peninsula, along with heavy artillery over from Spain.

-1- No General Strike and no Tragic Week in Barcelona... yet.
-2- With this defeat ends the first part of the war. I've made Marina slightly more clever and avoided the disaster of the Wolf Canyon.
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10. The Melilla War (1909) (Second part)

The Spanish Protectorate of Morocco
by 1916.
10. The Melilla War (1909) (Second part)

The month of August was used to bring reinforcements to Morocco. The units that were already on the field were used to form a Division, that were to be joined by another one sent from Madrid and another one from Vitoria. When they were ready, by early September, the Spanish forces mustered 42,000 men. According to the reports, they faced 21,000 rebels from fourteen kabyles.

After securing a starting point at Cherauit and Arknman, the three divisions moved towards the Gurugu Mountain, and from there to move along the railway to secure the mines, while, at the same time, the surrounding area around Melilla was also patrolled and secured. But for a few ambushes, the kabyles avoided direct clases with the Spanish troops, that simply advanced, securing village after village. By early November, General Marina met a peace delegation from the rebels, which was ignored and the Spanish forces kept advancing until conquering Mount Uxian, thus securing the mines of the two Spanish societies. This three months of fighting were closed, then, with a complete victory, as the rebels surrendered and the mines were recovered and returned to their owners. One hundred and fifty Spanish soldiers died in this second part of the war, and one thousand and five hundred were wounded.

In spite of the demands of Muley Hafid, the conquered lands (the lands until the Kert River, being Zeluan, Nador and were not returned by the Spanish government and were kept, as it was confirmed when Spain created the Protectorado de Marruecos (Morocco Protectorate) in 1912. After this, the Spanish troops advanced to occupy the area, beginning with Tetouan, occupied by the forces of General Felipe Alfau Mendoza in February 1913. In 1914 Anyear, El Haus and Wad Ras were taken by the Spanish troops, followed by Ben Karric and Xauen in 1915. Conquering the Rif was to take place in 1916, as we shall see (1).

(1) While IOTL it took until 1923 to march towards the Rif, in TTL the "conquest" is faster because a twist in history at a world level.