History of Spain

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

Premodern history

Early imperial period (1469-1700)

In 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were united by the marriage of their monarchs, Isabella I and Ferdinand II, respectively. 1478 commenced the completion of the conquest of the Canary Islands and in 1492, the combined forces of Castile and Aragon captured the Emirate of Granada from its last ruler Muhammad XII, ending the last remnant of a 781-year presence of Islamic rule in Iberia.

The year 1492 also marked the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World. Columbus's first voyage crossed the Atlantic and reached the Caribbean Islands, beginning the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, although Columbus remained convinced that he had reached the Orient. Large numbers of indigenous Americans died in battle against the Spaniards during the conquest, while others died from various other causes. The Spanish colonization of the Americas started with the colonization of the Caribbean. It was followed by the conquest of powerful pre-Columbian polities in Central Mexico and the Pacific Coast of South America. Miscegenation was the rule between the native and the Spanish cultures and people. An expedition sponsored by the Spanish crown completed the first voyage around the world in human history, the Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation. The return route from the Philippines to Mexico made possible the Manila galleon trading route and the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.

Spain's 16th-century maritime supremacy was demonstrated by the victory over the Ottomans at Lepanto in 1571, and then after the setback of the Spanish Armada in 1588, in a series of victories against England in the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585–1604.

Late imperial period (1700-1878)

Spanish Succession Crisis (1701)

The Habsburg king of Spain, Charles II, was nearing his heirless death. To settle the succession, the First Treaty of Partition was signed by England, the Dutch Republic, and France, agreeing that on the death of Charles II, Prince Joseph Ferdinand, son of the elector of Bavaria, should inherit Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and the Spanish colonies. Spain’s Italian dependencies would be detached and partitioned between Austria (to be awarded the Duchy of Milan) and France (Naples and Sicily). However, this plan did not push through following Joseph Ferdinand’s death in 1699.

A second treaty, signed in 1669, by England and France and in March 1700 by the Dutch Republic, awarded Spain and the Spanish Netherlands and colonies to Karl VI of Austria, second son of the Holy Roman emperor Leopold I, and Naples, Sicily, and other Spanish territories in Italy to France. Leopold, however, refused to sign the treaty, demanding that Charles receive all the Spanish territories intact.

IOTL, Spain did not agree to these terms, as (1) it would divide Spain which was not favorable, and (2) Charles II of Spain was convinced that only the House of Bourbon was capable of succeeding him over ruling the Spanish territories. In OTL, in Charles II’s will upon his death, he bequeaths the Spanish territories to the Bourbon Philip, Duc d'Anjou (France).

Habsburg Victory

In this timeline, however, Spain was much more amenable to Austria and her allies, mainly due to France’s negative prestige following their defeats at the hands of Britain and the Triple Alliance. As an effect, Charles II agreed to the second partition treaty, only on one condition: Spain must not be divided and all territory must go to Karl VI. Spain signed the treaty in 1700, and upon Charles II’s death in 1701, Karl VI of Austria succeeded him as Charles III, King of Spain.

Also ITTL, the current Holy Roman Emperor and the newly crowned Charles III’s elder brother, Joseph I, lived for far much longer instead of dying at the age of 32 in OTL. This allowed him to produce a male heir that would succeed him as the Archduke of Austria upon his death at a later year.

Great Silesian War (1750 - 1755)

After resurrecting an old Brandenburg testamentary claim to Silesia and forming an alliance with France and other smaller German states, Prussia invaded Austrian Silesia in 1750. France, Bavaria, and Saxony, and Sweden had supported the Franco-Prussian Entente. Britain had supported its ally, Austria. Spain, having a Habsburg monarch, and territories in the low countries, soon became quickly involved in the war. The Dutch Republic was also attacked by the French due to their interests in the region. Prince Maurice's War was the North American theatre of the Great Silesian War. Prince Maurice's War was one of the largest colonial wars in North America, where the colonies of Britain, Spain, and the Dutch Republic were pitted against those of France and their native allies.

The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vienna on 16 February 1755. The treaty granted the Dutch possession of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Basin region, while the British were granted possession of Guadeloupe (including the islands of Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Les Saintes, Marie-Galante, and La Désirade). In Europe, Prussia's territory was divided between the allies. East Frisia becomes part of the United Provinces, and East Prussia has been granted to Russia, who then had exchanged it for the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia shortly after, which had been under the Polish Dominion.

For Spain the war marked a turning point in it's international relations with the Spanish empire being reoriented towards mutual cooperation with the British Empire (as opposed to the series of hostilities that marked the pervious two century of their relationship). Additional expenses accrued in the war created a massive economic and debt crisis for the Spanish empire which precipitated both the Argentine Purchase and the reform of administration throughout the Spanish Empire.

Argentine Purchase

During the aftermath of the great Silesian war and Treaty of Vienna (1755), the British empire offered to buy the Governorate of the Río de la Plata (including the disputed region of the Banda Oriental) east of the Andes from Spain in return for a lump sum payment and forgiveness of debts incurred by the Spanish Crown during the war. On August 19th 1756 the Spanish Crown agreed to the terms sent by the British and on December 1st the colony was transferred to British sovereignty. The British motive for the purchase involves lack of opportunities for expansion in their North American holdings and a want to exert control over the important straits of Magellan.

Spring of Nations (1830s)

Starting in the early 1830s, southern and central Europe erupted into a wave of revolutions based upon liberalism, republicanism, and nationalism known as the Spring of Nations. Some of the earliest of these revolutions were in the Iberian peninsula, with revolutionaries calling for the Spanish and Portuguese empires to reform their political systems, with some revolutionaries going as far as calling for the abolition of the monarchies. The ideals of the Spring of Nations spread to the Spanish and Portuguese American colonies throughout the 1830s culminating in a series of (mostly unsuccessful) revolts in Puerto Rico, New Spain, Brazil, and New Granada. In the viceroy of New Granada, there was a growing dissatisfaction amongst local merchants and criollo elites, as well as amongst the lower classes who've become limited in socio-political advancement due to the restrictive Spanish casta system.

Revolutions in the Spanish Americas

The Colombian Revolution started in 1836 with a series of liberal revolts in Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, and Maracaibo. In March of 1838, the Colombian Revolutionary Congress organized a militia and occupied the city of Medellín. By the end of 1839, the revolutionary congress was in control of most of Venezuela, Trinidad, the Colombian Pacific coast, and the Colombian highlands, with Spanish royalist forces being limited to the Atlantic coasts and the Ecuadorian highlands. In 1841 fighting slowed down in Ecuador, with both sides unable to advance on the other. Additionally, international pressure started to favor the Colombian rebels, with the Dutch and French empires refusing to stop trading the insurgents. In October of 1842, Spanish forces retreated from their last strongholds in Barranquilla and Cartagena. In December, Spanish and Colombian diplomats signed the Treaty of Medellín (1842). The Spanish recognized the independence of New Granada but retained sovereignty and control over Ecuador (with the region being reorganized under the authority of the viceroy of Peru).

During the Spring of Nations throughout the 1830's Paraguayan nationalists started to agitate for independence. After the local Spanish army garrison in Asuncion withdrew in 1839 to focus on the Colombian Revolution Paraguayan republicans declared independence from the Spanish and formed the 2nd Paraguayan Republic. In 1842 after the Colombian revolution ended the Spanish asked the British to help retake Paraguay but the British refused due to ongoing colonial wars in Asia as well as local Carolinan support for the Paraguayan republicans. In 1846 (after two unsuccessful expeditions to reclaim Paraguay from Peru) the Spanish empire recognized the independence of Paraguay in the Treaty of Buenos Aires and set the border at the Paraguay river.

Dutch-Spanish War (1850 - 1853)

While the Netherlands was distracted with the Canton War against Britain & France, Spain declared a separate war against the Dutch, aiming to take possession of conflicting territorial claims in Tussenland and in the Maluku islands. The Dutch surrendered in 1856. In the resulting treaty, the Dutch ceded a large portion of the Mississippi basin region to New Spain, and they were forced to release South Tussenland as an independent nation, effectively locking the Dutch out of the Gulf of Florida. In the East Indies, the Dutch had ceded the Spice Islands (Maluku) to the Spanish. This had soured relations between the Dutch and the Spanish, until Mexican Independence in 1881.

Communard period (1874-1928)

New ideas of socialism (called communardism) had rocked France in the 1870s. Coming from France's intellectual circles, the concept of communardism would win over the French public's following and lead to the bloody murder of King Louis in 1873. The heir died shortly after due to a falling accident. With the Bourbon line dying out, the radical communard party Société des Amis de la République (often shortened to the Société) occupied the power vacuum, established a revolutionary communard republic and attempted to spread their ideals to the rest of western Europe.

Despite the insurgency being quelled in 1877 in France, numerous members of the Société des Amis de la République (radical communard party of France) were able to escape to Spain. They met with leaders of the Sociedad de Comuneros (Society of Communards), the radical communard society of Spain, in Madrid. The Sociedad de Comuneros began plotting a coup against King Ferdinand VII of Spain, and was able to overthrow the monarchy in 1877 successfully. Ferdinand VII led a government-in-exile in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. With the support of the British once again, the new but weak government of Spain was dismantled, and Ferdinand VII was restored to the throne. Despite this, the aftermath of the Communard Revolutions in Spain is directly linked to the Independence of Mexico in 1881 and the independence of Peru.

Mexican Independence

During the Communard Wars, communard revolutionaries occupied the majority of Spain. During this time, the royal family and King Ferdinand VII sought refuge in New Spain. While the king was staying in New Spain, he became interested in the colony's internal affairs. He instituted a series of reforms that sought to hispanize New Spain's culture to a further degree and weakened the local elites' power in favor of giving greater control to the royal military and peninsulare business elites in the king's inner circle. This increased tension between Spanish authorities and New Spain's population across social classes. Additionally, over the 19th century, New Spain had become economically self-sufficient, while Spain had been increasingly dependent on New Spain's resources to fund their empire. This led to a period of increased dissatisfaction of local elites and businessmen starting from the 1860s.

When the King and the royal family returned to Spain in 1878 following the end of the Communard Wars, the Viceroy of New Spain, Jorge González de Güemes y Horcasitas, started to consolidate support within the New Spanish elite and amongst local military officers to declare independence. In early 1881, the King caught wind of the Viceroy's sedition and ordered the Spanish royal army to arrest him and sent another viceroy to replace him. When the new viceroy arrived in New Spain, he was arrested by Jorge González and the local army, who refused the King's orders and pledged loyalty to the González. The following day, on Feb 3rd, 1881 González declared himself emperor of an independent Mexico. While in Spain, the Communard Wars left the Iberian peninsula devastated and with a guerilla insurgency in northern Spain, wreaking havoc on the countryside.

Additionally, Spain borrowed money from Genoese and British banks to rebuild after the war but defaulted on the payments within a year, which led to an economic crisis. Learning González's declaration of a Mexican Empire, the King was furious and pledged to retake the colony, leading to the Mexican Independence Crisis. The Spanish army set out several expeditions to retake Mexico in 1881 and 1882, but they were repelled by the newly formed Mexican army and navy each time. With a mounting economic crisis, guerilla fighting in the nation, and the inability to militarily take back New Spain, the Spanish crown recognized the Mexican empire in 1884.

Republican period (1928-)

Republicanism in Spain

After the communard government fell in Spain, a new more democratic constitution was adopted in 1878. Spain became a constitutional monarchy with the establishment of a new Cortes-Generales as the legislature and the appointment of a Prime Minister. By the turn-of-the-century anti-colonialism and republicanism started to take root within the circles of Spanish intellectuals and reformers. This ideological shift was inspired by the failed Tulip Uprising a decade ago in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Eventually, by the 1920s, the need for the Spanish Monarchy became a point of national debate. In 1927 with the defeat of the Spanish in the Floridan War of Independence, the legitimacy and prestige of the Spanish Monarchy tanked and the nation saw increasing pressures for the monarchy to reform. Ultimately, the multiple radical reforms were passed, most notably the dismantling of the centuries-old Habsburg monarchy and the establishment of the Spanish Republic in 1928.

Decolonization of the Spanish Empire (1929-1935)

Map of Spanish decolonization

The new Spanish Republic pushed for the decolonization of the remaining colonies in Spain in order to shift efforts of development domestically. Referendums were held in the colonies in 1929, offering the local assemblies the following options:

  1. Full Independence (Puerto Rico, Philippines, Viet-Nam, Timor)
  2. Become semi-autonomous Dependent Territories of Spain (Spanish Guinea, Pondicherry, Chandernagor)

The colonies that chose complete independence were given a five-year transitionary period, in which the local administrative apparatus was being prepared for independence. and a constitution is to be drafted. The Spanish Republic began renegotiating with the Moroccan Protectorate, which culminated in the termination of the Protectorateship on March 5, 1933.

La Hispanidad

To foster continued good relations and cooperation with the former colonies, La Hispanidad was formed. The organization's roots come from a bilateral agreement between Puerto Rico and Spain made in 1930. The other colonies expressed interest in entering such a pact with Spain. As a result, the Spanish Republic revisted and reworked the guidelines and terms on their agreement with Puerto Rico, to be more inclusive to the other colonies. In 1931, a framework for an intergovernmental organization was drafted by representatives of the colonies, Puerto Rico included. The new framework was later ratified in 1932, and the new organization was called La Hispanidad, and consisted of Spain, the Philippines, Timor, Viet-Nam, and Puerto Rico. Immediately after Moroccan independence in 1933, they were also admitted into La Hispanidad.

See also