Restoration (Spain)

The Restoration (Spanish: Restauración), or Bourbon Restoration (Restauración borbónica), is the name given to the period that began on 29 December 1874 — after a coup d'état by Martínez Campos ended the First Spanish Republic and restored the monarchy under Alfonso XII — and ended on 14 April 1931 with the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic.

After almost a whole century of political instability and many civil wars, the aim of the Restoration was to create a new political system, which ensured stability by the practice of turnismo. This was the deliberate rotation of the Liberal and Conservative parties in the government, so no sector of the bourgeoisie felt isolated, while all other parties were excluded from the system. This was achieved by electoral fraud. Opposition to the system came from republicans, socialists, anarchists, Basque and Catalan nationalists, and Carlists.

Kingdom of Spain

Reino de España
Motto: Plus Ultra
"Further Beyond"
Anthem: Marcha Real
"Royal March"
The Kingdom of Spain and its colonies in 1898.
The Kingdom of Spain and its colonies in 1898.
Common languagesSpanish
Roman Catholic
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy (1874–1923, 1930–1931)
Autocratic monarchy (1923–1930)
• 1874–1885
Alfonso XII
• 1886–1931
Alfonso XIII
• 1885–1902
Maria Christina
Prime Minister 
• 1874–1875
Antonio Cánovas (first)
• 1931
Juan B. Aznar (last)
LegislatureCortes Generales
Congress of Deputies
29 December 1874
30 June 1876
25 Apr–12 Aug 1898
17 August 1930
14 April 1931
CurrencySpanish peseta
ISO 3166 codeES
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Spanish Republic
Second Spanish Republic
Puerto Rico
First Philippine Republic
Republic of Cuba (1902–59)
Second Occupation of Cuba

Reign of Alfonso XII and the Regency of Maria Christina (1874–1898)

Retrato de Alfonso XII con uniforme de gala (Palacio de Aranjuez)
Portrait of Alfonso XII.

The pronunciamiento by Martinez Campos established Alfonso XII as king, marking the end of the First Spanish Republic. After this, the Constitution of 1876 was written and enforced during the whole restoration. This constitution established Spain as a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature (Cortes Generales), consisting of an upper house (Senate), and a lower house (Congress of Deputies). This constitution gave the King the power to name Senators and to revoke laws if he wanted to, and he was also given the title of Commander-in-chief of the army.

These years were marked by economic prosperity. Spain's economy had fallen behind those of the other European countries, and during these years the modernization of the country took place on a large scale. On most fronts production was increased, supported by extreme protectionist measures.

The two parties alternated in the government in a controlled process known as el turno pacífico; the Liberal Party was led by Sagasta and the Conservative Party by Canovas del Castillo. The caciques, powerful local figures, were used to manipulate election results, and as a result resentment of the system slowly built up over time and important nationalist movements in Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country, as well as unions, started to form.

Reign of Alfonso XIII and crisis of the system (1898–1923)

Alfonso XIII on boat
Alfonso XIII.

In 1898, Spain lost its last major overseas colonies (Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines) in the Spanish–American War. The rapid collapse was perceived as a disaster in Spain, undermining the credibility of both the government and its associated ideologies and almost leading to a military coup d'état led by Camilo Polavieja. This was the start of the system's decline, giving energy to all manner of conflicting opposition movements at a local and national level.[1]

The failed attempts to conquer Morocco (Melilla War) caused great discontent at home and ended in a revolt in Barcelona, known as the Semana Tragica, in which the lower classes of Barcelona, backed by the anarchists, communists, and republicans, revolted against what they considered the unjust methods for recruiting soldiers. The government declared a state of war and sent the army to crush the revolt, causing over a hundred deaths and the execution of Francisco Ferrer. The socialist Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) and the anarchist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) decided to initiate a general strike across the country, but it failed because the unions could only mobilize urban workers.

The problems in Morocco worsened as an army of natives attacked the Spanish army. They achieved surprise and, due to the skill of the Moroccan chieftain, Abd-Al-Krim, virtually annihilated the Spanish army, advancing almost as far as Melilla in the Battle of Annual. This Spanish defeat was due to improper planning and was blamed on the top military officers, causing great discontent among the military, who felt misunderstood, because they had been directed to advance into the interior without adequate resources to occupy the difficult territory.

Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923–1930)

The military discontent, the fear of anarchist terrorism or a proletarian revolution, and the rise of nationalist movements ultimately caused great agitation amongst the civilians and the military. On 13 September 1923, Miguel Primo de Rivera, Captain General of Catalonia, orchestrated a coup d'état, after issuing a manifesto blaming the problems of Spain on the parliamentary system. Alfonso XIII backed the General and named him Prime Minister. Primo de Rivera proceeded to suspend the Constitution and assume absolute powers as a dictator. He created the Unión Patriótica Española, which was meant to be the sole legal party, abolishing all other parties. During this time, he greatly increased government spending on business and public services, which caused his government to go bankrupt. He lost the support of the military and faced serious health problems. Opposition to his regime was so great that Alfonso XIII stopped supporting him and forced him to resign in January 1930.[2]

Final year (1930–1931)

Alfonso XIII, in an attempt to return gradually to the previous system and restore his prestige, called on General Dámaso Berenguer to form a government. This failed utterly, as the King was considered a supporter of the dictatorship, and more and more political forces called for the establishment of a republic. Berenguer resigned and the King gave the government to Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar. Aznar called for local elections on 12 April 1931 in order to satisfy the democrats and republicans, to replace the dictatorship's local governments and to gradually re-introduce the restoration.

Although the monarchists had not lost all their support, the republican and socialist parties won some significant victories in major cities. Street riots ensued, calling for the removal of the monarchy. The army declared that they would not defend the King and on 14 April he fled Spain. The Second Spanish Republic was immediately established under a provisional government led by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora.


  1. ^ Earl Ray Beck, Time of Triumph & Sorrow: Spanish Politics during the Reign of Alfonso XII, 1874-1885 (1979)
  2. ^ Shlomo Ben-Ami, "The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera: A Political Reassessment," Journal of Contemporary History, Jan 1977, Vol. 12 Issue 1, pp 65–84


  • Barton, Simon. A History of Spain (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Beck, Earl Ray. Time of Triumph & Sorrow: Spanish Politics during the Reign of Alfonso XII, 1874-1885 (1979)
  • Ben-Ami, Shlomo. "The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera: A Political Reassessment," Journal of Contemporary History, Jan 1977, Vol. 12 Issue 1, pp 65–84 in JSTOR
  • Carr, Raymond, ed. Spain: A History (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Esdaile, Charles J. Spain in the Liberal Age: From Constitution to Civil War, 1808-1939 (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Hall, Morgan C. "Alfonso XIII and the Failure of the Liberal Monarchy in Spain, 1902-1923" Dissertation Abstracts International, 2003, Vol. 64 Issue 6, p2220-2220,
  • Payne Stanley G. "Spanish Conservatism 1834-1923," Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 13, No. 4, (Oct. 1978), pp. 765–789 in JSTOR
  • Winston, Colin M. "The Proletarian Carlist Road to Fascism: Sindicalismo Libre," Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 17, No. 4 (Oct., 1982), pp. 557–585 in JSTOR
Alfonso XIII of Spain

Alfonso XIII (17 May 1886 – 28 February 1941) was King of Spain from 1886 until the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931. Alfonso was monarch from birth as his father, Alfonso XII, had died the previous year. Alfonso's mother, Maria Christina of Austria, served as regent until he assumed full powers on his sixteenth birthday in 1902.

During Alfonso's reign Spain experienced four major problems that contributed to the end of the liberal monarchy: the lack of real political representation of broad social groups; the poor situation of the popular classes, especially peasants; problems arising from the Rif War; Catalan nationalism. This political and social turbulence that began with the Spanish–American War prevented the turnaround parties from establishing a true liberal democracy, which led to the establishment of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. With the political failure of the dictatorship, Alfonso impelled a return to the democratic normality with the intention of regenerating the regime. Nevertheless, it was abandoned by all political classes, as they felt betrayed by the king's support of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

He left Spain voluntarily after the municipal elections of April 1931, which were taken as a plebiscite on abolishing the monarchy.

Alfonso XII of Spain

Alfonso XII (Alfonso Francisco de Asís Fernando Pío Juan María de la Concepción Gregorio Pelayo; 28 November 1857 – 25 November 1885) was King of Spain, reigning from 1874 to 1885. After a revolution deposed his mother Isabella II from the throne in 1868, Alfonso studied in Austria and France. His mother abdicated in his favour in 1870, and he returned to Spain as king in 1874 following a military coup against the First Republic. Alfonso died aged 27 in 1885, and was succeeded by his unborn son, who became Alfonso XIII on his birth the following year.

To date, he is the last monarch of Spain to have died whilst on the throne.

Autonomist Republican Union Party

The Autonomist Republican Union Party (Spanish: Partido de Unión Republicana Autonomista, PURA) was a Spanish republican party based in Valencia and founded in 1907 by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.

Catalan Solidarity (1906)

Catalan Soldiarity (Catalan: Solidaritat Catalana, SC) was a coalition of political parties in Catalonia formed after the 1905 ¡Cu-Cut! incident and the approval of the 1906 Jurisdiction Act.

Centralist Republican Party

The Centralist Republican Party (Spanish: Partido Republicano Centralista, PRC) was a Spanish political party created by Nicolás Salmerón in 1886 as a split from the Progressive Republican Party.


The Ciervists (Spanish: Ciervistas), also known as the Ciervist Conservatives (Spanish: Conservadores Ciervistas, CC), were a political faction within the Liberal Conservative Party, led by Juan de la Cierva y Peñafiel, which split from the party in 1914.

The party lost relevance after Miguel Primo de Rivera's coup in 1923, though Juan de la Cierva still held high-profile positions in the last monarchist government of Juan Bautista Aznar-Cabañas in 1931.

Conservative Party (Spain)

The Liberal Conservative Party (Spanish: Partido Liberal-Conservador, PLC), simply called Conservative Party (Spanish: Partido Conservador, PC), was a Spanish political party founded in 1876 by Antonio Cánovas del Castillo.

Conservative Union (Spain)

The Conservative Union (Spanish: Unión Conservadora, UC) was a Spanish political party created in 1892 by Francisco Silvela as a split from the Liberal Conservative Party.

In 1899 it merged again into the Liberal Conservative Party.

Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera

The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera was the historical subperiod of the Bourbon Restoration in Spain comprising the dictatorial government of General Miguel Primo de Rivera extending from 1923 to 1930, during the wider reign of Alfonso XIII.

Karl Christian Friedrich Krause

Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (German: [ˈkʁaʊzə]; 6 May 1781 – 27 September 1832) was a German philosopher, born at Eisenberg, in Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. His philosophy, known as "Krausism", was very influential in Restoration Spain.

Liberal Democratic Party (Spain, 1913)

The Liberal Democratic Party (Spanish: Partido Liberal Demócrata, PLD), also known as the Liberal Democrats (Spanish: Liberal Demócratas, LD) was a political party led by Manuel García Prieto which split from the Liberal Party in 1913, shortly after the assassination of Prime Minister José Canalejas. The Liberal Democrats eventually went on to become the dominant liberal faction in the later stages of Restoration Spain.The party was disestablished in 1923 after Miguel Primo de Rivera's coup.

Liberal Party (Spain, 1880)

The Liberal Party (Spanish: Partido Liberal), originally called Liberal Fusionist Party (Spanish: Partido Liberal-Fusionista, PLF) until 1885, was a Spanish political party created in 1880 by Práxedes Mateo Sagasta. With the Conservative Party of Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, it formed a bipartite system of alternating governments (the turno system) that characterised the Spanish Restoration during the final part of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century.It combined republicans who did not accept the new law reflected in the Constitution of 1876 as well as monarchists, members of the Constitutional Party of general Francisco Serrano, of the Partido Radical of Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla, the “posibilistas” of Emilio Castelar and other military groupings.

Its political programme included achieving universal male suffrage—achieved in 1890—, liberty of religious association and the separation of powers. Although it could be classified as a dynastic party, it included at the start of the 20th century some politicians who would later be banned from the military as Republicans, such as Niceto Alcalá Zamora.

The system of political alternation characterising the Restoration began when Cánovas ceded power to Sagasta and he formed the first government of 8 February 1881, beginning the first stage of the system that would see three liberal governments (two headed by Sagasta and one by José Posada).

The second stage began when the system was institutionalized and endorsed in 1885 when both parties signed the Pact of El Pardo which established that both parties would alternate in power after the death of Alfonso XII of Spain, which was guaranteed by the caciques networks with which both parties were involved right across Spain. This pact kept out of power radical ideologies like anarchism, socialism and republicanism which could threaten the monarchic regime.

1898 saw the first split in the Liberal Party when Germán Gamazo abandoned the party, leading a breakaway group which ended up merging with the Partido Conservador. After Sagasta's death in 1903 a leadership contest occurred between Eugenio Montero Ríos and Segismundo Moret, which eventually led to José Canalejas leading the party. He tried to reform it and bring it closer to the reality of the country, but his attempts to evolve the party were cut short by his murder in 1912. That murder also reopened a leadership struggle between two new protagonists, the Conde de Romanones and Manuel García Prieto. This led the party into a deep crisis, coinciding with the disintegration of the political system in which it had played a major part. That disintegration ended in 1931 with the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and finally the monarchy of Alfonso XIII of Spain.

Maurist Party

The Maurist Party (Spanish: Partido Maurista, PM), initially known as the Maurist Conservatives (Spanish: Conservadores Mauristas, CM) or simply the Maurists (Spanish: Mauristas), was originally a political faction within the Liberal Conservative Party, led by Antonio Maura, which split from the party in 1913 after Eduardo Dato's election as Conservative leader. A loose association of Maura's supporters at first, in 1918 it officially became a political party of its own.The party lost relevance after Miguel Primo de Rivera's coup in 1923 and Maura's death in 1925. In early 1931, the Constitutional Centre party was founded by three leading maurists (César Silió, Antonio Goicoechea and the son of Antonio Maura, Gabriel) after negotiations in late 1930 in order to stablish a federation of right-wing forces between Catalan regionalists and maurists.

Progressive Republican Party (Spain)

The Progressive Republican Party (Spanish: Partido Republicano Progresista, PRP) was a Spanish political party created in 1880 by Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla.

Republican Nationalist Centre

The Nationalist Republican Center (Catalan: Centre Nacionalista Republicà, CNR) was a Catalan nationalist and liberal-republican political party in Catalonia, Spain.

Republican Union Party (Spain)

The Republican Union Party (Spanish: Partido de Unión Republicana, PUR) was a Spanish republican party founded in 1903 by Nicolás Salmerón y Alonso.

It participated in the 1903, 1905 and 1907 general elections. It was dissolved in 1910, being succeeded by the Republican Nationalist Federal Union.

Republican–Socialist Conjunction

The Republican–Socialist Conjunction (Spanish: Conjunción Republicano–Socialista, CRS) was a Spanish electoral coalition created in 1909 and lasting until 1919. It comprised different parties during its short lifespan, but it always included the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and at least several Republican members. It was disbanded in December 1919 after the PSOE left the alliance.

Sindicatos Libres

The Sindicatos Libres (Spanish for "Free Trade Unions"; Catalan: Sindicats Lliures) was a Spanish trade union born in Barcelona, Catalonia. It was established by Carlist workers, and remained active during the early interwar period (the late stages of Restoration Spain) as a counterweight to the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. The group aided employers take action against striking unionists, and was thus criticized as a "yellow union" with proto-fascist leanings; however, its regular members were in practice freely moving between right- and left-wing unionism. The Sindicatos lost momentum during the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, and eventually dissolved when the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed.

Spanish Patriotic Union

The Spanish Patriotic Union (Spanish: Unión Patriótica Española, UPE) was the political party created from above by Spanish dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, conceived as a support to his conservative dictatorship and integrating political catholicism, technocrats, and the business-owning classes. The party's power was dependent upon the power of its founder and leader, not any popular mandate. Following the dismissal of Miguel Primo de Rivera in January 1930 by King Alfonso XIII, the party was succeeded by the Unión Monárquica Nacional ("National Monarchist Union").


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