THE NEW MONARCHY
PREPARING FOR THE NATIONAL PASTIME AT MADRID.
 PEACE at almost any price was welcome to distracted, exhausted Spain. It is conceivable that if
the republic had been declared again, it would have been accepted. But the young Bourbon
on the throne was liked by nearly every one, and no sovereign could have asked. for
greater loyalty than was manifested for the new ruler.
Alfonso XII. was a youth of good parts. He had been carefully educated under the best of
instructors, though his health was never rugged, and he was inclined to consumption. The
man who had most to do with shaping his views and principles was Don Antonio Canovas del
Castillo, who urged liberal ideas in place of the clerical and absolutist principles of
Isabella. Canovas kept in close touch with Madrid and directed the policy of the friends
of Alfonso. It was he who persuaded the Spanish nobility to send an address to the Prince
on his birthday, and it was he who wrote the reply. Naturally, as soon as Alfonso became
King, he made Canovas his prime minister. Bear in mind that he was only seventeen years
old and had gained the crown without intriguing for it. It was not the Cortes that
proclaimed him King, but the army.
He won the respect of his advisers by the maturity of his views, and by their vigorous
sense and wisdom. He was handsome, cultured, and at the time seemed to be in sound health,
though the seeds of consumption were in his system and destined soon to reap their sad
 Canovas set out to mould a new party from which the absolutists and clericals were
excluded, and he aimed to maintain universal suffrage, but opposition in his cabinet
caused him to resign, though his influence with the King was never weakened. He was soon
in power again, and his second term saw the close of the Carlist war. While making
Catholicism the religion of the state, he permitted toleration to all faiths, and thus
offended the powerful ultramontane party, but his relations with the Pope remained
THE YOUNG KING ALFONSO XII ENTERING MADRID.
Peace added greatly to the prosperity of Spain, whose natural wealth and richness of soil
warranted the saying that you had only to tickle the earth to make her laugh a harvest.
The value of her minerals is boundless, and could the inhabitants be taught to war no
more, and to be honest, industrious, and self-respecting, Spain could not fail to rise to
something of its old-time greatness. The fatal defect, however, is in the Spanish
character itself. This has been proved so many times in the events described that it is
useless to dwell upon it.
Alfonso having attained the age of twenty, the Cortes began discussing the question of his
marriage, but he informed the ministers that he had already selected a wife in Maria de
las Mercedes, the second daughter of the Duke of Montpensier, and of his aunt Luisa
Fernanda de Bourbon. She was two years younger than himself, and his love for the girl
began when he was a boy receiving his education in France, where he often met her. The
ministers saw many advantages to be gained by the choice of another wife, and urged
Alfonso to give first place to such considerations, but he was immovable.
"Talk to me of no one else," was the reply of Alfonso to the protests of his ministers;
"argument and words are wasted: Mercedes and none other shall be my wife."
It may be believed that those stern, plotting, far-seeing ministers recalled their own
youthful days, sighed, and liked the King all the better for his determination that his
hand should go where his heart had already gone.
Since Mercedes was just as devoted to the King, we have the delightful and rare picture of
a genuine love match between a royal couple. Although Spanish etiquette would not permit
them to exchange a word in private, there was no necessity for any repetition of vows and
pledges. All the world loves a lover, and Spain became interested in the two who showed
themselves very human, very affectionate, and wholly trustful of each other. Mercedes was
beautiful and with so sweet and amiable a nature that she won friends wherever she went.
All wished them well.
And so they were married in Madrid, January 23, 1878, and the city was turned upside down
with feasting and rejoicing. The wedding was grand and impressive, as all such weddings
are. Among the almost numberless presents
 were splendid souvenirs from the Emperor of Morocco, the Prince of Wales, and Queen
Victoria. All that could contribute to the beauty, the joy, and the happiness of the
occasion was lavishly bestowed.
It is touching to think of the young couple, loving, trustful, and with a future radiant
in promise, with everything to fill them with the sweetest joy that can come to the human
heart. But a few months later, Mercedes fell ill and she breathed her last June 25, 1878.
All sympathized with the afflicted husband, who when bowed by his grief, was compelled to
marry again, for Spain could never be satisfied until an heir or heiress was born to the
throne. One of the ladies who had formerly been urged upon Alfonso was now chosen in the
person of the Archduchess Maria Christina, niece of Francis Joseph, the Emperor of
Austria. The couple were married by proxy in the summer of 1879, so that when she entered
the kingdom it was as queen. The first child, the Princess of Asturias, Maria de las
Mercedes, was born in 1880, and the Infanta Maria Theresa in 1882. Ex-Queen Isabella was
allowed to come quietly back to Spain, but she knew better than to attempt to take any
part in politics, for as soon as she did so, she would have been sent away once more.
Several causes united to add to the popularity of Alfonso, the greatest of which was the
fact that he was Spanish-born. No other people hates foreigners more bitterly, and we have
learned that much of the fighting and bloodshed was caused by this implacable prejudice.
When cholera desolated the southern part of the kingdom, Alfonso was indefatigable in
relieving the sufferers. He exposed himself unselfishly, and left nothing undone that
could smooth the pillows of the afflicted, provide asylums for the orphans and food for
It did not decrease his popularity when he gave proof that his marriage vows sat lightly
upon him. He was involved in so many scandals that once the Queen gathered her two little
daughters, and indignantly went to her father; but Alfonso promptly followed, and, by
denying many things and promising to behave himself in the future, persuaded her to
return, after which they lived happily.
THE BIRTH OF ALFONSO XIII, ANNOUNCED TO THE WAITING STATESMEN.
But consumption had marked him for its own, and he sank rapidly until November 25, 1885,
when he passed away. His death left his widow the most lonely of women, for she was no
longer a queen and was a foreigner. So pitiful indeed was her situation that the sympathy
of the nation was stirred in her behalf, and she was chosen Queen Regent during the
minority of her elder daughter. Canovas was leader of the Conservative party and prime
minister when Alfonso died; but his administration was unpopular, and with a nobility that
did him credit, he advised Christina to form a
 Cabinet with Sagasta, the Liberal leader, at the head. This wise advice was followed.
On May 17, 1886, more than five months after the death of his father, a son was born to
the Queen Regent. From the moment of his birth, he was King of Spain, as Alfonso XIII.,
with his mother still Queen Regent. Since that hour, all official documents have been put
forth in his name. The Queen has shown at all times intelligence, amiability, and a
sincere desire to administer the affairs of her turbulent kingdom for the best interests
of all. Her trials and difficulties have been of the severest nature and often have
crushed her to the earth, as when in 1898 she saw that war with the United States over
Cuba could not be averted. Before the little King was a year old, a mutiny was attempted
by General Villacampa, whose purpose was wholly selfish, since he hoped that through the
prominence thus given him, he would be able to gain power and honors. The conspiracy was
discovered and crushed before the least harm was done, the offenders receiving no more
punishment than exile.
The political parties in Spain were once described by Canovas as consisting of the extreme
irreconcilables,—the Carlists in the rural districts, the Socialists and advanced
Republicans in the large cities. Between these poles is the great mass of the nation, who
remain calm and resigned, "whether Sagasta or I direct the affairs of the monarchy. It is
not the mode of government, but the manners and customs of a country that influence the
elections. Abroad, people do not understand the necessary and preponderating role which
the royal prerogative plays with us."
As the years passed and political storms gathered, the respect for the Queen Regent was
deepened. John Foreman, in the National Review, paid her this warm compliment:
"Among all the confusion of Spanish politics, the whirlwind of rejoicing, lamentation,
intrigue, religion, corruption, collective patriotism, and individual grabbing, there is
one noble figure which prominently stands out in vivid contrast, a model of virtue and
enviable tact. Her Majesty, the Queen Regent, notwithstanding her foreign birth, knows
exactly how to do the right thing at the right moment with exquisite taste. She has won by
her charitableness the adoration of the masses; by her gracious sympathy the love of the
middle classes; and by her clear comprehension of all that is traditionally Spanish, the
esteem and admiration of the aristocracy."
It would be uninteresting to follow the ministerial changes that have taken place in Spain
during the regency of Christina. Her struggle from the first has been that of checking the
dry rot of the kingdom, and, though it may have been stayed at times, there is no
evidence, so far as human wisdom can see, of the country's having regained even a small
part of the greatness that once
 made her the proudest nation in the world. She passed the vigor of youth in the
tempestuous centuries that are gone, and must now be content to trail behind those who
long since left her far to the rear.
One of those hideous crimes, which now and then horrify democracies like our own as well
as monarchies, was perpetrated on the 8th of August, 1897. Senor Canovas de Castillo,
prime minister of Spain, had gone to the baths of a health resort in the north, and was
sitting in a public gallery reading a newspaper, when an assassin hastily approached and
quickly fired three shots from his revolver, all of which took effect, causing the death
of the premier within an hour. The assassin defiantly declared that he was a member of a
band of anarchists who had selected him as the executioner of Canovas, in revenge for the
punishment of some of their number for having thrown a bomb into a religious procession at
Barcelona, an act by which several innocent persons had been maimed and killed.
Through all these years there had been ever-growing trouble in Cuba, the last remaining of
Spain's American colonies. The island was governed with cruel tyranny, and its people
revolted. Milder generals having failed to crush the rebellion, the notorious General
Weyler was sent to Cuba, where his cruelties roused the United States to protest. The
Spanish-American war followed in 1898. Spain made great efforts but the fleets which she
gathered were badly manned, badly armed, and badly provisioned. They were completely
defeated, and the prostrate country had no choice but to surrender the last remnants of
her once mighty colonial empire.
THE SPANISH FLEET READY TO SAIL AGAINST THE UNITED STATES IN 1898.
It is never absolutely quiet in Spain, though there has been nothing lately in the nature
of a general upheaval. In the latter part of October, 1900, a Carlist force attacked a
garrison at Badalona, near Barcelona, but was repulsed and a number of arrests followed.
Other towns near the French border were assailed, but the Carlists were so few in number
that they were defeated, pursued, and a good many arrests made. The government closed all
Carlist clubs and organs, and some Catholic ones, and constitutional guarantees were
suspended in a resolute effort to stamp out every vestige of Carlism. This course was so
successful that two weeks later the government announced that there was not a single armed
Carlist in Spain. It was afterward stated that the outbreak was a premature uprising,
planned for a fortnight later. When the news reached Don Carlos in Venice, he declared
that the movement was entirely without his knowledge and in violation of his positive
About this time it was announced that a convention had been signed in Washington in which
Cagayan and Sibutu, the only islands in Oceania remaining in the possession of Spain, were
ceded by her to the United States for $100, 000.
 The Infanta Maria, sister of the King and better known as Mercedes, Princess of the
Asturias, was married to Prince Charles of Bourbon, on February 14, 1901. The bridegroom
is the son of the Count of Caserta, who fought hard against Alfonso XII. in the Carlist
war. This caused him to be regarded as still an enemy of Spain. Should Alfonso XIII. die,
without issue, the Princess of the Asturias, wife of Caserta's son, would become the Queen
of Spain. It required a special dispensation of the Queen Regent to allow this famous
Carlist to enter the kingdom that he might attend the wedding, which it is said was
favored by the Pope, and probably by the Queen Regent, who hoped that it would aid in
closing the breach between the two houses of Bourbon and check future Carlist outbreaks.
The lower classes took the opposite view of the matter. There had been so many outbreaks
in Madrid and the provinces, that more than one prophecy was made of a coming revolution.
Mobs and riots followed on the heels of one another, monasteries were attacked, and
Jesuits stoned and maltreated in the streets. These disturbances became so serious that to
prevent interference with the royal wedding, General Weyler declared martial law in the
city the day before the ceremony. When the Count of Caserta was recognized, he was hissed,
and, but for the powerful guard, would have suffered violence. There was no disturbance,
however, at the wedding, which was quietly celebrated in the chapel of the Royal Palace, a
civil ceremony having preceded the religious one.
No intelligent, idea can be gained of the confused condition of modern Spain, without an
explanation of the "Catalans," as they are termed. The province of Catalonia occupies the
northeastern part of the kingdom, with France on the north and the Mediterranean on the
east and southeast. It was one of the earliest and last of the Roman provinces, having
been invaded and captured by the Alans, who were followed by the Goths, from which fact
came its name of Gothalonia, or Catalonia. The southern part fell into the possession of
the Arabs in the eighth century, and when Spain was conquered by Charlemagne, as far as
the Ebro, in 788, Catalonia was the central portion of the Spanish mark, governed by
French counts who resided at Barcelona, and soon made themselves independent of France. It
was joined to Aragon in 1137, and, as we know, the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella in
1469 united both with Castile. Thus it became a part of the Spanish monarchy, but it has
never been a peaceable one. Not only has it been the bulwark of the Carlist uprisings, but
it has been the scene of violent strikes and labor disturbances as late as the opening
years of the present century. It is the principal manufacturing province of the kingdom,
and is often called the "Lancashire of Spain." The inhabitants are neither French nor
Spaniards, being distinct
 from both nations in language, costume, and habits. They have their own coins, weights,
and measures, and far surpass the real Spaniards in energy, industry, and sturdy honesty.
THE CORONATION OF ALFONSO XIII.
The last statement gives the key to the chronic unrest, dissatisfaction, and seething
rebellion against Andalusia and Madrid. In Catalonia every one, no matter whether a
Conservative, Liberal, Republican, or Socialist, is a Catalan. He despises the indolent,
cruel, corrupt Spaniard of the south; he feels detestation for the rotten system of
government; his confidence in his own superiority is absolute, and the steady growth of
the northern towns has bred a strong sentiment of secession. The Catalan is like a
vigorous man tied to a corpse. He is patriotically anxious to save his language, his
purse, his independent spirit, and his manhood from the disease with which the whole body
politic is festering. The breach between the two sections steadily widens, and how the
momentous question is to be solved awaits the near future.
It has been shown that the present King of Spain was a posthumous child, and that, during
his minority, the regency was exercised by his mother, the Archduchess Maria Christina of
Austria. As has been said, the moment the lad was born he was sovereign of the kingdom
which was governed in his name by his mother from the hour of his birth. No parent could
have watched over the education of her child more lovingly than the Queen Regent. Never
for one minute did she lose sight of her great duty of educating her son for the grave
responsibilities of kingship. Sorrow, humiliation, cruel vicissitudes, and anguish have
made up much of her life, but she has never flinched in her duty to her child.
The boy was born with a weakly constitution. He is pale, narrow-chested, and with none of
the lusty vigor of youth. He seems to have inherited a consumptive tendency from his
father, and when four years old he was seized with an illness from which no one believed
he could recover. Yet it is the sickly person who often stands such attacks better than
the one of robust frame. Everything that a loving intelligence can do has been done to
strengthen his frame and improve his health. He learned to become an excellent swimmer and
a fine horseman, and is an adept at many sports. None the less, the narrow chest, the high
forehead, the two bright eyes, the sensitive nerves and consumptive tendency remain, with
the probability that the youngest sovereign at present in Europe will not occupy the
throne during many years. That throne is tottering, and the grandeur and vastness of the
royal palaces emphasize the contrast between the magnificence of the empire that once
overshadowed all Europe and the decrepit kingdom of to-day.
Alfonso XIII, born a king, attained his legal majority on May 17, 1902. He left the Royal
Palace on the forenoon of that day, for the palace of the
 Cortes, to take the coronation oath, the Cortes being in session. The procession had
hardly started when a man, dressed like a workman, moved spryly forward from the crowd,
and before any one could interpose, opened the door of the royal carriage and threw a
paper packet at the feet of the young King, who, without the least sign of agitation,
kicked it out and it fell inert to the ground. The guard instantly attacked the man, who
received several sabre cuts on the head and was stunned by a number of blows from the
halberdiers. Then, white and trembling, he was seized and hustled off to the Corps de
Garde station. But for the guard, he would have been lynched by the enraged crowd. The
excitement passed off when it was seen that no harm had been done, and the King's carriage
was moving forward with the same smooth deliberate pace as before. Subsequent
investigation showed that the young man was a crazy waiter from Murcia, and the package
flung at the sovereign's feet contained, instead of a death-dealing bomb, a request for
the hand in marriage of the Infanta Maria Teresa.
The incident increased the vigilance of the police, and some time later four men were
arrested among the swarm near the Cortes. They were acting suspiciously and it was stated
that each was armed with dynamite cartridges with detonators attached, eleven of such
deadly missiles being found on the four.
The wildest enthusiasm was shown by the people along the route and the King was obliged
continually to thrust his head and arms out of the window and acknowledge the applause of
his subjects. His naturally pale face was flushed, and it was plain that he was deeply
touched by these manifestations of loyalty. Regardless of etiquette, which is nowhere so
rigid as in the Spanish court, the members of the Cortes, as he entered, sprang to their
feet and broke out into cries of "Long live the King!" The cheering continued for fully
ten minutes, during which Alfonso stood calm and cool, unmoved by the excitement which
swayed everyone else. As soon as he could be heard, he called out in a clear, firm voice,
"Sit down!" Then in the same distinct tones, he pronounced the oath:
"I swear by God upon these holy relics to keep the Constitution and the laws. If I do so,
may God reward me. If I fail, may He hold me to account."
This ceremony was witnessed by the foreign princes, the various special ambassadors and
the diplomats accredited to Spain, after which all passed to the church, where the
coronation services ended. Two cardinals and thirty bishops received the young King on his
entrance to the Church of St. Francis, and an impressive Te Deum was sung, in the presence
of an immense and aristocratic throng. All the men wore brilliant uniforms, the women
white mantillas, and the church was ablaze with light. The Queen mother conferred
 upon the special envoys to the coronation the Order of the Grand Cross of Carlos III., and
upon President Loubet of France the Order of the Golden Fleece. She wrote a letter to
Prime Minister Sagasta thanking the people for their loyalty during her regency.
The general belief is that so long as Alfonso lives he will be King, for it cannot be
denied that he is popular among the people. He has, however, lost the help of his wise and
patriotic minister, Sagasta, who resigned the premiership in December, 1902, and died in
January, 1903. He was succeeded in office by his friend Senor Silvela, but behind him
looms another menacing form, the dreaded Marquis of Teneriffe, the "Butcher of Cuba,"
General Weyler. He was made Minister of War to placate him; but many believe that it will
not be long before he heads a Republican revolution that will not end until he is placed
upon the throne of the distracted and turbulent kingdom.
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