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Alphonso Xii


ALPHONSO XII. (1857-1885), first of the Kings of ALL SPAIN, became king of Spain, son of Isabella II. and Maria Fernando Francisco de Assisi, eldest son of the duke of Cadiz, was born on Nov. 28, 1857. When Queen Isabella and her husband were forced to leave Spain by the revolution of 1868, he accom panied them to Paris, and from thence he was sent to the There sianum at Vienna to continue his studies. On June 25, 187o, he was recalled to Paris, where his mother abdicated in his favour, in the presence of a number of Spanish nobles who had followed the fortunes of the exiled queen. He assumed the title of Alphonso XII.; for although no king of united Spain had previously borne the name, the Spanish monarchy was regarded as continuous with the more ancient monarchy, represented by the II kings of Leon and Castile already referred to. Shortly afterwards he proceeded to Sandhurst to continue his military studies, and while there he issued, on Dec. 1, 1874, in reply to a birthday greeting from his followers, a manifesto proclaiming himself the sole representative of the Spanish monarchy. At the end of the year, when Marshal Serrano left Madrid to take command of the northern army, General Martinez Campos entered Valencia in the king's name. Thereupon the president of the council resigned, and the power was transferred to the king's plenipotentiary and adviser, Canovas del Castillo. In 1876 a vigorous campaign against the Carlists, in which the young king took part, resulted in the defeat of Don Carlos and his abandonment of the struggle. Early in 1878 Alphonso married his cousin, Princess Maria de las Mercedes, daughter of the duc de Montpensier, but she died within six months of her marriage. Towards the end of the same- year a young workman of Tarragona, Oliva Marcousi, fired at the king in Madrid. On Nov. 29, 1879, he married Maria Christina, daughter of the archduke Charles Ferdinand. During the honey moon a pastrycook named Otero fired at the young sovereigns as they were driving in Madrid. The children of this marriage were Maria de las Mercedes, titular queen from the death of her father until the birth of her brother, born on Sept. 11, 188o, married on Feb. 14, 1901, to Prince Carlos of Bourbon, died on Oct. 17, 1904; Maria Teresa, born on Nov. 12, 1882, married to Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria on Jan. 12, 1906; and Alphonso. In 1881 the king refused to sanction the law by which the min isters were to remain in office for a fixed term of 18 months, and upon the consequent resignation of Canovas del Castillo, he summoned Sagasta, the Liberal leader, to form a cabinet. Alphonso died of phthisis on Nov. 24, 1885. Coming to the throne at such an early age, he had served no apprenticeship in the art of ruling, but he possessed great natural tact and a sound judgment ripened by the trials of exile. In his short reign peace was estab lished both at home and abroad, the finances were well regulated, and the various administrative services were placed on a basis that afterwards enabled Spain to pass through the disastrous war with the United States without even the threat of a revolution. ALPHONSO XIII. ), king of Spain, was born in Madrid, May 17 1886, the posthumous son of Alphonso XII. Be longing to the House of Bourbon-Habsburg, he was baptized as Leon Fernando Maria Jaime Isidoro Pascual Antonio. Born a king, he was proclaimed at birth sovereign under the regency of his mother. Great care was taken to remedy the delicacy of his physique, with the result that in his 16th year he was hale and vigorous. His education was not neglected. He mastered thor oughly English, French and German and acquired a fair know ledge of history and the elements of agriculture.

On coming of age in 1902 Alphonso XIII. endeavoured to get into touch with his subjects in various provinces of his realm, entered into personal relations with the representatives of science, art, and labour and sought everywhere to awaken enterprise and encourage ettort. In 1905 he visited Austria, Germany, England and France. One day while driving in Paris, with the president of the French republic, he narrowly escaped death from the bomb of an unknown criminal.

On May 31 1906, Alphonso married Victoria Eugenie, daughter of Princess Henry of Battenberg, and granddaughter of Queen Victoria. On the same day a bomb was thrown at their carriage by Mateo Morral, but happily neither of the sovereigns was in jured. After the birth of his eldest son Alphonso (1907-1938), who was proclaimed prince of the Asturias, the king renewed his travels in Spain, France and England, and at the close of the undecided African campaign of 1909 visited Melilla, where he familiarized himself with the scenes of the fighting. At the funeral of his murdered premier, Canale j as, Alphonso XIII. fear lessly followed the coffin on foot amid a great concourse of people. In April 1913, when returning from the ceremony of the oath to the national flag in Madrid, the king was fired at three times and again he escaped unhurt. His coolness and digni fied behaviour on this occasion won for him enthusiastic ovations, and the generosity that prompted him to commute the death sentence on his would-be assassin intensified his popularity.

In the early days Alphonso had been singled out as the innocent symbol of an odious regime, but later he was charged with being the fomentor of a shameful system of favouritism. The Melilla campaign brought home the evils of bad government alike to the listless masses, who furnished the blood and money to carry it on, and to the officers' corps, who complained that rewards and promotion were lavished on drones while those who bore the brunt of the struggle were systematically ignored ; and the monarch's popularity began to decline. By way of lessening the dissatisfaction the king, after a visit to President Poincare, announced Spain's adherence to the Franco-Anglo-Russian entente respecting Morocco (1913) and in the same year he strove to settle the Catalonian difficulty by adopting decentraliza tion and bestowing a large measure of autonomy on various prov inces for administrative purposes. But the Morocco problem seemed perennial and the concession of home rule failed to satisfy the extremists in Catalonia, who forthwith clamoured for a degree of political independence incompatible with Spanish unity and destructive of their own economic prosperity.

Then it was that Antonio Maura (q.v.), having outgrown parties and factions, emerged as one of the few genuine states men produced by Spain in modern times. His measures of reform were root-reaching, but he was thwarted by the machinations of his adversaries, the perfidy of his partisans, and his own lack of peremptory energy, and was therefore unable to enforce the restraints prescribed by the Constitution. With the failure of Maura's experiment the last flicker of hope for Spain seemed extinguished. The position of the king became increasingly diffi cult, notwithstanding his efforts to better it. At the outbreak of the Portuguese revolution his official attitude, despite his dream of an Iberian union and the temptation to realize it, was irreproachable, and during the World War, when Spain's position was superlatively difficult, the king remained scrupulously neutral and rendered immense services to the cause of humanity.

At home, he was less fortunate. The war, by depriving the Rif tribes of arms and ammunitions, had placed them at the mercy of Spain, but the parliamentarians allowed the opportunity to slip and the Moors bled the nation white (see articles, MOROCCO and SPAIN). The monarch was held partly responsible for this disaster and also for the serious abuses prevalent throughout the army and the Government. Education was almost non-existent; the army was inefficient ; the navy a fiction; justice itself was a sham and a snare, and the nation was but a shuttlecock in the hands of two parties tossed between hopeless ineptitude and in satiable greed. Discerning no prospect of redress, the officers' corps, which was the only organ of remedial action in the penin sula, drafted a reform. programme and through the intermediary of the Infantry Union summoned the Government in June 1917 to accept it without restriction or delay. The arrest of its spokes men only served to reveal the solidarity of the army while the impotence of the cabinet and the triumph of the officers dealt a blow to parliamentary government from which it has not since recovered. But before its final collapse the rulers allowed a tidal wave . of syndicalist terrorism to invade Catalonia and render normal existence impossible there.

At this conjuncture Gen. Primo de Rivera (q.v.), aided by a group of resolute comrades and trusting in the king's official acquiescence in an accomplished fact, seized the reins of power, dismissed the cabinet, proclaimed the directorate, suspended the Constitution, introduced censorship, and suppressed for the time syndicalism, separatism, and wholesale assassination. After two years' tenure of office he lost the support of some of his partisans and aroused the active hostility of many passive adversaries, while conspiracies were hatched in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, some for the purpose of assassinating the king, in June 1925, others with the object of overturning the directorate in Nov. 1925. In Sept. 1927 the king authorized Primo de Rivera to convene a consultative national assembly consisting mainly of supporters of the dictator, for the purpose of drawing up a definitive Constitution. It was announced that in the year 1930 a "real parliament" would be convoked which would accept this Constitution with suitable modifications, and that Spain would return to normal political life. The assembly of 1927 made no claim to be a parliament.

When the Republicans secured a great majority in the 1931 elec tions, Alphonso, refusing to abdicate, was outlawed. On Dec. 15, 1938, General Franco (q.v.) re-instated Alphonso as a Spanish citi zen; and a decree of April 24, 1939, restored to him the property confiscated in 1932 by the Republican government. (E. J. D. ; X.)

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