First Carlist War

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First Carlist War

Post  msistarted on Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:24 am

The First Carlist War was a civil war in Spain from 1833 to 1839.

* 1 Historical background
* 2 Basque reasons for Carlist uprising
* 3 The contenders
* 4 The combatants
* 5 The war in the Northern Front
* 6 The war in the Southern Front
* 7 The end of the war
* 8 Battles of the First Carlist War (Chronology)
* 9 References
* 10 External links

[edit] Historical background

At the beginning of the 18th century, Philip V, the first Bourbon king of Spain, promulgated the Salic Law, which declared illegal the inheritance of the Spanish crown by women. His purpose was to thwart the Habsburgs' regaining the throne by way of the female dynastic line.

A century later, King Ferdinand VII of Spain had no male descendant, but only two daughters, Isabella (later known as Isabella II of Spain) and Luisa Fernanda. So he promulgated the Pragmatic Sanction, to allow Isabella to become Queen after his death.
The Infante Carlos, the king's brother, would have normally become king without the Pragmática Sanción. He and his followers, such as Secretary of Justice Francisco Tadeo Calomarde, pressed Ferdinand to change his mind. But the ill Ferdinand kept his decision and when he died, 29 September 1833, Isabella became the legitimate queen. As she was only a child, a regent was needed: her mother, Queen Consort Maria Christina.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the political situation in Spain was extremely problematic. During the war of independence against Napoleon, the Cortes met in Cádiz (1812) and elaborated the first Spanish constitution, possibly the most modern and most liberal in the world. After the war, when Ferdinand VII returned to Spain, he annulled the constitution in the Manifest of Valencia, and thus became an absolute king, governing by decrees and restoring the Spanish Inquisition, abolished by Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon.

Towards the end of his life, Ferdinand made some concessions to the liberals, giving them hopes of a liberal rule. But there was a strong absolutist party which did not want to lose its position. Its members knew that Maria Christina and Isabella would make liberal reforms, so they looked for another candidate for the throne; and their natural choice, with the background of the Salic Law, was Ferdinand's brother Carlos. One historian has written that “the first Carlist war was fought not so much on the basis of the legal claim of Don Carlos, but because a passionate, dedicated section of the Spanish people favored a return to a kind of absolute monarchy that they felt would protect their individual freedoms (fueros), their regional individuality and their religious conservatism.”[1]

A vivid summary of the war describes it as follows: "The Christinos and Carlists thirsted for each other’s blood, with all the fierce ardour of civil strife, animated by the memory of years of mutual insult, cruelty, and wrong. Brother against brother – father against son – best friend turned to bitterest foe – priests against their flocks – kindred against kindred."[2]

The autonomy of Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia had been abolished in the 18th century by the Nueva Planta Decrees that created a centralised Spanish state. Navarre, however, retained its self-governing status until 1833. The resentment against the loss of autonomy was considerably strong.
[edit] Basque reasons for Carlist uprising
Zones under Carlist military control (dark green) and areas where they found popular support (light green)

Meanwhile, there was a continued movement to suppress the Basque Fueros and to move the customs borders to the Pyrenees. Since the 18th century a new emergent class had an interest in weakening the powerful Basque nobles and their influence and commerce, including that extending throughout the world with the help of the Jesuit order.

The newly appointed Spanish courtiers supported some of the great powers against the Basques at least since the abolition of the Jesuit order and the Godoy regime. First they sided with the French Bourbons to suppress the Jesuits, with the formidable changes in America and the subsequent loss of Spanish influence. Then Godoy sided with the English against the Basques in the War of the Pyrenees of 1793 and immediately afterwards with the French of Napoleon also against the Basques. The English interest was to destroy, for as long as possible, Spanish commercial routes and power, which was mainly sustained by the Basque ports, commercial navy and companies (Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas). The Spaniards only helped in such a destructive effort, bringing the Spanish empire to total annihilation.

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