Alfons 12

Alfons 12

King of spain
Date of Birth: 28.11.1857
Country: Spain

  1. Biography of Alfonso XII of Spain
  2. Early Life and Exile
  3. Troubled Childhood
  4. Campaign for the Throne
  5. Educational Journey
  6. Return to Spain and Political Career
  7. Character and Ideals
  8. Liberal Monarch

Biography of Alfonso XII of Spain

Early Life and Exile

Alfonso XII of Spain was born on November 28, 1857, in Madrid, Spain. At the age of 11, he was sent into exile along with his mother, Queen Isabella II. In 1870, when his mother abdicated the throne in his favor, Alfonso became the pretender to the Bourbon dynasty. He was only called back to Spain in 1874, after completing his formal education at Sandhurst in England. Alfonso played a role in ending the Carlist Wars and promoting peace in the country.

Troubled Childhood

Alfonso's early childhood was marked by turmoil. He suffered from a strained relationship between his mother, Isabella II, and her husband, whom they had been living separately from for a long time. The young prince knew that his stepfather was not his biological father, which troubled him. Additionally, the numerous extramarital affairs of his mother were well-known, not only in political and court circles but also in society, leading to caricatures in the Madrid press. Despite these challenges, Alfonso showed signs of great maturity at an early age.

Campaign for the Throne

During the revolution in Spain in September 1868, a monarchist movement also emerged to support the future ascension of Prince Alfonso to the throne. Queen Isabella II was discredited as a person and as a ruler. Eventually, she announced her abdication in favor of her son on June 25, 1870, while in exile in Paris. From that moment, the movement supporting Alfonso divided. On one side were the courtiers who followed the queen into exile and dreamed of a swift restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. On the other side was Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, a prominent politician and historian, who advocated for gradually building a strong political base for the movement by attracting the support of the masses.

Educational Journey

Alfonso received his education at various European institutions and military academies outside of Spain. His exposure to different European countries and political systems played a significant role in shaping his personality. In Paris, he attended the Stanislas School, where he excelled in memory, language abilities (he quickly learned English and French), observation skills, and his love for sports. He particularly enjoyed horseback riding, fencing, and shooting. In Vienna, where he spent three years, he developed a passion for sports, theater, and music. He had a keen interest in opera, although he was not musically gifted. During his stay in Vienna, Prince Alfonso learned to speak German.

Return to Spain and Political Career

At the request of Cánovas, who intended to educate the future king in a country with constitutional traditions, Prince Alfonso was sent to England in the summer of 1874. He enrolled in the prestigious military academy at Sandhurst. This choice was made to prevent a meeting between Alfonso and Prince Louis-Napoleon, the son of Napoleon III, who was studying at the Woolwich military academy. Cánovas did not want to create the impression that Alfonso's cause was tied to the French empire, which he considered to be a thing of the past. The goal of Alfonso's education was to shape him into a soldier who would embody the entire army and put an end to the military interventions that had become a tradition since the time of Isabella II. Cánovas firmly believed that under Alfonso, the monarchy should rely on civilian power and permanently abandon pronunciamientos (military coups) as a political instrument.

Character and Ideals

Prince Alfonso was enthusiastic about his military education. At that time, he was a slim young man, of medium height, and well-built. All biographers unanimously recognize him as an eloquent and brilliant speaker. He inherited an easy-going sense of humor from his mother, although with a more ironic tone. His cheerful, open, and warm-hearted character quickly endeared him to the people. Alfonso and Cánovas developed a harmonious relationship. Despite his lack of charm, Cánovas commanded respect and admiration, qualities that attracted Prince Alfonso, who always accepted his suggestions and listened to his teachings. Cánovas closely monitored Alfonso's actions, even in his personal relationships. For his part, he was charmed by the prince from the very beginning. The influential politician from Malaga sought to introduce a monarchical regime in Spain, considering the monarchy an institution inseparably linked to the country's history. However, he also wanted the new monarchy, even if Bourbon, to be radically different from the Isabelline monarchy.

Liberal Monarch

Prince Alfonso soon declared his liberal beliefs and his desire to be a constitutional monarch. On December 1, 1874, on his seventeenth birthday, he made a declaration known as the "Sandhurst Manifesto" in response to well-wishes. The manifesto, prepared by Cánovas and other prominent figures of Alfonso's movement, was disseminated by the national and European press. In the manifesto, Prince Alfonso affirmed that, after ascending the throne, he would behave as a good Catholic while also being a man of his time and a truly liberal monarch. This combination of Catholicism and liberalism seemed contradictory to many Spaniards, as noted ironically by the novelist Benito Pérez Galdós.

Source: Spanish Kings, edited by V.L. Berneker; "Phoenix," Rostov-on-Don, 1998.