King of spain
Date of Birth: 30.05.1845
Country: Spain

  1. Biography of Amadeo I of Spain
  2. The Revolutionary Origins of the Monarchy
  3. The Search for a King
  4. The Challenges Faced by Amadeo I

Biography of Amadeo I of Spain

Amadeo I of Spain was the King of Spain from 1870 to 1873. He was elected to the Spanish throne by the Spanish Cortes on November 16, 1870, following the exile of Isabella II in 1868. His reign took place during a period of intense political crisis, with republican uprisings, struggles between different monarchist groups, the Carlist War that began in 1872, and an assassination attempt on Amadeo in 1872. In light of these circumstances, Amadeo abdicated the throne on February 11, 1873.

The Revolutionary Origins of the Monarchy

Amadeo I's monarchy had revolutionary origins, with its backstory beginning with the "Glorious Revolution" of 1868. A severe government crisis in 1863 had worsened the mood in the country, and the consequences of the economic crisis in 1866 had completely undermined the prestige of the government and the dynasty. Opposition leaders, mainly in exile in Portugal, England, Belgium, and Switzerland, awaited a signal for action and believed their time had come. In the Ostend Pact of August 16, 1866, approximately fifty representatives of progressives and democrats, including prominent military figures, formed a conspiracy. Their motto became "Abajo lo existente" (Down with the existing!). When the anti-dynastic movement gained support from a large portion of the Liberal Union, after the death of Leopoldo O'Donnell on November 5, 1867, almost all layers of the bourgeoisie joined the revolution. The revolution began with the Cadiz Pronunciamiento on September 17, 1868. The first major clash between the rebels and government troops at the bridge over the Guadalquivir River near Alcolea proved decisive. The revolution quickly triumphed, and revolutionary committees were organized throughout the country. On October 8, the Provisional Government was formed under the chairmanship of the victor of Alcolea and the leader of the Unionist Party, General Francisco Serrano. The three-party union of liberals, unionists, and monarchist democrats, united by their dual interest in constitutionalizing their acquired power and suppressing restorationist and republican forces, did not waste time. The division of government resources among the leading representatives of the "national coalition," as the pact of the victors soon began to be called, allowed for some balance and personal ambitions.

The Search for a King

The search for a candidate for the throne became extremely difficult, as each search had to take into account the continuously evolving domestic political situation and the state of relations between the major European powers. Most revolutionary leaders insisted on a change of dynasty. For them, the twelve-year-old Prince of Asturias or the Duke of Montpensier from the Orleans house, who had been married to Isabella II's younger sister since 1832, could not be considered, let alone Don Carlos, who was seen as an enemy of the nation and the Carlist pretender. However, there were some Alphonsists and Montpensists among the members of the government coalition who, out of fear of a republic, reluctantly followed the majority line, expressed by General Juan Prim, who had been the chairman of the Progressive Party since 1864 and the "chief leader" of the September Revolution, in his famous response to the three "jamas" (nevers): "Never be on the throne of the Bourbons, Don Carlos, and Montpensier!" The candidates who seemed suitable based on national and international criteria and worthy of Spanish grandeur were primarily the princes of the House of Savoy, which had been considered dynastic since 1713 and could replace the Bourbons in this case. Another favorite in the early stages was the fifty-three-year-old former king and regent of Portugal, Ferdinand (II) Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who retired after the coming of age of Peter V in 1855. The marriage of his daughter Antonia to Prince Leopold of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty in 1861 led to the consideration of the "Hohenzollern candidacy" during the search for a king, which triggered the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.

The Challenges Faced by Amadeo I

Although the anti-Bourbon opposition had been testing the waters since the mid-1860s in Turin and Lisbon, it was only possible to resolve the question of the throne after numerous rejections from potential candidates in the midst of the Franco-Prussian conflict, as Spanish requests found no joyful reception anywhere. And partly, this was due to personal reasons. The end of Otto of Bavaria's reign in Greece (1862) and the ill-fated empire of Maximilian of Austria in Mexico (1867) were still fresh in people's memories, creating a certain intimidating effect. However, the decisive factor was the unstable and variable internal situation in Spain itself, constantly reminding everyone of the shaky ground on which the coalition of the "Sixty-eighters" stood. On the far right of the political spectrum, the Carlists in the Basque Country, Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia resumed their activities, viewing the unresolved issue of the king as an opportunity to establish their vision of traditional Christian monarchy through a new military campaign. On the left, the Republicans became reinvigorated: inspired by the revolution and the liberal Constitution, they fought against the "democratic monarchy" from the very beginning. They not only made powerful speeches in parliament, where they constituted about one-fifth of the deputies, but also engaged in propaganda work through numerous newspapers and political clubs. Soon after the September Revolution, the Republican movement, led by Emilio Castelar, Francisco Pi y Margall, and Estanislao Figueras, firmly established itself in the port cities of the Mediterranean coast and in the villages of Andalusia, with the most influence often held by left-radical groups.

The liberal atmosphere of the September Revolution also spread socialist ideology and organizations, primarily among the growing industrial and agricultural proletariat of Catalonia and Andalusia since the mid-19th century. Even during Amadeo I's reign, the Spanish labor movement, after the establishment of the Spanish section of the First International in 1868, predominantly embraced an anarchist direction. The tangled party struggle, the social tension arising from the disruption of the traditional economic structure, and the colonial conflict surrounding the abolition of slavery and privileges in Cuba and Puerto Rico added to the already complicated situation. The September Revolution triggered uprisings in Spain's overseas territories, and the situation in Cuba even escalated into a full-scale civil war. However, the state that had to deal with all these problems was almost powerless, paralyzed by a significant budget deficit and a growing national debt that increased exponentially each year. With such a dowry, the position of Spanish king hardly seemed desirable. Thus, the brief history of Amadeo I's reign, spanning three Cortes, seven cabinets, and over a hundred ministerial changes, reflects not only the failures of personal ambitious vanity but also the immaturity of Spanish society on its long journey to modernity.

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