First Spanish Republic

1873 - 1874


Nigel Gooding Collection







First Spanish Republic
February 11, 1873 to December 29, 1874


The First Spanish Republic lasted two years, between 1873 and 1874, and had four presidents during this time: Estanislao Figueras (February 12, 1873 to June 11, 1873), Francisco Pi y Margall (June 11, 1873 to July 18, 1873), Nicolas Salmeron (July 18, 1873 to September 6, 1873), and Emilio Castelar y Ripoll (September 7, 1873 to January 3, 1874). The First Spanish Republic was formed immediately after the abdication of King Amadeo I of Spain on February 11, 1873 following the Hidalgo Affair, when he had been required by the radical government to sign a decree of dissolution of the artillery corps. The Frist Spanish Republic was declared by a parliamentary majority made up of Radicals, Republicans and Democrats.

The Republican leaders planned the establishment of a Federal Republic, but did not declare it immediately and instead planned a Constituent Cortes to write a federal constitution. The Radicals preferred a unitary Republic, and once the Republic had been declared the two parties turned against each other; initially the Radicals were largely driven from power, joining those who had already been driven out by the revolution of 1868 or by the Carlist War.

Subversion in the army, a series of local Cantonalist risings, instability in Barcelona, failed anti-federalist coups, calls for revolution by the International, the lack of any broad political legitimacy, and personal in-fighting among the Republican leadership all weakened the Republic. The Cortes met on January 2, 1874, with the intransigent majority refusing to listen to a last eloquent appeal that President Emilio Castelar made to their patriotism and common sense, they passed a vote of censure (disapproval). The Cortes went on wrangling for a day and night until, at daybreak on January 3, 1874, the Captain-General of Madrid, Manuel Pavia y Rodriguez, forcibly ejected the deputies, closed and dissolved the Cortes, and called on all parties except Federalists and Carlists to form a national government. Pavia turned power over to General Francisco Serrano whose task it was to form a coalition government. Emilio Castelar resigned as the last president of the First Republic on January 3, 1874.

Carlist forces managed to expand the territory under their control to the greatest extent in early 1874, though a series of defeats by the Republic's northern army in the second half of the year might have led to the end of the war had it not been for bad weather. However the other monarchists had taken the name of Alfonsists as supporters of Alfonso, the son of the former Queen Isabella II, and were organised by Antonio Canovas del Castillo. Another pronunciamento (military rebellion) finally put an end to the First Republic in the last week of December 1874, when Brigadier-General Arsenio Martinez Campos at Sagunto, "declared" Alfonso XII king of Spain; with support from Brigadeir-General Joaquin Jovellar y Soler at Valencia, General Fernando Primo de Rivera at Madrid and General Laserna at Logrono. The government collapsed, leading to the end of the Republic, the restoration of the monarchy, and the proclamation of Alfonso XII as king on December 29, 1874.



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