First Spanish Republic

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Flag of the Spanish First Republic

The First Spanish Republic lasted only two years, between 1873 and 1874. It had four presidents: Figueras, Pi i Margall, Nicolás Salmerón, and Emilio Castelar.

It started with the abdication as King of Spain in February 1873 of Amadeus, following the Hidalgo affair, when he had been required by the Radical government to sign a decree against the artillery officers. The 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 Captain General of Madrid, General Pavía, pronounced against the federalist government in January 1874 and called on all parties except Federalists and Carlists to form a national government. The monarchists and Republicans refused, leaving the unitary Radicals and Constitutionalists as the only group willing to govern; again a narrow political base.

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 Isabel, and were organised by Antonio Cánovas del Castillo. Brigadier Martinez Campos pronounced for Alfonso in Sagunto on 29 December 1874, and the rest of the army refused to act against his brigade. The government collapsed, leading to the end of the republic, the restoration of the monarchy, and the proclamation of Alfonso XII as king.

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