Carlist Wars (First, Second and Third)

The Carlist Wars Are a set of civil war conflicts that occurred throughout the nineteenth century Spain, which faced two sides of the same nationality in the Iberian Peninsula.

The belligerents, that is, the Elizabethans and the Carlists, fought battles that had as main objective the vindication of the successive rights of their respective aspirants to the throne, who had irreconcilable political differences in the Hispanic monarchy.

Carlist wars

The First Carlista War gave glimpses of the reasons for this civil war. Fernando VII, already physically disappeared in the third decade of the nineteenth century, left behind a lawsuit between his successors, who were his daughter, Isabel II, and his brother, Carlos María Isidro de Borbón.

After several fierce combats and not a few campaigns that obtained mixed results, this stage of the conflict ended up favoring the supporters of Isabel II in 1840.

Years later, the Second Carlist War took place in conditions somewhat different from the previous one. Although the final result was the same (in 1849 Isabel II's acolytes once again emerged victorious in the military), the energy of the struggle was somewhat smaller and concentrated on more select Spanish geographic settings.

In addition, battles were often reduced to minor encounters, skirmishes and uprisings that were quickly stifled by the authorities.

Finally, the Third Carlist War was also a success for the followers of Isabel II. In 1876, the troops of Carlos Maria Isidro de Borbón were finally defeated and their cause was weakened by the restoration of the Bourbons in the Spanish throne.

There was no other, except for the retreat to France, where the pretender to the Spanish Crown left his homeland never to return. From here officially the hostilities between both sides ceased.

These three Carlist Wars, although they passed in different years, were marked by the same series of motives, as well as by the brutal violence of the fighting, the socio-political tensions and the ideological divisions of the belligerents.

Similarly, the Carlist Wars sealed in various aspects the political history of Spain and that of all its citizens, regardless of their position taken in this bloody confrontation.

Causes. Ideological background. Before the wars

Ferdinand VII died in 1833 after having spent much of his reign in the midst of severe difficulties.

In life, this king saw how the Spanish Crown had lost almost all its possessions in America because of the Wars of Independence in countries like Colombia (then Nueva Granada), Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

In short, the Triennium Liberal (1820-1823) was for him a struggle against two currents that he strongly opposed: liberalism and constitutionalism.

King Ferdinand VII nevertheless restored absolutism, but he could not enjoy his political maneuver for long. When he died, his only legitimate heir to occupy the throne was not a man but a woman: his daughter Isabel, later Isabel II (hence the term Elizabethan ).

However, Isabel II (see portrait on this page) would wear the crown as long as the Salic Law did not exist, which was repealed by her father in 1832 so that she would assume the command of Spain and maintain the lineage of the Bourbons.

On the other hand, the brother of Fernando VII, Carlos Maria Isidro de Borbón (of which was coined the word Carlist ) Considered that the Salic Law should not be abolished and that therefore the reign of Elizabeth II was illegitimate.

In this way, Carlos wanted to ensure that the throne was not occupied by a woman and, above all, that with it came the liberal and constitutional reforms, which proclaimed the Constitution of Cadiz in 1812, the separation of powers and the Rights of Man .

Thus, the Spanish monarchy was divided in two slopes after the reign of Fernando VII. The first, that of the Elizabethans, was much more liberal and wanted the Crown to have a king who obeyed the laws and did not accumulate all political power.

The second, that of the Carlists, was conservative and aspired to the continuation of the absolutist tradition from Charles IV at the end of the eighteenth century, in which there is no authority or law other than that of the king himself.

The struggle, therefore, was not only between two aspirants to the throne, but between two policies of State that did not give their arm to twist. The Spanish society was divided into a pair of factions that paid homage to the one that was considered legitimate.

Thus Elizabethans arose, in favor of Isabel II, and the Carlist, who supported Carlos María Isidro de Borbón, proclaimed henceforth by his followers as Charles V of Spain (see his portrait on this page).

However, the positions between Elizabethans and Carlists also affected foreign policy, and with it the entire fate of the Carlist Wars. In the first side were the direct aid of Great Britain, Portugal and France, countries with which Spain signed a treaty of Quadruple Alliance in 1834 and thanks to which was a great amount of material and human resources with which Was able to finance the conflict in relatively relaxed economic conditions.

On the second side, however, finances were tightened. Without the blessings of the Pontifical States (they declared themselves neutral), the Carlists implored aid to the foreigner, without success.

At most there was a pronouncement by the Holy Alliance of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, but this was limited to mere formalities and no contribution could be derived from it, other than morals and diplomats. The Spaniards of Charles V, therefore, were practically isolated.

But the Carlist, although not favored in terms of resources and foreign policy, did not give up easily.

One of them was Manuel María González, a post office official who on October 3, 1833 threw the cry of Viva Carlos V! In the town of Talavera de la Reina, in Toledo. And like this feat was followed by others no less audacious and quixotic by realists convinced of the legitimacy of Carlos V.

The Elizabethans did not ignore these events that they classified as threatening. They severely punished their opponents, like Manuel María González, who was arrested and shot.

But before the repression came the counterattack of the Carlist, who in a short time went from being rebels ill equipped with weapons to a regular army that defended political principles of the Spanish monarchy and, above all, an authority that guarded them.

One by one were added the areas of Spain that joined the Carlist. Álava, Vizcaya, Navarra, Guipúzcoa and La Rioja, to the north of the Iberian Peninsula, lit the gunpowder of the insurrection.

Shortly after joined some parts of Aragon and Valencia, as well as Catalonia, the Basque Country and El Maestrazgo, a region located in the provinces of Teruel and Castellón. The Elizabethans answered fire with fire and began three wars that disputed the same throne.

First Carlist War (1833-1840)

Carlist Wars (First, Second and Third)

Also known as the Seven Years' War, the First Carlist War was the longest of all. It happened mainly in Navarre, the Basque Country, the North of Catalonia and in El Maestrazgo.

The initial conditions of the belligerents are totally unequal: while the Elizabethans were better equipped and prepared for long-term conflict, the Carlists found themselves at a disadvantage, but had better knowledge of the terrain.

It was not until the treaty with Lord Eliot, in April 1835, when hostilities reduced their atrocities, which were committed in both factions.

The most humane treatment of the prisoners meant a breakthrough in diplomacy, although this did not mean that they would end their bellicose spirit, developed in the campaigns of the North, highlighted by their ferocity. Military differences between the two sides implied inherent tactical and strategic difficulties.

At this point, Colonel Tomas de Zumalacarregui was the most prominent figure of the Carlist, who with him made remarkable progress in their fighting. Alegria, Améscoas, Villafranca, Viana, Vergara, Ochandiano, Tolosa, Durango and Éibar were sites in which the Elizabethans knew the defeat.

Therefore, the battles at first remained favorable to the cause of Charles V, who believed it necessary to go a step further and further develop the initiative in the offensive of his troops.

The Court of Carlos V resided in Estella, but this aspirant to the throne seemed to him that this place was inadequate to live, hence he thought of moving to Bilbao.

Charles V, therefore, ordered Zumalacárregui (see painting on this page) to besiege the city in 1835, but in the middle of the attack the colonel was seriously wounded and later died in Cegama. In this way, the Carlists lost their greatest officer and found no one else to rival him in their exploits.

After this defeat, the army of Carlos V marched in the Real Expedition, because it was the same pretender to the Crown that marched to the head of its men. In this campaign of 1837, Carlos V passed through Estella (his starting point), Aragon and Catalonia, to the capital of the country, ie Madrid.

The fighting caused the Elizabethans to retreat to the gates of the city, but they had time to regroup, defend the city and expel the Carlist.

That civil war found its final years from 1838, when Rafael Maroto realized that he was fighting a war that could not win.

Maroto's disagreements with the Carlist Court, coupled with the death of Zumalacarregui and the defeat of Carlos V in Madrid, made him desist from fighting for a lost cause and for that reason decided to sign with the Elizabethan official Baldomero Espartero an agreement that Made official in August of 1839, in Vergara.

The so-called Embrace of Vergara was the diplomatic end of the war, but the First Carlist War did not end until July 1840, when the last Carlist troops crossed the border with France after their failed resistance in El Maestrazgo and in Catalonia.

After this, the crossfire ceased, but not so the intentions to put an end to the discord that had bloody Spain for almost a decade of fruitless combat for the Carlist.

Second Carlist War (1846-1849)

In 1845, Carlos V wanted a diplomatic exit through his abdication and the realization of a royal marriage between his son Carlos Luis, Count of Montemolín (named Carlos VI), and Isabel II.

But the wedding could not be possible, so a year later the conflict erupted again. Thus began the Second Carlist War, also called War of the Matiners ("War of the early birds", in Catalan).

This war, in particular, had no more significance than the previous one. In spite of the attempts of Ramón Cabrera and Griñó (see his portrait in the previous page), the carlistas could not obtain that the combats went beyond the guerrilla activity.

The Elizabethans, led by men like Manuel Gutierrez de la Concha, soon defeated their enemies in April 1849, who fell into disrepute to incorporate Republicans and Progressives in their ranks absolutists.

Third Carlist War (1872-1876)

After the failed pronouncement of San Carlos de la Rapida in April 1860, the Carlists planned a new way of putting Charles V's successor on the throne years later.

On this occasion, Charles VII directed his troops against the Elizabethans, and although he was able to defeat them several times, he finally ended in defeat. By 1874, the Third Carlist War gave signs of improvement, but not to the satisfaction of Charles VII.

Added to the disastrous military campaigns of the Carlists, the Restoration crowned to 1874 a new monarch, Alfonso XII, son of Isabel II and therefore legitimate son who fulfilled with the Salic Law so defended by the Carlists.

Ramón Cabrera, one of them, recognized him as king, which meant, together with the military defeats, the definitive weakening of Carlism, symbolized by the"Return!"Of Carlos VII pronounced in February 1876, when he left for France, Bridge of Arnegui.


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