Reino de España
|Historical era||19th century|
|ISO 3166 code||ES|
The Trienio Liberal (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtɾjenjo liβeˈɾal] , "Liberal Triennium") is a period of three years in the modern history of Spain between 1820 and 1823, when a liberal government ruled Spain after a military uprising in January 1820 by the lieutenant-colonel Rafael de Riego against the absolutist rule of Ferdinand VII.
It ended in 1823 when, with the approval of the crowned heads of Europe, a French army invaded Spain and reinstated the King's absolute power. This invasion is known in France as the "Spanish Expedition" (expédition d’Espagne), and in Spain as "The Hundred Thousand Sons of St. Louis".
King Ferdinand VII provoked widespread unrest, particularly in the army, by refusing to accept the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812. The King sought to reclaim the Spanish colonies in the Americas that had recently revolted successfully, consequently depriving Spain from an important source of revenue.
In January 1820, soldiers assembled at Cádiz for an expedition to South America, angry over infrequent pay, bad food and poor quarters, mutinied under the leadership of Colonel Rafael del Riego y Nuñez. Pledging fealty to the 1812 Constitution, they seized their commander.
Subsequently, the rebel forces moved to nearby San Fernando, where they began preparations to march on the capital, Madrid.
Despite the rebels' relative weakness, Ferdinand accepted the constitution on March 9, 1820, granting power to liberal ministers and ushering in the so-called Liberal Triennium (el Trienio Liberal), a period of popular rule. However, political conspiracies of both right and left proliferated in Spain, as was the case across much of the rest of Europe. Liberal revolutionaries stormed the King's palace and seized Ferdinand VII, who was a prisoner of the Cortes in all but name for the next three years and retired to Aranjuez. The elections to the Cortes Generales in 1822 were won by Rafael del Riego. Ferdinand's supporters set themselves up at Urgell, took up arms and put in place an absolutist regency.
Ferdinand's supporters, accompanied by the Royal Guard, staged an uprising in Madrid that was subdued by forces supporting the new government and its constitution. Despite the defeat of Ferdinand's supporters at Madrid, civil war erupted in the regions of Castile, Toledo, and Andalusia.
Three years of liberal rule (the Trienio Liberal) followed. The Progresista government reorganized Spain into 52 provinces, and it intended to reduce the regional autonomy that had been a hallmark of Spanish bureaucracy since Habsburg rule in the 16th and 17th centuries. Opposition of the affected regions, in particular, Aragon, Navarre, and Catalonia, shared in the king's antipathy for the liberal government. The anticlerical policies of the Progresista government led to friction with the Roman Catholic Church, and attempts to bring about industrialisation alienated old trade guilds. The Spanish Inquisition, which had been abolished by both Joseph Bonaparte and the Cádiz Cortes during the French occupation, was ended again by the government, which led to accusations of it being nothing more than afrancesados (francophiles), who, only six years earlier, had been forced out of the country.
More radical liberals attempted to revolt against the entire idea of a monarchy, regardless of how little power it had. In 1821, they were suppressed, but the incident served to illustrate the frail coalition that bound the government together.
The election of a radical liberal government in 1823 further destabilized Spain. The army, whose liberal leanings had brought the government to power, began to waver when the Spanish economy failed to improve, and in 1823, a mutiny in Madrid had to be suppressed. The Jesuits, who had been banned by Charles III in the 18th century, only to be rehabilitated by Ferdinand VII after his restoration, were banned again by the government. For the duration of liberal rule, Ferdinand (still technically head of state) lived under virtual house arrest in Madrid. The Congress of Vienna, ending the Napoleonic Wars, had inaugurated the "Congress system" as an instrument of international stability in Europe. Rebuffed by the "Holy Alliance" of Russia, Austria, and Prussia in his request for help against the liberal revolutionaries in 1820, by 1822, the "Concert of Europe" was so concerned by Spain's liberal government and its surprising hardiness that it was prepared to intervene on Ferdinand's behalf.
In 1822, the Congress of Verona authorized France to intervene. Louis XVIII of France was only too happy to put an end to Spain's liberal experiment, and a massive army, the 100,000 Sons of Saint Louis, was dispatched across the Pyrenees in April 1823. The Spanish army, fraught by internal divisions, offered little resistance to the well organised French force, who seized Madrid and reinstalled Ferdinand as absolute monarch. The liberals' hopes for a new Spanish War of Independence were dashed.
Regarding the policy for America in the absolutist period, the new government changed political repression into negotiation. Sending troops was replaced by commissioners to attract pro-independence leaders, who were invited to submit to royal authority in exchange for recognition by Spain. With that in mind, the government announced a ceasefire for negotiations with the rebels until the 1812 Constitution, which ironically, had been superseded by Ferdinand's actions, was accepted.
According to the ceasefire, Spain would end the persecution and would issue a blanket amnesty for the insurgents; otherwise, the war would continue. The 11 commissioners failed since the patriots demanded recognition of their independence from Spain.
In 1822, Ferdinand VII applied the terms of the Congress of Vienna, lobbied for the assistance of the other absolute monarchs of Europe, in the process joining the Holy Alliance formed by Russia, Prussia, Austria and France to restore absolutism. In France, the ultra-royalists pressured Louis XVIII to intervene. To temper their counter-revolutionary ardour, the Duc de Richelieu deployed troops along the Pyrenees Mountains along the France-Spain border, charging them with halting the spread of Spanish liberalism and the "yellow fever" from encroaching into France. In September 1822, the cordon sanitaire became an observation corps and then very quickly transformed itself into a military expedition.
The Holy Alliance (Russia, Austria and Prussia) refused Ferdinand's request for help, but the Quintuple Alliance (United Kingdom, France, Russia, Prussia and Austria), at the Congress of Verona in October 1822, gave France a mandate to intervene and restore the Spanish monarchy. On 22 January 1823, a secret treaty was signed at the congress of Verona, allowing France to invade Spain to restore Ferdinand VII as an absolute monarch. With that agreement from the Holy Alliance, on 28 January 1823, Louis XVIII announced that "a hundred thousand Frenchmen are ready to march, invoking the name of Saint Louis, to safeguard the throne of Spain for a grandson of Henry IV of France".
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Ferdinand VII was twice King of Spain: in 1808 and again from 1813 to his death. He was known to his supporters as the Desired and to his detractors as the Felon King. After being overthrown by Napoleon in 1808 he linked his monarchy to counter-revolution and reactionary policies that produced a deep rift in Spain between his forces on the right and liberals on the left. Back in power in 1814, he reestablished the absolutist monarchy and rejected the liberal constitution of 1812. A revolt in 1820 led by Rafael de Riego forced him to restore the constitution thus beginning the Liberal Triennium: a three year period of liberal rule. In 1823 the Congress of Verona authorized a successful French intervention restoring him to absolute power for the second time. He suppressed the liberal press from 1814 to 1833 and jailed many of its editors and writers. Under his rule, Spain lost nearly all of its American possessions, and the country entered into civil war on his death.
The Battle of Trocadero, fought on 31 August 1823, was the only significant battle in the French invasion of Spain in support of King Ferdinand VII. French forces defeated the Spanish liberal forces and restored the absolute rule of Ferdinand.
The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, also known as the Constitution of Cádiz and as La Pepa, was the first Constitution of Spain and one of the earliest constitutions in world history. It was established on 19 March 1812 by the Cortes of Cádiz, the first Spanish legislature. With the notable exception of proclaiming Roman Catholicism as the official and sole legal religion in Spain, the constitution was one of the most liberal of its time: it affirmed national sovereignty, separation of powers, freedom of the press, free enterprise, abolished feudalism, and established a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It was one of the first constitutions that allowed universal male suffrage, through a complex indirect electoral system. It was repealed by King Ferdinand VII in 1814 in Valencia, who re-established absolute monarchy.
The First Carlist War was a civil war in Spain from 1833 to 1840, the first of three Carlist Wars. It was fought between two factions over the succession to the throne and the nature of the Spanish monarchy: the conservative supporters of the late king's brother, Carlos de Borbón, became known as Carlists (carlistas), while the progressive supporters of the regent, Maria Christina, acting for Isabella II of Spain, were called Liberals (liberales), cristinos or isabelinos. Aside from being a war of succession about the question who the rightful successor to king Ferdinand VII of Spain was, the Carlists’ goal was the return to an absolute monarchy, while the Liberals sought to defend the constitutional monarchy. Portugal, France and the United Kingdom supported the regency, and sent volunteer and even regular forces to confront the Carlist army.
Rafael del Riego y Flórez was a Spanish general and liberal politician, who played a key role in the outbreak of the Liberal Triennium.
Spain in the 19th century was a country in turmoil. Occupied by Napoleon from 1808 to 1814, a massively destructive "war of independence" ensued, driven by an emergent Spanish nationalism. An era of reaction against the liberal ideas associated with revolutionary France followed the war, personified by the rule of Ferdinand VII and – to a lesser extent – his daughter Isabella II. Ferdinand's rule included the loss of the Spanish colonies in the New World, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico, in the 1810s and 1820s. A series of civil wars then broke out in Spain, pitting Spanish liberals and then republicans against conservatives, culminating in the Carlist Wars between the moderate Queen Isabella and her uncle, the reactionary Infante Carlos. Disaffection with Isabella's government from many quarters led to repeated military intervention in political affairs and to several revolutionary attempts against the government. Two of these revolutions were successful, the moderate Vicalvarada or "Vicálvaro Revolution" of 1854 and the more radical la Gloriosa in 1868. The latter marks the end of Isabella's monarchy. The brief rule of the liberal king Amadeo I of Spain ended in the establishment of the First Spanish Republic, only to be replaced in 1874 by the popular, moderate rule of Alfonso XII of Spain, which finally brought Spain into a period of stability and reform.
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Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, born Juan Álvarez Méndez, was a Spanish economist and politician who served as Prime Minister of Spain from 25 September 1835 to 15 May 1836.
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Francisco Javier de Elío, was a Spanish soldier, governor of Montevideo and the last Viceroy of the Río de la Plata. He was also instrumental in the Absolutist repression after the restoration of Ferdinand VII as King of Spain. For this, he was executed during the Trienio Liberal.
The Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis was the popular name for a French army mobilized in 1823 by the Bourbon King of France, Louis XVIII, to help the Spanish Royalists restore King Ferdinand VII of Spain to the absolute power of which he had been deprived during the Liberal Triennium. Despite the name, the actual number of troops was around 60,000. The force comprised some five army corps and was led by the Duke of Angoulême, the son of the future King Charles X of France. The French name of the conflict is l'Expédition d'Espagne.
Asensio Nebot, known as "The Friar" and born in Nules, Spain in 1779, was a guerrilla in the Kingdom of Valencia during the Peninsular War. His exploits during the Peninsular War are well documented but, as he worked as a secret agent after the end of the war, there are gaps in what is known about his life from 1815 onwards.
The Ominous Decade is a traditional term for the last ten years of the reign of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, dating from the abolition of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, on 1 October 1823, to his death on 29 September 1833.
Field Marshal Demetrio O'Daly, was the first Puerto Rican to reach the rank of Field Marshal in the Spanish Army. O'Daly was awarded the Cruz Laureada de San Fernando, the highest military decoration awarded by the Spanish government. He represented Puerto Rico as a delegate to the Spanish Courts. Among his many accomplishments was the introduction of a Bill to the Spanish legislature which established free commercial trade and public education in Puerto Rico.
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Jose Maria Torrijos y Uriarte, Count of Torrijos, a title granted posthumously by the Queen Governor, also known as General Torrijos, was a Spanish Liberal soldier. He fought in the Spanish War of Independence and after the restoration of absolutism by Ferdinand VII in 1814 he participated in the pronouncement of John Van Halen of 1817 that sought to restore the Constitution of 1812, for which he spent two years in prison until he was released after the triumph of the Riego uprising in 1820. He returned to fight the French when the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis invaded Spain to restore the absolute power of Ferdinand VII and when those triumphed ending the liberal triennium exiled to England. There he prepared a statement which he himself led, landing on the coast of Malaga from Gibraltar on December 2, 1831, with sixty men accompanying him, but they fell into the trap that had been laid before him by the absolutist authorities and were arrested. Nine days later, on December 11, Torrijos and 48 of his fellow survivors were shot without trial on the beach of San Andres de Málaga, a fact that was immortalized by a sonnet of José de Espronceda entitled To the death of Torrijos and his Companions, Enrique Gil y Carrasco's A la memoria del General Torrijos, and by a famous painting that was painted in 1888 by Antonio Gisbert. "The tragic outcome of his life explains what has happened to history, in all fairness, as a great symbol of the struggle against despotism and tyranny, with the traits of epic nobility and serenity typical of the romantic hero, eternalized in the famous painting by Antonio Gisbert." The city of Malaga erected a monument to Torrijos and his companions in the Plaza de la Merced, next to the birthplace of the painter Pablo Picasso. Under the monument to Torrijos in the middle of the square are the tombs of 48 of the 49 men shot; One of them, British, was buried in the English cemetery (Malaga).
Trágala is a song the Spanish liberals used to humiliate the absolutists after the military pronunciamiento of Rafael del Riego in Cabezas de San Juan, at the beginning of the period known as Trienio Liberal (1820-1823).
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