Formal photo portrait by Jean Laurent, 1860
|Queen of Spain|
|Reign||29 September 1833 – 30 September 1868|
|Enthronement||10 November 1843|
|Born||10 October 1830|
Madrid, Kingdom of Spain
|Died||9 April 1904 (aged 73)|
Paris, French Third Republic
Infante Francis, Duke of Cádiz
(m. 1846; died 1902)
|Issue||Infanta Isabel, Countess of Girgenti|
Alfonso XII of Spain
Infanta María del Pilar
Infanta María de la Paz
|Father||Ferdinand VII of Spain|
|Mother||Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies|
Shortly before her birth, the King issued a Pragmatic Sanction to ensure the succession of his firstborn. She came to the throne a month before her third birthday, but her succession was disputed by her uncle the Infante Carlos (founder of the Carlist movement), whose refusal to recognize a female sovereign led to the Carlist Wars. Under the regency of her mother, Spain transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy adopting the Royal Statute of 1834 and Constitution of 1837. After a troubled reign, she was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1868, and formally abdicated in 1870. Her son, Alfonso XII, became king in 1874.
Birth and regency
Isabella was born in Royal Palace of Madrid in 1830, the eldest daughter of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, and of his fourth wife and niece, Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies. Queen Maria Christina became regent on 29 September 1833, when her three-year-old daughter Isabella was proclaimed sovereign on the death of the king.
Isabella succeeded to the throne because Ferdinand VII had induced the Cortes Generales to help him set aside the Salic law, introduced by the Bourbons in the early 18th century, and to reestablish the older succession law of Spain. The first pretender to the throne, Ferdinand's brother Infante Carlos, Count of Molina, fought seven years during the minority of Isabella to dispute her title. Carlos' and his descendants' supporters were known as Carlists, and the fight over the succession was the subject of a number of Carlist Wars in the 19th century.
Isabella's reign was maintained only through the support of the army. The Cortes and the Moderate Liberals and Progressives reestablished constitutional and parliamentary government, dissolved the religious orders and confiscated their property (including that of the Jesuits), and tried to restore order to Spain's finances. After the Carlist war, the regent, Maria Christina, resigned to make way for Baldomero Espartero, Prince of Vergara, the most successful and most popular Isabelline general. Espartero, a Progressive, remained regent for only two years.
Baldomero Espartero was turned out in 1843 by a military and political pronunciamiento led by Generals Leopoldo O'Donnell and Ramón María Narváez. They formed a cabinet, presided over by Joaquín María López y López. This government induced the Cortes to declare Isabella of age at 13.
Three years later, on 10 October 1846, the Moderate Party (or Castilian Conservatives) made their sixteen-year-old queen marry her double-first cousin Francisco de Asís de Borbón (1822–1902), the same day that her younger sister, infanta Luisa Fernanda, married Antoine d'Orléans, Duke of Montpensier.
The marriages suited France and Louis Philippe, King of the French, who as a result bitterly quarrelled with Britain. However, the marriages were not happy; persistent rumour had it that few if any of Isabella's children were fathered by her king-consort, rumoured to be a homosexual. The Carlist party asserted that the heir-apparent to the throne, who later became Alfonso XII, had been fathered by a captain of the guard, Enrique Puigmoltó y Mayans.
Isabella had nine children, but only five reached adulthood:
- Ferdinand (1850)
- Isabel (1851–1931), Princess of Asturias, who married her mother's and father's first cousin Prince Gaetan, Count of Girgenti.
- María Cristina (1854)
- Alfonso XII (1857–1885)
- María de la Concepcion (1859–1861)
- María del Pilar (1861–1879)
- María de la Paz (1862–1946), who married her cousin Prince Ludwig Ferdinand of Bavaria.
- Francisco de Asís (1863)
- Eulalia de Asís de la Piedad (1864–1958), who married her cousin Infante Antonio, Duke of Galliera.
The couple was rather caustically described by an English contemporary thus:
- … The Queen is large in stature, but rather what might be called bulky than stately. There is no dignity either in her face or figure, and the graces of majesty are altogether wanting. The countenance is cold and expressionless, with traces of an unchastened, unrefined, and impulsive character, and the indifference it betrays is not redeemed by any regularity or beauty of feature.
- The King Consort is much smaller in figure than his royal two-thirds, and certainly is not a type that could be admired for its manly qualifications; but we have to remember that in Spain aristocratic birth is designated rather by a diminutive stature and sickly complexion than by those attributes of height, muscular power, open expression, and florid hue, which in England constitute the ideal of ‘race.’
Reign as an adult
Isabella ruled directly from 1843 to 1868, a period marked by palace intrigues, back-stairs and antechamber influences, barracks conspiracies, and military pronunciamientos to further the ends of the political parties; Moderados ruled from 1846 to 1854, Progressives from 1854 to 1856, and Unión Liberals from 1856 to 1863. Moderados and Unión Liberals quickly succeeded each other to keep out the Progressives, thus sowing the seeds for the Revolution of 1868.
Queen Isabella II often was active in politics. She showed favour to her reactionary generals and statesmen and to the Church and religious orders. Spain fought two wars during her reign: the war against Morocco in 1859, which ended in a treaty advantageous for Spain and cession of some Moroccan territory, and the fruitless Chincha Islands War (1864–1866) against Peru and Chile. Her reign saw tensions with the United States over the Amistad affair and over the war in the Pacific; independence revolts in Cuba and Puerto Rico; and some progress in public works, especially railways, and a slight improvement in commerce and finance. By virtue of a royal decree, she opened Iloilo in the Philippines to world trade on September 29, 1855, mainly to export sugar and other products to America, Australia and Europe.
Exile and abdication
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At the end of September 1868, the defeat of Isabella's forces at the Battle of Alcolea led to her deposition and exile to France. The revolt against Isabella played out in the battle is known as the Glorious Revolution. In 1870, the provisional government replaced Isabella with Amadeo I, second son of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, after much deliberation. Amadeo's abdication under pressure in 1873 led to the period of the First Spanish Republic (1873–74).
Isabella's exile helped cause the Franco-Prussian War, as Napoleon III could not accept the possibility that a German whose candidacy was supported by Prussia, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, might replace Isabella, a dynast of the Spanish Bourbons and great-great-granddaughter of the French-born Philip V of Spain. Napoleon III's loss in the war led to his deposition and the permanent end of monarchical government in France.
The First Spanish Republic collapsed in December 1874. Already on 25 June 1870, Isabella had been induced to abdicate in Paris in favour of her son, Alfonso XII, a move that aided the cause of the Restoration in 1874. After the collapse of the Republic, Alfonso was placed on the throne.
Isabella had left her husband in March 1874 and continued to live in France after the Restoration surrounded by a small circle of retainers with the Marqués de Alta Villa as her secretary. On the occasion of one of her visits to Madrid during the reign of Alfonso XII, she began to intrigue with politicians in the capital and was peremptorily requested to go abroad again. She lived in Paris for the rest of her life, residing at the Palacio Castilla. She seldom travelled abroad except for a few visits to Spain. During her exile, she grew closer to her husband, with whom she maintained an ambiguous friendship until his death in 1902. Her last days were marked by the marital problems of her youngest daughter, Eulalia. She died on 10 April 1904 and is entombed in El Escorial.
Titles, styles and honours
Titles and styles
- 10 October 1830 – 29 September 1833: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Asturias
- 29 September 1833 – 25 June 1870: Her Most Catholic Majesty The Queen of Spain
- 25 June 1870 – 10 April 1904: Her Majesty Queen Isabella II of Spain
The underage Queen Isabella II was known by the centuries-old feudal, symbolic, long title that included both extant and extinct titles and claims:
Isabel II by the Grace of God, Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, of the Two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, of Navarre, of Granada, of Toledo, of Valencia, of Galicia, of Majorca, of Seville, of Sardinia, of Córdoba, of Corsica, of Murcia, of Menorca, of Jaén, the Algarves, Algeciras, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, of the East and West Indies, Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea; Archduchess of Austria; Duchess of Burgundy, Brabant, Milan; Countess of Habsburg, Flanders, Tirol and Barcelona; Lady of Biscay and Molina
In 1837, Spanish legislation produced a constitutional monarchy and a new format of the title was used for Isabel:
By the grace of God and the Constitution of the Spanish monarchy, Queen Isabel II of the Spains
- Austria: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary
- Austria: Dame of the Order of the Starry Cross, 1st Class
- Brazil: Knight Grand Cordon of the Imperial and Royal Order of Christ
- Brazil:: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Imperial and Royal Order of the Southern Cross
- Bavaria: Knight Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Saint Hubert
- Bavaria: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Theresa
- Bavaria: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Elizabeth
- Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Falcon
- Saxony: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Rue Crown
- Saxony: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Sidonia
- Saxony: Dame of the Order of Maria-Anna, Special Class
- Greece: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer
- Italian Royal Family: Knight Grand Collar of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
- Italian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
- Italian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of the Crown of Italy
- Holy See: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Supreme Order of Christ
- Two Sicilian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Saint Januarius
- Two Sicilian Royal Family: Bailiff Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Two Sicilian Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Mexican Imperial Family: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Imperial Order of Guadalupe
- Mexican Imperial Family: Dame Grand Cordon of the Imperial Order of Saint Charles
- Monaco: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles
- Portugal: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa
- Portugal: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Tower and Sword
- Portugal: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Isabel
- Cavite: Bridge of Isabel II
- Isabela (province)
- Manila: El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II former name of the current Bank of the Philippine Islands.
- Isabel II: barrio-pueblo (referred to as Isabel Segunda in Spanish) is a barrio and the administrative center (seat) in the downtown area in the island-municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
|Ancestors of Isabella II of Spain|
- Carl Schurz, who was U.S. ambassador to Spain for a brief time at the beginning of Lincoln's presidency, in his Reminiscences (New York, McClure's Publ. Co., 1907, Volume II, Chapter VI) describes Isabel II and her court.
- Isabela province in the Philippines.
- Mid-19th-century Spain
- Spain under the Restoration
- Plaza de Isabel II (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)
- Jasper Ridley, Lord Palmerston (1970) pp 308-15.
- Juan Sisinio Pérez Garzón, Isabel II: Los Espejos de la Reina (2004)
- Mrs. Wm. Pitt Byrne, Cosas De España, Illustrative of Spain and the Spaniards as they are, Volume II, Page 7, Alexander Strahan, Publisher, London and New York, 1866.
- F.H. Gribble, The tragedy of Isabella, II (1913).
- Demy Sonza. "The Port of Iloilo: 1855 - 2005". Graciano Lopez-Jaena Life and Works and Iloilo History Online Resource. Dr. Graciano Lopez-Jaena (DGLJ) Foundation, Inc. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19.
- Henry Funtecha. "Iloilo's position under colonial rule". thenewstoday.info. Archived from the original on July 21, 2006.
- , VV. AA., Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, Tomo CLXXVI, Cuaderno I, 1979, Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid, España, páginas = 211 & 220, español, 6 de junio de 2010 Information Containing the Orders and Decorations received by Isabella II of her European tour after her coming of age to reign as Queen
- Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1885), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 14
- "GENEALOGY OF THE ROYAL HOUSE OF SPAIN". Chivalricorders.org. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
- Ortúzar Castañer, Trinidad. "María Cristina de Borbón dos Sicilias". Diccionario biográfico España (in Spanish). Real Academia de la Historia.
- Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 9.
- Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 96.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
- Navarrete Martínez, Esperanza. "María de la O Isabel de Borbón". Diccionario biográfico España (in Spanish). Real Academia de la Historia.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Isabella II.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Isabella II of Spain.|
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Isabella II". Encyclopædia Britannica. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 859–860.
- Barton, Simon. A History of Spain (2009) excerpt and text search
- Carr, Raymond, ed. Spain: A History (2001) excerpt and text search
- Esdaile, Charles J. Spain in the Liberal Age: From Constitution to Civil War, 1808–1939 (2000) excerpt and text search
- Gribble, Francis Henry. The tragedy of Isabella, II (1913) online.
Isabella II of Spain
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynastyBorn: 10 October 1830 Died: 10 April 1904
| Queen of Spain
Title next held byAmadeo
Title last held byFerdinand (VII)
| Princess of Asturias