jueves, septiembre 27, 2007


Monumento a Alfonso XII (El Pacificador)
2007 © R. Blanco
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Alfonso XII (November 28, 1857–November 25, 1885) was king of Spain, reigning from 1875 to 1885, after a coup d'état restored the monarchy and ended the ephemeral First Spanish Republic.

Alfonso was the son of Isabella II of Spain. His biological paternity is uncertain, though his legal paternity is not: his mother was married to her (presumed) homosexual cousin Francis of Assisi de Bourbon, Infante and King Consort of Spain, eldest son of the Duke of Cadiz, at the time of Alfonso's conception and birth. Some theories suggest that Alfonso's biological father might have been either Enrique Puig y Moltó, captain of the Royal Guard, or General Francisco Serrano.

When Queen Isabella and her husband were forced to leave Spain by the Revolution of 1868, Alfonso accompanied them to Paris. From there, he was sent to the Theresianum at Vienna to continue his studies. On June 25, 1870, he was recalled to Paris, where his mother abdicated in his favour, in the presence of a number of Spanish nobles who had tied their fortunes to that of the exiled queen. He assumed the title of Alfonso XII, for although no King of united Spain had borne the name "Alfonso XI", the Spanish monarchy was regarded as continuous with the more ancient monarchy represented by the eleven kings of León and Castile, also named Alfonso.

Shortly afterwards, Alfonso proceeded to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom in order to continue his military studies. While there, he issued, on December 1, 1874, in reply to a birthday greeting from his followers, a manifesto proclaiming himself the sole representative of the Spanish monarchy. At the end of that year, when Marshal Serrano left Madrid to take command of the northern army in the Carlist War, Brigadier Martinez Campos, who had long been working more or less openly for the king, led some battalions of the central army to Sagunto, rallied to his own flag the troops sent against him, and entered Valencia in the king's name. Thereupon the president of the council resigned, and his power was transferred to the king's plenipotentiary and adviser, Canovas del Castillo. Within a few days, the king arrived at Madrid, passing through Barcelona and Valencia and was acclaimed everywhere (1875). In 1876, a vigorous campaign against the Carlists, in which the young king took part, resulted in the defeat of Don Carlos and the Duke's abandonment of the struggle.

On January 23, 1878, Alfonso married his cousin, Princess Maria de las Mercedes, daughter of Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, but she died within six months of the marriage. Towards the end of the same year, a young workman of Tarragona, Juan Oliva Moncasi, fired at the king in Madrid.

* Download recording - The folk song "¿Dónde vas, el caballero?" was adapted as "¿Dónde vas, Alfonso Doce?" with lyrics reflecting the story of tragic love between king and queen. This is a version from Minorca preserved at the Library of Congress' Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections; performed by Maria Hugas de Aceval on September 26, 1939 in St. Augustine, Florida.

On November 29, 1879, Alfonso married a much more distant relative, the Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria, daughter of Archduke Karl Ferdinand of Austria and of his wife Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria. During the honeymoon, a pastrycook named Otero fired at the young sovereigns as they were driving in Madrid.

The children of this marriage were:

* Maria de las Mercedes, Princess of Asturias, (September 11, 1880 – October 17, 1904), married on February 14, 1901 to Prince Carlos of Bourbon, and titular heiress from the death of her father until the posthumous birth of her brother
* Maria Teresa, (November 12, 1882 – September 23, 1912), married to Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria on January 12, 1906
* Alfonso XIII (May 17, 1886 -- February 28, 1941). Born posthumously, this son was king from the moment of his birth and thus never held any other Spanish titles from the crown, such as Infante or Prince of Asturias. He married Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, called "Ena," a carrier of hemophilia, and two of their sons died young from the disease. A third was a deaf-mute as a result of a childhood illness. A fourth was the father of the current King of Spain.

In 1881, the king refused to sanction a law by which the ministers were to remain in office for a fixed term of eighteen months. Upon the consequent resignation of Canovas del Castillo, he summoned Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, the Liberal leader, to form a new cabinet.

In November of 1885, Alfonso died, just short of his 28th birthday, of tuberculosis.
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