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Isabel II of Spain

Isabel II of Spain

Spanish queen
The basics
Quick Facts
A.K.A. Königin Isabella II. Spanien, regina di Spagna Isabel II, Queen of Spain María Isabel Luisa, reine d'Espagne Isabelle II, Isabel de Borbón, Marie Isabelle II Louise, Isabel, II Borbón, Queen of Spain Isabel II, Isabel II de España, Queen of Spain Isabella II, Doña Isabel de Borbón, Marie Isabel II Louise, Reina de España Isabel II, S. M. Doña Isabel de Borbón Reina de España, Doña Isabel de Borbón Reina de España, reina d'Espanya Isabel II, S. M. Isabel de Borbón, S. M. Isabel de Borbón Reina de España, Isabella II, Queen of Spain and the Indies Isabel II, S. M. Doña Isabel de Borbón, Doña Isabel, II Borbón, Isabel II
Gender female
Birth October 10, 1830 (Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain)
Death April 9, 1904 (Paris, Île-de-France, France)
Family
Mother: Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies
Father: Ferdinand VII of Spain
Siblings: Infanta Luisa FernandaDuchess of MontpensierMaría Amparo Muñoz1st Countess of Vista Alegre
Spouse: FrancisDuke of Cádiz
Children: IsabellaPrincess of AsturiasAlfonso XII of SpainMaria del PilarInfanta María de la Paz of SpainInfanta Eulalia of SpainFernando de Borbón y Borbón
The details
Biography

Isabella II (Spanish: Isabel; 10 October 1830 – 9 April 1904) was Queen of Spain from 1833 until 1868. She came to the throne as an infant, but her succession was disputed by the Carlists, who refused to recognize a female sovereign, leading to the Carlist Wars. 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 II as a child. She is depicted wearing the sash of the Order of Queen Maria Luisa.

Isabella was born in Madrid in 1830, the eldest daughter of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, and of his fourth wife and niece, Maria Christina of Bourbon-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 re-establish the older succession law of Spain. The first pretender, Ferdinand's brother Carlos, 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 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.

Marriage

Queen Isabella II of Spain with her daughter Isabella by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1852

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.

Isabella II with her three youngest daughters

The marriages suited France and Louis Philippe, King of the French, who as a result nearly 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)
  • Maria Isabel (1851–1931), Princess of Asturias, who married her mother's and father's first cousin Prince Gaetan, Count of Girgenti.
  • Maria Cristina (1854)
  • Alfonso XII (1857–1885)
  • Maria de la Concepcion (1859–1861)
  • Maria del Pilar (1861–1879)
  • María de la Paz (1862–1946), who married her cousin Prince Ludwig Ferdinand of Bavaria.
  • Francisco de Asis (1863)
  • Eulalia de Asis 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 directly reigned from 1843 to 1868, a period of palace intrigues, back-stairs and antechamber influences, barracks conspiracies, and military pronunciamientos to further the ends of the political parties — Moderados who 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 and kept out the Progressives, thus sowing the seeds for the Revolution of 1868.

Queen Isabella II often interfered 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; 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 exporting mainly sugar and also other products to America, Australia and Europe.

Exile and abdication

Isabella II of Spain in exile in Paris

At the end of September 1868, Isabella went into exile, after her Moderado generals had made a slight show of resistance that was crushed at the Battle of Alcolea by Generals Serrano and Prim. This revolt, which deposed Isabella, is known as the Glorious Revolution, and ushered the First Spanish Republic into power. The new government replaced Isabella with Amadeo I, second son of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, after much deliberation.

Her exile helped cause the Franco-Prussian War, as Napoleon III could not accept the possibility that a German, 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.

The First Spanish Republic collapsed in December 1874. Isabella had been induced to abdicate in Paris on 25 June 1870, in favour of her son, Alfonso XII, furthering the cause of the Restoration. After the collapse of the Republic, Alfonso was placed on the throne.

A Statue of Isabella II in front of Puerta Isabel in Intramuros, Manila

She had left her husband the previous March and continued to live in France after the restoration in 1874, in a small circle with the Marqués de Alta Villa as her secretary. On the occasion of one of her visits to Madrid during Alfonso XII's reign, she began to intrigue with the politicians of 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 and seldom travelling 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 matrimonial problems of her youngest daughter, Eulalia. She died on 10 April 1904, and is entombed in El Escorial.

Titles, styles and honours

Titles

  • 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 the Spains
  • 25 June 1870 – 10 April 1904: Her Majesty Queen Isabella II of Spain

Styles

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 and Aspurg; Countess of 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

Honours

National honours

  •  Spain: Former 16th Sovereign and 847th Knight with Collar of the Royal Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Charles III
  •  Spain: Former 4th Sovereign, Former 5th Grand Mistress and 562nd Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Queen Maria Luisa
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
  •  Spain: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Civil Order of Alfonso X
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Royal Military Order of St. Hermenegild
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit, 1st Class
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Naval Merit, 1st Class
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Military Order of St. Ferdinand
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight of the Royal Military Order of Calatrava
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight of the Royal Military Order of Santiago
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight of the Royal Military Order of Alcántara
  •  Spain: Former Sovereign Knight of the Royal Military Order of Montesa

Foreign honours

  • Austria-Hungary Austria: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary
  • Austria-Hungary Austria: Dame of the Order of the Starry Cross, 1st Class
  • Empire of Brazil Brazil: Knight Grand Cordon of the Imperial and Royal Order of Christ
  • Empire of Brazil Brazil: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Imperial and Royal Order of the Southern Cross
  • France
    • Bourbon Restoration Bourbon-French Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Holy Spirit
    • Bourbon Restoration Bourbon-French Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Royal Order of Saint Michael
    • Second French Empire French Imperial Family: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Imperial Order of the Legion of Honour
  • German Empire Germany
    • Kingdom of Bavaria Bavaria: Knight Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Saint Hubert
    • Kingdom of Bavaria Bavaria: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Theresa
    • Kingdom of Bavaria Bavaria: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Elizabeth
    • Kingdom of Saxony Saxony: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Rue Crown
    • Kingdom of Saxony Saxony: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Sidonia
    • Kingdom of Saxony Saxony: Dame of the Order of Maria-Anna, Special Class
  • Kingdom of Greece Greece: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer
  • Kingdom of Italy Italy: Knight Grand Collar of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
  • Kingdom of Italy Italy: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
  • Kingdom of Italy Italy: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of the Crown of Italy
    •   Vatican
      •  Holy See: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Supreme Order of Christ
    •  Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Saint Januarius
    •  Two Sicilies: Bailiff Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Two Sicilian Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
  • Second Mexican Empire Mexican Imperial Family: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Imperial Order of Guadalupe
  • Second Mexican Empire Mexican Imperial Family: Dame Grand Cordon of the Imperial Order of Saint Charles
  •  Monaco: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles
  • Kingdom of Portugal Portugal: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa
  • Kingdom of Portugal Portugal: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Tower and Sword
  • Kingdom of Portugal Portugal: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Isabel

Honorific eponyms

  •  Philippines:
    • 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.

Ancestry

Film portrayal

In the 1997 film Amistad, she was played by Anna Paquin, and is depicted as a spoiled 11-year-old girl.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Birth and regency Marriage Reign as an adult Exile and abdication Titles, styles and honours Honorific eponyms Ancestry Film portrayal
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