Spain is a nation in southwestern Europe that occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered by Portugal, France, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea, and lies across the Strait of Gibralter from North Africa. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid.
Spain was the nation that sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World, and was the first nation to establish settlements there. After Philip V of the House of Bourbon succeeded to the Spanish throne in 1700, Spain was closely allied with France. Spain's colonial empire reached its peak after the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris ending the war, Spain regained control of the Philippines and Cuba from Great Britain in return for relinquishing Florida. Spain also acquired the western half of Louisiana from France.
King Charles III was determined to reform the administration of New Spain, and under his Viceroy Antonio de Bucareli and the royal inspector José de Gálvez, the colony prospered. De Bucareli was kept appraised of the course of the North American Rebellion of 1775-78. King Charles and his Chief Minister the Duke of Grimaldi agreed to a scheme by the French Foreign Minister the Comte de Vergennes to use a fake company called Roderigue Hortalez & Co. to supply the American rebels with weapons and supplies. After the collapse of the Rebellion, de Bucareli foresaw that the American rebels might wish to settle in New Spain, and warned Charles to prepare for their arrival. Charles was aware of the establishment of the settlement of Jefferson in 1782, but was kept preoccupied by the threat of Russian expansion along the Pacific coast from Alaska. Charles finally began preparations to bring the Jeffersonians under firm Spanish control in 1787, but his death the following year led to the abandonment of his plans.
The Trans-Oceanic War
Charles was succeeded by his son Charles IV in 1788. The younger Charles had little interest in government, and he left the administration of Spain to his wife, Maria Luisa, and her lover, Manuel Godoy, neither of whom were interested in the American colonies. The Count of Revillagigedo, who was appointed Viceroy of New Spain in 1789, pleaded with Charles to be allowed to move against the Jeffersonians, but he was ignored, and in 1794 was dismissed.
The death of King Louis XVI of France in 1793 led to a regency headed by his widow, Queen Marie Antoinette, for the young Louis XVII. Marie Antoinette concluded a secret alliance with her nephew the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II in April 1794 directed against Prussia. The Trans-Oceanic War began in April 1795 with a Franco-Austrian invasion of Prussia. Charles initially sought to remain neutral in the war, but finally relented to French pressure to form an alliance on 12 April 1795. A threatened Spanish attack on Portugal led to British entry into the war against the French-led alliance on 23 August.
The British sent troops to Portugal to forestall the threatened Spanish invasion, and instituted a naval blockade of Spain and France. In the New World, news of the outbreak of war against the Spanish led to armies from the Southern Confederation invading Florida (which had returned to Spanish control after the North American Rebellion) and Louisiana. At the same time, the Jeffersonians began attacking and occupying Spanish presidios in northeastern New Spain, eventually gaining control of all Spanish territory north of the Rio Grande and east of the Rio Pecos.
The defeat of the Franco-Austrian armies in 1798 led the French to sue for peace, and in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1799, Charles IV was deposed and replaced by Prince August Ferdinand of Prussia, who became King Ferdinand VII. News of the defeat, and of the imposition of a Prussian monarch on Spain, led to widespread revolts among Spain's New World colonies.
The Count of Revillagigedo led a war for independence in New Spain, while in South America anti-Spanish revolts were led by José de Consalves, Martin Obregon, Carlos Gómez, Fernando de Abruzzo, and José Flores. In 1804, slave revolts ended Spanish control over Cuba, Dominica, and Porto Rico, and by 1805 the last Spanish viceroys had been driven out of Latin America. The Philippines may also have rebelled against Spanish rule at this time, but Sobel does not say so.
The Rocky Mountain War
In his Scorpions in a Bottle speech on 7 May 1843, Assemblyman Pedro Hermión claimed that Spain sought to regain its empire in the New World, though whether this was an accurate assessment or political posturing is unknown. When a border dispute between the United States of Mexico and the Confederation of North America threatened to become war, the two nations agreed in April 1845 to an international tribunal to adjudicate the dispute. Spain was one of the member nations, along with the Netherlands and the Germanic Confederation. However, King Miguel of Spain withdrew from the tribunal when he learned that the leaders of the two nations expected him to state specifically where the boundary was established in 1799. Miguel feared that doing so would risk bad relations with one nation or the other, or with both, and he refused to cooperate. As a result, the Rocky Mountain War broke out between the two nations later that year.
King Miguel's death in 1851 led to the succession of his brother, King Ferdinand VIII. Unlike his brother, Ferdinand was eager to play a role in ending the war between the two American nations, and the tribunal finally met in November 1853. The tribunal issued a report on 15 June 1855 which served as the basis for the Hague Treaty ending the Rocky Mountain War.
The Bloody Eighties and Benito Hermión
During the Bloody Eighties, Spain suffered the same uprisings as the other nations of Europe in February 1880, and was able to quell them the following month. However, the Spanish monarchy had been deposed, as in France, and months passed before a Republican government was able to establish effective control of the country. When bands of refugees began roaming Europe in the mid-1880s, Spain closed its borders to them.
Following the Mexican occupation of Guatemala after the Isthmian War of 1886, the Spanish government sent a formal note of protest to Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión, which Hermión chose to ignore. When war threatened between Mexico and New Granada in February 1890, New Granadan Premier Adolfo Camacho called the ambassadors of Spain, Britain, and North America to his office on the morning of 16 February. He warned of an impending Mexican attack, and sought help from the other nations. However, Governor-General Ezra Gallivan of the C.N.A. refused to use military force to oppose the Mexicans, and the other nations were unwilling to act without the North Americans. The Mexicans went on to conquer New Granada in the War for Salvation, which brought another note of protest from Spain, but nothing else.
When Hermión was ousted from power in Mexico in October 1901 in a coup orchestrated by Diego Cortez y Catalán, he fled to Tampico, and from there sailed to exile in Spain. Hermión had over $5 million deposited in two banks in Madrid, and was eventually able to establish a "court" in an armed villa on the outskirts of Barcelona. His son Frederick Hermión was able to establish himself as a banker in Barcelona, taking out Spanish citizenship in 1910. Frederick's son, Joseph Hermión, married an exiled Russian Princess, Alexandra Romanov, in 1914. Joseph's son Benito Hermión II, was born in 1920, and at the time Sobel was writing in 1971, was working as a professor of linguistics at Madrid University.
The Global War
The threat of war between the Germanic Confederation and Great Britain in the 1930s resulted in an international peace movement in 1937. Locomobile magnate Owen Galloway organized a global peace conference in Madrid on 8 September which attracted delegates from almost every nation in the world. When a riot between rival peace groups broke out on 11 September, Spanish Premier Aldo Figueroa ordered all the delegates out of Spain.
Spain was allied with Great Britain and France when the Global War broke out in September 1939, but the swift German conquest of France in November led Spain to declare its neutrality. Sobel makes no mention of Spain after 1939; the country presumably either maintains its neutrality in the War Without War, or is a German ally.
This was the Featured Article for the week of 15 September 2013.