Isabella II

(Isabella II of Spain)

Isabella II

Isabella II of Spain was in character, the polar opposite of her esteemed namesake. Even in an age that tolerated much depravity from monarchs, her dissipated behavior caused a stir, and resulted in her explusion from Spain at the age of 38. In Isabella's defense, the environment in which she was raised, was, from the beginning rife with corruption, and she was surrounded on all sides with political opportunists and intrique. She was largely a child of her age.

Isabella was born to the fourth wife of Ferdinand VII, and her mother quickly sought to have the Salic laws of Spain modified so that she, rather than her uncle Don Carlos, would inherit the Spanish throne. The infanta Isabella was strongly preferred by the Liberal ministers of the palace, because they feared Don Carlos, like his brother, would sabatage their schemes to "reform" the government. The primary principles of reform involved confiscating church property, and taxing independent and self-governing provinces in order to increase the revenues of the central government, but at the same time, the liberals sought to restrict the influence of the monarch. The prospects for greater government revenues, coupled with the prospects of protecting special interests combined to create enormous palace intrique on all sides of the political specturm. It was into this seething caldron that Isabella was thrust at a very early age, as she assumed the 'reigns of government' at the age of only thirteen.

Three years later, at the age of only sixteen, the Spanish monarch was forced, over her strong and vocal objections, to marry a prince of France whom she despised. Although twelve children were born of the marriage, it is doubtful that even one of them was the biological product of the King-consort. Instead, Isabella found refuge from her unhappy marriage, in relationships with various intriguers primarily from the reactionary side of the political spectrum. Her interference in political affairs was resented on all sides and in 1868 she was overthrown when a military rebellion, led by Juan Prim and Francisco Serrano, deprived her of support from the army. She abdicated in favor of her son, Alfonso XII, and went into exile in France.

The exile of Isabella was followed by years of turmoil in Spain, including a brief republic, a brief stint as King of Spain by Amadeus of Savoy, and the Third Carlist War. Finally, in 1874, her son Alfonso XII was installed as a Spanish Monarch, to reign under a newly ratified liberal constitution. The Carlist movement died down, and Isabella spent her remaining years in exile.

Key events during the life of Isabella II of Spain:

Born to Ferdinand VII and his fourth wife, Maria Cristina.
Death of Ferdinand VII. Isabella becomes Queen of Spain, mother Maria Cristina is regent.
First Carlist War break, as Don Carlos claims the throne.
Espartero becomes regent for Isabella.
Isabella becomes queen at age 13, with no regent.
Force to marry an effeminate French prince against her will.
Gave birth to her first child, prince Ferdinand.
Gave birth to her eldest surviving son, later Alfonso XII.
Driven into exile by the Revolution of 1868.
Abdicated in favor of her son, Alfonso XII.
Third Carlist War breaks out.
Died in exile.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Revolution  in  The Romance of Spanish History  by  John S.C. Abbott
Isabella  in  A Child's History of Spain  by  John Bonner
Isabella II  in  Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain  by  Charles F. Horne
Isabella II and the Carlists  in  Spain: A History for Young Readers  by  Frederick A. Ober
From Isabella II to Alfonso XIII  in  Spain: A History for Young Readers  by  Frederick A. Ober

Image Links

The Wedding of Isabella II
 in Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain

Marriage procession at the wedding of Isabella II
 in Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain

Short Biography
Maria Christina Queen regent of Spain who championed the cause of her daughter Isabella II against the Carlists.
Don Carlos Brother of Ferdinand VII and rival claimant to the Spanish throne who initiated the Carlist Wars.
Espartero Liberal, anti-clerical General who opposed the Carlists, and briefly ruled as regent of Spain before being exiled.
Alfonso XII Son of Isabell II to took the throne after a coup d'etat overthrew the First Republic. Died suddenly shortly thereafter.
Francisco Serrano Spanish General and statesman who opposed the Carlists during the third Carlist War.
Juan Prim Revolutionary general who orchestrated the 1868 overthrow of Isabella.
Francis of Cadiz Despised husband and King-consort of Isaballa.