Isabella II of Spain

Isabella II of Spain

: "Isabella II" redirects here. For the Queen of Jerusalem also known as Isabella II, see Yolande of Jerusalem".Infobox Spanish Royalty|majesty|monarch
name = Isabella II
title = Queen of the Spains

caption =
reign = 29 September 1833–30 September 1868
coronation =
predecessor = Ferdinand VII
successor = Amadeus
regent = Queen Maria Christina
Baldomero Espartero, Prince of Vergara
spouse = Francis, Duke of Cádiz‎
issue = Isabella, Princess of Asturias Alfonso XII Infanta María de la Paz Eulalia, Duchess of Galliera
royal house = House of Bourbon
titles ="HM" Queen Isabella II
"HM" The Queen of the Spains
"HM" The Queen of Spain
"HRH" The Infanta Isabella
father = Ferdinand VII
mother = Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies
date of birth = 10 October 1830
place of birth = Madrid, Spain
date of death = death date and age|1904|4|10|1830|10|10
place of death =
date of burial =
place of burial = El Escorial, Spain|

Isabella II (October 10, 1830 – April 10, 1904), Isabel II in Spanish, was Queen regnant of Spain ("Queen of the Spains" officially from August 13, 1836, Isabella II the "queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon,...") She was Spain's first and so far only queen regnant, although she is sometimes considered the third Queen Regnant of Spain, as previous monarchs of Leon and Castile were counted as kings and queens of Spain. Counting the monarchs of Aragon as well, she is the fourth queen regnant of Spain.

Isabella was born in Madrid in 1830, the eldest daughter of Ferdinand VII, king of Spain, and of his fourth wife and niece, Maria Cristina, who was a Neapolitan Bourbon and also a grand-niece of Marie Antoinette. Maria Cristina became queen-regent on September 29, 1833, when her daughter Isabella, at the age of three years, was proclaimed queen on the death of the king.

Isabella succeeded to the throne because Ferdinand VII 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. His supporters and descendants 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 throne was only maintained through the support of the army. The "Cortes" and the Liberals and Progressives, who at the same time established constitutional and parliamentary government, dissolved the religious orders, confiscated their property (including that of Jesuits), and tried to restore order in finances. After the Carlist war the queen-regent, Maria Cristina, resigned to make way for Baldomero Espartero, Prince of Vergara, the most successful and most popular Isabelline general, who remained regent for only two years.

He was turned out in 1843 by a military and political "pronunciamiento" led by Generals O'Donnell and Narvaez, who formed a cabinet, presided over by Joaquin Maria Lopez, and this government induced the "Cortes" to declare Isabella of age at 13. Three years later, the Moderado 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 (October 10, 1846) that her younger sister, Infanta Luisa Fernanda, married Antoine d'Orléans, Duke of Montpensier.

These marriages suited France and Louis Philippe, King of the French, who nearly quarrelled in consequence with Britain. But the marriages were not happy; persistent rumor had it that few if any of the Spanish Queen Regnant's children were conceived by her king-consort, a homosexual. For instance, the heir to the throne, who later became Alfonso XII, the Carlist patry asserted had been conceived by a captain of the guard, Enrique Puig y Moltó.

Isabella had twelve children, but only four reached adulthood:

* Ferdinand (1850)
* Maria Isabel (1851–1931), Princess of Asturias, who married Prince Gaetan, Count of Girgenti.
* Maria Cristina (1854)
* Alfonso XII
* Maria de la Concepcion (1859-1861)
* Maria de 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 Antonio de Orléans y Borbón, Infante of Spain.
Isabella reigned from 1843 to 1868, a period of palace intrigues, back-stairs and antechamber influences, barracks conspiracies, military "pronunciamientos" to further the ends of the political parties — Moderados who ruled from 1846 to 1854, Progressives from 1854 to 1856, Unión Liberal 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.

Isabella often interfered in politics in a wayward, unscrupulous way that made her very unpopular. She showed most favour to her reactionary generals and statesmen and to the Church and religious orders, and was constantly the tool of corrupt and profligate courtiers and favourites who gave her court a bad name. She went into exile at the end of September 1868, after her Moderado generals had made a slight show of resistance that was crushed at the battle of Alcolea by Marshals Serrano and Prim. Other events of her reign were a war against Morocco (1859), which ended in an treaty advantageous for Spain and cession of some Moroccan territory; the fruitless Chincha Islands War against Peru and Chile; tensions with the United States; independence revolts in Cuba and Puerto Rico; and some progress in public works, especially railways, and a slight improvement in commerce and finance.

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, who was a Bourbon (a member of the old French royalty).

Isabella was induced to abdicate in Paris on June 25, 1870, in favour of her son, Alfonso XII, and the cause of the restoration was furthered. She had separated from her husband in the previous March and continued to live in France after the restoration in 1874. 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 resided in Paris for the rest of her life, seldom traveling 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. She died on April 10, 1904, and is entombed in El Escorial.


In 1837, Spain developed legislatively into a constitutional monarchy. Before that date, the underage Isabella was still known by the centuries-old feudal, symbolic, long titulary that included both extant and extinct titles and claims: "Doña Isabel II por la Gracia de Dios, Reina de Castilla, de León, de Aragón, de las Dos Sicilias, de Jerusalén, de Navarra, de Granada, de Toledo, de Valencia, de Galicia, de Mallorca, de Sevilla, de Cerdeña, de Córdoba, de Córcega, de Murcia, de Menorca, de Jaen, de los Algarbes, de Algeciras, de Gibraltar, de las Islas Canarias, de las Indias Orientales y Occidentales, Islas y Tierra firme del mar Océano; Archiduquesa de Austria; Duquesa de Borgoña, de Brabante y de Milan; Condesa de Aspurg, Flandes, Tirol y Barcelona; Señora de Vizcaya y de Molina &c. &c".

In English: "Lady Isabelle II, by the grace of God Queen of Castille, León, Aragon, the Two Sicilies, Jerusalem, Navarre, Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Seville, Sardinia, Cordoba, Corsica, Murcia, Minorca, Jaen, Algarve, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, the Eastern and Western Indies, the Islands and Lands of the Ocean; Archduchess of Austria; Duchess of Burgundy, Brabant and Milan; Countess of Habsburg, Flanders, Tyrol and Barcelona; Lady of Biscay and Molina, etc etc."

At the change, a new format of the titulary was taken into use for Isabella: "Por la gracia de Dios y la Constitución de la Monarquía española, Reina de las Españas" ("By the grace of God and the Constitution of the Spanish monarchy, Queen of the Spains").


"This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica."

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