History - The Bourbons


These French rulers dominated Spain from 1700 until the early 1900s.

Andalucia suffered the ravages of the War of Succession 1701-1713, when the Bourbons were fighting with Archduke Charles of Austria (allied with the British) over the Spanish throne. In the course of this war, Gibraltar was lost to the British.

In the early 18th century, the commercial landscape of Andalucia was reshaped, as trade moved from inland Seville to coastal Cadiz when the Guadalquivir river silted up. Later that century, Pablo Olavide, Carlos III's chief advisor, established new settlements to repopulate the Sierra Morena in Jaen. This plan, which donated land and livestock to foreign colonists from Northern Europe to start their new life, was not entirely successful.

At The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British fleet, under Admiral Lord Nelson, defeated the Spanish allied with the French led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. This battle touched off the War of Independence, or Peninsular War (1808-1813), as Spain's defeat resulted in the Spanish King being forced to abdicate; Napoleon immediately seized power.

In 1808 the French emperor put his brother Joseph on the throne; the Spanish government refused to recognise him. The subsequent conflict - the Peninsular War - brought Napoleon's troops to Spain, where they occupied many cities, destroying many buildings and looting artistic treasures. Spain was allied with England against France at this stage, under the Duke of Wellington, and together the armies eventually succeeded in driving out the French troops. One fallen British officer who aided with the liberation of Seville in 1812 was honoured with a memorial.

During this period of French occupation, Spain had its first constitution, in 1812: see La Pepa. But this liberal constitution was banned after the Bourbons were restored to the throne, followed Napoleon's departure, in 1814.

There followed further wars of succession, called the Carlist Wars, with one heir to the throne backed by the Church, conservatives and Basques, and the other supported by the Liberals and army.

During the remaining part of the 19th century, Andalucia's economy suffered the direct effect of loss of trade with, and independence for, the South American colonies, ending with Cuban independence in 1898. A further blow came from the phylloxera plague which destroyed many vineyards.

This was the Romantic period, when American writer Washington Irving lived in the Alhambra, and published his Tales of the Alhambra. British aristocrat Richard Ford wrote about his experiences of living in Seville and travelling around Andalucia; unusually, he was accepted by Seville high society. French writer Merimee published his short story Carmen, about the immortal gypsy cigarette-maker from the city.

Important buildings from this period include Seville's Tobacco Factory, and baroque buildings in Ecija and Osuna.