Discuss the reasons for the failing in the creation of a successful liberal state in Spain during the 19th Century
The 19th and early 20th century was a time of ‘complex division of the country into two broadly antagonistic social blocks’; between the traditional forces, such as the Church, who wanted society to remain the same, and the liberal forces, mainly intellectual bourgeoisie, who wanted to modernise Spain. (Paul Preston - A concise history of the Spanish civil war (Fontana press 1996). It was a situation, which could be argued, was destined for conflict as the politicians in charge of the country were beginning to adopt liberal ideas, and the majority of the population were still entrenched in their traditional values; God, Patria (Fatherland) and King. Despite the fact that ‘Liberalism’ was coined in the country, in 1812, Spain failed to become a successful liberal state during the 19th century. This essay will be addressing why Spain failed to make that transition to a Liberal state, focusing mainly on issues such as; the role of other institutions in preventing the triumph of liberalism, the weaknesses and failures of the liberals themselves and the economic and social realities of Spain at the time.
There were effectively three main groups that prevented the successful implementation of a liberal state; the Church, the Army and the Monarchy. The Army did not consciously try to combat liberalism but their continuous role in politics did weaken the political stability, therefore it will be further analysed.
The role of the army in the failure to create a successful liberal state can only be fully appreciated when one understands that the division in Spain between the traditionalists and liberals, and the division between the liberals themselves, ‘was common to the European liberalism’. What was unique to the Spanish model of liberalism was the role of the army in politics. In fact, so prominent was their impact on Spanish politics that the...