Aragon during the First Bourbons

The War of Sucession

Close to death and without children, Charles II had named Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louise XIV of France, as his heir. However, Archduke Charles of Hapsbourg laid claim to the throne with the support of England and Holland. This difference of opinion was settled by force of arms. During the war, the states of the Crown of Aragon supported the ambitions of Charles (the Kingdom of Aragon divided its support so that officially it supported one side or the other depending on how the war progressed). The Crown of Castille supported Philip.

The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) meant an end to the war with the victory of the Bourbons and the beginning of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain.

The building of a centralized state

Philip V had little by little imposed his rule on the country after each victory. Thus on 29th June 1707 he abolished the Fueros (1) of Aragon and Valencia and replaced them with the Castilian legal code. In 1711 he established a new government in Aragon and acted as legislator and absolute monarch.

The social and economic changes

During the 18th century there were no more internal conflicts, except for disturbances amongst the peasantry caused by lack of food. The country participated in external conflicts such as the Seven Years War, in which Spain supported France against England and Portugal.

In the second half of the century the new ideas of the Enlightenment spread through the country and Aragon, like other parts of Spain, organised the Real Sociedad Economica Aragonesa de Amigos del Pais.


Family of Charles IV

The War against the French National Convention

Aragon, whose northern borders abutted on France, was affected by the French Revolution after 1789. The passage of revolutionary literature, ideas and travellers across the Pyrenees coincided with a period of poor harvests to act as a catalyst of among the day labourers and gave rise to riots. In 1793 the French National Convention declared war on Spain. Volunteers were recruited amongst the farmers to fight in the Aragonese and Navarran Pyrenees and urban militias were formed in Saragossa. Two years later, peace treaties were signed, but the high cost of the war forced the Crown to devalue the currency and to expropriate and auction Church lands.

The French invasion

The poor harvests, high prices and speculation aggravated the political and social crisis. This was the situation the French troops found when they entered the Iberian peninsula. After the popular rising against Napoleon (Madrid, 2nd May 1808), preparations were made for the the rebellion against Godoy, the King's Prime Minister, who was accused of giving his consent to the entry of the French army.


May 2nd

The Peninsular War

Fernando VII's renunciation of the Crown in Bayonne on 24th May caused even greater disturbances and in Saragossa there was a popular uprising directed by the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. The Peninsular War (1808-1814) had begun. During the war, the Spanish Chambers, met in Cadiz, approved a liberal charter in 1812.

The restoration

After the expulsion of the French by Anglo-Spanish troops and the reestablishment of peace, Fernando VII was crowned and immediately restored an absolutist regime.


Notes

1. The "Fueros" were the ancient laws of the different provinces of Spain. Each province had its own legal code and rights (taxation, right to bear arms, etc.)


Pilar Rivero

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