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Alfonso XIII

Alfonso XIII
King of Spain
Reign 17 May 1886 – 14 April 1931
Predecessor Alfonso XII
Successor Niceto Alcalá-Zamora
(President of the Republic)
Juan Carlos I
(King of Spain in 1975)
Spouse Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
Issue
Alfonso, Prince of Asturias
Jaime, Duke of Segovia
Beatriz, Princess of Civitella-Cesi
Infanta Maria Christina, Countess of Marone
Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona
Infante Gonzalo
Full name
Alfonso León Fernando María Jaime Isidro Pascual Antonio de Borbón y Austria-Lorena
House House of Bourbon
Father Alfonso XII of Spain
Mother Maria Christina of Austria
Born (1886-05-17)17 May 1886
Madrid, Spain
Died 28 February 1941(1941-02-28) (aged 54)
Rome, Italy
Burial El Escorial
Religion Roman Catholicism

Alfonso XIII (Spanish: Alfonso León Fernando María Jaime Isidro Pascual Antonio de Borbón y Habsburg-Lorena; English: Alphonse Leon Ferdinand Mary James Isidor Pascal Anthony of Bourbon and Habsburg-Lorraine; 17 May 1886 – 28 February 1941) was King of Spain from 1886 until 1931.

Alfonso was monarch from birth, as his father Alfonso XII had died the previous year. Until his 16th birthday in 1902, his mother, Maria Christina of Austria, served as his regent, in a period which saw Spain lose its Caribbean and Pacific colonies during the Spanish-American War. Due to family ties to both sides,[1] Alfonso kept his kingdom neutral in World War I (1914–1918).

From 1923 to 1930, Alfonso supported the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera. In 1931, in the face of overwhelming popular rejection, Alfonso fled the country as the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed. In exile, he retained his claim to the throne until 1941, when he abdicated in favor of his son Juan. He died six weeks later.

Reign

Birth and regency


Alfonso was born in Madrid on 17 May 1886. He was the posthumous son of Alfonso XII of Spain, who had died in November 1885, and became King of Spain upon his birth. The French newspaper Le Figaro described the young king as "the happiest and best-loved of all the rulers of the earth".[2] His mother, Maria Christina of Austria, served as his regent until his 16th birthday. During the regency, in 1898, Spain lost its colonial rule over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines as a result of the Spanish-American War.

When he came of age in 1902, the week of his majority was marked by festivities, bullfights, balls and receptions throughout Spain.[3]

Engagement and marriage

By 1905, Alfonso was looking for a suitable consort. On a state visit to the United Kingdom, he stayed at Buckingham Palace with King Edward VII. There he met Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, the Scottish-born daughter of Edward's youngest sister Princess Beatrice, and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. He found her attractive, and she returned his interest. There were obstacles to the marriage. Victoria was a Protestant, and would have to become a Catholic. Victoria's brother Leopold was a haemophiliac, so there was 50% chance that Victoria was a carrier of the trait. Finally, Alfonso's mother Maria Christina wanted him to marry a member of her family, the House of Habsburg.

Victoria was willing to change her religion, and her being a haemophilia carrier was only a possibility. Maria Christina was eventually persuaded to drop her opposition. In January 1906 she wrote an official letter to Princess Beatrice proposing the match. Victoria met Maria Christina and Alfonso in Biarritz, France, later that month, and converted to Catholicism in San Sebastián in March.

In May, diplomats of both kingdoms officially executed the agreement of marriage. Alfonso and Victoria were married at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid on 31 May 1906, with British royalty in attendance, including Victoria's cousins the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King George V and Queen Mary. The wedding was marred by an assassination attempt on Alfonso and Victoria by Catalan anarchist Mateu Morral. As the wedding procession returned to the palace, he threw a bomb from a window which killed or injured several bystanders and members of the procession.[4]

On 10 May 1907, the couple's first child, Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, was born. However, Victoria was in fact a haemophilia carrier, and Alfonso inherited the condition. He bled continuously for many hours after his circumcision.

Neither of the two daughters born to the King and Queen were haemophilia carriers, but another of their sons, Gonzalo (1914-1934), had the condition. Alfonso distanced himself from his Queen for transmitting the condition to their sons.[5]

From 1914 on, he had several mistresses, and fathered five illegitimate children. (A sixth illegitimate child was born before his marriage.)

World War I

During the World War I, because of his family connections with both sides and the division of popular opinion, Spain remained neutral. The King established an office for assistance to prisoners of war on all sides. This office used the Spanish diplomatic and military network abroad to intercede for thousands of POWs - transmitting and receiving letters for them, and other services. The office was located in the Royal Palace.

Alfonso became gravely ill during the 1918 flu pandemic. Spain was neutral and thus under no wartime censorship restrictions, so his illness and subsequent recovery were reported to the world, while flu outbreaks in the belligerent countries were concealed. This gave the false impression that Spain was the most-affected area and led to the pandemic being dubbed "the Spanish Flu."[6]

Rif War and Primo de Rivera

Following World War I, Spain entered the lengthy yet successful Rif War (1920–1926) to preserve its colonial rule over northern Morocco. Critics of the monarchy thought the war was an unforgivable loss of money and lives, and nicknamed Alfonso el Africano ("the African").[7] In 1923, General Miguel Primo de Rivera seized power in a military coup. He ruled as a dictator with Alfonso's support until 1930. The poetic Generation of '27 and Catalan and Basque nationalism grew in this era

Second Republic and Civil War


In 1930, due to economic problems and general unpopularity, Primo de Rivera resigned. Alfonso as Primo de Rivera's ally shared the popular dislike. In April 1931, General José Sanjurjo told him even the army was not loyal. On 12 April, the republican parties won a landslide victory in municipal elections. On 14 April, he fled the country as the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed, but did not abdicate. He settled eventually in Italy, where he lived in Rome.

In 1933, his two eldest sons, Alfonson and Jaime, renounced their claims to the throne, and in 1934 his youngest son Gonzalo died. This left his third son Juan his only heir. Juan was the father of the current King, Juan Carlos.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Alfonso made it clear he favored the "Nationalist" military rebels against the Republic. But in September 1936 the Nationalist leader, General Francisco Franco, declared that the Nationalists would not restore Alfonso as King. (The Nationalist army included many Carlist supporters of a rival pretender.)

Nevertheless, he sent his son Juan to Spain in 1936, to participate in the uprising. However, General Mola had Juan arrested near the French border and expelled from the country.

On 29 September 1936, upon the death of Infante Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime (also the Carlist pretender, but known to French legitimists as Charles XII), Alfonso also became the senior heir of Hugh Capet and so was hailed by legitimists as King Alphonse I of France and Navarre.

Abdication and death

On 15 January 1941, Alfonso XIII abdicated his rights to the Spanish throne in favor of Juan. He died in Rome on 28 February of that year.

In Spain, the dictator Franco ordered three days of national mourning.[8] His funeral was held in Rome in the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. Alfonso was buried in the Church of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli, the Spanish national church in Rome, immediately below the tombs of Pope Callixtus III and Pope Alexander VI.[9] In January 1980 his remains were transferred to El Escorial in Spain.[10]

Interests

Alfonso was a promoter of tourism in Spain. The need for the lodging of his wedding guests prompted the construction of the luxury Hotel Palace in Madrid. He also supported the creation of a network of state-run lodges (Parador) in historic buildings of Spain. His fondness for the sport of football led to the patronage of several "Royal" ("Real" in Spanish) football clubs, the first being Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña in 1907.[11] Selected others include Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Real Unión and Real Zaragoza.

Marriage and children

On 31 May 1906, Alfonso married Scottish-born Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (1887–1969). A Serene Highness by birth, Ena, as she was known, was raised to Royal Highness status a month before her wedding to make the union equal.

Alfonso and Ena had six living children:

Illegitimate issue

Alfonso also had six illegitimate children:

By French aristocrat Mélanie de Gaufridy de Dortan (1876–1937) married to Joseph-Marie-Philippe Lévêque de Vilmorin, he had

  • Roger Marie Vincent Philippe Lévêque de Vilmorin (12 September 1905 – 20 July 1980)[12] · .[13]

By Spanish actress María del Carmen Ruíz y Moragas (1898–1936):

  • Ana María Teresa Ruíz y Moragas (9 October 1925 – 6 September 1965)
  • Leandro Alfonso Luis Ruíz y Moragas (born 26 April 1929), officially recognized by Spanish Courts on 21 May 2003 as Leandro Alfonso Luis de Borbón y Ruíz Moragas

By Béatrice Noon, he had

  • Juana Alfonsa Milán y Quiñones de León (19 April 1916 – 16 May 2005)

By Pauline of Saint Glen, he had

  • Charles Maxime Victor of Saint Glen (3 July 1914 – 20 May 1934).

By Marie Sousa, he had

  • Alonso of Borbon Sousa (28 December 1930 – 30 April 1934).

Heraldry

Honours

In Oaxaca City, Mexico a drink consisting of milk and creme de cafe is known as an "Alphonso 13."

Media

Alfonso XIII appears as "King Buby" in Luis Coloma's story of Ratoncito Pérez (1894), which was written for the King when he was 8 years old. The story of Ratoncito Pérez has been adapted into further literary works and movies since then, with the character of Alfonso XIII appearing in some. Alfonso XIII is also mentioned on the plaque to Ratoncito Pérez on the second floor of "la calle del Arenal".

Ancestry

References

Bibliography

  • Churchill, Winston. Great Contemporaries. London: T. Butterworth, 1937. Contains the most famous single account of Alfonso in the English language. The author, writing shortly after the Spanish Civil War began, retained considerable fondness for the ex-sovereign.
  • Collier, William Miller. At the Court of His Catholic Majesty. Chicago: McClurg, 1912. The author was American ambassador to Spain from 1905 to 1909.
  • Noel, Gerard. Ena: Spain's English Queen. London: Constable, 1985. Considerably more candid than Petrie about Alfonso the private man, and about the miseries the royal family experienced because of their hemophiliac children.
  • Petrie, Charles. King Alfonso XIII and His Age. London: Chapman & Hall, 1963. Written as it was during Queen Ena's lifetime, this book necessarily omits the King's extramarital affairs; but it remains a useful biography, not least because the author knew Alfonso quite well, interviewed him at considerable length, and relates him to the Spanish culture of his time.
  • Pilapil, Vicente R. Alfonso XIII. Twayne's rulers and statesmen of the world series 12. New York: Twayne, 1969.
  • Sencourt, Robert. King Alfonso: A Biography. London: Faber, 1942.

External links

  • Historiaantiqua. Alfonso XIII; (Spanish) (2008)
Alfonso XIII of Spain
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 17 May 1886 Died: 28 February 1941
Regnal titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Alfonso XII
King of Spain
17 May 1886 – 14 April 1931
Vacant
Title next held by
Juan Carlos I
Political offices
Preceded by
Maria Christina of Austria
as Queen regent of Spain
Head of State of Spain
as King
17 May 1886 – 14 April 1931
Succeeded by
Niceto Alcalá-Zamora
as President of Spain
Titles in pretence
Loss of title — TITULAR —
King of Spain
14 April 1931 – 15 January 1941
Succeeded by
Juan III
Preceded by
Alphonse I
— TITULAR —
King of France and Navarre
29 September 1936 – 28 February 1941
Reason for succession failure:
Bourbon monarchy deposed in 1830
Succeeded by
Jacques II
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Dwight F. Davis
Cover of Time Magazine
22 December 1924
Succeeded by
Charles Evans Hughes

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