Spain Recent History

By | June 4, 2021

History of Spain from the 16th century to today

The Habsburgs on the Spanish throne

The Habsburgs remained on the Spanish throne until 1700. In 1568 an eighty year war began against the Netherlands. In 1648 the Netherlands gained independence. In 1580 Portugal was annexed to Spain after the death of the last Portuguese king. In 1588 the Spanish Armada went under, which decided the power struggle between England and Spain. In 1640 Portugal regained its independence. After the death of Charles II in 1700, a dispute broke out over the succession because he had no heir: the War of the Spanish Succession.

Bourbons on the throne

The War of Succession finally brought Philip V to the throne. He came from the house of Anjou of the French noble family of the Bourbons. To this day they represent the Spanish kings.

The Spanish colonies become independent

Between 1809 and 1825, the Spanish colonies in Central and South America gradually gained independence. When an uprising broke out in Cuba in 1895, it led to war against the United States in 1898. In this Spanish-American war the last major possessions were lost to the USA, namely Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. Only in Africa did Spain now have smaller colonies (Morocco and Equatorial Guinea).

The 20th Century: From Monarchy to Second Republic

Since 1886 Alfonso XIII was. King of Spain. The country was a backward agricultural country, the social contrasts were great, the economic hardship too. Few large landowners owned most of the land. In consultation with the king, Miguel Primo der Rivera established a military dictatorship in 1923. In January 1930, Primo de Rivera had to resign.

He was succeeded by General Berenguer, who called elections in April 1931. The Republicans won the April 1931 elections. The king left the country. The Second Republic was proclaimed (there had been a First Republic for almost two years in 1873/74). But the old problems remained.

Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)

According to ehangzhou, 1936 came the military coup by General Franco. But he could not take power in all parts of the country. Republicans and socialists tried to prevent the seizure of power. So it came to the civil war. Franco received support from the fascist powers of the German Empire and Italy. The republic ended with the victory of the putschists.

Spanish Civil War

Franco dictatorship (1939-1975)

Francisco Franco had won. The first years of his rule were marked by political cleansing: the opponents were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and executed. At least 150,000 people were killed in this way. In the later years of the dictatorship, Spain remained politically isolated. The country recovered economically.

Transition: Spain becomes monarchy again (1975-1982)

After Franco’s death, Juan Carlos I became head of state of Spain – as Franco had decided. In 1978 a new constitution was passed and Spain became a parliamentary monarchy. In 1981 another military coup was foiled. The transition to democracy, which is also known as transition, took place within a few years.

Democracy since 1982

Felipe González of the Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) became prime minister in 1982 and remained in office until 1996. Spain joined NATO and the EU. In the Basque Country, the terrorist ETA sought autonomy and killed several hundred people in attacks. The GAL set up by the state, which the ETA was supposed to fight against, also used terrorist means.

The involvement of the state, the poor economic situation and corruption scandals resulted in the opposition of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) winning the next elections. Thus, José María Aznar Prime Minister (1996-2004). But even during his reign there were a number of political scandals. He was also criticized for the US support in the 2003 Iraq war.

In 2004 the PSOE came back to power under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. In 2007 the economy went into a downturn (recession). 2011 won the PP again with Mariano Rajoy at the top. In 2014, Juan Carlos handed the crown over to his son, Felipe VI. In Catalonia, the independence movement strengthened in 2017, which led to the Catalonia crisis. In 2018, Pedro Sánchez of the PSOE became the new Prime Minister.