When the Spanish diplomats attended the Congress of Vienna in 1814, they represented a victorious State, but a ruined and divided nation. The profound crisis of Spain had seriously undermined the Spanish American empire, because many of the American colonies claimed their independence in the first decades of the 19th century.
The history of the rest of the 19th century was dominated by the dynastic dilemma produced by the death without male heir of Ferdinand VII. His daughter took the throne as Isabel II, but her uncle, the legendary Don Carlos, opposed her claim, thus giving rise to the first of the two Carlist Wars, which chiefly affected Navarre, the Basque Country and El Maestrazgo, the region which bestrides Castellon, Tarragona and Teruel.
Significant dates of the 19th century are:
1808 to 1813: The Spanish people rise against French domination (May 2nd 1808) and with English help defeat Napoleon.
1814 to 1833: During the reign of Fernando VII, the Spanish colonies of America gain their independence, except Cuba and Puerto Rico.
1833 to 1868: On the death of Ferdinand VII, the rise to power of Isabel II brings about the first Carlist War as the Salic law is abolished.
1841 to 1843: General Espartero is proclaimed regent of the kingdom.
1843: General Narvaez deposes General Espartero.
1854: Leopoldo O'Donnell rebels against Narvaez and alternates with him as Prime Minister.
1868: The revoluction which overthrows Isabel II is headed by Generals Serrano and Prim.
1870: Amadeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, is elected king of Spain. General Prim is assassinated.
1873: Amadeo I abdicates and the Cortes proclaim a republic.
1873 to 1874: The First Republic.- The Republic has to deal with war in Cuba, the third Carlist war and the cantonalist rising of the South and South East of the country. After the presidencies of the Republic by Figueras, Pi y Margall, Salmeron and Castelar, the 'pronunciamiento' of General Pavia dissolves the Cortes and establishes the government of General Serrano.
1874: The Restoration.- General Martinez Campos rises in Sagunto and proclaims the restoration of the Bourbons (Borbones) under Alfonso XII.
1876 to 1878: The defeat of Carlism and the peace of El Zanjon, which brings to an end the ten year war in Cuba, makes it possible to set up a stable Government.
1885 to 1886: Alfonso XII dies and is succeeded by his posthumous son, Alfonso XIII, under the regency of his mother, Maria Cristina de Habsburgo y Lorena.
1895: The Cuban war of independence breaks up.
1898: The war with the United States puts an end to the remains of the Spanish colonial empire: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines are turned over to the victors.