In the reign of Isabel II (1833 - 1868) as well Madrid as the rest of Spain lived periods of politic instability, beginning with Civil War promoted by the carlists upon Fernando VII death.

Plots, conspiracies, pronouncements and barricades lifted up on the city streets increased considerably.

Favourite activity of most of nobility, armed forces, middle class and part of the simple people was "the conspiracy". Coffee shops, literary gatherings, newspapers, and some other reunion places feeded all kind of rumours and revolutions.

It is not a question of describing the political situation of this reign. Only point out that highest instability raised during the youth of the queen, and as example just say that between 1836 y 1847, twenty-five Ministry Departments followed, meaning a media of a new government each five months plus some days.

Among the pronouncements the "Vicalvarada" of 1854 is outstanding. O'Donell and Dulce generals rose up against the government and their troops fought at Vicalvaro, a village near Madrid. The triumph of the rebels allowed the forming of a new government with general Espartero, who had been regent with a progressive liberal fame. This attempt lasted for two years.

During the days after the triumph there were in Madrid street brawls and assaults to palaces and houses of ministers and nobles. It is worth pointing out, among others, the assult to the Fomentation Minister house, placed at Calle del Prado on the corner of Calle León. As well, José de Salamanca palace on Calle de Cedaceros was assaulted and burned down. Same happened to Revenue Minister house.

Barricades appeared on streets near Puerta del Sol. But the bigger popular rage concentrated on the police chief, who was taken off his house, made him walk receiving the insults and attacks from the crowd, and finally shot at Plaza de la Cebada.



Isabel II, who reign Spain from 1833 to 1868,
year when she exiled to France
after the "Gloriosa" revolution triumph.

At 1865, a royal decision gave rise to popular demonstrations, which caused the famous "Saint Daniel night". This happened 10th of April. The reason was the proposal of Isabel II of giving the state the seventy-five per cent of the sale of royal patrimony goods, keeping the royal family the twenty-five per cent left.

The queen's generosity was not properly understood as on strict terms, she was selling goods that were not hers.

As well government as municipal government manifested themselves in favour of it, as they could solve the economical difficulties they were going through with this money. Only some politicians were in opposition and one voice raised highly against the proposal, that of Emilio Castelar, at "La Democracia" newspaper.

And he spoke with vehemence and using words such as: "…from the politic point of view, it's a fraud; from the juridical point of view, an usurpation; from the legal point of view, it's a contempt to the law; from the popular point of view, a menace to the people's interest".

As his author was Spanish History proffesor at central university, government pressed the university rector to open a file on him. As rector did not accept, he was also fired. This promoted the student protests, which ended with 12 deaths and some 200 wounded, due to the firing of a company from the Veteran Guard.

The goods sale affected part of El Retiro, the one closer to Paseo del Prado, which gave raise some years later to the built of Los Jerónimos neighbourhood.

A new pronouncement in September 1868, headed by Serrano, Prim and Topete generals while the queen was on her summer holidays, paved the way to a revolutionary period.



Alfonso XII (1857 - 1885), was proclaimed king
by general Martínez Campos.
He is great-grandfather of Spanish King, Juan Carlos I.

Triumph of the raised troops promoted the liberation of the politic prisoners imprisoned at San Francisco barracks, as well as the student protests which still had fresh the memory of San Daniel night and who run trough the city pulling out all royal shields they found on their way.

Although with a three years delay, students had won the queen, who was sent into exile.

On the last quarter of the century they start building up the boulevards, being first the one at Calle de Carranza. Amadeo de Saboya has just been proclaimed king and, on 1st June 1871, on the streets of the city the first tramways pulled by horses began to circulate. One year before, general Prim was killed at Calle del Turco and Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer died at the capital.

At the end of the century, the Villa get to know very important public building works: the new Viaduct over Calle de Segovia, Apollo Theatre, Atocha basilica and the new bullring at Fuente del Berro.

The new drive walk at El Retiro is opened to the public, iron market at Plaza de la Cebada is inaugurated, as well as Pawnshop new house, Anthropologic Museum, Comedy Theatre, Castellana's racetrack, direct railway to Portugal, Delicias railway station and the Fallen Angel fountain.

They set the first stone of La Almudena cathedral; Crystal palace at El Retiro is inaugurated, the Isabel the Catholic monument, the Ateneo, San Ildefonso college, Aguirre schools, the new Bank of Spain building, and legendary San Vicente Gate is demolished, being gladly rebuilt on 1995 over its old foundations.

On the politic order, last third of the century has seen off firstly with the 1st Republic proclamation and then with the monarchy restoration. Alfonso XII dies, his son Alfonso XIII is born, and Doña María Cristina is regent of Spain.

Copyright © 2002 by JLL & JRP

All rights reserved.