In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Spain is Number 34 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. This relatively brief study covers political history and social and political conditions. It traces the history of Spain from the abdication of King Charles IV in 1808 to the reign of King Alfonso XIII beginning in 1902, a turbulent period that included Napoleon’s intervention in the country, domestic revolts, rebellions, constitutional crises, the revolt and ultimate loss of most of Spain’s colonies in the Americas, intervention in Morocco, war with the United States, and the loss of Spain’s remaining colonies of Cuba and the Philippines. The section on political history summarizes these events and ends on a hopeful note, concluding that “there appeared to be signs that Spain had at last attained to a condition of stability and was about to enter on a period of true prosperity.” The section on social and political conditions discusses the power of the Roman Catholic Church, the functioning of the constitutional monarchy under the constitution of 1876, and the “acute distress” of much of the population. Spain is described as a poor country, in which poverty was due both to natural causes and to “bad administration and obstinate adherence to a faulty economic policy.” Spain remained neutral during World War I.

Last updated: September 5, 2014