Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, Enacted in Cádiz on March 19, 1812


On March 19, 1812, during the Spanish War of Independence (1808−14), the Cortes of Cádiz promulgated the Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, affectionately known as “La Pepa” for having been enacted on Saint Joseph’s day. The constitution had ten titles and 384 articles and was of a markedly liberal character. It was the first constitution in Spain that established national sovereignty and the division of powers. Its principal characteristic was its declared intention to introduce a thorough reorganization of the state based on liberal principles. King Fernando VII reigned briefly in 1808, before being overthrown by Napoleon. Fernando reassumed the throne in 1813, at the end of the war of independence. Upon his return to power, he abolished the constitution, thereby restoring absolute monarchical power. Fernando exercised this power until the end of his reign in 1833, except for the liberal three-year interregnum of 1820 to 1823, when the constitution of Cádiz was reestablished as the fundamental law of the state. This edition of the 1812 constitution was published in 1822, during the liberal triennium. The court engraver to his majesty, José María de Santiago, was charged with making a smaller luxury edition dedicated to Congress. All of the pages are adorned; the text is boxed in an architectural border, and the beginning of each title is decorated with an allegorical vignette alluding to its content.

Last updated: July 8, 2015