At what cost?

At what cost?

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At what cost? Spanish neutrality in the First World War
Lowry, Carolyn S
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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World War I
Alfonso XIII
Restoration monarchy
Dissertations, Academic -- History -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: While historians have gone to great efforts in studying the belligerent powers during the First World War, very little attention has been paid to such neutral powers as Spain. Several European nations declared neutrality in 1914, but many strayed from this course in favor of active belligerence. Spain, however, remained neutral for the war's duration; thus, this thesis examines and explores the nature of Spanish neutrality during the First World War. Spain's decision to adhere to a neutral policy required serious consideration as it had to weigh the consequences and advantages of intervention; however, military and economic weakness, as well as diplomatic isolation pushed Spain towards neutrality. Some hoped by abstaining from involvement, their country would emerge at the war's end as the arbiter of peace, enabling Spain to regain prestige and reestablish itself as a major continental power.However, neutrality proved to be a difficult undertaking because Spain could not escape the hardships and effects of a continental war. As domestic crises enveloped the country, a divided public aligned itself into Francophiles and Germanophiles. Escalating domestic issues became exacerbated by diplomatic conflicts resulting from the German submarine warfare campaign, which challenged Spain's neutrality policy. Thus, Spain found itself in a precarious position during the war. While recognizing the necessity to maintain neutrality, it suffered serious consequences for its decision. It did not emerge from the war as an arbiter of peace, but suffered diplomatic humiliation over its failure to overcome the German submarine threat. The government's focus on foreign policy led its leaders to ignore the growing domestic discontent, which further destabilized an already unsteady government.As a result, governments rose and fell as all proved incapable of resolving Spain's ever-increasing problems. The case of Spain in the First World War demonstrates that neutrality is not necessarily the safe course that many believe, as no country can fully escape the effects of war. As a neutral, Spain faced incredible difficulties. The government's neutrality policy kept Spain out of the war, but the regime faced the significant consequences of this decision including its ultimate demise.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Carolyn S. Lowry.

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At what cost? :
b Spanish neutrality in the First World War
h [electronic resource] /
by Carolyn S. Lowry.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 71 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: While historians have gone to great efforts in studying the belligerent powers during the First World War, very little attention has been paid to such neutral powers as Spain. Several European nations declared neutrality in 1914, but many strayed from this course in favor of active belligerence. Spain, however, remained neutral for the war's duration; thus, this thesis examines and explores the nature of Spanish neutrality during the First World War. Spain's decision to adhere to a neutral policy required serious consideration as it had to weigh the consequences and advantages of intervention; however, military and economic weakness, as well as diplomatic isolation pushed Spain towards neutrality. Some hoped by abstaining from involvement, their country would emerge at the war's end as the arbiter of peace, enabling Spain to regain prestige and reestablish itself as a major continental power.However, neutrality proved to be a difficult undertaking because Spain could not escape the hardships and effects of a continental war. As domestic crises enveloped the country, a divided public aligned itself into Francophiles and Germanophiles. Escalating domestic issues became exacerbated by diplomatic conflicts resulting from the German submarine warfare campaign, which challenged Spain's neutrality policy. Thus, Spain found itself in a precarious position during the war. While recognizing the necessity to maintain neutrality, it suffered serious consequences for its decision. It did not emerge from the war as an arbiter of peace, but suffered diplomatic humiliation over its failure to overcome the German submarine threat. The government's focus on foreign policy led its leaders to ignore the growing domestic discontent, which further destabilized an already unsteady government.As a result, governments rose and fell as all proved incapable of resolving Spain's ever-increasing problems. The case of Spain in the First World War demonstrates that neutrality is not necessarily the safe course that many believe, as no country can fully escape the effects of war. As a neutral, Spain faced incredible difficulties. The government's neutrality policy kept Spain out of the war, but the regime faced the significant consequences of this decision including its ultimate demise.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Graydon A. Tunstall, Ph.D.
World War I
Alfonso XIII
Restoration monarchy
Dissertations, Academic
x History
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


At What Cost?: Spanish Neutrality in the First World War by Carolyn S. Lowry A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of History College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Graydon A. Tustall, Ph.D. Golfo Alexopoulos, Ph.D. John M. Belohlavek, Ph.D. Date of Approval: November 9, 2009 Keywords: Spain, World War I, Alfonso XIII, Restoration Monarchy, diplomacy Copyright 2009 Carolyn S. Lowry


Acknowledgements For with God, nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:37 I am deeply indebted to several indivi duals who provided invaluable support and assistance during the writing of this thesis. I especially appreciate the guidance of Dr. Graydon A. Tunstall, without whom I would have never reached this point. He has been there for every step of this journey advi sing, encouraging, and pushing me to aim higher and think harder. He made me a better student and an even better historian. I also am extremely grateful to Drs. Golfo Alexopoul os and John Belohlavek for their time and effort in reviewing and evaluating this thes is. To my editors and sisters, Elizabeth, Michele, and Rie, I am so thankful for thei r patience and honesty. They have made me a far better writer than I could have ever hoped to be. My pa rents were the first to instill within me a love of history and since then have been unwavering in their enthusiasm for my studies. They are my biggest fans and th rough all my complaints and frustrations have always been there to listen, to advise, and to encourage. They exemplify what every parent should be, and I consider myself tr uly blessed to be thei r daughter. Last, but certainly not least, my husband Rob has b een the rock I have relied upon since this process began. He was there through every allnighter with a reassuring word or an ice cream sundae and has always had faith in me even when I had none in myself.


i Table of Contents Abstract ii Introduction 1 The Roots of Instability 6 “Observer Neutralidad Ms Absoluta” 16 The War Enters Spain 30 Neutrality’s Ultimate Test 39 A Nation Revolts 48 The End of an Empire 55 Conclusion 61 Bibliography 64


ii At What Cost?: Spanish Neutrality in the First World War Carolyn S. Lowry ABSTRACT While historians have gone to great efforts in studying th e belligerent powers during the First World War, very little atten tion has been paid to such neutral powers as Spain. Several European nations declared ne utrality in 1914, but many strayed from this course in favor of active belligerence. Spai n, however, remained neutral for the warÂ’s duration; thus, this thesis examines and explores the nature of Spanish neutrality during the First World War. SpainÂ’s decision to adhere to a neutral policy required serious consideration as it had to weigh the consequences and advantages of intervention; however, military and economic weakness, as well as diplomatic isolation pushed Spain towards neutrality. Some hoped by abstaining from involvement, their country would emerge at the warÂ’s end as the arbiter of peace, enabling Spain to regain prestig e and reestablish itself as a major continental power. However, neutrali ty proved to be a difficult undertaking because Spain could not escape the hardship s and effects of a continental war. As domestic crises enveloped the country, a di vided public aligned its elf into Francophiles and Germanophiles. Escalating domestic i ssues became exacerbated by diplomatic conflicts resulting from the German subm arine warfare campaign, which challenged SpainÂ’s neutrality policy.


iii Thus, Spain found itself in a precarious position during the war. While recognizing the necessity to maintain neutrali ty, it suffered serious consequences for its decision. It did not emerge from the war as an arbiter of peace, but suffered diplomatic humiliation over its failure to overcome the German submarine threat. The governmentÂ’s focus on foreign policy led its leaders to i gnore the growing domestic discontent, which further destabilized an already unsteady gove rnment. As a result, governments rose and fell as all proved incapable of resolvi ng SpainÂ’s ever-increasing problems. The case of Spain in the First World War demonstrates that neutrality is not necessarily the safe course that many believe as no country can fully escape the effects of war. As a neutral, Spain faced incredib le difficulties. The governmentÂ’s neutrality policy kept Spain out of the war, but the regime faced the significant consequences of this decision including its ultimate demise.


1 Introduction Neutrality is not impartiality.1 What is neutrality? For some, it is a sign of cowardice, a perceived unwillingness for a nation to take a stand ag ainst right and wrong. For others neutrality represents the ability of a nation to transcend the historic barbarities of war in favor of a more enlightened, civilized method of diplomacy. However, regardless of an individual’s personal views on the policy of neutrality, it is a significant decision made by a nation to abstain from conflict. Merriam-Webster defines neutral as “not favoring either side in a quarrel, contest, or war.”2 Thus, neutrality is not a simple decision to avoid involvement; rather, it is a calculated choice made by a government to remain uninvolved militarily, as well as avoid any semblance of favoritism to either party. In spite of this, as writer Hermgenes Cenamor related, “Neutrality is not impartiality.” He further explained that a neutral nation: is able to be divided in its opinions of the war, according to the passions and interests of the political parties. It is inevitable that a neutral state and the nation it represents have an opinion about the war and the result of neutrality is always benevolence or hostility to one of the belligerents.3 Neutrality can create the same divisions as war. As a nation embarks on a neutral policy, it is virtually impossible to eliminate or disr egard the passions that emerge on both sides. 1 Hermgenes Cenamor, Los intereses materiales de Espaa en la guerra europea (Madrid: Librera de la Vuida de Pueyo, 1916), 163. 2 The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, s.v. “neutral.” 3 Cenamor, Los intereses materiales de Espaa, 163-164.


2 While these preferences do exist, the purpose of the government is ultimately to set personal views aside in order to follow the best course of action for the country. Therefore, while the declara tion of war is a monumental decision, the choice to remain neutral brings with it significant diplomatic and domestic consequences as was the case with Spain during World War I. The First World War wreaked havoc th roughout the world as fighting exploded on three continents and the great powers converged in a conflict that would leave millions dead and wounded, four empires destroyed, and the world attempting to cope with the horrors of 1914-1918. The impact of the war upo n the belligerents is apparent. Britain and France faced complete devastation at the war’s end as they wrestled with countless losses and economic ruin. Yet, they were the victors. Russia dissolved into revolution in 1917 and the defeated powers — Germany, Au stria-Hungary, and Turkey — saw their previous influence dissipate. Even the sm aller powers such as Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria faced tremendous hardships as a result of the war. However, while one expects adversity in war, the First World War left no nation untouched, and even the neutral powers did no t escape unscathed, particularly Spain. The case of Spain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries show s the ultimate demise of one of Europe’s greatest empires. While Spai n had dominated the continent in earlier centuries, its great empire fell far behind as the world expanded through industrialization and further imperial conquest. The sluggish pace of its industrial progress left Spain economically backward, and the country suffere d a devastating blow to its position with the loss of its overseas colonies after the 1898 Spanish-American War. Still reeling from these circumstances at the outbr eak of the war, Spain was in a fragile position. In fact,


3 Turkey, which faced similar circumstances, wa s often called the “Sick Man of Europe.” One Spanish journalist recognized the danger ous parallel and ques tioned whether Spain was not the “Turkey of the West.”4 When war erupted in 1914, the Spanis h government analyzed the possible consequences of intervention. Recognizing the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Spain’s leaders realized the country was in no position to become involved in a European conflict and believed that their lack of partic ipation in the war could ultimately yield a positive outcome for the struggling nation. As a result, the government immediately declared the country’s absolute neutrality, throwing Spain into a four-year diplomatic roller coaster. Unlike its neutral counterpar ts such as Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, it avoided active belligerence in the conflict and maintained its neutrality policy for the war’s duration. Despite its neutrality, Spain hardly elude d the consequences of war. While the government prevented Spain from entering the war, it could not prevent the war from entering Spain as the nation faced the same economic hardships of the belligerents. While it did experience some economic growth by taking advantage of the great powers’ inability to export, food shor tages and a lack of basic ne cessities created turmoil and discontent throughout the country. Already econo mically deficient at the war’s outbreak, the difficulties introduced by such a widesp read conflict furthere d the deteriorating conditions within Spain. 4 Luis Araquistain in Espaa, 2 November 1916, in M. Carmen Garca-Nieto and Esperanza Ylln Caldern, Crisis social y dictadura, 1914-1930, vol. 4 of Historia de Espaa 1808-1978 (Barcelona: Editorial Crtica, 1989), 51-52.


4 Exacerbating these economic hardships was Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare campaign that ravaged Spanish sh ipping producing a dangerous diplomatic situation that nearly drew the nation into war. As the war progressed, Spanish society divided itself into two factions — francfilos and germanfilos. The destruction caused at the hands of German submarines furthered th is divide as the nation struggled with the prospect of entering the war. With the Germanophiles staunchly supporting strict neutrality and the Francophiles demanding at least benevolent neut rality favoring the Entente, the Spanish government wa s in an impossible situation. As the submarine campaign affected Spai n’s economy and international standing, the government wrestled with how to handle it s ever-increasing problems. For four years, the Restoration monarchy, already rooted in instability, struggled to maintain the hegemonic control it held over the country, a nd the consequences of war only intensified their seeming demise. Governments rose and fell as none proved cap able of addressing the serious crises emerging in Spain. However, despite the rising costs, both domestic and diplomatic, the leaders of Spain maintained th e policy of neutrality until the war’s end in 1918. Although this course of action was not w ithout its consequences, Spain’s leaders had little choice, given Spain’ s inherent instability. Despite the constant pressures to abandon the neutrality policy, do ing so could have proved even more devastating as both the Central Powers and the Entente posed form idable threats should Spain have chosen to become involved in the conflict. Author on European neutrality, Efraim Karsh related, “Not only is neutrality not ‘ble ssed’ with the traits associated with it – but the successful


5 pursuit of this policy requires the most finely tuned foreign policy instruments.”5 Thus, while the policies and actions of Spain’ s leaders in 1914-1918 have been rightfully scrutinized and criticized, one cannot ignore the diploma tic endurance required to maintain this course in the face of such ex treme hardship. The results of this policy can hardly be described as successful and the c onduct of Spain’s leaders often appeared more cowardly than diplomatically sound. However, as King Alfonso XIII of Spain explained in 1917, “Each of us in his own sphere must do his duty for the well-being and honor of Spain.”6 5 Efraim Karsh, Neutrality and the Small States (London: Routledge, 1988), 32. 6 King Alfonso XIII in Sir Charles Petrie, King Alfonso XIII and His Age (London: Chapman & Hall Ltd., 1963), 127.


6 Chapter One The Roots of Instability The tragedy of Spanish public life is the abs olute absence of passion, the indifference, the shrinking of shoulders with an uncivil “what is it to me.”1 Spain’s government during the First World War had its roots in instability, which would only be exacerbated in the crises that developed from the war. Antonio Cnovas de Castillo was the architect of the Restorat ion Monarchy with Alfonso XII (1875-1885) and established its const itution in 1876. He argued that, “Thi s is the only way to form the mold a dynasty needs in order to ha ve a solid monarchical institution.”2 He determined that a stable Spanish government must consis t of a two-party system in which a Liberal and Conservative party alternated in power. Along with Liberal leader Prxedes Mateo Sagasta, Castillo crafted the turno pacfico (the peaceful rotation) .3 The Restoration’s early years were mark ed by repressive measures intended to regain control lost following years of revo lts and revolutions. They limited voting rights to only landowners and capacidades, those with high levels of education or academic titles.4 However, to maintain the political orde r, the government realized the need to convey authenticity in the voti ng system. Thus, towards the en d of the nineteenth century, the government instituted more liberal reform s such as relaxed censorship laws and male suffrage in 1890. These changes created the fals e appearance of Spain as one of the more 1 Luis Araquistain, Entre la guerra y la revolucion (Madrid: 1917), 144. 2 M. Carmen Garca-Nieto and Esperanza Ylln Caldern, Teora y prctica del parlamentarismo, 18741914, vol. 3 of Historia de Espaa 1808-1978 (Barcelona: Editorial Crtica, 1989), 16. 3 Raymond Carr, ed., Spain: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 223. 4 Garca-Nieto and Caldern, Teora y prctica del parlamentarismo, 17.


7 democratic European nations. But these devi ces only served to c onceal the monopoly of power enjoyed by the governing elite. In f act, this “Restoration” was founded through the manipulation of the very demo cratic ideals they had purporte dly established. In reality, the government functioned only through the rigging of elections known as caciquismo.5 The caciquismo achieved the desired election results by manipulating the Ministerio de la Gobernacin (Ministry of the Interior), which ensured the turno continued unabated. The heart of the caciquismo were the caciques, landowners, officials, moneylenders, lawyers, priests or other people of local au thority, who formed the backbone of the Spanish political structure.6 They possessed unlimited powers in their respective areas and established a clientelist network that guaranteed the necessary results to maintain the turno. Valent Almirall, a Catalan political activist spoke out against this system in his book, Espagne telle qu’elle est ( Spain Such as It Is). “If we wanted to list all the forms of fraud used in Spain to overt urn universal male suffrage or limit it to the whims of the government, we would never fi nish.” He expanded upon this by saying, “I have seen many times that my father, in spit e of having died years ago, has gone to place his ballot in the box under the wa tchful eye of a city official or a policeman dressed in a borrowed suit.”7 Yet despite this corru ption, the Restoration continued to function because of the apathy of the people. Almirall proved to be the exception as the majority of Spaniards allowed themselves to be controlled and manipulated by the caciques. This caciquismo political structure dominated Spain until the latter part of the war 5 Jos Alvarez Junco and Adrian Shubert, eds., Spanish History Since 1808 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 91. 6 Francisco J. Romero Salvad, Spain 1914-1918: Between War and Revolution (London: Routledge, 1999), 2. 7 Valent Almirall, Espagne telle que’elle est (Paris: Albert Savine, 1887), 141-52 as quoted in Jon Cowans, ed., Modern Spain: A Documentary History (Philadelphia: University of Penn sylvania Press, 2003), 71-73.


8 and played a key role in the maintenance of the Restoration regime. It was, however, judged by other countries as a major hindrance to Spain’s future. In an article written during the war, American political sc ientist Charles H. Cunningham stated: Although the cost of necessities of life has re ached almost unsupportable proportions and the coasts of Spain are blockaded by the German submarines… these facts have had little effect in giving to the average Spaniard any definite point of view or attitude toward the great struggle. He thinks little about the actualities of the situation, bu t leaves the entire solution of the matter to the ‘government,’ in which, evidently, he has no part.8 These thoughts were echoed by a Spanish journalist who wrote to a French colleague, “Believe me, political apathy continues to dominate Spain…. Even in raising the famous spectre of war, the professionals will not su cceed in awakening political life in Spain.”9 Relying upon this apathy, the Restorati on functioned fairly smoothly for twentyfive years, until a crisis emerged that raised doubts about its government’s effectiveness. In 1897, Castillo died and the Spanish-Am erican War immediately followed in 1898 resulting in the disastrous loss of its rema ining American and Asian colonies, including Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. El Desastre came as a shock to the Spanish, whose national culture maintained th e illusion that the world still considered Spain at least a middle-ranking world power. However, this si gnificant imperial defeat occurred at a peak in Europe’s “New Impe rialism” when a nation’s status as a world power depended largely upon colonial possessions Thus, Spaniards faced the realization 8 Charles H. Cunningham, “Spain and the War,” The American Political Science Review 11, no. 3 (August 1917): 422. 9 Gerald Meaker, “A Civil War of Words: The Ideol ogical Impact of the First World War on Spain, 19141918,” in Neutral Europe between War and Revolution, 1917-23 ed. Hans A. Schmitt (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1988), 7.


9 that according to some nations Spain was, as Lord Salisbury calle d it, a “dying nation.”10 Conservative leader, Francisco Silvela echoe d Lord Salisbury’s words in an article entitled, “Sin Pulso” (Without a Pulse) in whic h he wrote of the end of Spain’s “destiny as a European people.”11 As Salisbury and Silvela’s words echoed through the Spanish press and the illusion of world status shattered, segments of the Spanish population began to question their political system, as we ll as their nationhood. One weekly magazine wrote, “Today the question for us, not the ma in but the only and exclusive question, is one of life or death; one of whether we continue to exist as a nation or not.”12 Following El Desastre, an outcry arose from the cultura l elites of Spain —writers, poets, philosophers —who became known as th e Generation of ’98. They attacked the ruling regime and denounced the Restoration as the primary cause of Spain’s problems, lashing out against the caciquismo industrial and economic b ackwardness, clericalism and the decline of their society.13 Many Spaniards blamed the government for involving the nation in what they perceived to be a “terrible and perhaps unequal struggle.”14 Silvela recognized the changing perceptions toward the government leaders and admitted that they had failed the population. He expressed: The failure of the governing classes has been tremendous and a consequence of it is all that socalled regionalism, which is merely the weakness of the cerebral centre,… and the collapse of the 10 Rosario de la Torre del Ro, “La prensa madrilea y el discurso de Lord Salisbury sobre ‘las naciones moribundas’ (Londres, Albert Hall, 4 mayo 1898),” Cuadernos de Historia Moderna y Contempornea, no. 6 (1985): 163-180. 11 El Tiempo, 16 August 1898, as quoted in Francisco Silvela, Artculos, Discursos, Conferencias y Cartas vol. 2 (Madrid: Mateu Artes Grficas, 1922-1923), 493-498. 12 “Sed fuertes,” La Ilustracin Espaola y Americana, 8 February 1899, as quoted in Sebastian Balfour, The End of the Spanish Empire, 1898-1923 (New York: Oxford Univer sity Press, 1997), 50. 13 Salvad, Twentieth-Century Spain 21. 14 La Epoca, 10 May 1898, as quoted in Torre del Ro, “La prensa madrilea,” 174.


10respect of the people towards their governing classes.15 Although the 1898 disaster caused some Spania rds to lose faith in the Restoration, the regime remained intact primarily due to the lack of a viable alternative. Class and regional divisions deepened when Spain lost its colonies, which had been the only major factor unifying the country. This division produc ed an identity crisis that destroyed the complacent nationalism encouraged by the gove rnment during the war with the United States.16 Without any consensus as to how to change the government, the turno remained, for the most part, intact. The status quo, however, did not remain completely unchanged. The 1898 defeat and the resulting uncertainty led to the estab lishment of new political parties outside the turno’s Conservative and Liberal factions. Of primary importance was the establishment of the Lliga Regionalista in 1901, the party of the Catalan industrial bourgeoisie. Led by Francisco Camb, the Lliga was a socially conservative group that sought a decentralized political system with Catalan political intervention, which they hoped would win Catalonian autonomy while benefiting Spain as a whole.17 The rise of the Catalan movement wa s accompanied by the rise of a Left-wing Republican party, the Radicals. Alejandro Le rroux, a young journalist, led the Radicals against the repressive Restoration regime: This whole gigantic project is opposed by traditi on, routine, entrenched privileges, conservative interests, caciquismo, clericalism, entailed estates, centralism, and the stupid collection of parties and programs made up by empty heads in the machines that fabricate religious dogma and 15 Francisco Silvela as quoted in Balfour, The End of the Spanish Empire, 61. 16 Helen Graham and Jo Labanyi, eds., Spanish Cultural Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 28-29. 17 Charles E. Enrlich, “The Lliga Regionalis ta and the Catalan Industrial Bourgeoisie,” Journal of Contemporary History 33, no. 3 (July 1998): 400-401 and Salvad, Twentieth-Century Spain 22.


11political despotism.18 Lerroux urged violence at every opportunity, and his desire to overthrow the rich gained him much support from the lowermiddle classes, especially in the cities. This increasing support culminated in the Radicals’ defeat of the Lliga in the elections of 1903.19 The Radicals were by no means the only political group expanding at the turn of the century. The Spanish labor movement a ssumed a more organized form, developing into two opposing regional bloc s. Castilla, Asturias and the Basque Country had Socialist tendencies, while Catalua, Valencia, Ara gn and Andaluca leaned towards AnarchoSyndicalism. The growth of Socialism in Spain was much slower than its AnarchoSyndicalist counterparts. The Spanish Social ist Party (PSOE) was established in 1879 followed by the trade union, La Unin General de Trabajadores (UGT), in 1888. The PSOE, under the leadership of Pablo Iglesias adopted the rhetoric of revolution and the rise of the proletariat, blaming the humilia ting 1898 defeat on the bourgeoisie political leaders who: did not take into account the immense economic power of that nation; they did not realize that wealth is today what gives a nation strength and energy, and they now confront, and make us confront, all the consequences of such tremendous stupidity.20 While proclaiming themselves as revolutionaries in practice, they actually focused more on the daily struggles of the worker. This c ontradiction between their ideology and their daily actions produced an inability to realize or address the major issues, such as retarded 18 Alejandro Lerroux, De la lucha: Pginas de Alejandro Lerroux (Barcelona: F. Granada, 1909), 119-20 as quoted in Cowans, Modern Spain, 103-104. 19 Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1943), 30. 20 Pablo Iglesia, “Our Bourgeoisie,” El Socialista 17 August 1898, as quoted in Cowans, Modern Spain, 97-98.


12 agricultural development and regional diversity.21 As the PSOE-UGT struggled to establish itself, the Anarcho-Syndicalists gained surprising support from a wide range of groups from peasants to Catalan workers. Its foundation rested upon a distrust of the state and a call to action to remedy the problems plaguing Spain. In 1911, the Anarchis ts organized a new trade union, the Conferderacin Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), with the Anarcho-Syndicalis ts representing the group’s most authentic revolutionaries.22 However, the union of these two groups was by no means the preferred method of revolutiona ry development. Rather, governmental repression forced the Anarchists and Syndicalists to unite in to one union guaranteeing the movement would be plagued by internal divisions.23 These rising new parties brought fresh perspectives in to Spanish politics and the government’s ultimate inability to integrate th ese groups into the existing order would be a significant destabilizing force within the turno .24 These groups successfully managed to politically awaken and enlighten portions of the Spanish population. However, these were not the only forces undermining the Spanish government. The deaths of Castillo in 1897 and Saga sta in 1903 left a huge void in the turno, which forced the Conservative and Liberal parties to re-examine their leadership techniques to counter the ri sing threat of the new parties. Although each instituted reforms, their politics were no longer compatib le and the compromise that maintained the 21 P. Heywood, Marxism and the Failure of Organized Socialism in Spain, 1879-1936 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 2-3 and F. Prez Ledesma, El pensamiento socialista espaol a comienzos de siglo (Madrid: Centro, 1974), pp. 27-34 as found in Salvad, Twentieth-Century Spain 25. 22 Gerald Meaker, “Anarchists vers us Syndicalists: Conflicts within the Conferderacin Nacional del Trabajo, 1917-1923,” in Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century Spain ed. Stanley G. Payne (New York: Franklin Watts, 1976), 34. 23 Raymond Carr, Spain, 1808-1939, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 446. 24 Garca-Nieto and Caldern, Teora y prctica del parlamentarismo, 29.


13 turno since 1876 was no longer possible. Intensifying this situation was King Alf onso’s involvement in Spanish politics by dissolving and reorganizing the government at will. The ascension of Alfonso XIII to the throne in 1902 ushered in a monarchy that inte rvened directly in pol itics. Even Winston Churchill recognized this unique characteristic in this king. “But I shall not shrink from pronouncing now that Alfonso XIII was a c ool, determined politician who used continuously and in full the whole influence of his kingly office to control the policies and fortunes of his country.”25 In 1903, Antonio Maura became the leader of the Conservative party and served as Premier from 1903-1904 and during hi s ‘long government’ of 1907-1909. A former Liberal who abandoned Sagasta’s party because of internal conflicts, Maura’s main goal was to eliminate the caciquismo, which he considered the major impediment to maintaining the regime. He believed that the existence of the caciquismo, which prevented the people from political involvement would lead to revolution from below. Therefore, he hoped to create a revoluti on from above to prevent the latter.26 He announced his intentions earlier in a speech to Congress in July 1899 that, “It is a conviction of all of us that Spain has to go through a revol ution; if we do not make it here, it will be made in the streets.”27 However, Maura encountered stiff opposition from both internal and external forces. At the same time, the Liberal party had also attempted to revise the faltering 25 Winston S. Churchill, Great Contemporaries, (London: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., 1937; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), 216. 26 Junco and Shubert, Spanish History Since 1808 102. 27 Revista Nacional, nos. 7 and 8, 9 July 1899, 129 as quoted in Balfour, The End of the Spanish Empire, 188.


14 system, but both parties suffered enormously from internal conflicts, as well as their determined opposition to each other. As conflic ts deepened, the government’s inability to address the rising strength of the workers’ movement culminated in a crisis during the ‘Tragic Week’ in the summer of 1909.28 Morocco remained the last imperial Sp anish holding, which it vowed to defend at all cost. After the 1898 SpanishAmerican War, it could not a fford the devastating blow to its international prestige and national pride that the loss of its portion of Morocco would cause. Prior to war with the United St ates, Spain still maintained a significant imperial presence in the Caribbean and Paci fic with control of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. However, Spain’s crushing defeat forced the country to relinquish these colonies to the United St ates. This loss meant that Spain’s last noteworthy territory was Morocco, wh ich could not be surrendered. In addition, losing its hold in Morocco w ould potentially affect Spain’s national security. Liberal leader Montero Ros clea rly related these fears when he asked: Does the Government of His Majesty bear in mind that if the North West of Morocco comes under the domination…of a military or civil Protectorate of France, Spain would be reduced to seeing herself besieged perpetually in the North and South by the same power?29 Due to its close geographical proximity, Spain emphasized its obvious interest in Moroccan affairs and viewed any British or Fr ench infringement on these affairs as a threat. Thus, France’s increasing presence in the Morocco ushered in the possibility of French encirclement that could ultimately pu sh Spain out of its last imperial holding 28 Garca-Nieto and Caldern, Teora y prctica del parlamentarismo, 41. 29 Montero Ros quoted in Maura Gamazo, La Cueston de Marruecos desde el punta de vista Espaa (Madrid 1905), 33-34 as found in James A. Chandl er, “Spain and Her Morocca n Protectorate 1898-1927,” Journal of Contemporary History 10, n. 2 (April 1975): 302.


15 furthering the nation’s insisten ce on maintaining its portion. Following a summer 1909 uprising in the Moro ccan Protectorate, army reservists were called up in Madrid and Barcelona. On 26 July, bloody riots ensued among the urban workers launching the Semana Tragica (Tragic Week). Although more an attack against the general workers’ conditions, “conscription for se rvice in a colonial war was nevertheless a grievance sufficient to act as a catalyst to violence.”30 Severe repression followed the crisis as Maura dealt harshly with those responsible for the protest. Although supported by a majority in the Cortes, Alfonso XIII chose to dismiss Maura because he felt the politician’s unpopularity could potentially undermine the monarchy. As the government fell, the turno faced a serious threat. Maura was the first and last politician to have a genuine mass following, and his dismissal resulted in some young Cons ervatives following Maura in creating a separate Maurista movement causing the first serious split in one of the two dynastic parties. Thus, as the tides of war began to embr oil the continent, th e Spanish government entered into a period of chaos. From the as cension of Alfonso XIII in 1902 until Primo de Rivera’s coup d’etat in 1923, there were thirty-thr ee Spanish governments. As war erupted in 1914, the Restoration government, al ready unstable and faci ng a wide array of new domestic threats, recognized that if it had any hope of preventing its further demise, its only option with regard to the developi ng international conflict was the path of neutrality. 30 Chandler, “Spain and Her Moroccan Protectorate,” 305.


16 Chapter Two “Observer Neutralidad Ms Absoluta” “Spain remains and will remain neutral because this is her firm will.”1 No one realized the devastation that would result from the hostilities that commenced in the summer of 1914. As Europe quickly divided into opposing blocs, the Spanish government firmly believed it should no t involve itself in a general European war, regardless of the prevailing ‘short war illusion.’ Thus, when hostilities broke out, Conservative Prime Minister Eduardo Dato offi cially declared his country’s neutrality on 30 July. With great misfortune, war was declared between Germany, on the one side, and Russia, France and the United Kingdom, while a st ate of war also exists between Austria-Hungary and Belgium. The government of your majesty believes it should order the strictest neutrality ( ms estricta neutralidad) of Spanish subjects.2 In a telegram to the Spanish Ambassador in Belgium on 4 August 1914, Foreign Minister, Marqus de Lema, reinforced Spai n’s intention to “observer neutralidad ms absoluta.”3 Thus, the Spanish government did not hesi tate in declaring its policy relative to the growing conflict and w ould maintain this assurance for the next four years. Several factors contributed to the Span ish government’s policy of neutrality, extending from its lack of military power to its ultimate goal to regain lost prestige by 1 Count Conde de Romanones in Salvad, Spain 1914-1918, 62. 2 Diario Universal, 7 August 1914, as quoted in Fernando Diaz-Plaja, La Historia de Espaa en sus documentos: del Desastre de 1898 al Principe Juan Carlos (Barcelona: Graficas Guad am S.A., 1971), 39. 3 Marqus de Lema quoted in Nuo Aguirre de Crcer, ed., La Neutralidad de Espaa durante la Primera Guerra Mundial (1914-1918) (Madrid: Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, 1995), 1.


17 serving as the arbiter of peace at the wa rÂ’s end. However, as adamant as SpainÂ’s politicians were regarding ne utrality, it was by no means an easy decision. It involved serious contemplation as they recognized the potential cons equences. Thus, the Spanish government carefully weighed its options a nd determined neutrality was the best, and only, course of action for the struggling nati on. It would adhere to the decision despite numerous diplomatic and domestic threats a nd challenges. Prime Minister Dato outlined the reasoning for this course of action in a letter to his former chief Maura dated 25 August 1914: We would depart from neutrality onl y if we were directly threatened by foreign aggression or by an ultimatumÂ…. Germany and Austria are delighted with our attitude as they believe us compromised with the Entente. France and Britain cannot criticize us as our pacts with them are limited to MoroccoÂ…. I do not fear that the Allie s would push us to take sides with or against themÂ…. They must know that we lack material resources and adequate preparation for a modern warÂ…. Would not we render a better service to both sides by sticking to our neutrality so that one day we could raise a white flag and organize a p eace conference in our coun try which could put an end to the current conflict? We have moral authority for that and who knows if we shall be required to do so.4 After the Dato-led government made the deci sion to remain neut ral in the growing conflict, many held DatoÂ’s optimistic views re garding the benefits th is policy could bring Spain. They looked forward to reaping the re wards of avoiding war and hoped to advance SpainÂ’s position. As Dato conveyed, there we re numerous reasons for Spain to pursue this policy. One of the primary reasons, as mentione d, was its drastically inferior military 4 Eduardo Dato quoted in Sebastian Balfour and Paul Preston, eds., Spain and the Great Powers in the Twentieth Century (London: Routledge, 1999), 32.


18 capability. The Spanish-American War decimate d the military. Naval operations in the Philippines and Cuba destroyed the Spanish squa drons in both areas. In addition, in the 1890s, commencing with the initial uprisings in Cuba and culminating in the 1898 defeat, the Spanish army suffered nearly 200,000 casualtie s, not in battle, but as a result of its inadequate medical corps.5 By 1910, its army had only 80,000 soldiers and 25,000 officers, or a ratio of one o fficer for every five soldiers.6 Not only was the army small, but the disproportionately large number of o fficers prohibited any major reform of the armed forces. Furthermore, the government de voted approximately forty percent of its budget to defense, with an astounding sevent y percent of the defe nse budget appropriated for officers’ salaries.7 While the officer corps naturally de fied any attempts to change this established system, the political leaders also chose not to make any significant changes because the army symbolized stability for its government.8 Thus, modernization of the armed forces proved virtually impossible. In addition to these structural and fina ncial problems within the army, there was dissension within the army that stemmed from colonial conf lict in Morocco and the issue of combat merits. On the eve of the First World War, Spain was in the midst of the Moroccan War (1909-1927) hoping to maintain th e country’s last imperial holding, but occupying over half of the country’s inad equately trained troops in the process.9 In addition, the conflict created discord between peninsulares (those who served in Spain) 5 Salvad, Spain 1914-1918 56. 6 Jos E. Alvarez, “From Empire to Republic: The Spanish Army, 1898-1931,” in A Military History of Modern Spain: From the Napoleonic Era to the International War on Terror, eds. Wayne H. Bowen and Jos E. Alvarez (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2007), 37-38. 7 Salvad, Spain 1914-1918 55. 8 Alvarez, “From Empire to Republic”,” 38. 9 Of 140,000 forces listed in the army at the war’s outbreak, 76,000 were stationed in Morocco. Javier Ponce, “World War I: Unarmed Neutrality,” in A Military History of Modern Spain, eds. Bowen and Alvarez, 54.


19 and Africanistas (those who served in Morocco), as the army reintroduced mritos de guerra (war/combat merits) in 1910 after they we re abolished following abuse during the 1898 war. 10 These merits obviously benefited the Africanistas considering they faced actual combat in Morocco. This further divided the officer corps as a debate ensued between seniority versus battlefield promoti ons. Already a problem at the outbreak of the war, it would reach a critical point in 1917. With its military divided and no financial means to increase either land or sea for ces, Spain could not provide even minimal military assistance to the belligerents. Closely related to the army’s difficulti es was Spain’s general economic weakness in 1914. The origin could be traced back to the policies instituted by the Restoration government at the end of the ni neteenth century th at ultimately isolated Spain from the international economy and impeded its own economic expansion. Prior to 1868, the country had utilized a bimetallic standa rd with an overvaluation of silver.11 In 1883, Spain suspended the convertibility of gold and refused to adhere to the gold standard used by the majority of European nations. Spain’s failure isolated it from the international economy and resulted in a greater fluctuation of the exchange rate for its peseta. This led to the slow, continuous drop in its value between 1890 and 1896 with no sign of change until 1900.12 Another factor in Spain’s economic weakness resulted from their severe dependence upon tariffs. As the rest of Europe established a world market for grain, made possible by transportation advances from th e Industrial Revolution, Spain reverted to a 10 Alvarez, “From Empire to Republic”,” 38. 11 Agustn Llona Rodrguez, “Terms -of-Trade Variability and Adherence to the Gold Standard: The Cases of Portugal and Spain,” in Monetary Standards and Exchange Rates, eds. Maria Cristina Marcuzzo, Lawrence H. Officer and Annalisa Rosselli (London: Routledge, 1997), 275. 12 Pablo Martn-Acea, “Spain During the Cla ssical Gold Standard Years, 1880-1914,” in Monetary Regimes in Transition, eds. Michael D. Bordo and Forrest Capie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 135 and 142-143.


20 protectionist stance to counter the threat of foreign wh eat and other goods. However, Spain’s archaic agricultu ral system and the flood of Soviet and U.S. grain into the world market devastated the Spanish economy. The instability of the Spanish economy a nd its isolation from the world economy created significant prob lems, including “one of the lowest rates of industrialization in Western Europe.”13 Spain did not enter the second st age of industrial ization until the 1920s, and it has been argued that “the case of Spain is less that of a latecomer than that of an attempt, largely thwarted, to join the ranks of the first comers.”14 In 1910, twothirds of the population still worked in agriculture, which accounted for approximately one-third of the gross domestic product. Agricultural backwardness and inadequate farming practices produced an unstable economy that fluctuated betw een prosperity and crisis, greatly retarding Spain’ s industrial growth. Urban cente rs were generally small, as only ten percent of the p opulation lived in cities with a population over 100,000. Illiteracy rates were extremely high with th irty-seven percent of men and fifty-eight percent of women falling into that category. Although Spain finally saw improved growth and slow structural changes in its economy after 1910, they had made little impact by the outbreak of the war.15 In addition to military and economic w eakness, a two-fold reason for Spain’s declaration of neutrality was that the European dispute did not affect Spanish interests and that it was too isolated politically a nd diplomatically. Jernimo Bcker’s 1924 study 13 Martn-Acea, “Spain During the Cla ssical Gold Standard Years,” 160. 14 Jordi Nadal, “The Failure of the Industr ial Revolution in Spain, 1830-1914,” in The Emergence of Industrial Societies, Part Two, vol. 4 of The Fontana Economic History of Europe, ed. Carlo M. Cipolla (Sussex: Harvester Press, 1976), 617. 15 James Simpson, “Economic Development in Spain, 1850-1936,” The Economic History Review 50, no. 2 (May 1997): 349 and Nicols Snchez-Albornoz, ed., The Economic Modernization of Spain, 1830-1930 (New York: New York University Press, 1987), 43.


21 of foreign policy begins “The dawning of the nineteenth century was a sad day for Spain.”16 The loss of its long-standing imperial em pire and growing political instability, social conflict and economic backwardness placed Spain in a tenuous situation, and its foreign policy reflected this weakness. Upon ascending the throne in 1902, Alfonso XIII was determined to play a key role in Spain’s foreign policy. His first politic al move was the selec tion of his bride. The Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) and the Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia) believed that his choi ce would largely determine his diplomatic policy relative to these alliances. Becaus e his mother, Queen Maria Cristina was a Habsburg, many thought he would align himself with the Triple Alliance. Yet, Alfonso chose Victoria Eugenie of Battenburg, a gr anddaughter of Queen Victoria, bringing himself and Spain closer to the Triple Entent e in a move that was seen by many as a mark of Spain’s rupture with Ge rmany and Alfonso’s Austro-H ungarian ancestry. Alfonso firmly believed that Spain’s 1898 defeat resulte d from the lack of a permanent alliance, and this move represented the king’s initial attempt to establish what he deemed was Spain’s most desperate need —allies.17 As the Great Powers had aligned themselves into opposing blocs, Spain realized it must avoid complete diplomatic isolati on. For Alfonso, the choice was obvious. Since Britain and France surrounded Spain, his foreign policy would be one dictated by geography. For London and Paris, on the othe r hand, Spain posed a potential threat to 16 Jernimo Becker, Historia de las relaciones exteriore s de Espaa durante el siglo xix (Madrid: Establecimiento Tipogrfico de Jaime Rats, 1924), 5. 17 Gerie B. Bledsoe, “Spanish Foreign Policy, 1898-1936,” in Spain in the Twentieth-Century World: Essays on Spanish Diplomacy, 1898-1978, ed. James W. Cortada (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), 7.


22 their fundamental interests. Britain’s main concern involved pr otecting its lifeline through the Mediterranean and the Suez Ca nal to India, while France focused on defending its southern border in the event of war with Germany. Both nations, united in their opposition to expanding German influence, believed Spain could serve as a buffer, and therefore favored rapproachment with Sp ain. However, rapproachment did not come easily, as tensions arose when Spain and Fr ance clashed over conflicting interests in North Africa. By 1900, North Africa had become th e key focus in Spain and France’s imperialistic ambitions. After its colonial losses in 1898, maintaining its position in North Africa became an obsession for Spain. It cons idered Morocco as its last opportunity to retain a sizable colony and rest ore some of its lost prestige. Contention over the territory intensified when Britain and France c oncluded the Anglo-French Entente in 1904, solidifying France’s position in North Africa. The Entente relegated the two powers to their respective spheres of in fluence with France relinquishin g its position in the Middle East to Britain in exchange for a primary role in Morocco. This bound France to negotiate with Spain regarding conditions in Morocco. Britain and France had ignored Spain in the treaty negotiations and these North African provisions were not acceptable to Alfonso.18 Although Spain’s role in North Africa wa s minimal, both Britain and France, because of their own colonial ambitions, believ ed it was in their best interests to keep Spain weak. Their agreement to limit Spanis h influence in North Africa particularly outraged Alfonso who immediately turned to Germany for support. Germany initially expressed interest in forging a relationship w ith Spain, but it quickly reconsidered for fear 18 Bledsoe, “Spanish Foreign Policy,” 8-10.


23 of alienating the British who opposed fu ll French control of Morocco. London would seek German assistance, if necessary, to pr event it. Germany’s rebuff forced Alfonso to renegotiate with Britain and France, resulting in Spain receiving a significantly decreased share of Morocco and Alfonso’s first, but not last, major setback in foreign affairs. Morocco would again take center stag e in European politics in 1905 and 1911. Following consummation of the Anglo-French Entente, Germany decided to test the alliance and Europe by instigating the 19051906 Moroccan Crisis. Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Tangier in March 1905 and announced that he favored Moroccan independence. The Germans demanded an intern ational conference, which assembled at Algeciras, but delegates from the convening nations voted to support French claims in Morocco. Germany again threatened French claims in the region during the 1911 Agadir Crisis when a German gunboat arrived in Agadir to prot ect German interests. It culminated with a German offer to abstain from further conf lict in Morocco if it could obtain the French Congo. The Great Powers again rebuffed the Germans offering some small concessions in Africa and the crisis ultimately subsided. Although still maintaini ng a key interest in Moroccan affairs, Spain played a secondary role in the negotiations. It struggled to maintain the last remnant of its colonial holdings, but the 1911 Agadir Crisis only furthered its humiliation by reducing Spain’ s Moroccan territory to 18,300 square miles compared to France’s 460,000.19 Thus, at the outbreak of th e First World War, Spain was surrounded by Britain and France, both determined to keep it weak, wh ile the threat of a growing Germany loomed in the distance, ma king neutrality the only diplomatic option. An additional argument for Spain’s neutra lity during the war was the potential to 19 Bledsoe, “Spanish Foreign Policy,” 9-11.


24 regain lost prestige. As mentioned, the 1898 di saster and subsequent failures in foreign affairs left Spain struggling to re-establis h itself as a dominan t continental power. Alfonso and the Spanish government hoped th at by remaining impartial, they could assume a leading role in peace negotiations following the First World War, thereby gaining diplomatically what they could not achieve on the battlefield. They could only accomplish this by maintaining contact with the contending alliances. Ambassadors to the belligerent powers received clear instruct ions that Spain must “maintain the most amicable relations with the different st ates directly involved in the conflict.”20 During summer 1914, most Spaniards a ppeared to support the decision of neutrality, initially welcoming it as the only course of action for the country. However, dissenting voices soon emerged. The Carlists, a dominant right-wing party, were quick to announce their pro-German sentiments, while the Republican Radicals, led by Alejandro Lerroux, expressed their support for intervention on behalf of the Entente. However, one individual especially stunned the nati on with his unorthodox perspective on Spain’s position at the outbreak of war. Count Conde de Romanones, leader of the Liberal party, voiced his feelings against neutrality in an article published in his newspaper, El Diario Universal, entitled “Neutralidades que matan” (‘Fa tal neutralities’). The article outlined the disadvantages of a neut ral policy. Romanones stated: ‘Neutrality,’ literally means to not be with one or th e other. In reality, is Spain really not with one or the other? Is it able to allow itself to be with one or the other? ... Spain recently signed a treaty with France with respect to Moro cco; Spain shares the Pyrenees front with France; all the sealanes are controlled by England. In economic affa irs, France maintains the primary role in our 20 Ministerio de Estado a Representantes, A los seores Representantes de los pases beligerantes, en esta corte, as quoted in Crcer, La neutralidad de Espaa, 2.


25imports and exports, followed closely by England. Spain’s economic and geographic destiny then lies within the orbit of the Entente… Thus, Spain is not able to be neutral because reaching this decisive moment forces us not to be… Neutrality unsupported by the neutral’s own force is at the mercy of the first strong state which finds it n ecessary to violate it… If Germany wins, will she thank us for our neutrality? No, she will try to ru le the Mediterranean. She will not take French continental territory… We shall lose our hopes of expansion in Morocco. We shall lose our independence… Nor will German expansion in the economic and industrial domain compensate us for the ruin of the countries with whom our interests in those respects have been up to now identified. On the other hand, if the Allies trium ph they will owe us no debt of gratitude and will remodel the map of Europe as they think fit… The die is cast and there is no remedy but to gamble. Neutrality is not a remedy, but to the contrary, there are fatal neutralities!21 The article had an incredible impact on the Spanish population and government as this dynastic party leader openly criticized government policy. Romanones did not necessarily advocate Spain’s entry into the wa r, but favored benevolen t neutrality toward the Entente. However, the majority of th e population disagreed, and this backlash was enough to force Romanones to deny responsib ility for the article on 4 September 1914. He quickly supported strict neutrality, but th e article instilled doubts as to his true feelings regarding this policy. Authorship would be debated, but Romanones’s influence was not questioned, and he stat ed in his memoirs “The article was exclusively mine in form and inspiration.”22 As autumn approached, the prevailing ‘short war illusion’ proved false, leading some neutral powers to choose sides. Italy ha d previously been a member of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but chose neutrality at the war’s outbreak. 21 El Diario Universal, 19 August 1914, as quoted in Fernando Diaz-Plaja, La historia de Espaa en sus documentos: el siglo XX (Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Politicos, 1960), 319-321. 22 Conde de Romanones, Notas de una vida, 1912-1931 (Madrid: Marcial Pones, 1999), 379.


26 It ultimately abandoned this policy by jo ining the Entente in 1915 with Romania following in 1916. Bulgaria, on the other hand, chose the Central Powers in 1915. Spain continued to stress absolute neutrality, but could not escape the effects of the war. Don Francisco de Reynoso, Spanish Ambassador to Switzerland during the war years commented that: looking back on them (the war years) now they s eem equally incredible, so fantastic and horrible were the things they brought in their wake, even to the inhabitants of the neutral countries. For through the screen of well-guarded frontiers there seeped all the backwash of war.23 Economic hardships and shortages plagued the continent, and while the Spanish population, which experienced hi gh rates of illiteracy, rema ined indifferent to the ideological and political issu es that emerged, they were not immune to the economic consequences of war. Many social, cultu ral and political gr oups recognized the ideological differences of democracy versus autocracy between the belligerents and began to question the neutrality policy. Thus, neutrality ushered in the expression of the varied ideological views of the social classes and political parties in Spain.24 Slowly, the population aligned itself in two camps, creati ng a ‘civil war of words,’ dividing almost equally into francfilos and germanfilos. This division extended beyond a mere debate between two opposing viewpoints; rather it created an inte nse division that disrupted families, so much so that even cinemas refused to present war news to prevent fights.25 More importantly, it was an ominous sign of what the future had in store for Spain twenty years later. A French journali st visiting Madrid in 1917 was quite prescient in this regard: 23 Don Francisco de Reynoso, Reminiscences of a Spanish Diplomat (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1933), 215. 24 Garca-Nieto and Caldern, Crisis social y dictadura, 1914-1930, vol. 4 of Historia de Espaa, 18081978 (Barcelona: Editorial Crtica, 1988), 13. 25 Salvad, Spain 1914-1918 9.


27The fact is that two families of very old passions have been awakened and set in motion by this new conflict. And such is the somber fervor that th ey breathe that if they had troops behind them, I ask myself if that civil war of which everyone speaks so much might not become one day a reality for Spain [emphasis mine].26 While important to examine supporters of the two camps, it is extremely difficult to establish arbitrary desi gnations for Germanophiles comp ared to Francophiles. In general, however, the clergy, army, aris tocracy, landowning elit es, upper bourgeoisie, court, Carlists and Mauristas favored the Central Powers They wanted to maintain the existing order and uphold Catholic and traditiona l values such as monarchism, discipline, authority and a hierarch ical social order. Germanophiles viewed an Allied victory as a potential extension of democra tic ideas, and hence a threat to the status quo and their hegemonic control of the population. The Fran cophiles, on the other hand, consisted of Regionalists, Republicans, Socialists, profe ssional middle classes and intellectuals, who advocated domestic reform. They sought to er adicate the current system’s corruption and introduce democracy, and viewed the war as a struggle of democracy against autocracy. In other words, the question of choosing si des transcended the question of Britain and France versus Germany, and became an ideologi cal struggle of the old order versus a new order, rigidity versus change. Very few people supported becoming militari ly involved in the conflict, which meant the question was not so much whether Spain should remain neutral, but rather what shape that neutrality should assume. Those favoring the Central Powers emphasized absolute neutrality because they realized that Spanish intervention on behalf of the Central Powers would be military suicid e given Spain’s geographic location. The 26 Jean Breton as quoted in Meak er, “A Civil War of Words,” 1.


28 Francophiles, on the other hand, represented a variety of opinions. The majority favored benevolent neutrality toward the Allies because of Spain’s economic and military position, while a few called for a diplomatic rupture from Germany. One Francophile, Hermgenes Cenamor called the policy “shame ful, depressive, anti-patriotic and inhuman.”27 In the early stages of the debate the “old-order” Germanophiles had one distinct advantage. They c ould advocate the official polic y of the Spanish government, disguising pro-German feelings as patriotism and opposition to foreign interference in Spanish affairs. The Francophiles’ positi on, to the contrary, could be viewed as borderline treason. As society split into segments, dynastic politicians struggled to maintain the appearance of absolute neutra lity, but it quickly became evid ent where their sympathies truly lay. While Romanones and many Libera ls clearly favored the Western powers, some Liberal party members opposed Romanones and supported his rival, the Marquis of Alhucemas, and were thus labeled Germanoph iles. Within the Conservative party, many such as Jos Snchez Guerra, Minister of the Interior, and General Ramn Echague, Minister of War, were cons idered supporters of the Cent ral Powers, while Dato and Marquis de Lema, his Forei gn Minister, were believed to favor the Allies. Despite personal divisions, with the ex ception of Romanones, the dyna stic politicians disguised their positions by appearing unified relative to neutrality.28 King Alfonso XIII was perhaps the most impor tant figure in the neutrality debate. The war divided his court with the Queen Mother, the Austrian Archduchess Mara Cristina on the one side, who harbored pro-Ge rman sentiments, against the king’s wife, 27 Cenamor, Los intereses materiales de Espaa 169. 28 Salvad, Spain 1914-1918 10.


29 Victoria Eugenia, who staunchly defended her British homeland. The Entente assumed Alfonso supported their cause, but although Al fonso displayed pro-Allied tendencies, overshadowing them was his strong desire to consolidate his power at home and for Spain to play a leading role in post-war Eu rope. From the beginning of his reign, Alfonso determined to rejuvenate his country as evidenced in a diary entry dated immediately after he assumed the throne: I can be a King who will be filled with the glory of having regenerated his country, whose name will pass on in history as an imperishable memento of his reignÂ… I hope at the same time to revive my country and make her, if not powerful, at least so ught for as an ally.29 Yet, as ardently as Alfonso believed that Spain should remain neutral, he proved more than willing to solicit offers from bot h sides to gain significant advantages. When the Spanish government emphatically declared its neutrality in the summer of 1914, officials could not anticipate the dom estic and diplomatic turmoil that erupted over the next four years. The leaders r ecognized that militarily, economically, and diplomatically, Spain was completely unprepar ed to enter a large-scale conflict. Thus, they clearly established their ne utrality policy. Even so, the hostilities still had a dramatic effect on most segments of society, which the government proved unprepared to handle. Thus, King Alfonso and his governmentÂ’s cour se of action would be harshly tested. Nevertheless, they adhered to their po licy regardless of th e consequences. 29 Alfonso XIII as quoted in Ron M. Carden, German Policy Toward Neutral Spain in World War I, 19141918 (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1987), 15.


30 Chapter Three The War Enters Spain The subversive power of the war, which is sinking emperors, thro wing out kings, making all the old hierarchies trem ble, is now reaching us.1 As Europe settled into a state of war, Spain settled into an uneasy state of neutrality. The government resolved to keep Sp ain from entering the war, yet this became increasingly difficult due to the pressure to c hoose a side in the c onflict. This pressure launched Spain into a four-year diplomatic struggle, in their effort to maintain relations with the belligerent powers. While neutrality kept Spain out of the war, it could not escape the economic consequences of a genera l European conflict. Domestic crises and poor diplomatic maneuvering created a tenuous situation for Spain and brought it to the brink of war. Germany had a significant diplomatic adva ntage compared to the Entente in its relationship with Spain, especi ally during the war’s early years. A major factor at the onset of the conflict was Germany’s influentia l presence in the Spanish press, perhaps its most effective and sophisticated propaga nda effort. The mastermind, Ambassador Prince Max von Ratibor, convinced the German Fo reign Office to bribe numerous Spanish periodicals to present a pro-German view point. In a report issued on 12 October 1914, Ratibor argued that the Foreign Office must fund propaganda efforts in Spain, citing a report by “a good source” that the French i nvested 600,000 francs to influence Spanish 1 Paradox, ‘Fe,’ La Campana de Gracia, 16 June 1917, as quoted in Balfour, The End of the Spanish Empire, 213.


31 opinion, and lamenting that the Germans had al ready lost several important newspapers, such as El Liberal, La Correspondencia de Espaa, La Imparcial, and the Herald de Madrid.2 In response, the Foreign Office agreed to fund portions of the Spanish press, a move welcomed by Ratibor who commented, “I believe that they [papers and newspaper workers] will work now for our side with doubled enthusiasm. And also they will persuade others to become Germanophiles.”3 He inundated the Spanish press with proGerman sentiments, in ways unmatched by the Entente, which proved tremendously successfully in convincing the population to remain neutral. This German influence grew so strong it even led several Spaniards to establish periodicals to oppose the Germanophile media and convey pro-Allied perspectives. This included Espaa one of several journals founded by politician Luis Ar aquistain with the belief that it was absolutely necessary to counter the German propaganda threat.4 Germany also had greater advantages in its diplomatic negotiations than the Entente to convince Spain to maintain absolu te neutrality, the most helpful course of action for Berlin. Since Germany realized an alliance with Spain was impossible because of geographic and economic barriers, it could be very generous with territorial promises as lands appealing to Spain did not belong to the Central Powers. The Allies, on the contrary, found themselves facing a significan t predicament. They could either deny territorial concessions to Madr id and further German propaganda that Britain and France were Spain’s enemies attempting to keep her we ak, or they could offer valuable territory 2 Ron M. Carden, German Policy Toward Neutral Spain in World War I, 1914-1918 (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1987), 67-68. 3 Ratibor to Foreign Office, 20 February 1915, as quoted in Carden, German Policy Toward Neutral Spain, 78. 4 ngeles Barrio, introduction to La Revista “Espaa” y la crisis del Estado liberal, by Luis Araquistain (Santander: Servicio de Publicaciones Un iversidad de Cantabria, 2001), 32-33.


32 in exchange for what they recogni zed would be insignificant support. As King Alfonso XIII persisted in his foreign policy goals, diplomatic blackmail marked his early efforts, wher eby he manipulated offers from the European powers to try to achieve the best results for Spain. Germany offered several tempting territories to Spain, ranging from Gibraltar and Tangier to control of Po rtugal and French Morocco. Alfonso responded by approaching the Entente to solicit a counteroffer. While the Allies remained open to negotiations, they did not intend to promise concessions without the guarantee of a significant return. A conversat ion between Alfonso and a French official states: His Majesty expressed friendly sentiments but said that he was in a difficult position between the Germans, who were supported by the Spanish Right and who offered him Gibraltar, Morocco and a free hand in Portugal, and the Allies who seemed not to feel gratitude for the services which he had rendered them. The King refrained from stating what he expected from the Allies, but Monsieur Cooreman derived the impression he had Tangier in mind. His Majesty did not apparently mention the nature of the services to which he made allusion…5 The British realized the benefits of having Sp ain join the Entente, but they also strongly supported Spain’s neutrality as the preferab le option because they recognized Spain’s limited military capabilities. If Spain joined the Allies, Britain determined its best course of action, assuming France agreed, would be to offer Tangier in exchange for its active involvement. All this changed when Ital y joined the Entente in May 1915. While Spain was the largest neutral on the continent, Italy’s strate gic location made it a far more desirable ally. Geographically, the Entente’s close proximity to Spain meant it could be easily coerced 5 Francisco J. Romero Salvad, “Spain and the Fi rst World War: Neutrality and Crisis” (Ph.D. diss., University of London, 1994), 46.


33 economically. Italy, on the other hand, was much closer to the Central Powers geographically, potentially making its influen ce much more decisive. With Italy on its side, the Entente no longer needed to pursu e an alliance with Spain, which would have required the sacrifice of territory more valu able than the minimal assistance that Spain would have provided.6 While King Alfonso unsuccessfully pur sued his foreign policy goals, Prime Minister Eduardo Dato and the Spanish govern ment determined their official policy —to maintain neutrality. However, this policy w ould be harshly tested, as it placed the government in an extremely precarious positi on. The country began to crumble as drastic social, demographic and economic changes al tered the domestic landscape. These harsh realities would be exacerbated by a severe diplomatic crisis that pushed neutrality to a breaking point. Initially, the war presented Spain with tremendous economic opportunities as most of Europe shifted to a war economy. Sp ain, capitalizing on its neutral status, began to fill the gaps, not only supplying both sides, but also enjoying new trade outlets, thanks to the belligerents’ inability to export. As a result, initially, Spanish industry and commerce grew dramatically. The textil e, leather goods, mining, iron, shipping and chemical industries flourished as the warring powers’ demand rose exponentially. Between 1913 and 1918, electrical capacity almost doubled, positively affecting the technological base of Spanish industry.7 The significant drop in imports and astounding increase in exports produced an economic boom. In 1914, the balance of trade was minus 6 Rubn Domnguez Mndez, “La gran guerra y la neutralidad Espaola: entre la tradicin historiogrfica y las nuevas lneas de investigacin,” Spagna Contemporanea, no. 34, 2008, 35. 7 Balfour, The End of the Spanish Empire, 211.


34 154 million pesetas, but by 1915 it had expande d to plus 275 million pesetas. Spanish gold reserves doubled between 1914 and 1916 from 543 million to one billion thirty-two million pesetas in July 1916.8 This tremendous growth stimulated the Spanish banking industry, expanding it from fifty banks nationall y at the beginning of the war to eighty by the end, while the number of accounts quadrupled during the same period.9 However, this seemingly amazing econo mic transformation almost destroyed Spain. The inability to import basic commod ities coupled with unregulated exports and the overabundance of currency produced ramp ant inflation, while skyrocketing prices increased the divisions between the rich a nd poor. The inflation rate increased from 106.9 in September 1914 to 123.6 by March 1917, then to 145.4 in March 1918.10 Spain’s inadequate infrastructure almost collapsed under the pressure, and while the northern and eastern industrial areas th rived, other regions faced devastating unemployment and shortages. The war also cut Spanish migrati on to North America by seventy-five percent, which previously served as an impor tant safety valve for rural Spain.11 This created an overpopulation of rural areas, forcing many peas ants to migrate to major cities such as Barcelona and Bilbao. These economic cha nges brought about by neutrality primarily benefited the bourgeoisie and the land-own ing elite who experienced a tremendous accumulation of wealth. However, while one po rtion of the population enjoyed a period of extreme wealth, the war al so brought deteriorating livin g conditions and shortages of basic commodities for the majority, creating an even greater divide among Spain’s social 8 Carden, German Policy Toward Neutral Spain, 100. 9 Balfour, The End of the Spanish Empire, 211. 10 Meaker, “Anarchists versus Syndicalists,” 35. 11 Ibid.


35 classes.12 Eduardo Dato’s government refused to d eal with the intern ational and domestic crises created by the war and kept the Cortes the Spanish legislatur e, closed. Meanwhile, Spain desperately required extreme economic reform to facilitate the growing demand and production. Although it experienced an economic boom immediately following the outbreak of the war, Spain’s slow rate of i ndustrialization rendered it unable to sustain production to meet demand. Even the British r ecognized the hardships in Spain as the Ambassador Sir Arthur Hardinge sent reports on the drastically dete riorating situation, including difficulties importing wheat and coal the worsening condition of the Spanish railways, and the increasing problems with ove rall transportation resulting from German attacks on marine transpor t and the ensuing overburdened land transport system.13 However, even with rampant inflation, the gove rnment appeared to be unconcerned about the economic problems as many of its leaders were among the few that benefited from the war’s economic upheaval. Af ter the initial economic boom and industrial expansion, Spain’s sluggish industrializati on and inadequate infrastructu re prevented further growth, leaving much of the population struggling to survive, while the governing elite enjoyed unprecedented wealth. “The agricultural oligarch y remained uninterested in the structural reform of the country; it, too, benefited from an increase in exports, but it did not wish to see its power diminished by the growing urban classes.”14 The failure to resolve these econom ic difficulties resulted in the crisis de 12 Garca-Nieto and Caldern, Crisis social y dictadura, 11. 13 Kenneth Bourne and D. Cameron Watts, eds. British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print Part II, From the First to the Second World War. Vol. 3, The Allied and Neutral Powers: Diplomacy and War Aims, III: January 1917-July 1918 The First World War, 1914-1918, ser. ed. David Stevenson. (University Publications of America, 1989), 302-303. 14 Enrlich, “The Lliga Regionalista,” 403.


36 subsistencias, as the population protested thei r deteriorating conditions. An Instituto de Reformas Sociales report elaborated on the proble ms faced in Barcelona, including transportation difficulties on both land and sea and the subsequent hindrance in the import of basic necessities, as well as shorta ges of construction and industrial materials, which primarily affected the middle and working classes.15 The first indications of discontent appeared in 1914 when many citizen s attacked those susp ected of abetting the growing crisis. An article in the newspaper El Consejo denounced the rising cost of bread in Madrid, arguing that the local bakers were taking advantage of the difficult circumstances to fully control and manipulate the price. The article then criticized the government officials that allowed such po licies. “We cannot understand how they defend the interests of an entity that aspires to monopolize the produc tion of bread in Madrid in order to impose a price that their egos dictate.”16 The public outcry soon expanded to food riots and assaults on shops. The govern ment’s failure to a ddress the increasing domestic concerns plaguing the country result ed in Dato’s fall from power in December 1915. He was replaced by Count Conde de Ro manones, leader of the dynastic Liberal party, during whose administration, the neut rality policies and Li beral Monarchy would be harshly tested. Despite previous concerns regarding his position on neutra lity, the Spanish population initially welcomed the Romanones administration because it promised to address the crisis de subsistencias by stimulating the economy to combat shortages, 15 “Situacin social en la provincial de Barcelona en 1 915,” Informe del Instituto de Reformas Sociales as quoted in Antonio Fernndez Garca et al., Documentos de historia contempornea de Espaa (Madrid: Editorial Actas, 1996), 388-389. 16 “Problems de la gran guerra, la cuestin del pan en Madrid,” El Consejo, 23 October 1914, as quoted in Garca et al., Documentos de Historia Contempornea de Espaa, 387-388.


37 inflation and unemployment. It also focuse d on agricultural improvements, public credit and transport, national defense, the judi cial and educational systems and reducing expenses in Morocco. However, such loft y and unachievable goals only served to demonstrate that the dynastic parties could not adapt to a rapidly changing Spain. As the country experienced the ri se of mass politics, the turno suffered a decline in popular support. While the government attempted uns uccessfully to address the domestic problems, an international crisis with Germ any emerged, almost destroying the neutrality policy. As the government ignored the devast ating domestic problems to focus on the neutrality issue, it pushed Sp ain into a chaotic situation, which the leadership proved completely unprepared to handle. As mentioned, following his Neutralidades que matan article, Romanones found it extremely difficult to deny his pro-Allied te ndencies. Although still adamantly stressing his adherence to the neutrality policy, he secr etly determined to establish better relations with Britain and France, which he believed provided the only means to strengthen its unstable economy and rebuild SpainÂ’s lost empire, with a focus on Northern Africa.17 However, with the tenuous and ever-deep ening hostility between Francophiles and Germanophiles, Romanones recognized that he could not take the drastic step of cutting off diplomatic relations with Germany. Thus, he could offer the Entente very little in terms of support, and much to his disma y, Britain and France did not respond to his approaches. In fact, they remained unconvinced that a pro-Allied prime minister could yield a more positive outcome. After DatoÂ’s fall, Ambassador Hardinge declared: I am not at all sure that a more openly frie ndly government may be an embarrassment both for 17 Salvad, Spain 1914-1918, 60.


38Spain and ourselves. Mr. Dato held the balance well, officially and privatel y he was most friendly. Romanones may press for a price and try to raise the questions of Tangier.18 Romanones did not realize that his diplomatic advances would not only fail to entice the Entente, but would trigger a harsh Central Powers attack against his leadership. As a result, Spain came dangerously close to abandoning the policy it had so adamantly defended. 18 Sir Arthur Hardinge as quoted in Salvad, Spain 1914-1918, 64.


39 Chapter Four Neutrality’s Ultimate Test Silence at present is a crime; for if we wait until the moment of victory to show our sympathy for the victor it is probable we shall be too late.1 The circumstances that almost brought Spai n into the war involved the sinking of Spanish merchant ships by German submarines Starting as a minor diplomatic matter, the situation developed into a major crisis that brought Madrid’s re lations with Germany to a breaking point. As the war progressed, Sp ain desperately attemp ted to grapple with the severe economic crisis plaguing the countr y, and exports were crucial in the attempt to keep the Spanish economy afloat. As mentioned, many new outlets emerged for Spanish exports, and as a neutral, it dema nded undisturbed access to the world’s shipping lanes to maintain its trade.2 However, Germany’s submarine warfare campaign sank numerous Spanish vessels at a great loss to the economy.3 The new Premier, Conde de Romanones, already nurturing a Francophile pers pective, utilized this opportunity to commence a slow shift to a policy favoring the Entente. In February 1915, Germany launched a submarine campaign against merchant shipping to reduce Allied supplies, particular ly to Britain, to a level that would force London out of the war. Over a period of seven months, German submarines sank 787,120 1 Count Romanones as quoted in “Spani sh Ex-Premier Declares for Allies,” New York Times, 20 April 1915. 2 Eduardo Dato, “Real decreto de 23 de Noviembre de 1914.” 3 During the course of the war, the Germans sank sixty-six Spanish vessels with almost 800,000 tons lost. Algunos datos sobre la guerra submarina (Madrid, 1918) 45-47.


40 tons of merchant shipping.4 The Germans suspended the program, however, because the tonnage sunk was not worth the detrimenta l impact the campaign had upon the neutral powers, most particularly the United States. Unfortunately for Spain, the halting of the campaign was short lived. In the fall of 1916, Germany launched a restricted submarine campaign, followed by the resumption of unr estricted submarine warfare on a much larger scale in February 1917. With far more U-boats now in service, between September 1916 and January 1917, the tonnage sunk was a lmost double that during the campaignÂ’s initial seven months in 1915.5 The campaignÂ’s success then increased during the following months. The Germans possessed 105 U-boats, of which approximately onethird could be at sea at one time (one third r eceived repairs, while the remaining third was in transit). The total merchant marine tonnage sunk skyrocketed to 520,410 tons in February 1917, 564,500 in March, and 860,330 in April.6 As the tonnage lost rates escalated, so did the risk of alienating neutral powers. However, the Germans felt they had to assume the risk in an effort to knock Britain out of the war before the United States could ship millions of troops to Europe. The submarine campaign ultimately resulted in the United States abandoning its neutrality on 6 April 1917, while creating a serious crisis for Spain. The first stage of the crisis occurred in 1916. The German submarine campaign of February 1915 had a tremendous impact on Spai n as it drastically hi ndered its trade and exacerbated the severe shorta ges already being experienced in the country. Both King Alfonso and the new Prime Minister, Count C onde de Romanones, protested what they 4 Lawrence Sondhaus, Navies of Europe, 1815-2002 (London: Longman, 2002), 162. 5 Ibid. 175. 6 Ibid. 177.


41 perceived to be an obvious violation of Spai n’s neutral rights. Duri ng the first week of April 1916, tensions deepened even further when the Germans sank the French channel steamer, Essex killing the great Spanish composer Enrique Granados and his wife. Over the next several days the German sank two Spanish vessels, the Vigo and Santanderino triggering public outrage. A New York Times article quoted a response from Amadeo Hurtado, an authority on international law, who stated, “Spain should ta ke the initiative to bring about joint action of all ne utral countries, in order to pu t a stop to the illegal system which has such disastrous c onsequences for all neutrals.”7 Prior to these attacks, King Alfonso appeared to switch his position in favor of the Central Powers and absolute neutrality. However, he became extremely unne rved by the attacks and loss of life, while Romanones expressed outrage, even petitioning the United States to form a joint protest.8 The Central Powers, realizing that with a pr o-Allied Spanish Prime Minister they must stay in Alfonso’s good graces to ensure Spain’ s neutrality, issued a formal apology on 14 May 1916. However, Germany’s attitude towards Spain changed following a June 1916 event. The German submarine U-35, presumably responsible for several successful attacks on Allied vessels, arrived in Cartagen a producing a flurry of protest from London and Paris. The newspaper El Imparcial reported that the submarine delivered a note of gratitude from Kaiser Wilhelm to King Alf onso because of the favorable treatment of German officers who had surrendered to Spanis h officials in Guinea after the Cameroons in Africa surrendered to the Entente. There we re, however, deep suspicions relative to the true purpose of the visit. Many believed it was a sign of new peace initiatives between 7 “Demands That Spain Act,” New York Times, 15 April 1916. 8 Carden, German Policy Toward Neutral Spain, 117.


42 King Alfonso and Kaiser Wilhelm.9 The stern protests a nd Entente activity placed pressure on German-Spanish relations, a nd those professing pr o-Allied tendencies worried about the image being portrayed. Fe rnando Len y Castillo, Spanish Ambassador to Paris, wrote Prime Minister Romanones, “’Wh at a pity!’ The French just want proof of our friendship, and this is the spectacle we are providing.”10 However, a speech by Antonio Maura, the former Conservative part y leader whose followers included some of the most vocal Germanophiles, further stra ined German-Spanish relations. In a 10 September 1916 speech, Maura supporte d Romanones’ stance observing: Spain must either take her prope r place among the nations or submit to be evicted, degraded, and trampled under foot… Spain would be foolish to refuse intimate association with these western nations, because she naturally belongs to the sa me group, and because it is much easier to harmonize the interests of Spain with those of England and France than to defend them against France and England in alliance with any other nation.”11 The outcry to the U-35 incident led Germ any to believe that Spanish opinion had shifted toward the Allied side, and by D ecember 1916, Berlin fully recognized that Romanones was the main enemy within Spain. The Central Powers declared they were ready to pursue peace terms with the Entent e in early December. However, this peace would be based on their terms and they even threatened to resume hostilities if the Entente rejected the proposition. The Entente, however, refused to accept the Central Power’s overtures on the basis that the war had been forced upon them, and they would not cater to those who had initiated such a dreadful ordeal. This exchange was followed by a note from United States President Woodr ow Wilson to all the belligerents and 9 Carden, German Policy Toward Neutral Spain, 123. 10 Fernando Len y Castillo as quoted in Salvad, Spain 1914-1918, 70. 11 “Will Spain be Forced In?,” New York Times, 8 October 1916.


43 neutrals with the goal of finding some agreement to end the war. Wilson presented Spain the opportunity to volunteer its services as an arbiter of peace, the main goal of King Alfonso and the government leaders. The Entente powers resented Wilson’s note believing that peace on Germany’s terms would m ean all its sacrifices had been in vain. They clearly indicated that they would not be amenable to such approaches, thus, Romanones recognized the detrimental impact Spain’s endorsement of this initiative could have on its relations with the Allied powers. As a result, Romanones declined the President’s offer and instead protested the sink ing of neutral vessels as a direct violation of the London Declaration of 1909, which outlined the rights of neutrals He also stated that Spain: has always maintained the inadmissibility of the destruction of naval prizes as carried out by the German submarines. The Spanish Government has adopted on this subject a more insistent attitude than any other neutral, not excluding the United States; and further, it does not admit the interpretation given by the Central Empires to international law in the destruction of ships; it has always made representations and protests against such an interpretation.12 At this point, Germany clearly recogni zed the threat posed by the Romanones administration, leading to a dramatic change in Berlin’s attitude toward Spain and a plan to destabilize Madrid’s un friendly government and manipulate the somewhat hostile public opinion. The last months of 1916 witnessed extreme contradictions in Germany’s actions in Spain. While continuing to appeal to Alfonso to maintain Spain’s neutrality, Berlin also inaugurated a harsh propaganda campaign to sway public opinion and topple the hostile administration. Their attacks we re not limited to propaganda, as submarine 12 Count Conde de Romanones as quoted in Luis A. Bolin, “Spain and the War,” Edinburgh Review (July 1917): 144.


44 attacks and incidents of sabotage and espiona ge drastically increased after September 1916. During the first two war years, German submarines sank only eight Spanish ships; during just one week in September 1916, they sank three, and th e attacks steadily worsened after December 1916. On 31 January 1917, Germany announced the renewal of its unrestricted submarine warfare, which clearly delinea ted the Mediterranean Sea and waters surrounding Britain and France as restricted zones. Although the potential impact on Spain was obvious, the declarat ion did not illicit a strong Spanish protest. Foreign Minister Amalio Gimeno expressed dismay ov er the situation in a letter to German Ambassador Max von Ratibor, but never threatened to interrupt diplomatic relations with Germany over the campaignÂ’s consequences for Spain. Instead, it decried the policy as unnecessary and harmful to Spain, whose neut ral rights should be respected and honored. The letter asked the German government to understand the economic impact this would have upon Spain and the enormous har dhip it would impose upon its population.13 The Germans proved unsympathetic to the Foreign MinisterÂ’s pleas. The campaign continued and by April 1917, thirty -three Spanish ships with 80,000 tons would be sunk. This placed the Spanish govern ment in a precarious diplomatic position. Would they continue to allow themselves to be bullied by the Central Powers, or would they sever diplomatic relations with Germ any? This predicament accelerated the gulf between Francophiles and Germanophiles, as those favoring Germany staunchly supported the maintenance of st rict neutrality, while thos e benevolent to the Entente believed Spain could not afford acceptance of such German attacks. Francophile Luis 13 Foreign Minister Amalio Gimeno to German Ambassador Max von Ratibor, 6 February 1917, in Algunos datos sobre la guerra submarina, 10-11.


45 Araquistain declared, “The ne utrality of Spain depends on German submarines and if Germany does not rectify the maritime wa r, they choose our belligerence,” and furthermore that it would be a “defensive war, a war to protect our coasts, our waters, and our commerce.”14 On the other hand, the pro-Germ an press inundated Spain with propaganda emphasizing what they perceived to be German hos pitality. An article in the newspaper ABC related: Since the beginning of the war, the king, the government, and all of Spain have eloquently demonstrated our understanding of our neutrality with hospitality and generosity. The subjects of Germany… have met our viewpoints with only consideration and respect.15 As 1917 progressed, the crisis worsened. Th e Central Powers drastically increased their propaganda campaign against Romanones, while he became even more determined to sever diplomatic relations with Ge rmany and move towards the Entente. Acknowledging the deep division in Spanis h public opinion, Romanones resolved to await the right psychological moment to sever ties with Germany. Following Germany’s announcement of the resumption of unrestr icted submarine warfare, Romanones on 1 February announced to parliament: The decision for the Central Powers to use all possible means to stop all maritime traffic with France, Britain, Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean entails grave consequences for Spain. This government is resolved that the life of this country must not be disrupted. This government is therefore determined to take such steps as may be approp riate in these circumstances.16 Romanones’ moment of truth came on 9 April 1917. Without prior warning, a German submarine torpedoed the San Fulgencio en route to Spain with desperately 14 Araquistain, Entre la guerra y la revolucion 23-24. 15 ABC, 9 February 1917, in Algunos datos sobre la guerra submarina, 35. 16 Count Romanones as quoted in Salvad, Spain 1914-1918 77.


46 needed British coal. This provided the last straw for Romanones and the perfect opportunity to justify terminating diplomatic relations with Germany. In a letter to Spanish Ambassador to France, Fernando Le n y Castillo he related, “The crucial moment has arrived, the sinking of the San Fulgencio has been the final straw. The route I will take is already determined in the direction that you know.”17 Romanones believed that, diplomatically, Spain could not afford to allow this treatment by the Germans. If Spain did not stand up against th ese attacks, he feared it w ould mark Spain’s final demise into the realm of insignificant European powers. He intended to forward a stronglyworded note to the German government as a prelude to breaking off relations. However, Romanones fully realized the dangerous game he was playing. In his letter to Len y Castillo, he related “the struggle between the Germanoph iles and myself is to the death.”18 Although Romanones was adamant in how Spain should proceed at this point, other members of the Cortes and, more im portantly, King Alfonso XIII disagreed. They refused to accept Romanones’ harsh language fo r fear of drawing Spai n into the conflict. The German propaganda campaign aimed ag ainst Romanones reached astounding levels, even affecting the opinions of governmental members. The Germans threatened the ruling elites that if Spain joined the Entente, they may suffer the same fate as the Russian ruling class following the revolution. Even the British Ambassador to Spain, Sir Arthur Hardinge reported, “It is quite true that the Russian revoluti on produced an entire change 17 Count Romanones to Fernando Len y Castillo 14 April 1917, as quoted in Salvad, Spain 1914-1918 79-80. 18 Ibid.


47 in the King of Spain’s fee lings towards the Allies.”19 The situation was exacerbated by the fact that Romanones’ policies received overwhelming support from members of the left including Socialist leader Pablo Iglesi as. Famed writer and intellectual, Miguel de Unamuno even directly called for a complete rupture in diploma tic relations with Germany and a re-orientation of Spain’s in ternational politics to favor the Entente.20 As domestic opinion continued to destabilize, virtually all members of the Spanish government demanded the maintenance of st rict neutrality. These events forced Romanones to resign, but he refused to leave quietly. On 19 April he stated, “The time has come when every man of conscience must gi ve his vote and take part in the European conflict. In tendering my resignati on to the King, I voted for France.”21 What could have drastically impacted the future of Spain would result in diplomatic humiliation and Romanones’ de mise. The Entente did not respond to his approaches because there was no certainty that Spanish involvement would have any effect on the war’s outcome. Thus, Entente me mbers believed the best course for Spain would be to remain neutral. This, coupled with Germany’s resolve to ensure Spanish neutrality, proved to be insurmountable obst acles for Romanones. Although realizing the potential consequences of abso lute neutrality, he maintained the minority view. With the destructive war continuing wit hout end, the chaos that had emerged in Russia and Spain’s own domestic troubles, the government, s upported by much of the population, believed that intervention in the war was not on ly undesirable, but also impossible. 19 Kenneth Bourne and D. Cameron Watts, eds. British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print Part II, From the First to the Second World War. Vol. 3, The Allied and Neutral Powers: Diplomacy and War Aims, III: January 1917-July 1918 The First World War, 1914-1918, ser. ed. David Stevenson (University Publications of America, 1989), 359. 20 El Liberal, 27 May 1917, in Fernando Diaz-Plaja, La historia de Espaa en sus documentos: el siglo XX (Madrid: 1960), 364. 21 Romanones as quoted in Meaker, “A Civil War of Words,” 40.


48 Chapter Five A Nation Revolts The war is a revolution, and here in Spain we must make [a revolution] of our own.1 While the government wrestled with the most difficult diplomatic crisis of the war, it neglected to recognize increasing domestic discontent. The maintenance of Spain’s neutrality remained foremost in the politician’s minds because no matter what their personal inclina tions, they believed involvement was not just undesirable, but impossible. While the government acknowledged the fact that Spain was in no position to participate in the war, it refused to ac knowledge why. The liberal monarchy failed to come to grips with the extreme changes occu rring in the country. The division of opinion over the war paved the way for the rise of mass politics in Spain, but the government leaders neglected to identify the emerging trip le threat—the working class, the military and a political party —whose opposition to the government through 1917 would undermine the foundation of power on which the turno so desperately depended.2 While the government struggled with Sp ain’s declining international prestige resulting from the German unrestricted submar ine campaign, internal strife escalated to a critical point. The crisis de subsistencias continued to devastate the majority of the Spanish population resulting in a storm of protest, and fi nally culminating in action.3 In July 1916, the working class emerged as a fo rmidable opponent to the Liberal Monarchy 1 Roberto Castrovido as quoted in Meaker, “A Civil War of Words,” 41. 2 Garca-Nieto and Caldern, Crisis social y dictadura, 16. 3 Ibid. 15.


49 when two rival workers’ trade unions, th e Socialist UGT and th e Anarcho-Syndicalist CNT, joined forces in an attempt to force the government to address the problems of inflation and the crisis de subsistencias Once united, they issued a manifesto in March 1917, which attacked the government as the cause of the problems plaguing Spain. Is there any Spanish ruler who could affirm th at our unbearable living conditions are not the consequence of a regime of privileges, of a constant orgy of private ambitions, of an unchecked immorality, which finds in our public institutions a shelter which should instead be provided for the fundamental interests of the people?... The organized labour movement has therefore concluded that it must be united in the common fight against a system of government which protects exploitation.4 While an attack from the country’s work ing-class parties may not have been a great surprise, the crisis de subsistencias produced a protest from an unexpected source. The economic hardships had a tremendous effe ct on the Spanish Army’s officer corps, the military middle class. Beginning in mid1916, officers began organizing into military trade unions, the juntas de defensa, to combat corruption in the army and to demand pay increases because their buying power had been reduced by inflation. They, as with so many others, simply believed they had suffered enough and wanted only to make a peaceful pronunciamento .5 Furthermore, they wanted to create a movement that would not just represent their own in terests, but those of all groups struggling under the current system.6 Their original intent was not to ove rthrow the government or be a major participant in Spanish politics. With the Bolshevik revolution consum ing Russia in early 1917, King Alfonso 4 Salvad, “Spain and the First World War,” 86. 5 Carr, Spain, 1808-1939, 500. 6 Fernando Daz-Plaja, Espaa, los aos decisivos: 1917 (Barcelona: Plaza & Janes, 1969), 19.


50 became increasingly concerned about the rising influence of the juntas de defensa and their increasing popularity as a movement to change the existing regime. As a result, Alfonso ordered the new War Minister, Genera l Aguilera, to disba nd them. On 1 June 1917, the juntas de defensa issued a declaration that announc ed their refusal to disband and acknowledged their revolt against the government: The administration has not improved and the Army is absolutely disorganized, despised and disregarded in its vital needs: (1) ‘In its moral needs,’ which produces a lack of inner satisfaction and stifles enthusiasm; (2) ‘In its professional or technical needs,’ through the absence of military knowledge, which there are no mean s of acquiring, through the lack of unity of doctrine to direct it, and the lack of material to carry out its ends ; (3) ‘In its economic need s,’ since officers and men are treated worse than in any other country an d are even worse than civilians in analogous circumstance in their own country.7 As the laborers and officers protested, the government faced a third attack, this one from the Catalan industrial bourgeoisie represented by the Lliga Regionalista and led by Francisco de Ass Camb The Lliga, while by no means a revolutionary party, became leaders in the attempt to establish a coalition opposing the turno. As Spain appeared to crumble around them, they reali zed the necessity of having to realign the existing political regime by wresting power from the landed oligarchy that had controlled the country for so many years. On 19 Ju ly, Francisco Camb organized a peaceful “Assembly of Parliamentarians” in Barcelona where sixty-eight gathered to denounce the turno and demand a reorganization of the government to reflect the will of the people. He and the Lliga gained significant support because th e Republicans and Socialists decided to participate in this initiative that, if su ccessful, would prevent a violent insurrection. 7 A. Ramos Oliveira, Politics, Economics and Men of Modern Spain 1808-1946 (New York: Arno Press, 1972), 169.


51 However, Camb failed because of his inability to secure the support of Antonio Maura, the former leader of the turno and recent advocate of governme nt reform. Maura and his followers, the Mauristas, believed in the necessity of a c onservative revolution to abolish the turno, which they believed had become a sham. The Lliga proposal seemed the perfect opportunity for Maura as Camb, a moderate politician, desired a regeneration of conservatism. However, Maura refused to support the Lliga’s motion, while the juntas also pursued Maura’s support. Thus, in 1917, Maura had the opportunity to change the course of Spanish politics by serving as the link to join these two oppositionist movements. In the end, however, despite hi s complaints against the existing system, Maura remained loyal to the monarchy and the Liberal regime and thus would not participate in any action that might threaten their power.8 In 1917, the country hovered on the brink of domestic chaos, compelling many to question the leadership that had brought them to this position. It was a year of diplomatic turning points as well with the German submarine crisis humiliating Spain and reaffirming the belief that Madrid still re presented an insignificant continental power. Socialist journalist Luis Araquistain related, “Awakene d by the war, fueled by the Russian Revolution and the lessons of Greece, the spirit of renewal has exploded in Spanish life.”9 However, despite these threats, the government obviously remained resolute in maintaining its power. But it was not meant to be. It became in creasingly apparent that the government could no longer continue its present oligar chical system. When Romanones resigned, his 8 Francisco J. Romero Salvad, Twentieth-Century Spain: Politics and Society in Spain, 1898-1998 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 36-37. 9 Araquistain, Entre la guerra y la revolucion 119.


52 Liberal rival, Marquis of Alhucemas became Prime Minister. The Marquis attempted to resolve some of the Romanones administration’ s problems, but it proved to be too little, too late. His government, which lasted only fifty-three days, failed because of his inability to resolve the juntas crisis Eduardo Dato, who fell from power in December 1915, replaced Alhucemas, but appointed almost the same Cabinet that proved unable to handle the diplomatic and domestic concerns two years earlier. His return resulted in outrage from all the groups excluded from the turno. In an attempt to neutralize the growing domestic crisis and the emerging threat against the regime, Dato’s Cabinet develope d a strategy designed to quell both the danger of Spain’s unified working class and the rising popularity of the juntas. Dato hoped to capitalize on bourgeois fears stemming from revolutionary activity in Russia by forcing the workers into launching a general strike. He believed that the workers would be unable to plan and organize in advan ce; therefore, such a strike co uld be easily quelled. He also intended to implicate the officers in the strike ’s repression to provi de the government the opportunity to become the “saviour of social order.”10 Dato’s opportunity arose during a transport strike that began in Valencia on 19 July between workers and the railroad co mpany, Compaa del Norte. The dispute developed into a violent confr ontation that halted seventy per cent of Valencia’s transport. As events stabilized, the Compaa del Norte refused to re-hire several workers fired during the conflict. The UGT and PSOE reacted by issuing an ultimatum that they would launch a general strike if the company did not re-hire the workers. The Compaa del Norte refused and a strike commenced on 13 A ugust. Those on the left immediately came 10 Francisco J. Romero Salvad, “Spain and the Firs t World War: The Structural Crisis of the Liberal Monarchy,” European History Quarterly 25, no. 4 (October 1995): 543.


53 to the defense of the struggling workers. The leftist periodical Espaa encouraged, “The Spanish rail workers are not alone in this st ruggle… this mobilization of the proletariat cannot stop until it is sufficient enough to guara ntee the regime change necessary to save the dignity and decorum of our national life.”11 However, not all were so sympathetic. An article in El Debate called the strike a “sed itious, antipatriotic, re volutionary, antisocial work of a turbulent minority.”12 Exactly as Dato anticipated, the strike failed. Successful in limited areas, the army viol ently suppressed the revolt. Evidence strongly suggests that this was not the Socialists’ pr eferred course of action, but th at the situation was forced upon them. Daniel Anguiano, a member of th e strike committee and President of the Railway Trade Union asked: Who could benefit from a strike then? ...We did not want it… We were prepared to accept all kinds of compromises… We intended to avoid it until the last moment… but Dato wanted to discredit the labour movement and to justify the repression of a general strike which he himself was provoking so as to consolidate his position in power, obtain a decree of dissolution of Cortes and maintain the fiction of the Turno.13 Although the strike failed as planned, Dato’s hopes of changing the population’s perceptions of the government were dashed. The crushing of the workers’ parties did nothing to address the severe domestic issues plaguing the country, German submarines still wreaked havoc on Spanish shipping, and most of the social and political forces in Spain came to despise the government. Although Dato intended to link this perceived revolution to the Assembly of Parliamentaria ns, he failed, and the government settled into 11 Espaa, 25 October 1917, in Fernando Diaz-Plaja, Espaa, los aos decisivos: 1917, 89. 12 El Debate, 15 August 1917, in Manuel Tun de Lara, La Espaa del siglo XX (Barcelona: Editorial Laia, 1974), 69. 13 Daniel Anguiano as quoted in Salvad, Spain 1914-1918, 124.


54 an extremely perilous situation. Further complicating matters was the juntas’ loss of popularity due to their brutal crushing of the August strike. The juntas realized that Dato had forced them to repress a strike provoked by his government and now decided to assume a more active role in destroying the political corrupt ion that had permeated Spain for so long. The situation came to a head on 26 October when the juntas delivered an ultimatum to the king, demanding that he create a national governme nt that respected the popular vote. This ultimatum led to the demise of Dato and end of the turno as it had previously existed. After a record eight days without a govern ment, King Alfonso established a new Cabinet with the Marquis of Alhucemas again as Prime Minister. Although the turno still maintained a majority within the administrati on, these events proved to be a turning point for them. Increasing divisions and growing oppositi on plagued a government that for so long had not been challenged. The dynastic pa rties never again enjoyed the hegemonic control they once held as the war brought increasing political awareness to a previously apathetic population. As Luis Arquistain wa rned, “A government that attempts to suffocate public opinion goes the way of political suicide and historic failure.”14 While the country could revel somewh at in the fact that the turno had been overthrown, the devastating failure of the August strike crushed any hopes of democracy becoming a reality for Spain. Political strife only incr eased and although the dynastic elites’ power had been checked, internal divisions and riva l factions among the other political parties created an atmosphere of instability. 14 Araquistain, Entre la guerra y la revolucion 145-146.


55 Chapter Six The End of an Empire “’Fatal Neutralities’ was not only an ed itorial, but is becoming a prophecy and if God does not protect us it coul d become a catastrophe.”1 While domestic crisis enveloped the c ountry, diplomatically, Spain’s position continued to deteriorate even at the war’s end. Between 1918 and 1923, Spain’s status as a continental power diminished further as it de alt with the consequences of its neutrality policy. In the latter months of the war, Germany’s submarine campaign persisted unabated. Even when this threat finally ende d with the November 1918 armistice, Spain’s troubles continued. As the peace negotiations commenced, it became evident that King Alfonso and the government’s ambitions for Spain’s postwar role would not come to fruition. Instead, Spain was forced to come to terms with the bitter consequences of its four-year neutrality policy. Even after ousting the pro-Allied Pr ime Minister Conde de Romanones from power in April 1917, Germany remained unrelen ting in its submarine campaign believing that Spain still favored the Entente. Follo wing the signing of the March 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which ended Russia’s particip ation in the war, Germany launched its major Spring 1918 Western front offensive, expanding its attack against Spanish merchant ships, much to the dismay of the Spanish people. In a poem entitled, “La guerra submarina,” poet Goy de Silva lamented, “the waters are always restless, dancing 1 Fernando Len y Castillo as quoted in Salvad, Spain 1914-1918, 63.


56 eternally while death prowls at the bottom of the sea.”2 An article in the newspaper, Espaa Nueva, lashed out more directly against these attacks and encouraged the government to act. “We believe the government must hurry to formulate a response of protest to Germany as this cons titutes a violation of the rights of Spanish citizens to trade with whomever they please.”3 The government, however, proved unw illing to challenge Germany. The Germanophile newspaper, ABC, quoted Antonio Maura as saying, “nothing we have suffered justifies rupturing relations.”4 Such unwillingness was met by great opposition from the Spanish populace, as demonstrat ed in writer and intellectual Miguel de Unamuno’s reply to Maura’s speech: “In 1898, th e tragic year for the regency, they sacrificed the dignity of th e country for dynastic interests. Today, we do not know what dark interests or evils th ey want to sacrifice.”5 Even Britain and France expressed outrage over Spanish losses, urging Spain to demand that the German government replace ships lost to submarines. But neither domestic opposition nor Entente encouragement could convince Spain to take a stand against the German threat. Madrid feigned negotiations and as an article in Diario Universal reported, “While Spain negotiates, Germany sinks our ships.”6 Thus, the Spanish government found itsel f in the same position as in early 1917, as German attacks flourished and Madrid ha d to decide how much more they would tolerate. In March 1918, King Alfonso appeared to have finally formed a government that 2 Goy de Silva, “La guerra subm arina,” in Ferna ndo Diaz-Plaja, Espaa, los aos decisivos: 1917 115. 3 Espaa Nueva, 31 January 1918, in Algunos datos sobre la guerra submarina, 35-36. 4 ABC, 4 April 1917, in Fernando Diaz-Plaja, La historia de Espaa en sus documentos: el siglo XX (Madrid: 1960), 350. 5 El Liberal, 27 May 1917, in Diaz-Plaja, La historia de Espaa en sus documentos: el siglo XX 352. 6 Diario Universal, 22 February 1918, in Algunos datos sobre la guerra submarina, 38.


57 could assist Spain in it s continued trouble as the Ministerio de Primates (Cabinet of Titans) assumed power. Headed by former Prime Minister Antonio Maura, it included two other previous turno leaders Eduardo Dato and Conde de Romanones, as well as a group of Spain’s most experienced and dynami c politicians. Had Spain finally found the leadership necessary to restore its national honor? Despite the apparent strength of the new re gime, it proved just as incapable as the previous governments in ne utralizing the German threat, which had now expanded its disturbances within Spanish borders. In early 191 8, several Spanish newspapers reported extensive German espionage being conducte d in Spain and revealed Germany funded anarchists wreaking havoc within the count ry. Rather than addr ess these subversive activities, the Cabinet of Titans revealed their impotence by passing a law of espionage in July, which essentially s ilenced the Spanish press.7 The law forbade the press from reporting on news that related to the Spanis h neutrality policy, while also forbidding all negative representations of dipl omats or political leaders. In addition, it restricted the “spreading of news of a nature to alarm Spaniards.”8 As German attacks continued, events fi nally came to a head during an incident that forced the government to realize that the situation was spiraling out of control. On 13 July, the Germans torpedoed the Spanish ship Ramn de Larriaga, carrying oil from New York, as it entered Spanish waters ev en machine-gunning its sailors after they abandoned ship. Maura finally responded with outrage stating, “The limits of Spanish patience have been reached… This last example of contempt and brutality will have to be 7 Francisco Romero Salvad, “’Fatal Neutrality’: Pragmatism or Capitulation? Spain’s Foreign Policy during the Great War,” European History Quarterly 33, no. 3 (2003): 306-308. 8 Ibid., 307-308.


58 solved by the government without further delays.”9 At last, it appeared that the Spanish government would stand up against the German violation of its neutral rights. The government warned Germany on 10 August that if they sank any further Spanish vessels, any tonnage lost would be replaced by German and Austro-Hungarian ships which had sought refuge in Spanish ports at the war’s outbreak. However, Spanish expectations were completely dashed, as Germany replie d that any seizure of its ships would be considered an act of war. Germany then con tinued to torpedo five more Spanish vessels the following month. In summer 1918, the Spanish government on ce again had to decide if they would halt German bullying. Spain’s leaders buckled and again cowered to German wishes. Spain did not achieve a diplomatic victory as hoped by Maura and his Cabinet. Rather than seizing German vessels in port, th e Spanish government was forced to accept a German agreement to loan ships to Spain only after Germany decided which ones to loan. Thus, the Germans completely humiliated the Sp anish as the war turned to the Entente’s favor. When the armistice was ratified in November 1918, and Conde de Romanones again became Prime Minister in December, Sp aniards retained the hope that their country could play a role in the new European politic al arena. After the United States entered the war in April 1917, King Alfonso, seeing himself as the leader of the neutral nations, stated that as, “the sole remaining neutra l nation of influence and power,” Spain should lead the rest of Europe to peace.10 However, the Entente rebuffed Alfonso’s claim. A 9 Antonio Maura as quoted in Salvad, “Fatal Neutrality,” 307-308. 10 Thomas A. Bailey, The Policy of the United States Toward the Neutrals, 1917-1918 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1942), 22.


59 letter from the head of the British Forei gn Office to the British Ambassador to Spain described a recent discussion with the Span ish Ambassador and responded to the Spanish AmbassadorÂ’s claims: I listened to this enumeration with some surprise and, indeed, felt some difficulty in reconciling the general arguments of his Excellency with my ow n recollection of the events of the past four years. I refrained, however, from casting any doubt upon his presentation of history, and contented myself with remarking that, if th e Allies had profited by what they had obtained from Spain, Spain herself had been a much greater gainer by the tr ansaction. She has escaped the ravages of warÂ…. So far as my information went, there was no other European country that had suffered less from the war than Spain.11 Thus, the war not only failed to improve SpainÂ’s European position, it emphasized its status as a secondary continen tal power not even worthy of an invitation to the peace negotiations. As if SpainÂ’s failed attempts to partic ipate in the peace negotiations were not humiliating enough, France punished Madrid for the Germanophile stance of many of its key institutions. Following the war, Sp ain was embroiled in an unpopular and underfunded campaign in Morocco. Given the ar myÂ’s weakened condition, Spain was no match for the well-armed and well-trained Mo roccan Moorish guerillas. Paris, however, did not come to SpainÂ’s aid. The result was the disaster at Annual in summer 1921, where more than 12,000 Spanish troops died, while the Moors overran most of the eastern Moroccan Protectorate.12 Morocco, the territory Spain had been desperate to maintain and expand during the war, not on ly created an unsolvable pr oblem with France, but also 11 Kenneth Bourne and D. Cameron Watts, eds. British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print Part II, From the First to the Second World War. Vol. 7, Portugal, Spain and the Peace Treaty; Africa n Questions; Morocco; Ge rmany and the Treaty The Paris Peace Conference of 1919, ser. ed. M. Dockrill, no. 9, (University Pub lications of America, 1989), 10. 12 Salvad, Spain 1914-1918, 181.


60 led to insurmountable problems with the indigenous population.13 This postwar Moroccan crisis, much like the 1898 Spanis h-American War disaster and Spanish impotence against the German submarine cam paign, added to Spain’s international humiliation and guaranteed that it would re main a secondary country in European politics. As the war ended and the European nations attempted to bring peace to the ravaged continent, Spain found itself isolat ed. Germany had successfully embarrassed the formerly great empire and Spain had to accept its second-rate status. Romanones would later relate how neutrality “had a devasta ting effect in diminishing the international prestige of Spain” and “inte rrupted, if not destroyed, its wo rk in international politics.”14 In addition, domestic discontent continued to ravage the country, as the government ultimately proved unable to create internal stability. Following numerous attempts to establish a government that would addre ss the country’s increasing problems, these regimes rose and fell until September 1923 when General Miguel Primo de Rivera’s military dictatorship filled the long-standing political vacuum. 13 Javier Tusell, Juan Avils and Rosa Pardo, eds., La poltica exterior de Espaa en el siglo XX (Madrid: Biblioteca Nuev a, 2000), 16. 14 Conde de Romanones as quoted in Rubn Domnguez Mndez, “La gran guerra y la neutralidad Espaola: entre la tradicin historiogrfica y las nuevas lneas de investigacin,” in Spagna contemporanea no. 23 (2008): 33.


61 Conclusion The world in war and in peace, Spain is alone.1 When the European war broke out in 1914 and Spain immediately declared neutrality, the population felt optimistic about their nation’s future. Realizing the country was in an unfavorable position militarily and economically, most Spaniards favored neutrality as the wisest course of action. Th ey also believed that it offered the longsought opportunity for Spain to regain its position as a major continental player. However, despite these high hopes, Spanish neutrality failed to yield such positive consequences. While certainly not prepared to enter the war, the conflagration nevertheless affected Spain with devastating results. The government proved completely unprepared to address the domestic crises that materiali zed, particularly food shortages and inflation. The inability to resolve thes e issues, exacerbated by the intensifying divisions between Francophiles and Germanophiles, led to the emer gence of a civil war of words. A country once consumed by apathy became filled with outrage. Individuals who had never participated in politics now chose a side in th e conflict, seeking to sa ve their country from further hardship. This, however, created fu rther discontent, revol ution, and the fall of numerous governments. Between 1918 and 1923, twelve governments and three parliaments failed to overcome the social instability. Each government proved either unable or unwilling to address the demands of the new politically conscious society, and 1 Antonio Machado in Rafael Olivar Bertrand, “Repercusiones en Espaa de la primera guerra mundial” Cuadernos de historia diplomatica 3, no. 176 (1956): 5.


62 the various political groups could not pr ovide an organized, effective replacement government. “It was anarchy that led nowhere more terrible than the anarchy of revolutions, because the instinct for self-pre servation which breeds revolutions seemed to have died in Spanish society.”2 As Spain wrestled with these domestic cr ises, its diplomatic efforts also failed. The Spanish government’s unwillingness to join either alliance left them completely isolated at the war’s end. King Alfono’s de sire to serve as th e leader of the peace negotiations proved unrealistic, as Spain even failed to receive even an invitation to the Versailles conference. It had been comple tely humiliated by German actions, furthering the widely-held belief that Spain was barely a second-rate continental power. However, while the negative consequences of Spanish neutrality appear obvious, would intervention have yielded more positive results? At the outbrea k of the war, Spain was in no position to participate in a major m ilitary conflict on the continent. Militarily unprepared, economically backward and diploma tically isolated, the government realized that involvement was impossi ble, and Spain’s problems only worsened throughout the war. Although leaders, such as Conde de Romanones, desired intervention, the government’s general stance was that interventi on would prove disastrous because of the serious potential for the outbreak of a civil war in the divide d country. If Spain joined the Entente, German enmity would result. Cons idering the impact of Germany’s submarine campaign upon Spain, it could face maritime disa ster if it intervened in the conflict. Germany, recognizing Spain’s endemic instabi lity, would surely have created further chaos, particularly because of the incredib ly strong Germanophile presence in the 2 Oliveira, Politics, Economics and Men of Modern Spain, 183.


63 country. Germany controlled much of the Sp anish press, while also maintaining a significant covert force for espionage and sa botage. Thus, Germany could easily wreak havoc if Spain opted to join the Entente. On the other hand, had Spain joined the Central Powers, Britain and France, because of th eir geographic location, could have easily inflicted similar damage upon the Spanish. So, as Italy, Romania and other nations abandoned neutrality in favor of interventi on, Spain remained firm in its diplomatic position. Despite all the negative consequences of neutrality, it remained the only option given SpainÂ’s extreme instability. The impact of the First World War upon the belligerent powers is obvious, but one must not ignore its impact on neutral pow ers. Spain suffered tremendously between 1914 and 1918. Although, in general, the government and population remained optimistic that neutrality would prove beneficial to th e nation, it was in vain. Spain faced a tragic situation as either neutrality or intervention would have produced terrible consequences. The government chose what it an ticipated to be the lesser of two evils and while this option proved costly, the alte rnative could have been ev en more devastating. Although Spain did not emerge from the war with incr eased prestige and di plomatic standing in Europe, as many had hoped, the outcome could have been even bleaker than the reality had it intervened. The belief that neutrality would enhance its status as a Great Power proved false and the Spanish Empire ceased to have any influence. Even more powerless and divided, Spain emerged from the war a mere shadow of its former self.


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