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RossN

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The Age of Brass: A Spanish AAR

Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Duelo_a_garrotazos.jpg



'We live in different ages, non-Spaniards and ourselves: they in the age of silver, we in the age of brass'.
- Lope de Vega, La Dorotea

Greetings all! As you probably guessed from the title (and Goya picture I've shamelessly pilfered) this is an AAR about Spain in the century between 1836 and 1936.

Those of you familiar with my French AAR probably know what to expect here; for those who haven't I mostly write history book but I do like to use letters and speeches and give important roles to the characters the game cooks up.

Spanish history is not a specialist subject of mine, so I apologise ahead of time for any historical gaffes. I also don't speak Spanish, but luckily this is a written AAR rather than a video so you do not have to listen to me hopelessly mangle pronunciations (though you can imagine me doing so if you wish. :))

As always I welcome all suggestions and comments and I hope you enjoy the story!

 
Prologue: The Reign of Ferdinand VII

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Francisco_Goya_-_Portrait_of_Ferdinand_VII_of_Spain_in_his_robes_of_state_(1815)_-_Prado.jpg


King Ferdinand VII of Spain.


Prologue: The Reign of Ferdinand VII

Few kings died as unmourned as Ferdinand VII of Spain. Few reigned as poorly.

Spain in 1833 was a country both exhausted and angered. The struggle against Napoleon and his brother, the would-be ‘King José’ had seen bitter hardship but also great heroism by the long suffering people of Spain. They would never forget that they had been the ones who first broke the invincible legions of the Emperor, that Spanish courage and cleverness and sheer stubbornness had ground away the proudest and greatest army in Europe.

The twenty years after that heroic age had brought only disappointment. Ferdinand, whose throne countless sons of Spain had bled to restore proved himself a tyrant and a fool. No one perhaps could have won back the territories in the Americas as they blossomed into revolution but the monarch turned probability into certainty. At the very least he turned revolution abroad into revolution ay home. The liberal constitution of 1812, created by those who had fought Napoleon had made Spain a constitutional monarchy. As soon as he could Ferdinand had abandoned the constitution and ruled by personal decree. The result was that in 1820, less than a decade after revolt had restored him Ferdinand became a prisoner in his own country.

In 1823 the French invaded again, this time to rescue Ferdinand from disaster and defeat. The Spanish king, restored to power by the bayonets and musket fire of the French had promised to treat properly with the rebels should he be freed. Characteristically he broke his word and the reprisals so shocked the comte d'Artois, the future Charles X of France – no sympathiser with the liberals – that he refused military decorations from the restored Ferdinand.

The ‘ominous decade’ that followed the French invasion saw the King continue his reign in the manner of the despot. Liberals were exiled, as were those more conservatively inclined who fell afoul of the monarch’s whim. Spain was no stranger to absolutism, but Ferdinand would have been a bad ruler in any century and the century he lived in was one that had in many cases abandoned the style he preferred. The collapse of French absolutism in 1830 was a sign that Ferdinandism had little future.

And yet perhaps there were those who would miss what Ferdinand represented even if they did not miss the man himself. The great aristocrats and the Church, those pillars of Old Spain looked anxiously at the liberals in France and elsewhere. They feared for their privileges but it was not privilege alone that motivated them. The Terror was within living memory. Who was to say Spain would long remain stable under the constitution of 1812?

There was also at least one area of Spain where the people would champion Ferdinand against the liberals. The Basques had not supported the constitution of 1812 which had ignored their ancient freedoms in favour of centralised state. For these people the ascendance of the liberals was a sincere threat.


800px-María_Cristina_de_Borbón-Dos_Sicilias,_reina_de_España.jpg


Queen Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies, widow of Ferdinand VII and mother of Queen Isabella II.

Matters came to a head in 1830. That year Ferdinand published the Pragmatic Sanction, abandoning the Salic Law that restricted the throne to males. Ferdinand had not seen the children of his first three marriages live to see their first year. Personal tragedy was averted and the future of Spain changed forever when his fourth wife, Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies gave birth to a daughter in October 1830, followed by a second in January 1832. Both the elder the Infanta María Isabel Luisa (soon to be Queen Isabel II of Spain) and the younger the Infanta María Luisa Fernanda would live to see old age. By traditional Spanish law neither girl stood to inherit the throne for their uncle the Infante Carlos, conde de Molina stood ahead of them in the succession. Or at least he had before the Pragmatic Sanction.

Don Carlos was as absolutist as his brother, though other than his arch conservative views he was generally reckoned a far better man than Ferdinand. When Maria Christina, pushing the rights of her older daughter pressured the dying Ferdinand to make Carlos swear allegiance to Isabella as Princess of Asturias the conde de Molina refused. Unlike Ferdinand Carlos was too pious and honourable (or too stiff necked depending on one’s views) to abandon what he regarded as his divine rights. To Carlos it was not so much that he wished for the throne himself (his supporters were far more forthright than the prince himself) as that he had a duty to uphold the law of both God and the land. For his stubbornness Carlos was politely exiled to Portugal.

Ferdinand VII died on 29 September 1833, his last months a misery of gout. His wife Maria Christina moved swiftly, declaring herself regent and her two year old daughter Queen. Maria Christina had two immense advantages over Don Carlos; she was in Madrid and he was abroad and she was in sympathy with the liberals. That half of Spain that had longed to be free of Ferdinand were cautiously willing to embrace his daughter and widow and soon the exiles began to return.

Don Carlos had moved nearly as fast as his sister-in-law, declaring himself King of Spain. Unfortunately for the would-be monarch when he tried to enter Spain he found his path blocked by armed forces loyal to the Regent and her daughter. He was forced to remain stranded in Portugal, itself undergoing a civil war between rival claimants to the throne until 1834 when he escaped to England and thence to France before finally returning to Spain after various adventures. Once there he established a rival court to Maria Christina in the north of the country.

Less than two years after the death of Ferdinand VII Spain had drifted from turmoil into outright civil war. On one side stood Queen Isabella II and her mother, supported by most of the army and the navy along with the liberals and even many conservatives looking for a compromise between the Spain of 1812 and that of Ferdinand. On the other side was Don Carlos, backed by much of the Church and the old guard of the aristocracy along with the Basques and those who personally questioned Maria Christina's fitness to rule. The other great powers largely supported Maria Christina, hoping for a swift victory and a stable Spain though time would tell if those hopes were realistic.

At the start of 1836 Spain stood impoverished within, diminished abroad and in the process of tearing herself apart. The road back to power, prestige and peace would not be a straight one, if such a road existed at all...

Infante_don_Carlos,_by_Vicente_Lopez.JPG


Infante Carlos, conde de Molina (King Carlos V to his supporters.)
 

stnylan

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It didn't take you long.

I am excited to see what happens, and as ever look forward to your work.
 

HIMDogson

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If the militant socialists enforce a dumbass Republic this time we riot
 

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With the vital question of Carlism posed at the beginning of the AAR, I must first ask what mods you are using this time around?
If the militant socialists enforce a dumbass Republic this time we riot
Counter-revolution will be the only allowed revolution in this AAR!
 
Spain in 1836

RossN

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Spain 1836.jpg


Spain in Europe.

Cuba.jpg


Cuba & Puerto Rico.

Spanish Guinea.jpg


Spanish Guinea.

Philippines.jpg


The Spanish East Indies.

Spain in 1836

Head of State: Queen Isabella II (monarch) / Queen Maria Christina (regent)
Head of Government: Sr. Juan Álvarez Mendizábal (President of the Council of Ministers) [1]
Ruling Party: Parti Moderato (Conservative)
Rank: #8
Population (inc. colonies): 16.95 million.
Allies: None.
Sphere of Influence: None.
Army: 25 regiments (20 in Spain, 5 overseas)
Navy: 27 ships (9 Clipper Transports, 9 Frigates, 9 Man o'war.)


1. Historical at the beginning of 1836.
 

RossN

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stnylan: Thanks! :) And yeah I wanted to leap in quickly. I very nearly went with either Stellaris or CK II but the fact that updates are coming in the middle future persuaded me to go with Vicky - though I certainly haven't abandoned those games!

HIMDogson: Well, at least for the moment there are no Socialists on the horizon. :D

J_Master: Good question! I'm using the New Nations Mod, the same one I used in L'Empereur. It does in fact offer a choice between Carl and Isabella, though I won't say which I chose just yet. :)
 

stnylan

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Nice to be reminded of the mighty Spanish Empire :D
 

Specialist290

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As ever, eagerly following this :)

Spain in the nineteenth century is clearly at a nadir in its fortunes -- a former first-rate power with a globe-spanning empire, they've fallen far and fallen hard within the past few decades. Let's hope Ferdinand's successor is able to start turning those fortunes around -- whoever they may be!
 
Chapter One: The First Carlist War

RossN

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Bataille_de_la_première_guerre_carliste_1833-1840.jpg


The Battle of Pamplona (11 to 13 February 1836), the key battle of the war.

Chapter One: The First Carlist War


1834 and 1835 had seen some bruising clashes between the Carlists and the forces of the government in Madrid, known variously as the Isabelinos (after the Queen) or the Cristinos (after her mother.) The brilliant and ruthless General Tomás de Zumalacárregui had proven himself the very reincarnation of Quintus Sertorius. A grave and disciplined Basque with a religious faith like tempered steel he more than anyone had turned the isolated and disorganised supporters of Don Carl into a potent army and a serious threat to the liberals. Even with all the advantages the Cristinos possessed from control of all Spain's key cities to the financial and in some cases military aid of the foreign powers the so-called "Wolf of Las Amezcoas" held the conflict in the balance. Had he lived the Carlists might have won the war outright but the soldier died in strange circumstances on 24 June 1835, after from botched surgery on a minor war wound by a local quack doctor. His death allowed Queen Maria Christina to breathe a little easier but still left thousands of Carlist troops in the North.

The fighting over the previous two years had been grim even by the fierce standards of Spanish war. Neither side recognised the other as legitimate, by definition could not. The practice of execution by firing squad swiftly became routine and grew so pronounced that the British government became involved and attempted to broker a regulation treating prisoners of war. With so much of the fighting in the hands of irregulars and hastily rounded up conscripts there were many longstanding local grudges that could be settled under the cover of war. Added to all this were the dark spectre of rural poverty and religious strife. Though the vast majority of the Cristinos were not anti-religious there was a pungent whiff of anti-clericalism to some, a feeling returned in gusto by those on the other side eager to match the traitor with the atheist.

At the beginning of 1836 the government appointed General Joaquín Baldomero Fernández-Espartero y Álvarez de Toro as commander of the national army. General Espartero was a natural born leader, unflinching in the face of war. He was a dashing and splendid officer, a great partisan of the young queen. He was a an able general in pitched battle, siege or guerrilla warfare. He was a champion of the liberal cause and fiery hero for reform. He was all these things and deservedly a legend in his own lifetime. He was also shamelessly, ruthlessly, brilliantly ambitious. In Espartero Spain had found her Caesar.

With the key Carlist army besieging the Cristino stronghold of Pamplona Espartero immediately marched the thirty thousand men of the Ejército Cristino del Centro [the Cristino Army of the Centre] north. The government had troops already present in northern Spain but the fifteen thousand men of the Ejército del Norte were encircled in Barcelona, not immediately threatened and well supplied by sea but not available for an offensive without risking Spain's second city to the enemy. Given the known desperation of the Carlists to acquire a seaport Espartero refused to take that risk. That left one other army on Spanish soil. The Ejército del Sur, also fifteen thousand strong was far to the south. Ordered north they would arrive too late to fight at Pamplona, though not to participate in future battles.


Armies January 1836.jpg


The position of the Carlist and Cristno (government) armies, January 1836.

Pamplona itself was an old fortified city that lay in a rounded valley on the banks of the River Agra. Cooler and wetter than Madrid the city was still hot and dry enough to avoid snow and ice, a small mercy for the soldiers when the Carlists and Cristinos clashed in February. The Carlist commander was General Agustín Acuña, perhaps their finest general after the late Zumalacárregui and with advanced knowledge of Espartero's approach he chose his ground well. The Carlist forces at some twenty one thousand lacked the numbers of their enemy and had neither cavalry nor artillery but they were seasoned and determined fighters. Beginning on the afternoon of 11 February and lasting until the evening of 13 February the two armies struggled outside the city. Espartero employed his cavalry to devastating effect; though the first charge was pushed back with sharp losses from the crackle of Carlist musketry a second strike to the flank backed up well placed artillery. Slowly the stubborn Carlist lines began to bend until suddenly morale snapped and they were in flight.

Esperartero had won a great victory and probably broken the strength of the enemy but it had come at cost. With nearly ten thousand men dead, wounded or missing he was not about to send his weary troops into a goose chase hunting down the remnants of Acuña's command in the Cantabrian Mountains. Instead he made camp at Zaragoza, waiting for his soldiers to recover sufficiently to march on the Carlists ringing Barcelona. The freshly arrived Ejército del Sur would instead track down Acuña, finally defeating him for good at the Battle of Bilbao on 22 April. Meanwhile Esperartero achieved impressive victories at Tarragona (21 to 22 March) and Lérida (8 April), allowing the once 'trapped' Ejército del Norte to break the final Carlist field army in the north east at Gerona on 11 April. As the Carlist front collapsed thousands of rebels surrendered or deserted.

Battle of Pamplona.jpg
Tarragona.jpg


The Battles of Pamplona and Tarragona, February and March 1836.

By May 1836 it seemed as if the Carlist cause had collapsed completely. Don Carlos himself was still not captured and much of his court remained free but as an organised force the Carlists had simply ceased to exist. The mood in areas of Spain that had supported the pretender, above all the Basque countryside appeared sullen but resigned. Esperatero and the Ejército Cristino del Centro returned to Madrid and a heroes welcome from the government (in public; in private there was a sharp degree of fear about so gifted and popular a general.) The war had been won, or so it was assumed. Over the course of the next year the military supply budget would be drastically cut. By a minor miracle and a ferocious tariff wall Spain had survived the civil war with her finances intact. To keep it that way and to reduce the crushing burden elsewhere the government retreated from a full war footing, slicing at spending for the military stockpile. As with so much else that seems sensible at the time it would prove a dreadful mistake [1].

The first sign that Carlism was simply dormant and not dead would not arrive until December 1837 with almost simultaneous uprisings at Bilbao and the Aragonese town of Teruel. Neither city fell to the enemy but the countryside surrounding each was rife with rebels. The Carlists were a mix of tough old soldiers, the survivors from the defeated armies of the previous years bolstered by wily peasant recruits, especially in the Basque regions. They were not well equipped, but then neither were the Cristinos.

General Nicolás Acuña (no relation to the Carlist commander of the same name) was a rising star in the Spanish Army who had won a reputation for dauntlessness during the early fighting [2]. At the end of 1836 the then forty two year old officer from Seville had been promoted to command of the Ejército del Norte. In early January 1836 he wrote candidly to his brother, also in the Army though not on the front lines:

'The problem is not courage Raoul. The men abound with it. Nor is it leadership; even those soldiers who have never seen him look upon the commander [General Esperarto] with adoration.... the problem is supplies. We are starved of powder and shot and my soldiers must resort to the bayonet often. My cannon are useless after the first volley... worse though is the food and clothing. Four or five soldiers sharing the same lice riddled blanket itself unfit for mountain warfare or winter warfare let alone both. Meals of hard bread and scraps of cheese, washed down by wine like vinegar or sour water. As much as the men hate the enemy they hate the quartermaster more - yet what can be done?'
Esperato, with a larger army under his direct command had to worry about warhorses on top of everything else as the Ejército Cristino del Centro had three brigades of cuirassiers in his ranks. They were crack troops as they'd proved at Pamplona, Tarragona and Lérida but they were a logistical nightmare. Though Bilbao was perhaps more at risk - the fall of the city could cause a general Basque rising - Esperato moved on Teruel first, crushing the rebels on the evening of 10 January 1838. He directed Acuña to delay as long as he dared before advancing on the Carlists in the north west. The commander reasoned that either the weather or Acuña's supply situation or ideally both would improve before the clash came. Esperato was not driven by humanitarianism, as least not directly, but by the coolheaded logic that a army fought better when it did not have to worry about freezing to death overnight or half the men were sick from the brackish water they'd been forced to drink.

The Ejército del Norte finally reached the vicinity of Bilbao on 13 February. There followed a two day battle between the two General Acuñas that saw the Cristino emerge triumphant, though not without losses. The Carlist survivors retreated to Santander were Nicolás Acuña eventually forced their surrender on the evening of 28 February.


Rising of 1837.jpg


The Carlist uprising of December 1837 (the 'Christmas Uprising'.) Esperato commanded government forces in Madrid, Acuña those in Barcelona.

For the second time the war appeared to be over. However unlike in May 1836 the mood in the newspapers both foreign and domestic was cautious, even pessimistic. Very few believed that Don Carlos had a chance of reviving his fortunes after two military defeats but the resiliency of the Carlists had surprised and frightened many, drawing back to uncomfortable memories of the relentless guerrilla war of the Napoleonic era. Was this now to be the Spanish future, an eternity of rebels hiding in the mountains? Don Carlos did not have the affections of most in the Kingdom of Spain (save perhaps in the Basque country) but those who followed him were committed and ruthless. Though Queen Maria Cristina and the Cortes had gone so far as to strip the pretender of his rank and titles and condemn his a traitor it seemed very unlikely that the government had seen the last of 'Carlism'.

In truth the uprisings of late 1837 and early 1838 were not great threats to the government. Even with the paltry flow of supplies the situation had been far more grave in 1836 when Barcelona might have fallen to the enemy and the fear of the Carlists sweeping towards Madrid was on everyone's lips. The damage done by the Carlists of December 1837 was more subtle, and more far reaching than their dismal military performance. The government in Madrid, especially Maria Cristina who was both the symbolic and real centre of power were embarrassed by the affair. The blame was perhaps unfair. It was too easily forgotten that most observers concluded the war was over in May 1836 and in those circumstances trimming spending on muskets, rifles and new artillery pieces was not just sensible it was necessary to keep the fragile Spanish economy afloat. The government, desperate to avoid the mire of foreign loans as much as possible had behaved with caution. It was bad luck that their caution proved misplaced.

For Baldomero Espartero, already feted as the hero of Spain the late uprising had further gilded his reputation. Many saw him as the man who had snatched victory from the defeat of Maria Cristina's ministers. Those most desiring reform were especially besotted as Espartero more than any civilian politician became the 'face' of liberal Spain. Maria Cristina ordered the general to remain in the north, ostensibly to make sure the rebels who had gone to ground would not reform into units but also at least partially to keep him out of Madrid lest he perform a coup d'état. He would finally be recalled early in 1839, arriving to a grand procession in Madrid and many honours. He was styled El pacificador de España, was made a grandee of the first class, and received two dukedoms. Very soon after Maria Cristina was forced to accept him as President of the Council of Ministers [Prime Minister].

With the Carlists (temporarily?) removed from the field the true battle for control of Spain now lay between the regent and the war hero. Matters would come to a head in the general election of 1840.


800px-Baldomero_Espartero.jpg


General Baldomero Espartero.

Footnotes:

[1] Among other matters I ruthlessly slashed the Military and Naval stockpiles after the war was (apparently) over.

[2] Nicolás Acuña is a fictional (game generated) general with 'Rising Star' and 'Dauntless'. Espartero was obviously a real person and is generated by the NNM mod with 'Natural Born Leader' and 'Unflinching'.
 

RossN

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stnylan: Well, one has to start somewhere. :)

Specialist290: Thank you! And yes Spain really as a low point in this era (though arguably in a better place than she is in 1936 in a Hearts of Iron start.) I don't see this becoming a world conquering game though; modest success is enough so long as it is interesting!
 

stnylan

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It sounds like the first of many unenviable compromises.
 

Specialist290

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It's always awkward being a leader of men in a position like Espartero's -- your prestige and your talents make you invaluable, but they also make you a target for those who fear you might use those talents to further your own political ambitions, justifiably or otherwise.
 

thekingjamesft1

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Great job! I followed your French AAR, which I loved, and now I’m so hyped with this one, mainly because I’m Spanish:D. The only thing I would change would be the treat of “Sr.” for Mendizábal. That is used only with surnames. If we’re writing a complete name, we use “Don” (which is also used for first names in formal but not official circumstances). So in this case, it would be “Don Juan Alvárez Mendizábal” or “Sr Alvárez Mendizábal” (the first one sounds more like XIXth century Spanish than the second one).
Also, “Parti moderato” is Italian I think, it should be “Partido Moderado” (which was not the ruling party at that time, since Mendizábal was progressive, but who cares?:p) Does Espartero’s appointmemt as PM mean that progressives are the ruling party now?
 

Andreios II

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Fngkjrvdfkjgbfhkvbsdkvfgngkdffnjk another RossN AAR! Very happy to see this get started. Spain in the 19th Century is not something I know much about, so I’m looking forward to learning about historical characters in an ahistorical setting, just like in l’empereur est mort.

Playing as Spain will certainly be a different challenge, trying to avoid falling further down the ranks of powers, keeping in the black and protecting the remaining interests abroad. At least the bar set by history was (relatively?) low, so best of luck!
 

Bored Student1414

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A new AAR! Spain is in a sad position in the start. Those Carlists won't give up the struggle and a lot of trouble is ahead. Spain is a shell of its former self. I remember in your last Victoria 2 AAR that France defeated Spain in a war and Spain was crippled for the rest of the AAR. Now here, you have a lot less room for error as Spain. Can Spain find some degree of order and prosperity in this alternate history?
 

Surt

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Better start building the economy, as my crystalball foresee an US marine taking a smoke in the powderchamber of his ship while visiting your harbour.
 

J66185

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Or maybe Spain goes forth and decides to snatch a piece of China, perhaps? That occurred in some Italian AAR some time ago. ;):D