(Alfonso León Fernando Maria Jaime Isidro Pascual Antonio de Borbon y Austria-Lorena
); when anglicised Alphonse Leon Ferdinand Mary James Isidor Pascal Anthony of Bourbon and Austria-Lorraine (May 17
– February 28
), King of Spain
, posthumous son of Alfonso XII of Spain
, was proclaimed King at his birth. He reigned from 1886-1931. His mother, Queen Maria Christina
, was appointed regent
during his minority. In 1902, on attaining his 16th year, the King assumed control of the state.
Although Alfonso's reign would not end well, it began well. The French newspaper Figaro
described the young king as "the happiest and best loved of all the rulers of the earth. When he came of age in 1902, the week of his accession to the throne was marked by a week of festivities, bullfights, balls and receptions throughout Spain.
During his reign Spain lost its last colonies in the Americas (Cuba and Puerto Rico) and the Philippines; fought and, after several setbacks, won a war in Morocco; witnessed the start of the Spanish Generation of 1927, and endured the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, which ultimately cost him the throne.
During the First World War, because of his family connections with both sides and the division of popular opinion, Spain remained neutral. The king ran an office for captives from the Palacio de Oriente, that leveraged the Spanish diplomatic and military network abroad to intercede for thousands of prisoners of war, receiving and answering letters from all Europe.
He was a promoter of tourism in Spain. The problems with the lodging of his wedding guests prompted the construction of the luxury Hotel Palace in Madrid. He also supported the creation of a network of state-run lodges (Parador) in historic buildings of Spain. His fondness for the sport of football led to the patronage of several "royal" football clubs like Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, Real Betis and Real Unión.
When the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed on April 14 1931, he left Spain, but did not abdicate the throne. He settled eventually in Rome where he lived in the Grand Hotel.
Once the Spanish Civil War broke out, Alfonso made it clear he favoured the military uprising against the Popular Front government, but General Francisco Franco in September 1936 declared that the Nationalists would never accept Alfonso as king (the supporters of the rival Carlist pretender made up an important part of the Franco army). First he went into exile in France. Nevertheless, he sent his son Juan de Borbon, Count of Barcelona to enter Spain in 1936 and participate in the uprising. However, near the French border, General Mola had him arrested and expelled from the country.
On 15 January, 1941, Alfonso XIII abdicated his rights to the Spanish throne in favour of his fourth, but second surviving, son Juan, father of the current king Juan Carlos.
Alfonso died in Rome in 1941. The Spanish government ordered three days of national mourning. His funeral was held in Rome in the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. He was buried in the Church of Santa Maria di Monserrato, the Spanish national church in Rome, immediately below the tombs of Pope Calixtus III and Pope Alexander VI. In January 1980 his remains were transferred to El Escorial in Spain.
Marriage and children
On May 31
Alfonso married Scottish-born Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
(1887-1969), a niece of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom
and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
. A Serene Highness
by birth, Ena, as she was known, was raised to Royal Highness status a month before her wedding to prevent the union from being viewed as unequal. As Alfonso XIII and Ena were returning from the wedding they narrowly escaped the assassination attempted by the anarchist Mateu Morral
; instead, the bomb explosion killed or injured many bystanders and members of the royal procession.
Alfonso and Ena had seven children:
- Infante Alfonso Pio Cristino Eduardo Francisco Guillermo Carlos Enrique Fernando Antonio Venancio of Spain, Prince of Asturias (1907-1938), a hemophiliac, he renounced his rights to the throne in 1933 to marry a commoner, Edelmira Ignacia Adriana Sampedro-Robato, and became Count of Covadonga. He later remarried to Marta Esther Rocafort y Altazarra, but had no issue by either of them.
- Infante Jaime Luitpold Isabelino Enrique Alberto Alfonso Victor Acacio Pedro Maria of Spain (1908-1975), a deaf-mute as the result of a childhood operation, he renounced his rights to the throne in 1933 and became Duke of Segovia, and later Duke of Madrid, and who, as a legitimist pretender to the French throne from 1941 to 1975, was known as the Duke of Anjou.
- Infanta Beatríz Isabela Federica Alfonsa Eugenia Cristina Maria Teresa Bievenida Ladisláa of Spain (1909-2002), who married Don Alessandro Torlonia, 5th Prince di Civitella-Cesi.
- Infante Fernando, stillborn (1910)
- Infanta Maria Cristina Teresa Alejandra Guadalupe Maria de la Concepción Vittoria Eugenia of Spain (1911-1996), who married Enrico Eugenio Marone-Cinzano, 1st Conte di Marone.
- Infante Juan Carlos Teresa Silvestre Alfonso of Spain (1913-1993), named heir to the throne and Count of Barcelona, whose son is current king Juan Carlos I of Spain.
- Infante Gonzalo Manuel Maria Bernardo Narciso Alfonso Mauricio of Spain (1914-1934), a hemophiliac. Like his elder brother Alfonso, he died due to bleeding from injuries suffered in a car crash.
The king also had three illegitimate children:
- Order of the Golden Fleece
- Order of Charles III
- Order of Santiago
- Order of Calatrava
- Order of Alcántara
- Order of Montesa
- Order of the Chrysanthemum, 1930: Emperor Showa's second brother, Prince Takematsu, traveled to Madrid to confer the Great Collar of the Chrysanthemum on King Alfonso. This honor was intended, in part, to commemorate the diplomatic and trading history which existed long before other Western nations were officially aware of Japan's existence. Princess Takematsu traveled with her husband to Spain. Her symbolic role in this unique mission to the Spanish court was intended to emphasize the international links which were forged by her 16th century ancestor, Ieyasu Tokugawa. In the years before the Tokugawa shogunate, that innovative daimyo from Western Japan had been actively involved in negotiating trade and diplomatic treaties with Spain and with the colonies of New Spain (Mexico) and the Philippines; and it was anticipated that mere presence of the Princess could serve to underscore the range of possibilities which could be inferred from that little-known history.
- Churchill, Winston. Great Contemporaries. London: T. Butterworth, 1937. Contains the most famous single account of Alfonso in the English language. The author, writing shortly after the Spanish Civil War began, retained considerable fondness for the ex-sovereign.
- Collier, William Miller. At the Court of His Catholic Majesty. Chicago: McClurg, 1912. The author was American ambassador to Spain from 1905 to 1909.
- Noel, Gerard. Ena: Spain's English Queen. London: Constable, 1985. Considerably more candid than Petrie about Alfonso the private man, and about the miseries the royal family experienced because of their hemophiliac children.
- Nutail, Zelia. (1906). The Earliest Historical Relations Between Mexico and Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press. ...Link to digitized version from the collection of Harvard University
- Petrie, Charles. King Alfonso XIII and His Age. London: Chapman & Hall, 1963. Written as it was during Queen Ena's lifetime, this book necessarily omits the King's extramarital affairs; but it remains a useful biography, not least because the author knew Alfonso quite well, interviewed him at considerable length, and relates him to the Spanish culture of his time.
- Pilapil, Vicente R. Alfonso XIII. Twayne's rulers and statesmen of the world series 12. New York: Twayne, 1969.
- Sencourt, Robert. King Alfonso: A Biography. London: Faber, 1942.