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Alfonso XIII

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Alfonso XIII

Alfonso XIII (17 May 1886 – 28 February 1941) was King of Spain from 1886 until the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931. Alfonso was monarch from birth as his father, Alfonso XII, had died the previous year. Alfonso’s mother, Maria Christina of Austria, served as regent until he assumed full powers on his sixteenth birthday in 1902.

During Alfonso’s reign Spain experienced four major problems that contributed to the end of the liberal monarchy: the lack of real political representation of broad social groups; the poor situation of the popular classes, especially peasants; problems arising from the Rif War; Catalan nationalism. This political and social turbulence that began with the Spanish–American War prevented the turnaround parties from establishing a true liberal democracy, which led to the establishment of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. With the political failure of the dictatorship, Alfonso impelled a return to the democratic normality with the intention of regenerating the regime. Nevertheless, it was abandoned by all political classes, as they felt betrayed by the king’s support of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

He left Spain voluntarily after the municipal elections of April 1931, which were taken as a plebiscite between monarchy or republic. In exile, he retained his claim to the defunct throne until 1941, when he renounced his claim in favour of his third son Juan (whose eldest son, Juan Carlos, did eventually become king when the monarchy was restored) and died six weeks later. Buried in Rome, his remains were not transferred until 1980 to the Pantheon of the Kings in the monastery of El Escorial.

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