||Isabel II (Bourbon) de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was a member of aristocracy in Europe.|
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Isabella II (Spanish: Isabel II; 10 October 1830 – 10 April 1904) was queen regnant of Spain from 1833 until 1868. She came to the throne as an infant, but her succession was disputed by the Carlists, who refused to recognise a female sovereign, leading to the Carlist Wars. After a troubled reign, she was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1868, and formally abdicated in 1870. Her son Alfonso XII became king in 1874.
Isabella was born in Madrid in 1830, the eldest daughter of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, and of his fourth wife and niece, Maria Christina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. Queen Maria Christina became regent on 29 September 1833, when her three-year-old daughter Isabella was proclaimed sovereign on the death of the king.
Isabella succeeded to the throne because Ferdinand VII had induced the Cortes Generales to help him set aside the Salic law, introduced by the Bourbons in the early 18th century, and to re-establish the older succession law of Spain. The first pretender, Ferdinand's brother Carlos, fought seven years during the minority of Isabella to dispute her title. Carlos' and his descendants' supporters were known as Carlists, and the fight over the succession was the subject of a number of Carlist Wars in the 19th century.
Isabella's reign was maintained only through the support of the army. The Cortes and the Moderate Liberals and Progressives reestablished constitutional and parliamentary government, dissolved the religious orders and confiscated their property (including that of Jesuits), and tried to restore order to Spain's finances. After the Carlist war, the regent, Maria Christina, resigned to make way for Baldomero Espartero, Prince of Vergara, the most successful and most popular Isabelline general. Espartero, a Progressive, remained regent for only two years.
Baldomero Espartero was turned out in 1843 by a military and political pronunciamiento led by Generals Leopoldo O'Donnell and Ramón María Narváez. They formed a cabinet, presided over by Joaquín María López y López. This government induced the Cortes to declare Isabella of age at 13.
Three years later, on 10 October 1846, the Moderate Party (or Castilian Conservatives) made their sixteen-year-old queen marry her double-first cousin Francisco de Asís de Borbón (1822–1902), the same day that her younger sister, Infanta Luisa Fernanda, married Antoine d'Orléans, Duke of Montpensier.
The marriages suited France and Louis Philippe, King of the French, who as a result nearly quarrelled with Britain. However, the marriages were not happy; persistent rumour had it that few if any of Isabella's children were fathered by her king-consort, rumoured to be a homosexual. The Carlist party asserted that the heir-apparent to the throne, who later became Alfonso XII, had been fathered by a captain of the guard, Enrique Puigmoltó y Mayans.
At the end of September 1868, Isabella went into exile, after her Moderado generals had made a slight show of resistance that was crushed at the Battle of Alcolea by Generals Serrano and Prim. This revolt, which deposed Isabella, is known as the Glorious Revolution, and ushered the First Spanish Republic into power. The new government replaced Isabella with Amadeo I, second son of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, after much deliberation.
Her exile helped cause the Franco-Prussian War, as Napoleon III could not accept the possibility that a German, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, might replace Isabella, a dynast of the Spanish Bourbons and great-great-granddaughter of the French-born Philip V of Spain.
The First Spanish Republic collapsed in December 1874. Isabella had been induced to abdicate in Paris on 25 June 1870, in favour of her son, Alfonso XII, furthering the cause of the Restoration. After the collapse of the Republic, Alfonso was placed on the throne.
A Statue of Isabella II in front of Puerta Isabel in Intramuros, Manila She had left her husband the previous March and continued to live in France after the restoration in 1874, in a small circle with the Marqués de Alta Villa as her secretary. On the occasion of one of her visits to Madrid during Alfonso XII's reign, she began to intrigue with the politicians of the capital, and was peremptorily requested to go abroad again. She resided in Paris for the rest of her life, seldom traveling abroad except for a few visits to Spain. During her exile, she grew closer to her husband, with whom she maintained an ambiguous friendship until his death in 1902. Her last days were marked by the matrimonial problems of her youngest daughter, Eulalia. She died on 10 April 1904, and is entombed in El Escorial.
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