Friday, October 17, 2008

Effects of the War of Independence

We spoke about the profound effects of the French revolution and its ideals throughout Europe. Napoleon exported these ideas by conquering territories in Europe and brought "Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity".(At least in theory) He was greeted as a liberator in some areas but as we know, Spain was a different story.

What effects did Napoleonic era and the War of independence have on the socio-political life of Spain?

10 comments:

nick said...

Chances are, there were still a lot of people digging Napolean's ideas, which would have a profound effect. People now want to progress toward a more free-thinking ideas. Chasing knowledge, truth, and enlightenment are probably now the norm. This could have negative consequences for the church, which was already losing power since Charles III. Now, people want a more progressive government.

Edward said...

I think the most important aspects of the Spanish War of Independence was the rise in nationalism. The class conflict between the "useful" bourgeoisie/lower classes and the "mayorazgo" way of the aristocracy was diminished (or at least was put on hold). However, along with this rise in nationalism and the want of the return of Fernando there was also the strong movement towards moving some of the governmental power into the hands of the people. This occurred due to the fact that during the occupation of Madrid and other parts of the country the people had to come together, organize themselves, and work to remove the French occupation without assistance from Fernando or the old Spanish government. Due to this I think the people felt that the return of a Spanish government to Spain was a product of their actions hence they should get some control or say in this reestablished government.

jennifer said...

I think it is quite oxymoronical that the War of Independence in Spain was meant to rid the country of French occupation while at the same time the seeds of revolution were planted in the minds of the world by the French themselves. I believe that the Napoleanic Era is/was one of the best things that could have happened for Spain at the time. I know this may seem difficult to wrap ones head around, but let me explain. Until then, the Spanish never had to claim a specific identity or band together in that way. They FINALLY had a common enemy, Napolean united a group of people with varying views. They finally became a country and not just polis's coexisting physically close to one another. Also he opened their eyes to the flaws of the existing governmental system. The creation of the Constitution of Cadiz, even though it was not used, proves that the Spanish had learned to protect themselves and their rights against the existing norms of pre-modern Spain. They was no going back now.

Sean said...

Politically, it is fair to say that most agreed with the ideals of the French Revolution. The French Revolution was a heavily "exported" and accepted movement which Napoleon introduced to Spain. While a political influence is without doubt, sociopolitically Napoleon was far too foreign to change Spain. With respect to Europe, Spain was far more separated socially. With the ancient moorish culture and the natural separation of the peninsula, Spain had a much more removed culture from the rest of Europe. As we saw with the motin de Esquilache, there was an animosity towards other cultures being imposed on Spanish society. Spaniards did not want to wear French clothing or be told what to do. When Napoleon marches in wearing French clothing and imposing his might on Spain, his image then became reminiscent of a foreign imposition rather than a harbinger of equality and liberty. Although the French Revolution did impact Spain, Napoleon was not the vehicle for this. Napoleon's influence was one that closed Spain off from the rest of Europe, uniting them under a swelling sense of nationalism.

CSherwin said...

Generally speaking, the Napoleonic era served to unite and empower the Spanish people. Spaniards were able to share the common bond of rebelling against the French occupation, bringing them together to be able to fight successfully. Additionally, their budding nationalism was demonstrated in the nation’s yearning for the return of a true Spanish ruler, in this case Fernando, “the desired one.”
The juntas (war committees) which were formed are particularly significant as they were created by the people, indicating the avid drive to win throughout the entire country. This new-found collective thinking demonstrates that the people were coming together to be a stronger power. When they saw how well they could work as one, it is no surprise that the people started to believe they deserved more as a nation, hence the constitution which was drafted and the demand of a Spanish leader returning to power. Although the Spaniards were not accepting of Napoleon’s rule, his enlightened thinking evidently rubbed off on the people somehow, for the War of Independence served as the start to a period of more modernized thought in a more united Spain.

kari rosenfeld said...

I'm with edward on this. Spain began to exsist with the war of independence. Napoleans ideas of Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity the spanish took on as thier on. Spain cesased to be a group of communities loosely controlled by the same government but became spain. they had the idea of a nation to fight for hence, the rebellion in madrid. The people of spain also took on a lot of the french ideals when forming juntos to fight.

Tom said...

I view the Napoleonic era and the War of independence as two separate steps in the formation of the actual nation of Spain and the idea of a Spanish identity for its citizens. The Napoleonic era is a proof of concept, or a prototype so to speak, for the Spanish people. They see their neighbors appealing progressive ideals: Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity, actually work and work very well (if Napoleon had not over exerted his military the larger french empire might have stuck around). The War of independence is Spanish peoples version. They use the French occupation as a means of uniting the populace for a common cause. (creating an actual Spanish identity instead of fragmented regions each with its own goals) Meanwhile the people are writing a new constitution that protects the individuals rights when Fernando returns. Even if this document was to liberal to actually work, the fact of the matter is that majority of Spanish people were fighting against the French for it.

Matt A said...

I feel that "enlightened ideas" had already begun to form in Spain prior to the French invasion (although Spain still remained behind everyone else) with different policies imposed by King's prior. After Napoleon was defeated in Russia, the congress of Vienna occurred and the Holy Alliance of 1815 was formed and Spain was not a part of it, had Napoleon's modern ideas been truly absorbed in Spain they would have progressed forward much more as a society than they did and for example, would have pursued the idea of being part of the alliance. I feel that this also shows a certain privileged group was in charge of the constitution and Spain's transition instead of representatives as a whole. As others had mentioned, I feel it sparked a rise in nationalism, as it would in any other country if a foreigner was running the show. It appears that the Constitution of Cadiz in 1812 was written more so to protect the power and rights of the older noble or privileged classes not so much the rights of "the individual." Napoleon was greeted as a liberator in some areas but I feel it only lasted so long, as it did in Spain.

Jaclyn said...

As pretty much everyone has already said, the rise of nationalism, in my opinion, was clearly the most important part of the War of Independence. Before this point, Spanish people had rejected foreigners on the basis of xenophobia. However, with the War of Independence their motives changed. Now, rather than fearing what was different from themselves, they had a desire to preserve what was theirs, and were united under a common cause and sense of pride. Napolean greatly underestimated the ferocity in which Spaniards would fight back against being absorbed by his empire. A perfect example of such ferocity can be seen in the guerillas, who brought Napolean his first defeat in the South of Spain, and continued to trouble French armies thereafter. While the decades following the War of Independence were turbulent ones in Spain, as they harbored intense power struggles and economic crisis in the Spanish Civil War, in a broad scope the War of Independence should be commended for playing a key role in uniting the nation.

jennifer said...

Though I would concur with most of the general ideas presented I must say I would seriously hesitate before contemplating nationalism as an effect of the War of Independence. Though I absolutely agree that Napolean's attack did cause a country that was disbonded to come together to defeat a common enemy this was not so extremely nationalistic. The juntas were patriotic to their own causes, which were different from some of their other countrymen. I guess in a very broad sense, or use of the word, nationalism may be useful in examining this event but I dont think that it was a result of the Napoleanic era. How could a period that tore apart the boundries of every country and redefined Europe as a whole be nationalistic, at the end of Napolean's charge some people wouldnt have even been able to tell you within what country they lived less feel patriotic towards its causes.