Alfonso XIII of Spain

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Alfonso XIII (Alfonso León Fernando María Jaime Isidro Pascual Antonio de Borbón y Austria-Lorena; anglicised: Alphonse Leon Ferdinand Mary James Isidor Pascal Anthony of Bourbon and Austria-Lorraine) (Madrid, 17 May 1886 – Rome, 28 February 1941), 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.

Contents

Reign

Alfonso's reign began well. The French newspaper Le Figaro described the young King as "the happiest and best-loved of all the rulers of the earth".[1]

When he came of age in 1902, the week of his majority was marked by festivities, bullfights, balls and receptions throughout Spain.[2]

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, which leveraged the Spanish diplomatic and military network abroad to intercede for thousands of prisoners-of-war, receiving and answering letters from Europe. However, he became gravely ill during the 1918 flu pandemic and, since Spain was neutral and thus under no wartime censorship restrictions, his illness and subsequent recovery were covered worldwide, giving the false impression (in the absence of real news from anywhere else) that Spain was the most-affected area. This ultimately led to the pandemic getting the nickname "the Spanish Flu."[3]

Alfonso 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" ("Real" in Spanish) football clubs such as Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, Real Betis, and Real Unión.

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