The Second Spanish Republic - or Spain, simply - is a a sovereign nation situated on the Iberian Peninsula in southern Europe. It's bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Portugal, France, and Andorra. Overseas it controls a great swathe of north-eastern Africa which it acquired in conquest in the early part of the century, and through purchases from the Ottoman Empire during Suleiman III's reign, and the Turk's brief resurgence in power.
The country has been a republic since the 1950's when Republic revolution overthrew then King Juan III. The country has since been predominately ruled in unbroken fashion by the ultra-conservative Partido Conservador de España. In its Republican tradition, the conservative politics of Spain have only been broken once in 1972 as a response to Spanish failures to fulfill its promise to contain Communism in northern Europe. However, the failures of the Partido Reforma soon saw the Partido Conservador back into power.
Spain's hero in politics has been the long-ran Miguel Tajero whose reign was almost as unbroken as the party he represented. His career came to an end with his assassination in 1976. His death marked the rise of the more militant Alfonso Sotelo as Prime Minister.
Ever since the failure of the Equatorial Campaign in Africa the Spanish nation has been on the rise, recovering from disastrous defeats from the Spanish-American War and the Battle of Mbandaka. Because of Spain's neutrality in the Great War, it was spared the destruction of the war and remained economically stable throughout the conflict - allowing it to be become Europe's economic center while the rest of Europe was ravaged by an eleven year-long war. In the current decade, Spain has managed to drastically increase its sphere of influence and has since become a global power.
Before the Great War
The term "España" comes from the name of the Roman territory of "Hispania" that modern-day Spain comprised. As a Roman territory, Hispania supplied the empire with grain and most of its gold, which was excavated at the famous Roman mines known today as Las Médulas .
With the weakening of Rome in the 5th Century AD, the Visigoths swept into Iberia upon the fall of the Western Empire and established the Kingdom of the Vandals in what in now Spain. The name of the Spanish province of Andalucia comes from "Vandalusia", a throwback to the days when the Vandals ruled Iberia.
In the early 8th century, the Vandal Kingdom was supplanted by Islamic conquerors from Northern Africa known as the Moors. These conquerors pushed the Christian kingdoms of Spain to the edge of the the Bay of Biscay to the North while the new Moorish Caliphate of Córdoba flourished for until the 13th Century. The Christian kings, determined to liberate Iberia of the Moors, launched a several hundred year long campaign known as the Reconquista to drive the Muslims from Iberia. The turning point of the Reconquista took place when the Christians captured the city of Toledo from the Moors. Since the 11th Century, Moorish control over Iberia declined until the final Moorish bastion of Granada fell in 1492 - the same year Christopher Colombus discovered the New World on behalf of Spain and began Europe's Age of Exploration in earnest.
In the 16th Century, Spanish conquistadors traveled to the New World in search of fortune and glory. Hernando Cortez led an expedition into modern-day Mexico and plundered the majestic Aztec Empire and Pedro de Alvardo against the Maya. Francisco Pizarro followed these example when he conquered the Inca Empire in 1532. The vast wealth of these two New World empires made the Spanish Empire the wealthiest and most powerful nation in Europe for more than a century. However, an attempted invasion of England under the reign of King Phillip II of Spain led to a disastrous defeat when a joint Anglo-Dutch fleet outmaneuvered and defeated the infamous Spanish Armada. This defeat allowed England and later Great Britain to supplant Spain as the dominant colonial power and began Spain's long and gradual decline.
In 1795, Napoleonic France invaded Spain and ruled the country as a vassal. With the Spanish crown completely incapacitated, a wave of revolutions began in Spain's New World colonies as the colonized people of Latin America took advantage of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. By 1830, the Philippines, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico were Spain's only remaining overseas colonies. In 1898, these last colonies outside of Africa were taken by the Americans in the Spanish-American War. This defeat lead to the Generation of '98, a cultural movement within Spain characterized by a lack of faith in the monarchy. It was then that Spain's democratization movement truly became popular.
The Great War
At the outbreak of war in Europe, Spain remained neutral due to the Spanish royal family's ties to dynasties in both the Central Powers and the Allies. Alfonso XIII's decision to not join the war turned out to be a lucky one. Spain watched from the sidelines while the rest of Europe tore itself apart for eleven brutal years. With France and Germany being ravaged by the conflict and the United Kingdom and Italy exerting themselves completely for the war effort, Spain became the only logical nation in which to do business in Europe.
America's failure to aid the British in the Great War and Russia's early departure from the conflict left the Allies in a dire position in 1919. As the Germans came within shelling distance from Paris, the French were essentially begging Alfonso XIII to join the war on the side of the Allies and had scrounged up various incentives to come the aid of the Allies. Alfonso XIII notified Kaiser Wilhelm of the Allied incentives and demanded that the Central Powers match the Allied monetary incentives. The Central Powers agreed to Alfonso's obvious wheeling-and-dealing, offering extra payments in hopes of getting Spain to join the Central Powers. In the end, Spain remained neutral throughout the war. When the armistice was finally signed, Spain's economic superiority in Europe had been cemented for many years to come.
Reign of Juan III
In 1942, Alfonso XIII died from a severe stroke, leaving the throne of Spain to Juan III, heir apparent of the Kingdom of Spain. Juan III was 29 at the age of his coronation, and was ambitious and adventurous as he was youthful. His ambition and readiness to take risks would ultimately be the undoing of the Spanish monarchy.
The first changes Juan made to the kingdom had to do with solidifying the rule of the Spanish crown over Spain. One of the most controversial acts to this end was the outlawing the teaching or use of any language but Castillian Spanish as an effort to better unite the Kingdom of Spain. Speakers of the Asturian, Basque, and Catalan dialects faced persecution and had little choice but to use Castillian Spanish in public. Since the end of the monarchy, speaking any of the dialects is no longer illegal, but is often looked down upon as being rude in a public setting. The ban on teaching these dialects, however, is still on the books throughout Spain. Today 96% of all citizens in Spain proper speak Castillian Spanish exclusively.
The early years of Juan's reign also saw a sharp increase in military spending, especially in the navy. Juan had a deep fascination with the sea and saw naval power as a way of allowing Spain to project power throughout the world. His detractors saw the increased peacetime military spending as wasteful for the most part.
In 1948, Juan decided to capitalize on the chaos in Britain. He ordered the 8th Royal Infantry Division to march to the British outpost of Gibraltar at the southern tip of Iberia. Two small flotillas of Spanish warships surrounded Gibraltar from both the Atlantic and Mediterranean. With Gibraltar surrounded, the Spanish infantry marched into Gibraltar unmolested by the British forces stationed on the island. The British forces were summarily excused from their post at Gibraltar, and the Spanish insisting that they board their warships in the harbor and leave for Britain while the Spanish warships escorted them into the Atlantic. The takeover of Gibraltar went flawlessly for the Spanish and the people of Spain were impressed by Juan's plan. Goaded on by his success at retaking Gibraltar, Juan III made preparations for another opportunity to flex Spain's military might.