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Spain spent much of the early nineteenth century in turmoil. France invaded the kingdom in 1807 and installed Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Joseph, as the new king who was effectively a puppet of the French Emperor. Several revolts against Joseph broke out in 1808, eventually forcing Napoleon to intervene in what became a long and costly war between French forces and Spanish rebels supported by Great Britain. As the Peninsular War progressed, the Spanish created a representative body, which drafted a constitution in 1812 establishing a constitutional monarchy and granting universal male suffrage. Spain regained the throne in 1814 and the former king, Ferdinand VII, resumed his rule but was actively opposed to the democratic reforms made during the revolt. In the aftermath of French occupation, Spain was economically and militarily weak. As a result, it began to lose control of its American colonies, which began revolting and establishing independent republics. In North America, Spain ceded control of Florida as part of the 1821 Adams-Onís Treaty and lost most of Central America when Mexico secured its independence that same year. Much of Spain’s efforts during the remainder of the century were focused on combating these revolts and dealing with political tensions between conservative and liberals at home.

David Gates, The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War (New York: Da Capo Press, 2001); Jaime E. Rodriguez O., The Independence of Spanish America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).