Spain and the First World War : neutrality and crisis
The subject of this thesis is a study of Spain during the First World War. The Spanish case is analyzed as the regional version of the general crisis which engulfed the rest of Europe during these years. This crisis was produced by the ideological militancy and social struggle caused by four years of devastating international conflict. It heralded the arrival of mass politics which put an end to a previous era marked by hierarchical and clientelist politics. This thesis examines how the maintenance of strict neutrality did not save the existing regime in Spain from the impact of the conflict raging in Europe. Spain did not enter the war but the war entered the country and, ironically, a conflict in which Spain did not take part was to alter its contemporary history. The analysis explores the gradual disintegration of the foundations of the ruling system, the Liberal Monarchy restored in December 1874, during and as a consequence of the First World War. Considerable attention is paid to the impact and importance of the war in producing the decay of the Liberal Monarchy. This process is examined at two levels: the political polarization and subsequent division of the country which was provoked by the debate about belligerence or neutrality, and the social and economic transformations that Spain underwent as consequence a of its privileged position as a supplier to both sides. The result was galloping inflation, widespread social discontent and political turmoil. Under these pressures, the hegemonic system, based on electoral falsification, widespread patronage and mass apathy, collapsed and gave way to an inexorable process of growing working class and right-wing militancy which led to the military coup of 1923.