The search of a king for Spain that ended up in World Wars

Could a Spanish head of the Council of Ministers looking for a monarch cause the most terrible conflict in history? If one follows the cause-effect theory, the answer could be yes. It could be said that it was all fault of Juan Prim i Prats. A much more entertaining version of the butterfly effect. So it’s time to start in this chain of conflicts that ends with Germany invading half of Europe.

If you lack a king in your monarchy who are you going to call?

Prim, of course. He was the king hunter of 19th century Spain. After conspiring, he ended up throwing Isabel II off the throne and getting the place of head of the Council of Ministers in 1868. He did it hand in hand with people with whom he would end badly, such as General Serrano. He managed to foist on him the post of regent, a golden cage. He would also make enemies with Antonio de Orleans, Duke of Montpensier. His money was used to proclaim the Gloriosa and he always dreamed of reaching the Hispanic crown.

Temporary government of 1869

Temporary government of 1869, with Prim in the center looking to the front. | Wikimedia (Public Domain)

But no. If something was clear to the hero of Castillejos, it was that there would never again be a Bourbon reigning in Spain. Antonio of Orleans was the brother-in-law of Isabel II and son of a member of the house. That is why it is believed that the duke paid the general’s assassins. But that is another story. What matters here is that Prim i Prats wanted a monarch and did not mind going shopping.

Wandering through a Europe that wanted to stick together

Almost at the same time that the alternative of Antonio de Orleans, proposed by Serrano and Topete, failed, so did that the progressives’ one. It was the father of the then King of Portugal. Ferdinand of Coburg could have been the tool to reunify the peninsula. But the matter did not go ahead, his son Luis I was not in favour of it.

As a good liberal, Prim i Prats spent a lot of time in Paris. With the maximum leader of the Second French Empire, Napoleon III, he did not get along badly. However, on this occasion he became an obstacle. The head of the Spanish Council of Ministers went to Prussia to convince Prince Charles Anthony of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen to let his boy, Leopold, become Spanish monarch. French diplomacy played its cards and managed to prevent this. Bismarck was not amused by this.

Leopold Hohenzollern

Leopold Hohenzollern. | Wikimeida (Public Domain)

The proposal to the Duke of Aosta, son of the first Italian king Victor Emmanuel II, also failed. Another European VIP who gave pumpkins to poor Prim i Prats. He continued in the area and bet on a nephew of the monarch of Italy, which the congress of Spain approved. Unfortunately, he ended up backtracking. Another homemade candidate, the same Espartero whom the one from Reus helped decades before to kick out of the regency, just moved on. It seems that only the Duke of Montpensier wanted the throne and he was the only one who would not have it.

Towards the apocalypse

Everybody relax, it is not long now until we know how Prim provoked the First and Second World Wars. The general did not give up and decided to make a second round. This time Leopold the Prussian, or rather the leaders of his house, were about to accept. But Napoleon III continued with the boycott. It was 1870 and the annoyance did not last long to Reus, who convinced the Duke of Aosta, the future Amadeo I. He would not even get to see him, he was killed in December of that year three days before the arrival of the monarch. But his inquiries had unexpected consequences.

King Amadeo I

King Amadeo I contemplating the corpse of General Prim. | Antonio Gisbert and M. Gómez (Public Domain)

The aforementioned French intervention went too far. They sent an ambassador to take away from the head of the Hohenzollern house, King William of Prussia, the idea of proposing again one of his own for monarch of Spain. It all happened in the spa of Ems. The Gallic diplomat succeeded in a first attempt. But his government forced him to insist and obtain a written resignation. That’s when it all got messed up.

In short, on July 13, 1870, the French ambassador approached the future German emperor and conveyed his new request. Wilhelm I gave him the run-around and informed Bismarck of this. He did so by means of the famous Ems Telegram, which the Prussian Marshal received the same evening. He clapped his hands with his ears. He reworked the text and made a communiqué that left France as a tolili. He was challenging Napoleon III to a conflict which after all they both sought. The latter fell into the trap and the Franco-Prussian War began.

Bad Ems

Bad Ems, famous for its baths | Shutterstock

The rest is history. The Prussians won after besieging Paris. Wilhelm I became emperor of the Second German Reich, crowning himself at Versailles. In addition, the French had to cede Alsace and Lorraine. The resentment degenerated into the formation of the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. The excuse of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and the desire for revenge against France joined the above in the First World War. Now the Gauls saw themselves on the winning side and decided to humiliate Germany, which regained the lost provinces. This was followed by the Weimar Republic, the Nazism brought about by the Treaty of Versailles, the Second World War and a German meta-vendetta against the Gauls. Yes, blaming Prim for the Russians ending up in Berlin is far-fetched, but he provided the initial spark, otherwise the headline would be lame.

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