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Alfonso XII (November 28, 1857 – November 25, 1885), also known as El Pacificador or the Peacemaker, was King of Spain from December 29, 1874 to his death in 1885.

Infante Alfonso was born in Madrid as the eldest son of Queen Isabella II on November 28, 1857. His official father, Isabella’s husband Francisco de Asís, has been generally viewed as effeminate, impotent or homosexual, leading historians to question his biological paternity.

There is speculation that Alfonso’s biological father may have been Enrique Puigmoltó y Mayans, a captain of the guard. The relationship of the queen with Puigmoltó was so much of a public hearsay at the time that Francisco de Asís initially refused to attend the baptism ceremony of Alfonso (the heir apparent) even if he was eventually forced to do so.

These rumours were used as political propaganda against Alfonso by the Carlists, and he came to be widely nicknamed “Puigmoltejo” in reference to his supposed father. Others have assigned the fatherhood to Federico Puig Romero, a colonel who was murdered under unclear circumstances in 1866.

His mother’s accession to the Spanish throne created the second cause of instability, the Carlist Wars.

The Carlist Wars were a series of civil wars that took place in Spain during the 19th century. The contenders fought over claims to the throne, although some political differences also existed.

When King Fernando VII of Spain died in 1833, his widow, Queen Maria Cristina, became regent on behalf of their two-year-old daughter Queen Isabella II. The country splintered into two factions known as the Cristinos (or Isabelinos) and the Carlists. The Cristinos supported Queen Maria Cristina and her government, and were the party of the Liberals.

The Carlists advocated for Infante Carlos of Spain, Count of Molina, a pretender to the throne and brother of the deceased Fernando VII. Carlos denied the validity of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830 that abolished the semi Salic Law (he was born before 1830). The Carlists wanted a return to autocratic monarchy.

When Queen Isabella II and her husband were forced to leave Spain by the Revolution of 1868, Alfonso accompanied them to Paris. From there, he was sent to the Theresianum in Vienna to continue his studies.

On June 25, 1870, he was recalled to Paris, where his mother abdicated in his favour, in the presence of a number of Spanish nobles who had tied their fortunes to those of the exiled queen. Alfonso assumed the name Alfonso XII, although no king of a united Spain had borne the name “Alfonso.”

The Spanish monarchy was regarded as continuous with the more ancient monarchy of Asturias, León and Castile, which were represented by 11 kings also named Alfonso.

After the Revolution deposed Isabella II, it was the Spanish Nobles who recognized Alfonso as the new King of Spain. However, it was the new Cortes which decided to reinstate the monarchy under a new dynasty.

The Cortes chose Prince Amadeo of Savoy, the Duke of Aosta as the new King. Prince Amadeo was a paternal descendant of King Felipe II of Spain through Tommaso Francesco of Savoy, Prince of Carignanohis, who was the grandson of King Felipe II of Spain through his daughter Infanta Catherine Michaela of Spain who had married Duke Carlo Emmanuel I of Savoy.

Prince Amadeo was also a maternal descendant of King Carlos III of Spain through his daughter Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain who was the Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Archduchess of Austria as the spouse of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Thier son, Archduke Rainer of Austria, was Prince Amedeo’s grandfather as his daughter, Archduchess Adelaide of Austria was Queen of Sardinia by marriage to Vittorio Emmanuel II of Sardinia, future King of Italy. Archduchess Adelaide was the mother of Amedeo I of Spain but also the mother of Umberto I of Italy.

The Savoyard prince was elected king as Amadeo I on November 16, 1870 and swore to uphold the Constitution in Madrid on January 2, 1871.

During a tumultuous reign, Amadeo was targeted by assassination attempts and struggled with opposition from both Carlists and republicans while his own faction split. After the Carlists revolted and the Third Carlist War broke out, he abdicated and returned to Italy in early 1873.

Following Amadeo’s abandonment, the First Spanish Republic was established. The republicans had to contend with a war in Cuba and Muslim uprisings in Spanish Morocco.

In the midst of these crises, the Carlist War continued and the Carlist party made itself strong in areas with claims over such places as Catalonia and the Basque Country. This unrest led to the creation of a group in favour of the Bourbon Restoration, led by the moderate conservative Antonio Cánovas del Castillo.