ALPHONSO XII. (1857-1885), king of modern Spain, son of Isabella II. and Maria Fernando Francisco de Assisi, eldest son of the duke of Cadiz, was born on the 28th of November 1857. When Queen Isabella and her husband were forced to leave Spain by the revolution of 1868 he accompanied them to Paris, and from thence he was sent to the Theresianum at Vienna to continue his studies. On the 25th of June 1870 he was recalled to Paris, where his mother abdicated in his favour, in the presence of a number of Spanish nobles who had followed the fortunes of the exiled queen. He assumed the title of Alphonso XII.; for although no king of united Spain had previously borne the name, the Spanish monarchy was regarded as continuous with the more ancient monarchy, represented by the eleven kings of Leon and Castile already referred to. Shortly afterwards he proceeded to Sandhurst to continue his military studies, and while there he issued, on the 1st of December 1874, in reply to a birthday greeting from his followers, a manifesto proclaiming himself the sole representative of the Spanish monarchy. At the end of the year, when Marshal Serrano left Madrid to take command of the northern army, General Martinez Campos, who had long been working more or less openly for the king, carried off some battalions of the central army to Sagunto, rallied to his own flag the troops sent against him, and entered Valencia in the king's name. Thereupon the president of the council resigned, and the power was transferred to the king's plenipotentiary and adviser, Canovas del Castillo. In the course of a few days the king arrived at Madrid, passing through Barcelona and Valencia, and was received everywhere with acclamation (1875). In 1876 a vigorous campaign against the Carlists, in which the young king took part, resulted in the defeat of Don Carlos and his abandonment of the struggle. Early in 1878 Alphonso married his cousin, Princess Maria de las Mercedes, daughter of the duc de Montpensier, but she died within six months of her marriage. Towards the end of the same year a young workman of Tarragona, Oliva Marcousi, fired at the king in Madrid. On the 29th of November 1879 he married a princess of Austria, Maria Christina, daughter of the Archduke Charles Ferdinand. During the honeymoon a pastrycook named Otero fired at the young sovereigns as they were driving in Madrid. The children of this marriage were Maria de las Mercedes, titular queen from the death of her father until the birth of her brother, born on the 11th of September 1880, married on the 14th of February 1901 to Prince Carlos of Bourbon, died on the 17th of October 1904; Maria Teresa, born on the 12th of November 1882, married to Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria on the 12th of January 1906; and Alphonso (see below). In 1881 the king refused to sanction the law by which the ministers were to remain in office for a fixed term of eighteen months, and upon the consequent resignation of Canovas del Castillo, he summoned Sagasta, the Liberal leader, to form a cabinet. Alphonso died of phthisis on the 24th of November 1885. Coming to the throne at such an early age, he had served no apprenticeship in the art of ruling, but he possessed great natural tact and a sound judgment ripened by the trials of exile. Benevolent and sympathetic in disposition, he won the affection of his people by fearlessly visiting the districts ravaged by cholera or devastated by earthquake in 1885. His capacity for dealing with men was considerable, and he never allowed himself to become the instrument of any particular party. In his short reign, peace was established both at home and abroad, the finances were well regulated, and the various administrative services were placed on a basis that afterwards enabled Spain to pass through the disastrous war with the United States without even the threat of a revolution.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)