La Nación Española y en su nombre las Cortes Constituyentes elegidas por sufragio universal, deseando afianzar la justicia, la libertad y la seguridad y proveer el bien de cuantos vivan en España, decretan y sancionan (...)
Art. 2º. Ningún español ni extranjero podrá ser detenido ni preso sino por causa de delito.
Art. 3º. Todo detenido será puesto en libertad o entregado a la autoridad judicial dentro de las veinticuatro horas siguientes al acto de su detención (...)
Art 4º. Ningún español podrá ser preso sino en virtud de mandamiento de juez competente (...)
Art. 21. La Nación se obliga a mantener el culto y los ministros de la religión católica. El ejercicio público o privado de cualquiera otro culto queda garantizado a todos los extranjeros residentes en España, sin más limitaciones que las reglas universales de la moral y del derecho. Si algunos españoles profesaren otra religión que la católica, es aplicable a los mismos todo lo dispuesto en el párrafo anterior.
Art. 26. A ningún español que esté en el pleno goce de sus derechos civiles podrá impedirse salir libremente del territorio, ni trasladar su residencia y haberes a país extranjero, salvo las obligaciones de contribuir al servicio militar o al mantenimiento de las cargas públicas.
Art. 32. La soberanía reside esencialmente en la nación, de la cual emanan todos los poderes.
Art. 33. La forma de Gobierno de la Nación española es la Monarquía.
Art. 34. La potestad de hacer las leyes reside en las Cortes.(..)
Art. 35. El poder ejecutivo reside en el Rey, que lo ejerce por medio de sus ministros.
Art. 36. Los Tribunales ejercen el poder judicial.
This text is a primary source and a legal text. It’s the 1869 Constitution, which is considered one of the most liberal constitutions made during the 19th century in Spain. It’s a public document, the author is collective because they are the deputies elected for the Constituent Cortes. The deputies were elected in January 1869 (during the period of the Provisional Government) and there was a majority of progressive, unionist and monarchist democrats. The audience is the Spanish nation.
The main idea of the text is very well represented in the Art.32 (La soberanía reside esencialmente en la nación, de la cual emanan todos los poderes.) and we can see the new organization of the Spanish political system, which seems quite progressive, leaving Isabella II’s moderate system behind. So, it’s clearly a liberal and democratic constitution and if we compare with other European constitutions of the same period it has a wide liberties range.
If we take a look to the articles we can see that most of them talk about liberties given to the citizens. The National Sovereignty idea is very important, which was defended by progressives and democrats, also at the beginning it’s expressed on its constituent character.
Articles 2, 3, 4 and 26 represent the new liberties that the society will have. Art. 21 (La Nación se obliga a mantener el culto y los ministros de la religión católica. El ejercicio público o privado de cualquiera otro culto … ) maybe we can say that it was made by the progressives and democrats to satisfy the Church and avoid a revolution or conspiracy by its side. Because in this period the State declared freedom of cult, although it had to finance the Catholic clergy, which means that the State committed to maintain the Catholic worship. It was the first time in Spain that the Catholic religion stopped being official and compulsory for the citizens.
Apart from liberties, it also included the division of powers in the last articles. Art.32 and the Art.35 (El poder ejecutivo reside en el Rey, que lo ejerce por medio de sus ministros.) showed the famous slogan of that period: “The King reigns but does not govern”. So, Monarchy continues to be the type of government, which is also said in the Art.33.
All these articles we have talked about affirm the liberal ideas of the parties which got the majority in the Cortes and had led the Glorious Revolution.
About the historical context, this Constitution was written one year after the Glorious Revolution, started on the 18th of September of 1868 with an uprising in Cadiz led by different political groups: democrats, progressives, unionists (and the involvement of some members of the royal family, like the Duke of Montpensier). The revolution was against Isabella II, because her government was corrupted and it didn’t respect the Constitution. So the nation was tired of the conservative monarchy. There’re some causes which explain the people’s tiredness. During this time there were economic and political crisis. Isabella II was constantly losing support and only the moderates wanted that the Queen continued in power.The Pact of Ostend, in 1866, was decisive for the Glorious Revolution. It was made by the progressives and the democrats to overthrow the monarchy and call elections to Constituent Cortes. Finally, people formed boards claiming for universal suffrage, national sovereignty and more liberties.
After this event, the moderate troops which supported Isabella II were defeated and this provoked the dethronement and the exile of the queen to France. Then, a provisional government was formed and elections to Constituent Cortes were called. After the debates, the Cortes decided to institute a Democratic Monarchy in which the king reigns but does not govern. Is in this moment when this Constitution was written and it is characterized mainly by the National Sovereignty, Universal Male Suffrage, Declaration of rights and liberties and the division of powers, the king’s power is restricted.
The Provisional Government ordered the dissolution of the revolutionary boards and the disarmament of the Freedom Volunteers. Some economic decisions were also made, trying to solve the crisis. As the Constitution established that the monarchy continued as the form of State but with limited power. General Serrano was appointed Regent and General Prim became prime minister and was elected to look for a new monarch who finally was Amadeus of Savoy, but some days before his arrival, Prim was killed. But there were other problems to develop the Constitution, because the entrance of propagandists of the 1st International and the beginning of the workers’ organization led people who were against the governments ideas met together to fight for their ideas. For example, the republicans were against the government because of the establishment of the monarchy, and the workers and peasants disagreed with the economic decisions made by capitalism.
The Constitution was in force until January 1874 when the Bourbons Restoration started with Alphonse XII.
As a conclusion we can say that at first glance this text was very important to develop liberalism and to stop with Isabella’s moderate system. But if we take a look in depth we know that society model continued the same because workers and peasants didn’t improve their situation. And because of that, different anarchist and republican groups were formed to a revolution in which the nation has the power. Some of these ideas influenced in the constitutional project of 1873, during the 1st Republic, but finally it couldn’t come into force. Also many individual rights included in this Constitution were also included in the 1876 Constitution.