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Bicentennial of the Promulgation of the Spanish Constitution of 1812

“The Spanish nation is the gathering of all Spaniards from both hemispheres.”–Chapter I, Title I, Article 1

You may recall that last month I posted a “pic of the week” titled “Banner Proclaiming the Spanish Constitution of 1812.”  Well, on that subject,  two hundred years ago today, on Thursday, March 19, 1812, the Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy (also known as the Spanish Constitution of 1812, the Constitution of Cádiz, or La Pepa) was promulgated by the Cortes de Cádiz (in English, Cádiz Cortes) dedicated to the reign of Ferdinand VII of Spain.  The Cádiz Cortes, similar to the Cortes Generales, was the name given to the extraordinary assemblies of the legislative body of the Kingdom of Spain during the Spanish War of Independence.  The initial assemblies which drafted this Constitution took place in the city of San Fernando de Cádiz at the Teatro de las Cortes (once known as the Teatro de la Isla de León).  After February 20, 1811, the assemblies were transferred to the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri in Cádiz.  The Cádiz region was apparently selected for the drafting and promulgation of the Constitution because it was the only territory that had not been invaded by the French during the Peninsular War.  The signing of the Constitution took place in the city of Cádiz.  To further clarify, both cities—San Fernando and Cádiz—are part of the greater Province of Cádiz, which is located in the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula near the Strait of Gibraltar in the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Some of the most salient provisions of this Constitution are highlighted in a promotional series of videos set out by Spain’s Consorcio para la conmemoración del II centenario de la consitución de 1812 (Consortium for the Commemoration of the 2nd Centenary of the Constitution of 1812).  The first of these is titled “Vive la Pepa 2012.” The other videos provide visual and educational ads which contain various highlights of the Province of Cádiz during the 19th century, as well as some of the festivities surrounding the commemoration.  Spain’s Consorcio, has also established a fascinating website compiling a wealth of current information and scholarship with regard to the Constitution.

If you’ve read our blog posts, you may have seen a couple of posts that touch on the subject of the provisions of this Constitution.  Nevertheless, I would like to highlight some of the provisions that were most interesting to me:  Title II, Chapter I (as covered briefly on my post on The History of the Mexican Constitution) establishes the territories that comprise the “Spains”; Title II, Chapter IV establishes provisions on citizenship and nationality, which was extended to all, irrespective of origin;  Title III, Chapter VIII establishes the legislative process and Chapter IX establishes protocol for the promulgation of a law; Title IV Chapter I provides the “inviolability of the King and his authority”; Title IV, Chapter II provides the particulars for succession to the crown; Title IV, Chapter IV, Art. 201 provides that the first born of the King shall bear the title Prince of Asturias (similar to Britain’s royal title for the Prince of Wales); and Title IX provides for public education, among many others.

This Constitution, due in great part to its progressive nature, has been commemorated frequently.  Below is a digital image of a poster from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) by Puerto Rican artist Lorenzo Homar for the “Institute of Puerto Rican Culture during the Sesquicentennial of the Cádiz Cortes.”  The image is a rendition of Ramón Power y Giralt, a Puerto Rican statesman who was elected vice-president of the Cortes.

On the occasion of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of this Constitution, I have compiled a bibliography of some of the books available at the Law Library of Congress on the Constitution of Cádiz:

And from the Law Library’s Rare Book collection:

Today we join the people of Spain, Hispanic America, the former Spanish colonies of Africa, the Philippines, and those from the states and territories of the United States that were once part of the Kingdom of Spain in their commemoration of this most important constitution.  ¡Enhorabuena!

2 Comments

  1. Thomas Ellingwood Fortin
    June 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Well written, we have already developed a documentary film based on this, https://vimeo.com/43368360

  2. Casey Wootan
    January 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    A time and also this practically sums each issue upward that may I’ve seen, plus a bit far more. Thank you!

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