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  • King Alfonso XIII of Spain died on February 28, 1941.

    Beatriz Camino

    King Alfonso XIII of Spain died on February 28, 1941.

    Alfonso XIII (17 May 1886 – 28 February 1941), also known as "El Africano" or "the African" due to his Africanist views, was King of Spain from his birth until 14 April 1931, when the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed.


    Alfonso XIII was born on 17 May 1886 at the Royal Palace of Madrid, the posthumous son of Alfonso XII of Spain, who had passed away in November 1885. Upon his birth, he ascended to the throne. His mother, Maria Christina of Austria, served as regent until he turned sixteen. During this regency, Spain lost its colonial territories, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States following the Spanish-American War.

    Upon reaching the age of majority in May 1902, Alfonso's celebration was marked by festivities, bullfights, and receptions across Spain. In 1905, he met Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg and married her on May 31, 1906. The couple had three children, and unfortunately, their son Alfonso inherited haemophilia. The king distanced himself from his wife for transmitting the condition to their sons, engaging in extramarital relationships and fathering five illegitimate children.

    In 1918, Alfonso fell seriously ill during the flu pandemic. Spain, being neutral during World War I, faced no wartime censorship restrictions. Consequently, his illness and eventual recovery were openly reported to the world, in contrast to belligerent countries where flu outbreaks were concealed. This led to the inaccurate perception that Spain was the hardest-hit area, resulting in the pandemic being erroneously labelled as “the Spanish Flu”.

    After World War I, Spain engaged in the Rif War (1920–1926) to maintain its colonial control over northern Morocco. Critics condemned the conflict as an unjustifiable expenditure of resources and lives, giving King Alfonso the moniker “Alfonso el Africano” (“the African”). The war intensified divisions in Spanish society, pitting Africanists against abandonistas who advocated for leaving Morocco. Alfonso's support for the war and his favouritism with generals, notably Manuel Fernández Silvestre, resulted in Spain's “Disaster of the Annual”. Following this event, the situation in the Rif deteriorated, leading to increased support for abandonistas.  On September 13, 1923, Miguel Primo de Rivera staged a coup with support from Africanist generals, aiming to shield Alfonso from investigations into the Annual disaster. He ruled as a dictator with the king's backing until January 1930.

    Amid economic challenges, widespread unpopularity, and a coup plot led by General Manuel Goded in motion, Alfonso XIII forced Primo de Rivera to resign in January 1930. The king then appointed General Dámaso Berenguer as the new prime minister, marking the start of the "dictablanda" period. However, Alfonso’s close association with Primo de Rivera's dictatorship made distancing challenging from the regime he had supported for seven years.

    Dethronement & Exile

    On April 12, the Republican coalition achieved a sweeping victory in major cities during the 1931 municipal elections, widely seen as a referendum on the monarchy. As a result, Civil Guard leader José Sanjurjo reportedly informed government ministers that, given the circumstances, the Armed Forces could not be fully relied upon to sustain the monarchy. Consequently, Alfonso XIII fled the country, and the Second Spanish Republic was peacefully proclaimed on April 14, 1931.

    While in exile, Alfonso engaged in anti-Republican plots, aligning with Carlists in the divisive monarchist camp. In 1932, he endorsed Carlist claimant Alfonso Carlos's manifesto, accusing the reformist Republic of being influenced by communism, freemasonry, and Judaism. In 1933, his two eldest sons renounced their claims to the defunct throne, and in 1934, his youngest son Gonzalo passed away leaving Juan as the sole male heir. Amid the July 1936 attempted coup against the Republican government, a civil war erupted in Spain. The former king openly supported the rebel faction, led by Francisco Franco, who declared in September 1936 that he would not restore Alfonso to the throne.

    Death & Legacy

    On January 15, 1941, Alfonso XIII formally relinquished his rights to the now-defunct Spanish throne in favour of his son, Juan. That same year, he passed away due to a heart attack in Rome on February 28.

    In Spain, dictator Francisco Franco declared three days of national mourning, and Alfonso's funeral took place in Rome at the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. He was interred in the Church of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli, the Spanish national church in Rome. However, in January 1980, his remains were transferred to El Escorial in Spain.

    Alfonso's legacy includes his promotion of tourism in Spain, notably influencing the construction of the luxurious Hotel Palace in Madrid to accommodate wedding guests. He also advocated for the establishment of a network of state-run lodges, Paradores, housed in historic buildings across Spain. Additionally, his passion for football led to his patronage of several "royal" football clubs, such as Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, and others.


    1897 SGV Philippines 1 Peso - Spanish Colony - Alfonso XIII - AUALFONSO XIII (1885-1931). 1 Weight. (Ar. 25.17g/37mm). 1895. Puerto Rico PGV. (Cal-2019-128). Good Extremely Fine. Very rare specimen and even more so in this spectacular quality,Spain, Silver Peseta, 1903SMV, MS64 [WC-54]

    1890 (90) PG-M Spain 5 Pesetas - Alfonso XIII - AUSpain. Alfonso XIII. 1893-PG L. 1 peseta. Choice VF.SPAIN 1896 5 PESETAS XF+ ALFONSO XIII


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