The century that followed the death of Ferdinand VII in 1833 was marked by rapid demographic expansion, significant economic growth and far-reaching social change. In the political and economic spheres, liberalism took firm root, the structures of absolutist rule were in large part dismantled and the administrative and legal framework of a modern, centralized state was established. However, the demise of absolutism was not accompanied by sweeping political reform. Instead, a new oligarchy came into being, comprising the liberal bourgeoisie and the traditional land-owning class, which, while committed to ‘ordered progress’, was determined to resist any attempt to introduce fundamental political or social reforms which might ultimately undermine its privileged position. The failure of the Spanish liberal state to secure legitimacy, and thereby cement its power, meant that political conflict became endemic throughout this period.
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