The Cádiz Cortes and the Constitution of 1812: Impact on Spain and Neoclassicism

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The Cádiz Cortes and the Constitution of 1812: Impact on Spain

Different groups appeared:

  • the supporters of the Enlightenment ideas, who wanted the end of the Ancient Régime in Spain and establish a constitutional monarchy.
  • the absolutists, who wanted the king to be restored as an absolute monarch.

On 9 March 1812, the Cádiz Cortes approved Spain's first constitution, the Constitution of 1812, that was a victory for the Enlightenment ideas of liberty and equality.

The Constitution of 1812: Established

  • a constitutional monarchy
  • popular sovereignty with limited male suffrage
  • separation of powers: executive (monarch), legislative (monarch and the Cortes) and judicial (courts of justice)
  • guaranteed rights and freedoms
  • Catholicism as the official religion

Art: Goya and Neoclassicism

Spain: Francisco de Goya 1746-1828: He was the most significant Spanish artist of this time, although his style was difficult to classify. Neoclassicism is an artistic style which developed in Europe between 1760 and 1830, the best artists were French.

Neoclassicism was a result of the Rococo's excesses and the discovery of the Roman ruins. This style imitated classical Greek and Roman art and was characterized by its simplicity.

  • Architecture: buildings were well-proportioned and imitated classical temples and triumphal arches, with columns and domes. (Sofflot Pantheon, in Paris)
  • Sculpture: usually made of white marble, represented mythological themes or prominent figures. (Voltaire and Rousseau by Jean-Antonie Houdon)
  • Painting: because of the lack of Greek and Roman models, painters imitated classical reliefs and this meant that figures often looked like statues and tones of grey were frequently used.


  • Revolution: radical and often violent change to the political, social or economic system.
  • Constitution: basic law which defines the rights and liberties of the people in a country.
  • Sans-Culottes: radical Parisian laborers who supported the revolution and were often involved in popular protests and riots.
  • Guerrilla Warfare: the use of irregular military tactics against a regular army.


The Directory and the Consulate

They adopted a new constitution in which re-established limited male suffrage and introduced a new form of government called the Directory.

In 1799 General Napoleon Bonaparte organized a military coup, he aimed to restore peace at home and abroad.

Napoleon established a new form of government called the Consulate.

By 1804, Napoleon had absolute power and the French Revolution ended.

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