The Eastern Question in the Opinion of Spanish Diplomats during the Reign of Ferdinand VII (1808-1833)
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Upon the threshold of the nineteenth century Turkey did not play a prominent role in Spanish foreign policy. Nonetheless, Madrid closely observed all the symptoms of a crisis in the East. Already at the time of Charles III, the Ottoman Empire was perceived as an essential element of balance in Europe. Political rapprochement produced the treaty of 1782, but interest in the situation in that particular region was also dictated by economic reasons and a project intent on increasing activity in the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. The assessment of national movements emerging in the European part of Turkey depended on the current political situation in Spain. In the early years, the liberation strivings of the Greeks were looked upon with sympathy. The same approach prevailed during the liberal years of 1820-1823. After the restoration of absolutism, however, Spain announced that the Greek uprising was contrary to the principle of legitimism, and a threat to European peace and order. Spanish politicians were interested also in the international implications of the crisis in the East, especially once the states of the Holy Alliance recognised the necessity of intervening in questions relating to the Iberian Peninsula. The striking feature of the correspondence conducted by Spanish diplomats in Istambul is their uncritical opinions about the Russian policy with simultaneous antipathy and prejudice towards the British. The superficiality of such an appraisal was the outcome of the geographical and mental distance between Russia and Spain, and the ideological proximity between absolutist states. Suspicions of London grew primarily in connection with traditional maritime and colonial rivalry. In contrast to Great Britain, the tsarist empire was not seen as menacing for the position held by Spain. Consequently, Ferdinand VII regarded closer ties with Russia as a chance for strengthening his own power, restoring Spain's former status, recovering the colonies, and guaranteeing unhampered navigation on the Black Sea. The alliance did not yield the anticipated profits, and only facilitated signing a trade agreement wuth Turkey (1827). Its realisation, however, called for peace in the region, and Spanish diplomats began to link the threats facing it with the expansive policy pursued by Russia.
- P. Jakobczyk-Adamczyk, Akademia Swietokrzyska w Kielcach, Filia w Piotrkowie Trybunalskim, Instytut Historii, ul. J. Slowackiego 114/118, 97-300 Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland
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