Ferdinand VII was twice King of Spain: in 1808 and again from 1813 to his death. He was known to his detractors as the Felon King. After being overthrown by Napoleon in 1808 he linked his monarchy to counter-revolution and reactionary policies that produced a deep rift in Spain between his forces on the right and liberals on the left. Back in power in 1814, he reestablished the absolutist monarchy and rejected the liberal constitution of 1812. A revolt in 1820 led by Rafael de Riego forced him to restore the constitution thus beginning the Liberal Triennium: a three year period of liberal rule. In 1823 the Congress of Verona authorized a successful French intervention restoring him to absolute power for the second time, he jailed many of its editors and writers. Under his rule, Spain lost nearly all of its American possessions, the country entered into civil war on his death, his reputation among historians is low. Historian Stanley Payne writes: He proved in many ways the basest king in Spanish history.
Cowardly, grasping and vengeful, seemed incapable of any perception of the commonwealth. He thought only in terms of his power and security and was unmoved by the enormous sacrifices of Spanish people to retain their independence and preserve his throne. Ferdinand was the eldest surviving son of Maria Luisa of Parma. Ferdinand was born in the palace of El Escorial near Madrid. In his youth Ferdinand occupied the position of an heir apparent, excluded from all share in government by his parents and their favourite advisor and Prime Minister, Manuel Godoy. National discontent with the government produced a rebellion in 1805. In October 1807, Ferdinand was arrested for his complicity in the El Escorial Conspiracy in which the rebels aimed at securing foreign support from the French Emperor Napoleon; when the conspiracy was discovered, Ferdinand submitted to his parents. Following a popular riot at Aranjuez Charles IV abdicated in March 1808. Ferdinand turned to Napoleon for support, he abdicated on 6 May 1808 and thereafter Napoleon kept Ferdinand under guard in France for six years at the Château de Valençay.
Historian Charles Oman records that the choice of Valençay was a practical joke by Napoleon on his former foreign minister Talleyrand, the owner of the château, for his lack of interest in Spanish affairs. While the upper echelons of the Spanish government accepted his abdication and Napoleon's choice of his brother Joseph Bonaparte as king of Spain, the Spanish people did not. Uprisings broke out throughout the country. Provincial juntas were established to control regions in opposition to the new French king. After the Battle of Bailén proved that the Spanish could resist the French, the Council of Castile reversed itself and declared null and void the abdications of Bayonne on 11 August 1808. On 24 August, Ferdinand VII was proclaimed king of Spain again, negotiations between the Council and the provincial juntas for the establishment of a Supreme Central Junta were completed. Subsequently, on 14 January 1809, the British government acknowledged Ferdinand VII as king of Spain. Five years after experiencing serious setbacks on many fronts, Napoleon agreed to acknowledge Ferdinand VII as king of Spain on 11 December 1813 and signed the Treaty of Valençay, so that the king could return to Spain.
The Spanish people, blaming the policies of the Francophiles for causing the Napoleonic occupation and the Peninsular War by allying Spain too to France, at first welcomed Fernando. Ferdinand soon found that in the intervening years a new world had been born of foreign invasion and domestic revolution. In his name Spain fought for its independence and in his name as well juntas had governed Spanish America. Spain was no longer the absolute monarchy. Instead he was now asked to rule under the liberal Constitution of 1812. Before being allowed to enter Spanish soil, Ferdinand had to guarantee the liberals that he would govern on the basis of the Constitution, only gave lukewarm indications he would do so. On 24 March the French handed him over to the Spanish Army in Girona, thus began his procession towards Madrid. During this process and in the following months, he was encouraged by conservatives and the Church hierarchy to reject the Constitution. On 4 May he ordered its abolition and on 10 May had the liberal leaders responsible for the Constitution arrested.
Ferdinand justified his actions by claiming that the Constitution had been made by a Cortes illegally assembled in his absence, without his consent and without the traditional form. Ferdinand promised to convene a traditional Cortes, but never did so, thereby reasserting the Bourbon doctrine that sovereign authority resided in his person only. Meanwhile, the wars of independence had broken out in the Americas, although many of the republican rebels were divided and royalist sentiment was strong in many areas, the Manila galleons and the Spanish treasure fleets — tax revenues from the Spanish Empire — were interrupted. Spain was all but bankrupt. Ferdinand's restored autocracy was guided by a small camarilla of his favorites, although his government seemed unstable. Whimsical and ferocious by turns, he changed his ministers every few months. "The king," wrote Friedrich von Gentz in 1814, "himself enters the houses of his prime ministers, arrests them, hands them over to their cruel enemies.
Joan Lestor, Baroness Lestor of Eccles was a British Labour politician. Lestor was educated at Monmouth, she became a nursery school teacher and a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, but resigned from the latter over the Turner Controversy. She became a councillor in 1958 on the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth and the London Borough of Wandsworth, she served on London County Council, losing in Lewisham West at the 1961 election, but winning a by-election to represent Wandsworth Central from 1962 until 1964. Lestor contested Lewisham West in 1964 and was elected Member of Parliament for Eton and Slough in 1966, she was a junior minister from 1969–70 with responsibility for nursery education. In March 1974 she became the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and in June 1975 moved back to Education as Under-Secretary of State, for Education and Science. In March 1976 she resigned over cuts. Lestor was one of the founding editors of anti-fascist monthly, though that magazine had only a tenuous connection to the current publication.
After boundary changes in 1983, Lestor contested the new constituency of Slough but was defeated by the Conservative candidate John Watts. Neil Kinnock, who became leader of the Labour Party shortly after the election said he was "heartbroken" by Lestor's defeat. Lestor blamed the SDP for her defeat. No longer an MP, Lestor worked for the World Development Movement, campaigning for child welfare and setting up a unit to investigate child abuse, including sexual abuse, an area neglected by mainstream politicians at the time, she was returned for Eccles in 1987, held this seat until 1997. She served in the shadow cabinet between 1989 and 1996 firstly as Shadow Spokesperson for Children and Families and subsequently as Shadow Minister for Overseas Development, she resigned on 25 July 1996 after announcing that she was not seeking re-election at the next election. On 4 June 1997, Lestor was created a life peer as Baroness Lestor of Eccles, of Tooting Bec in the London Borough of Wandsworth, nine months before her death from motor neuron disease.
Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Joan Lestor
Justin Fox is an American financial journalist and writer born in Morristown, New Jersey. He is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and former editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group and business and economics columnist for Time magazine, he graduated from Princeton University and has been published by Fortune magazine, The Birmingham News, American Banker. His book, The Myth of the Rational Market, traces the rise of the efficient-market hypothesis, it was a New York Times Notable Book of 2009 and was named the best business book of the year by Amazon.com. He has worked as a commentator on PBS's Nightly Business Report, he is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. He was awarded the 2001 Business Journalist of the Year Award for writing about technology. Fox, Justin; the Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk and Delusion on Wall Street. Harper Business. ISBN 0-06-059899-9. Fox, Justin. "Hooray for Boring Banks". Time. Retrieved 28 April 2009. Blogs.hbr.org Byjustinfox.com Roberts, Russ.