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Part I: Tramontana, One For The Diplomats
The end of the war in Cuba was a great relief for the Spanish society: too many soldiers, civilians and rebels had died in the rebellion, and the war had been a great economic drain for the Spanish treasury, one that would take some time to mend. At least, the nation's industry, especially that of weaponry, had grown thanks to it.
The Compromise of Baraguá was widely celebrated among the people of Spain. There was some grumbling among the most conservative and reactionary sectors about the fact that Cubans were now on equal terms as the rest of the Spaniards, claiming that they should remain under the control of the metropolis, but most of the population paid not a lot of attention: if the Compromise kept the Cubans happy and within the Kingdom, they were all for it.
The Congress of Deputies was, in essence, a microcosm of Spanish society: the reactionary deputies (Integrists and Traditionalists) were demanding that the Compromise of Baraguá was repealed, the resignation of Arsenio Martínez-Campos for his role in the negotiations and the derogation of all rights that formed part of the Compromise; the Liberal-Conservatives, although supporting the measure, asked a few pointed questions about the treaty, particularly the manumission of all slaves – a point that, while it did not affect them personally, it did affect some of their allies in Cuba – and the small left-wing parties (Republicans and Progressives) applauded the Compromise in its entirety.
For Sagasta, the situation could have not been better. The population had largely supported his position; the economy was improving, reaching levels better than those in 1866 thanks to the policies followed by the Provisional Government and later governments; and Spain's international position was getting stronger, thanks to the victory over France and the alliance with Germany. Now, however, it was the moment to concentrate on other internal and foreign affairs.
Among them was the end of the occupation of southern France. As France continued to pay her war debts to Spain and Germany, troops of both nations started to leave certain zones, diminishing the costs of occupation and thus allowing France to pay faster. Indeed, both Spain and Germany were amazed at how fast the French were paying those debts. By the year 1876, all payments had been made, and no Spanish or German soldiers remained in France.
Spanish-German relations continued to improve in those years. Further collaboration between both nations had yielded several improvements. For example, García Sáez's carbine was taken, slightly improved (it was already a good weapon, after all) and produced for use in the military (although the Mauser/RESA 1871 was still the favoured weapon), especially for some platoons of the Tercios Especiales, as well as the recently created Gebirgsjäger, the German version of the Tercios, which was trained especially in forest and mountain fighting.
Also, together with Austria and Russia, both nations issued the Berlin Memorandum, aimed at convincing the Ottoman Empire, mired in rebellions in the Balkans, to accept an armistice between themselves and the insurgents, something that was rejected by the British Government, then led by Benjamin Disraeli. The massacres of Bulgarian people terrorized the world, especially after Januarius MacGraham's articles on the Daily News and Gladstone's report, forcing Disraeli to drop its support for the Ottomans. This would come in a critical moment, as the Russian Empire, immersed in its Pan-Slavist phase, would declare war on the Ottomans on the next year.
Not all was rays and sunshine for the Spanish government: the Catholic Church, and especially Pope Pius IX, became angry when the news arrived to Rome about the actions taken by the government in Philippines (see Part II).
Pius IX had been the Pope already during the Hohenzollerns' War, and had seen from the Vatican Palace how the Italians took the last remains of the Papal States. However, he had yet to accept that the temporal power of the Bishop of Rome was no more, and thus continued acting as if Rome was still part of the Papal States. Thus, he rejected to meet with all envoys sent by Italian king Vittorio Emanuele II – who was trying to negotiate with him a possible way out of the current “problem” – as it would mean a tacit acceptance of Italian rule over the Eternal City, and he had remained “imprisoned” in the Vatican to avoid dealing with any problems derived from entering de facto Italian territory.
However, that did not mean he did not pay attention to what was happening outside the four walls of his residence, especially when they directly affected the Catholic Church. Relations with Spain had been difficult since Isabel II's dethroning, and even more after the Italian takeover of Rome, which had not been prevented by Spain, despite the Pope's call for all Catholic people to defend the city.
The Pope would soon write an encyclical, named In Orientales Fidelitas, which decried the “persecution” of the Catholic clergy in the Far East, especially in the Philippines, a bastion of Catholicism in the region. It went further, accusing the Spanish of becoming “amoral” and of “concentrating in their earthly gains, forgetting that the true Kingdom is the Kingdom of God, who will punish those who choose to sin”. Those who were able to read between lines also found subtle threats to excommunicate, not only the government, but also the entire Royal Family, if the government did not revert its position and immediately restored the Church's privileges in the Philippines.
The encyclical was very badly received in Spain, especially by Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla, the Minister of Foreign Affairs after the last elections. Zorrilla, after reading the encyclical, sat down to write a very scathing letter, accusing the Pope of hypocrisy (regarding the “concentrating in their earthly gains” especially, since the Pope was still demanding that the Kingdom of Italy evacuated Rome) and of not being a true Christian, confronting him with the fact that the bishops and priests had practically enslaved the Filipinos, who only wanted to live in peace, while the “amoral” government was the only one improving the Filipino people's lives, giving them the foundations to stand on their own feet and spread better education among them. The only reason the letter was not sent was because the more conciliatory Sagasta prevented him from doing it, although Sagasta's only complaint was the language used in the letter.
Another letter, written at a later point (when Zorrilla was finally calmed down) explained the Pope what was the actual situation in the Philippines before the reforms were started. The letter further continued, establishing the danger the priests were in by mistreating the local people, thus risking their deaths were there to be a revolt the Spanish Eastern Army could not stop on time. It finished with a promise that the clergy and cult maintenance would also be applied to the Philippines.
The letter did not help to repair the relations between the Kingdom of Spain and the Holy See, although it was a start, and at least it kept the Pope from going forward with his threat of excommunication. However, that did not mean it was the end of the issue: Pius IX and following Popes continued to call for the restoration of the clergy's privileges in Philippines and the Concordate of 1851, as well as for Catholics to choose the options that would help keep true Catholicism in its proper position as a guide to the people of the world.
An also important event was the marriage of Napoleon IV, king of Corsica, to Spanish Infanta Maria del Pilar, one of Isabel II's daughters and sister to Alfonso de Borbón, he who for a few days had been Alfonso XII of Spain. The wedding was attended by the families of the bride and the groom, as well as many members of the European royal houses, but the only Spanish representative was the Spanish Foreign Minister, Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla, while the French Royal House did not even deign to send an answer, as, according to them, Corsica was still part of France, and thus the Napoleon usurper's wedding was a normal wedding between a French citizen and a foreign woman.
Part II: Levante, For The Calm And The Change
With the issue of Cuba put behind them, Sagasta decided to tackle an affair that could turn equally thorny and potentially catastrophic, if it was not treated soon and correctly: the Philippines.
Being at the other side of the world, and more than a month of travel away, the Philippines had been mostly out of sight – and out of mind – for the politicians in Madrid. For the two last centuries, an oligarchy had grown in the archipelago, formed by the clergy and the tiny colonial elite, which ruled over the Indios – or Filipinos, as they preferred to call themselves – as if the archipelago was still stuck in the sixteenth century. The only Filipinos that managed to jump over the obstacles placed in their way were the Ilustrados, a small community that had managed to educate themselves in ways that were denied to most people. That small number was slowly increasing, but their influence was nil when compared to the power the oligarchy held, especially the clergy, important in a region as Catholic as the Philippines.
The last few years, since the replacement of General Carlos María de la Torre y Nava Cerrada with also General Rafael de Izquierdo y Gutiérrez as Governor-General of the Philippines, things in the archipelago had started to become worse: for example, in 1872, an uprising in Fuerte San Felipe (nearby Cavite) had been supported by 200 soldiers, but easily put down. However, forty-one people ended being executed, including three priests, Fathers Mariano Gómez and José Burgos and Friar Jacinto Zamora, collectively known as Gomburza. This, and other many things, made it clear that Philippines could soon take the same path as Cuba.
Deeply interested in preventing a new Cuba from happening, Sagasta, with the freedom that came after the end of the Cuban War, took the affair with both hands and worked to cut off the problem's source. His first decision was to call Carlos María de la Torre and offer him the chance to take, once more, the role of Governor-General. The general felt suspicious, thinking that, as soon as he started to do anything worthwhile, those opposed to his ideas would have him replaced: however, when Sagasta showed him the orders that gave him full power to execute all government-approved reforms, he accepted his new position.
On June 9th 1874, the newly named Governor-General of the Philippines boarded the recently built armoured frigate Cádiz, which was bound to Philippines to reinforce the Spanish Pacific Fleet. After a one-month long travel, which included a crossing of the Suez Canal and stops in Goa and Singapore for coaling, the Cádiz sailed into the Port of Manila. His first action was to go to Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the Governor-General, and present himself before acting Governor-General Manuel Blanco Valderrama. Having being warned of his arrival with a telegram from Madrid, Blanco welcomed de la Torre to the Philippines and updated him on the current state of affairs.
The arrival of de la Torre spread out through Manila first, and in the following days through the rest of the Philippines, sparking spontaneous celebrations among the Filipino people. De la Torre was, perhaps, one of the few Spanish people all Filipinos respected, because of his efforts during his first term as Governor-General to improve their lives and standing within the Kingdom of Spain: at one point during that time, there had even been a parade in front of Malacañang Palace by his many supporters .
The oligarchy's reaction was pretty much the opposite. When de la Torre had threatened their position in the Philippines, they had complained and managed to get him replaced, with the support of de la Torre's political opponents. However, this time, de la Torre had full government support to continue and expand the policies he had followed before, so now all protests sent to Madrid would be sterile and useless: the Governor-General would have no problem in fulfilling his duties.
Very soon, the make-up of the Philippines started to change. Constitutional rights were granted de facto to all Filipino people, the Ilustrados were called to Malacañang to be consulted by the Governor and works were started in order to improve the main cities, installing many of the things the Spanish cities already enjoyed.
The next thing de la Torre did was to start cutting off the power the oligarchy still held, and he started with the base: the schools. As it had happened before both in Spain and in the Caribbean, schools were secularized, with priests being replaced with actual teachers, helped by the Ilustrados. Programs were started to improve adult literacy – which was at a worse situation than that of Spain proper – and conscious efforts were initiated to improve the state of the local universities and make it easier for people to attend them.
The power of the Church was further cut off when all post-1837 monastic orders were eliminated, after having avoided this for five years. Also, the extensive land properties the Church still owned and that were not being exploited were confiscated and sold: this time, to prevent the same problems that kept southern Spain mired in landlordism, the auctioning was held in ways to ensure that most properties were bought by local Ilustrados and small owners. The revenues from the auctions were spent in the development of the Philippines, which helped much in developing the local infrastructure, as well as starting to cut off the rest of the oligarchy's power.
There was also a growth of the army, leading to a curious arrangement: the number of actual Spanish troops was not big enough to make a great difference, and the distance between Spain and Philippines meant it was next to impossible to receive reinforcements in an immediate way. Thus, de la Torre, with the permission of Sagasta and Minister of War Juan Prim, started to recruit local troops for their use in fighting in the Philippines. They were still being led by Spanish officers, of course, as they had yet to find a way to start training Filipino officers, and many times they were treated with disdain by the seasoned Spanish troops. However, the “Batallones Filipinos” would soon prove to be very good in their job, and would gain respect from the rest of the army.
The only region that remained relatively unruly was Mindanao, the southernmost island of the Philippines. The cultural differences were great, especially in regards to religion, as the Moros (as the people of Mindanao were called) were Muslims, and thus remained culturally separated from the rest of the Filipino people. Previous attempts by the Spanish government to put their rebellion down had been unsuccessful, but now things were different: they had the Tercios, and a part of the Army was now expert in jungle fighting. Also, the Spanish fleet was exercising a blockade around the island, preventing several Chinese blockade runners from selling guns to the Moros (who paid with slaves, which was another reason the blockade had been placed). Remembering the Virginius Affair, the ships were normally sent on their way back with a warming, and the cargo was seized. Once or twice, though, the ships were seized and the crewmen incarcerated, with the Chinese government being informed of the fact that some of their people had been found guilty of contraband.
One by one, all the Moro tribes were forced to surrender, but the terms being offered to them – partial autonomy, Spanish citizenship and all the rights that came with it – were good enough for them, who were tired of war.
By the same time the last Moros surrendered in September 1876, the Governor-General decided that it was time for Spain to invade the Sulu Archipelago, in order to consolidate the southern border of the Philippines and prevent another nation (the British had been sending traders into the region since the nineteenth century, the French were looking on with interest to the archipelago and the Americans had some designs on North Borneo, which was part of the Sultanate of Sulu) from taking over them, thus formalising Spanish control over the region (which, de jure, existed since 1851). The advanced weaponry and successful use of the Navy made the victory, while not an easy one, a successful one, with Spanish troops capturing the city of Jolo (capital of the Sultanate) on May 1877. The Sultan and his family were immediately taken to Manila, and established in a good set of rooms in the city, although it still meant they were prisoners in a gilded cage.
Spain would also manage to get the Hong Kong-based American Trading Company to drop their lease in the region of Sabah (Northern Borneo) so that they could finally take the region and turn it into part of the Spanish East Indies. There were some protests from the British and Dutch, who were trying to take as much of the island as possible, but after negotiations to mark the borders between the three colonies, both accepted Spanish ownership of Sabah, and the Spanish East Indies gained a new region to work with, and to extract resources from.
Spain was not the only active nation in the region: France started to use its colonial possessions in Indochina in order to spread its influence among the nations there. By the year 1875, Cochinchina and Cambodia were already French colonies, and soon pressure was put to acquire the rest of the region, but they were under Chinese protection, and French presence in the region was not big enough to be able to defeat them. Thus, a conscious decision was taken to start this, so that, when the time came, China could be defeated and all of Indochina fell in French hands.
At the same time all of this was happening, Germany was slowly entering the colonial sphere. However, most of Africa, Asia and Oceania had already been taken, so the Germans rushed to take those places that had yet to be claimed by other nations, in spite of Bismarck's opposition to it. The first place to enter the German colonial empire was Kamerun, where German traders had been active in since 1868. They also started to take interest in New Guinea, whose eastern half remained unclaimed (the western half was part of the Dutch East Indies), so it was soon developed thanks to the establishment of several trading ports, with German trade soon dominating the region. The archipelago of Samoa, which so far had yet to be taken, was claimed by German ships and troops that had used the Spanish Pacific islands as a springboard. This action was protested by the Americans and British, who had economic interests in the archipelago. Negotiations were arduous between the three nations, but in the end an agreement was reached: Britain would leave Samoa in exchange of Germany accepting British suzerainty over the southern half of eastern New Guinea, and the eastern half of the archipelago, formed by Tutuila, the Manu'a, Motu O Manu and Olosenga, were given to the Americans.
 100% true. Carlos María de la Torre was Governor-General of the Philippines between June 1869 and April 1871, and he is considered the most beloved Spanish Governor-General ever assigned in the Philippines: a parade was thrown for him by his supporters. Unfortunately, he was replaced by Rafael Izquierdo, who was the one in charge when Gomburza were executed. Who knows what could have happened if de la Torre had not been replaced?
Part III: Ostro, Adventure And Exploration
Another important path taken by the Kingdom of Spain led to Africa: at the time, the European colonial powers were starting to look at Africa as a great new fountain of resources, as well as a new market for their industrial products: recently, several nations had started to raise their tariffs in order to strengthen their own industrial production, and, as a result, international trade had started to go down.
Spain had already two points from where they could expand into Africa: the territory of Ifni, ceded to Spain after the Spanish-Moroccan War of 1860, and the colony of Rio Muni. Western Africa, thanks to the strategic position of the Canary Islands near the African coast, was an excellent place, and it would allow for the colonization of most of the remaining African west coast, between Cape Blanco (near the French West African coast) and Ifni itself. In order to secure that land, the government had several military forts built at strategic points between the two points, proclaiming Spanish ownership of the region.
In Guinea, things were still a bit complicated due to the existence of illnesses that had yet to be found a true cure for, but medical advances and previous expeditions had improved things, and thus it allowed Spanish expeditions to enter Africa, following the local rivers, such as the Benito, Abia or Uoro Mbini Rivers. The main expeditions, led by men like Manuel de Iradier y Bulfy, and supported by Cuban mulatto ex-soldiers, not only helped to map out the region, but also would help to put down several revolts by natives and rise the red-and-yellow flag in those towns. There was also an expedition to Madagascar, where Spain found natives that liked the idea of allying with someone that had recently defeated the ones who were constantly attacking them, the French. Soon, Spanish-built weaponry was being sold to the Malagasy army and several advisors came there. France protested this move, alleging that the Lambert Charter gave France rights over Madagascar, but there was not much they could do.
France itself was using the subject of Africa as a way to appease its people. The loss of the Oranesado in the Treaty of Frankfurt had been hard (although not as hard as Rousillon or Alsace-Lorraine, of course), so the government pushed for an immediate expansion of the French colonies in West Africa, using the mission civilisatrice as an excuse (although many did have that feeling in mind). To that end, war was declared on the native kingdoms of Cayor and Jolof, and after several battles where French weapons and strategies won over the natives' primitive ways, they were put under the control of the French governor in Senegal. The Ivory Coast would also see an expansion towards the north, attempting, however, not to do anything to enter into the English sphere of influence, as France expected to gain them as allies for their eventual revenge against Spain and Germany. France also decided to gain control of part of Central Africa, in a bid to counter Spanish influence in the region, and thus placed several fortresses in the Kongo, between Loango and Cape Lopez.
Portugal, with its current holdings in Guinea, Angola and Moçambique, had an excellent position from which to expand into the rest of Africa. Although Gambia would surely soon be blocked by French expansion of its Senegalese and Guinean colonies, their other two colonies were an easier thing, since they even had inroads into the African continent. They even planned for an eventual joining of both of their colonies into one, which could help communicate the eastern and western coasts of southern Africa. They would not know that their plan would be fruitless, but still it drove many people towards the two colonies.
Even the United Kingdom, with its great colonies in Canada, India and Oceania, had some problems and looked forward to the Dark Continent to expand their holdings and available markets. Even as, under the orders of Secretary of States for the Colonies Lord Carnarvon, they started to deal with the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic for the potential federation of the British and Boer territories (a deal that was turned down by the Boers), there were already plans for the eventual annexation of the Zulu Kingdom
These were started to become apparent in 1877, when Sir Theophilus Shepstone invaded the Transvaal Republic and persuaded the Boers to give up the independence. Transvaal had previously had several border problems with the Zulu Kingdom, in which Shepstone had supported the Zulus, but now that he had to see the border dispute from the other side, he tried, unsuccessfully, to get the Zulus to back down. The Zulus, especially their king Cetshwayo, who had previously thought of him as a friend, accused him of betraying them. This would make Shepstone start to report the Zulus as an aggressive threat.
This, as well as a series of minor incidents happening in the border between the Zulu Kingdom and British Natal on summer 1878, was used by high commissioner Sir Henry Bartle Frere as the means to present the Zulu Kingdom with an ultimatum, made of thirteen demands that he knew King Cetshwayo would not be able to comply with, thus starting war. Cetshwayo tried to do as much as possible to prevent war from happening, but in January 1879 an army of 15,000 troops led by Frederick Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford, invaded Zululand, without the authorization of the British government.
The Redcoats would find themselves expelled from Zululand, after the disastrous defeat of Isandlwana and the start of the Siege of Eshowe. Lord Chelmsford organised an army to relieve Pearson's men in Eshowe, a successful venture that would be the start of the second invasion. These would proceed slowly, with the British having learned the lesson of Isandlwana – where the British troops had not even tried to entrench themselves – and ensuring the defeat of the Zulus. Several scouting units sent ahead of the main army were defeated , but, in the Battle of Ulundi of July 4th, Cetshwayo's troops were defeated and dispersed, thus bringing an end to the Anglo-Zulu War. Zululand would become part of the British Empire, being controlled locally by several chiefs in order to prevent their joining, once more, into a powerful united kingdom. Meanwhile, Lord Chelmsford and Bartle, although praised for their victory, would soon be criticized for their disobedience: Lord Chelmsford would never serve again in the field, and Bartle was relegated to a minor post in Cape Town.
 It is in here that Napoleon III's son was killed by the Zulus in RL: he had been able to get himself sent to South Africa to fight on the British Army, and he was put under the protection of Chelmsford himself, not being fighting directly under direct orders of the British government and his mother, Empress Eugénie. Some time before the Battle of Ulundi, he was part of a scout team sent ahead, with a great escort for the Prince, but the Zulus found them and killed the Prince. Obviously, here he does not die, since he is in Corsica with his wife.
Part IV: Poniente, With Old Wars
The problem with Cuba solved, there were other things related with the Americas that the Spanish diplomacy decided to tackle .
One of them was the First Pacific War , which was theoretically still on-going in spite of the fact that no war action had taken place since 1866: basically, the last governments of Isabel II and both the Provisional Government and the governments that had searched for the new king and then fought the war against France had forgotten it due to more pressing problems. However, now they could do something, and the Sagasta government thought it was an excellent moment to attempt to establish better ties with the South American nations.
With the help of the United States, who was seeking a way to gain rapport with the resurgent nation, Spanish diplomats met with those of the South American alliance, formed by Chile, Bolivia, Perú and Ecuador. In the following Treaty of Tallahassee of 1875 (signed in the capital of the state of Florida), Spain recognised the independence of the four American nations in exchange of them opening their markets to Spanish products.
However, the years between the end of the war and the peace signing had taken their toll on the alliance, and now the nations were separating: Gabriel García Moreno, who had been President of Ecuador, would soon die at the hands of her lover's husband, and Ecuador drifted away from the other nations; Perú and Bolivia, which had once been part of the same nation, remained together, and Chile, which was emerging in the region as a powerful nation, was slowly starting to turn against its northern neighbours, which could become potential enemies in achieving regional supremacy.
Sagasta saw this as a clear chance to divide the alliance and instead find some allies of its own in the southern hemisphere. After some considerations, it was decided that the best idea would be to pick Perú. This decision was not taken lightly: despite the fact that the war had initially started against Perú, there was still a pro-Spanish sentiment in the region, coming from the 1820s, when Perú was the last nation to become independent from Spain. Also, they had access to a great number of resources in the region, and if the Peruvian markets were opened to Spanish products, perhaps Spanish businesses could manage to even expand operations into. The guano deposits in the Chincha Islands, as well as the many natural resources in there, could be at hand. Of course, benefits would have to be shared with Perú, and probably they should build factories, but it was something they were willing to do.
Soon after this, two new buildings were built in La Paz and Lima, capitals of Bolivia and Perú, respectively: the Casa de España, ostensibly a place where all Spaniard people living in both nations could meet to remember their mother nation and encounter their compatriots, but it would also be used as the headquarters of the trade between Spain and both nations. Soon, one of the main articles both nations would be buying were weapons, both of German and Spanish production. The possibility of a war with Chile was near, and the allied nations wanted to make sure that such a war fell in their favour.
The war did not take long to come. The nationalization, by part of Perú, of the nitrate mines in the department of Tarapaca, near the border with Bolivia, harmed Chilean interests in the region, as it left a great part of the nitrate resources in the region in the hands of the Peruvians (more than half of them, in fact). However, Chile only elevated complaints for the actions of the Peruvian government, and decided to concentrate in the Bolivian mines in the province of Antofagasta. The region was quite difficult to colonize by part of the Bolivians, as the mighty Andes stood in the way, and thus Chile had the way open for business expansion.
However, in 1878, the Bolivian government chose to use a loophole in a contract that had given the Chilean Compañía de Ferrocarriles y Nitratos de Antofagasta the authorization to extract saltpetre from Antofagasta's mines without paying taxes, arguing that said agreement had not been approved by the Bolivian Congress. After a series of offers and counteroffers, the Bolivian Congress approved a 10 cent per 100 kilograms tax. The Chilean company asked for the support of its government, which argued that the tax was illegal, as per the Boundary Treaty of 1874, which, among other things, fixed the tax rates on Chilean companies operating in Bolivia for 25 years. In the end, Bolivia refused to back down, and threatened to confiscate company's property.
The war started on February 4th 1879, the day when the Bolivian government auctioned the Compañía de Ferrocarriles y Nitratos de Antofagasta's assets in Bolivia. That same day, 500 Chilean soldiers occupied the port city of Antofagasta, being welcomed by the mostly Chilean population in the city. Bolivia, however, did not declare war definitely until March 14th, asking the Peruvian government to do the same. Perú attempted to mediate in the war, trying to get both nations to the negotiating table, but Chile demanded immediate neutrality from Perú in the war, and, after not receiving confirmation of this, Chile officially declared war on Bolivia and Perú on April 5th.
Most of the war, due to the fact that Antofagasta was next to the Atacama, the driest desert in the world, was fought in the seas, between the Marina de Guerra de Perú and the Armada de Chile. The former was led by the broadside ironclad Independencia and the monitor Huáscar, while the latter was led by twin central battery ironclads Cochrane and Blanco Encalada.
The Chilean navy soon blockaded the port of Iquique on the same day war was declared. The siege lasted for a month and a half, ending in the Battle of Iquique: there, Captain Miguel Grau demonstrated his great worth and ability, commanding the Huáscar and managed to sink the Chilean corvette Esmeralda. However, the victory was a pyrrhic one, for Perú lost the Independencia as it persecuted the schooner Covadonga.
Despite the loss, it nonetheless allowed Perú to free the port of Iquique, and the subsequent months turned Miguel Grau into the hero of his generation, because, on board of the Huáscar, he managed to hold off the Chilean Navy, participating in several fights in the Pacific. His genius stroke true with the capture of the steamship Rimac, which was carrying a whole cavalry regiment: this was the biggest Chilean defeat so far in the war.
Due to this defeat, the Chilean government was forced to resign, as did Commander-in-Chief of the Navy Juan Williams Rebolledo, who was replaced by Commodore Galvarino Riveros Cárdenas: he started to devise a plan with which the Chilean navy would be able to trap the Huáscar and give victory to Chile.
However, the capture of the Rimac gave Perú time to deal with the problematic situation of its navy, and managed to buy two ironclads from Spain, with the possible option to obtain more of them if required. Sagasta and Prim decided to use this as a way to both intimidate Chile and gain new territories in the Southern Pacific, which could easily become part of another route between Spain and the Philippines should the two African routes be closed off.
Nine ships, led by the Zaragoza and Numancia ironclads, travelled from the port of El Ferrol to the Canary Islands, and from there to Iquique, making stops in Rio de Janeiro and the young but growing Argentinian town of Rawson, before crossing the Magallanes Straits and reaching Perú. Two of the ships would shed their Spanish colours to replace them with the Bicolour Banner, officially joining the Peruvian Navy, while the rest sailed west, making stops in some of the islands and archipelagos of the zone, such as the island of Pascua – where the natives signed a protectorate treaty with the Spanish admirals, who were amazed at the size of the statues that had been built by the natives' ancestors – or Salas y Gómez – a movement protested by the Chilean government, which had claimed the island for itself – before reaching the Carolinas, where some German ships were found and saluted. A small diplomatic incident nearly happened when it turned out that some of those ships were planning to claim the islands for the German Empire, but as soon as they realised their mistake, the Germans left without discussion.
The two new ships – christened Independencia, after the lost ironclad, and Iquique – joined the Peruvian Navy in the nick of time. They managed to take part on the Battle of Punta Angamos of October 8th , where, although numbers favoured the Chileans, the greater ability of Miguel Grau gave victory to the Peruvians and preventing what could have been a land invasion of Chilean troops into Peruvian territory. The Chilean Navy also lost the Blanco Encalada, which would be marked as the start of the end of the war.
After achieving naval supremacy following another battle in front of Antofagasta, the Peruvian Army and Navy achieved a landing of troops nearby the city of Antofagasta, keeping them supplied from Iquique and taking the city from the beleaguered Chileans, after a battle where, according to accounts, more casualties were caused by the heat and humidity than by the bullets shot by the soldiers.
From Antofagasta, the Peruvian soldiers started to march towards the east in an attempt to take the desert forts spread along the Atacama desert, a task that would have been hard at any time of the year, but became harder due to the high temperatures typical of the Southern Hemisphere's summer. Bolivian troops also marched from the east, and, after two months of march and battle, all Chilean troops were dead or prisoners of the allied armies.
Meanwhile, Miguel Grau had not remained quiet: his fleet attacked the Chilean coast, forcing their navy to attempt to stop them, an attempt that saw the loss of the Almirante Cochrane, Chile's remaining ironclad, in a battle that happened on November 15th in front of the city of Valparaíso.
The last event of the war was a landing by a mixed Peruvian-Bolivian army on the city of Copiapó, which took the city on January 20th of 1880. By then, most Chilean cities were demanding that the government put an end to the war, which they had to acquiesce, and asked the Peruvian-Bolivian alliance for an armistice.
Under the auspices of the United States and United Kingdom, a peace treaty would be signed on March 1st in Quito, Ecuador. Territorially, the situation was statu quo ante bellum, that is, there would be no exchange of lands. However, economically, things were different: Chile was forced to accept Bolivia's expropriation of the Compañía de Ferrocarriles y Nitratos de Antofagasta, which had started the war, accept the change of taxes for the Chilean companies and pay a compensation to both Perú and Bolivia.
In spite of Bolivia being the most benefited economically, the great winner of the war was Perú, which had established its supremacy in the south-eastern Pacific, and which found itself in a great euphoria following the victory. Miguel Grau Seminario, ascended now to the rank of Admiral, would be also elevated to the rank of Héroe de la República, and would, in 1884, be voted in a landslide to become President of the Republic, using his position to direct Perú towards modernization, so that their regional supremacy could be upheld.
 The Chincha Islands War.
 In RL, this battle ended with Chilean victory and the death of Miguel Grau Seminario. Things were then much more lopsided towards the Chilean fleet, which had 4 warships and 2 transports against the Peruvian fleet, with only 2 warships.
Part V: Homeland, Labour For Good And Bad
In the year 1877, Spain went through a new election day. This time, it was not as exciting as previous ones. For starters, the nation was in the middle of a period of prosperity, born from the policies taken by previous governments. There were not too many problems beyond the typical ones of the day to day. Thus, when, on April 1877 the Spaniards went to vote, they chose to give continuity to the Democrat-Radical Party the continuity in power. Unknown to the main population, these elections would be the first where the manipulations of the caciques were eliminated, which had been the problem the government had worked on as democracy took roots in Spanish society.
It was in that same year of 1877  that what was bound to eventually become one of the most important political parties of Spain was born: the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE, Spanish Socialist Workers' Party). It had appeared as a consequence of several factors:
The arrival of political books to Spain, particularly Marx's The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, bringing the idea of socialism to Spain.
The growing number of people that now worked in the industrial sector, concentrated in the main cities of Spain (with Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao being the most important), a direct consequence of the slow mechanization of the agricultural and livestock sectors.
The consciousness of the lower class about the precarious conditions many of them worked at.
The stabilization of the economy, which allowed for businesses to gain greater benefits.
The latter three factors were very important, since they were the seed that had given birth to the modern Spanish workers' movement, fed with the facts of the great differences between the different social classes, which, while those differences were less and smaller, there was still, nonetheless, a great difference between what was considered the high class and the low class, although the new policies was allowing the slow appearance of a middle class that was taking over or creating many small and medium businesses in the cities of Spain.
The workers' movement was not a new thing in Spain: during the times of Fernando VII's and Isabel II's reigns, there had been many attempts by the workers to try to organise in order to defend their common interests, particularly those related to their salaries and working time. However, most of the time their attempts to do this were brutally put down by the government, since they were more akin to satisfying the desires of the businessmen, landlords and nobles than the needs of the workers.
Another problem the early workers' movement had to deal with was that their scope was smaller than what was required for things to work out in their favour. These associations were only formed by people with the same job, which limited the size of their demands and the potential harm that could be caused if the workers' demands were not met.
Thus, when the PSOE was born, it was a break in the way things were planned. All other major parties were heirs of the cliques that had surged during the last years of Fernando VII's reign and all of Isabel II's reign. The PSOE was the first party actually born in a democracy, a party born from the people and for the people. Its ideology was clearly Marxist, and they were similar to the Republican parties in that they also wanted to abolish the monarchy and replace it with a republic, but the PSOE only saw the republic as a stepping stone towards the eventual socialist society, without classes nor state.
The PSOE's first forays in the political world did not take much time to start. Just a year after the PSOE's creation, Pablo Iglesias, its founder, started the first trade union of Spain, the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT, Workers' General Union), which was also a first in that it was created to encompass the efforts of workers of several careers to gain sensible working conditions and salaries, as opposed to one-job associations.
Both party and trade union grew quite fast: for example, by the end of the decade, PSOE had 50,000 affiliates in Madrid, Asturias and Vascongadas, and was starting to make its way in Catalonia, one of the main industrial centres of Spain, where socialism had to contend with anarchism, which had made its way to Spain several years before thanks to the influence of Italian anarchist Giuseppe Fanelli, who had arrived to Spain in 1868 in order to recruit members for the First International. Both ideologies would find similar numbers of followers in Catalonia, although anarchism would enjoy a greater number of them, as the ideology was quite attractive to many in the region. Anarchism was also growing in Andalusia, where, in the 1870s, a section of the First International had been formed.
However, socialism held a great advantage over anarchism: despite how attractive anarchism sounded to some, the people had come to appreciate the stabilization a government brought, as well as the improvements in their lives and the economy. Thus, while anarchism was completely opposed to the mere idea of a government, sometimes even using violence to make their position known, socialism was willing to work with the system so that the change could be as pacific as possible.
It would take some time until the PSOE was rooted in Spain, enough to be able to gain its first deputies to the Congress, but until that moment arrived the party would keep growing and expanding its influence.
It was certainly an interesting time to live in. However, this did not mean everything was perfect. The appearance of the first class-wide trade union meant that very soon those affiliated to it were using their association to start making demands, demands that in the future would be things taken for granted, but that at the time meant a great deal for the people. Several strikes hit the nation in some of the most important industrial sectors. The main RESA factory saw a strike hit it in 1880, just two months before the next elections, asking for a reduction of the work hours. Attempts by Sagasta's government to address the grievances of the strikers met with defeat, as these were very set on their positions, and would not step back until their demands were met.
In the end, just two weeks before the elections started, the government chose to pass a law that would reduce the work week to 50 hours. It was certainly welcomed by the people, but not by the main businessmen, who chose to start supporting Antonio Cánovas del Castillo's Liberal-Conservatives. This support ended up being fundamental in the following elections.
Finally, on May 1880, after the votes were counted, it became clear that Sagasta's eleventh-hour attempt to earn back the confidence of the people had met with failure. People had instead chosen to vote for the Liberal-Conservatives, after six years of Democrat presidency, and Cánovas del Castillo became the new Presidente del Consejo de Ministros, ready to make its print on the Kingdom of Spain known.
 In RL, the PSOE was born on 1879, and the UGT was born in 1888. Here, the better economic conditions and industry expansion, as well as the alliance with Germany – which has brought many books to Spain – have triggered PSOE's appearance two years sooner, and UGT's 10 years sooner.