The Napoleonic Wars, at the beginning of the 19th century put a damper on the heady days of previous decades. Catalan refugees poured into Mallorca, causing both social and economic unrest on the Island. But the same century also saw the birth of the bourgeoisie and its impulse for social change. Communications with the peninsula were installed. shipping lines to exploit trade with the Indies were established, the broad, marshy plain near Palma was pumped dry and the land reclaimed for agricultural purposes, the railway was built and a timid regionalism emerged with the renewed use of the Catalan language. But the end of the century saw another falling of local economic fortunes. Many of the islanders, seeing the writing on the wall (and the lack of food in the pantry), emigrated to the peninsula and America.
The first half of the 20th century on Mallorca was dominated by two men, the politician Antoni Maura and the financier Joan March. Maura, the leader of the conservative party, spent all of his political life in Madrid. but never lost the loyal support of his fellow islanders. The life of Joan March Ordinas was the archetypal 'from rags to riches' story. Born in a Mallorcan village at a time of strong class prejudices on the part of the ruling elite, he became not only the richest man in Spain, but was considered the third richest man in the world (after John Paul Getty and Howard Hughes).
The Mallorcans continued into the third decade of this century much as they had left the 1800s - provincial, extremely religious and politically conservative. The islands saw little violence during the Spanish Civil War and during the Franco dictatorship, the political situation in the islands was the same as that on the peninsula. It wasn't until the 1960s and the arrival of tourism that Mallorca began to dismantle her traditional way of life. In 1975, with the death of Franco, the island began the work of recovering it's autonomy and cultural identity.
In 1978, the new Spanish Constitution sanctioned the creation of the provincial government which exists today.
Important Historical Dates
1300 BC First settlers in Mallorca
123 BC Romans conquer the island
426 Vandals devastate the islands and persecute the Christians
534 The Christian religion is restored by the Byzantines
707 First Muslim attack on the Baleares
1087-1114 Mallorca becomes an independent taifa
1114 A group of Pisa-Catalans manage to conquer Eivissa and Mallorca. The siege of Palma lasts eight months. After the city is defeated and sacked, the invaders go home
1115-1203 The Almoravides, a tribe from North Africa, arrive to help the Mallorcan Muslims and stay on to occupy the island. The island experiences a period of prosperity. The Almoravides' dominion extends to all of the island and to Tunisia and Tripolitania
1203-1229 The Baleares fall into the hands of Almohadian tribes from Algeria and Denia. Political instability allows the reconquest of MalIorca by the Catalans
1229 Catalan King Jaume I of Aragon occupies and conquers Mallorca on 31 December, after three months of fighting
1276 Death of Jaume I and creation of the independent Kingdom of Mallorca, ruled by, Jaume II
1285 First attempt by the Catalans to recover the Kingdom of Mallorca by force. Later expedition returned by order of the Pope
1291 Jaume II of Aragon returns the Baleares, including Menorca, to his uncle, Jaume II of Mallorca
1324-44 Reign of King Jaume III of Mallorca, bringing economic prosperity. Palma is one of the richest cities in the Mediterranean
1344 Troops of Pere IV of Aragon invade and reincorporate the three islands into the Kingdom of Aragon
1349 Jaume III tries to recover the Kingdom of Mallorca and dies in the Battle of Llucmajor
1479 Kingdom of España formed by uniting the Kingdom of Castilla and the Kingdom of Aragon, including Mallorca
1700 Felipe de Bourbon ascends to the throne. Beginning of the War of Succession
1785 Treaty of Algiers signed, ending piracy while establishing the Mallorcan 'corsairs'
1808-13 The War of Independence against the invading troops of Napoleon. Many refugees arrive on Mallorca, provoking social tension
1820-22 Massive emigration to Algeria and South America
1837 First regular steamship line between Mallorca and the peninsula
1879-98 The years of the 'gold fever'. Period of prosperity thanks to the wine and almond trade
1936-9 Spanish Civil War
1939-75 Dictatorship of Franco
1978 Approval of new Spanish Constitution, which opens the doorway to the creation of 'autonomies'
1983 Approval of the Statutes of Autonomy for the Baleares; first election held shortly thereafter