(María Cristina the Elder). Born Apr. 27, 1806, in Naples; died Aug. 23, 1878, in Sainte-Adresse, France. Wife of the Spanish king Ferdinand VII; regent of Spain from 1833 to 1840 (during the reign of Isabella I, her daughter).
The need to find a middle course between the reactionary movement of the Carlists and the popular uprisings during the revolution of 1834-43 forced María Cristina to make concessions to the liberals, including an amnesty after the death of Ferdinand VII (1833) and the restoration (in 1836) of the Constitution of 1812. In 1837, María Cristina adopted reactionary clerical policies, but in 1840 an upsurge of the revolutionary movement forced her to abdicate the regency and emigrate to France. Returning to Spain in 1844 she made speculative investments in railroad construction. In 1854, when a new revolution began in Spain (the revolution of 1854-56), she emigrated to Portugal.