The Society of Jesus was allowed back in Spain - 48 years after Charles III had issued his secret decree ordering the expulsion of the Society. The Jesuits were to return to a very different country than which they had left. The 19th Century was not kind to Spain, they were to lose most of their colonies to rebellion and later on in the century, they were to suffer heavy defeats in Manila and Cuba to the newly formed United States. These humiliations abroad and the waning of imperial power were to be matched by domestic uncertainty and dramatic social and economic transformation.
112 priests and 10 brothers responded to the invitation of Ferdinand VII to return. Ferdinand had handed his throne over to Napoleon, who had in turn placed his brother Joseph Boneparte on the Spanish throne. Proving to be a very unpopular move, and leading to the peninsular war, Ferdinand had been restored to the throne by Napoleon in 1813. However two situations combined to make his rule combustible. Firstly the autocratic nature of his rule and secondly the foreign losses of gold laden galleons and treasure fleets meant that Spain was effectively bankrupt. His invitation to the Jesuits to return turned out to be a poisoned chalice. By 1820, the fragile peace had disintegrated, there was widespread revolt and the King imprisoned.
In 1820 he was forced to accept an anti-clerical constitution, and 25 Jesuits were slain in Madrid. This would mark the first of three diasporas that century, as the political climate ebbed and flowed. The Society became associated with repression and absolutism among the liberals and for the rest of the century, expulsions and reinstatement of Jesuits were hallmarks of Liberal and authoritarian regimes respectively. After each reinstatement the Society proved remarkably resiliient with vocations growing and institutions opening.