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The Spanish empire's vertiginous collapse in the first decades of the nineteenth century has long been a source of historiographical disputes. Historians seeking to explain the demise of Spain's dominion in the Americas and the emergence of independent nation-states have identified certain factors as decisive. Among these are: the coalescence of an anti-colonial, national consciousness among creoles; peninsular misrule and economic mismanagement; and the seismic effects of geopolitical upheaval, particularly the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. This historiographical review recapitulates established explanations, introduces a new wave of scholarship on the subject, and identifies topics that may be crucial for future research.


Corresponding author

Trinity College, Cambridge, CB2


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The author expresses his gratitude to David Brading (Cambridge), Matthew Brown (Bristol), and two anonymous Historical Journal reviewers for detailed, insightful comments and bibliographical suggestions on earlier drafts of this historiographical review. He acknowledges the generous material support provided by Trinity College, the British Academy, and the ‘Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States Universities’.



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1 For review articles written in English, of varying lengths, informed by an array of perspectives, and containing a superabundance of relevant references to the existing scholarly literature, consult Arnade, Charles W., Whitaker, Arthur P., and Diffie, Bailey W., ‘Causes of the Spanish-American wars of independence’, Journal of Inter-American Studies, 2 (1960), pp. 125–44; R. A. Humphreys, ‘The historiography of the Spanish American revolutions’, in Humphreys, Tradition and revolt in Latin America and other essays (London, 1969); Callahan, William J., ‘The disintegration of the Spanish empire’, Latin American Research Review, 17 (1982), pp. 284–92; Brian R. Hamnett, ‘Process and pattern: a re-examination of the Ibero-American independence movements, 1808–1826’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 29 (1997), pp. 279–328; Uribe-Uran, Víctor M., ‘The enigma of Latin American independence: analyses of the last ten years’, Latin American Research Review, 32 (1997), pp. 237–55; Rodríguez O., Jaime E., ‘The emancipation of America’, American Historical Review, 105 (2000), pp. 131–52; and Hensel, Silke, ‘Was there an age of revolution in Latin America? New literature on Latin American independence’, Latin American Research Review, 38 (2003), pp. 237–49.

2 Chris Storrs recently has shown just how sturdy Spain's military was in the late seventeenth century in The resilience of the Spanish monarchy, 1665–1700 (Oxford, 2006).

3 John Lynch, ‘Spanish American independence in recent historiography’, in Anthony McFarlane and Eduardo Posada-Carbó, eds., Independence and revolution in Spanish America: perspectives and problems (London, 1999), p. 41.

4 John Lynch, The Spanish-American revolutions, 1808–1826 (New York, NY, 1973); Richard Graham, Independence in Latin America (2 edn, New York, NY, 1994); and Tulio Halperín-Donghi, Reforma y disolución de los imperios ibéricos (Madrid, 1985).

5 Lord Byron, ‘Childe Harold's pilgrimage’, canto 1, stanzas 86 and 52, in The works of Lord Byron (rev. edn, London, 1899), ii, pp. 78, 56.

6 On the French Revolution's impact in Spain, see Richard Herr, The eighteenth-century revolution in Spain (Princeton, NJ, 1958); Raymond Carr, Spain, 1808–1975 (2 edn, Oxford, 1982), pp. 72–120; and Jean-René Aymes, España y la revolución francesa (Barcelona, 1989); on the Peninsular War, see Charles Esdaile, The peninsular war: a new history (London, 2002), and Fighting Napoleon: guerillas, bandits, and adventurers in Spain, 1808–1814 (New Haven, CT, and London, 2004).

7 For recent histories of the various conservative traditions in Spain, see Carlos Seco Serrano, Historia del conservadurismo español: una línea política integradora en el siglo XIX (Madrid, 2000); and Pedro Carlos González Cuevas, Historia de las derechas españolas: de la ilustración a nuestros días (Madrid, 2000).

8 On Indian policy and its intersection with other Bourbon reform initiatives, David J. Weber, Bárbaros: Spaniards and their savages in the age of enlightenment (New Haven, CT, and London, 2005).

9 Major studies of the Bourbon reforms written in Spanish include: Antonio Álvarez de Morales, Pensamiento político y jurídico de Campomanes (Madrid, 1989); José Carlos Chiaramonte, La ilustración en el Rio de la Plata (Buenos Aires, 1989); Antonio Domínguez Ortíz, Sociedad y estado en el siglo XVIII español (Barcelona, 1976), and Carlos III y la España de la ilustración (Madrid, 1988); Ricardo García Cárcel, ed., Historia de España siglo XVIII: la España de los Borbones (Madrid, 2002); Agustín Guimerá, ed., El reformismo borbónico: una visión interdisciplinar (Madrid, 1996); Francisco Sánchez-Blanco, El absolutismo y las luces en el reinado de Carlos III (Madrid, 2002); and Víctor Peralta Ruiz, Patrones, clientes y amigos: el poder burocrático indiano en la España del siglo XVIII (Madrid, 2006); major studies in English include Kenneth Andrien, The kingdom of Quito, 1690–1830: the state and regional economic development (Cambridge, 1995); Jacques Barbier, Reform and politics in Bourbon Chile, 1755–1796 (Ottowa, 1980); David Brading, Miners and merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810 (Cambridge, 1971), and Brading, ‘Bourbon Spain and its American empire’, in Leslie Bethell, ed., The Cambridge History of Latin America (11 vols., Cambridge, 1984), i; John Fisher, Bourbon Peru, 1750–1824 (Liverpool, 2003); Herr, The eighteenth-century revolution; John Lynch, Spanish colonial administration, 1782–1810: the intendant system in the viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (London, 1958), and Bourbon Spain, 1700–1808 (Oxford, 1989); Anthony McFarlane, Colombia before independence: economy, society and politics under Bourbon rule (Cambridge, 1993); Charles Noel, ‘Charles III of Spain’, in H. M. Scott, ed., Enlightened absolutism: reform and reformers in late eighteenth-century Europe (Basingstoke, 1990); and Stanley Stein and Barbara Stein, Apogee of empire: Spain and New Spain in the age of Charles III, 1759–1789 (Baltimore, MD, and London, 2003).

10 For Buenos Aires, see Jeremy Adelman, Republic of capital: Buenos Aires and the legal transformation of the Atlantic world (Stanford, CA, 1999); for Caracas, P. Michael McKinley, Pre-revolutionary Caracas: politics, economy, and society, 1777–1811 (Cambridge, 1985); for Havana, Allan Kuethe, Cuba, 1753–1815: crown, military, and society (Knoxville, TN, 1986); and Sherry Johnson, The social transformation of eighteenth-century Cuba (Gainesville, FL, 2001).

11 On these schemes, see Lucena-Giraldo, Manuel, ‘Las nuevas poblaciones de Cartagena de Indias, 1774–1794’, Revista de Indias, 53 (1993), pp. 761–81.

12 John H. Coatsworth, ‘Economic and institutional trajectories in nineteenth-century Latin America’, in Coatsworth and Alan M. Taylor, eds., Latin America and the world since 1800 (Cambridge, MA, 1998), p. 26.

13 John Lynch, ‘Origins of Spanish American independence’, in Leslie Bethell, ed., The independence of Latin America (Cambridge, 1987), p. 14.

14 Robert Southey, Letters written during a short residence in Spain and Portugal (2 edn, Bristol, 1799), p. 179.

15 José de Gálvez, quoted in Weber, Bárbaros, p. 162.

16 On one important aspect of the imperial response after the recovery of Havana, see Jennings, Evelyn Powell, ‘War as the “forcing house of change”: state slavery in late-eighteenth-century Cuba’, William and Mary Quarterly, 63 (2005), pp. 411–40.

17 Lynch, ‘Origins’, p. 22.

18 J. H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic world: Britain and Spain in America, 1492–1830 (London and New Haven, CT, 2006), p. 374; for slightly higher estimates, particularly after 1800, see Marichal, Carlos, ‘Beneficios y costes fiscales del colonialismo: las remesas americanas a España, 1760–1814’, Revista de Historia Económica, 15 (1997), pp. 475505.

19 David Ringrose, Spain, Europe, and the ‘Spanish miracle’, 1700–1900 (Cambridge, 1996), p. 122.

20 See Richard Herr, Rural change and royal finance in Spain at the end of the Old Regime (Berkeley, CA, 1989).

21 Aline Helg, Liberty and equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770–1835 (Chapel Hill, NC, and London, 2004), p. 74; on the global impact of prices on war, including those in Spanish America, see O'Rourke, Kevin H., ‘The worldwide impact of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793–1815’, Journal of Global History, 1 (2006), pp. 123–49.

22 Charles Esdaile, Spain in the liberal age: from constitution to civil war, 1808–1939 (Oxford, 2000), pp. 12–17; Ferdinand was bundled off to Talleyrand's estate Valencay while Charles and María Luisa eventually were sent to Italy.

23 Rodríguez O., ‘Emancipation’, p. 144.

24 Rafael Sánchez Mantero, Fernando VII (Madrid, 2001); see also Javier Herrero, Los orígenes del pensamiento reaccionario Español (Madrid, 1988).

25 Quoted in Earle, Rebecca, ‘The Spanish political crisis of 1820 and the loss of New Granada’, Colonial Latin American Historical Review, 3 (1994), p. 279.

26 Alberto Gil Novales, El trienio liberal (Madrid, 1980).

27 Josep Fontana, De en medio del tiempo: la segunda restauración Española, 1823–1834 (Barcelona, 2006).

28 This paragraph draws heavily on François-Xavier Guerra, ‘Lógicas y ritmos de las revoluciones hispánicas’, in Guerra, ed., Revoluciones hispánicas: independencias americanas y liberalismo Español (Madrid, 1995), p. 15; for a classic work on the independence period in national context, see Jaime Eyzaguirre, Ideario y ruta de la emancipación chilena (Santiago, 1957); for a more general overview, which rightly deserves its reputation as the standard account, see Lynch, The Spanish American revolutions; for Guerra's first major revisionist statement, see Modernidad e independencias: ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas (Madrid, 1992).

29 Timothy Anna, Spain and the loss of America (Lincoln, NE, 1983); Anna, ‘Spain and the breakdown of the imperial ethos: the problem of equality’, in David Armitage, ed., Theories of empire, 1450–1800 (Aldershot, 1998).

30 P. K. O'Brien notes that Spanish and Portuguese historians ‘tend to foreground the negative effects [of empire] and to emphasize how constricting institutional developments, attenuated backward and forward linkages to domestic production, and baneful externalities operated to restrain economic growth’; see O'Brien, ‘The global economic history of European overseas expansion’, in Victor Bulmer-Thomas, John H. Coatsworth, and Roberto Cortés Conde, eds., The Cambridge economic history of Latin America (2 vols., Cambridge, 2006), i, p. 12.

31 Lynch, Spanish American revolutions, p. 1.

32 Jaime E. Rodríguez O., The independence of Spanish America (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 1–2.

33 Anthony Pagden, Spanish imperialism and the political imagination: studies in European and Spanish American social and political theory, 1513–1830 (New Haven, CT, and London, 1990), p. 91.

34 Quoted in Rodríguez O., Independence, p. 19.

35 José María Portillo Valdés, Crisis atlántica: autonomía e independencia en la crisis de la monarquía hispana (Madrid, 2006), p. 46.

36 Rodríguez O., Independence, p. 19.

37 Quoted in Guerra ‘Lógicas’, p. 27.

38 Terminology borrowed from Lawrence Stone, The causes of the English revolution, 1529–1642 (London, 1972), p. 57. I thank David Brading for his suggestion that I consult Stone's book in this context.

39 David Brading, ‘The Catholic monarchy’, in Serge Gruzinski and Nathan Wachtel, eds., Le nouveau monde: mondes nouveaux: l'experience americaine (Paris, 1996), pp. 401–2.

40 Colin M. MacLachlan, Spain's empire in the New World: the role of ideas in institutional and social change (Berkeley, CA, 1988), pp. 67, 126; John Leddy Phelan, The people and the king: the Comunero revolution in Colombia, 1781 (Madison, WI, 1978), p. 244.

41 Anthony Pagden, ‘Liberty, honour, and comercio libre: the structure of the debates over the state of the Spanish empire in the eighteenth century’, in Pagden, The uncertainties of empire: essays in Iberian and Ibero-Atlantic history (Aldershot, 1994), pp. 8, 18; for a claim that the introduction of liberal ideas produced a destabilizing effect by undermining the legitimacy of traditional authoritarian modes of politics, see Morse, Richard, ‘Toward a theory of Spanish American politics’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 15 (1954), pp. 7193.

42 Brading, ‘The Catholic monarchy’.

43 Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic world.

44 Brading, ‘Bourbon Spain and its American empire’, pp. 439, 395, 408.

45 Andrien, The kingdom of Quito, pp. 190–1; Andrien points out, however, that, in the long run, such ‘predatory’ policies ‘disrupted business, trade and capital accumulation’.

46 Miles Wortman, Government and society in Central America, 1680–1840 (New York, NY, 1982), pp. 129, 170.

47 Lynch, John, ‘The institutional framework of colonial Spanish America’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 24 (1992), p. 79.

48 J. R. Fisher, A. J. Kuethe, and A. McFarlane, ‘Introduction’, in their Reform and insurrection in Bourbon New Granada and Peru (Baton Rouge, LA, and London, 1990), pp. 1, 4.

49 McFarlane, Colombia Before independence, pp. 2–3, 119.

50 Peggy K. Liss, Atlantic empires: the network of trade and revolution, 1713–1826 (Baltimore, MD, and London, 1983), p. 74; William J. Callahan, Church, politics, and society in Spain, 1750–1874 (London and Cambridge, MA, 1984), p. 4.

51 Stanley Stein and Barbara Stein, The colonial heritage of Latin America: essays on economic dependence in perspective (New York, NY, 1970), pp. 92–3, 103–4.

52 Stein and Stein, Apogee of empire, p. 26.

53 John Coatsworth, ‘The limits of colonial absolutism: the state in eighteenth-century Mexico’, in Karen Spalding, ed., Essays in the political, economic, and social history of colonial Latin America (Newark, DE, 1982), p. 36.

54 Herr, Rural change, p. 44.

55 Antonio García-Baquero González, ‘¿De la mina a la plantación? La nueva estructura del tráfico de importación de la carrera de Indias en la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII’, in his El comercio colonial en la época del absolutismo ilustrado: problemas y debates (Granada, 2003), p. 102.

56 Leando Prados de la Escosura, ‘The economic consequences of independence in Latin America’, in Bulmer-Thomas, Coatsworth, and Conde, eds., Cambridge economic history, p. 480.

57 Mauro Hernández Benítez, ‘Carlos III: un mito progresista’, in Carlos III, Madrid y la ilustración (Madrid, 1988), pp. 8, 22.

58 There is a vast literature on resistance and revolt in the late eighteenth century which has greatly enhanced scholarly understanding: Kenneth Andrien, ‘Economic crisis, taxes and the Quito insurrection of 1765’, Past and Present, 129 (1990), pp. 104–31; McFarlane, Anthony, ‘Rebellions in late colonial Spanish America: a comparative perspective’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 14 (1995), pp. 313–38; Phelan, The people and the king; and, recently, Sergio Serulnikov, Subverting colonial authority: challenges to Spanish rule in the eighteenth-century southern Andes (Durham, NC, and London, 2003).

59 Sinclair Thomson, We alone will rule: native Andean politics in the age of insurgency (Madison, WI, 2002), p. 247.

60 Steve J. Stern, ‘The age of Andean insurrection, 1742–1782: a reappraisal’, in Stern, ed., Resistance, rebellion and consciousness in the Andean peasant world, 18th–20th centuries (London and Madison, WI, 1987), p. 34.

61 Charles F. Walker, Smoldering ashes: Cuzco and the creation of republican Peru, 1780–1840 (Durham, NC, 1999), pp. 21–5.

62 Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic world, p. 319.

63 Phelan, The people and the king, pp. xviii, 7, 17, 239.

64 M. A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler, From impotence to authority: the Spanish crown and the American Audiencias, 1687–1808 (London, 1977); Phelan, The people and the king, p. 17; for a review article which casts doubt on the link between creole resentment and independence movements, see Callahan, ‘The disintegration of the Spanish empire’, pp. 287–91.

65 On seventeenth-century debates about state efforts to ‘intensify royal control and raise more revenue’, see Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo, Politics and reform in Spain and viceregal Mexico: the life and thought of Juan de Palafox, 1600–1659 (Oxford, 2004), p. viii.

66 David Brading, The first America: the Spanish monarchy, creole patriots, and the liberal state, 1492–1867 (Cambridge, 1991), p. 477.

67 Jorge I. Domínguez, Insurrection or loyalty: the breakdown of the Spanish American empire (London and Cambridge, MA, 1980), pp. 2, 82, 253–5; for a critique of the importance of patrimonialism, see Jay Kinsbruner, The Spanish-American independence movement (Malabar, FL, 1973), pp. 45–6.

68 Anthony Pagden and Nicholas Canny, ‘Afterword: from identity to independence’, in Canny and Pagden, eds., Colonial identity in the Atlantic world, 1500–1800 (Princeton, NJ, 1987), pp. 275, 278; also see Pagden, ‘Identity formation in Spanish America’ in the same volume.

69 A view taken by Lynch, ‘Origins’, p. 27.

70 David Brading, Classical republicanism and creole patriotism: Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) and the Spanish American revolutions (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 1, 7; Brading, The origins of Mexican nationalism (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 50, 54; for a full description of development of creole patriotism and its transmutation into incipient nationalism, see Brading, The first America, chs. 12–27; see also Brading, Mexican phoenix: our lady of Guadalupe: image and tradition across five centuries (Cambridge, 2003); Rebecca Earle, while noting that creole patriotism ‘did not occur everywhere in Spanish America’, observes that ‘it is striking that even in areas which seemed to offer little scope for celebrating a glorious Indian past, creole leaders managed to develop a pro-Indian rhetoric in support of Independence’. See her ‘Creole patriotism and the myth of the “loyal Indian”’, Past and Present, 172 (2001), pp. 129–30.

71 As Brading explains, patriot republicans in Mexico desired independence, but they were concerned primarily with a form of constitutional rule that guaranteed political liberty and individual rights. See Brading, ‘El patriotismo criollo y la nación mexicana’, in Cinco miradas británicas a la historia de México (Mexico City, 2000), p. 109.

72 Benedict Anderson, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (rev. edn, London and New York, NY, 1991), p. 6. Anderson claims that ‘pilgrim creole functionaries and provincial creole printmen played the decisive historical role’ in providing a ‘framework for a new consciousness’.

73 An articulation of this orthodoxy may be found in Simon Collier, Ideas and politics of Chilean independence, 1808–1833 (Cambridge, 1967): ‘what cannot be doubted is that the modern principles elaborated by the great enlightenment thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic formed the main source from which the creole generation of 1810–33 drew its inspiration’, p. 168; some standard accounts place very little emphasis on ‘ideology’ as a ‘cause’ of Spanish American revolutions and instead emphasize the role of ‘creole-peninsular rivalry’ and ‘internal and external economic pressures’. See, for example, David Bushnell, ‘The independence of Spanish South America’, in Bethell, ed., The independence of Latin America, p. 105.

74 Crawley, C. W., ‘French and English influences in the Cortes of Cádiz, 1810–1814’, Cambridge Historical Journal, 6 (1939), p. 206; Warren Diem, ‘Las fuentes de la constitución de Cádiz’, in María Isabel Arraizu et al., eds., Estudios sobre las Cortes de Cádiz (Pamplona, 1967), p. 390; for a critique of historical narratives that emphasize Spanish American ‘failure’, see Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Puritan conquistadors: iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550–1700 (Stanford, CA, 2006).

75 Francisco de Saavedra, quoted in Anthony McFarlane, ‘The American revolution and the Spanish monarchy’, in Simon P. Newman, Europe's American revolution (Basingstoke, 2006), pp. 43–4.

76 McFarlane, ‘The American revolution’, pp. 44–5; Lynch, ‘Origins’, pp. 41–3; compare with Kenneth Maxwell's magnificent Conflicts and conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal, 1750–1808 (London and New York, NY, 2004), which treats roughly the same period in Brazil.

77 Andrés Muriel, Gobierno del Señor Rey Don Carlos III, o instrucción reservada para dirección de la Junta de Estado (Madrid, 1839), pp. 3, 79.

78 Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo, Historia de los heterodoxos españoles (Madrid, 1992), pp. 674, 700; Herr, Richard, ‘The twentieth-century Spaniard views the Spanish enlightenment’, Hispania, 45 (1962), p. 184.

79 Daniel Mornet, Les origines intellectuelles de la révolution française, 1718–1787 (Paris, 1933).

80 Sonenscher, Michael, ‘Enlightenment and revolution’, Journal of Modern History, 70 (1998), p. 371.

81 Herr, The eighteenth-century revolution; Jean Sarrailh, La España ilustrada de la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII (Mexico City, 1957).

82 Andrews, George Reid, ‘Spanish American independence: a structural analysis’, Latin American Perspectives, 12 (1985), pp. 105–32.

83 George Reid Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 1800–2000 (New York, NY, and Oxford, 2004), p. 49.

84 Lynch, ‘Origins’, pp. 28–30; on the impact of the Haitian Revolution in Spanish America, see chapters by Aline Helg, Matt Childs, and Marixa Lasso, in David Geggus, ed., The impact of the Haitian revolution in the Atlantic world (Columbia, SC, 2001); and for the wider impact, Robin Blackburn, ‘Haiti, slavery, and the age of democratic revolutions’, William and Mary Quarterly, 63 (2006), pp. 643–74.

85 Quoted in Kenneth Maxwell, ‘The Atlantic in the eighteenth century: a southern perspective on the need to return to the “big picture”’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. 3 (1993), p. 232.

86 Jeremy Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton, NJ, 2006), p. 7–8.

87 Regina Grafe and María Alejandra Irigoin, ‘The Spanish empire and its legacy: fiscal redistribution and political conflict in colonial and post-colonial Spanish America’, Journal of Global History, 1 (2006), pp. 241–67 passim; Carlos Marichal and Matilde Souto Mantecón previously estimated that ‘remittances sent by the Royal Treasury of New Spain during the eighteenth century to the Caribbean military posts tended to surpass the value of the royal silver transferred annually to the metropolis’ in ‘Silver and situados: New Spain and the financing of the Spanish empire in the Caribbean in the eighteenth century’, Hispanic American Historical Review, 74 (1994), pp. 588–9.

88 Ivan Valdez Bubnov, ‘Naval power and state modernisation: Spanish shipbuilding in the eighteenth century’ (Ph.D diss., Cambridge, 2005), p. 293.

89 Elliott, John H., ‘A Europe of composite monarchies’, Past and Present, 137 (1992), p. 57.

90 Jordana Dym and Christophe Belaubre, ‘Introduction’, in Dym and Belaubre, eds., Politics, economy, and society in Bourbon Central America, 1759–1821 (Boulder, CO, 2007), p. 8.

91 Jordana Dym, From sovereign villages to national states: city, state, and federation in Central America, 1759–1839 (Albuquerque, NM, 2006), p. 35.

92 Paquette, Gabriel, ‘State-civil society cooperation and conflict in the Spanish empire: the intellectual and political activities of the ultramarine consulados and economic societies, c. 1780–1810’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 39 (2007), pp. 263–98 passim.

93 On the response in the Iberian Atlantic to the revolt in British North America, see McFarlane, ‘The American revolution’, pp. 34–41; and Kenneth Maxwell, ‘The impact of the American revolution on Spain and Portugal and their empires’, in Jack P. Greene and J. R. Pole, eds., A companion to the American revolution (Oxford, 2003).

94 Uribe-Uran, Víctor M., ‘The birth of a public sphere in Latin America during the age of revolution’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42 (2000), pp. 425–57; Bleichmar, Daniela, ‘Exploration in print: books and botanical travel from Spain to the Americas in the late eighteenth century’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 70 (2007), pp. 129–51; Renán Silva, Los ilustrados de Nueva Granada, 1760–1808: genealogía de una comunidad de intrepretación (Medellín, 2002); for a panoramic view with valuable references to recent scholarly literature, see Carlos Martínez Shaw, ‘El despotismo ilustrado en España y en las Indias’, in Manuel Chust and Víctor Mínguez, eds., El imperio sublevado: monarquía y naciones en España e Hispanoamérica (Madrid, 2004).

95 Paula De Vos, ‘Natural history and the pursuit of empire in eighteenth-century Spain’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 40 (2007), pp. 209–39; for the broader context of the interpenetration of science and politics, see Juan Pimentel, La fisica de la monarquía: ciencia y política en el pensamiento de Alejandro Malaspina (1754–1810) (Madrid, 1998); on the discourse of improvement in eighteenth-century Europe, see Richard Drayton, Nature's government: science, imperial Britain and the ‘improvement’ of the world (New Haven, CT, and London, 2000).

96 Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution, p. 124.

97 Hamnett, ‘Process and pattern’, p. 287.

98 Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution, p. 347.

99 See Anthony McFarlane, ‘Identity, enlightenment, and political dissent in late colonial Spanish America’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. 8 (1998), p. 322.

100 Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution, p. 53.

101 Garrett, David T., ‘“His majesty's most loyal vassals”: the Indian nobility and Túpac Amaru’, Hispanic American Historical Review, 84 (2004), p. 580; the findings of Garrett and McFarlane run counter to Stern's interpretation: ‘during the years 1742–1782, the colonial authorities contended with more than local riots and abortive revolutionary conspiracies … they now contended with the more immediate threat or reality of full-scale civil war, war that structured the wider structure of colonial rule and privilege’, see Stern, ‘Age of Andean insurrection’, p. 35.

102 Fisher, John, ‘Commerce and imperial decline: Spanish trade with Spanish America, 1797–1820’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 30 (1998), p. 479.

103 Rodríguez O., Independence, p. 35.

104 François-Xavier Guerra, ‘Forms of communication, political spaces, and cultural identities in the creation of Spanish American nations’, in Sara Castro-Klarén and John Charles Chasteen, eds., Beyond imagined communities: reading and writing the nation in nineteenth-century Latin America (Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD, 2003), p. 15.

105 Rodríguez O., ‘Emancipation’, p. 145.

106 For a lucid summary and analysis of these pan-European debates, see John Robertson, The case for the enlightenment: Scotland and Naples, 1680–1760 (Cambridge, 2005), ch. 1; for recent treatments of aspects of the Ibero-Atlantic enlightenment, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, How to write the history of the New World: histories, epistemologies and identities in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world (Stanford, CA, 2001), and ‘Eighteenth-century Spanish political economy: epistemology of decline’, Eighteenth-Century Thought, 1 (2003), pp. 295–314; Eduardo Bello and Antonio Rivera, eds., La actitud ilustrada (Valencia, 2002); Chiaramonte, La Ilustración en el Río de la Plata; Enrique Fuentes Quintana, ed., Economía y economistas españoles, iii: La ilustración (Barcelona, 2000); see F. Sánchez-Blanco, La mentalidad ilustrada (Madrid, 1999); and D. Soto Arango, M. A. Puig-Samper and C. Arboleda, La ilustración en América colonia:bibliografía crítica (Madrid, 1995); for recent trends and tendencies in Spanish historiography, see Cabrera, Miguel A., ‘Developments in contemporary Spanish historiography: from social history to the new cultural history’, Journal of Modern History, 77 (2005), pp. 9881023.

107 Maxwell, ‘Atlantic’, p. 213.

108 T. C. W. Blanning, Reform and revolution in Mainz, 1743–1803 (Cambridge, 1974), pp. 34–7; see also Kenneth Maxwell, Pombal: paradox of the enlightenment (Cambridge, 1995).

109 T. C. W. Blanning, The culture of power and the power of culture: old regime Europe, 1660–1789 (Oxford and New York, NY, 2001), p. 13.

110 Anthony McFarlane, ‘Science and sedition in Spanish America: New Granada in the age of revolution, 1776–1810’, in Susan Manning and Peter France, eds., Enlightenment and emancipation (Bucknell, PA, 2006), pp. 105, 111–12.

111 Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution, p. 146; this view was anticipated, but not developed, by A. P. Whitaker: ‘it is a post hoc fallacy resulting in the teleological subordination of the enlightenment to the political revolutions in Europe and America and that it produces a narrow, static and misleading picture of that rich and ever changing cultural moment’; see Whitaker, ‘Changing and unchanging interpretations of the enlightenment in Spanish America’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 114 (1970), p. 257.

112 Roger Chartier, The cultural origins of the French Revolution (Durham, NC, and London, 1991), p. 16. For example, as Chartier elucidates, the ‘new mode of reading’, even of texts which were ‘in total conformity with religious and political order, developed a critical attitude freed from the ties of dependence that underlay earlier representations’, p. 91.

113 Silva, Los ilustrados de Nueva Granada, 1760–1800, pp. 583, 645–6.

114 Alan Knight, ‘Is political culture good to think?’, in Nils Jacobsen and Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada, eds., Political cultures in the Andes, 1750–1950 (Durham, NC, and London, 2005), p. 39.

115 John Lynch, Simón Bolívar: a life (New Haven, CT, and London, 2006), p. 36; for an example of this earlier tendency to accentuate the origins of Bolívar's thought, see J. B. Trend, Bolívar and the independence of Spanish America (London, 1946), esp. pp. 141, 208–9.

116 Dym, From sovereign villages to national states, p. xxvi.

117 José Carlos Chiaramonte, Nación y estado en IberoAmérica: el lenguaje político en tiempos de las independencias (Buenos Aires, 2004), p. 164; of course, the prevalence of these influences was recognized long ago, but simply fell out of fashion as attempts were made to integrate Spanish American Independence into a broader, Anglo-American, and French-inspired ‘age of revolution’. For earlier contributions, see Manuel Giménez Fernández, Las doctrinas populistas de la independencia de Hispano-América (Seville, 1947); Rafael Gómez Hoyos, La revolución granadina de 1810: ideario de una generación y una época, 1781–1821 (2 vols., Bogotá, 1962); and O. Carlos Stoetzer, The scholastic roots of the Spanish American revolution (New York, 1979); on the political thought of the American deputies to the Cortes of Cádiz, see Marie Laure Rieu-Millan, Los diputados americanos en las Cortes de Cádiz: igualdad o independencia (Madrid, 1990).

118 José Andrés-Gallego, ‘La pluralidad de referencias políticas’, in Guerra, ed., Revoluciones hispánicas, p. 142.

119 Joaquín Varela Suances-Carpegna, La teoria del estado en los origenes del constitucionalismo hispanico (Las Cortes de Cádiz) (Madrid, 1983); for a succinct and revealing analysis of historical constitutionalism in Spain, see Brading, Origins, pp. 39–41; for a recent assessment of the intellectual origins of liberalism in the Spanish monarchy, see María Teresa García Godoy, Las Cortes de Cádiz y América: el primer vocabulario liberal español e mejicano (1810–1814) (Seville, 1998).

120 Josep Fontana, La crisis del antiguo régimen, 1808–1833 (Barcelona, 1979), pp. 16–17; Herr noted that as disenchantment with enlightened despotism grew in 1790s, reformers rediscovered ‘that Spain had a constitution and legislative body [i.e. the Cortes], that under this body the nation had seen its greatest days, and that the House of Habsburg, to establish despotism, had destroyed the constitution and brought the ruin of Spain’, in Eighteenth-century revolution, pp. 336–47; Manuel Moreno Alonso remarked that the 1812 Constitution reflected ‘traditionalism and a specifically Spanish medievalism’, in La generación española de 1808 (Madrid, 1989), p. 223.

121 Silva, Los ilustrados de Nueva Granada, 1760–1808, p. 339; Guerra, ‘Forms of communication, political spaces, and cultural identities’, pp. 5–6.

122 Rebecca Earle, ‘The role of print in the Spanish American wars of independence’, in Iván Jaksić, ed., The political power of the word: press and oratory in nineteenth-century Latin America (London, 2002), p. 28.

123 Claudio Lomnitz, ‘Nationalism as a practical system: Benedict Anderson's theory of nationalism from the vantage point of Spanish America’, in Miguel Angel Centeno and Fernando López-Alves, eds., The other mirror: grand theory through the lens of Latin America (Princeton, NJ, and Oxford, 2001), p. 336; in another book, Centeno disputed whether nationalism existed in the early nineteenth century Latin America: ‘[there was] a great deal of regionalism, racism, patriotism, but little nationalism’; see his Blood and debt: war and the nation-state in Latin America (University Park, PA, 2002), p. 170.

124 Brown, Matthew, ‘Not forging nations but foraging for them: uncertain collective identities in Gran Colombia’, Nations and Nationalism, 12 (2006), p. 236; Nicola Miller has argued that in spite of criticism of Anderson, his idea of the nation as a cultural as opposed to an ideological or bureaucratic construct helped to suggest that ‘state-building and nation-creation were related processes, operating in parallel’ in ‘The historiography of nationalism and national identity in Latin America’, Nations and Nationalism, 12 (2006), p. 212.

125 Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution, p. 54.

126 Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution, pp. 73–7, 83; Adelman's discussion of the increasing autonomy of the South Atlantic's economy, with its links to both slavery and merchant capital, draws on work of, among others, Joseph C. Miller, Way of death: merchant capitalism and the Angolan slave trade, 1730–1830 (London, 1988), and João Fragoso and Manolo Florentino, O arcaísmo como projeto: mercado atlântico, sociedade agrária e elite mercantil em uma economia colonial tardia: Rio de Janeiro, c. 1790–1840 (4 edn, Rio de Janeiro, 2001).

127 François-Xavier Guerra, ‘La desintegración de la monarquía hispánica: revolución de independencia’, in François-Xavier Guerra, L. Castro Leiva and A. Annino, eds., De los imperios a las naciones: IberoAmérica (Zaragoza, 1994), pp. 198–9.

128 For a flavour of the varieties and distinct approaches to Atlantic History, see J. H. Elliott, The old world and the new, 1492–1650 (Cambridge, 1970), esp. ch. 4; Maxwell, ‘The Atlantic in the eighteenth century’; Bailyn, Bernard, ‘The idea of Atlantic history’, Itinerario, 20 (1996), pp. 1944; and David Armitage, ‘Three concepts of Atlantic history’, in Armitage and M. J. Braddick, eds., The British Atlantic world, 1500–1800 (New York, NY, 2002); for recent critique of certain approaches to Atlantic History, see Coclanis, Peter A., ‘Drang nach osten: Bernard Bailyn, the world-island, and the idea of Atlantic history’, Journal of World History, 13 (2002), pp. 169–82.

129 As Cañizares-Esguerra trenchantly observed, Atlantic History's ‘trope of discontinuities introduces intolerable distortions when it comes to Latin America … by buying into the narrative of the dawn of the new age, historians of the region find themselves having to grapple with questions of decline and failure’, a tendency to ‘harp on exploitation and revolution’. See his Puritan conquistadors, pp. 231, 233.

130 Benton, Lauren, ‘No longer the odd region out: repositioning Latin America in world history’, Hispanic American Historical Review, 84 (2004), p. 428.

131 See for example, Jaime E. Rodríguez O., ‘Introduction’, in Rodríguez O., ed., Revolución, independencia y las nuevas naciones de América (Madrid, 2005), p. 15.

132 François-Xavier Guerra, ‘Identidad y soberanía: una relación compleja’, in Guerra, ed., Revoluciones hispánicas, pp. 231, 236–7.

133 Francisco Colom González, ‘El trono vacío: la imaginación política y la crisis constitucional de la monarquía hispánica’, in Francisco Colom González, ed., Relatos de nación: la construcción de las identidades nacionales en el mundo hispánico (Madrid and Frankfurt, 2005), p. 39; this view is gaining adherents: in Central America, Dym argues, ‘independence was a matter of municipal pronouncement and coordination among extant authorities on a case-by-case basis rather than a concerted decision made in one place by one person or group of persons’. See Dym, From sovereign villages to national states, p. 159.

134 Guerra affirms this conclusion: ‘The pueblos were the only certain political reality in America … only with their consent could there emerge a political unity of a higher order’; see Guerra, ‘La desintegración de la monarquía hispánica’, p. 222; also see Dym, From sovereign villages to national states, p. xxvi.

135 Miguel Artola, Antiguo régimen y revolución liberal (Barcelona, 1978), p. 161.

136 Guerra, ‘Lógicas’, pp. 22, 16–19; on image of Ferdinand VII and its multiple uses, see Victor Mínguez, ‘Fernando VII: un rey imaginado para una nación inventada’, in Rodríguez O., ed., Revolución; for a book that argues that the name of the king was invoked only to ‘mask’ the genuine pursuit of independence, see Marco Antonio Landavazo, La máscara de Fernando VII: discurso e imaginario monarquicos en una época de crisis: nueva España, 1808–1822 (Mexico City, 2001); for an excellent study of the political culture of Peru in the period following 1808, see Víctor Peralta Ruiz, En defensa de la autoridad: política y cultura bajo el gobierno de virrey Abascal. Perú, 1806–1816 (Madrid, 2002).

137 Portillo, Crisis atlántica, pp. 65–8.

138 Michael P. Costeloe, Response to revolution: imperial Spain and the Spanish American revolutions, 1810–1840 (Cambridge, 1986), p. 7.

139 Quoted in Rebecca Earle, Spain and the independence of Colombia, 1810–1825 (Exeter, 2000), p. 154.

140 Anna, Spain and the loss of America, p. xv; this view has been adopted by more recent scholars, including Earle, who argues that ‘Spain never developed a coherent strategy for responding to its revolted colonies, and attempted to pursue simultaneously a collection of often contradictory policies’. She concludes that ‘Spain lost the war of independence as surely as Spain won it’. See Earle, Spain, pp. 4, 6.

141 For an excellent account of tactics of the Spanish Army in this period, see Earle, Spain, pp. 30–103 passim. Though 41,000 is not an inconsiderable figure, recall that 35,000 Spaniards died in the single battle of Ocaña (1809).

142 See Dym, From sovereign villages to national states, pp. 110–26; this new view was anticipated by Brian Hamnett who convincingly showed that the Cádiz ‘liberals inherited many of the policies of enlightened absolutism … they sought to strengthen the Bourbon unitary state both in the peninsula and the Indies’. See Hamnett, ‘Constitutional theory and political reality: liberalism, traditionalism, and the Spanish Cortes, 1810–1814’, Journal of Modern History, 49 On Demand Supplement (1977), p. D1110.

143 Portillo, Crisis atlántica, pp. 103, 158; this tendency to question Spanish liberalism goes against the scholarly grain: as Isabel Burdiel noted ‘there has been a profound revision of the “myth of failure” as a leitmotiv of Spanish history and historiography. Historians now seriously question the image of social, economic and political stagnation associated with nineteenth-century Spain’: Burdiel, ‘Myths of failure, myths of success: new perspectives on nineteenth-century Spanish liberalism’, Journal of Modern History, 70 (1998), p. 894.

144 Guerra ‘Lógicas’, p. 25.

145 Christine Duffy, ‘The American delegates at the Cortes de Cádiz: citizenship, sovereignty, nationhood’ (M.Phil diss., Cambridge, 1995), pp. 11–12, 30; on these debates see Manuel Chust, ‘El rey para el pueblo, la constitución para la nación’, in Chust and Mínguez, eds., El imperio sublevado; for a brilliant overview of notions of citizenship in the Spanish Atlantic world, see Tamar Herzog, Defining nations: immigrants and citizens in early modern Spain and Spanish America (New Haven, CT, and London, 2003).

146 Lluís Roura, ‘Guerra y ocupación francesa: ¿Freno o estímulo a la revolución española?’, in Manuel Chust and Ivana Frasquet, eds., La transcendencia del liberalismo doceañista en España y en América (Valencia, 2004), p. 28.

147 Rodríguez, ‘Emancipation’, p. 145.

148 Manuel Chust, ‘América y el problema federal en las Cortes de Cádiz’, in Manuel Chust and José A. Piqueras, eds., Republicanos y repúblicas en España (Madrid, 1996), p. 56.

149 Manuel Chust, ‘Rey, soberanía y nación: las Cortes doceañistas hispanas, 1810–1814’, in Chust and Frasquet, eds., Transcendencia del liberalismo doceañista, p. 59.

150 Chust, ‘América y el problema federal’, pp. 57, 60.

151 Chust, ‘Rey, soberanía y nación’, p. 55; on the different uses of ‘nación’, see Varela Suances-Carpegna, La teoria del estado, p. 430.

152 Chiaramonte, Nación y estado, pp. 37–8.

153 Guerra, ‘Forms of communication, political spaces, and cultural identities’, p. 32.

154 José Carlos Chiaramonte, ‘El mito de los orígenes en la historiografía latinoamericana’, Cuadernos del Instituto Ravignani [Buenos Aires], 2 (1991), p. 20.

155 José Carlos Chiaramonte and Nora Souto, ‘De la ciudad a la nación: las vicisitudes de la organización política argentina y los fundamentos de la conciencia nacional’, in Colom González, ed., Relatos de nación, p. 312.

156 Guerra, ‘Forms of communication, political spaces, and cultural identities’, p. 32.

157 Dym, From sovereign villages to national states, p. xxv.

158 Clèment Thibaud, Repúblicas en armas: los ejércitos bolivarianos en la guerra de independencia en Colombia y Venezuela (Bogotá, 2003), pp. 12–13, 519.

159 Elliott, ‘A Europe of composite monarchies’, p. 51.

160 Ibid., p. 51; C. A. Bayly suggests that the ‘jumble of rights, privileges, [and] local autonomies’ may be observed on a global scale in this same period. See Bayly, The birth of the modern world, 1780–1914 (Oxford, 2004), p. 33.

161 José Carlos Chiaramonte, ‘Modificaciones del pacto imperial’, in Guerra, Castro Leiva, and Annino, eds., De los imperios a las naciones, p. 108.

162 Portillo, Crisis atlántica, pp. 56–7.

163 Chiaramonte, Nación y estado, pp. 20–1; Chiaramonte and Souto, ‘De la ciudad a la nación’, p. 317.

164 Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution, p. 391. Adelman rightly notes that ‘what was so labyrinthine [about the independence period] was the quest to create new foundations for social life while old rules and norms decomposed’, p. 2.

165 Lynch, Simón Bolívar, pp. 99, 76; on phenomenon of the caudillo, see Lynch, Caudillos in Spanish America, 1800–1850 (Oxford, 1992).

166 Centeno, Blood and debt, pp. 156–7.

167 Uribe-Uran, ‘The enigma of Latin American independence’, p. 255.

168 Eric Van Young, The other rebellion: popular violence, ideology and the Mexican struggle for independence, 1810–1821 (Stanford, CA, 2001).

169 Marixa Lasso, ‘Revisiting independence day: Afro-Colombian politics and creole patriot narratives, Cartagena, 1809–1815’, in Mark Thurner and Andrés Guerrero, eds., After Spanish rule: postcolonial predicaments of the Americas (Durham, NC, and London, 2003), pp. 229–39; nevertheless, as Florencia Mallon observes, ‘nowhere in the region has a new and inclusive national project emerged’. See Mallon, ‘Decoding the parchments of the nation-state in Latin America: Peru, Mexico and Chile’, in James Dunkerley, ed., Studies in the formation of the nation-state in Latin America (London, 2002), p. 19.

170 Key examples include Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic world; Adelman, Sovereignty and revolution; and Hamnett, ‘Process and pattern’.

171 On the concept of ‘entangled histories’, its historiographical pedigree, and its relation to comparative and transnational history, see Gould, Eliga H., ‘Entangled histories, entangled worlds: the English-speaking Atlantic as a Spanish periphery’, American Historical Review, 112 (2007), p. 766.

172 Among the works which examine these themes, see J. Fred Rippy, Rivalry of the United States and Great Britain over Latin America (1808–1830) (Baltimore, MD, 1929); William Spence Robertson, France and Latin American independence (Baltimore, MD, 1939); William W. Kaufmann, British policy and the independence of Latin America, 1804–1828 (New Haven, CT, 1951); John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson, ‘The imperialism of free trade’ [1953], in John Gallagher, The decline, revival and fall of the British empire: the Ford lectures and other essays, ed. Anil Seal (Cambridge, 1982); H. S. Ferns, Britain and Argentina in the nineteenth century (Oxford, 1960); Harold Temperley, The foreign policy of Canning, 1822–1827: England, the Neo-Holy alliance and the New World (London, 1966); John Lynch, ‘British policy and Spanish America, 1783–1808’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 1 (1969), pp. 1–30; Stein and Stein, The colonial heritage of Latin America; D. C. M. Platt, Latin America and British trade, 1806–1914 (London, 1972); Peter Winn, ‘British informal empire in Uruguay in the nineteenth century’, Past and Present, 73 (1976), pp. 100–26; Ron Seckinger, The Brazilian monarchy and the South American republics, 1822–1831 (Baton Rouge, LA, 1984); D. A. G. Waddell, ‘British neutrality and Spanish American independence: the problem of foreign enlistment’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 19 (1987), pp. 1–19; Nicole Bousquet, ‘The decolonization of Spanish America in the early nineteenth century: a world systems approach’, Review [Binghamton], 11 (1988), pp. 497–531; Frank Griffith Dawson, The first Latin American debt crisis: the city of London and the 1822–25 loan bubble (New Haven, CT, and London, 1990), Rory Miller, Britain and Latin America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (London, 1993); A. G. Hopkins, ‘Informal empire in Argentina: an alternative view’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 26 (1994), pp. 469–84; James E. Lewis, The American union and the problem of neighborhood: the United States and the collapse of the Spanish empire, 1783–1829 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1998); Alan Knight, ‘Britain and Latin America’, in Andrew Porter, ed., The Oxford history of the British empire, iii: The nineteenth century (Oxford, 1999), pp. 122–45; and Gabriel Paquette, ‘The intellectual context of British diplomatic recognition of the South American republics, c. 1800–1830’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, 2 (2004), pp. 75–95.

173 Matthew Brown, Adventuring through Spanish colonies: Simón Bolívar, foreign mercenaries, and the birth of new nations (Liverpool, 2006), pp. 4, 216; on the impact of British books and the book trade on the formation of new identities, see Eugenia Roldán Vera, The British book trade and Spanish American independence: education and knowledge transmission in transcontinental perspective (Aldershot, 2003), esp. chs. 2, 5, and 6.

174 As Rafe Blaufarb suggests, ‘the activities of foreign revolutionaries, mercenaries, spies and freebooters who lurked in the back alleys of Latin American Independence furnish material for a transnational diplomatic history “from below” in which states figure as just one among several types of actor’; see Blaufarb, ‘The western question: the geopolitics of Latin American independence’, American Historical Review, 112 (2007), p. 743.

175 For a glimpse into this debate, see German Carrera Damas's essay ‘¿Independencia fue una revolución?’, in his Cuestiones de historiografia venezolana (Caracas, 1964), particularly pp. 123–4.

176 Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad (Mexico City, 2002), p. 131.

177 Brooke Larson, Trials of nation making: liberalism, race and ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910 (Cambridge, 2004), p. 34.

178 Paul Gootenberg, Between silver and guano: commercial policy and the state in postindependence Peru (Princeton, NJ, 1989), p. 33.

179 Larson, Trials of nation making, p. 34; even features of colonial legislation were maintained, including the patronato power over ecclesiastical appointments. With reference to Colombia, see Jaime Jaramillo Uribe, El pensamiento colombiano en el siglo XIX (rev. edn, Bogotá, 1996), esp. part i, ‘La evaluación de la herencia española y el problema de la orientación espiritual de la nación’.

180 Elizabeth Dore, Myths of modernity: peonage and patriarchy in Nicaragua (Durham, NC, and London, 2006), pp. 70–1.

181 Mark Thurner, From two republics into one divided: contradictions of postcolonial nationmaking in Andean Peru (Durham, NC, and London, 1997), p. 3.

182 Larson, Trials of nation making, pp. 41–5; of course, scholars must avoid the ‘teleological traps’, ‘essentialist formulations’, and implication of ‘transhistorical immutabilities’ when they analyse the legacies of colonialism in the national period. For an excellent discussion, see Jeremy Adelman, ‘Preface’ and ‘Introduction: The problem of persistence in Latin American history’, in Adelman, ed., Colonial legacies: the problem of persistence in Latin American history (New York, NY, and London, 1999), pp. x–xi, 12–13.

183 Fernando López-Alves, State formation and democracy in Latin America, 1810–1900 (Durham, NC, and London, 2000), p. 80.

184 Fontana, La crisis del antiguo régimen, p. 29; Costeloe, Response to revolution, p. 150; Juan Sempere y Guarinos captured the prevailing pessimistic mood which pervaded subsequent historiography: ‘the emancipation of Spain's colonies … would be a most ruinous blow to the metropolis not only for the loss of silver from its inexhaustible mines, but rather because of the loss of markets for peninsular products and manufactures, which will lose out to foreign competitors, particularly England’. See Consideraciones sobre las causas de la grandeza y la decadencia de la monarquía española [1826] (Alicante, 1998), p. 235.

185 Leandro Prados de la Escosura, De imperio a nación: crecimiento y atraso económico en España (1780–1930) (Madrid, 1988), pp. 30–1, 93, 243; this view has been challenged by Jordi Malaquer de Motes, who argued that it was only after relinquishing its last colonies in 1898 that Spain's economic modernization began in earnest, emerging from defeat at the hands of the United States with little foreign debt and a devalued peseta, both of which created conditions for increased investment in the peninsular economy. See his España en la crisis de 1898: de la gran depresión a la modernización económica del siglo XX (Barcelona, 1999). For a review of the most recent literature on this topic, see Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, ‘Silver, slaves, and sugar: the persistence of Spanish colonialism from absolutism to liberalism’, Latin American Research Review, 39 (2004), pp. 196–210.

186 Technically, final military defeat occurred with the surrender of the fortress of Callao, Peru, on 23 Jan. 1826. Negotiations to recognize the independence of new American states were opened in 1835 with those nations which chose to apply: Mexico (1836), Ecuador (1840), Chile (1844), Venezuela (1845), Bolivia (1847), and so on. Honduras was the last (1895). See Anna, Spain and the loss of America, p. 294; and M. A. Burkholder and L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America (6 edn, Oxford and New York, NY, 2006), p. 377

187 Most notably its spectacular, failed invasion of Mexico in 1829, successful reincorporation of Santo Domingo (1861–5), 1864 seizure of Peru's guano-producing Chincha islands, and 1866 bombardment of Valparaiso, Chile; on the latter two episodes, see the well-researched but somewhat outdated book by William Columbus Davis, The last conquistadores: the Spanish intervention in Peru and Chile, 1863–1866 (Athens, GA, 1950).

188 Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, Empire and antislavery: Spain, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, 1833–1874 (Pittsburgh, PA, 1999), pp. 2–5; slave figure is from 1862. The 1870s figure is difficult to ascertain due to the advent of the Ten Years War (1868–78). See Laird Bergad, Fe Iglesias García and María del Carmen Barcia, The Cuban slave market, 1790–1880 (Cambridge, 1995), p. 32.

189 Quoted in Sebastian Balfour, The end of the Spanish empire, 1898–1923 (Oxford, 1997), p. 7.

190 Schmidt-Nowara, Empire and antislavery, pp. 15, 54–7, 70.

191 Earle, ‘Creole patriotism’, pp. 125–45 passim. Of course, as Anthony Pagden points out, there were dissident voices: Bolívar, notably, found anathema what he considered an irrationalism patriotism based on an illusory and savage past, fuelled by a radical, fanatical Catholicism. See Pagden, ‘The end of empire: Simón Bolívar and the liberal republic’, in Pagden, Spanish imperialism and the political imagination, p. 138.

192 Rebecca Earle, ‘Sobre héroes y tumbas: national symbols in nineteenth-century Spanish America’, Hispanic American Historical Review, 85 (2005), pp. 375–416; As Earle elucidates, ‘within decades of independence, some politicians had begun to use the purported apathy of the populace, supposedly demonstrated during the war, to justify restrictions to political power’. See Earle, ‘Creole patriotism’, p. 144.

193 Centeno, Blood and debt, p. 207.

194 Jeremy Adelman, ‘Colonialism and national histories: José Manuel Restrepo and Bartolomé Mitre’, in Christopher Schmidt-Nowara and J. M. Nieto-Phillips, eds., Interpreting Spanish colonialism: empires, nations and legends (Albuquerque, NM, 2005), pp. 183–4; for an analytical survey of Argentine efforts to understand colonial legacies in the national period, see Tulio Halperín-Donghi, ‘Argentines ponder the burden of the past’, in Adelman, ed., Colonial legacies; for Chile, see Wood, James, ‘The French and Chilean revolutions in the imagination of Francisco Bilbao, 1842–1851’, Atlantic Studies, 3 (2006), pp. 723.

195 Coatsworth, ‘Economic and institutional trajectories’, p. 41.

196 On historiographical disputes in nineteenth-century Spain, see José Álvarez Junco, Mater dolorosa: la idea de España en el siglo XIX (Madrid, 2001).

197 Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, The conquest of history: Spanish colonialism and national histories in the nineteenth century (Pittsburgh, PA, 2006), pp. 40–1; this tendency, of course, was a revival of eighteenth-century Spanish attempts to counter the ‘black legend’ concerning Spain's rapacious conduct in the conquest and colonization of the New World. See María Teresa Nava Rodríguez, ‘Robertson, Juan Bautista Muñoz y la academia de la historia’, Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 187 (1990), pp. 435–56; Ricardo García Cárcel, La leyenda negra: historia y opinión (Madrid, 1992); Cañizares-Esguerra, How to write the history of the New World; and Javier Yagüe Bosch, ‘Defensa de España y conquista de América en el siglo XVIII: Cadalso y Forner’, Dieciocho, 28 (2005), pp. 121–40.

198 José Ortega y Gasset, España invertebrada: bosquejo de algunos pensamientos históricos (Madrid, 1922), pp. 163–5. He lamented, however, that it was accomplished without ‘conscious aim’ or ‘deliberate tactics’ and failed to endow the pueblos it ‘engendered’ with ‘superior discipline, cultura vivaz or progressive civilization’.

199 Antonio Feros, ‘“Spain and America: all is one”: historiography of the conquest and colonization of the Americas and national mythology in Spain, c. 1892–1992’, in Schmidt-Nowara and Nieto-Phillips, eds., Interpreting Spanish colonialism, pp. 112, 127.

200 Christopher Schmidt-Nowara and Josep M. Fradera, ‘After “Spain”: a dialogue with Josep M. Fradera on Spanish colonial historiography’, in Antoinette Burton, ed., After the imperial turn: thinking with and through the nation (Durham, NC, and London, 2003), p. 166.

201 For examples of these new directions, see Grafe and Irigoin, ‘The Spanish empire and its legacy’; and Gabriel Paquette, Enlightenment, governance, and reform in Spain and its empire, 1759–1808 (Basingstoke, 2008), esp. chs. 1, 2, and 4 passim.

202 On this neo-‘black legend’ and institutional development, see Jeremy Adelman, ‘Institutions, property, and economic development in Latin America’, in Centeno and López-Alves, eds., The other mirror, pp. 28–9.

203 Provocative suggestion made in McFarlane, ‘Identity, enlightenment, and political dissent’, p. 334; nevertheless, Alan Knight's observation should be borne in mind: caudillos ‘remained republicans, continued to claim popular legitimacy, and never established enduring dynasties’; see Knight, ‘Democratic and revolutionary traditions in Latin America’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 20 (2001), p. 160.

204 While there are major works in this area, including Miguel Artola, Los afrancesados (Madrid, 1953); Juan Mercader Riba, José Bonaparte, rey de España (1808–1813): estructura del estado español bonapartista (Madrid, 1983); Juan López Tabar, Los famosos traidores: los afrancesados durante la crisis del antiguo régimen (1808–1833) (Madrid, 2001), no published account examines the transatlantic dimensions of Don José's reign or fully elucidates the links between the Bonapartist reform programme and the early liberal state in the peninsula. As Alejandro Nieto García tantalizingly notes, ‘the administrative system of the regency of María Cristina clearly reflects the ideological inheritance of Josephism’. See Nieto García, Los primeros pasos del estado constitucional. Historia administrativa de la regencia de María Cristina de Borbón (Barcelona, 1996), pp. 20–1.

205 For a stimulating essay on this subject, see José M. Portillo, ‘La federación imposible: los territorios europeos y americanos ante la crisis de la monarquía hispana’ in Rodríguez O., ed., Revolución; for an attempt to categorize the constitutions of the early national period, see Gargarella, Roberto, ‘Towards a typology of Latin American constitutionalism, 1810–1860’, Latin American Research Review, 39 (2004), pp. 141–53.

206 Mallon, ‘Decoding the parchments of the nation-state’.

207 In a significant revisionist study, Charles Esdaile argues cogently that at the ‘roots of la guerrilla popular lay not heroism but hunger, not daring but despair’, their ranks composed of men who were ‘refugees from military service, poverty, noose or prison camp, mercenary hirelings, or unwilling conscripts’; see Esdaile, Fighting Napoleon, pp. 120, 129; and Esdaile, ed., Popular resistance in the French wars: patriots, partisans, and land pirates (Basingstoke, 2005); see also John L. Tone, The fatal knot: the guerrilla war in Navarre and the defeat of Napoleon in Spain (Chapel Hill, NC, 1994).

208 For more on this gap in the literature and suggestions to remedy it, see Christon I. Archer, ed., The wars of independence in Spanish America (Wilmington, DE, 2000).

209 Guerra, ‘Forms of communication, political spaces, and cultural identities’, pp. 8–9.

210 Humphreys, ‘The historiography of the Spanish American revolutions’, p. 105.

* The author expresses his gratitude to David Brading (Cambridge), Matthew Brown (Bristol), and two anonymous Historical Journal reviewers for detailed, insightful comments and bibliographical suggestions on earlier drafts of this historiographical review. He acknowledges the generous material support provided by Trinity College, the British Academy, and the ‘Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States Universities’.

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