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The Spanish Enlightenment revisited

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment
Vol. No.
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Volume editor(s)
Volume editor(s): 
Jesús Astigarraga
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About the Book

About the Book: 

Traditional historiography has tended to disregard and even deny Spain’s role in the Enlightenment, banishing the country to a benighted geographical periphery. In The Spanish Enlightenment revisited a team of experts overturns the myth of the ‘dark side of Europe’ and examines the authentic place of Spain in the intellectual economy of the Enlightenment.

Contributors to this book explore how institutional and social changes in eighteenth-century Spain sharpened the need for modernisation. Examination of major constitutional and social initiatives, such as the development of new scientific projects and economic societies, the reform of criminal law, and a re-evaluation of the country’s colonial policies, reveals how ideas, principles and practices from the wider European Enlightenment are adapted for the country’s specific context. Through detailed analysis authors investigate:

• the evolution of public opinion, and the Republic of letters;

• the growth of political economy as an intellectual discipline;

• the transmission and reception of an Enlightenment discourse in the Spanish Empire;

• Spain’s role in shaping a modern conception of the natural sciences.

The portrait of a demarginalised, modernising and enlightened Spain emerges clearly from this book; in so doing, it opens up new avenues of research both within the history of the pan-European Enlightenment, and in colonial studies.

Jesús Astigarraga, Introduction: admirer, rougir, imiter – Spain and the European Enlightenment

María Victoria López-Cordón Cortezo, The merits of good gobierno: culture and politics in the Bourbon court

Joaquín Álvarez Barrientos, The Spanish Republic of Letters in its European context: images, economics, and the representation of the man of letters

Jesús Astigarraga, Economic societies and the politicisation of the Spanish Enlightenment

Juan Pimentel, The Indians of Europe: the role of Spain’s Enlightenment in the making of a global science

Javier Usoz, Political economy and the creation of the public sphere during the Spanish Enlightenment

Ignacio Fernández Sarasola, Constitution projects during the Spanish Enlightenment

Gabriel Paquette, The reform of the Spanish empire in the age of Enlightenment

Jesús Astigarraga, Niccolò Guasti and Juan Zabalza, The Spanish debate on public finance: a privileged laboratory for enlightened reforms

Joaquín Varela Suanzes-Carpegna, The image of the British system of government in Spain (1759-1814)

Javier Fernández Sebastián, From the ‘voice of the people’ to the freedom of the press: the birth of public opinion

Alejandro Agüero and Marta Lorente, Penal Enlightenment in Spain: from Beccaria’s reception to the first criminal code







‘This book and the windows it opens into recent and stimulating research […] are an example of the critical engagement of some of the best Spanish scholarship and international historiographical debate on the Enlightenment’.

Dix-huitième siècle

‘Un recueil riche en informations et suggestions, et dont il est malaisé de rendre compte avec justesse en quelques lignes’.

Cuadernos de Ilustración y Romanticismo

‘Esta reseña no consigue revelar con justicia el valor de esta obra colectiva en cada uno de los campos abordados por diversos expertos de la Ilustración española […] y su importancia a la hora de reivindicar un merecido lugar para España tanto en la historia intelectual del siglo de las luces’.