Trajectories of Reform in the Spanish World: Careering, Networks and Empire under the Early Bourbons (1700-1759)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures

Abstract

This project explores how early modern empires were built through the experiences, relationships and careers of individuals whose lives were spent in multiple sites of empire. It challenges our tendency to study 'composite monarchies' as sets of bilateral relations between a dominant centre and multiple peripheries, highlighting both the dialogic nature of these relations and the importance of periphery-periphery connections and interactions. Its main aim is to study how ideas, institutions and social structures often associated with the 'centralising absolutism' of the early-Bourbon monarchy in Spain were influenced by travel to and contact with different sites of empire across the Spanish world. By analysing the careers, networks and writings of royal officials involved in the design or implementation of reform in the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish Circum-Caribbean and the Andean highlands, the project will show that experiencing various sites of empire shaped their understanding of the constituent territories of the monarchy, their views of the empire as a whole, opinions of what needed to be reformed, and of how such reforms should be introduced. Simultaneously, by studying their careers and the familial and patron-client networks they built, the project will contribute to our understanding of how different parts of the Spanish world contributed to the formation and transformation of institutions and personnel associated with imperial reform, thus further problematizing our understanding of the relationship between sites traditionally described as centres and peripheries.
The project adopts a geographical approach determined by the 'life trajectories' of the men studied, transcending both the boundaries of the modern nations of the Iberoamerican world and the politico-administrative units of the early modern Spanish Monarchy; it offers an organic understanding of the Spanish world centred around the lived experiences of the imperial subjects of the early Bourbons. By stressing movement and connections through space, rather than focusing on moments spent in a specific territory, the project sheds new light on the structures, connections and itineraries which bound the Spanish world together. It testifies to the complex, interwoven networks and structures characteristic of the early Bourbon Spanish world and early modern Atlantic empires more generally.
The project combines detailed case studies of royal officials who served in various parts of the Spanish world with prosopographical analysis of their professional trajectories and personal links. Due to its emphasis on exploring experiences in and of different sites of empire, it will draw on correspondence, notarial records, and published works in multiple repositories. Through extensive analysis of sources spanning royal officials' imperial careers, it is possible to study the evolution of how they presented themselves and their aspirations and how they imagined the empire; crucially, these sources will also allow us to think about 'trans-imperial practices', the ways in which these lives built the empire. The cases studied represent various middling royal officials, (provincial governors and corregidores or provincial magistrates), from different backgrounds (lawyers, soldiers and members of the provincial nobility), and from different parts of the empire (Navarre, the Canary Islands, South America) whose lives were spent across multiple destinations (from Spanish Flanders to Seville, Florida, the Caribbean and the Andes).
The 23-months project will lead to a series of academic outputs (including a symposium, journal articles, an edited volume and a monograph) of benefit to scholars interested in the history of empires, Latin America, the Atlantic world and enlightened reformism, amongst others. It will also produce a website, an online exhibition and a selection of high school-level teaching materials aimed at non-academic beneficiaries.

Planned Impact

The project seeks to encourage non-academic audiences, primarily in the Hispanic world but also in the UK, to change their assumptions about Latin America's early modern history. In the Hispanic public imagination, this period is still often considered static and monotonous, characterised by Spanish oppression and teleologically defined as a prelude to the early nineteenth-century Wars of Independence. The project proposes two key, interconnected dissemination activities articulated around the project website and linked with stakeholders in various parts of the Hispanic world.
We will put together a free, bilingual, online exhibition comprising a collection of documents and objects connected with the lives, networks and places studied in the project. This will include examples of correspondence produced by our subjects, historical maps and images of the places where they lived, and visualisations of the networks they built. Drawn from a range of museums, archives and cultural institutions in Spain and Spanish America, the items will illustrate the conceptualisation of various sites of empire, officials' self-perceptions and career aspirations, the development of early Bourbon reforms, and the ways in which the personal and professional networks and experiences of royal officials contributed to binding the empire together. By emphasising experiences and developments shared across the region, the exhibition aims to challenge prevailing national narratives and encourage the visitor to reconsider what they know about Spanish America's early modern past.
An online exhibition has been chosen over a material one because, through the web, we can reach a much wider audience including local communities and the wider public across Spain and Latin America. We will promote the exhibition through channels including the Spanish and Latin American cultural institutions which hold featured objects, and discussion networks and websites with a strong presence among historians and history enthusiasts in the Hispanic world. It will be launched at a public event in central Manchester aimed primarily at the Spanish and Spanish-speaking community in Greater Manchester and the North-West of England. Like our audiences overseas, they will benefit from the project by being encouraged to reconsider how they think about the early modern Spanish world, moving away from narratives focused on modern nation states, and recognising instead the interconnected nature of the region's early modern past.
We will also develop a history lesson plan and selection of primary sources, drawn from the project's results, aimed at high school students in the Spanish-speaking world. The materials will be hosted on the project's website, freely available for teachers across the world, and will link with the content of the online exhibition. In Latin America, the teaching of the region's early modern history occupies minimal space in official curricula at elementary and middle school levels and its teaching at high school level, both in terms of how much is covered and how it is taught, is often at the discretion of individual teachers. The teaching materials will help high school history teachers in Spain and Latin America expand their knowledge of how imperial reality was created at the local level, on an every-day basis by individuals in early modern Spanish America. This will help teachers and pupils better understand the connections, exchanges and circulation between different parts of the Spanish world, and revaluate their pre-independence histories. This output will draw on the CoI's experience training high-school teachers in Spain, together with the PI's previous experience of, and contacts from, teaching high school students in Mexico City. Further links with schools in Latin America, through which we can encourage the use of this resource, will be built while the team members are conducting archival research in the region.

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Francisco Eissa-Barroso (2022) Ongoing mobilities in the Early-Modern Spanish world in Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies

publication icon
Hernández Sau P (2022) Introduction: "ongoing" mobilities in the Early-Modern Spanish world in Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies

 
Description Ayudas Juan de la Cierva, Formación
Amount € 52,600 (EUR)
Funding ID FJC2020-046038-I P 
Organisation Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación 
Sector Public
Country Spain
Start 08/2022 
End 08/2024
 
Description Marcel Bataillon Fellowship
Amount € 24,880 (EUR)
Organisation Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies 
Sector Academic/University
Country Spain
Start 09/2021 
End 07/2022
 
Description Proyecto de I+D+i
Amount € 37,026 (EUR)
Funding ID PID2020-114799GB-I00 
Organisation Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación 
Sector Public
Country Spain
Start 08/2021 
End 08/2025
 
Description 'Ongoing' Mobilities in the Early Modern World: Sojourners, Mobile Settlers, Itinerants, Staggered Migrants, and Other Lives on the Go - virtual symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Virtual symposium hosted by the University of Manchester on 4-6 March 2021. The event brought together speakers from universities in Scotland, Italy, England, the USA, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, Argentina and Finland. Papers presented will form the basis for an edited volume. Over 100 people from different parts of the world registered for the event, with audiences at any given point oscillating between 30 and 55 attendees. Although the majority of the audience consisted of academics, there were several postgraduate students in attendance (including one presenter), a few undergraduates and some members of the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/trajectories-of-reform/2021/01/30/ongoing-mobilities-in-the-early-mod...
 
Description Keynote lecture presented to XIV Coloquio internacional de historiografía europea / XI Jornadas de estudios sobre la modernidad clásica, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina, 23-24 November 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact On 24 November 2021, I delivered a keynote lecture titled 'Más allá del movimiento: el "nuevo paradigma de la movilidad" y los estudios del mundo hispano en la Edad Moderna' to the XIV Coloquio internacional de historiografía europea / XI Jornadas de estudios sobre la modernidad clásica, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina. The lectured offered an introduction to the historiography and theory the project engages with. The lecture, delivered online, attracted an audience of about 25 scholars, about a quarter of them PhD students, from various universities mostly in Argentina and Spain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL http://www.redhistoriamoderna.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PROGRAMA-GENERAL-DE-ACTIVIDADES-COLO...
 
Description Paper by PI presented to Seminario de Investigación en Historia Moderna de América (SIHMA), Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain, 24 February 2023 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact On 24 February 2023, the project's PI delivered a talk titled 'El Marqués de los Regalos: redes familiares y corrupción entre el obispado de Puebla, el Consejo de Indias y la fundación del mayorazgo del Marqués de la Regalía' at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. The talk presented some of the preliminary findings of the project. The talk attracted an audience of about 20 people, predominantly postgraduate students and staff from various universities in Spain and Latin America.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Paper presented by PI to the 2021 Society for Latin American Studies Virtual Conference, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK, 12-16 April 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact On 16 April 2021, I delivered a paper titled 'Female Mobility, Family and Politics in the Early Bourbon Atlantic: The Women of the Bertodano-Knepper Clan' to the 2021 Society for Latin American Studies Virtual Conference held at the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK. The paper presented some of the preliminary findings of the project. The paper, delivered online, attracted an audience of about 5 scholars, from universities in the UK, Spain and Mexico.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Paper presented by RA to the 2021 Society for Latin American Studies Virtual Conference, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK, 12-16 April 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact On 16 April 2021, the project's RA delivered a paper titled 'Imperial Careers in Movement: Four Brothers-in-law in the Early-Bourbon Caribbean' to the 2021 Society for Latin American Studies Virtual Conference held at the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK. The paper presented some of the preliminary findings of the project. The paper, delivered online, attracted an audience of about 5 scholars, from universities in the UK, Spain and Mexico.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Paper presented to the Seminario Internacional de Historia Glocal (SIGlo) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact On 2nd February 2022, I delivered a paper titled 'Antonio de Benavides (1678-1762): de la auto-representación al mito en la trayectoria Atlántica de un gobernador provincial itinerante' to the Seminario de Internacional de Historia Glocal (SIGlo) organised by the Departamento de Histoira de America at the Universidad de Sevilla. The paper presented some of the preliminary findings of the project. The paper, delivered face-to-face, attracted an audience of about 15 scholars, about half of them PhD students, predominantly from Universidad de Sevilla, in Spain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Paper presented to the Seminario Internacional: Corrupción, gobierno y conflicto en la América colonial, at Casa de Velázquez, Madrid, 25-26 November 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact On 26 November 2021, I delivered a paper titled '"Es natural solicitar la mayor conveniencia y por esto les es permitido su gran desagüe y libertad": corrupción, comercio ilícito y reformas fallidas en Caracas, 1715-16' to the Seminario Internacional: Corrupción, gobierno y conflicto en la América colonial organised at the Casa de Velazquéz in Madrid. The paper presented some preliminary findings of the project. The paper, delivered online, attracted an audience of about 35 scholars, about a quarter of them PhD students, from various universities in France, Argentina, Mexico and Spain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Paper presented to the Seminario de Investigación en Historia Moderna de América, at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28/10/2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact On 28 October 2020, we delivered a paper titled 'Itinerancia e Imperio en el mundo hispano de la primera mitad del siglo XVIII' to the Seminario de Investigación en Historia Moderna de América held monthly at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The paper offered and introduction to the project, the historiography and theory it engages with, and our preliminary findings. The paper, delivered online, attracted an audience of about 25 scholars, about half of them PhD students, from various universities in the USA, Mexico, Argentina and Spain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/trajectories-of-reform/2020/10/30/itinerancia-e-imperio-en-el-mundo-h...
 
Description Talk by PI at Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, 16 August 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact On16 August 2022, the project's PI delivered a talk titled 'Movilidad escalonada, gobernanza y redes inter-regionales en el mundo hispano de los primeros Borbones: el caso de Alberto Bertodano' at Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. The talk presented some of the preliminary findings of the project. The talk attracted an audience of about 5 people, predominantly undergraduate students and staff from Universidad de los Andes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Talk by PI hosted by Trashumante: Revista Americana de Historia Social, Universidad de Antioquia, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Universidad Nacional de Colombia (sede Medellín), Medellín, Colombia, 2 September 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact On 2 September 2022, the project's PI delivered a talk titled 'Trayectorias de reforma en el mundo hispano: Carreras, redes e imperio bajo los primeros Borbones' at Universidad Nacional de Colombia (sede Medellín), Medellín, Colombia. The talk was organised and hosted by Trashumante: Revista Americana de Historia Social, Universidad de Antioquia, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia. The talk presented some of the preliminary findings of the project. The talk attracted an audience of about 50 people, predominantly undergraduate and postgraduate students from universities in Colombia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOzpzZtR-GQ
 
Description Trajectories of Reform Twitter Account 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Since May 2020 we have been running a Twitter account for the project. To date it has nearly 200 followers. It has provided valuable opportunities to advertise our events and presentations, engage with colleagues internationally and to bring to our attention relevant research conducted elsewhere.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
URL https://twitter.com/OfReforma
 
Description Trajectories of reform website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In May 2020, we set up a bi-lingual website for the project, hosted by the University of Manchester. Besides providing information on the project's aims and objectives, the research team and our intended impact activities, the website also includes a blog which we have used to disseminate our preliminary findings, organise and advertise academic events. So far, we have published six post, all but one have been published both in English and Spanish to ensure we reach a broader audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/trajectories-of-reform/