The Historical Context | Correspondence in the Eighteenth Century | Society in Eighteenth Century Spanish America | The Spanish Language in Eighteenth Century Spanish America | Literary Culture

The Historical Context

Andrien, Kenneth and Kuethe, Allan. The Spanish Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century. War and the Bourbon Reforms 1713-1796 . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

The authors propose a new explanation for the changes that the Spanish crown and its colonies underwent in the eighteenth century. The main force driving the transformation of Spain’s eighteenth century Atlantic empire was war. The climate of constant war between European states in the Atlantic pushed for military and political reforms first in the peninsula and later in the Spanish colonies. The results of these changes were unequal in America where the administrative and fiscal changes produced different outcomes in Nueva Granada, New Spain, Peru and Rio de la Plata. Local conjunctures created particularities in the reception of the reforms thereby producing different and sometimes unexpected results.

Baskes, Jeremy. Staying Afloat: Risk and Uncertainty in Spanish Atlantic World Trade, 1760–1820 . (Social Science History.) Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. 2013.

Against the common idea that Spanish American trade was a monopoly, Baskes argues that is was never organized in that way, and there was competition among individual guild members, unlike English Asian colonial trade. In fact, Spanish American trade was highly unstable because it was challenged by uncertainty. The risks of maritime transportation were incalculable and uninsurable. Poor information, shallow markets, and wars only increased the risks of trade. For that reason, merchants’ attempts at regulating and controlling trade were more connected to the risk of the enterprise than to irrational greed. When the comercio libre was declared many bankruptcies followed, not because merchants profited from monopoly but because the system did not help to reduce uncertainty as it did before.

Elliott, John H. Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

The author compares the Spanish and British empires, showing that despite their cultural and political differences, these empires held striking similarities with regards to their relationship with their colonies. In terms of how colonies were imagined and how they should be governed, both empires applied the same policies. The English and the Spanish came to America with a conceptual framework for government that was later altered and shaped by colonial elites. The differences were related to forms of occupation of the space and the relationship with native people. Furthermore, the independence movements of the late eighteenth century differed substantially from one another, but Elliott argues that international wars weakened the ties both empires had with its colonies. In the case of North America the blow was fatal, but in the Spanish America the responses varied although in all, the colonies remained loyal to the crown.

Paquette, Gabriel. Enlightenment, Governance, and Reform in Spain and its Empire, 1759-1808 . London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

The author analyzes the cycle of reforms in the Spanish Empire during the reigns of Charles III (1759–1788) and Charles IV (1788–1808) to find the intellectual foundations of the reforms and why they achieved limited results. Central to his argument is the idea of emulation, or the practice of importing values, ideas, and policies already tested in other parts of Europe. The author claims that emulation of political and economic policies served the purpose of enhancing the power and influence of the Spanish Empire, in particular its economic growth, and what it was known at the time as general welfare. For Paquette, the reforms failed because of the tenacious resistance of traditional elites in Spain. In Spanish America, while traditional elites resisted the changes, elites from the newly created viceroyalties welcomed them.

Fisher, John. El Perú borbónico (1750-1824). Lima: IEP, 2000.

Fisher proposes that the Bourbon era in Peru started in 1750 and represented a continuity with the Habsburg period. The author focuses on the reforms promoted by both Areche and Gálvez, intended to improve the fiscal and political administration of the viceroyalties. Unfortunately, the economic pressures posed by war prevented the Spanish administration from becoming independent from the local elites’ control. Moreover, the ecclesiastical reforms generated tensions with the church and turned priests against the crown, which would have repercussions during the process of independence. Furthermore, the military reforms proved to be more effective at maintaining internal order, than preventing external threats. In all, the reforms had variable results in different areas, which explains both the indigenous rebellions and the durability of the viceroyalty until 1821.

Moreno Cebrián, Alfredo. El corregidor de indios y la economía peruana en el siglo XVIII (los repartos forzosos de mercancías) . Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, 1977.

In this classic analysis Moreno Cebrián focuses on the role of the Corregidor to argue that the salary the Spanish state offered for this position was little more than symbolic. By using quantitative data the author proves that it was the reparto de mercancías, or the imposition of products imported from Spain to the Indians, what provided revenue that made the position highly desirable. In time, individuals offered money to the royal administrators in Madrid to acquire the office, thus creating a competition that brought revenue to the crown. Meanwhile the reparto was legalized and there were attempts at regulating this practice until the Tupac Amaru rebellion forced the authorities to eliminate what was perceived as an abusive behavior.

Campbell, Leon. "Creole Domination of the Audiencia of Lima during the Late Eighteenth Century." Hispanic American Historical Review 52:1 (February 1972): 1-25.

In this pioneer study, Campbell argues that creoles dominated many of the positions in the church, the army, and the civil government in eighteenth century Peru. Focusing on the Audiencia, the author shows how it was dominated by creoles since the beginning of the colonial period. The Bourbon reforms that attempted to change the balance of power in favor of peninsulares did not have the desired effect as creoles continued to dominate the civil positions in government until the end of the century.

Ricketts, Monica. "The Rise of the Bourbon Military in Peru, 1768-1820." Colonial Latin American Review 21:3 (2012): 413-439.

Monica Ricketts focuses on the military reforms proposed by the Spanish government and implemented in the viceroyalty of Peru in the late eighteenth century. Ricketts argues that the military reform was successful because at the end of the colonial period the royal army in Peru was one of the strongest and most respectable forces of the empire. The centralization and ethnic diversity of the institution provided stability to the viceroyalty when the rest of the Spanish possessions were in turmoil.

Marks, Patricia. Deconstructing Legitimacy. Viceroys, Merchants and the Military in Late Colonial Peru . Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007.

The author analyzes the leaders of the Consulado, most of them creoles, and their relationship with the viceregal administration in the last forty years of colonial rule in Peru. She focuses on the relationship between merchants, bureaucrats, and the military to show how they maneuvered the changes imposed by the crown, in particular after the introduction of the free-trade regulation. Marks shows that the only beneficiary of the measure was the Cinco gremios mayores from Madrid and a few creoles but since in 1797 neutral trade was introduced, thereby showing that the free trade did not damage the limeño elite’s interests as much as it has been stated. However, the changes in the commercial policy did affect the viceroyalty because it was the Atlantic traders, discontent with the viceroy Pezuela’s military policy, who forced him out of the office, thereby undermining the legitimacy of the institution.

Lohmann Villena. Guillermo. Los ministros de la Audiencia de Lima en el reinado de los Borbones (1700-1821): esquema de un estudio sobre un núcleo dirigente. Sevilla: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1974.

While the book focuses on the ministers of the Audiencia, Lomann’s book provides a general foundation for understanding the functioning of this institution throughout the eighteenth century. Lohmann explores the ministers’ lives and their links with the limeño elite, examining their economic position, wealth, and how they were perceived by the viceregal society. The study also provides biographical information not only for the ministers that held these positions in the eighteenth century, but also for the ones from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Correspondence in the Eighteenth Century

Chartier, Roger et al. Correspondence. Models of Letter-Writing from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century . Trans. Christopher Woodall. Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1997.

This collaborative effort offers new perspectives on the evolution of letter writing. The history of reading has become a significant field in the history of ideas because it had with far-reaching implications for the development of individual and group consciousness, and especially of the state and its bases in society, culture, and the economy. Focusing on letter-writing manuals, the authors offer an introduction to literate culture from the eleventh century throughout the nineteenth century, analyzing the disjunction between intention and content of the texts on one hand, and the multiple uses and interests of their consumers on the other. The book departs from the traditional literary analysis of the epistolary novel of the eighteenth century, to research the trajectory of the letter as a form. Each essay gauges the social impact of letter manuals, paying attention to audiences and the marketing of letter-manuals.

Bannet, Eve Tavor. Empire of Letters. Letter Manuals and Transatlantic Correspondence, 1688-1820 . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

In this study of letter-manuals the author offers an overview of the genre revealing its importance for understanding the particular ways in which information, feelings, and ideas were transmitted in letters. As Bannet explains, people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries became "lettered", which means they were familiar with epistolary conventions, and the ways in which they could transmit meanings that might escape the twenty-first century reader. Bannet also stresses the importance of letter writing for the maintenance of empire, in particular the letter’s embedding within the British colonial culture. Aside from an abundance of information on letter manuals, their uses, their transformation over time, and a taxonomy of editions of a single manual, the author discusses the public and hidden meanings encoded within the letters. Bannet delivers a strong argument for the importance of letteracy in understanding eighteenth century British culture.

Sellers-García, Sylvia. Distance and Documents at the Spanish Empire´s Periphery. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014.

The author asserts the importance of documents in the process of empire-making, and focuses her attention on the flow of paper, the composition of documents, and how and when they were dispatched. The analysis is centered in colonial Spanish America, specifically the Audiencia of Guatemala that was a periphery of the empire but its geographical position and its closeness to the viceroyalty of New Spain proves helpful to make the author’s case. The best part of her analysis is her examination of how the mail system operated, what were the documents’ genres, and how they were moved. She also analyzes the role of escribanos or officials of the crown who organized document storage and created inventories that have survived until today. In all, her exploration of how did people understand distance in the colonial period proves to be a valuable contribution that reconsiders the center-periphery framework in ways never done before.

Society in Eighteenth Century Spanish America

Balmori, Diana, Voss, Stuart F. and Miles Wortman. Notable Family Networks in Latin America . Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1984.

The main topic of the book is the emergence of some prominent family groups in Guatemala, northwestern Mexico, and Buenos Aires in the late eighteenth century. These family groups rose to important social and economic positions through marriage and association with other families via affinity, spatial proximity, and business. They authors develop a three-generation study in which migrants from overseas started businesses, haciendas or mines that brought them wealth. In the second generation, members of the family developed marriage alliances to preserve and expand their material base, while in the third generation these families enjoyed the peak of their social and political power. The exploration of the vertical (via consanguinity) and horizontal (via marriage) ties within these groups contributes to the understanding of the ways in which these family groups established connections with each other that allowed them to cope with social and economic change.

Chocano, Magdalena. "Linaje y mayorazgo en el Perú colonial." Revista del Archivo General de la Nación 12 (1995).

The article focuses on the kinship networks and marriage alliances in colonial Lima. She argues that these kinship networks guaranteed the social reproduction of the elite, while at the same time it produces realignments within the social group. The author analyzes two kinship lineages - the Carrillo de Albornoz and Muñatones y Salazar - to show how the economic importance of their entailed estates helped these families to consolidate their position within the limeño elite.

Gen-Liang, Yuen. Family and Empire. The Fernández de Córdoba and the Spanish Realm . Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

The author examines how the Spanish empire operated at ground level, focusing on the trajectory of one family - the Fernández de Córdoba - to demonstrate how family networks constituted an organizing principle of the imperial administration. Families like this one offered their services to the crown in the military and in administrative positions. The author argues that the empire depended on these individuals and their social connections for its daily operation, making the imperial task a very personal and familial matter.

Flores Galindo, Alberto . La ciudad sumergida. Aristocracia y plebe en Lima, 1760-1820 , Second Edition. Lima: Horizonte, 1991.

The author analyzes the composition of the population of the city of Lima and its countryside, providing a colorful and dynamic picture of their varied activities, legal status, and ethnic and racial composition. His main argument is that the heterogeneity of the plebeian part of the population was so stark they could never rise up against the elites and become independent from Spain without the outside support. The author also shows how the elite´s fear of a slave/indigenous revolution motivated them to fund the crown efforts against the invaders until the last minute.

Kicza, John E. Colonial Entrepreneurs. Families and Business in Bourbon Mexico City. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1983.

The author focuses on the leading business families in Mexico to examine their structure, and organization of their business in the late Bourbon era. He shows the links between business and politics, and the entrepreneurial ability these families had to maintain their fortune and social position. Most of these families were estate owners, but they did not concentrate on just one activity. On the contrary, the key to their economic success can be found in the vertical integration of different aspects of the business such as production, processing, and marketing. Moreover, they would diversify their economic interests investing in mines, local commerce, and obrajes. Intermarriage and close links with big merchants and bureaucrats completed a picture in which these families were protected from any contingency through strategic alliances with the most important political and economic actors of the region.

Pardo-Figueroa Thays, Carlos and Joseph Dager Alva (eds.). El virrey Amat y su tiempo , Lima, PUCP-Instituto Riva Agüero, 2004.

This edited collection focuses on viceroy Amat’s administration. The authors of the essays analyzed the different aspects of his public career and his private life in Cataluña where Amat was born and in Peru where he served as a viceroy between 1761 and 1776. Most of the essays follow Amat´s life highlighting his vision, his personal achievements, and his decisive influence in Peruvian and Chilean politics. In particular, his disputes with both the Chilean elite and the limeño elite are analyzed to show how his resourcefulness and tremendous will power were key instruments in the implementation of Bourbon reforms that diminished the local elite´s political power.

Rizo-Patrón Boylan, Paul. Linaje, dote y poder. La nobleza de Lima de 1700 a 1850. Lima: PUCP, 2001.

The author’s goal is to revise the long history of accusations on the alleged "silly" and "incompetent" Peruvian upper classes that took the once great Viceroyalty of Peru into an unstable and poor Republic. He argues, instead, that once this almighty Peruvian nobility was disenfranchised under the Republic, society as a whole, not only the nobles, fell into disarray. For his analysis he used different sources, including correspondence; judicial and parliamentary resolutions; baptism, marriage, and death records; wills and genealogical charts; notary protocols and municipal records. Among the families in his study is the Carrillo de Albornoz family, which he describes as the "wealthiest of noble families in Lima and Peru of the entire second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."

Rizo-Patrón Boylan, Paul. "Grandes propietarias del Perú virreinal: las Salazar y Gabiño" in Margarita Guerra et al., Historias paralelas: actas del primer encuentro de Historia Perú-México, Lima, PUCP, 2005.

This is a study of noble women in the viceroyalty of Peru. The study analyzes the life of several women in colonial Perú, who coming from wealthy families and in absence of male inheritors, inherited vast capitals. The author makes an argument for the level of female assertiveness in colonial Vice-Royal leadership, suggesting a more balanced power relation between genders within the Spanish aristocracy. Two of the three women in the study married the Carrillo de Albornoz siblings. According to the author, these women asserted their noble rank and took charge of the finances of their estates. The author lists in his sources the will of Pedro Carrillo de Albornoz y Bravo de Lagunas, yet no use of the vast collection of letters that without a doubt would provide not only a better, but an altogether different view of his research.

The Spanish Language in Eighteenth Century Spanish America

Errington, James Joseph. Linguistics in a Colonial World: a Story of Language, Meaning, and Power. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008

Starting with the idea that linguists can be seen as a special group of colonial agents, who adapted European alphabets to alien ways of talking and set up devices for communication across lines of colonial dominance, this study analyzes the ways they made alien ways of speaking into objects of knowledge and thus made the speaking subjects into subjects of colonial power. Combining a chronological and a thematic approach, Errington analyzes the linguistic descriptive work of Catholic missionaries in the 17th century in Latin America in chapter 2, Protestant missionaries in the 19th century in sub-Saharan Africa in chapter 5, and their postcolonial counterparts in chapter 7. In chapters 3 and 4 Errington discusses the development of philology in the colonial world.

Escobar, Ana María. Contacto Social y Lingüístico: El español en Contacto con el Quechua en el Perú . Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú Fondo Editorial, 2000.

In this study Ana María Escobar analyzes Quechua-influenced changes in the use of Spanish in Peru during the second half of the 20th century with a focus on socio-economic, political and historical causes rather than on the grammatical and purely linguistic ones. On the basis of a morphosyntactic, semantic, and functional analyses of the linguistic features that define the situation of contact under study, Escobar rejects previous theories placing the responsibility of the linguistic interferences on Quechua and argues for a bilateral influence of each language by the other.

Gray, Edward G., and Norman Fiering (eds.). The Language Encounter in the Americas: 1492-1800: A Collection of Essays . New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000.

This collection of essays explores the concept of language "encounter" (a linguistic "collision" between two resilient objects rather than a seamless communication between similar-minded agents) between the native peoples and the Europeans in the early modern Americas. The book is divided into five parts - "Terms of Contact", "Signs and Symbols", "The Literate and the Nonliterate", "Intermediaries", and "Theory." Topics analyzed include: the use of pidgin languages, trade jargons, and other media in North America; use of images and gestures by Indians and Europeans in North and Central America; and alphabetic literacy in Peru, New England, and Maritime Canada.

Helmer, Angela. El Latín en el Perú Colonial: Diglosia e Historia de una Lengua Viva . Lima: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos Fondo Editorial, 2013.

Divided into four headings - "Historical Trajectory of the Diglossia", "Society", "Latin in Europe and America", and "Latin in the Peruvian Colonial Texts" - this study analyzes the uses of Latin in Colonial Peru. The study shows how Latin was used outside of the ecclesiastical world in various manifestations of high culture, including the funeral pyres, dramatic works, and academic dissertations. Using the concept of diglossia, Helmer gives an account of the different languages (indigenous and Spanish) of the region and their different status and discursive functions.

Parodi, Claudia; Pérez, Manuel and Jimena Rodríguez (eds.). La Resignificación del Nuevo Mundo: Crónica, Retórica, y Semántica en la América Virreinal . Madrid: Iberoamericana/Frankfurt am Main, Vervuert, 2013.

A collection of contributions by a group of expert colonialists is divided into three parts: I: Chronicle, Rhetoric, and Travel, II: Cultural Semantics and Ideology, and III: Art and Festivity. The papers in the first part analyze the hybrid nature of the chronicles of the Indies and other texts documenting the contact between Europeans and the populations of the new continent (for instance, Matthäus Steffel’s 1809 Tarahumarisches Wörterbuch). The papers in the second part analyze the denotation and resignification of both material and spiritual objects in the New World (for instance, Claudia Parodi shows the existence of a reciprocal process of linguistic indianization by the Spanish and of hispanization by the natives). The three papers in the third part analyze, respectively, images of war in New Spain’s indigenous art, the work of Costa-Rican early-nineteenth playwright Juan de Oreamuno, and Guadalupe-native Christmas carols conserved in Mexico City’s cathedral.

Literary Culture

Marrero-Fente. Al Margen de la Tradición: Relaciones entre la Literatura Colonial y Peninsular en los Siglos XV, XVI y XVII . Madrid: Fundamentos, 1999

A collection of essays aiming at incorporating into the study of Spanish colonial literature theoretical trends introduced in the 90s chiefly concerned with transforming the field into a an interdisciplinary enterprise. With this theoretical turn in mind, Marrero-Fente analyzes eight texts belonging to the Spanish colonial period (the legal document Capitulaciones de Santa Fe, the pieces of historiography Historia de la Invención de las Indias and Naufragios, the prologue to Don Quixote , the letter "Carta de Isabel de Guevara", the autobiography Vida y Sucesos de la Monja Alférez , the epic poem El Espejo de Paciencia, and the chronicle El Carnero). Marrero-Fente argues that all these texts depart in significant ways from the models and norms prescribed in the literary tradition predating the encounter between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples of America.

Meléndez, Mariselle. Deviant and Useful Citizens: The Cultural Production of the Female Body in Eighteenth-Century Peru . Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2011

Starting from a passage found in the chronicle Historia de la Fundación del Monasterio de Trinitarias Descalzas de Lima completed in 1783 by the Peruvian nun María Josefa de la Santísima Trinidad, Meléndez argues that the female religious body represents one of the many bodies that made up the Peruvian nation, and that the manner in which the body acted within specific historical and cultural contexts determined its usefulness or deviance. Analyzing the cultural production of the female body in eighteenth-century legal documents, illustrated chronicles, religious texts, and newspapers pertaining to the Viceroyalty of Peru, the author demonstrates how the female body functioned in eighteenth century Peru as a site of knowledge and as a cultural text, and as such became an effective tool to achieve power, to institute order, or to prescribe women’s roles within society.

Parodi, Claudia, and Rodriguez, Jimena (eds.). Centro y Periferia: Cultura, Lengua y Literatura Virreinales en América . Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2011

Divided into three parts - I: New Spain and its boundaries, II: New Granada and Peru, and III: Chile the last Frontier - this collection of papers presented at the Jornadas Coloniales (international congress organized by the Centro de Estudios Coloniales Iberoamericanos of the University of California at Los Angeles) examines the effects of Spanish and Portuguese presence on the languages, literatures, histories and cultures of the indigenous people of the Americas, while avoiding the models of interpretation originally created to study significantly different modes of colonization, such as the British and the French.

Robins, Nicholas A. Of Love and Loathing: Martial Life, Strife, and Intimacy in the Colonial Andes, 1750-1825 . Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2015

A collection of case studies covering the period between 1750 and 1825, this book examines late colonial Bourbon policies concerning marriage and intimacy, their effects on people’s lives, and how they resisted them to create and break intimate bonds in colonial Chacras (a region encompassing present-day Bolivia and parts of Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina). Supporting the cases studies is the author’s contention that in the colonial Andes the Catholic Church and Spanish monarchs sought to impose narrowly defined limits on intimacy that were based on, and sought to reinforce, patriarchal norms, Catholic doctrine, and regal power.

Williams, Jerry M. Eighteenth-Century Oratory and Poetic Contests in Peru: Bermúdez de la Torre and Peralta Barnuevo. A Critical Edition of Seven Texts . Newark, Delaware: Juan de la Cueta, 2009

The author makes a case for the merely academic, rather than antagonistic rivalry between the poets and academicians Pedro Bermúdez de la Torre and Pedro Peralta Barnuevo, who lived at the end of the XVIIth and the beginning of XVIIIth centuries in Lima (Peru). Williams provides the introduction and the preface for the seven texts published between 1699 and 1745.

Muñoz García, Angel. Diego de Avendaño (1594-1698): Filosofía, Moralidad, Derecho y Política en el Perú Colonial . Lima: Fondo Editorial, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 2003.

This monograph on the life and work of Spanish-Peruvian Jesuit, theologian, jurist, and moral philosopher Diego de Avendaño (1594-1698) situates Avendaño’s contributions in the context of the overall systematic philosophical activity in colonial Peru. Divided into five chapters ("Diego de Avendaño. The man", "Probabilism and other ‘isms’", "The Empire", "Lima picaresque" and "The Ministers for Justice") García Muñoz shows that the philosophical production in colonial Peru was since its beginnings an original contribution to the history of Spanish thought rather than a passive reception of ideas imported from the metropolis.

Redmond O’Toole, Walter. La Lógica en el Virreinato del Perú a Través de las Obras de Juan Espinoza Medrano (1688) e Isidoro de Celis (1787) . Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú Instituto Riva-Agüero, 1998.

A comparative study of Juan de Espinoza Medrano’s Philosophia Thomistica and Isidoro de Celis’s Elementa Philosophiae , logic treatises completed in Peru in 1688 and 1787 respectively. According to Redmond O’Toole a comparison between the work of Espinoza Medrano, philosopher belonging to the so-called "second scholasticism" inspired by Thomas Aquinas, and of Isidoro de Celis, philosopher belonging to the second half of eighteenth-century eclecticism, allows us to grasp the significance of the influence of thinkers who contributed to the scientific revolution characteristic of modernity (chiefly Descartes, F. Bacon, Copernicus, and Galileo) in the philosophers of colonial Peru.