The Spanish Enlightenment Revisited

BookThe Spanish Enlightenment Revisited

The Spanish Enlightenment Revisited

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2015:02


February 3rd, 2015



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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.


‘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’.

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

‘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’.
Cuadernos de Ilustración y Romanticismo