Between 1810 and 1825, 7,000 English, Scottish and Irish mercenaries sailed to Gran Colombia to fight against Spanish colonial rule under the rebel forces of Simón Bolívar. Their motives were mixed. Some travelled for money, others travelled for honour. Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies explores the lives of these men – their encounters with other soldiers, indigenous people, local women and slaves – as recounted in documents that fall outside the usual remit of military, political and economic historians. Matthew Brown considers the social and cultural aspects of the presence of these ‘foreigners’, and shows how they were an essential part of the revolution which eventually gave South America its freedom. Using archival research from England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia, Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies clearly shows the active role that these mercenaries, informal outriders of the British Empire, played in the creation of Latin America as we know it today.
This is a very enjoyable book to read, full of surprising and suggestive insights. Perhaps most importantly, it is an interpretation that adds complexity, and nuances, to long-standing historiographical views of British involvement in the Spanish American Wars of Independence, of early Spanish American concepts of nationhood and ethnicity, and of the impact these adventurers' actions had in the region. ... this is a noteworthy contribution
Latin American Studies, Vol 40
Many people have tried to write this book, but Matthew Brown finally has done it properly. It is a work of astonishing ambition and considerable labor and, through his new methodology, the author arrived at some surprising conclusions. Adventuring through Spanish colonies is an ambitious and successful book. In short, this book is a much needed corrective to earlier, more speculative accounts of the British and Irish recruits in Gran Colombia's independence armies.
Irish Migration Studies in Latin America