Revoluciones hispánicas and Atlantic History: A Spanish-Language Historiographical Interpretation and Bibliography

By Roberto Breña*

As the last of the four most important Atlantic Revolutions in chronological terms, the doctrinal and political “novelty” of the Spanish American revolutions is difficult for some to find when compared with its three predecessors (the North American, French, and Haitian revolutions). If, among other things, we emphasize the Atlantic connections to Spain of the Spanish American revolutions that took place from 1810 to 1824, I think these political and social upheavals have a lot to teach us about the Atlantic Revolutions model. Focusing our attention on these connections challenges us to rethink the provincialization of the Revoluciones hispánicas in the broader Atlantic Revolutions debate – certainly, an important intellectual exercise. In what follows, I will provide an interpretation of the revoluciones hispánicas as well as survey some of the central aspects of the Spanish-language literature on the subject of the last thirty years, a literature with which non-Spanish-speaking audiences are unfamiliar.  

Between 1808 and 1814, and again between 1820 and 1823, a revolution, known by contemporary historiography as the “Spanish liberal revolution,” turned the Old Regime upside down in Peninsular Spain. In the American continent, starting in 1809, some Spanish territories of the empire began calling for more political powers; when their demands were not met, a few years later several of them were looking for independence. This search for separation from the metropole happened at a much slower pace than what nationalist Latin American historiographies long stated, but in the end, all of the American continental territories opted for separation and by the winter of 1824 the Spanish Monarchy had lost all of its American empire, with the exception of the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. 

Taken together, the Spanish liberal revolution and the Spanish American independence movements constitute what contemporary Spanish and Latin American historiographies call the revolución hispánica, in singular, or revoluciones hispánicas, in plural. This field has been consistently studied by the Spanish-speaking historians for only the last three decades. In fact, the expression began to be used with the connotation it has today in the early 1990s, due mainly to François-Xavier Guerra’s Modernidad e independencias (Ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas), a major contribution to a literature that inaugurated an array of approaches and topics regarding this period of Hispanic history—that is, of Spain and its American territories (the term should not be confused with that way in which it is used at present in the United States). From a very different perspective, Jaime Rodríguez, of the University of California at Irvine, has published extensively on the subject, in both Spanish and English. He has also insisted on the eminently Hispanic character of the period (in fact, in his view, even emphasizing the purported “superiority” of the Peninsular events). Albeit with different approaches and underlining aspects that Guerra and Rodríguez did not pay attention to, Tulio Halperin, Brian Hamnett, and Antonio Annino also contributed to the historiographic revolution that took place in the field between 1985 and 1995. Previously, with very few exceptions (Nettie Lee Benson, in the first place), this period of Hispanic history was covered separately (either the Peninsular or the American events), not in its Hispanic, trans-Atlantic dimension. This is the approach that, in my view, gives the Spanish American Revolutions (or Latin American Revolutions as they appear in this site) their unmistakable Atlantic character and that significantly contributes to make the revoluciones hispánicas even more distinctive in the context of the Age of Revolutions.

It is important to add that the “Spanish liberal revolution” is defined as such because liberalism played an essential role in peninsular Spanish history in 1810-1814 and again in 1820-1823 (this last period is known as the Trienio Liberal). If we know that the Latin American independence movements took place between 1810 and 1824, the chronologic correlation between both processes is evident. Regarding the liberal aspects of the revoluciones hispánicas, it should be mentioned that it was in the Spanish port of Cádiz, during the gathering of the Peninsular and Spanish American Cortes (or parliament), at the end of 1810, that the term “liberal” was used for the first time in history with a clear political connotation. More specifically, it was employed to define a group of politicians that called themselves liberales, that were known by that name by its political adversaries and that had the upper hand at the Cortes that planned and proposed a series of political and social changes to upend the Old Regime, both in Spain and in Spanish America. From Cádiz, the term, with the specific political connotation acquired in the Hispanic Cortes, expanded to the rest of Europe and then to the rest of the world. This is an origin of the term “liberal” that a few decades ago was accepted by very few English-speaking authors (Eric Hobsbawm was one; see his Echoes of the Marsellaise), but that it is increasingly accepted today (see, for example, The Future of Liberalism by Alan Wolfe, or LiberalismA Very Short Introduction by Michael Freeden).  This aspect of the revoluciones hispánicas, along with many others regarding their peninsular facet, were forgotten by Western historiography due to a large extent to the fact that the absolutism of Fernando VII defeated the Spanish liberals, first in 1814 and then in 1823.

The most concrete and famous achievement of the first Spanish liberalism was the Constitution of Cádiz or Constitution of 1812. Around two-hundred deputies from Spain and about sixty from the Spanish American territories, that were still under control of the Spanish Crown, contributed to draft this constitutional document. The participation in the deliberations of representatives from the American territories, that during the second half of the eighteenth century had been referred to in official documents as “colonies” and that had been treated as such for almost three centuries (notwithstanding a juridical terminology that denied this colonial status), was, in itself, revolutionary. This, and other aspects I will refer, are good examples of the depth of the revoluciones hispánicas. Regarding representation, I should add that there is a precedent in the role that a handful of delegates from Saint Domingue (Haiti from 1804 onwards) had in the National Convention during the French Revolution.

The indigenous American population was considered part of the citizenry by the Cádiz Constitution and electoral participation was, arguably, the most open that had ever existed until then in modern history. These elements contributed to the profoundly revolutionary character of the 1812 Constitution. National sovereignty, political equality and the rights and liberties of the individual suddenly emerged as the guiding political principles in the whole Spanish empire (including the Philippines). Their objective was to end once and for all with a political world in which the Throne, the Altar and a series of corporate bodies controlled everyday life of practically every subject of the empire. However, for historic and political reasons that I cannot delve into here, religious intolerance was maintained in the Cádiz Constitution and in the whole mundo hispánico (Hispanic world). In this regard, it is only adopting a historicized vision of liberalism, not a theoretical one, that the liberal contents of this period of Hispanic history can be properly understood and evaluated. I may add that in political and constitutional terms, the influence of the Cádiz Constitution was not only felt in the Spanish America for several decades, it was also felt in Portugal, several Italian territories, Russia, and what today is Norway.

From the moment Napoleon’s army invaded the Spanish Peninsula and provoked a popular reaction against it in the spring of 1808, an unprecedented political crisis started in the Spanish monarchy. Very soon, this crisis hispánica intertwined the events in peninsular Spain with those in Spanish America in unpredictable ways. Logically, some of the main political events that took place in several of the American ex-colonies of the Spanish monarchy during these years are, to a large extent, unintelligible if we ignore what was happening in the metropole. In other words, it is impossible to understand them if considered in continental isolation, more so if we are dealing with political and intellectual history. As mentioned, the revolution that took place in the Hispanic world during the first quarter of the nineteenth century derived its Atlantic character from this bi-continental Hispanic dimension.

The Constitution of Cádiz (1812) is an important part of the revoluciones hispánicas, no doubt, but important as it was at some point and from the perspective of political and intellectual history, it was only part of the story, for the political commotion quickly passed on to the American territories of the Spanish empire and very soon the American events acquired their own momentum, inertia, connotations, and dénouements, depending on the social, political and economic conditions of each territory. Some of them, like Venezuela and Nueva Granada, or for different reasons the heart of the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata (the city of Buenos Aires), very soon followed their own paths and became increasingly distant from a metropole that suddenly turned into the enemy and into an obstacle for the new territories to achieve the new political and economic goals they were setting for them at that very moment. However, there was a commonality in terms of language, religion, social understandings, and legal institutions that sprang from almost three centuries of shared history. In this context, the political principles that guided the North American and French revolutions acquired new meanings as they were adopted, transformed or manipulated by the inhabitants of Spanish America; other principles, doctrines and ideologies sprang directly from Spanish or Hispanic history. It is therefore important not to stress similarities too much when we insert the revoluciones hispánicas within an Atlantic framework. The reason is simple: they had stark differences with the other three Atlantic revolutions. 

Unlike the revolution of the Thirteen Colonies, the revoluciones hispánicas did not begin due to long-term and increasing differences with the metropole regarding taxation and political representation. Besides, as mentioned, the treatment that the indigenous population received in political terms by the revolución hispánica was in absolute contrast vis-à-vis the North American experience. Regarding the French Revolution, because the Hispanic revolutionary experience was not preceded by a movement like the French Enlightenment and because it did not start for fiscal motives. In both the North American and French case, the revolution was directed against the king. Quite the opposite happened in the revoluciones hispánicas. The revolution that started in Spain in the spring of 1808 was detonated by the occupation of the French army of the Spanish Peninsula. The Napoleonic divisions that disseminated throughout the Spanish territory with the excuse of invading Portugal provoked a reaction of the Spanish people that eventually carried with it the reaction of the Spanish army and the alliance of Spain with England, its traditional enemy. Spanish people, soldiers and officers ended up defying the most powerful army of that time and refused to accept the elder brother of Napoleon, Joseph, as king of the Spanish empire (who occupied the throne with the title of José IRey de España y de las Indias). Since the very beginning and with the notable exception of the members of a certain relatively well-off and culturally prominent social group known as afrancesados in peninsular Spain, the European Spaniards and the American Spaniards, all subjects of the same monarchy, claimed that their legitimate king was the son of Carlos IV, Fernando VII, who was kept as a pampered prisoner by Napoleon in French territory (more specifically, in the castle of Valençay) from 1808 until the end of the war, in 1814. Summing up the last point, the revolución hispánica started almost concurrently, in Spain and in America, with a practically unanimous support of Fernando VII, the deposed monarch.

However, in America this support did not last long. In July 1811, a group of distinguished creoles of the city of Caracas, in the Captaincy General of Venezuela, declared independence from Spain (Creoles were Americans of European origin that constituted, along but subordinated to Peninsular Spaniards, the elite in Spanish American societies). Little by little, this feeling expanded throughout the subcontinent. As mentioned, this expansion varied a lot from one territory to the other. This can be explained, among other reasons, because the margin of maneuver between certain level of autonomy and absolute independence was considerable and because many Spanish Americans did not want to separate from the metropole. In fact, certain territories did not obtain independence until “late” (once the process had started): the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1821, the Captaincy General of Guatemala in 1823 (although it had declared it in 1821, but to almost immediately become part of the Mexican empire), and the Viceroyalty of Perú in 1824. Some territories achieved independence in real terms much later than declaring it: for example, the insurgents of New Spain (Mexico) declared independence since 1813. Others were made independent by troops arriving from other Spanish American territories (the case of Perú). This diversity should make us cautious regarding generalizations during the Spanish American independence period.

In the end, after almost fifteen years of war, the whole of continental Spanish America became independent from Spain or, more properly, from the Monarquía Hispánica. This process came to an end in December of 1824, in the famous battle of Ayacucho, but Bolivia became independent a year later, Uruguay in 1828, and the Bolivarian project known as “Gran Colombia” (Great Colombia) disintegrated into Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador until 1830, the same year that Bolívar died.

The events that took place in Spanish America between 1810 and 1830 are very important from the perspective of social and military history, but viewed from the perspective of the history of ideas or intellectual history they are equally important. I cannot delve here into all the aspects that come to my mind in this regard, but it may suffice to say that a “constitutional explosion” like the one that took place in Spanish America (especially in New Granada) during those years has no equivalent in Western history. About forty constitutional documents were drafted in the region between 1811 and 1816. This “explosion” meant a revolution regarding the notion of representative government and made original contributions in topics like emergency powers, constitutional review, and electoral participation.

In contrast with the Cadiz Constitution, that tried to create a tri-continental constitutional monarchy (if we include the Philippines), the constitutions in Spanish America implied the creation of individual republican political entities. This means that the new Spanish American countries adopted a political form (the republic) in which they did not have any experience at all. The constitutional documents just alluded to were a peculiar mixture of principles and doctrines that partially emanated from the North American and French Revolutions, but that, inevitably, contained original elements, that stemmed from a particular set of social, political, and cultural circumstances. Regarding the Haitian Revolution, it should be noted that notwithstanding its enormous contribution the Age of Revolutions, the creole elites of the subcontinent considered it a “counter-example,” something to be avoided at all costs. Why? It implied a radical social revolution that went against their political, social, and economic interests.

Of course, the dominion or control that those elites maintained in the new countries during or after the revolutions was never total or undisputed. It is true that for a series of reasons, socio-racial divisions were always ambiguous in Spanish American history, but a certain creole identity goes through the entire colonial era. This implied a particular social view and the defense of a whole array of interests that, in my view, were not significantly touched by the independence period. In any case, what are defined in contemporary historiography as “subaltern groups” never ceased fighting for what they considered their due. As can be expected, several social groups profited from the revolutionary situation, gained advantages and tried to move forward their social and political demands. It should be added that there were a few exceptions to the rule and sometimes men of humble origins were able to rise to power (the case of the Venezuelan José Antonio Páez is a good example.) Similarly, the creole monopoly of power was often threatened or put to the test (this happened not only during the independence movements, but during the whole Latin American nineteenth century.) However, the persistence of unequal and unfair social arrangements made its way throughout Latin American history, even through some of the iconic revolutions of the twentieth century (the Mexican and Bolivian revolutions are cases in point). Even today, it is evident that the political edifice that was put in place at the end of the independence period guaranteed a series of social arrangements from which the creole elites (the predominantly white elites of today) could extract and maintain the lion’s share.

After a quarter of a century of studying the revoluciones hispánicas and as can be logically surmised, it is clear (to me) that some of the best books that have been written on these revolutions during the last thirty years are in Spanish. I have already mentioned François-Xavier Guerra’s Modernidad e independencias (1992), but several others can be mentioned: Tulio Halperin Donghi’s Reforma y disolución de los imperios ibéricos (1985), Marie-Laure Rieu Millán’s, Los diputados americanos en la Cortes de Cádiz (1990), José Carlos Chiaramonte’s, Fundamentos políticos y sociales de las independencias (2004) and José María Portillo Valdés’ Crisis atlántica (2006), are only a handful of examples; see other forty-five references in the bibliography that follows this essay. Beyond titles in particular, several of the authors that appear in this bibliography represent a proficient, profound, and sustained intellectual effort to study the revoluciones hispánicas. In it, are included historians of younger generations from several Latin American countries; among them, Wasserman, Rabinovich and Di Meglio (Argentina), Ávila and Moreno (Mexico), Ossa and Cid (Chile), and Gutiérrez Ardila (Colombia); in my view, they guarantee the continuation of the quality work I have just alluded to.

All this means that if Atlantic historians interested in the four “great” Atlantic Revolutions want to delve into them and make comparisons with historiographic entity, they must read Spanish. This, in my view, is the only sound way, in academic terms, of considering the revoluciones hispánicas and the Spanish American revolutions within the Atlantic framework. However, as we all know, not only Atlantic History, but also Global History, are mainly studied and diffused in a single language: English. Not only that, as any glance at the bibliographies of many of the books written in English on the Spanish American revolutions can attest, the vast majority of the sources are in English. If we consider the role played by the Spanish monarchy in Western history from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, either global historians learn to read Spanish and engage with Spanish-language literature  or “global” history is simply doomed, historiographically speaking. A similar argument applies regarding Portuguese history and the Portuguese language, especially if we take into account what is usually considered the “first globalization” (the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries).[1]

Any panoramic view of the Spanish-language historiography that exists at present regarding the Latin American Revolutions should start by saying that since the end of the twentieth century few historians purport to study them as a whole without keeping an eye on the metropole. This does not mean that Latin American nationalist historiographies are extinct or that social and cultural aspects of the Spanish American independence movements cannot be studied without paying significant attention to Spain. In fact, in several countries of the region there has been a historiographical reaction against the role given to Spain and the peninsular events when trying the independence period in each particular territory/country. There is no denying that, including the work of Guerra, some exaggerations have taken place or are still taking place regarding the influence of the peninsular events over Spanish America (many of them coming from Spanish historiography, but also from historians working in the United States). That being said, I think that the trend to study the political and intellectual history of this period from a perspective that is Hispanic to a large extent (that is, not predominantly nationalist) is here to stay. It is true that there was only one single monarchy, but the tendency to exaggerate the role played by Cádiz regarding the whole subcontinent is out of place, if only because, as mentioned, in certain regards some territories fell out of the “Peninsular orbit” relatively soon. In any case, I think caution is in order regarding the Atlantic approach, to the extent it tends to put in parenthesis the nuances of the Hispanic revolutionary experience. It is important not to lose from view the limitations of mostly looking for aspects in which this experience resembles those of other Atlantic Revolutions.[2]

During the last decade of the twentieth century and the first one of the twenty-first, it was the political approach to the Latin American revolutions that prevailed. However, in the last twelve years or so, things have changed. At present, cultural history and social history are making some of the most innovative contributions. Conceptual, military and economic histories are also playing an important role. Regarding current “military historiography”, it should be mentioned that François-Xavier Guerra insisted on topics like sociabilities, elections, and public opinion, involuntarily minimizing or at times ignoring the decisive role that war and violence played in the mundo hispánico during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. In this regard, like in several others, some aspects of Guerra’s approach, decisive as it was three decades ago, is in the process of being superseded.

In brief, the historiography in Spanish on the revoluciones hispánicas is nowadays a very vibrant field. In part due to the “Hispanic” impulse it received three decades ago, but also because for several years now the historiography on this period in countries like Argentina, Mexico and Colombia is witnessing a notable dynamism and diversity. Even some Brazilian historians are approaching this period of their history with an eye on the Spanish American independence movements. The interest in academic Latin American circles on Atlantic History, and less so on Global History, has also contributed to this dynamism. In this regard, as stated, not everything has to be studied under Atlantic or Global lenses, but neither under “Hispanic” glasses; it all depends on the hypotheses and objectives of each historian. However, I think that at this point in time, the “Hispanic” approach is, regarding political and intellectual history, the most fruitful. This privileging of the Hispanic perspective should not be understood, in any case, as a zero-sum game vis-à-vis other approaches, but as a heuristic emphasis. 

I may add that the world was less connected than what is often suggested by some books written under the Atlantic and Global academic trend we are experiencing. If only for one reason: at the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were profound geographical, technical, and linguistic limits to the thoroughly connected world that some of the historians representing these new methodologies tend to posit. Besides, it should not be forgotten that the vast majority of the inhabitants of Spanish America only perceived or received pale echoes of this purported global inter-connectedness.

As already mentioned, at the end of this essay I provide a list of fifty titles in Spanish that exemplify, support or corroborate some of my arguments. I do not include any book in English, not because there are not plenty of good books on the Spanish American independence movements in Shakespeare’s language, but because this site already provides a very large list of references. I hope the bibliography I present here will be useful to the readers of Age of Revolutions. Needless to add, it does not try to be exhaustive in any sense. In fact, it is very subjective; it includes books of mine and what I consider to be some of the best titles that were published during the last three decades or so on the Spanish American independence movements (or Latin American independence movements). Therefore, it leaves less space for the peninsular facet of the revolución hispánica. Finally, it concentrates its attention in political history and it gives a bit more space than warranted to the Mexican case. It is worth adding that the lack of connection between the English-speaking and the Spanish-speaking academic worlds in this field is compounded by the fact that Latin American historians of the independence period tend to “hyper-concentrate” their research on their respective countries and tend to read only their compatriots, sometimes almost exclusively. 

I covered too many topics in relatively few paragraphs. As a fit closure to this historiographic essay, I could sum up one of my main points by saying that English-speaking historians working on the Spanish American Revolutions should be familiar with some of the best books and articles written in Spanish. Among other things, this would avoid presenting as “new findings” aspects that are well-known by Latin American scholars who master the field. This incorporation of at least part of the vast bibliographic corpus that already exists in Spanish would put new questions, hypothesis, perspectives, and understandings on the Western academic table of study and debate regarding the Spanish American revolutions, the revoluciones hispánicas, the Atlantic Revolutions and the Age of Revolution.

Questions, comments, and criticisms:


AGUILAR RIVERA, José Antonio, En pos de la quimera (Reflexiones sobre el experimento constitucional atlántico),México, CIDE­/FCE, 2000.

ÁLVAREZ CUARTERO, Izaskun, y Julio SÁNCHEZ (eds.), La independencia de América: la Constitución de Cádiz y las Constituciones Iberoamericanas, Salamanca, Universidad de Salamanca, 2007.

ANNINO, Antonio, y Marcela TERNAVASIO (coords.), El laboratorio constitucional iberoamericano: 1807/1808-1830, Madrid, AHILA/Iberoamericana, 2012.

ÁVILA, Alfredo, En nombre de la nación. La formación del gobierno representativo en México, México, Taurus/CIDE, 2002.

BREÑA, Roberto, El primer liberalismo español y las independencias hispanoamericanas, 1808-1824 (Una revisión historiográfica del liberalismo hispánico), México, El Colegio de México, 2006.

_______, El imperio de las circunstancias (Las independencias hispanoamericanas y la revolución liberal española),Madrid, Marcial Pons/El Colegio de México, 2013.

_______, Las revoluciones hispánicas y la historiografía contemporánea (Historia de las ideas, liberalismo e Ilustración en el mundo hispánico durante la Era de las revoluciones), Bruselas-Berlín, P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2021.

CHIARAMONTE, José Carlos, Nación y Estado en Iberoamérica (El lenguaje político en tiempos de las independencias), Buenos Aires, Editorial Sudamericana, 2004.

_______, Fundamentos intelectuales y políticos de las independencias, Buenos Aires, Editorial Teseo, 2010.

CID, Gabriel, Revolución y república (Pensamiento político en la independencia chilena), Castelló de la Plana, Universitat Jaume I, 2018.

DI MEGLIO, Gabriel, “La participación popular en las revoluciones hispanoamericanas, 1808-1816. Un ensayo sobre sus rasgos y causas”, Almanack, n. 5, 2013.

DOMÍNGUEZ MICHAEL, Christopher, Vida de Fray Servando, México, ERA/CONACULTA, 2004.

ESTRADA MICHEL, Rafael, Monarquía y nación entre Cádiz y Nueva España, México, Porrúa, 2006.

FERNÁNDEZ SARASOLA, Ignacio, La Constitución de Cádiz (Origen, contenido y proyección internacional), Madrid, CEPC, 2011.

FERNÁNDEZ SEBASTIÁN, Javier (dir.), Diccionario político y social del mundo iberoamericano (La era de las revoluciones, 1750-1850), Iberconceptos I, Madrid, CEPC/Fundación Carolina/SECC, 2009.

_______ (dir.), Diccionario político y social del mundo iberoamericano (Conceptos políticos      fundamentales, 1770-1870), Iberconceptos II, Madrid, Universidad del País Vasco/CEPC, 2014.

FRASQUET, Ivana, y Andréa SLEMIAN (eds.), De las independencias iberoamericanas a los estados nacionales, 1810-1850 (200 años de historia), Madrid, Iberoamericana/AHILA, 2009. 

GOLDMAN, Noemí (ed.), Lenguaje y revolución: conceptos políticos clave en el Río de la Plata 1780-1850, Buenos Aires, Prometeo, 2008.

GONZALBO AIZPURU, Pilar, y Andrés LIRA GONZÁLEZ (coords.), México, 1808-1821 (Las ideas y los hombres), México, El Colegio de México, 2014.

GUEDEA, Virginia, En busca de un gobierno alterno: los Guadalupes de México, México UNAM-IIH, 1992.

GUERRA, François-Xavier, Modernidad e independencias (Ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas), Madrid, MAPFRE, 1992 (new edition: Madrid, Ediciones Encuentro, 2009).

_______, Figuras de la modernidad: Hispanoamérica (siglos XIX-XX), Annick LEMPÉRIÈRE y Georges LOMNÉ (comps.), Bogotá, Taurus/Universidad Externado de Colombia, 2012.

GUTIÉRREZ ARDILA, Daniel, Un nuevo reino (Geografía política, pactismo y diplomacia durante el interregno en Nueva Granada, 1808-1816), Bogotá, Universidad Externado de Colombia, 2010.

HALPERIN DONGHI, Tulio, Reforma y disolución de los imperios ibéricos 1750-1850, Madrid, Alianza, 1985.

HÉBRARD, Véronique, y Geneviève VERDO (eds.), Las independencias hispanoamericanas (Un objeto de historia), Madrid, Casa de Velázquez, 2013.

LA PARRA LÓPEZ, Emilio (ed.), La guerra de Napoleón en España (Reacciones, imágenes, consecuencias), Madrid, Casa de Velázquez/Universidad de Alicante, 2010.

MORELLI, Federica, Territorio o nación (Reforma y disolución del espacio imperial en Ecuador, 1765-1830), Madrid, CEPC, 2005.

MORENO, Rodrigo, La trigarancia (Fuerzas armadas en la consumación de la independencia; Nueva España, 1820-1821), México, UNAM/Fideicomiso Teixidor, 2016.

ORTIZ ESCAMILLAJuan, Guerra y gobierno (Los pueblos y la independencia de México, 1808-1825), México, El Colegio de México/Instituto Mora, 2014.

OSSA, Juan Luis, “Monarquismo(s) y militarismo republicano en Chile”, in Roberto Breña (ed.), Cádiz a debate: actualidad, contexto y legado, México, El Colegio de México, 2014.

PALACIOS, Marco (coord.), Las independencias hispanoamericanas (Interpretaciones 200 años después), Bogotá, Grupo Editorial Norma, 2009.

PALTI, Elías, El tiempo de la política (El siglo XIX reconsiderado), Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI, 2007.

PERALTA, Víctor, En defensa de la autoridad (Política y cultura bajo el gobierno del virrey Abascal, Perú 1808-1816),Madrid, CSIC/Instituto de Historia, 2002.

_______, La independencia y la cultura política peruana (1808-1821), Lima, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2010.

PIMENTA, João Paulo, La independencia de Brasil y la experiencia hispanoamericana (1808-1822), Santiago, DIBAM/CIDBA, 2017.

PONS, André, Blanco White y América, Oviedo, Instituto Feijoo de Estudios del Siglo XVIII, 2006.

PORTILLO VALDÉS, José María, Crisis atlántica (Autonomía e independencia en la crisis de la monarquía hispánica), Madrid, Marcial Pons, 2006.

_______ y Pilar CAGIAO (coords.), Entre imperio y naciones (Iberoamérica y el Caribe en torno a 1810), Santiago de Compostela, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 2012.

POSADA CARBÓ, Eduardo, e Iván JAKSIĆ (eds.), Liberalismo y poder (América Latina en el siglo XIX), Santiago, FCE, 2011.

RABINOVICH, Alejandro, Ser soldado en las guerras de independencia (La experiencia cotidiana de la tropa en el Río de la Plata, 1810-1824), Buenos Aires, Sudamericana, 2013.

RIEU-MILLÁN, Marie Laure, Los diputados americanos en las Cortes de Cádiz, Madrid, CSIC, 1990.

RODRÍGUEZ, Jaime, La independencia de la América española, México, FCE/El Colegio de México, 1996.

ROJAS, Rafael, Repúblicas de aire (Utopía y desencanto en la revolución de Hispanoamérica), Madrid, Taurus, 2009.

SERRANO, José Antonio (ed.), El sexenio absolutista, los últimos años insurgentes (Nueva España, 1814-1820), Zamora, Colmich, 2014.

_______ y Juan ORTIZ ESCAMILLA (eds.), Ayuntamientos y liberalismo gaditano en México, Guadalajara, Colmich/Universidad Veracruzana, 2007.

TERNAVASIO, Marcela, Gobernar la revolución: poderes en disputa en el Río de la Plata (1810-1816), Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI, 2007. 

THIBAUD, Clément, Repúblicas en armas (Los ejércitos bolivarianos en la guerra de independencia en Colombia y Venezuela), Lima-Bogotá, IFEA, 2003.

VARELA SUANZES, Joaquín, La teoría del Estado en las Cortes de Cádiz, Madrid, CEPC, 2007.

VANEGAS, Isidro, Las batallas de Boyacá, Tunja, Ediciones Plural, 2019.

WASSERMAN, Fabio, “La nación como concepto fundamental en los procesos de independencia hispanoamericana, 1780-1830”, en La nación imaginada, Humberto Quinceño Castrillón (comp.), Cali, Universidad del Valle, 2015.

Roberto Breña has a PhD in political science from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. He is professor and researcher at the Centre for International Studies of El Colegio de México in Mexico City. His main academic interests regard liberalism in the Hispanic world, the Atlantic Revolutions, intellectual history, and the historiography on the Age of Revolutions. He is the author of four books on Spanish liberalism and the Spanish American independence movements within the Atlantic context and is the editor of two other books on these topics. His most recent publication is “Tensions and Challenges of Intellectual History in Contemporary Latin America“, Contributions to the History of Concepts, vol. 16, issue 1, 2021. He is the author of Liberalismo e independencia en la Era de las revoluciones (México y el mundo hispánico), El Colegio de México, 2021 (forthcoming). He has been a visiting professor in universities in the United States, Canada, Spain, and France. Email: 

Title image: Primer Congreso Nacional de Chile (julio-diciembre, 1811) (Santiago, antiguo Palacio de la Real Audiencia, hoy sede del Museo Histórico Nacional)


* The author thanks the editors of this site for their counsel and recommendations regarding previous versions of this essay. I also express my gratitude to the two peer reviewers and to the six Latin American colleagues who gave me their advice.

[1] For a critical overview of Global History, especially viewed from Latin America, see “Historia Global. Presentación” by Bernd Hausberger and Érika Pani: (2018). Less critical of Global History and showing a certain naïveté about it and about a potential nineteenth century Latin American “globality”, but also very interesting, is the text in English by Matthew D. Brown: “The Global History of Latin America” (2015). 

[2] Regarding some of the difficulties to delve into the Spanish American revolutions and to say something new about them from an Atlantic perspective, see the last chapter of Wim Klooster’s Revolutions in the Atlantic World (NYU Press, 2009; new edition, 2018). Exercises like this one are useful and even necessary, but in my view the aforementioned caution is in order.

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