By John Lynch
The caudillo of Spanish America was both regional chieftain and, in the turbulent years of the early nineteenth century, national leader. His power base rested on ownership of land and control of armed bands. He was the rival of constitutional rulers and the precursor of modern dictators. In this book, Lynch explores the changing perception of the caudillo--bandit chief, guerrilla leader, republican hero--and examines his multi-faceted role as regional strongman, war leader, landowner, distributor of patronage, and the "necessary gendarme" who maintained social order. Lynch traces the origins and development of the caudillo tradition, and sets it in its contemporary context. His scholarly analysis of this central theme in the history of Spanish America is underpinned by detailed case studies of four major caudillos: Juan Manuel de Rosas (Argentina), Jose Antonio Paez (Venezuela), Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (Mexico), and Raphael Carrera (Guatemala). This study is an important contribution our understanding of political and social structures during the formative period of the nation-state in Spanish America.