"We Are Now the True Spaniards": Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808-1824

By Jaime E. RodrÍguez O. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
A Shared Political Culture

TO UNDERSTAND the formation of the new nations of America, among them México, it is necessary to examine the nature of the Antiguo Régimen. Many erroneously believe that the Spanish Monarchy was highly centralized, confuse absolute with autocratic rule, and equate the modern concept of colony with pre-nineteenth-century governing practices. As a result of these misconceptions many have assumed wrongly that the representative political structures established in the postindependence period were alien systems imported from Great Britain, the United States, and France.1 That is not correct. To comprehend the nature of political culture in late eighteenth-century New Spain, it is necessary to dispel misperceptions about the political system of the Spanish Monarchy and the political theory and practice that supported it. The following sections, therefore, will examine the characteristics of the Antiguo Régimen, the nature of representation, the formation of American identity, and the eighteenth-century reforms.


The Antiguo Régimen

Throughout their history, the Spanish possessions in America constituted part of the worldwide Spanish Monarchy—a confederation of disparate kingdoms and lands that extended throughout portions of Europe, Africa, Asia, and America.2 The great Jesuit scholar and writer, Baltazar Gracián acknowledged that reality in 1640 when he compared the French with the Spanish Monarchy:

There is a great difference between founding a unique and homogeneous kingdom
within a province to constituting a universal empire with different provinces and na-
tions. There [in France] the uniformity of laws, the similarity of customs, one language
and a uniform climate, which unite it, also separate it from foreigners. The same seas,
mountains, and rivers are for France a natural boundary and a rampart for its preserva-
tion. But in the Spanish Monarchy where the provinces are many, the nations different,
the languages varied, the interests in conflict, [and] the climates divergent, great ability
is required to conserve and even more to unite.3

-7-

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"We Are Now the True Spaniards": Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808-1824
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note about America and Americans xvii
  • Terms Used in the Text xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - A Shared Political Culture 7
  • Chapter 2 - The Collapse of the Spanish Monarchy 34
  • Chapter 3 - The Events of 1809 68
  • Chapter 4 - Two Revolutions 97
  • Chapter 5 - The Cádiz Revolution 149
  • Chapter 6 - A Fragmented Insurgency 195
  • Chapter 7 - Separation 235
  • Chapter 8 - The Mexican Empire 268
  • Chapter 9 - The Formation of the Federal Republic 305
  • Conclusion 335
  • Notes 347
  • Sources 445
  • Index 481
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