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Allies or Enemies

Political relations between Spain and Great Britain during the reign of Ferdinand VII (1808–1833)

Patrycia Jakobczyk-Adamczyk

Spanish-British relations changed during the first three decades of the 19 th century. Both states emerged victorious from the Napoleonic wars and were united by the alliance, but their respective strength was totally different. While Great Britain enhanced its status as a sea power, strong enough to affect the political situation in Europe, Spain sank to the rank of a secondary state. Britain, protecting clearly defined interests, carried out long-term and rational policy. Spain’s policy was inconsistent and it could not be treated as a reliable ally in spite of its considerable economic resources and strategic importance. The book analyses a long and complex process of overcoming the traditional hostility between the two countries and outlines the international context as well as the internal conditions of that political evolution.
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Chapter IV: Hispanic America in Spanish-British relations during the Spanish War of Independence


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Chapter IV

Hispanic America in Spanish-British relations during the Spanish War of Independence

In the early 19th century Hispanic America generated a considerable part of the Crown’s revenues, with colonial trade being a fundamental link in the entire system of the mother country’s foreign commercial exchange. First of all, European industrial goods were re-exported to America, in addition to which certain domestic agricultural products, including, amongst other things, flour and alcohol, were shipped there as well. In exchange, America provided precious metals and colonial articles, such as sugar, coffee, tobacco and cocoa. The foregoing structure of the exchange ensured substantial surpluses, which in turn allowed Spain to cover its deficit in trade with Europe1. Though the peninsular economy was extremely heavily dependent on the colonies, when the Peninsular War broke out the mother country’s control over its overseas dominions had already been materially diminished, with the Iberian empire disintegrating both politically and economically. The loosening of these bonds took place for several reasons: it resulted from the imperial administration system, the economic and scientific boom in the colonies in the 18th century (stimulating local communities to action in the public sphere), the altered line-up in the international arena, and the progressing competition among European powers and the United States in the New World2. Although this study is not aimed at analysing all of those factors, it is worthwhile to point to the fact that Hispanic America had already taken emancipation action as early...

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