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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 VI: The problem of Hispanic America continued.Resuming the project of British mediation in the Spanish colonies and the treaty of 1817 that abolished the slave trade

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Chapter VI

The problem of Hispanic America continued.Resuming the project of British mediation in the Spanish colonies and the treaty of 1817 that abolished the slave trade

The end of the Spanish War of Independence and the re-enthronement of Ferdinand VII by no means changed Great Britain’s stance on the problem of the revolted American colonies. The idea of mediation aimed first and foremost at restoring Madrid to real power over the entire empire, thereby protecting it from the influence of third states as well as guaranteeing British merchants the right to trade with Hispanic America directly and legally, as outlined by Marquess Wellesley as early as in 1810, from 1812 onwards it found a genuine and tenacious promoter in Castlereagh. And though the highly promising idea could not be carried out on the peninsula when the reins of government were assumed by the constitutionalists of Cadiz, the concept for British mediation, invariably peaceful and opposed to armed intervention, had support during Castlereagh’s full incumbency at the Foreign Office. Of course, the changing circumstances and, above all, Madrid’s position beyond the ocean, deteriorating nearly year by year, accompanied by the accelerating activity of the third countries, for instance, of the United States, Russia or France, with regard to the problem of Hispanic America, caused that the way the very essence and – before anything – the purpose of the mediation were construed from the perspective of London’s policy also underwent change. In the course of...

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