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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 19th 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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This monograph was conceived as an attempt to present the relations between Spain and Great Britain throughout the first three decades of the 19th century, i.e. the ground-breaking period of goings-on between the two countries. I focused on analysing the long-lasting and immensely complex process of the breaking of walls of traditional hostility in mutual Spanish-British dealings. By emphasising the circumstances and factors determining the policies that were conducted by the two empires, I endeavoured to depict them in a broad international context going beyond sole bilateral relations. This monograph aimed to show the changing role of the two monarchies vis-à-vis each other, in the Concert of Europe and even outside the boundaries of the Old Continent, as well as to clarify both the internal and external reasons behind that evolution which resulted from transformations coming about on the European and global political arenas. My focus in this study was on the political aspects of bilateral Spanish-British relations. Wherever this had relevance to the political problems, I also discussed issues regarding commercial and economic contacts which significantly influenced mutual relations between the two states. Questions pertaining to Spanish-British military cooperation during the war against Napoleon, elaborated upon in-depth in both Spanish and British historiographies, although it still provokes arguments and polemics, were just a background to the main topic of my dissertation. Last but not least, I passed over the subject of cultural relations completely.

Chronologically, the study covers the years 1808-1833, i.e. the timespan...

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