National Reform and Municipal Revolt in a Revolutionary Spain: Seville and Western Andalusia, 1766-1823

Charles Nick Saenz
UC San Diego

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Spain, the Bourbon monarchy lost the ability to function as an absolutist regime and was forced into uneasy accommodation with the emerging ideology of liberal democracy. This dissertation examines the role of political culture in facilitating this shift. Seville and surrounding towns serve as a case study uncovering how political culture framed practical discussions on the nature of government in this period as a dialogue between local and national elites. Central to these debates were the importance of longstanding traditions and local autonomy, which became challenges to the consolidation of a heavily centralized liberal democratic state.

Saenz argues that widespread support for traditional practices and alternative forms of local governance should not be seen to have signaled a wholesale rejection of state-building efforts or the positive reception of liberal democracy at the local level, but rather were representative of a desire on the part of local actors to intervene in events taking place at the national level. These interactions constituted an effort by participants to negotiate the terms of political change in a manner that historians often overlook, but which is key to understanding the practice of politics in Spain throughout much of the modern period.