Spain and Its World, 1500-1700


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Selected Essays

J. H. Elliott

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It used to be said that the sun never set on the empire of the King of Spain. It was therefore appropriate that Emperor Charles V should have commissioned from Battista Agnese in 1543 a world map as a birthday present for his sixteen-year-old son, the future Philip II. This was the world as Charles V and his successors of the House of Austria knew it, a world crossed by the golden path of the treasure fleets that linked Spain to the riches of the Indies. It is this world, with Spain at its center, that forms the subject of this book.
J.H. Elliott, the pre-eminent historian of early modern Spain and its world, originally published these essays in a variety of books and journals. They have here been grouped into four sections, each with an introduction outlining the circumstances in which they were written and offering additional reflections. The first section, on the American world, explores the links between Spain and its American possessions. The second section, "The European World," extends beyond the Castilian center of the Iberian peninsula and its Catalan periphery to embrace sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe as a whole. In "The World of the Court," the author looks at the character of the court of the Spanish Habsburgs and the perennially uneasy relationship between the world of political power and the world of arts and letters. The final section is devoted to the great historical question of the decline of Spain, a question that continues to resonate in the Anglo-American world of today.

"Elliott . . . has brought English-language scholarship on imperial Spain to superb levels from the early 1960s to the present. . . . These essays range from the Old World to the New and link them appropriately. They illuminate social structures, political and religious values, the costs of empire as well as their undoubted achievements, how the arts reflected such matters, and what happened to writers when they became too closely involved in the toils of political patronage and issues of state. . . . Elegant."—Paul J. Hauben, Sixteenth Century Journal

"A series of essays, written by eminent scholars over the last 25 years, concerning an important period in Spanish and European history about which academic study in recent years has provided new knowledge. Divided into four parts, the essays begin with the meteoric rise of Spain through colonization, and ends with her equally significant decline. The intermediate sections examine the region of Catalonia and its ruling class, the Catalan rebellion in the wider context of rebellion in the rest of Europe, plus Spain’s dealing with foreign affairs alongside crises in the domestic quarter. The third section looks at the world of the Court, including essays on Philip IV and Count-Duke of Olivares. Together the essays provide a fascinating period picture of Spain and her relation to Europe and the rest of the world."—British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America, the Caribbean, Portugal & Spain

"The polished, clear prose that is [Elliott’s] hallmark makes his work eminently readable."—M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado, The Historical Journal

"A fascinating synthesis of political history and literary criticism. . . . This collection of essays is an important resource of scholars of early modern Spain. It is broad ranging in its implications, yet is developed on the basis of sound scholarship in the archives and libraries of Spain. It ranks well alongside Elliott’s other already impressive works."—John F. Schwaller, The Sixteenth Century Journal

"An impressive intellectual landscape."—R.A. Stradling, The Historian

"An elegantly designed work. . . . For anyone interested in the history of empire, of Europe and of Spain, here is a book to keep within reach, to read, to study and to enjoy."—John Lynch, Times Literary Supplement

"The author combines solid historical research with a smooth narrative style to produce elegant essays which inform, stimulate, and frequently entertain the reader."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"For those familiar with J.H. Elliott’s scholarly and synthetic works on the intellectual, cultural, and political history of early modern Spain, and for readers new to the field, the publication of this book is a welcome event. . . . Important reading for all scholars of European history of the period. . . . The articles in Spain and Its World offer a balanced reflection of the work and thought of a major historian of early modern Europe, and are a useful introduction to the field of Spanish political, diplomatic, and cultural history."—Ida Altman, The International History Review

"Teachers of early modern European history—especially those who concentrate on Hispanic history—will greet this valuable and overdue volume with relief. . . . The book presents an impressive intellectual landscape, distinguished by intersecting sierras, often of considerable grandeur, that stretches from Elliott’s earliest research work to his recent interests: from Mexico to Mantua; from economic infrastructures to the political interpretation of art; and from the early sixteenth century to—well, maybe not quite as far as that—the terminal date offered in the title. It is a testament to the thoroughness of preparation, clarity of utterance, and meticulous dialectical skills."—R.A. Stradling, The Historian

"[These essays] contain sinewy material, vividly and vigorously expressed."—Nigel Glendinning, Daily Telegraph

"An elegantly designed work prefaced by a personal memoir of his journey through Spanish history. The book divides naturally into four themes which the author has made his own: Spain in America, Spain in Europe, Spain in its court, and Spain in decline. . . . For anyone interested in the history of empire, of Europe and of Spain, here is a book to keep within reach, to read, to study and to enjoy."—John Lynch, Times Literary Supplement

"Challenging, but elevating."—Booklist

"In sum, scholars, students, history aficionados, and even policy-makers will find that Elliott offers valuable insights on the early modern world that speak to our own as well."—Roger Louis Martinez, The Americas
ISBN: 9780300048636
Publication Date: September 26, 1990
316 pages, 6 x 9
The Count-Duke of Olivares

The Statesman in an Age of Decline

J. H. Elliott

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The World of the Favourite

Edited by J. H. Elliott and L.W.B. Brockliss

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Empires of the Atlantic World

Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830

J. H. Elliott

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Scots and Catalans

Union and Disunion

J. H. Elliott

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