Is Spain Different?: A Comparative Look at the 19th and 20th by Nigel Townson

By Nigel Townson

The slogan that introduced the vacationer within the Nineteen Sixties, “Spain is Different!,” has come to hang-out historians. a lot attempt and effort were expended ever considering that in endeavoring to teach that Spain has no longer been diverse, yet common. nonetheless, a number of the defining positive aspects of the country’s past—the civil wars, the vulnerable liberalism, the Franco dictatorship—are taken as proof of its uniqueness. A similar challenge is that few historians have truly put Spain’s trajectory during the last centuries inside of a very comparative context. This publication does so by means of tackling a few key subject matters in glossy Spanish background: liberalism, nationalism, anticlericalism, the second one Republic, the Franco dictatorship, and the transition to democracy. Is Spain Different? thereby deals a clean and stimulating viewpoint on Spain’s fresh earlier sheds new gentle at the present political debates concerning Spain’s position within the world.

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This had nothing to do with the triumphal image projected by France or Great Britain at the time. Spanish schoolchildren were instructed in past imperial glories in order to foster their national pride and were led to believe that these had been replicated during the recent war against Napoleon, but no contemporary triumphs were cited. Such hollow evocations, recited in schools and at commemorative acts, made Spaniards either laugh or feel sorry for themselves. The anecdote attributed to Antonio Cánovas del Castillo during the drafting of the 1876 Constitution is well known: on reaching the article that described the legal requirements in order to be a Spaniard, he made a show of his wit by murmuring, “Spaniards are those [ .

However, imperial expansion, the objective that accompanied or replaced the liberal revolution as the pretext or spur of the nationalizing impulse in so many European countries of the second half of the 19th century, was impossible in the case of the weak Spanish monarchy. An attempt was made under the government of O’Donnell (1858–63). And in 1898 Spain lost what remained of its oceanic empire. The imperial enterprise would be renewed in the first decades of the 20th century, but with much more modest goals, limiting itself to the northern fringe of Morocco and the odd small territory elsewhere in Africa.

Neither was the term “Gallicanism”, as control of the Church by the king and the tendency to seek ever greater independence from Rome were features shared by both the Spanish and the French Churches. The subsequent reforms of Joseph I in Austria would take the same form. Following the Anglican schism, the English Church, which did not even recognize the doctrinal declarations of Rome, had become the paradigm of what would later be called a “national Church”. The forging of “imagined communities” that preceded the nations of the modern era was based not only on religion, but also on the construction of an image of cultural singularity by means of historical accounts.

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