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Title: The restoration and fall of royal government in New Granada, 1815-1820
Author: Earle, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0001 3436 9584
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1994
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This thesis studies Spain’s failure to halt the revolution which led to Colombia’s independence in 1822. After Napoleon’s occupation of the Spanish peninsula in 1808, most of Spain’s South American colonies removed themselves from European control and functioned as sovereign states. The thesis explores, first, the activities of royalists in the Viceroyalty of New Granada during this period. It then turns to events after 1815. In that year, following the defeat of Napoleon, Spain’s restored monarchy despatched a substantial army to Venezuela and New Granada, in an effort to return the viceroyalty to Spanish control. This expedition, while initially successful, failed ignominiously in its task. The thesis examines the reasons for Spain’s defeat, which was more the result of Spanish error than Colombian patriotism. To begin with, Spain’s policies for solving the American problem suffered from several fundamental defects. All attempts at ending the American insurgencies were based on an inadequate understanding of American realities. Moreover, the only policy to which Spain committed itself wholeheartedly, namely military reconquest, was seen by many as merely exacerbating the problem, and was further restricted by financial considerations. Spain thus lacked a coherent policy for counter-revolution, and failed to carry through those plans it succeeded in putting into operation. New Granada saw the effects of this non-policy. Colonial officials there, like officials in Spain, disagreed profoundly in their proposed cures for the insurgency. Furthermore, mutual distrust between members of the civil administration and the royalist army at times overshadowed efforts to defeat the insurgents. Disagreement over policy was but one strand of the royalist crisis in New Granada. Equally serious was the chronic shortage of money suffered by both the army and the civilian administration. Their continual demands for food, funding and supplies wore away Neogranadans’ initial support for Spain’s reconquest, as did the arrogant and offensive behaviour of royalist troops. Perennially short of cash, the army and the administration relied on forced loans and confiscation to keep afloat. These proved an unstable base for a re­imposition of Spanish control. The effect was that the inhabitants of New Granada, most of whom had welcomed the royalist army in 1816, by 1819 gave enthusiastic support to Simón Bolivar’s campaign against Spain’s General Morillo. The thesis examines these issues, setting them in the context of Spain’s effort to restore its authority in New Granada. It then charts the consequent collapse of royal government from 1819 to 1822. It concludes with an assessment of the Spanish response to the loss of the American colonies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Academy
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: F1201 Latin America (General)