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Title: From the Ritz to the rubble? : the asistente of Seville, urban government and disaster, 1621-1700
Author: Ford, Oliver
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 7004
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Seventeenth-century Seville, one of early modern Spain's most populous cities and the mercantile hub of its imperial trade, endured repeated and severe flooding of the Guadalquivir River, events that have been largely overlooked by historians. Additionally, Seville's boom-then-bust history and the allure of the 'decline of Spain' thesis have ensured that the second half of the seventeenth century for both the urban and the national context remains similarly neglected. This thesis, by conducting research into the city's flooding from 1621 to 1700 presents an alternative narrative of continuity, at the same time as asserting the value to be gained from a historical study of the environment and disasters. I argue that urban responses - political and cultural - to disaster provide fundamental evidence of the impact of wider historical processes and structures. The asistente - the royal governor - of Seville likewise lacks sustained or detailed study. These men, as the king's appointees, had a vital role in the performance of the government of the Habsburg monarchy. The city's equivalent of the corregidor in other Spanish cities and towns, and previously understood as a legal and administrative official, the asistente was, I argue, responded to a broader set of political attitudes, which prioritised conservation and discouraged novelty. I also stress the hands-on and practical aspects to the post, which demanded a working appreciation of urban space. By connecting a study of royal government in one of the most significant of early modern Spanish cities to an environmental history of flooding, I address important gaps in the scholarship and suggest new avenues of research into the history of environmental disaster. Spanish 'decline' might be reinterpreted as a failure to deal with specific local environmental issues, and environmental disaster acknowledged as an issue of central political importance.
Supervisor: Davidson, Nicholas Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Environmental history ; seventeenth century ; urban government ; Flooding ; Spain--Seville ; disasters ; Urban history ; environment ; asistente ; flooding ; spain ; seville ; natural disaster ; disaster ; urban