This book considers the close but sometimes contested relationship between Britain and Iberia in the period c.1770-1870. It begins by considering how British Enlightenment writers came to terms with the decline of Spain as a political and economic force following the Seven Years War. It then considers the great debates in Britain about Catholic emancipation, franchise reform, how the British historically understood themselves, issues of intervention or non-intervention in Europe, the emergence of history writing as a popular form of reading, an academic discipline and an extension of national identity. The discovery of Spanish art and the emergence of a debate in Victorian architecture about the use of the vernacular and craft techniques are also discussed, and consequently the book makes a significant addition to our understanding of Victorian taste and aesthetics.
Spain was therefore something of a mirror in which the British saw themselves both reflected and perhaps distorted, and so we learn as much about the British as about the Spanish. A broad cultural history which is multi-disciplined in its approach and appeal, it will become essential reading for senior level undergraduates and postgraduates in Hispanic Studies departments. -- .