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Patrycja M. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk is the professor of the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce (Poland). She is a head of the Department of Diplomacy and European Policy. Her researches are focused on Spanish diplomatic history and present Spanish home politics.
A new book just published by Peter Lang publishing house is an English edition of the study by her originally written in Polish. It is an attempt of a comprehensive approach of the Anglo-Spanish political relations in the period indicated in the title. The monograph is based on an extensive query of the sources carried out in the archives of both sides the British and the Spanish (The National Archives, the British Library in London, the Codrington Library, All Souls College, Oxford, as well as in Archivo Histórico Nacional, Archivo General del Ministerio de Astuntos Exteriores and the Archivo General del Palacio in Madrid). Those archival materials were supplemented by numerous printed sources including both newspaper («The Times»), and many publications containing the diplomatic documents, reports on the meetings of the British Parliament, correspondence and diaries of people active in the political life of the discussed period. Erudition and excellent knowledge of literature (written in English, French, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish of course) are evident in every portion of the reviewed work. Numerous commentaries and polemics with the opinions formulated by other historians that abundantly filled the footnotes of the book proved that more than sufficiently.
Very well written introduction – informative and valuable, is certainly an encouragement to continue the reading of the book. The essential considerations were included in nine chapters. The first entitled: Control of foreign policy and diplomatic service in Spain and Great Britain in the early 19th century, is divided into two sections: 1. Spain, 2. Great Britain. It comprises a general introduction concerning the evolution of the system of power and diplomacy in both countries in question in the early nineteenth century. In fact it is – much needed – substantial introduction devoted to explaining the structure of the central administration of the two countries and the mechanisms ruling their diplomacy.
Chapter II: Political relations between Spain and Great Britain at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, like the previous one, is based essentially (but not only) on the literature. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk presents in it the history of the evolution of the relationship between the described states recalling that their mutual relations were under the sign of the traditional hostility stemming still from previous centuries and ruling to the early 19th century. It was recalled that since the outbreak of the conflict between the United Kingdom and France for 1808, Spain – as an ally of Paris, was almost constantly at war with the UK. Madrid and London still competed on the seas and in the colonies, although the position of Spain in this game clearly weakened. The Author described the then principles and aims of British policy which were not necessarily limited to Spanish rival and gave an overview of the most important events related to the Anglo-Spanish wars between 1796-1801 and 1804-1808. The advantage of this part of the work is also the fact that Anglo-Spanish relations often are portrayed against the background of Anglo-French relations. It helps understand that the first one were to some extend the function of the second.
The longest in the whole work (133 p. ) Chapter III: Towards normalization. Political relations between Spain and Great Britain in the years 1808-1814, was divided into six sections, in which the Author describes in turn the circumstances of the outbreak of the Spanish War for Independence, the political return of the country to the alliance with Britain and further development of mutual relations during the war with Napoleonic France. From this one, all subsequent chapters are based mainly on a rich archival material. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk tracks the efforts of the provincial juntas to obtain the help from Great Britain and the attempts of London to coordinate the actions of the Spanish local authorities and to subordinate them to some central management. She describes the enthusiasm with which the UK accepted envoys from the Iberian Peninsula and the then prevailing political situation on the continent. The Author draws attention to the strategic importance of the Spanish colonies in America for the British economy, and hence also to the policy of London towards Spain. She deals with the first British military and diplomatic missions to the Spanish provinces and attempts to establish the principles of cooperation, the scale and type of the military and financial assistance, which would be supplied by Britain. Especially valuable factor that was successfully shown is the complexity of the Anglo-Spanish relations. United Kingdom – being the most important ally of Spain – was, however, at the same time regarded by it as a traditional enemy and rival of the Spanish Bourbons in the colonies. On the other hand, the level of Spanish organization both a political and military one was the constant object of the British critical remarks. The problem was a business relationship, where the opening of the Spanish market for British goods was threatening domestic producers, which determined quite wary policy of the Junta Central in this regard, finally forced to surrender to the British expectations by the plight of military Spain.
The Author further deals with the objectives and results of the mission of John Hookham Frere to the Central Junta, broadening the horizon of her research about the relationship of Spain with Sweden, Denmark, United States and Russia and thus giving a wide panorama of interdependent relationships of the then contemporary diplomatic powers. Finally, describing the circumstances of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Alliance between Spain and the United Kingdom of January 14th 1809 she analyzes its stipulations and their implementation, as well as the expectations and reactions of both parties related to the concluded alliance, especially in the context of the military developments in the Iberian Peninsula – the Convention of Sintra and the battle of Corunna, the ultimately result of which revealed the problems in connection with the effective cooperation of the Spanish generals and gave birth to the British government disappointment with its Spanish ally. However, the Author underlines a fundamental importance of the Treaty of 1809 for Anglo-Spanish relations. It finally finished a period of wars between the two countries.
The mission of Richard Colley Wellesley in Spain (fundamental for the developments in the Peninsula) as well as the activity of his two brothers – gen. Arthur (later Lord Wellington), and Henry (British ambassador in Spain) were widely described in the final section of Chapter III. The title of the Subsection: Between disappointment and necessity – the functioning of the alliance during the age of the War of Independence, Richard, Arthur and Henry Wellesley in Spain, clearly reflects its content.
Chapter IV: Hispanic America in Spanish-British relations during the Spanish War of Independence, is an extensive analysis of that thread of mutual relations between the two political entities described, which was already indicated in the previous chapters. The Author analyzes the impact of the situation on the Iberian Peninsula on the ties of the Spanish colonies with their metropolis. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk points out the economic interests of both parties, which formed the basis of their mutual contradictions and she describes the problem of British mediation between Spain and her colonies during the War of Independence.
In the next – Chapter V of the book: Spanish-British relations in the age of the European Reconstruction, the Author exposes the influence of both powers on the process of the shaping of the political order of Europe in the last phase of the Napoleonic wars, and in the era of the Congress of Vienna. She draws attention to the political weakness of Spain and its actual absence among the most important actors of the contemporary diplomatic world, then she discusses thoroughly debate on the future of the estate of the Bourbons in Italy. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk signals a growing internal conflict in Spain between liberals and supporters of absolutism with the King Ferdinand VII at the helm, and broadly describes the Anglo-Spanish negotiations relating to the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance of 1814. She shows the lack of understanding of contemporary Spanish politicians, for essence of an European policy on the Congress of Vienna and their incompetence. According to her these were the reasons of the failure of the diplomacy of Madrid in its attempts to achieve its political goals. She concludes a cooling of the Anglo-Spanish relations at the end of the Napoleonic wars and the exacerbation of contradictions mutual interests. The issues that determined the unfavorable evolution of that relationship were: the different attitude of the both sides to the future of Hispanic America, reluctance of Spain to ban the slave trade, the return of Madrid to absolutism and to the alliance with Russia.
In the following Chapter VI of the book: The problem of Hispanic America continued. Resuming the project of British mediation in the Spanish colonies and the treaty of 1817 that abolished the slave trade, we get the next in-depth analysis of the evolution of the Spanish-British relations in the era of the reign of principles of restaurants and domination of the States of the Holy Alliance in Europe, especially in the context of increasing difficulties in maintaining the power of Madrid in its overseas possessions in America. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk precisely shows the differences of political purposes of both partners, which prevented them from achieving a lasting agreement. Spaniards expected their British allies, acting as mediators, primarily to make the rebels in the Spanish colonies aware, that they cannot count on the support of London, while, as the Author rightly emphasizes, the aim of British policy of that time was already a recognition of the independence of the Spanish colonies.
Chapter VII, entitled: Great Britain in the face of the Spanish Liberal Revolution (1820-1823) and the intervention of the Holy Alliance on the Iberian Peninsula, includes analysis of the attitude of the government of His Majesty towards described political developments in Spain in terms of London goals to that country. The Author shows it in the context of the concerns of the British cabinet related to the impact of the Spanish example of rebellion of the subjects against the king, on the political scene of Albion itself, where the then reigning George IV was the person generally very unpopular. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk writes wider as well about the attitude of other powers (Russia, France and Austria) to the Spanish Revolution – which in turn allows the reader to see the image of the issue described in a broader international context, going far beyond the narrowly understood Anglo-Spanish relations.
Chapter VIII: Towards recognising Spanish America, discusses the impact of the final stage of the disintegration of the Spanish colonial empire to the Spanish-British relations. The Author points out that the rejection of British mediation by Spain changed so far positive attitude of London to the issue of territorial integrity of the power of Madrid in the New World. The independence of the emerging countries in Latin America was seen by the British government as the question of the near future. Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk notes that the ruling Spanish Liberals could not offer anything constructive to Spanish colonies and in the early twenties process of disintegration of the empire has picked up. The prospect of intervention of the Holy Alliance countries on the Iberian Peninsula further accelerated the decision of the British government concerning the recognition of the new countries overseas. The Author highlighted the economic motives of the adoption by the UK of such a position, and the sake of the weakening of the position of France, who as an ally of the absolutist Spain could not support the independence of the Spanish colonies, and thus fall out of the competition for influence in the newly established countries.
The last Chapter IX of the book: In quest of a rapprochement between London and Madrid (1826-1833) – from «the Portuguese question» to «the Spanish one», was devoted to the relations of Great Britain with two Iberian countries. In both of them internal political tension increased and was to lead to the outbreak of the civil wars both in Portugal as well in Spain. The complexity of the developing conflict has been underlined by the Author in a very suggestive way by indicating that, at that time London was absorbed in a matter of preventing the Russo-Turkish war provoked by Greek case and in the efforts to remove French troops from Spain. British Government would not, therefore, wants the outbreak of another conflict –between Spain and Portugal. Sending of British troops to Portugal, simultaneously to the stationing of French troops in Spain also threatened spread of the crisis. Ultimately, however, the intervention of the British in the latter country has become a necessity. The withdrawal of French support for the Spanish action resulted in the resignation of Ferdinand VII from the current policy towards its neighbor and the recognition the liberal government in Lisbon by Madrid. It was not the end of the crisis. In the last part of the work lecture was brought to 1833 – i. e. to the death of the Spanish ruler, and even reached the following year, when the new political reality created by the July Revolution in France in 1830, changed the situation. Four years later, it became possible to create a Quadruple Alliance of the liberal monarchies with the participation of the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal, which was supposed to be a counterweight to the absolutist states of the Holy Alliance – Russia, Austria and Prussia.
The dissertation was closed with accurately composed Conclusion, which is not only a reminder of the essential findings of the individual chapters, but also an accurate summary relating to the whole book, contains general remarks on the strategic objectives and the nature of the policies of the two countries covered by the reviewed hearing.
The book is provided with Bibliography as well as Index of names and a summary in Spanish.
Thus we have received and outstanding piece of art in the domain of historical writings based on profound researches – the book by Patrycja Jakóbczyk-Adamczyk is a must reading for everyone who wants to be fluent in the history of the European as well as the Hispanic-American history of the early 19th century.