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Reviewed by:
  • Spain, Europe and the Wider World, 1500-1700
  • Roger Louis Martínez
Spain, Europe and the Wider World, 1500-1700. By J. H. Elliott. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Pp. xx, 322. Figures Notes. Index. $38.00 cloth.

In this collection of 14 engaging conference papers, J.H. Elliott presents an erudite lifetime of intellectual fascination with a "quartet of worlds too often compartmentalized—the European and the American, the British and the Hispanic" (p. xix). After a preface that orients the reader to his scholarly philosophy, Elliott delivers a tripartite text. Part 1 addresses Europe's fragmentary nature during the early modern period, with a focus on Britain and Spain as quintessential competitors and emulators of one another. The author's discussion of European composite monarchies, such as the Spanish Habsburg Dynasty, is especially intriguing as it delves into the deep-seated tension between the state's desire for political unity and Europeans' traditional sense of family and patrimony. Part 2 artfully explores the wider world, including the overseas expansion of the European powers, Spain's initial perception of and subsequent disillusionment with the Americas, the British exclusionary and Spanish inclusionary approaches to indigenous populations, and the eclipse of empires in the Americas. In a particularly enlightening chapter, Elliott delves into Spaniards' "dawning and often uncomfortable awareness that America was different" (p. 193) and creoles' assertion that "they were Americans, neither more nor less" (p. 210). Part 3 of Elliott's text is an eclectic study of European courtly society and the Spanish Golden Age artwork of El Greco and Velázquez. Through the lens of El Greco's life, the author evaluates the Mediterranean encounters of the Latin West, Greek Orthodox East, and Islamic civilization. In sum, scholars, students, history aficionados, and even policy-makers [End Page 563] will find that Elliott offers valuable insights on the early modern world that speak to our own as well.

Roger Louis Martínez
Saint Joseph's University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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