The idea that Spanish American countries experienced colonialism was well accepted for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The independence movements in the early nineteenth century were viewed as the result of struggles by oppressed nations against the metropole's tyranny. Recent historiography views the collapse of the monarchy as the result of the political and legal crisis brought about by the Napoleonic invasion and the illegal abdications in Bayonne in March 1808. Colonial and post-colonial theories and categories have been brought under scrutiny. The following pages sketch the historiographical and theoretical grounds and consequences of this paradigm shift.