Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo
436 pages; 14 black and white illustrations; flapped paperback; 14.5 x 22 cm
Spanish; Spanish translation by Marta Balcells and Juan Carlos Bayo of the original English version by Oxford University Press, 2004 preface by Sir John H. Elliott; jointly published with Marcial Pons; 2011
This book examines the relationship between Spain and America in the seventeenth century through the life and thought of Juan de Palafox (1600-1659), a protegé of the count-duke of Olivares who became bishop of Puebla and Visitor General of New Spain. More sensitive than his patron to the constitutional diversity of the empire, Palafox developed a programme for reform wich involved delegating power to the American municipalities controlled by the creoles. His support for creole aspirations and attempt to carry out a radical plan for administrative decentralization threatened to overturn the established viceregal system and metwith strong opposition in government circles. Faced with domestic revolt and war in Europe, ministers in Madrid sacrificed reform in America to the preservation of Spain’s reputation in Europe. Yet the fact that Palafox failed in no way undermines the importance of his endeavour. By promoting a different political arrangement for the Indies, he trust under the spotlight the main problem faced by Spanish statesmen of this period, that of ruling a composite monarchy at a time of mounting international pressure.
Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo holds a degree in Modern History from Oxford University, where she earned her PhD with a thesis on Juan de Palafox supervised by the prestigious hispanist John H. Elliott. She has been leader writer and chief Opinion columnist of the daily newspaper El Mundo and has held a seat in the Congreso de los Diputados (the lower house in the Spanish Parliament) since 2008, the year she was designated a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in Davos.