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New Left Review I/23, January-February 1964


V. G. Kiernan

Imperial Spain 1469–1716

Imperial Spain 1469–1716, Edwin Arnold, 30/—, 411 pp. J. H. Elliott

The schoolchild described a net as a lot of holes tied together with string, and Spanish history might be called a lot of gaps tied together with guesses. On the 16th century, Spain’s great age, numerous books have been written of late by Spanish scholars, for whom modern history is more or less forbidden ground. A good deal of their labour (though by no means all) has been devoted to questions about how many theologians could stand on the point of a 16th century pin; and even on that epoch out ignorance is still extensive. Dr. Elliott’s task was therefore an exceedingly difficult one, and the degree of success he has achieved is remarkable. His own period is the early 17th century, and for the two and a half centuries as a whole he has naturally to rely on the special studies of other writers. He is careful to point out not only these, but also the problems that still await study, or remain controversial. His book thus forms a critical review of the existing state of knowledge, with many valuable ideas and suggestions of his own added, and the whole mass of material combined into an intelligible pattern.

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Victor Kiernan, ‘Imperial Spain 1469-1716’, NLR I/23: £3
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