Book Review: Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830


by Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, editor

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. Pp. x, 234. Illus., map, table., notes, index. $55.00. ISBN: 0812249836

Parsing the Complexities  of the Anglo-Iberian Rivalry

Prof. Cañizares-Esguerra (UT Austin) has gathered essays by more than a dozen scholars to overturn existing ideas about various aspects of the relationship between England and the Iberian powers in the wider Atlantic world, stretching from Europe to the Americas and even the Far East.

The conventional notion, is thaof nearly continuous conflict between England the Iberian powers, usually told from one perspective or the other, in histories and particularly popular cutlure (e.g, the motion picture Captain Blood, among many others). But as these essay point out, there were important and abiding interrelationships among these powers that endured despite conflict.

The essays touch on many themes, and often overlap. We see how English, Jewish, and Irish merchants sustained trade among the powers. There are a number of esays which point out how ethnic, racial, and religious identities could change in response to business or political interests, often the same person or family assuming a different identity in different places. Several essays take a look at cooperation in the slave trade and rivalry in colonializaton.

We even get a look at the role of royal marriages, notably those of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon and that of their daughter Queen Mary to her cousin Prince Philip of Spain (later Philip II), strengthening or straining economic and political ties.

Perhaps the most important point made by Cañizares-Esguerra and his colleagues is that since earlier scholars usually took a national perspective, they almost always failed to seek evidence in the archives of the other countries, and some of these offer evidence that contributes to a more nuanced and “entangled history”.

Entangled Empires is an important read for the specialist in the Atlantic world and the rise of England, Spain, and Portugal.  But it must be noted that several of these essays would also be of value to any historian -- notably military historians -- who might benefit from fishing for the elusive evidence in more than one pond


Note: Entangled Empires is also available in several e-editions.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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