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The “Perfidious Invasion” of 1808: Ideological Disquiet and Certainty in Moratín


This paper revisits the afrancesados’ role in Spanish historiography as well as their political positioning prior to, during and after the French invasion of 1808. Taking the famous playwright Leandro Fernández de Moratín as a case study, the paper explores his political ideas beyond established labels such as “supporter of enlightened despotism” coined by Sánchez Agesta. To this end the article reviews a variety of Moratín’s texts, including Carta de un vecino de Foncarral a un abogado de Madrid sobre el libre comercio de los huevos, Apuntaciones sueltas de Inglaterra, Viaje a Italia, a Prologue to Isla’s Fray Gerundio de Campazas, as well as Moratín’s correspondence. The essay argues that despite his confessed social, economic and even political liberalism, Moratín never supported any specific form of political organization, neither absolutist nor liberal. His open skepticism locates him beyond prevailing ideologies.

The paper was presented at the conference on The End of the Old Regime in the Iberian World sponsored by the Spanish Studies Program and the Portuguese Studies Program of UC Berkeley on February 8-9, 2008.

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