Skip to main content

Reflections of an Early Modern Historian on the Modern History of Corruption and Empire

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Corruption, Empire and Colonialism in the Modern Era

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History ((PASTCGH))

Abstract

This chapter seeks to cast some light on the nature of corruption in the modern empires, through the analysis of the same phenomenon in the early-modern period. While scholars have recently emphasised that the 1800s marked a watershed in the nature (and perception) of corruption, a glimpse at the early-modern period provides a more nuanced picture with valuable heuristic insights. The early-modern Spanish empire serves as a good case in point: traditionally seen as one of the most corrupt empires of the period, it is argued that—in reality—all empires encountered the same phenomenon in one form or another. Accusations of fraud and dishonesty often revealed the complex and negotiated nature of power, and forced all empires to design new measures to cope with the challenge of geographic distance, the existence of different normative codes and the logics of informal rule.

The first version of this chapter was the keynote given by its author entitled: “The Early Modern Spanish Empire and the History of Corruption” at the meeting The corrupt colony: empire, colonialism and corruption: 1800present, held in Amsterdam on 22 January 2019, under the coordination and direction of Pol Dalmau and Ronald Kroeze. I wish to thank both of them, as well as the rest of my colleagues, for their very valuable comments. There is a much shorter Spanish version that was published in Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla, “El imperio español en la época moderna y la historia reciente de la corrupción en el siglo XIX,” in Bajo el velo del bien público. Estudios en homenaje a Guillermo Pérez Carrión, eds. Jesús Astigarraga and Javier Usoz (Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Católico, 2020), 171–184. The research for this chapter has been carried out within the framework of the FEDER research group UPO-1264973 “In search for the Atlantic aristocracies. Latin America and the peninsular Spanish elites, 1492-1824” PI, Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla, and also of the PAIDI research group HUM 1000 “The History of globalization: violence, negotiation and interculturality”, of which the principal investigator is Professor Igor Pérez Tostado. Both projects are financed by the Regional Government of Andalusia. I wish to thank also Penny Eades for her translation of this text.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Adams, Julia. The Familial State: Ruling Families and Merchant Capitalism in Early Modern Europe. Nueva York: Cornell University Press, 2005.

    Google Scholar 

  • Álvarez, Ana. La fabricación de un imaginario. Los embajadores de Luis XIV y España. Madrid: Cátedra, 2008.

    Google Scholar 

  • Andújar, Francisco. El sonido del dinero. Monarquía, ejército y venalidad en la España del siglo XVIII. Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2004.

    Google Scholar 

  • Andújar, Francisco, and Pilar Ponce Leiva, eds. Mérito, venalidad y corrupción en España y América. Siglos XVII y XVIII. Valencia: Albatros, 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Andújar Castillo, Francisco, Pilar Ponce Leiva, and Antonio Feros. “A Sick Body. Corruption and Anticorruption in Early Modern Spain.” In Anti-corruption in History: From Antiquity to the Modern Era, eds. Ronald Kroeze, André Vitória and Guy Geltner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 139–152.

    Google Scholar 

  • Benton, Lauren. Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bernardo Ares, José. Corrupción política y centralización administrativa. La hacienda de Propios en la Córdoba de Carlos II. Córdoba: Universidad de Córdoba, 1993.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beuve, Jean Eric Brousseau, and Jérôme Sgard. “Why Are Early Modern Bureaucracies Special? State Support to Private Firms in Early Eighteenth-Century France.” Journal of Economic History 77, no. 4 (December 2017): 1144–1176.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clavero, Bartolomé. “Del estado presente a la familia pasada (a propósito de estudios sobre la Famiglia Aristocratica así como también de la Familia Mediterránea).” Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno 18, no. 1 (1989): 583–605.

    Google Scholar 

  • Costa Vigo, Luis M. “Por no ir tan solo. Redes clientelares y dinámicas de poder en el virreinato del Perú: el caso del gobierno del virrey conde de Villar, 1585–1590.” Parientes, criados y allegados: los vínculos personales en el mundo virreinal peruano, edited by Margarita Suárez, 37–68. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2015.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dirks, Nicholas B. The Scandal of Empire. India and the Creation of Imperial Britain. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2008.

    Google Scholar 

  • Feros, Antonio. Kingship and Favoritism in the Spain of Philip III, 1598–1621. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  • García Hernán, Enrique. Consejero de ambos mundos: vida y obra de Juan de Solórzano Pereira (1575–1655). Madrid: Fundación Mapfre, 2007.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haring, Clarence. Comercio y Navegación entre España y las Indias. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1979. First edition in English 1918.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hespanha, Antonio M. Vísperas del Leviatán. Instituciones y poder político. (Portugal siglo XVII). Madrid: Taurus, 1989.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hespanha, Antonio M. “A constituçao do Império português de alguns enviesamentos correntes.” In O antigo regime nos trópicos. A dinâmica imperial portuguesa (séculos XVI–XVIII), edited by J. Fragoso, M. F. Bicalho and M. F. Gouvêa, 163–188. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2001.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hill, Christopher. The Century of Revolution, 1603–1714. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1961.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kerkhoff, Toon, Ronald Kroeze, and Pieter Wagenaar. Corruption and the Rise of Modern Politics in Europe in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A Comparison Between France, the Netherlands, Germany and England. Introduction.” Journal of Modern European History 11, no. 1 (February 2013): 19–30.

    Google Scholar 

  • Klaveren, Von Jacob Van. “Die Historische Erscheinung der Korruption.” Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial und Wirtschaftgeschichte 44, no. 4 (1957): 289–324.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lovejoy, David S. The Glorious Revolution in America. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1987.

    Google Scholar 

  • Madrazo, Santos. Estado débil y ladrones poderosos en la España del siglo XVIII. Madrid: Catarata, 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mestre Sanchis, Antonio. Apología y crítica de España en el siglo XVIII. Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2003.

    Google Scholar 

  • Patch, R. W. “Imperial Politics and Local Economy in Colonial Central America, 1670–1770.” Past and Present 143 (May 1994): 77–107.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peterson, Mark. “Boston Pays Tribute: Autonomy and Empire in the Atlantic World, 1630–1714.” In Shaping the Stuart World, 1603–1714. The Atlantic Connection, edited by Allan Macinnes and Arthur H. Williamson, 311–335. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pietschmann, Horst. El estado y su evolución al principio de la colonización española de América. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pugliese, Ida. “Le Métier d’Historien during the Enlightenment: William Robertson and the writing of the History of America.” PhD diss., Florence, European University Institute, 2010.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenmüller, Christoph, and Stephan Ruderer, eds. Dádivas, dones y dineros. Aportes a una nueva historia de la corrupción en América Latina desde el imperio español a la modernidad. Madrid: Iberoamericana-Vervuert, 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenthal, J., and Roy Bin Wong. Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rothschild, Emma. The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth-Century History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.

    Google Scholar 

  • Russel, Conrad. The Crisis of Parliaments. English History 1509–1660. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandholtz, Wayne, and William Koetzle. “Accounting for Corruption: Economic Structure, Democratic Norms, and Trade.” Center for the Study of Democracy, UC Irvine: Center for the Study of Democracy. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/42w2c8b2.

  • Thompson, Ian A. A. War and Government in Habsburg Spain. London: Athlone Press, 1976.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vries, Peer. State. Economy and the Great Divergence: Great Britain and China, 1680s–1850s. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wagenaar, Pieter James Kennedy, Mark Rutgers, and Joris van Eijnatten, eds. “The Genesis of Public Value Systems.” Public Voices (special issue) 10, no. 2 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  • Waquet, Jean Claude. La corruzione. Morale e potere a Firenze nel XVII e XVIII secolo. Milán: Mondadori, 1986.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yun-Casalilla, Bartolomé. “Corrupción, fraude, eficacia hacendística y economía en la España del siglo XVII.” Hacienda Pública Española 1 (1994): 47–60.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yun-Casalilla, Bartolomé. “El imperio español entre la monarquía compuesta y el colonialismo mercantil. Metodologías, contextos institucionales y perspectivas para el estudio de la fiscalidad y la movilización de recursos.” In La fiscalidad novohispana en el imperio español. Conceptualizaciones, proyectos y contradicciones, eds. María del P. Martínez, Ernest Sánchez and Matilde Souto, 29–68. Mexico: UNAM, 2015.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yun-Casalilla, Bartolomé. Iberian World Empires and the Globalization of Europe, c. 1425–1668. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Yun-Casalilla, B. (2021). Reflections of an Early Modern Historian on the Modern History of Corruption and Empire. In: Kroeze, R., Dalmau, P., Monier, F. (eds) Corruption, Empire and Colonialism in the Modern Era. Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-0255-9_2

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-0255-9_2

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-0254-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-0255-9

  • eBook Packages: HistoryHistory (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics