Spanish American Independence c. 1808-1825 - HY42055

Quick Facts

  • Level 4
  • 30 Credits
  • Semester 1
  • 24 places
  • History - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 50% Examination 50%
  • A European Studies pathway module choice.

Module Details

This module focuses on one of the most dramatic developments of the opening decades of the nineteenth century: the collapse in less than thirty years of a vast Spanish American empire – one stretching from modern day Argentina and Chile in the south to California in the north – which had endured for 300 years, since its inception in the aftermath of the voyages of Christopher Columbus. 

Students who opt for this module will look at the following issues – and others:

  • What was the impact on Spanish America of the Enlightenment?
  • What was the impact on Spanish America of the French Revolution?
  • Why did creole elites in Spanish America find rule from Spain problematic?
  • Why did the independence struggle take different forms in different parts of Spanish America?
  • Why did some creoles and others remain loyal?
  • How did racial issues complicate matters?
  • Why were those seeking independence able to succeed?
  • What was the role of "Liberators" like Simon Bolivar?
  • What was the connection between political change in Spain and developments in Spanish America?
  • What part was placed in the independence struggle by foreign states and individuals?
  • Why were the successor states republics and not monarchies?
  • Why did Spanish America fragment into so many different independent states?


Dr Chris Storrs


This module is taught through 11 x 2-hour weekly source workshop sessions (including occasional lectures where appropriate) but focussing mainly on discussion of primary materials and 11 x 1-hour sessions based upon assessed student presentations.


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Presentation (15%)
  • One 3,500 word Essay (35%)
  • Examination (50%)


If you want a flavour of the kind of reading you will be expected to do, sample the following:

  • J. H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World; Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830. (New Haven, 2006)
  • P. Bakewell, A History of Latin America. (Oxford, 1997)
  • J. Lynch, Simon Bolivar; A Life. (New Haven, 2006)
  • J. Lynch, The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826. (London, 1973; 1986)

Access the online reading list system