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Interpreting the Portuguese War of Restoration (1641-1668) in a European Context.



The recent results of research into the War of Restoration (1641-1668), fought on the frontiers of the kingdom of Portugal, do more than merely annul the simplifying and anachronistic effects of the nationalist perspective, and have dimensions that can be linked to more general aspects of European History. This paper seeks to consider some of these aspects, discussing the nature of “nations”, studying the Portuguese case as a possible place for observing the reasons for the end of the hegemony of the House of Austria and, finally, analysing the use of war and fear as instruments in the social construction of the legitimacy for establishing the authority of the State.
e-JPH, Vol. 3, number 1, Summer 2005
Interpreting the Portuguese War of Restoration
(1641-1668) in a European Context
Fernando Dores Costa
Instituto de Sociologia Histórica – Universidade Nova de Lisboa
The recent results of research into the War of Restoration (1641-1668), fought on the frontiers of
the kingdom of Portugal, do more than merely annul the simplifying and anachronistic effects of
the nationalist perspective, and have dimensions that can be linked to more general aspects of
European History. This paper seeks to consider some of these aspects, discussing the nature of
“nations”, studying the Portuguese case as a possible place for observing the reasons for the end of
the hegemony of the House of Austria and, finally, analysing the use of war and fear as instruments
in the social construction of the legitimacy for establishing the authority of the State.
Keywo rds
commemoration, estates, House of Austria, House of Braganca, legitimacy, nationalism,
naturalization, Proclamation, Restoration, revolt
In my case, the prime motivation for researching the War of Restoration was to destroy the
traditional nationalist – image of that war as a special moment of conflict and as a time of
demarcation between “nations”, based on feelings of mutual aversion and incompatibility. As was to be
expected, the coup led by the nobles and the proclamation of the Duke of Bragança as king in 1640
soon gained a central importance in the construction of the Portuguese nationalist narrative. It was
precisely this role that was the subject of a recent study by Luís Oliveira Andrade [Andrade, 2001].
The texts written about the Restoration have almost always limited themselves to reproducing the
legitimising discourses of the Proclamation that were written at that time and provided a much-needed
justification in view of the extreme gravity of the act of overthrowing one king in order to proclaim
another. Above all, these justifications were based on the biblical representation of the “chosen people”,
finally freed from the period of “long captivity” represented by sixty years of “foreign” rule. Placing the
year of 1640 in this tradition turned this event into a work that was divine and not human. By
Costa Interpreting the Portuguese War of Restoration
(1641-1668) in a European Context
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reproducing it in the contemporary age, nationalist authors transformed the war of 1641-1668 into a
kind of war of “national liberation” after a long period of “occupation”. The specific requirements of
propaganda were capable of producing a somewhat delirious anachronism. Thus, in the History written
by General Ferreira Martins and published in 1945, we find the claim that “the military organisation
which, at the time when Dom Sebastião I himself promulgated it, had met with a popular reaction that
had made it extremely difficult to fully implement, was now [in the time of the War of Restoration]
accepted without any misgivings by the Portuguese people, who were conscious of the need to subject
themselves to every kind of sacrifice for the sake of national salvation”. Therefore, all fit and able men
between the ages of 16 and 60 enlisted, and from amongst these were chosen the “professional soldiers
paid by the Crown”. This was “the system of the ‘armed nation’, which had already been in force
during the first dynasty and had been perfected with the adoption of the system of compulsory
military service during the reign of Dom Fernando (re-established in 1641), which Dom João III
supported and Dom Sebastião expanded, but which was now to be given an organic structure that was
more in keeping with the requirements and needs of the time and very close to that of modern
organisations”. [Martins, 1945, 144-145; the words in bold were similarly stressed in the original
text.] The currents of thought that were situated within this perspective, being expressed in various
articles of a patriotic nature, did not, however, leave us with any synthetic work that is worthy of
mention. The so-called commemorative cycle of the “centenaries”, in 1940, gave rise to the publication
of some sources, as was the case with the letters of the governors-in-arms of the Alentejo, but the only
author who is worth mentioning here is Gastão de Melo Matos, who revealed an effective knowledge of
the sources and made statements that ran completely counter to the intentions of exaltation displayed
by those who were ideologically close to him. Particularly noteworthy is his study of the military life of
André de Albuquerque Ribafria [Matos, 1954]
Instead of merely reproducing the effects of this standardised pattern of interpretation and
extreme simplification of the conflict in keeping with the dogma of the omnipresence of the historical
subjects of nationalism, recent research has revealed that there were various, diverse motivations to be
found in the 17th century. The paradigm shift was initially effected by António Hespanha [Hespanha,
1989, 1993]. At the military level, research has, above all, highlighted the great difficulty in
mobilising and organising armies and particularly in keeping them together. Soldiers were enlisted
coercively and deserted en masse from the frontiers, imposing the need for so-called re-mobilizations
(“reconduções”).1 Many officers also absented themselves from their regiments and their companies,
with or without the permission of their superiors, and when called upon to return to their posts –
declared that they were only remaining at the Court to await an answer to their petitions. Moreover,
research has revealed the presence of various areas of conflict: between the estate of the Povos2 and the
military forces, the latter being accused of subverting local order and autonomy; between the military
1 “Reconduções” literally means leading the enlisted soldiers from their homes back to the frontiers.
2 Povos literally means “peoples”, in the sense of self-governing settlements; an estate composed by the elected
representatives of the towns and larger villages having a specific right to political participation; with the ecclesiastical
estate and the nobility, it constitutes the third estate of the Cortes meetings. It is not exactly a “social” representation, as
we see when a member of the first nobility, the Marquis de Marialva, a Lisbon parliamentary representative, took his
place as a pre-eminent member of the Povos estate in 1668. However, expressing local interests, this estate is the site of
the political involvement of the local nobilities that ruled the municipal governments. It is the estate of second-rate
nobility, commanding and at the same time receiving the pressure of the plebeians.
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and the magistrates,3 the latter upholding the view that the king’s power depended essentially on the
goodwill of his vassals; between the Povos and the other two estates of the realm, the nobility and the
clergy, over the question of the unequal distribution of the contributions “offered” at the meetings of
the Cortes to sustain the war effort [Costa, 2001, 2002, 2004], a picture that does not essentially differ
from the one that can be painted from the results of more recent research into the war at that time,
which has been concerned with analysing the social effects of the conflict. The observations made here
relate only to the war as fought within the kingdom itself, or, in other words, to the conflicts taking
place within the European theatre of war, because the war did in fact have other effects on the
dominions of the king of Portugal outside Europe.
But yet the war of 1641-1668 may prove to be of interest beyond the restricted field of
“Portuguese History”. It may well be of interest with regard to the social nature and historical role of
“nations” in the context of the revolts that were organised against the projects of Olivares, and
secondarily as a place for observing the failure of the “modernisation” of the Habsburg Spanish
Empire. And, finally, as an illustration of the historical qualities of the perception of defence and the
political use that was made of war and the fear of annihilation.
1. The aim of Portuguese separation from the House of Austria and, in fact, of the other successful
or merely attempted separatist movements at that time (the Netherlands, Catalonia, Naples) was to
defend the people’s capacity of resistance to the innovations in taxation being introduced and
consequently to safeguard the mechanisms of supervision over the destination of wealth and the
existing means of production and reproduction of nobles in that territory.
Underlying all this were the ideals of a minimal administration, whose “influence” would be
almost imperceptible to “society”, and the maintenance of the king’s estate within the limits established
by the primary nobility that was close to him.
The revolt of the Portuguese nobility should be seen in the context of the situation at the end of the
Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), marked by France’s direct involvement in the conflict (1635) and
by the increased pressure of the military demands made upon the Habsburg rulers in Madrid. As far
as Portugal was concerned, Catalonia’s insubordination made the difficulties arising from Felipe IV’s
favourite Olivares’s attempts to impose the long-planned system of solidarity between the king’s
various kingdoms and dominions very real.
In 1640, in view of the increasing and ever bolder demands of Olivares’s government, one
part of the highest Portuguese nobility considered that rebellion was justified, together with the
creation of a “natural” king, who would form a new apex for a network of protection at the level of the
kingdom outside the Madrid government’s supra-“national” framework of dominions. Another part of
the principal Portuguese nobility, mainly consisting of the families residing in Madrid, chose to
remain loyal to Felipe IV and to stay within the networks that foreshadowed the formation of an inter-
“national” nobility linked to the ruling house and circulating within its various dominions. It should
be noted that part of the Portuguese military that was to participate in the war of 1641-1668 had
already had previous combat experience in Flanders, which confirmed this circulation of nobles
3 Men possessing law degrees and occupying posts of territorial royal justice and upper courts; a traditional controversy
opposes men of the law to men of arms.
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amongst the various territories ruled by the House of Austria. Even after 1640, Felipe IV was closely
surrounded by a group of Portuguese nobles [Bouza Álvarez, 2000, 271-291].
However, the most interesting features to note are the anti-tax motivations that make it possible
to explain the widespread “popular” support for a plot hatched by the nobility, in which there was also
a surprisingly close consensus with regard to the king’s proclamation (being so unusual, this was
considered to be a sign of divine intervention), continued well into the new dynasty, directly affecting
the military actions taken by the government of Dom João IV. The resources that were successfully
mobilised under his reign were limited by a social (and not just economic) ceiling. The revenue
obtained through the new extraordinary tributes, “offered” to the king by the Cortes for this specific
purpose and for a limited period of three years, was clearly incapable of sustaining a larger force,
consequently removing the possibility of genuine tactical options. Although a debate was held about
the defensive or offensive nature of the campaigns to be waged, there was objectively no possibility of
changing the adopted course.
What led to the formation of this social ceiling was the mistrust felt in relation to the use made
of the extraordinary income. Without there being any decisive confrontation, the involvement of the
armed forces in operations described as “raids on Castile”, i.e., initiatives intended to pillage the enemy
territory, for which the militia groups were mobilised in the first years of the war, and the unexpected
continuation of the state of war, only served to deepen the climate of suspicion as to the real
motivations of the military officers. The proclamation of Dom João IV would only have been
worthwhile if the fiscal and military pressure exerted by Olivares’s government, namely on the pretext
of fighting against the rebellion of the separatist Catalonia, was not to be transformed into an equivalent
pressure, on the pretext of a defence that had to be continued, without imposing the recognition of
Dom João IV and the introduction of peace.
These “constitutional” constraints upon the new dynasty were illustrated most clearly by the
friar Fulgêncio Leitão in his Reduccion y restituycion del reyno de Portugal a la Serenissima Casa de
Bragança [published under the pseudonym of Juan Baptista Moreli, Turin, 1648]. He stated that the
new king’s vassals neither feared nor cowered before the Spanish lions. What they did fear and what
might cause them to cower was that there was no one who might redeem and save them, not from the
enemy’s weapons, but from the oppression of the ministers who governed them, on the king’s behalf
and with his authority. They begged to be released and redeemed, calling for government matters to be
arranged in such a way that they would not fall into such a state of oppression again. Therefore, if the
new king wished each of his vassals to be bold enough to take part in an attack upon an enemy
squadron, if he wanted to resuscitate the deeds and feats of their ancestors that he had heard and read
about when his glorious grandparents had been in government, if he wanted Portuguese valour to once
again astound the world and terrify Castile, he should redeem them and free them from their
vexations, from their injustices, in a word, from the tyranny with which Castile and its ministers, even
though many of them were Portuguese, oppressed them. Leitão went on to say that the new king
should take it for granted that he could not keep possession of the Crown that God had given him if
he accepted the opinion of some who, availing themselves of the pretext of present necessities, which no
doubt were many in these early times, advised him against relieving the people of the immense burden
of tributes and taxes to which the imprudence, ambition, and cruelty of a favourite, and of scheming
traitors – a reference here to Olivares - and the incapacity of a young prince, had condemned them.
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Furthermore, Leitão made explicit the possible continuity between the anti-taxation rebellions
under the kings of the House of Austria and a potential rebellion against the policies of the government
of Dom João IV, if they did not differ from those of the previous government. The king should
remember the cause of the uprisings that had occurred in his kingdom three or four years before his
most fortunate acclamation, considering that those people had not risen up suddenly, but rather were
greatly disposed to proclaim freedom after suffering the unbearable weight of the oppression of the
Castilian government. If they had not yet rebelled this was because they feared that they might not
achieve the unity and agreement of all and, notwithstanding this fear, when they saw that the affliction
was worsening, they preferred to die immediately rather than day by day, and, not noticing the evils
that they had initially feared, many made loud proclamations of their freedom, even though these
proved unsuccessful. Remembering these examples, if he wished to conserve what God had given him,
the king should seek to free his loyal vassals from the oppressions of the ministers who, if they were
from the group of those who served in the time of his predecessor, should be most unaccustomed to
the task (although not all, as he stressed), because all that they practiced at this time, being sovereign
and absolute, was plunder, theft and injustice. In other words, they were unaccountable to other,
higher ministers and not even to the king himself. In short, what befitted the acclaimed king was,
heeding the bad end that had befallen the past government, to seek to put into practice the opposite,
because were he to do so each of his vassals would place their possessions and their life in the service of
the conservation of the “Royal person and State”, and would all acclaim him as a prince given by
heaven and sent by God for their good [Moreli, 1648, 135-137].
This passage from the work by Leitão shows us how the new king was faced with an
insuperable dilemma: in order to sustain the war effort that might save the new dynasty from the
hostilities expected to be launched by Felipe IV in his attempts to recover the kingdom for his own
dominions, he had to maintain or recreate the fiscal and administrative pressure that was necessary for
the formation of armies, in this way provoking a deepening of the discontent felt by all those who had
seen in the new king the person that had come to free them from the administrative and fiscal pressure
that had become so unbearable in the time of Olivares, and thereby running the risk of embarking on
a course that would lead to just as bad an end as had befallen the previous government. The king’s
military capacity lay it was said in his capacity to keep up the spirits and courage of his vassals in
coming to his defence through the bonds of gratitude founded upon his benevolence, which, above all,
was manifested through the absence of any pressure to step up the military preparation of the
For this very reason, the pace of war between 1641 and 1668 was not determined by
decisions taken by those in government, be they the members of the council of State or those of the
council of War, the narrow group of councillors that were closest to the king and his secretaries of state,
or the military leaders along the borders. In the end, little advantage was taken of the years 1643 to
1646, when the fighting capacity of the so-called “Ejército da Extremadura” was very weak, to the
despair of those who advocated an offensive attitude at a time when the enemy’s attentions were greatly
distracted by the difficulties created by the insubordination of Catalonia, and when advantage should
have been taken of the negotiations taking place in Münster for peace in Europe [Cardim, 1998]. This
reluctance to take the offensive did, however, continue, until the death of Dom João IV (1656). The
weakness of the actions organised against Portugal until the signing of the “Peace of the Pyrenees” treaty
with France in 1659 is a first indication of the reduced military and financial capacity of the
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government in Madrid. Even after the rebellion of Catalonia had ceased to be such a major concern,
attentions were not turned towards the Portuguese border as expected. In this way, the behaviour of the
Portuguese government might appear to have been “irrational”, there being an evident need to take
diplomatic advantage of any military victories that it might obtain. On the contrary, there continued to
be a kind of imperfect truce. French diplomacy complained about this greatly reduced level of activity,
since, throughout the 1650s, it was convenient for the French that the Portuguese should keep up
their pressure when they were preparing to betray the cause of their ally. But the military insignificance
of the Portuguese did not help in bringing about an alteration in its European diplomatic status. The
“irrationality” of such a policy must, however, be seen in conjunction with the “rationality” of the
above-described “constitutional” constraints upon the new king.
Under the first Duke of Bragança, Portugal was to clearly illustrate what appeared to be the
fundamental contradiction of the “revolutions” taking place in the 1640s, that had as their aim to
secede territories from the monarchy of Felipe IV: being motivated by the aim of abolishing in their
territorial space the administrative and fiscal superstructure of the war, there was little legitimacy for
organising the war in a modern, efficacious sense. This was what happened in the case of Catalonia, as
suggested by Simón Torrés. As he says, against the opinion of those who see 17th-century Catalonia as
“un estat complet”, we must consider that “Catalonia was not, and would hardly have had the
opportunity to convert itself into, a state formation, by not having previously developed its own
modern administrative and military structures.” [1992, 33] Seen from this perspective, its close
proximity to France worked, in various ways, against the survival of the separation of Catalonia.
In view of this contradiction, the “revolutions of 1640 were condemned to failure from the
outset. They would be inconsequential uprisings. This makes the Portuguese case even more
Despite not having taken advantage of the more favourable situation, the Portuguese “War of
Restoration” paradoxically ended up being marked by the initiatives taken by the government of Felipe
IV. The only relevant exception was the siege of Badajoz in 1658, though this proved to be a failure
both because of tactical errors and because of the devastating effects of a prolonged siege upon the
besieging force, eroded either by the flight of some of its army or by disease.
Seen from this perspective, the successive Portuguese victories at the battles of the Lines of
Elvas (1659), Ameixial (1663) and Montes Claros (1665) may continue to be understood as a
challenge to researchers. It should be noted that all these battles resulted from situations in which
armies were formed in response to enemy invasions, as if it were only possible to form them when
faced with the evidence of an effective attack near at hand. Furthermore, immediately after these
successes, the armies spontaneously disbanded, disconcerting those who wanted to use them to
undertake even more devastating attacks upon the enemy forces.
But this succession of victories requires an explanation. One possible answer to this situation
has to do with the need to consider the role played by contingency. Battles are quintessentially
moments when a “gamble” is taken, where everything can be decided and where unexpected factors
may determine the final result. For this very reason, the “skill” of the generals was so important,
without, however, proving to be insufficient in itself because other imponderable “accidents” were also
important, such as the state of mind of the combatants. The decisive details of the battles, the methods
used for bringing the forces together in a campaign and the means of financing adopted both during
the regency of Dona Luísa de Gusmão and during the period of government by the Count of Castelo
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Melhor, remain important subjects of research that should be taken to their limits through exhaustive
consultation of the available sources.
However, regardless of these contingent factors, it is in itself significant that the confrontations
did not have a more than likely winner, even before they took place. In fact, it is interesting to note
how, a century later, the Count of Lippe once again repeated the impression that in the various
confrontations of the 1660s the “Spanish” had not succeeded in attacking Portugal with more than
twenty thousand men. Duarte Ribeiro de Macedo sought to turn this fact into part of a general “law”
that impeded the formation of large-sized armies on the Iberian Peninsula, contrary to what happened
in Italy or in Flanders, and which he considered to be rooted in the characteristic “sterility” of
“Hespanha”. Although we cannot accept this explanation because of its overly simple and “naturalistic”
nature in a rudimentary fashion it showed the author’s interest in the relationship between war and
economics that he then tried to develop further – we do find in it an expression of the difficulties
encountered in trying to launch an attack upon Portugal. These were social difficulties – resistance to
both recruitment and the payment of taxes and geographical problems the difficulty in organising,
maintaining and moving the position of a large army close to the border, having the paradoxical effect
of being able to equalise the forces of the two opponents. In this way, we may consider that Portugal’s
“salvation” was in fact… Castile.
2. A broader and more “structural” perspective explains the survival of the “restored” Portuguese
monarchy through the failure of the solutions devised by the Habsburg administration to obtain the
means to sustain the “military revolution” in its dominions. [Thompson, 1995]. In this case, the war
of 1641-1668 and its outcome assume particular importance not only within the historical theme that
over time has been identified, in traditional terms, as the problem of the “decadence of Spain”, but also
within European History in general, since the “Spanish” military defeats of 1659, 1663 and 1665
highlight the possibility of a regression in the process followed for the social and political sustenance of
the ever greater military requirements. We know that there has been an increasing erosion of the
anachronistic image of a “great power” that was projected upon the imperial mosaic under the reigns of
Carlos V and Felipe II, with greater emphasis being given to the diversity of spaces, endowed with
their own governmental autonomy, which they guarded most jealously. The “imperial” government
combined extreme exuberance with a tremendous practical inefficacy. I.A.A. Thompson [1995]
highlighted the failure of the financial solutions attempted for meeting the increasing costs of war:
By 1665, more of the ordinary and extraordinary income had been perpetuated as permanent,
public revenues than ever before, and yet a progressively smaller proportion was reaching the
government’s coffers. The state was eating its own tail. […] When, on the death of Philip IV,
royal authority also collapsed, the Spanish financial system collapsed with it. […]
Authoritarian solutions were attempted in Spain but they failed in face of the collapse of trade
and tax revenues and of the ruralization of the economy that militated against the centralist
extraction of resources. [Thompson, 1995, 287, 291]
Thompson’s conclusions are, however, always presented from the viewpoint of a regression in
the process of political centralisation, a perspective that seems to be based on a reading of the orders
being issued in the king’s name as indicating a certain administrative capacity. As far as the tasks of
recruiting and organising forces that were imposed on the nobility in 1640 are concerned, this
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situation led Thompson, for example, to characterise the process as a process of “refeudalisation”.4
Domínguez Ortiz described this as absurd, for, whenever possible, these nobles sought to avoid such
obligations, preferring to renounce this supposedly greater power [Domínguez Ortiz, 1984, 110-
111]. Meanwhile, we do not have any more detailed results from the research conducted into the war
in these last few decades under the scope of the work of Spanish historians. We imagine that previously
the period of “decadence” must have been demoralising from the nationalist point of view. We further
suppose that, nowadays, the frame of reference used by researchers is different and that they conduct
their studies without worrying about the “national” value of the discourse that they produce. But
neither have foreign scholars tended to cover the period and themes in question. Both older studies
[Domínguez Ortíz, 1960; Artola, 1982, 91-157] and more recent research have centred on the
period of Olivares [John Elliott, 1986; Ruth MacKay, 1999; Jean-Frédéric Schaub, 2001] or, despite
having the merits of venturing into inhospitable terrain, they have not dealt with this crucial question
in the decisive period the years from 1658 to 1665. [Cortés Cortés, 1985; Rafael Valladares, 1994;
Lorraine White, 1986].
We are therefore faced with the incapacity of an imperial power, established in a variety of
territories, to rise above the obstacles raised to the social accompaniment of the ever growing
requirements of the so-called “military revolution”. This power was faced with all the “national”
resistance movements, including those of Castile.
To present this confrontation as a conflict between nations, motivated by some “natural”
animosity between them, is an absurd simplification. The different “peoples” could only be considered
“nationalist” in the sense that they considered it useful for there to be a “natural king” who would
protect them – because this king would be bound by the ties of the “love” that he had felt on becoming
king – against fiscal innovations that could destroy their “molecular structure”, as I have already
stressed. It should be noted that, later, the invocation of the sovereignty resident in the nation that was
made at the moment of liberalism’s arrival, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, would also be
levelled against the attack that, within society itself, was represented by the “absolute” state, accused of
breaking pacts, or, in other words, of tyranny. Here, too, use was made of the pretence of re-
establishing the bonds of love.
Attention must also be drawn to the 17th-century difficulties in overcoming the resistance to
recruitment, the “people’s” unease in the face of the insolence of the military establishments and the
use and abuse of enforced militias. These were all features uncovered in works by Fernando Cortés
Cortés, Lorraine White and Ruth MacKay, researching the “Castilian” side, and in this way drawing
closer to the cultural divisions detected on both sides of the frontier. Without excluding the fact that
the war, viewed as a decisive conflict, made more “sense” on the Portuguese side than on the Castilian
side, we nonetheless find in both camps a feeling of mistrust towards the military forces and the wish
of the “people” to see themselves free of aggression, which, as far as the surviving local societies were
concerned, came from the military forces on both sides.
4The idea of refeudalization is already present in his seminal work Guerra y decadencia: gobierno y administración en la
España de los Austrias (written in 1976; Spanish edition Barcelona: Editorial Critica, 1981) where he acknowledges a
decline in the royal capacity for levying the armies. He states that the initial ability of the royal administration to
recruit men for the armies was later replaced by other methods, including intermediary authorities and even
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The relationship established with the king was an openly contractual one: the new king of
Portugal was expected to bestow the benefits that would justify the risks of separation from the
previous dynasty. In other words, the aim was to enjoy a better life under the House of Bragança than
under the rule of the Habsburgs. As has already been pointed out, the new king was not to create,
under the pretext of defence, a military and courtly “superstructure” equivalent to the one that had
mushroomed under Olivares and had consequently been rejected.
Later, nationalism would lead to the naturalisation of this contractual relationship, which would then
conceal its consensual nature. Acceptance of the orders emanating from the king’s government would
be presented as unconditional, because this government would then be responding, despite all
eventual internal conflicts, to the defence of a “nature” that was resident in the nation. In fact, before
nationalism brought about this “naturalisation”, “absolutism” had already been created, making use of
the “naturality”, considered to be indisputable, of the relationship between the subjects and the
monarchy, founded upon the king’s exercise of a paternal guidance, the central metaphor of the phase
of the “unlimited” power of kings. The “naturalisation” of the pact was, quite simply, its militarisation:
in the specifically military type of subordination. Here orders cannot be called into question, for this
would result in the death of all, both rulers and common people.
On the contrary, the relationship was a mediated one. The aim was to create a space of defence.
In the case of the nobility, this was made quite clear by the accusation that the “constitution” of the
kingdom, or in other words, the pact established between its nobility and the king, confirmed in 1581
by Felipe II. When analysed, the contents of this pact corresponded to the agreement that the property
in the kingdom and its dominions that produced and added nobility would remain in circulation only
within the Portuguese nobility. Despite the accusations that Felipe IV had broken this pact, the policy
followed by Dom João IV was to confirm all the donations made by the previous kings, which seemed
to run counter to the denunciation of these illicit acts.
The recreation of a “natural” king did, however, have significance for the broader sectors of the
population, despite the fact that the act of acclamation was consciously organised as an act of the
nobility, with the plebeians only appearing in a second phase, to fill the streets and execute (or
complete the execution of) Miguel de Vasconcelos, that “parvenu” who was the shadow of a government
that had dared to insult the principal nobility. The local nobility and municipal ruling elites, the
urban middle classes and the common people, all wanted protection from the fiscal attacks that had
been launched by the government of Madrid and which were expected to multiply.
But, when it proved necessary, already under the new and “natural” king, to create a system of defence
against the threat from outside, such a motivation would also guard against the possibility of this same
system giving rise to its own interests and becoming a focal point for an attack against the “society” for
whose defence it had supposedly been created.
There was, therefore, a dual definition, made in relation to two sources of aggression, from
outside but also from inside, both based on the same pattern of illicit fiscal innovations. The war was
seen as a confrontation in which the future of the warring parties would be decided. And the war was
legitimate insofar as there was an evident need to reply to an aggressive attack – but only to this extent.
For this reason, suspicion was raised about a war that would not lead to a clear definition and whose
continuation would result in benefits for the officers involved in it. The various chapters of the estate of
the Povos against the military in the Cortes of 1646 and 1653 highlighted the aim of destroying that
possibility of the war becoming a “way of life”, kept going at the expense of the taxation levied and, in
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the first few years, through the use of militia groups mobilised to undertake raids into enemy territory,
whose only motivation was the gains to be made through pillaging. Such suspicions were not in fact
unfounded. In 1654, when the king, backed the Povos, requested a ban on “incursions into Castile”,
the military leaders alleged that the existing army was clearly sustained by the proceeds of the raids
made into enemy territory [Costa, 2002].
It can therefore be concluded that the political field in Portugal was defined in relation to the
conditions established for escaping the effects of the application of the project of imperial integration,
albeit in a more limited version, initially formulated by Olivares and thereafter surviving as a shadow,
and not as a conflict between “nations”.
In the final analysis, the success of Portugal’s separation from Spain derived from the clearly evident
failure of the “military revolution” within the sphere of management of the “Spanish” government: the
resources that could be mobilised in the 1660s to fight against Portugal were incomparably fewer than
those that were imposed by the credit of Felipe IV. In this sense, all the “nations” of the “imperial
space” defeated the government of Madrid on this occasion.
3. Another interesting dimension in this field of research that may transcend the confines of
Portuguese history has to do with the links between the creation of the feeling of a threat and the
maintenance of permanent forces and, consequently, the relationship between the authority of the
“State” and the dominant forms of representation of time and death. If we consider that the imposition
of war on the vassals and common people, as well as the fear of foreign aggression, represent central
instruments in the “construction of the State” [Botero, 1992; Hyppolite, 1983], then this implies the
spread of an “internalisation” of the threat of destruction as a risk that might manifest itself at any
moment, which makes the continued mobilisation of a force intended to respond to such an
eventuality a perfectly “rational” action. This was a process that, despite not being linear and
cumulative, was only brought to an end in the 20th century, after the war of 1914-1918, with the
“brutalisation” of societies [Mosse, 1999], having been culturally prepared by the heirs to Hegel’s
doctrine about war as the creator of peoples or nations.
The political use of war has a dimension that can be illustrated in Giovanni Botero’s
explanation of the “reason of State”. This is one of the ways of “restraining potential furor by keeping
the people occupied”, and he says this, “because there is nothing that holds the souls of men in greater
suspense than important wars”, whether these be defensive or offensive ones. War leads to concerted
action amongst those taking part in it: the participants in a war are all those who have some valour and
who “expurgate their humours against the common enemies”. As for the rest of the people, besides the
services that they provide, they say prayers and make vows in return for victory and “are left suspended
in the expectation of the events of war, in such a way that there is no room left in the souls of the
subjects for revolts, for they are all, through their actions or thoughts, occupied in the venture”.
[Botero, 1992, 81-82]
This function of war as a source of social discipline became a common idea amongst the
authors of that time. The image is one of a purgative war and is compared to the exercise of the
authority of medical activity upon an infirm body [Cornette, 1993, 91-93]. It was, for example,
maintained in DeReal’s Science du Gouvernement:
“les politiques dont je parle, conclurent qu’il faut appliquer à la politique, cet aphorisme de la
médicine, qui veut qu’on attire au-dehors les humeurs peccantes du dedans et qu’il faut faire une
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guerre étrangere, pour en éviter une civile [the author’s italics]” (the politicians of whom I speak
concluded that it is necessary to apply to politics that medical aphorism, which requires that
one draws out the bad humours from within and that a foreign war must be waged in order to
avoid a civil one.)
But DeReal was a critic of such a tradition:
“il est incontestable que ce sont les guerres étrangeres qui donnent ordinairement naissance aux
guerres civiles et aux révoltes.” (it is undeniable that it is foreign wars that ordinarily give rise
to civil wars and revolts.) [DeReal, 1761,275].
The reign of Louis XIV has been taken as the most perfect example of the use of war to
establish royal authority [Cornette, 1993].
Besides this role of staving off “civil war”, a tradition was also handed down, either opposing
this idea or complementing it, in which it was stated that a people that lived through a long peace
would be looked down upon, it being necessary to wage war from time to time so that the soldiers
would not lose their courage.
War as a political instrument was later to be given a more sophisticated form of legitimisation
in the work of Hegel, who established a “constitutional” relationship between “peoples” as effective
actors in history as a form of theodicy, and war. Peoples or nations are formed through military
confrontation with others. What seems to act as the motivation for wars has to do with particular,
accidental matters, but, besides these, there is something else that is important. War is the great proof
of the life of peoples. It is through war that they show the outside world what they are inside and that
they either assert their freedom or fall into slavery. It is also in fighting a war for his people that the
individual rises above himself and that he experiences a sense of unity with the whole. The war that
puts at stake the life of the whole is a condition for determining the ethical health of the people.
Without the threat of war weighing upon it, a people risk the gradual loss of its sense of freedom,
being lulled to sleep by habit and becoming immersed in the material life. A long peace may result in
the loss of the nation. The metaphor of the winds that stir up the water and prevents it from becoming
stagnant indicates that Hegel was not unaware of the images associated with the traditional thinking
about the role of war. But he took it further: the metaphor of the people as an individuality led him to
praise the negation of negation and the highest form of “freedom” that consists of not being a slave to
life. Such a metaphor inscribes death in each individual as a risk and as a supposed form of effective
salvation. The inscription of the nation in individuals was not, however, guaranteed. Therefore, in a
famous passage, Hegel made it clear that, from time to time, through war, the government should
violate the intimacy of private individuals and make them feel death as their lord and master
[Hyppolite, 1983, 89-98].
This system, which was both the heir of the “reason of State” and simultaneously afforded it
greater power, becoming firmly established in the political climate of the late 19th and early 20th
century, was applied by the nationalist authors to the past, who simplified it and made it
homogeneous, in keeping with this paradigm of war as a “creator” of “peoples”.
Threat sustains discipline, survival legitimises death. But consistent discipline (and not just
an episodic form of discipline, if it is possible to say that persistence is not inherent in discipline)
presupposes a risk that is not simply a remote one and to which any foreseeable reply will only be
conducted by ordinary means. The risk must, on the contrary, be anticipated, as well as the exceptional
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means of responding to an attack. A distant threat is unproductive; the threat must be real and vital so
that the State can be built from this.
The case of Portugal in the 17th century makes it possible to illustrate the behaviour of a
“society” in which this legitimacy of there being an army of the permanent type was absent. It was
absent when the war began, and it continued so when peace was obtained. Although one does not deny
the possibility of the kingdom being the target of an outside attack, there seems to have been a
prevailing conception of war and defence as being based on the sense of mistrust that was felt as to the
formation of permanent forces. The existence of a permanent military force implied an administrative
power that was equipped with sufficient means – and this meant that it was necessary to persuade
“society” that not only were these means neither futile nor superfluous expenditures, but that they were
also not launching an attack upon those that they were supposedly protecting.
The representatives of the estate of the Povos at the Cortes of 1668 and 1674 more or less
clearly showed their intention to impose the complete demilitarisation of the kingdom. This position
was opposed by the one that associated the possession of mobilised troops with the status enjoyed by
the kingdom amongst foreign opinions and, therefore, in the world of diplomacy. It was a
rudimentary form of the use of war in the construction of the “State”. The prince and his advisers
propagated the supposed need to maintain some fighting capacity. Since the motivations for the kings
actions related to maintaining their own status, namely the one that they enjoyed in the so-called
diplomatic field, they were not understood by the common people, including those men that were
sufficiently exceptional to act as the representatives of the Povos in parliament. The third estate saw this
intention as being illicit and considered it to be a potential insult. There were two distinct points of
view held about military forces in times of peace: that of the king’s “estate”5 and that of “society”.
The allegation of the threat of a military attack was not understood as justifying the existence of
a military force mobilised on a permanent basis. Such a risk was understood as a pretext that was used
to attempt to make the people pay tributes to sustain men who were not performing any useful role.
This acceptance cannot be seen therefore as a “natural” acceptance it was the result of a long
process of acculturation.
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Artola (1982), Miguel. La Hacienda del Antiguo Régimen, Alianza, Madrid, 1982.
Botero (1992), Giovanni. Da Razão de Estado, INIC, Coimbra, 1992.
5 i.e. the position of the king, whoever occupied this position.
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Bouza Álvarez (2000), Fernando. Portugal no tempo dos Filipes. Política, cultura, representações (1580-
1668), Cosmos, Lisboa, 2000.
Cardim (1998), Pedro. “Os “rebeldes de Portugal” no Congresso de Münster (1644-48)”, Pelope,
19-20 (1998), 101-128
Cornette (1993), Joël. Le roi de guerre. Essai sur la Souveraineté dans la France du Grand Siècle, Payot,
Paris, 1993.
Cortés Cortés (1985), Fernando. El Real Ejército de Extremadura en la Guerra de la Restauración de
Portugal, Cáceres, 1985.
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1668, Livros Horizonte, Lisboa, 1989.
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Horizonte, 1990.
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Penélope, 24 (2001), 87-119.
Costa (2002), Fernando Dores. “As forças sociais perante a guerra: as Cortes de 1645-46 e de 1653-
54”, Análise Social, XXXVI, 161 (2002), 1147-1181.
Costa (2004), Fernando Dores. A Guerra da Restauração – 1641-1668, Livros Horizonte, Lisboa,
DeReal (1761), La Science du Gouvernement. Contenant le Traité de Politique par rapport au dehors et
au dedans de l’Etat, et aux moyens de concilier les intérêts respectifs des Puissances qui partagent la
domination de l’Europe, 6th part, 1761.
Domínguez Ortíz (1960), Antonio. Politica y Hacienda de Felipe IV, Madrid, 1960.
Domínguez Ortiz (1984), Antonio. Politica Fiscal e Cambio Social en la España del siglo XVII,
Instituto de Estúdios Fiscales, Madrid, 1984.
Elliott (1986), John. Olivares (1587-1645), Yale University Press, 1986.
Hespanha (1989), “O governo dos Áustria e a “modernizaçãoda constituição política portuguesa”,
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Hyppolite (1983), Jean. Introduction à la Philosophie de l’Histoire de Hegel, Seuil, Paris, 1983.
MacKay (1999), Ruth. The Limits of Royal Authority. Resistance and Obedience in seventeenth-century
Castile, Cambridge University Press, 1999
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Matos (1939), Gastão de Melo. Um soldado de fortuna do século XVII, Lisboa, 1939.
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Casa de Bragança, Turin, 1648.
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Velázquez, Madrid, 2001.
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Simón Torrés (1992), A. “La revuelta catalana de 1640. Una interpretación”, 1640: la Monarquía
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Hispânica, Valladolid, 1994
Valladares (1998), Rafael. La Guerra olvidada. Ciudad Rodrigo y su comarca durante la Restauración de
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Rodrigo, 1998.
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Extremeños, XLIII (2), 1987, 487-501; corrected version available at [and other works listed in this site]
Copyright 2005, ISSN 1645-6432-Vol.3, number 1, Summer 2005
... Entre 1640 e 1668, as campañas de guerra foron descontinuas espacial e temporalmente, e dependían das dispoñibilidades loxísticas de persoal e material. Foi unha guerra con escasos medios e especialistas, cunha grande importancia táctica da artillaría, as armas de infantaría e os enxeñeiros, na que exerceu un especial papel a construción dunha serie de fortificacións abaluartadas sobre todo de campaña (Costa, 2005;cAdivAFOr, 2008: 8;Almeida, 2013). A actividade bélica foi acompañada dunha importante actividade construtiva grazas á modernización das defensas de ambas as dúas frontes, a toma de posicións no país contrario e a importante transformación da arquitectura e a paisaxe precedentes. ...
Full-text available
[GAL] Texto correspondente ao relatorio presentado nas xornadas "A posta en valor do patrimonio cultural dos ríos: Galicia e outros exemplos" no que se analiza o traballo realizado na fronteira galico-portuguesa del río Miño e a posta en valor do patrimonio fortificado de época moderna conservado na mesma. [ES] Texto correspondiente a la conferencia presentada en las jornadas "A posta en valor do patrimonio cultural dos ríos: Galicia e outros exemplos" en el que se analiza el trabajo realizado en la frontera galaico-portuguesa del rio Miño y la puesta en valor del patrimonio fortificado de época moderna conservado en la misma.
... Entre 1640 e 1668, as campañas de guerra foron descontinuas espacial e temporalmente, e dependían das dispoñibilidades loxísticas de persoal e material. Foi unha guerra con escasos medios e especialistas, cunha grande importancia táctica da artillaría, as armas de infantaría e os enxeñeiros, na que exerceu un especial papel a construción dunha serie de fortificacións abaluartadas sobre todo de campaña (Costa, 2005;cAdivAFOr, 2008: 8;Almeida, 2013). A actividade bélica foi acompañada dunha importante actividade construtiva grazas á modernización das defensas de ambas as dúas frontes, a toma de posicións no país contrario e a importante transformación da arquitectura e a paisaxe precedentes. ...
Os ríos forman parte do patrimonio natural de Galicia, sen eles non se recoñecería esta terra, a pesar das transformacións que tiveron, especialmente no século XX, coa construción de presas e ecoros ou coa propia canalización en áreas urbanas e periurbanas. Galicia dispóns dun inventario do patrimonio cultural dos ríos (máis por consideracións hidráulicas que patrimoniais) que non é suficientemente coñecido e do que o Consello da Cultura Galega se fai eco nesta publicación, ao tratarse dun patrimonio ameazado. Neste libro, o patrimonio cultural dos ríos en Galicia compleméntase coa análise do patrimonio doutros ríos como as beiras do Texo en Estremadura, o Pisuerga en Valladolid, o Eresma en Segovia, o Tyne en Newcastle, incluíndo as marxes, coma no caso das fortificacións do río Miño.
... The rule of the new king John IV doubled the state's fiscal capacity through means repudiated a few years earlier. The war against the Habsburg Philip IV was thus financed by an entirely new, uniform income tax, levied at 10% rate (Costa (2005), Costa and Cunha (2006), Magalhães (2004)). Once the war was over, the endurance of the tax was assured by a reduction of the rate to 4.5%, which allowed this tax to withstand the liberal revolution in 1821. ...
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This paper considers growing fiscal capacity of the European early modern states as contingent to taxpayer's consent in higher tax loads. It puts forward the hypothesis that war damages were the main factor guiding the taxpayer's cost-benefit assessment of consenting or violently resisting to a fiscal innovation. To test the hypotheses, we consider data on Portugal in times of political struggle against the Habsburgs to restore and keep the political autonomy after 1640. The war was financed by an entirely new, universal income tax, remaining in the Portuguese fiscal system well until the liberal revolution in 1820, although enforced by a decentralized and non-specialized administration. A model derives the optimal tax rate from the standpoint of the taxpayer as a function of war intensity, risk aversion, and awareness that evasion would enhance war damages. Data on damages, contemporary assessments of the tax base, and amounts enforced allow the model's calibration. Results suggest the accuracy of the hypothesis and draw the conclusion that taxpayers' utility in paying the new tax determined the e↵ective tax rate (tax enforced). This paper claims that ultimately improvements in the fiscal capacity of states needed taxpayer's perception of high levels of destruction, hence any political regime in early modern Europe must have found in war damages a persuasive argument to make e↵ective a fiscal innovation. The other contribution of this case study is pointing out the advantage of the assignment of the tax collection to local, non-professional administration, for the endurance of a fiscal system, which incorporated an income tax that withstood the liberal revolution. It enhanced the role of peer monitoring and turned out to be an e↵ective way of instilling social norms contributing to build up the taxpayer's liability, which somehow the liberal state in 19th century exploited within a di↵erent technological environment.
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For the first time, this book presents to Czech readers the "Portuguese era" (1415–1769) in the territory of today's Morocco, a real bridge between Europe and North Africa. It was in this region that the first Portuguese and therefore European overseas conquest was concentrated (conquest of Ceuta, 1415), which gives it an irreplaceable place in the history of European expansion in the early modern period. The Portuguese Moroccan adventure was predominantly religious-military in nature with an anti-Muslim thorn, as its legitimacy was derived from the concept of the crusades and its primary objective was to ensure control of the Strait of Gibraltar as a basic precondition for securing Portugal's external frontiers and key maritime trade routes. The ideological and geostrategic significance of the territory of present-day Morocco for the Portuguese power interests is aptly illustrated by its name "Overseas Algarve", so that it could be understood as a continuation of the southernmost Portuguese province of Algarve and thus an integral part of Portugal. From a commercial point of view, it was an integral part of the Atlantic economic area and as such had the potential to supply goods to both sub-Saharan Africa and Portugal. The Portuguese interest, originally limited to the coast, gradually grew into an attempt to subjugate the whole country, but its political unification by the Sa'adid Sharifs and the catastrophic defeat of the Portuguese army at Alcácer Quibir (1578) prevented this and caused the Portuguese dominion in Maghreb to never exceed the boundaries of an unfulfilled dream.
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Portugal and Spain were ruled by a single monarchy from 1580 to 1640; the images of encircling and embracing that accompanied Castilian celebrations of the Union of Crowns indicate that new language accompanied the new political reality. This new language became the idiom of an incipient baroque, a regime of representation that rendered perceptible the particular aspirations of a universal monarchy. Through successive Castilian translations and adaptations, seminal Portuguese works crisscrossed the Hapsburg empire, enclosing the globe in a textual embrace. Textual enclosure became one of the means by which the Hapsburg empire was enacted.
This article examines the consultations of the Council of War (Conselho de Guerra) during the War of Restoration (1640-1668), its central thread being the delimitation of this Council's authority. The Council was an institutional innovation imposed following the acclamation of the house of Bragança king, but which adopted the institutional model of the house of Austria. The demarcation of the Council of War's role involved, first, the limitation of its powers in relation to the king's own powers and, at the same time, the setting of lines of demarcation between it and the monarchy's other consultative bodies, in particular the Overseas Council (Conselho Ultramarino) and the Replevin of the Court (Desembargo do Paço).
Journal of Interdisciplinary History 31.4 (2001) 644-645 The Limits of Royal Authority: Resistance and Obedience in Seventeenth- Century Castile. By Ruth Mackay (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1999) 193 pp., $59.95. This book is both a tightly focused study of military recruitment in seventeenth-century Castile and an original, convincing analysis of the nature of Habsburg absolutism that takes into account recent theorizing about the origins and consolidation of the early-modern state. It exemplifies how an archivally based historical monograph can significantly address broad conceptual issues. Starting from the observation that wartime exposes the true nature of power relations in a given society, Mackay examines the ways in which individuals and institutions were able to resist royal demands for men and money by exploiting the ambiguities and contradictions within the Castilian administrative system. Historians have long asked why Castile did not experience significant popular rebellion in the seventeenth century, despite the severe financial and military pressures occasioned by continuous warfare. Mackay argues that the fragmentation of the Castilian political system, by creating opportunities for negotiation and legitimate resistance, made overt rebellion less necessary or attractive. The Spanish monarchy was a "hybrid" in which centralization and localism, representation and absolutism, and tradition and innovation co-existed in delicate balance; a monarchy allegedly in "decline" was, in fact, strengthened and stabilized through flexibility and respect for the rights of all parties to the political compact. Mackay begins by analyzing the diffuse nature of authority over wartime recruitment and finance within the royal administration. The Council of State, traditionally entrusted with policymaking in matters of war and peace, and the Council of Finance increasingly encountered challenges from specialized juntas appointed by the Count-Duke of Olivares and from the Cortes, which had exclusive jurisdiction over a major source of revenue -- the commodities tax known as the millones. Unclear and conflicting lines of authority facilitated non-compliance with royal orders and expanded the role of the judiciary, which arbitrated competing claims over jurisdiction and precedent. Moreover, responsibility for recruitment increasingly devolved upon local institutions -- municipal and seigneurial -- that provided additional opportunities for opposition, resistance, and bargaining between Crown and subjects. The Spanish monarchy, in other words, did not experience the political centralization supposedly engendered by the "military revolution"; on the contrary, wartime exigencies further decentralized the political system. Mackay argues, however, that this decentralization was not necessarily a sign of weakness but another manifestation of the "liberty" that Nader has posited as an essential characteristic of the Habsburg political system. Cities, towns, villages, nobles, and even commoners could exercise that liberty to evade, modify, or resist royal demands for tribute in ways that testified to the "fluid, negotiated, and even democratic nature of Castilian absolutism" (135). Despite the difficulties in raising men and money, the monarchy was able to sustain an effective fighting force on multiple fronts for many decades. Mackay's rich archival sources show how municipalities distributed the financial and personal burdens of military service and how individual men and women responded to those demands. Their alternatives included exemptions, substitutes, fraud, flight, desertion, and occasionally violent resistance, but these forms of resistance were almost always couched in the language of reciprocity and obedience to royal authority. Military recruitment "disclosed a society in which power -- even if that meant just the power to say 'no'--was held by a remarkably diffuse and varied collection of vassals, all of whom acted, or said they acted, in the king's best interest" (20). Carolyn P. BoydUniversity of California, Irvine 1. Helen Nader, Liberty in Absolutist Spain: The Habsburg Sale of Towns, 1516-1700 (Baltimore, 1990).
127 p. On sait combien Jean Hyppolite a contribué à l'intelligence de la pensée de Hegel en France. La réédition de ce texte devenu classique restitue la philosophie hégélienne de l'histoire à sa vérité : d'abord dans ses origines, en la situant par rapport à celles de Fichte et de Schelling, mais aussi en rectifiant les faux sens qui pèsent sur des concepts comme celui de l'esprit ou du destin des peuples, ici ressaisis dans ce qu'ils ont de profondément incarné. On voit comment le droit vient fixer, rationnellement, le « devoir-être » d'un peuple, comment, selon Hegel, « le destin est la conscience de soi-même mais comme d'un ennemi » figure d'une contradiction toujours actuelle s'il est vrai qu'un peuple ne poursuit son « destin » qu'à le dénier comme tel.
Iuan Baptista [pseud.]. Reducion y restitucion del reyno de Portugal a la Serenissima Casa de Bragança
  • Moreli
Moreli (1648), Iuan Baptista [pseud.]. Reducion y restitucion del reyno de Portugal a la Serenissima Casa de Bragança, Turin, 1648.