Fearful Vassals

Urban Elite Loyalty in the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata, 1776-1810

Peter Blanchard’s new book is an ambitious effort to examine the antecedents of May 25, 1810. The author is an established historian of colonial Río de la Plata with broad archival experience. His ambition is made clear by the geographic breadth of his research. In a field focused on the viceregal capital city, Blanchard’s decision to examine the viceroyalty’s three largest cities, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Córdoba, is a welcome expansion in scale and perspective. Every specialist will also appreciate the rich historical detail that propels his narrative of late colonial social and political history.
Hispanic American Historical Review

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Following the creation of the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata in 1776, the elites of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Montevideo turned time and again to the Spanish crown for intercession, mediation, and support to maintain their privileged position during the tumultuous years before the May Revolution of 1810. Their loyalty was in part a result of the social status, political opportunities, and economic benefits that produced their privileged style of life. But of greater importance were the various internal and external factors that threatened their privileges, including inter-group rivalries, the presence of subversive ideas linked to the French Revolution, growing numbers of black slaves who engaged in various forms of resistance, indigenous groups who blocked the exploitation of the viceroyalty’s resources, Portuguese interlopers, and British imperial ambitions that culminated with the invasions of the viceroyalty in 1806 and 1807. To retain their privileges and their tenuous hold over the region, the viceroyalty’s urban elites looked to Spain for help, ensuring their continuing loyalty to the Spanish crown in increasingly troubling times.

280 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

November, 2020

isbn : 9780822946199

about the author

Peter Blanchard

Peter Blanchard is professor emeritus of history at the University of Toronto and a member of the Conference on Latin American History.

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Peter Blanchard