Fearful Vassals

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

This is a vital history of fealty to monarchy and empire in Spanish America. Peter Blanchard’s book is a fascinating voyage through elite culture on the eve of revolution. Even under duress, opportunism, shared values, and common threats kept patrician classes in line. No one has excavated the reasons and roots for this loyalism as thoroughly and as compellingly as Blanchard. Along the way, he offers a complex portrait of three very different kinds of cities, cities which feuded with each other more than they did with Spain.
Jeremy I. Adelman, Princeton University

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