Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of New Nations by Matthew Brown

Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of New Nations

Matthew Brown
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Annotation

Between 1810 and 1825, seven thousand British, Scottish, and Irish mercenaries traveled to Gran Colombia to fight against Spanish colonial rule under the rebel forces of Simon Bolivar.
Their motives were mixed. Some traveled for money, others for honor. “Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies ”explores the lives of these men—their encounters with other soldiers, indigenous people, local women, and slaves—as recounted in adventure stories, military histories, and British imperial history. As Matthew Brown illustrates, the history of Britain and its colonial subjects can no longer be easily defined. The colonists were themselves adventurers, penetrating Latin America beyond the formal boundaries of the empire during the early nineteenth century, and even (as these narratives show) fighting for its independence.
As Brown demonstrates, these “foreigners” were an essential part of the revolution that eventually gave Spain's colonies their freedom. Using archival research from England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia, “Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies” clearly shows the active role these mercenaries played in the creation of Latin America as we know it today.

Publisher Description

Between 1810 and 1825, 7,000 English, Scottish and Irish mercenaries sailed to Gran Colombia to fight against Spanish colonial rule under the rebel forces of Simon Bolivar. Their motives were mixed. Some travelled for money, others travelled for honour. “Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies” explores the lives of these men their encounters with other soldiers, indigenous people, local women and slaves as recounted in documents that fall outside the usual remit of military, political and economic historians. Matthew Brown considers the social and cultural aspects of the presence of these foreigners', and shows how they were an essential part of the revolution which eventually gave South America its freedom. Using archival research from England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia, “Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies” clearly shows the active role that these mercenaries, informal outriders of the British Empire, played in the creation of Latin America as we know it today.

Review
This is a very enjoyable book to read, full of surprising and suggestive insights. Perhaps most importantly, it is an interpretation that adds complexity, and nuances, to long-standing historiographical views of British involvement in the Spanish American Wars of Independence, of early Spanish American concepts of nationhood and ethnicity, and of the impact these adventurers' actions had in the region. ... this is a noteworthy contribution Latin American Studies, Vol 40 2008 Many people have tried to write this book, but Matthew Brown finally has done it properly. It is a work of astonishing ambition and considerable labor and, through his new methodology, the author arrived at some surprising conclusions. Adventuring through Spanish colonies is an ambitious and successful book. In short, this book is a much needed corrective to earlier, more speculative accounts of the British and Irish recruits in Gran Colombia's independence armies. Irish Migration Studies in Latin America

Author Biography

Matthew Brown is a Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of Bristol.

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Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of New Nations