historiography

historiography
   The writing of Spain's history was a particularly sensitive issue during the period of the Franco dictatorship, especially since the regime sought its legitimization in carefully selected precedents from the past. Franco's rising against the Second Republic was, at an early stage, dubbed a "crusade" by the then Bishop of Salamanca, and Francoist propaganda thereafter strove to see the Civil War as the defence of Catholicism against "godless communism", continuous with the medieval reconquest of Spain from the Moors, and with the struggle against Protestantism in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Nationalist historiography therefore concerned itself primarily with the periods of Spain's past greatness, the union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile under Ferdinand and Isabella, and the "imperial Spain" of the Hapsburgs.
   The corollary of this concentration on the medieval and early modern periods was that the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were comparatively neglected. The Enlightenment, modern European liberalism, and the bourgeois and proletarian revolutions experienced by other countries in the nineteenth century were regarded as an aberration, a source of foreign contamination, and the cause of all the evils of the present age. Consequently, any attempt to examine these phenomena from anything other than a censorious point of view was systematically suppressed. Juan López-Morillas" pioneering study of the influence on nineteenth-century Spain of the minor German idealist philosopher Krause, El krausismo español (1956), had to be published in Mexico, and was not reprinted in Spain until 1980, five years after Franco's death. An even more dangerous area for historians was the Civil War, where the official view was the only one tolerated. Hugh Thomas" classic study, The Spanish Civil War (1961), which set new standards of thoroughness and objectivity, appeared in Spanish translation in Paris shortly after publication, but was not published in Spain until 1976. Since Franco's death, there has been a huge output of monographs on the modern period, and on previously forbidden subjects like the Civil War, the Second Republic, and the Franco regime itself. Historians like José María Jover Zamora, Miguel Artola, Manuel Tuñón de Lara and Juan Pablo Fusi have done fundamental work in these areas, characterized by scholarly rigour and impartiality, thoroughness, and the application of modern quantitative approaches. The seven-volume Enciclopedia de la historia de España (completed 1993), edited by Artola, devotes an entire volume to statistical information and maps.
   This activity did not, however, arise in a vacuum, nor is it the case that prior to 1975 serious historiography was only being done outside Spain, despite the existence of justly acclaimed work by, for instance, J.H.Elliott, John Lynch, Noël Salomon, Richard Herr, Raymond Carr, and Stanley Payne. Within the constraints of the prevailing culture, modern revaluations of official interpretations of the past could and did take place. As early as 1942, Ramon Carande published a critical study of the financial structure of Hapsburg Spain. Jaume Vicens Vives" deceptively modest 1952 volume Approach to the History of Spain (Aproximación a la historia de España) provided a much-needed corrective to the conventional Cas-tilian-centred view of the Spanish past by emphasizing Catalonia's distinctive contribution to the cultural and political evolution of the peninsula. It also questioned one of the key assumptions of Castilian nationalist views of the past, the notion that a fully-fledged "reconquest" mentality existed in the immediate aftermath of the Moorish invasion in the eighth century.
   This kind of revisionist historiography reflects the willingness of new generations to learn from methods and approaches developed in other countries, notably France, where the Annales school had encouraged the use of quantitative techniques, thereby shifting emphasis away from traditional diplomatic and constitutional history to social and economic history. This shift entails detailed analysis of a new range of primary sources, which in turn requires the abandonment of restrictive practices with regard to access to archival material. It was not uncommon during the Franco period and before for important collections of documents in private ownership to be inaccessible to researchers, either because the figure or movement to which they referred was politically controversial, or because they contained unflattering information, or through sheer possessiveness. Since 1975, the more relaxed intellectual climate has assisted greater openness and accessibility, and important collections such as the personal papers of the nineteenth-century Democrat leader Emilio Castelar, and Manuel Azaña, Prime Minister and, later, President of the Second Republic, have been deposited in the National Library and the National Historical Archives. Primary material is also being made available in print: collections like the Bases documentales de la España contemporánea (Documentary Sources for Contemporary Spain) have proved an invaluable resource.
   There are 34,000 archives in Spain, of which 14,000 belong to the church. The remainder are divided among central, regional and local government bodies, law courts, trade union and other organizations, and private owners. Of the national total, 68 are in the care of the Ministry of Culture, of which six are state archives. The largest of these is the General Administration Archive in Alcalá de Henares, which has 160,000 linear metres of holdings, 9 million documents, and 15,000 books.
   In 1990, after concerns were expressed in a report about staffing levels and facilities, the Ministry embarked on a comprehensive plan to rehouse the National Historical Archive (Madrid), and to upgrade all the major archives, including the Archive of the Indies (Seville) and the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Barcelona), by introducing computerized cataloguing and retrieval systems, and improving arrangements for conservation and reproduction of documents. The application of advanced technology to the Indies Archive won it the Erasmus Prize in 1992. Reorganization of archives has not, however, been free of controversy. In 1995 a plan, approved by the cabinet, to move the archive of the wartime Generalitat (regional government of Catalonia) to Barcelona met with stiff opposition from the city authorities in Salamanca, home to the section of the National Historical Archive where documentation referring to the Civil War is centralized. The desire to respect the wishes of the autonomous communities thus conflicts with the principle stated by UNESCO, that where possible major collections should be kept together, with copies of documents being made available in other locations where appropriate. In an attempt to resolve some of these problems, a Junta Superior de Archives (Supreme Council for Archives), composed of a small group of leading historians, was set up in 1995.
   Further reading
   - Rodgers, E. (1989), " The Reconquest of Spain", THES, 869 (30 June): 18.
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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