Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Empire, 1402-1975

by James S. Olson, ed.-in-chief


This encyclopedic A-Z volume for all level readers is an excellent source of documentation on the glory and plummeting fate of the Spanish empire. . . . Highly recommended for college and large public libraries. Library Journal

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November 1991


Pages 718
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/General
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On October 12, 1992, five hundred years will have passed since Christopher Columbus made landfall on San Salvador. His voyage across the Atlantic Ocean set in motion a series of unprecedented social, political, economic, and cultural forces that changed the entire world. The Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Empire looks at the process by which Spain extended its influence across the globe. It provides more than 1,200 brief descriptive essays covering colonies, individuals, political institutions, legislation, treaties, conferences, wars, revolutions, technologies, social and religious groups, and military battles. References at the end of each entry provide sources of additional information for those wishing to pursue the subject further.

Cross-references within the text, designated by an asterisk, will help the reader to find related items. Two appendixes provide a chronology of Spanish imperialism and a list of the individuals who presided over the viceroyalties of New Granada, New Spain, Peru, and Rio de la Plata. The Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Empire is an invaluable reference tool for scholars and students alike. It should be of interest to reference librarians at college and university libraries, as well as large public libraries.

Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionThe DictionaryAppendix A: A Historical Chronology of the Spanish EmpireAppendix B: Colonial Viceroys of the Spanish Empire, 1535-1824Selected BibliographyIndex



This volume attempts to do what no other does: cover Spain's entire empire, from start to finish, in its political, social, economic, and cultural dimensions. Brief entries are equipped with brief bibliographic references, supplemented by a bibliography. A chronological table and a list of Spanish viceroys are included. So is an alphabetical index.... The breadth of coverage is notable.... No single volume offers the advantage of this overview..... Recommended.—Choice

This encyclopedic A-Z volume for all level readers is an excellent source of documentation on the glory and plummeting fate of the Spanish empire. There are over 1300 entries, many of which would be found only in a much more specialized work. Articles average in length a quarter of a page, with country articles running up to three pages. Among the subjects included are colonies, persons, government institutions, laws, treaties, groups, conferences, wars and battles, and revolutions. Coverage of an area ends with independence, incorporation into Spain, or transfer to another power. Articles are signed (there are 38 academic contributors, including a number of Hispanics) and contain sources. . . . The volume contains a chronology of the empire from 1402 to 1975, a list of colonial viceroys of the four viceroyalties, and a selected bibliography of some 250 works both recent and established. Highly recommended for college and large public libraries.—Library Journal

This is the first historical dictionary of the Spanish Empire (although Scribner's multivolume Encyclopedia of Latin American History is scheduled for publication in late 1992). Unlike many reference works on Spanish colonial history, the editors provide coverage from 1402, when Castile expanded into the Canary Islands, to the surrender of the Spanish Sahara in 1975. The dictionary offers brief descriptive essays for more than 1,200 topics ranging from colonies, individuals, and institutions to revolutions, technologies, and military battles. . . .[It] will make a useful addition to academic and many large public libraries. Booklist The armada of books greeting the quincentenary of Columbus's transatlantic voyage of discovery will almost certainly raise many questions about the globe-girdling empire that Spain acquired in Columbus's wake, questions that Olsen's dictionary is ideally suited to answer. Its brief articles focus on the people, institutions, and colonies of the Spanish empire, from Castile's expansion to the Canary Islands in 1402 to the surrender of Spanish Sahara in 1975. Articles on political events, treaties, and wars in Europe that affected the empire are integrated alphabetically with articles on the colonies themselves, noted individuals, events, industries, institutions, cities, commodities, native peoples, and political offices of the imperial possessions in the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific. Articles on former colonies cover the period from conquest or acquisition to the time of independence or transfer to another nation. Index, bibliography, and end-of-article references add value to the articles. Given the five-century span of coverage, articles on major topics tend to be a rapid-fire series of factual statements summarizing major events in a single sentence. Abundant internal cross-references allow readers to supply needed context to comprehend such articles. This fine dictionary will continue to answer questions long after this year's Columbus hoopla subsides.—Wilson Library Bulletin


Choice Outstanding Academic Book, 1992

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