New publication:

Storrs, Christopher. “The Spanish Risorgimento in the Western Mediterranean and Italy 1707–1748.” European History Quarterly 42, no. 4 (2012): 555-577.


The reign of Philip V of Spain (1700–46) remains one of the most neglected in the history of that country, and in terms of its significance for the rest of Europe. Philip is widely regarded, on the one hand, as little more than the instrument of his wives – above all, Isabel Farnese – and, on the other hand, as a major innovator in Spain. This article seeks to show that Philip’s revanchist aspirations in Italy – and in Africa – after the losses incurred during the War of the Spanish Succession, and which ensured that Spain represented the single greatest threat to peace in Europe between the end of that conflict and the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession, were not simply imposed by his spouse. It also suggests that Philip’s ambitions were backward looking, and that in seeking to reconstitute his Habsburg inheritance, Philip drew on traditional institutions, practices and values at least as much as he innovated.

It seems almost single-handedly, Storrs is trying to keep interest in the 17C-18C Mediterranean alive.



9 responses to “Risorgi-what-o?”

  1. Erik Lund says :

    It’s a rice dish. Tasty, but time consuming.

    And I’m not at all sure I like the idea of one of the few major female statespersons of the age being downgraded. Elizabeth Farnese’s foreign policy is way overdue for some revisionism.

    • jostwald says :

      Wassa matta you? You no lika da Isabel? (Apologies to my Italian friends out there, but it was just too tempting. And germane.)

      Personally I like the idea of Philippe V turning into Felipe V, but then historians seem to really get bent out of shape when it comes to nationalistic variations on different names. I’ve always thought that the best thing to do is to refer to each monarch by the name in their language (or at least the closest fit to the their country of origin today). Thus always Louis (pronounced ‘Lewey’) and never Lewis, French king Jean and not John, Austrian/German Karl not Charles… A bit anachronistic perhaps, but it would certainly help students to memorize who was where. Assuming they know that Jean is Francophone and Jan is Dutch and Johann is German…

      • Björn Thegeby says :

        Karel Quint, Charles Cinq, Karl der Fuenfte or Carlos Primero, depending on where he is at the moment?

      • jostwald says :

        Humor appreciated (if it was intended that way), but it does require a (usually single) answer. Writers have to choose which name to use, and diss advisors or publisher editors probably call the shots in most cases. So I guess that leaves it open for journal articles (maybe) and blogs. Personally, anything to decrease the amount of Anglocentrism would be fine with me.

  2. Björn Thegeby says :

    I haven’t got access to it but I recently read Henry Kamen’s “Felipe V”, so Storrs is not all alone. It would be interesting to see where they differ…

  3. Erik Lund says :

    Sorry, Jamel. I’ve got no problem with presenting La Farnese as Donna Isabella. My issue is that I always thought that when the revisionist turn came, it might present “the Termagant of Spain” as a rational policy maker. As opposed to demoting her to being Samantha to Don Felipe’s Darren.

    And, boy, did I get into trouble with my advisor over “Karl VI.”

    • jostwald says :

      Oops . Thought your italics were trying to do double duty.
      I recall my advisor getting caught up with Rijswijk vs. Ryswick, and other Dutch versions of “French” names.

  4. Frederik Dhondt says :

    Thanks for signaling this article !

    @Erik Lund: I fear it might be very difficult to present Elisabeth Farnese in a rational way. Judging from the French and British diplomatic dispatches I read for my research (1713-1739), she only reinforced the irrational twists and bumps of Philip’s foreign policy (abdication, return; treaty with the French, treaty with the Emperor; siege of Gibraltar, privileges to the Ostend Company Bourbon family compound).

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