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Family and Empire
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Family and Empire
The Fernández de Córdoba and the Spanish Realm

Yuen-Gen Liang

296 pages | 6 x 9 | 9 illus.
Cloth 2011 | ISBN 9780812243406 | $75.00s | Outside the Americas £60.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the Haney Foundation Series
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"A powerful and complex challenge to the traditional story of how the Spanish Empire was sustained during the four centuries from the conquest of the Muslims in southern Spain to the end of the seventeenth century. This masterful and original study and its methodology will open a whole new approach to the history of empires from ancient times to the present."—Helen Nader, University of Arizona

"It is . . . refreshing to see a discussion of the Spanish empire that focuses not on Flanders, Central Europe, or the Atlantic, but on the 'forgotten frontier' of North Africa (and Navarre). . . . This book . . . demonstrates the salutary effects and innovative potential of addressing both sides of the Mediterranean as component parts of the Spanish imperial venture."—The Medieval Review

In the medieval and early modern periods, Spain shaped a global empire from scattered territories spanning Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Historians either have studied this empire piecemeal—one territory at a time—or have focused on monarchs endeavoring to mandate the allegiance of far-flung territories to the crown. For Yuen-Gen Liang, these approaches do not adequately explain the forces that connected the territories that the Spanish empire comprised. In Family and Empire, Liang investigates the horizontal ties created by noble family networks whose members fanned out to conquer and subsequently administer key territories in Spain's Mediterranean realm.

Liang focuses on the Fernández de Córdoba family, a clan based in Andalusia that set out on mobile careers in the Spanish empire at the end of the fifteenth century. Members of the family served as military officers, viceroys, royal councilors, and clerics in Algeria, Navarre, Toledo, Granada, and at the royal court. Liang shows how, over the course of four generations, their service vitally transformed the empire as well as the family. The Fernández de Córdoba established networks of kin and clients that horizontally connected disparate imperial territories, binding together religious communities—Christians, Muslims, and Jews—and political factions—Comunero rebels and French and Ottoman sympathizers—into an incorporated imperial polity. Liang explores how at the same time dedication to service shaped the personal lives of family members as they uprooted households, realigned patronage ties, and altered identities that for centuries had been deeply rooted in local communities in order to embark on imperial careers.

Yuen-Gen Liang teaches history at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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