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The Spanish 1898 Disaster: The Drift towards Natonal-Protectionism


  • Fraile, Pedro
  • Escribano, Alvaro


Two interrelated ideas are developed in this essay: first, that the consequences for the Spanish economy of loosing the last colonies —Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines— at the end of the nineteenth century were relatively small, and that it hardly can be regarded, as many historians have done as the Disaster of 1898. Second, that despite its small overall direct impact on the Spanish economy, the independence wars fought with the colonies, and the defeat at the hands of the Americans in 1898, started a process of intense political nationalism that resulted in the adoption of western Europe's most stringent autarchy at the beginning of the twentieth century. The colonial Disaster was therefore, an indirect one. Its economic consequences were first felt by Bentham's «ruling few» —in Spain's case, the wheat, flour, and textile traders of Castile and Catalonia— and later reached the «subject many» by way of their influence on the adoption of extreme protective measures («integral protection», as it became known by Spanish nationalists) facilitated by the general climate caused by the colonial loss.

Suggested Citation

  • Fraile, Pedro & Escribano, Alvaro, 1998. "The Spanish 1898 Disaster: The Drift towards Natonal-Protectionism," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 265-290, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:reveco:v:16:y:1998:i:01:p:265-290_00

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    1. Antonio Tena Junguito, 2010. "Tariff History Lessons from the European Periphery. Protection Intensity and the Infant Industry Argument in Spain and Italy 1870-1930," Historical Social Research (Section 'Cliometrics'), Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 35(1), pages 340-363.

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