Imagining Spain: Historical Myth and National Identity

Imagining Spain: Historical Myth and National Identity

Henry Kamen

This book, by the eminent historian Henry Kamen, is a unique analysis of the myths that Spaniards have held, and continue to hold, about themselves and about their collective past.

Kamen discusses how perceptions of key aspects of early modern Spain, such as the monarchy, the empire and the Inquisition, were influenced by ideologies that continue to play a role in the formation of contemporary Spanish attitudes. Anxious to create a national identity, influential politicians and historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries sought the roots of that identity – an allegedly powerful, united and Catholic nation – in a fictitious image of what Spain was during the sixteenth century.

Kamen holds up this imagined Spain to historical light and also examines the persistent obsession with the notion of national decline. Analysing the historical basis of attempts to create a convincing nationalist ideology, Kamen speaks to issues that remain at the heart of Spanish politics and public controversy today.

Henry Kamen, a well-known authority on Spanish and European history, has written numerous books, including ‘The Phoenix and the Flame’ (1993), ‘Philip of Spain’ (1997), ‘The Spanish Inquisition’ (1999), ‘Philip V’ (2001), and ‘The Duke of Alba’ (2004), all published by Yale University Press.