Late this Thursday night, as the world watched the outbreak of war in Ukraine, a small group of Spaniards timidly celebrated a small personal victory. “Three years ago it would have been unthinkable to present at the Congress of Deputies a book that would speak well of Spain,” he explained. Juan Sanchez Galera, one of its authors. The contrast was striking, and they were well aware of it. Therefore, there was no frivolity in his words. Before the start, inevitably, every speaker lamented the “times of uncertainty and arrogance that we are living through.” Outside the building, a gray afternoon was palpable, heralding the first storm over the capital in months. The agenda, despite everything, still dominated, and none of them could have suspected that on the same day that the most important historical conflict in decades would break out, it would be the one they had planned to talk about a different story. long over, albeit with enough echoes in the present to focus your attention.
Next to Sanchez Galera was Pedro Fernandez Barbadilloemployee of this house and co-author Spanish textbook without complexes (edaf), a comprehensive overview of the many contributions of Hispanics to world civilization. Or, in editorial terms, the latest headline that attempts to “debunk the lies of the black legend.” “Our goal is to give complex Spaniards a reason to raise their heads, to answer all the lies and evil that they want us to believe,” Barbadillo concluded.
There has been a favorable trend of late, making it easier to deal with some of the themes of the legacy of the Spanish Empire. Spanish textbook without complexes falls right into this category. A promotional video made to sell the book sums it up beautifully: “The Spaniards are the people who are most ashamed of their accomplishments. They are strangled by their complexes,” you can hear in it. And points to two enemies to defeat: “Both black legend both traditional and modern, recreated by fringe nationalists to reinforce their hatred of Spain.”
We can say that the content of the book follows from the comparison. The Hispanidad, “theoretically a backward, obscurantist and anti-progressive community,” would have contributed some of the most important advances that enabled the development of civilization as we know it today. “There is as many things to be proud of, or even more than the British or French Empire“. From the current calendar, “with which everyone counts their days and celebrates their birthdays” to the first serious studies in economics, developed by the Salamanca School, passed through the School of Translators of Toledo, “without which the Italian Renaissance would not have been possible”, “The Etymologies of the Saint Isidore of Seville”, “illuminating European thought for centuries before the appearance of the first encyclopedia”, the birth of parliamentarism in the Cortes of León, “the prohibition of slavery by a part of Queen Isabella of Castile, several centuries before the rest of the Western powers followed in her footsteps”, or the rudimentary development of what would later become human rights, carried out by Francisco de Vitoria.
“Despite all the evidence, there are four invented themes that do not stand up to scrutiny,” said Sanchez Galera. “Inquisition, genocide of indigenous peoples, expulsion of Jews and four more things.” However, the answer to all of them is the meridian. “Of everything that could be accused of the Spaniards many centuries ago, their enemies sinned most of all.” “Spain was not the first to expel the Jews, nor did it systematically exterminate the native peoples, as all the colonizing powers of the time did, without exception.” On the contrary, he was concerned with incorporating the people who inhabited the open territories, “turning them into vassals of the Crown and full Spanish subjects.” In any case, according to the authors, Spain was an example of progress that was several hundred years ahead of to what later would be deemed desirable by those who “invented a black legend that sought to undermine the reputation of the greatest power of the time.”
Spain and Catholicism
One of the questions commonly asked when talking about the black legend is why some choose to keep spreading it in this day and age when Spain has become an irrelevant player on the world stage. The authors have two independent explanations for this phenomenon. “The main thing is that we are the first we believed the propaganda that our enemies developed centuries agoBarbadillo answers. “We studied and gloated about the defeat of the Great Armada, but no one remembers the beating we gave Drake when he conducted his Counter-Armada. In the same way, we defend without blushing that it was the Muslim invasion of the peninsula that brought important technical, cultural and scientific achievements, as if the Christian kingdoms did not directly inherit the Roman heritage.
The other is announced by the Sanchez Galera. “The truth is that we cannot understand what the black legend of Spain is unless we first understand what violent hatred of the catholic church which developed after the French Revolution, he says. “The point is that the best way to fight the church is to attack the history of Spain, because it is a practical, workable demonstration that Catholic teachings have provided some of the best achievements. in the history of mankind.
In this regard, when asked about this, Barbadillo replied Arturo Perez-Reverte, who repeatedly stressed that the two greatest historical mistakes in Spain were “misconceptions about God and the monarch”. “I don’t know very well what he bases his vision on. I do not know if he would have preferred that we had Henry VIII, who also proclaimed himself head of his own church and thus founded the greatest despotism of his time, consolidating all power in his Crown.” Thus, he denounced the “idealization of the history of other European countries, Protestantism and the Enlightenment”, which is usually used to highlight the most negative aspects of our own heritage.