DP15616 The Napoleonic Wars: A Watershed in Spanish History

Author(s): Leandro Prados de la Escosura, Carlos Santiago-Caballero
Publication Date: December 2020
Keyword(s): growth, Institutional Change, Napoleonic Wars, Peninsular War, Spain
JEL(s): E02, F54, N13, N43
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15616

The Napoleonic Wars had dramatic consequences for Spain's economy. The Peninsular War had higher demographic impact than any other military conflict, including civil wars, in the modern era. Farmers suffered confiscation of their crops and destruction of their main capital asset, livestock. The shrinking demand, the disruption of international and domestic trade, and the shortage of inputs hampered industry and services. The loss of the American colonies, a by-product of the French invasion, seriously harmed absolutism. In the long run, however, the Napoleonic Wars triggered the dismantling of Ancien Régime institutions and interest groups. Freed from their constraints, the country started a long and painful transition towards the liberal society. The Napoleonic Wars may be deemed, then, as a watershed in Spanish history.