Discussion paper

DP15616 The Napoleonic Wars: A Watershed in Spanish History

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.


Prados de la Escosura, L and C Santiago-Caballero (2020), ‘DP15616 The Napoleonic Wars: A Watershed in Spanish History‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15616. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15616