Enlightenment Spain and the ‘Encyclopédie méthodique’

Volume: 2015:11

Series: Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment

Volume Editors: Clorinda Donato and Ricardo López

Publication Date: 2015

Pages: 332

ISBN: 978-0-7294-1170-7

Price: £60


What did Europe owe Spain in the eighteenth century? This infamous question, posed by Nicolas Masson de Morvilliers in the Encyclopédie méthodique, caused an international uproar at the height of the Enlightenment. His polemical article ‘Espagne’, with its tabloid-like prose, resonated with a French-reading public that blamed the Spanish Empire for France’s eroding economy. Spain was outraged, and responded by publishing its own translation-rebuttal, the article ‘España’ penned by Julián de Velasco for the Spanish Encyclopedia metódica.
In this volume, the original French and Spanish articles are presented in facing-page English translations, allowing readers to examine the content and rhetorical maneuvers of Masson’s challenge and Velasco’s riposte. This comparative format, along with the editors’ critical introduction, extensive annotations, and an accompanying bibliographical essay, reveals how knowledge was translated and transferred across Europe and the transatlantic world. The two encyclopedia articles bring to life a crucial period of Spanish history, culture and commerce, while offering an alternative framework for understanding the intellectual underpinnings of a Spanish Enlightenment that differed radically from French philosophie. Ultimately, this book uncovers a Spain determined to claim its place in the European Enlightenment and on the geopolitical stage.
List of illustrations
Note to the translations
1. Clorinda Donato, Introduction. ‘Espagne’ or ‘España’? Answering Enlightenment in the Encyclopedia metódica, the Spanish translation of the Encyclopédie méthodique
2. ‘Espagne’, by Nicolas Masson de Morvilliers
‘Spain’, by Nicolas Masson de Morvilliers. Translated by Clorinda Donato and Ricardo López
3. ‘España’, by Julián de Velasco
‘Spain’, by Julián de Velasco. Translated by Clorinda Donato and Ricardo López
4. Biographical notes
5. Brittany Anderson-Cain, Locating encyclopedic knowledge in the global eighteenth century: a bibliographical essay


Dix-huitième siècle

‘ce travail veut être une contribution à l’étude d’une ‘géographie des Lumières’’ et du regard des nations éclairées sur les autres nations, aussi bien que des réponses de celles-ci à ces regards.’

Modern Language Review

‘[…] it offers both scholars and students emblematic sources of a crucial period of Spanish history, culture and commerce, as well as a more profound understanding of cultural and knowledge transfer in Enlightened Europe.’

Recherches sur Diderot et sur l’Encyclopédie

‘Pour la première fois […] grâce à cette compilation minutieuse de dix ans de travail, une vision réelle des écrits dans une relation triangulaire de la langue, des disciplines et des divisions entre l’Europe du Nord, l’Europe du Sud et la peninsula ibérique.’


‘Thanks to [the editors’] efforts and their excellent translations, we now have access, in the same volume, to one of eighteenth-century Spain’s most fervent polemics. This work is a most welcome addition to eighteenth-century scholarship.’

Voltaire Foundation

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