Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit



Prize Money in the Naval Strategy of the Spanish Empire during the Eighteenth Century

Blas de Lezo entrando en Pasajes remolcando el navío inglés Stanhope. Museo Naval de Madrid

The main objective of this project is to understand the regulation and practice of the maritime prize system in the eighteenth-century Spanish navy, basically through privateering. An analysis of some of the main State projects of the period related to the "letter of marque", their purpose, organization and administrative structure will allow us to comprehend its varying impact on the naval strategy of the maritime Empire during times of both peace and war. The following research questions will be posed: To what extent was the prize money system an operative mechanism to obtain resources, goods and money? To what extent did it contribute to the maritime policies of the Spanish Empire? A comparative perspective with British and French systems will also permit an explanation of its significance to the main States involved in the global naval warfare of the time. As there are no studies entirely dedicated to the Spanish naval prize system of the period, much less in comparative terms, it continues to be a vast field for new historical approaches. It is indeed vital for the understanding of its importance as a common and effective method for the navy, developed according to the state-specific needs, resources and policies. Therefore, the present project is original in the way in which it deals with a subject that is known, but not extensively studied in historiography. A comparative view of the rival systems legislation will also offer a significant advance in the comprehension of global naval military strategy and a new contribution to the knowledge of European warfare during the eighteenth century.