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Introducing the Spanish Empire
Classical Library

The Library     Electronic Texts    Curriculum Choices     About Spanish and Latin History    

Welcome to the Heritage Spanish Empire Classical Library. If you have never used a Heritage Classical Library before, this page will help explain how the information included in the Spanish Empire library is organized and how it can be used for independent study.

The Library

The page you are looking uses the same software that you are accustomed to using when you browse the internet, but is reading files directly from your computer. What this means is that all of the books that you link to in this environment are available for you to view, print, or download to another device. You don't need to pay additional fees to copy these books to an e-Reader or Tablet, and you don't need to access the internet to view them on your computer. Best of all, you don't need to worry about copyright violations if you choose to print or copy anything from the Spanish Empire Library for your personal use.

The Spanish Empire Classical Library contains over fifty traditional history books written especially for young people. It includes books at reading levels from fourth grade to high school and each book is presented in three different formats so students can read them on their home computer, make printed copies, or download them to their e-Reader device. Instructions for using electronic books in various formats are provided in the Electronic Texts User Guide.

The contents of the Spanish Empire library can be referenced by Subject, Genre, or Reading Level. Each entry includes the book’s title, author, size, and links to three electronic formats. Software that "reads" electronic books is required to view these files, but the Adobe Reader, which displays the PDF version of each book, already exists on almost all personal computers, and other electronic reader software can be downloaded for free from the internet.

All of the books in the Spanish Empire Library deal with some aspect of Hispanic history, but the sort books by Subject page organizes them into specific topics, including Spain and Portugal, Exploration, South America and Mexico.

In addition to subject, the collection of Hispanic history books can also be referenced by Genre. Heritage History genres include Comprehensive histories, which cover Spanish and Latin American history chronologically, Episodic histories, which focus on a particular incident or era, Social histories, which emphasize the geographic aspects of Spain and Latin America, and Biographies. The two final genre categories are Legends and Literature and Historical Fiction.

Lastly, the Spanish Empire library provides lists of its books sorted by Reading Level. Books intended for Grammar school students are listed in Green, books appropriate for middle schoolers are listed in Brown, and those recommended for more mature audiences are listed in Red. This color scheme is used throughout all Heritage History web pages and products to reflect reading level.

In addition to providing book lists organized by subject, genre, and reading level, the Spanish Empire Library contains several additional reference pages intended to help students and instructors identify books of particular interest. The Summaries page includes a short description of each book in the library. The Series page, which features descriptions of overall series rather than individual books, may be helpful to those readers who enjoy a particular book and would like to locate similar volumes. Finally, the Recommendations page provides specific reading recommendations for core reading assignments for various age groups.

Using Electronic Texts

In order to make our entire library of traditional history books available at an affordable price, Heritage History provides electronic versions of all of our books in both e-Reader and printable format. Unfortunately, not everyone is up-to-date regarding the most recent advances in electronic books technology. In order to help our users make informed decisions about usage and purchases of e-Readers and desktop publishing tools, we have provided an Electronic Texts User Guide. It is divided into three main sections that deal with issues related to electronic readers, self-publishing, and copyright restrictions.

The Heritage guide to Electronic Readers discusses the differences between various e-Reader technologies and gives detailed instructions for downloading Heritage e-Books from a Compact Library to an e-Reader device such as Kindle or Apple iPad. For those who prefer reading hard-copies rather than e-Books, the Heritage guide to Self-publishing provides tips for printing and binding the books from the Heritage library at home in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Finally, the terms and conditions of using the electronic texts are discussed in the Copyright Terms section.

A printable copy of the Heritage Electronic Texts User Guide is available, and we recommend that anyone who is not already familiar with e-Reader technology, laser printers, and binding equipment read the guide before deciding how to use the Heritage e-Book library. Even technologically advanced readers should familiarize themselves with the copyright status of the Heritage books before beginning the program. If you still have questions after reading the Electronic Texts User Guide, refer to the Electronic Texts Frequently Asked Questions.

The Curriculum Guide

All Heritage Classical Libraries, including the Spanish Empire Classical Library, contain a broad selection of books on a particular historical topic, but do not include maps, timelines, character lists, battle dictionaries, or other learning resources associated with a complete curriculum.

Even without the additional learning aides, Heritage Classical Libraries can be used as the basis of a reading-based course of study, or they can be used to supplement other traditional curricula. Conventional history texts often do a thorough job of covering the basics, but they don't have space to tell the most interesting stories of history in detail. Heritage Classical Libraries correct this deficiency by providing an entire library of engaging biographies and exciting stories from history.

Whether you use Spanish Empire collection as your primary curriculum, or to supplement another program, it may be instructive to read the Heritage Classical Curriculum User Guide, supplied with this library. The differences between a conventional history program, and the "living books" method of learning history, recommended by Heritage History, are discussed in the introduction, along with other aspects of the Heritage History learning philosophy. Most of the rest of the guide focuses on practical tips for keeping students on track learning the essentials while maintaining enough flexibility to allow them to pursue their own interests. We recommend that anyone who is interested in the program review its contents.

About Spanish and Latin American History

Much of the history of Spain is glorious, and the story of the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire is one of the most fascinating episodes in world history. Although the influence of Spain declined in the 18th and 19th centuries, during the late Middle Ages Spain was the wealthiest and most influential of European powers. Spanish and Portuguese explorers discovered the New World and established a sea-route from Europe to Asia, and their stories are among the most dramatic and consequential in World History.

The early history of Spain was deeply influenced by its occupation by Moors from the 8th to the 15th century. The Christians of the Iberian Peninsula, who never renounced their faith during centuries of Moslem domination, fought relentlessly to reclaim their land. The 700 year struggle against the Moors hardened the Spaniards into bold but chivalrous warriors with a fierce loyalty to their Christian faith.

The Spanish and Portuguese proved themselves not only the most courageous warriors in Europe during the Middle Ages, but also the best sailors. The tremendous advances in ship-building and navigation that led to the opening of trade routes and to the discovery of America, were mostly attributable to the Spanish and Portuguese. While the Spaniards drove the last of the Moors out of Western Europe, the Portuguese dealt a crippling blow to the Turkish Empire in the East. This double-blow kept all of Christian Europe safe from Moslem incursions since it was the loss of control of the lucrative eastern trade, rather than a decisive military loss in the Balkans, that slowed Turkish advances in Europe.

In the New World the Spaniards settled and civilized an entire continent in only a few generations. There were unquestionably cruel abuses of natives and tragic exploitation, but neither the King of Spain or the Church officially condoned mistreatment of the native population. Royal laws were proclaimed that demanded the natives be protected and not enslaved, but good intentions have never successfully repressed greed and corruption, and the first Viceroy who attempted to enforce the "New Laws" was driven out of the country. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church did Christianize the natives, there was much intermarriage, and mixed-race children were common from the earliest generations of Spanish rule. The natives were frequently treated as second-class citizens, but they were incorporated into Spanish civilization, rather than isolated and obliterated, as they were in Anglo-Saxon territories.

Anglo-Saxon Biases and the Black Legend—In spite of the historic achievements of the Spaniards, the glory days of the Spanish empire are so far distant, and its more recent history so checkered, that in contemporary histories Spain is typically presented as an obscurant, corrupt force of tyranny in stalwart opposition to "enlightened" modernism. From the earliest days of the Spanish empire, throughout the age of revolution, the interests of Spain were largely in conflict with those of England and Northern Europe, and when entrusted to the pens of Anglo-Saxons, the story of Spain and its dominions does not fare well. Religious conflict is part of the problem of course, but from the earliest days of Spanish exploration to the end of the 19th century, Anglo-Saxons have coveted and encroached upon Spanish territories, and it has always been in English interests to present Spain as a corrupt and illegitimate power.

According to Wikipedia, The Black Legend refers to "a style of historical writing that demonizes the Spanish Empire in a politically motivated attempt to morally disqualify Spain and its people, and to incite animosity against Spanish rule. The Black Legend particularly exaggerates the treatment of the indigenous subjects in the territories of the Spanish Empire and non-Catholics in its European territories." This nicely summarizes the tone and content of much English historical writing on the subject of Spain and its dominions. In most of these stories, the bias is not overdone, but it is nearly always present to some extent.

The prejudice of Anglo writers is most strident when dealing with explicitly religious issues, but it is also evident in a bias in favor of republican governments in Latin America, even those that were deeply corrupt and not by any means democratic. The Protestant Reformation occurred in England at a time when the forces opposed to the Catholic Church were still strongly Christian, and it succeeded in ushering an era of greater liberty and religious pluralism. The forces opposed to the Catholic Church in modern times, however, were not nearly as benign as those of the Protestant reformers. Many Latin "republicans" of the 19th century were atheists and members of secret societies, rather than sincere Christians, and they sought to plunder the church for their personal gain rather than to "reform" it. It is difficult for liberty-loving Anglo-Saxons, committed to constitutional, republican forms of government, to see the problems of replacing a degenerate Christian monarchy with a corrupt atheistic republic, so English writers tend to support the liberal promises of republican governments and overlook their authoritarian and kleptocratic tendencies.

At Heritage History we have a large collection of Spanish and Latin American histories, mostly from the late 19th and early 20th century, and inevitably, some are anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic in tone. Nevertheless, most do a laudable job of presenting the most interesting stories of Spanish and Latin history, and even those that are biased are valuable and interesting.

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