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Open Access Francophobia and Interimperial Politics in late Bourbon Puerto Rico: The Duke of Crillón y Mahón’s Failed Negotiations with the Spanish Crown, 1776-1796

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Francophobia and Interimperial Politics in late Bourbon Puerto Rico: The Duke of Crillón y Mahón’s Failed Negotiations with the Spanish Crown, 1776-1796

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Reconstructs how Louis Balbes des Berton, or Duke of Crillón y Mahón, a Frenchman naturalized as Spaniard, attempted to persuade the Spanish Crown to grant him liberal commercial and colonizing concessions in Puerto Rico in the later 18th c. Author describes how Crillón at first wanted to settle and colonize parts of Santo Domingo near French St Domingue, but the Crown refused this, as part of increased measures against (further) foreign encroachments in Spanish territories, and granted him land in Puerto Rico in 1776 instead, for growing sugar, coffee, and other crops. He places this within the context of the Bourbon reforms, aimed at preventing foreign intrusions in more peripheral Spanish colonies like Puerto Rico then, by aligning these with Spanish imperial objectives. Author further relates how Crillón sought to elaborate the land grant through planning, proposals, and several appeals to the Spanish Crown, up to 1796, for concessions to facilitate his introduction and trading in African slaves, and exempting him from certain extant legal taxes and requirements regarding colonists and land sale, aiming to achieve a sort of feudal power. These proposals and appeals, or calls for financial support, were mainly dismissed by the Crown, seemingly for several legal reasons or transgressions. The author argues, however, that while Crillón was avaricious, the Crown's dismissal related as much to Crillón being a foreigner, whose loyalty to Spain seemed doubtful to some Hispanophiles in the Crown's inner circle.

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