How to Break an Empire: The Independence of South America. 1808 -1825

Wednesday 2 June 2021

Ben Fuggle

By the time the Spain’s Southern American Empire fell in 1825 it had survived uprisings, economic crises and weathered many geopolitical storms from the end of the Spanish Hapsburgs to the upheaval of the American War of Independence. As late as 1800, despite its many problems, it seemed largely loyal and secure.

So the end of a 300-year-old empire was no small feat and by no means inevitable or likely. It was driven by countless forces, but if you were to ascribe the success of The Patriots (those fighting for independence) to only two people, Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín would be prime candidates.

Through the lens of these famous individuals this talk will offer an overview of the dramatic events that led to the end of Spain’s Empire in South America: what created the opportunities that people seized and steep cost of trying to put enlightenment ideals into practice.