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The term afrancesado ("the Frenchified") was applied to Spaniards who collaborated with the regime of Joseph Bonaparte during the War of Independence (1808–1814). In 1808 Napoleon lured Charles IV and his son, Ferdinand VII, into exile in France and placed his brother, Joseph, on the Spanish throne. The afrancesados were constitutional monarchists—though not wedded to one particular dynasty—who advocated moderate social and political reforms. Some preferred French domination of Spain to repression or dismemberment and considered Joseph's regime a lesser evil. Others hoped that the Napoleonic system and the enlightened Constitution of Bayonne (1808) would generate reform from above. Some historians have portrayed the afrancesados as misguided and confused conformists. Perhaps the best known afrancesado in Spain was the costumbrista (folklore) author Mariano José de Larra (1809–1837), who influenced prominent Latin American figures such as the Argentines Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and Juan Bautista Alberdi and the Peruvian Manuel González Prada.

Although some commentators view Latin American independence as a homegrown enterprise, others see the long arm of the Enlightenment as igniting the spark. Certainly prominent Latin Americans who were in exile in Europe, such as the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda, came into contact with French thought. The first afrancesados in the New World were perhaps the readers of Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract (1762), which circulated widely in South America after being translated into Spanish in 1810. After this initial thrust, other prominent pensadores, such as Sarmiento and the Argentine poet and novelist José Mármol, aligned themselves politically, economically, and intellectually with the French as a way to combat the dictatorship of Juan Manuel de Rosas. Chateaubriand, the founder of Romanticism in French literature, became a model for prominent novelists such as the Cuban Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and the Colombian Jorge Isaacs, whose famous protagonist in his novel María wishes to read Chateaubriand's novella Atala.

After midcentury the doctrine of positivism as elaborated by the French philosopher Auguste Comte made inroads in various countries and especially in Argentina, Peru, and Brazil. In Peru it was embraced, in some cases tentatively, by the novelist Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera, who wrote a tract on Comte's philosophy and whose novel Blanca Sol censures the exorbitant French influence on criolla society, and by the poet-essayist Manuel González Prada, who eventually abandoned it in favor of French anarchism. In Brazil, Comte's ideas became the basis for the 1891 constitution, and the positivist phrase "order and progress" became a permanent feature of the Brazilian flag. In Peru, French ideas served to revamp the educational system.

See alsoAlberdi, Juan Bautista; Bonaparte, Joseph; Enlightenment, The; Gómez de Avellaneda y Arteaga, Gertrudis; González Prada, Manuel; Isaacs, Jorge; Mármol, José Pedro Crisólogo; Miranda, Francisco de; Positivism; Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino; Wars of Independence, South America.


Artola, Miguel. Los afrancesados. Madrid: Alianza, 1989.

Carr, Raymond. Spain, 1808–1975, 2nd edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982. See especially pp. 110-115.

Davis, Harold Eugene. Latin American Thought: A Historical Introduction. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972. See especially pp. 31-62 & 97-134.

Hale, Charles. "Political and social ideas in Latin America," The Cambridge History of Latin America. Vol. 4, edited by Leslie Bethell. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986, See especially pp. 382-391.

Mercader Riba, Joan. José Bonaparte, rey de España, 1808–1813. 2 vols. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Jerónimo Zurita, Escuela de Historia Moderna, 1971–1983.

                            Suzanne Hiles Burkholder

                                      Thomas Ward