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Winning and Losing in Early Modern Societies of the Western Mediterranean Hispanic Territories (WINLOSE)

Project financed by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación and the Agencia Estatal de Investigación and co-financed with ERDF funds.

Reference: PID2022-142050NB-C21

Duration: 01-09-2023 to 30-08-2026

Principal Investigator 1: Juan Francisco Pardo Molero

Principal Investigator 2: Daniel Muñoz Navarro

The main objective of the project is to advance knowledge of the social model of the Hispanic Monarchy in the early modern period, through practical strategies and theoretical discourses on success and failure, not only among the elites, but at all levels of the social structure, in a broad chronological framework that spans from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 19th century. It also seeks to understand how the men and women of the Hispanic Monarchy faced success and failure, individually and collectively, in the various activities of their lives; and how historians can approach the understanding of these phenomena. To this end, three lines of analysis have been delimited, with an integrating and transversal perspective, based on three planes of human activity: work and the market, political and social power, and challenges to order. But, why study success and failure in the Early Modern Age? Why is it interesting to analyse upward and downward social mobility in this period? Firstly, because the measure of success and failure provides an insight into the occupational and educational opportunities offered by a society, as well as the equality or inequality of the opportunities that society provides to people from different social backgrounds. Secondly, because the society of the Early Modern Age is permeated by the dichotomy of success or failure, victory or defeat, triumph or disaster, in economics, politics, art and even religion (salvation versus damnation), albeit with a very different perspective on success and failure than today.

WINLOSE is part of a coordinated project developed by the Universitat de València and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, following a coordination between the two research groups already consolidated (started in 2012). Therefore, the results obtained in the study of these territories will be compared with those achieved in the investigation of the same processes in Madrid and its area of influence. However, methodological novelties are proposed with respect to the precursor project; firstly, the geographical framework of the research is broadened, focusing part of the research on the connected history, through the study of different phenomena of projection and interaction (social, economic, and cultural) between Valencia and its hinterland with other regions of the Western Mediterranean. Secondly, new horizons are proposed in the social sample analysed, which incorporate the gender perspective in a transversal manner, with a significant number of research tasks focused on addressing the role of women in all social spheres, from the court with the study of the vicereines, to the spaces of forced labour, with the slaves. This social perspective tries to shed light on these aspects, vindicating the female role in productive spaces (in the formal and informal economy) and in the markets and the business world, highlighting women’s capacity for action in certain areas and the collaboration between both sexes in the everyday economy of the cities of the Ancien Régime and their areas of influence. Methodologically, this project focuses on comparative history with a social perspective, in line with previous projects (through the analysis of printed and manuscript sources, archival research and bibliographical updating).

In short, this project focuses on the analysis of social mobility by addressing the following lines of study:

• The very conceptualisation of the terms success and failure, and those inherent to social mobility, both historiographically and through the cultural analysis of both ideas in the Early Modern Age.

• The typology of the economic, social, and cultural strategies that led to success and failure.

• The life and intergenerational trajectories of families, lineages, and sagas, as well as labour trajectories.

• The different political and institutional developments and their relationship to processes of social change, and the different aspirations of individuals and groups.

• Social and political protest movements and consensus-building processes.

• The role of women in the different processes listed above, and specifically as agents and subjects of change and continuity.

• The forms of integration and exclusion of ethno-religious minorities and their members’ capacity for action in social processes.

• The geographical dimension of these strategies, including their translation to such wide-ranging spaces as the different American viceroyalties; and a comparative dimension with other similar spaces.