About the lectures

The Spanish empire was one of the largest empires in history and the first to expand its reach globally. It achieved the peak of its power under the Spanish Habsburgs in the 16th and 17th centuries, extending Spain’s territories in Europe and establishing colonies in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Long before the British reached distant shores, observers dubbed Spain ‘the empire on which the sun never sets’ and recognized it as a major agent in the shaping of the Modern World. 


This lecture series seeks to introduce students to the fascinating history of this empire and help them to expand their knowledge of the broader European and American contexts.


The content of the course is divided into eight lectures. It begins with the territorial unification of the Iberian Peninsula under the Catholic kings and it analyses the rise and fall of the Empire until the early 18th century. Students will become familiar with the narrative of the topic, will explore its historiography, and will discover an alternative view of the history of Early Modern Europe. A number of important questions will be addressed: what strategies and mechanisms made possible the creation and global governance of the Spanish empire? How did the conquest of America take place? Did genocide occur against Native Americans as many scholars claim? Why did the empire fall? What political and cultural influences did it leave on the Western World? 


This lecture series is designed for both undergraduate and graduate students of History and Spanish.


About me

Diego Rubio is a Spanish historian and a Junior Fellow at the Queen’s College, Oxford. He is a Research Associate of the Oxford Centre for Global History and a member of the Group for Cultural History Studies (Spain). He holds degrees from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the École Normale Supérieure LSH (France). He has received several scholarships and prizes, including the First National Award for Excellent Academic Performance (History), the oldest and highest academic distinction granted by the government of Spain at the university level. He has been visiting scholar at Paris IV-Sorbonne and at the University of Columbia in the City of New York.


Diego’s research focuses on early modern European history and the Spanish Habsburg Empire. His doctoral thesis explored the important role that secrecy and deception played on the formation of early modern moral and political thought. Diego is also interested in policy-making, education, sociology of literature, and the political uses of memory, with a strong emphasis on transnational and comparative perspectives.