To rule their vast new American territories, the Spanish monarchs appointed viceroys in an attempt to reproduce the monarchical system of government prevailing at the time in Europe. But despite the political significance of the figure of the viceroy, little is known about the mechanisms of viceregal power and its relation to ideas of kingship. Examining this figure, The King's Living Image challenges long-held perspectives on the political nature of Spanish colonialism, recovering, at the same time, the complexity of the political discourses and practices of Spanish rule. It does so by studying the viceregal political culture that developed in New Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the mechanisms, both formal and informal, of viceregal rule. In so doing, The King's Living Image questions the very existence of a "colonial state" and contends that imperial power was constituted in ritual ceremonies. It also emphasizes the viceroys' significance in carrying out the civilizing mission of the Spanish monarchy with regard to the indigenous population. The King's Living Image will redefine the ways in which scholars have traditionally looked at the viceregal administration in colonial Mexico.
Alejandro Cañeque is an Assistant Professor of History and Latin American Studies at the Gallatin School of New York University.
"Its ability to engage with important historiographical issues, to synthesize the various dimensions of New Spanish political culture and to present the whole in a readable and engaging way will make it a good choice for both specialists and advanced courses in colonial history." --Itinerario
'Based on an impressive array of published and archival sources, this work is a fine example of historical research and writing... The King's Living Image is an important and fresh study. It makes a major contribution to our undrestanding of viceregal political culture and power, and of Spanish colonialism more broadly.' - Latin American Studies
"This work is a fine example of historical research and writing as Caneque resurrects an important debate about the nature of the state and contributes to broader discussions about Spanish imperialism in suggestive ways." Susan Deans-Smith, Latin American Studies, Vol 39 2007