Cliometrics, the union of history and economics, has impressive successes to its credit. But it also displays a worrisome disregard for historical nuance, sometimes to the point of caricature. “Bargaining for Absolutism” by Alejandra Irigoin and Regina Grafe looks at this question from the standpoint of Douglass North’s work on institutions and particularly, Spanish fiscal institutions in the Americas. The result is an effective critique of the notion of early modern Spain as a centralized monarchy.

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