This article offers a reassessment of the Bibliotheca Mexicana controversy (ca. 1745–1755), a key moment in the development of “creole patriotism” as most famously articulated by David A. Brading in The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State 1492–1867 (1991). Through a rereading of the original sources and a reconstruction of the historiographical origins of creole patriotism in German existentialism, the article argues that the identity of the New World protagonists in the controversy had little to do with either creolism or protonationalist patriotism. These creole and peninsular “Mexicans” (Mexicani) certainly felt pride in their flourishing urban center of Mexico City and its dependent territories. However, this patria was analogous to early modern city-states, like the Duchy of Milan, rather than to modern nation-states, like Mexico. This local identity was also entirely compatible with a strong loyalty to the Hispanic Monarchy, a larger pan-Hispanic caste identity, and a sense of membership in the Catholic Republic of Letters.

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