Arndt Brendecke is a professor of early modern history at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany. He received his training in the history of the Holy Roman Empire but then shifted focus with his habilitation (second doctorate) to the Spanish empire. This work, which originally appeared in German in 2009, offers an insightful historical sociology of knowledge. According to Brendecke, the Spanish kings strove to gather the full information (entera noticia) about their newfound empire, spurred by Francis Bacon's dictum that “scientia potestas est” (knowledge is power) (p. 12). The kings needed the information to justly award fealty and punish treachery, and the vassals responded primarily by affirming their loyalty rather than describing matters with unbiased precision. In fact, when the visitador (investigative judge) Juan de Ovando inspected the Council of the Indies from 1567 to 1574, he lamented that from...

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