METM09 poster presentation

Diplomatic Letters concerning the Asiento Contract: how diplomatic relations between England and Spain were established

Lía de Luxán Hernández – Spain

Historical diplomatic letters, which are written in the first person, but always using polite expressions and taking into account the importance of the issue being discussed, are more direct and less formal than other official communication. They offer an interesting insight into the nature of diplomatic and political relations and, at the same time, an opportunity to study the first-person experience of the historical moments being analyzed. This poster will show some extracts from diplomatic letters concerning the Asiento Contract (1713-1750) between the Crowns of England and Spain after the War of the Spanish Succession (giving the South Sea Company monopoly over the slave trade from Africa to the West Indies).

Written in English, between 1712 and 1739, the letters studied were kept by Thomas Geraldino (1682-1755), originally named Thomas Fitzgerald, who watched over the interests of Spain, firstly in the London based Court of Directors of the South Sea Company and secondly as Spanish Ambassador in London. Viewers will learn how diplomatic issues concerning the Asiento contract were dealt with in written correspondence on such matters as the Annual Shipping, Accounts of the First Five Years Trade, and Contraband. Most of the letters consulted for this study were sent by order of the Court of Directors of the Company to Geraldino. Claimed by the Secretaría de Estado after Geraldino’s death, they are now held in the Archivo de Simancas and Archivo de Indias.


Lía de Luxán Hernández graduated in translation and interpreting studies in 2007 and is now doing her PhD on diplomatic relations between Spain and Great Britain (1729 to 1755) with a research scholarship from the Spanish government at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), where she is also finishing her law degree.