Networks of Exchange

This project explores the relationship between the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles, presenting a multidisciplinary analysis of the relation between these interconnected enclaves in Europe.

Thus, our project tackles the question of how to interpret the heritage left by the diverse exile communities of British and Irish people in the Iberian Peninsula, and by the Spanish and Portuguese travelling to Britain and Ireland: ranging from those exiled for religious reasons to travelers, merchants and diplomats.

We analyze how this presence of British and Irish people in the Peninsula, and vice versa, brought about complex networks that contributed to establish the basis of a common culture of exchange of ideas and artistic expression. These “visitors” faced a world that was very different from their own, so establishing networks of exchange became a basic strategy for mutual understanding between communities and individuals. Our group studies a range of networks: political, diplomatic and religious as well as those derived from travel and commerce. Their resulting textual production and transmission is our main source of research.

About us

Exile and religion

A network of Catholic colleges was established in the Iberian Peninsula to give refuge to Irish, Scottish and English exiles. These colleges were under the direct protection of the Spanish monarchy but were also regarded with extreme suspicion by their home authorities. Celebrations and literary production served as a means of propaganda among the citizens of Valladolid, Sevilla, Salamanca, Lisbon or Madrid, where these groups of exiles established themselves.


The networks of exchange derived from politics and international relations were particularly fruitful in this period. The brief kingship of Philip of Spain in England, the Anglo-Spanish War involving Ireland and Portugal, the subsequent peace negotiations, and the Spanish Match are just some of the remarkable episodes that punctuate the period.


The networks of exchange between Iberia and the British Isles could hardly have happened without travelling. Not only did Catholic exiles made their way to the Iberian Peninsula, but also merchants, diplomats, soldiers, and even scholars moved from one place to the other for a variety of reasons. Travelers’ accounts like Pinheiro de Veiga’s Fastiginia give a very rich insight into the cultural encounters resulting from these trips.

Books and texts

Books and texts are two sides of the same coin in the cultural exchanges between the Peninsula and the British Isles during this period. Challenging the barriers established by institutions like the Inquisition, the material exchange of books and the transmission of texts through translation actually took place in both directions, largely thanks to nextworks like recusants, religious émigrés, travellers, diplomats and traders.