In The People and the King, John Leddy Phelan reexamines a well-known but long misunderstood event in eighteenth-century Colombia. When the Spanish colonial bureaucratic system of conciliation broke down, indigenous groups resorted to armed revolt to achieve their political ends.
As Phelan demonstrates in these pages, the crisis of 1781 represented a constitutional clash between imperial centralization and colonial decentralization. Phelan argues that the Comunero revolution was not, as it has often been portrayed, a precursor of political independence, nor was it a frustrated social upheaval. The Comunero leaders and their followers did not advocate any basic reordering of society, Phelan concludes, but rather made an appeal for revolutionary reform within a traditionalist framework.