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This volume elucidates Bourbon colonial policy with emphasis on Madrid's efforts to reform and modernize its American holdings. Set in an Atlantic world context, the book highlights the interplay between Spain and America as the Spanish empire struggled for survival amid the fierce international competition that dominated the eighteenth century. The authors use extensive research in the repositories of Spain and America, as well as innovative consultation of the French Foreign Affairs archive, to bring into focus the poorly understood reformist efforts of the early Bourbons, which laid the foundation for the better-known agenda of Charles III. As the book unfolds, the narrative puts flesh on the men and women who, for better or worse, influenced colonial governance. It is the story of power, ambition and idealism at the highest levels.