Dan Royle

School of History, Philosophy and Digital Humanities

Research student & Teaching assistant

Dan Royle
Profile picture of Dan Royle

Thesis title: Spain in 1848: On the Edge of Revolution




Thesis abstract:

I am a historian of nineteenth-century Spain, particularly the period between 1815 and 1874, and my current project and PhD thesis examines the manifestation of the European Revolution of 1848 in Spain. 

When revolution broke out in Paris in February, Spain was widely expected to follow. Over the next few months, Spanish revolutionaries created a plethora of potential catalysts for it to do so.

From barricade fighting in Madrid to student protests in Oviedo, from military rebellions in Badajoz and Andalucia to republican uprisings in Huesca, none led to large-scale mobilisation. None led to a Spanish national revolution. 

I believe that the relationship between the state and its people lies at the heart of this. In 1848, Spain was an outlier in continental Europe.

It had a functioning representative political system and, generally speaking, the state was improving the lives of ordinary Spaniards.  t was far from perfect, but it was a far cry from the autocratic regimes of Central and Eastern Europe, and even from Bourbon France where the king was seen as increasingly despotic.

When revolution broke out, it did not delegitimise the Spanish liberal state to the extent it deligitimised those elsewhere. The government may have been unpopular, but the overwhelming majority of the peasantry and the middle classes chose to put their faith in the constitutional state.

A historiographical focus on the sociological conditions for revolution has particularly denied the agency of those who sought to foment revolution, those who did not consider the liberal state legitimate.

In Spain’s case, this has led to an over-emphasis on the coercive power of the state. A more timely focus on the revolutionary experience reveals that the government’s survival was by no means certain and was assured more by political than military means.

That history has been written in this way is particularly fascinating. I am interested in the concept of peripherality and the ways in which this can help us to understand both the experience of revolution and our memory of it.

Peripherality is both real and imagined, imposed from the centre and reflected from the periphery. It shapes our understanding of people but also their understanding of themselves, and it is often infused with ideas of national, cultural, and even racial inferiority.

Whilst it is clear that these ideas shape the history of the Spanish experience of 1848, it is less clear how they shaped the experience itself. It is this relationship between peripherality and legitimacy which I hope to better understand.

  • PhD History, University of Sheffield, 2019 - present
  • PGCE, University of Nottingham
  • MA History, Northumbria University
  • BA (Hons) History and Russian, University of Sheffield


Alex Cowan Prize for the best dissertation in European History (Northumbria University, 2018)

Teaching activities

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant 2020-21 academic year: 

  • HST112 Paths from Antiquity to Modernity

Open University, Associate Lecturer (2021-present)

Professional activities and memberships

Public engagement:

  • External reviewer, Past Tense Graduate Review of History (October 2019-present)
  • External reviewer, Diplomacy and Statecraft
Publications and conferences

Conference and seminar papers: 

  • ‘The concept of legitimidad in Spain in 1848’, at Historical Perspectives Seminar (University of Glasgow, 23 January 2020)
  • ‘The Most Pestiferous Land:’ Fernando Po, Deportation and Exile (1866-1868)’, at Migration and Mobility: Views from Past and Present (University of Sheffield, 20 November 2019)
  • Peripherality in the European revolution of 1848', at PGF seminar series (Newcastle University, 21 October 2020)

Journal articles:

  • 'The Deportation of Political Prisoners to Fernando Po and the Spanish State (1866-1868)’, in Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 21/3 (Winter 2020).
  • 'Winning the War and Losing the Peace: Spain and the Congress of Vienna', in The International History Review 44/2 (2022), 357-372.

Blog posts: