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The essay reviews the many important Spanish authors who, from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries, contributed to the development of western liberal thought. More specifically, Schwartz credits the School of Salamanca with introducing the concept of popular sovereignty, elaborating a theory of human rights in contrast with the practices of colonialism, grasping the principles of the functioning of the competitive market and elaborating the first quantitative theory of currency (erroneously attributed to the Frenchman Bodin) as of the sixteenth century. Despite the powerful repressive apparatus of the Holy Inquisition, for more than a century the ideas of Spanish liberal intellectuals managed to resist continuous reactionary attacks (as in the case of the Spanish translations of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and the liberal reforms championed and, in part, achieved by Jovellanos), ultimately making their ideals of the equality of citizens before the law, popular sovereignty and the division of power materialise in the Constitution of Cadiz (1812).