Spain: The New Model Officer
Over the course of the century, the Spanish navy was continuously reformed and enlarged with the aim of turning it into one of the main articulating axes of the empire. In general, the results were positive, and the officer corps stands as an example of the remarkable achievements of these reforms. Successive monarchs and principal ministers sought to professionalize naval officers to improve performance at sea, though they realized that this process had to be undertaken carefully. This chapter describes this project by analysing a few key themes. First, it provides context for the reforms and how they were connected to larger developments in Spanish naval affairs; second, it focuses on midshipmen, especially their origins and training; third, it discusses the criteria for officers’ promotions and internal evaluations; finally, it looks beyond the naval profession to explore how officers interacted with Spanish society.