The Forum: Journal of History


Emily Chung


Urban renewal has long existed as a vessel for the assertion of authority, embodying hierarchy, policy, and culture in the most tangible way with architecture and civic landscaping shaped to accommodate the upper strata of society. Particularly interesting to study through this lens is the latter half of the eighteenth century which marks the turning point between royal absolutism and the emergence of competing forms of power in the European Empire, through the growth of the Enlightenment movement. This paper offers a comparison of two imperial cities, Lima and Lisbon, which due to similarly tragic earthquakes, were provided the opportunity to implement reforms at an urban scale, bringing opposing thought to the forefront of cultural debate and identity and redefining the roles of Church and State. Through an analysis of primary and secondary texts as well as original architectural documents, this study focuses on highlighting how urbanism can be used as a mechanism of power. With these sources, the paper compares the two events to synthesize a greater understanding of the roles of Lisbon and Lima as parts of the greater Iberian empires. Ultimately, this juxtaposition of the two cities provides a unique study of how architecture and urban morphology manifested the Spanish and Portuguese empires’ respective Bourbon and Pombaline reforms, and the reasons for the differences in their impacts.