In the final scene of Francesco Conti’s Don Quixote in Sierra Morena, the hero is wheeled onstage in a cage, from which, in the intervals of selfdoubt, he reproaches the world outside with insanity. The scene could be taken as an image of how traditional historiography, Spanish and foreign alike, has treated Spain. After a long period of chivalric self-absorption in the middle ages, and an ultimately unsuccessful foray into worldwide knight-errantry in the early modem period, Spaniards are thought to have declined into an isolated and introspective world of their own, alternately reviling and envying their materially successful but spiritually impoverished neighbours. The supposed uniqueness of Spain’s historical experience, compared with that of the rest of western Europe - the conviction that ‘Spain is Different’1 - dominated the historical tradition until the 1970s. Dissident voices, of which the loudest in the mid sixties was Otis Green’s,2 cried in an unresponsive wilderness (and today seem to echo with the sound of prophecies scorned).