Tuesday, November 8, 2016

National Episodes project

Cartoon by Moya representing writer Benito Pérez Galdós writing the National Episodes
Madrid Cómico 1898

As you know, this year we are going to study Spain's history using a family saga, as a homage to Galdós' National Episodes. The story will start in the 18th century and will continue until present day. There will be different chapters for every historical period and you will have to adopt the personality of a person who lives every historical moment and write about your life and how the historical events affect you and the rest of the ordinary people.  The final version will have to be as an old book and include drawings or images related to what you write in every chapter.

Here you have the instructions for the first four chapters and some links to complete the information of the notes:


This story starts at the beginning of the 18th century and you are working as a servant in the Royal Alcázar of Madrid. You started working there in the last years of Charles II’s life. And now a new dynasty has arrived and things are changing. You have to explain your life in the palace and how the different historical events of the period affect people’s lives. In the first chapter you should include the following contents:
  •           The arrival of Philip V to the court, his personality, hobbies, family life…
  •           War of Spanish Succession and Treaty of Utrecht
  •          Reforms introduced by Philip V
  •           Philip V’s abdication in 1724 and his return to the throne
  •           The fire in the Alcázar in 1734 and the moving of the court to the Buen Retiro Palace, uring the construction of the Royal Palace
  •           Philip V’s death and Ferdinand VI’s reign and reforms.

This chapter should end with Ferdinand VI’s death in 1759 and the arrival of the new monarch, Charles III.
You don’t have to copy the notes, but invent situations that allow you to explain these contents, being part of them. You have to include information about your family, your everyday life, feelings… Remember that you are a member of the Third Estate and you know how to write because someone taught you (invent who). One of your children, who started working in a coffee shop, is going to be the protagonist of Chapter 2.


Your father/mother passed away and you’ve decided to continue to write the story of your family. You live in the 2nd half of the 18th century, during Charles III’s reign.  You work in a coffee shop and many members of the bourgeoisie go there and talk about the main political events in the court. In this chapter you have to include the following contents:

  •           Charles III’s arrival from Naples
  •           Inauguration of the Royal Palace
  •           Charles III as an enlightened monarch
  •           The Esquilache Riots and their consequences (you have to participate in the riots)
  •           Reforms made during Charles III’s reign. 

     You have to serve drinks in a meeting of an Economic Society of the Friends of the Country to explain what they did there.  One of your children has to participate in the colonization of Sierra Morena. Another is going to  find a job as an apprentice in the Royal Tapestry Factory, where he is meeting Goya, the painter (Goya worked there from 1775 to 1792).
This chapter should end with Charles III’s death and Charles IV assuming power.


You are the boy who met Goya in the Royal Tapestry Factory. He hired you as his assistant and you have decided to continue your family saga. Goya is working for the court and you always go with him to help him with his paints, canvas…, so you have the possibility of getting a lot of information about what’s happening in the government and in the country. This chapter has to include the following events:
  •    Charles IV’s personality and his ministers
  •    The reception of the news of the French Revolution and Godoy’s decisions
  •    El Escorial Conspiracy
  •    Signature of the Treaty of Fontainebleau
  •    Mutiny of Aranjuez
  •    Beginning of the Peninsular War
  •     Abdications of Bayonne

Before this chapter ends you have to receive a letter from your brother in Andalusia, who explains you that he’s a councillor in his village and they are preparing to resist the French.



This chapter is going to be an exchange of letters between the man in Madrid -who still works for Goya- and the man in Andalusia:

-          - The man in Madrid’ writings are dealing with Joseph I’s court, the Francophiles and The Disasters of the War, the series of etchings Goya painted in this period. This person, influenced by Goya, has got liberal ideas.

-         -  The man in Andalusia is going to focus on the war, the guerrilla and the news about what is happening in Cádiz (Cortes and Constitution). This person has got absolutist ideas and doesn’t like the reforms made in Cádiz.

You have to write at least 2 letters per person. Don’t forget to include personal information about your family…

This chapter is going to end with Ferdinand VII’s comeback. The man in Madrid is afraid of what might happen to Goya and him. The man in Andalusia is happy.


The deadline for the first two chapters finished will be the 22nd November and the deadline for chapters 3 and 4  will be the 20th January. 

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