This film concerns the Esquilache Riots, which took place in Madrid in March 1766.
Brought about mainly by a growing dissatisfaction among the populace of Spain's capital with the rising cost of bread and other staples, they were sparked off by a series of unpopular and impolitic measures affecting what clothes people might wear in public, enacted under the advise of the Marquis of Esquilache (in Italian: Squillacce) a Neapolitan whom King Charles III had made his Minister of Finance.
Charles III was Spain's chief exponent of what is called Eighteenth Century Enlightened Despotism. He brought public lighting and paving stones to Madrid. But measures tending to encourage a rational, modern, hygienic, peaceful mode of living were generally resented by the very conservative lower classes, under the influence, it was believed, of reactionary clerical elements, especially the Jesuits, who were said to oppose every attempt at modernisation. One of the results of the Esquilache riots was the eventual expulsion of the Jesuit order from Spain and her vast colonial Empire.
All these political and existential conflicts are made very clear in this beautifully produced and interesting semi-documentary, a model of what such films can be.
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