Since the end of the Cold War there has been a renaissance in the study of history by International Relations scholars. Constructivists have been at the forefront of this rediscovery, turning to historical inquiry to highlight the contingent meaning and evolution of a myriad of international practices, processes, and social structures. To what extent, however, is this work informed by a distinctive philosophy of history, explicit or implicit? Do constructivists read history in a particular way? If so, what are the contours of their approach? This article takes up these questions, arguing that constructivist history is essentially ‘Skinnerian’ in nature, marking it off from realist-materialist histories, on the one hand, and histories of ideas, on the other. To illustrate this approach I end with a brief constructivist reading of the constitutional crisis that beset the Spanish Empire in the aftermath of the Napoleonic invasion and usurpation in 1808.