Bourbon Reforms

The Bourbon Reforms (Castilian: Reformas Borbónicas) were a set of economic and political legislation promulgated by the Spanish Crown under various kings of the House of Bourbon, mainly in the 18th century. The strengthening of the crown's power with clear lines of authority to officials contrasted to the complex system of government that evolved under the Habsburg monarchs.[1] In particular, the crown pursued state supremacy over the Catholic Church, resulting in the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1767 as well as an attempt to abolish ecclesiastical privilege (fuero eclesiástico).[2]

The reforms resulted in significant restructuring of the administrative structure and personnel.[3] The reforms were intended to stimulate manufacturing and technology to modernise Spain. In Spanish America, the reforms were designed to make the administration more efficient and to promote its economic, commercial and fiscal development. The crown did so, hoping that it would have a positive effect on the economy of Spain. Furthermore, the Bourbon Reforms were intended to limit the power of Creoles and re-establish Spanish supremacy over the colonies.[4]

The reforms achieved mixed results administratively but succeeded in alienating the local elites of the Americas (who called themselves Criollos) and eventually led to the demise of all overseas dominions of the Spanish crown.[5]

End of Habsburg era

At the end of the 17th century, Spain was an ailing empire, facing declining revenues and the loss of military power, ruled by a weak king, Charles II, who left no successor. Even before his death in 1700, the European powers were already positioning themselves to see which noble house would succeed in placing someone on the Spanish throne and thereby gain its vast empire. Louis XIV of France asked for and received the Pope's consent for his grandson, Philip of Anjou, a great-nephew of Charles, to take the throne. On his deathbed, Charles willed the crown to the French-born successor, but an international conflict ensued, known as the War of the Spanish Succession.

Beginning of Bourbon era

After the war, the new French dynasty had to surrender in compromise with the Austrian Habsburgs some of the Spanish Habsburg Empire's European territories, and some maritime enclaves such as Jamaica, some of the Balearic islands and the continental stronghold of Gibraltar and grant a monopoly on the valuable African slave trade with the Americas to England.[6]

Philip V of Spain, the first king of the House of Bourbon, took measures intended to counter the decline of Spanish power. Even before the war, the state of the empire was precarious. When Charles II died, the military was practically nonexistent, consisting of only one division; the treasury was bankrupt; and there was no state promotion of commerce or industry. Philip V and his ministers needed to act quickly to reconstruct the empire.

French Influence

The new Bourbon kings kept close ties with France and used many Frenchmen as advisors. French innovations in politics and social manners never fully replaced Spanish laws and traditions but became an important model in both areas. As a result, there was an influx of French goods, ideas, and books, which helped spread the ideas of the Enlightenment throughout the Spanish world. In a sense, all things French came into fashion during the subsequent century and gave rise to a new type of person, the afrancesado, who welcomed the new influence. In addition, during the War of Succession, the ports in Spanish America were blockaded by British and Dutch fleets. Spain turned to France for help with the export of its goods, which was the first time in Spanish colonial history that trade occurred with a foreign nation. The new commercial relationship stimulated the colonial economy, especially that of Chile.[7]

In mainland Spain

Charles III of Spain high resolution
Charles III of Spain, who initiated the vigorous programs of reform.

The early reforms were aimed at improving the economic and political structure of Spain. They sought to modernize agriculture, construction of ships, and infrastructure to monitor and incite economic integration and development on a regional and national level. These reforms unfortunately fell through for Spain. The socio-economic reforms left the country with almost no investment capital. That hindered the nationalization of industries and so disrupted the class system. It left almost no middle class and separated the lower and upper significantly. As a result of the early reforms, the country was dwindling and its progression rate put it behind its neighboring countries such as Great Britain and France.[8]

The failure of reform measures became evident when Spain, under Charles III, lost the Seven Years' War with Great Britain (1756–1763). Charles III's counselors sought more detailed reports of Spain's overseas territories/and now understood the need to take them fully into account. The new wave of reforms included larger exploitation of resources in the colonies, increased taxes, the opening of new ports allowed to trade only with Spain, and the establishment of several state monopolies.

In Spanish America

José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez, Visitador general in New Spain and later Minister of the Indies.
Palacio de mineria
Palacio de Minería, Mexico City. The crown sought to make silver mining more productive and the silver magnates ennobled; it created the College of Mines and the Royal Mining Court.

In Spanish America, José del Campillo y Cosío's Nuevo Sistema de gobierno económico para la América (New System of Economic Government for America) (1743) was a key text that shaped the reforms. He compared the colonial systems of Britain and France with that of Spain, as the first two nations reaped far greater benefits than Spain. He advocated reforming Spain's economic relations with its overseas territories to a system more like the mercantilism of France's Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683).[9]

The Bourbon reforms have been termed "a revolution in government" for their sweeping changes in the structure of administration that sought to strengthen the power of the Spanish state, decrease the power of local elites in favor of office holders from the Iberian peninsula, and increase revenues for the crown.[10]

The bulk of the changes in Spanish America came in the second half of the 18th century following the visita general (general inspection) of New Spain (1765–1771) by José de Gálvez, who was later named Minister of the Indies. The reforms attempted in New Spain were implemented elsewhere in Spanish America subsequently.[11] There had been one earlier reform in the creation of the new Viceroyalty of New Granada (1717), carved out from the Viceroyalty of Peru to improve the administration of the overseas possessions. The new viceroyalty was created initially in 1717, suppressed just six years later, and then permanently established in 1739, still earlier than the reforms of the late 18th century. It was an administrative change that reflected the recognition (as early as the 16th century) that the northern area of South America had certain challenges of distance from Peru.[a] There had been earlier creations of captaincies general in Guatemala and Venezuela, marking an increase in their importance.[12] In 1776, a second jurisdiction, the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata was also carved out of the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1776 as part of José de Gálvez's comprehensive administrative reform.[13] In the same year, an autonomous captaincy general was also established in Venezuela.

Under Charles III, colonial matters were concentrated in a single ministry, which took powers away from the Council of the Indies. Furthermore, the advances Americans (Criollos) had made in the local bureaucracy in the past century and a half, usually through the sale of offices, were checked by the direct appointment of (supposedly more qualified and disinterested) Spanish officials.

Charles III also initiated the difficult process of changing the complex administrative system of the former ruling family, the Hapsburgs. Corregidores were to be replaced with a French institution, the intendant. The intendancies had the intended effect of further decentralizing the administration at the expense of viceroys, captains general and governors, since intendants were directly responsible to the Crown and were granted large powers in economic and political matters. The intendancy system proved to be efficient in most areas and led to an increase in revenue collection. Intendency seats were mainly based in large cities and successful mining centers. Almost all of the new intendants were Peninsulares, people who were born in Spain, exacerbating the conflict between Peninsulares and Criollos, who wished to retain some control of local administration. Charles III and Charles IV also reversed the advances that Criollos had made in the high courts (audiencias). Under the Habsburgs, the Crown had sold audiencia positions to Criollos. The Bourbon kings ended this policy. By 1807, “only twelve out of ninety-nine [audiencia] judges were creoles.”[14]

With regards to the economy, collection of taxes was more efficient under the intendancy system. In 1778, Charles III established the "Decree of Free Trade," which allowed the Spanish American ports to trade directly with one another and most ports in Spain. Therefore, "commerce would no longer be restricted to four colonial ports (Veracruz, Cartagena, Lima/Callao, and Panama)."[15] Tax reductions were given to the silver mining industry. Tobacco proved to be a successful crop after state monopolies were expanded. Also, many of the colonies began to produce an abundance of resources, which became vital to many European powers and the British colonies in North America and the Caribbean despite the fact that most of this trade was considered contraband since it was not carried on Spanish ships. Most of the Bourbon kings tried to outlaw this trade through various programs like increasing the customs receipts, with little avail.[16]

Spanish America barely had an operational military before the Bourbon reforms, and what it had was inconsistent and scattered. The Bourbons created a more organized militia and first used men deployed straight from Spain as officers, but soon that broke down, as locals took most positions. The colonial militias became a source of prestige for status-hungry Criollos. The hierarchy of the military was racially based. Militias were often created along race lines, with militias for whites, blacks and mixed race people. Almost all the higher officers were Spanish-born, with Criollos occupying the secondary levels of command.

The Bourbons also made the government more secular. The political role of the Church was diminished but never removed completely. Unlike the Habsburgs, who often selected churchmen to fill political offices, the Bourbons preferred to appoint career military officers. The process reached a high point with the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1767. The Jesuits were one of the wealthiest religious orders and had been instrumental in the missionary work carried out in the Americas and the Philippines. Because they had major rivals in the other orders of the church, their dismissal was greeted with covert approval. The crown also tried to place the more secular clergy in the church hierarchy, reversing a trend since the beginning of the colonial period of having the regular clergy fill these posts. Overall, these changes had little effect on the Church as a whole. Towards the end of the Bourbon reign, on the "eve of independence, the crown attempted to confiscate church property, but the measure proved hard to enforce."[17]

The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church played a major role in the Bourbon Reforms, specifically in the vice royalties. A vice royalty is basically a territory governed by a viceroy, a ruler exercising authority in a colony on behalf of a sovereign. The Catholic Church was the most widely regarded church among the vice royalties of Spanish America, and the new colonies brought forth an opportunity to spread Catholicism.

The Catholic Church came about as a religious and political entity in the Iberian Peninsula in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries. From here, missionaries who possessed the banner of Christ came to the Americas for a fresh, new environment for Christianity to thrive. There was a clear alliance between the Church and the Crown in Spanish America. Ecclesiastical institutions were allotted some freedom from the Crown. The fuero eclesiástico, or clerical immunity, granted clergy members immunity from the royal courts. According to this fuero, any civil crime or criminal offense will be heard in front of the ecclesiastical instead of the royal or local court. This privilege was then extended to all clerics, nuns, priests, monks, and friars. This fuero extended to the land owned by the individuals and institutions which means the Spanish Crown could not exercise justice physically nor collect taxes.[18]

Missionizing in maroon societies in Spanish America became essential for the nature of politics of African resistance in the Iberian Atlantic world. The Maroons were Africans who escaped slavery in America and then mixed with the indigenous people. In the sixteenth century, missionizing native peoples was seen as a moral conquest. It was used as a tool of pacification among Africans who escaped slavery and made their home in Spanish America. In Ecuador, Santo Domingo, Mexico, and Panama, imprinting and “pacifying” maroon societies was very dependent on the spread of Spanish Catholicism. Pacification is an attempt to create or maintain peace through agreements and diplomacy. Christianization often conflicted with the relationships the Maroons created with Catholic clerics and created tensions. Spanish cultural hegemony functioned to imprint submission to religious practices. Maroons, as well as other Africans, rapidly learned that Catholicism was necessary for political legitimation. However, bringing Christianity to light did not interrupt the development of localized practices that observed religious traditions of Africans and indigenous Americans. Maroon communities on the coast of colonial Ecuador learned how Christianization became a tool for Afro-Amerindian rebels in Spain's empire and in the African diasporic world. "While an Afro-Christian diasporic identity may have been in its formative stage during the sixteenth century, transfers of knowledge between the old world and the new were readily apparent in European interactions with Maroons on the Esmeraldas coast. This case study of the Maroons of colonial Ecuador will allow us to see in three acts, or phases, how clerical intervention and the discourse of Christian conversion shaped colonization over time: ultimately yielding a modus vivendi between rebel African slaves and Spanish colonial authorities." (Bryant, O'Toole, Vinson, 2012: 96–97).[19]

The reforms caused many religious tensions as well as social tensions. One of the most major modifications in the Bourbon Reforms was the expulsion of the Jesuits. The Society of Jesus, the members being the Jesuits, had become one of the most powerful organizations in the colonies at the time and had a distinct amount of power until the Bourbon Reforms. In 1767, Charles III of Spain ordered the expulsion of 2,200 Jesuits to be removed from the vice royalties. Of the 2,200 that were exiled, 678 were from Mexico (New Spain) with 75% of the Jesuits from Mexico being Mexican-born. The expulsion of the Jesuits which was frowned upon among many colonists. Many historians believe that the Bourbon Reforms would bring forth self-confidence for American-born Spaniards.[20] The expulsion of the Jesuits confronted the liberal ideology of the nineteenth century and conservative positions of the time. The expulsion represented aspects of liberal ideology as a need to break away from colonial past, progress and civilization as attainable objectives, education as a neutral term of religious instruction, and the separation of the Catholic Church and state. These factors played a major role in the modernization of Spanish America.[21] Spanish soldiers went to Mexico and rounded up the Jesuits to be exiled to Italy. The Jesuits were then placed on Spanish warships and sent to the Italian port of Civitavecchia. Upon arrival, Pope Clement XIII refused to let the prisoners set foot on papal territory. The warships then went to the island of Corsica, but due to a rebellion on shore, it took a while to let the Jesuits onto the island. Bernardo Tanucci, adviser to Charles III, did not welcome the Jesuits into Naples and the Jesuits were threatened with death if they crossed the border of the papal states back to Naples.[20] Historian Charles Gibson stated that the expulsion of the Jesuits was a "sudden and devastating move" by the Spanish Crown to assert royal control.[22]

Emphasis on the dominant role of the state in ecclesiastical reform sometimes made the church seem defensive and resistant to change and modern ideas. Many nuns of the eighteenth century were resistant and even rebelled against the thought of the church and state joining together. Many priests and nuns were hesitant to join forces with the state because they feared the state would gain too much power and try to alter the preexisting ideals and beliefs of the Catholic Church.[23] With the formation of Spanish America, the Catholic Church and the Spanish Crown formed an alliance that lasted for centuries both in the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish America.


Though the legislation passed by the Bourbons did much to reform the Empire, it was not enough to save it. The racial tensions continued to grow and massive discontent lead to a number of revolts, the most important of which were the Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II and Revolt of the Comuneros. Criollos, Mestizos, and Indians were among the most common to be involved in such revolts.[24] Over time, these uprisings led to the fight for the independence of the American colonies.

See also


  1. ^ For example, Amazonas is named after the Amazon River, and was formerly part of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, a region called Spanish Guyana. It was settled by the Portuguese in the early 18th century and incorporated into the Portuguese empire after the Treaty of Madrid in 1750. It became a state of the Brazilian Republic in 1889.


In Spanish unless otherwise noted.

  1. ^ James Lockhart and Stuart B. Schwartz, Early Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press 1983, p. 347.
  2. ^ N.M. Farriss, Crown and Clergy in Colonial Mexico. London: Athlone 1968.
  3. ^ James Lockhart and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1983, p. 347.
  4. ^ Ortega Noriega, Sergio. "Las reformas borbónicas y la Independencia, 1767–1821" Archived November 25, 2005, at the Wayback Machine., Breve historia de Sinaloa. Mexico, 1999. ISBN 968-16-5378-5
  5. ^ "The Bourbon Reforms" Archived October 26, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Hill: Robert Harley, 162–5; Wolf:Louis XIV, 581; Pitt:The Pacification of Utrecht, 460; Trevelyan: England, III, 182–5
  7. ^ Skidmore, Thomas E. and Peter H. Smith. Modern Latin America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  8. ^ "Memoria chilena" Archived March 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.. Las reformas borbónicas (1700–1788).
  9. ^ D.A. Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1971, p. 27.
  10. ^ Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, pp. 33–94.
  11. ^ Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, p. 34.
  12. ^ James Lockhart and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1983, p. 348.
  13. ^ "Reformas Borbónicas en el Virreinato del Río de la Plata" Historia Argentina-Planeta Senda.
  14. ^ Burns, E. Bradford and Julie A. Charlip. Latin America: An Interpretative History. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2007.
  15. ^ Merrill, Tim L. and Ramón Miró, editors. "Road to Independence", Mexico: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1996.
  16. ^ "History of Latin America". Encyclopædia Britannica Presents Hispanic Heritage in the Americas.
  17. ^ Crow, John A. The Epic of Latin America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
  18. ^ Schwaller, John Frederick (2011). The history of the Catholic Church in Latin America : from conquest to revolution and beyond. New York: New York University Press. pp. 13–16. ISBN 9780814740033.
  19. ^ Bryant, edited by Sherwin K.; O'Toole, Rachel Sarah; III, Ben Vinson, (2012). Africans to Spanish America : expanding the diaspora. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252036637.
  20. ^ a b "Suppression of the Society of Jesus". Wikipedia. 12 November 2017.
  21. ^ Guerrero, José David Cortés (1 January 2003). "The expulsion of Jesuits from Nueva Granada in 185Oas key for understanding". Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura. 0 (30). ISSN 0120-2456.
  22. ^ Gibson, Charles (1966). Spain in America. New York: Harper and Row. pp. 83–84.
  23. ^ Chowning, Margaret (Feb 2005). "Convent Reform, Catholic Reform, and Bourbon Reform in Eighteenth-Century New Spain: The View from the Nunnery". Hispanic American Historical Review. 85 (1): 3–7.
  24. ^ Gómez Alarcón, Arturo. "Las Reformas Borbónicas en el Perú" Archived October 28, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.. 2005,

Further reading


  • Brading, D. A. Haciendas and Ranchos in the Mexican Bajío: León, 1700–1860. Cambridge, 1978. ISBN 978-0-521-22200-6
  • Brading, D. A. Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1971. ISBN 978-0-521-07874-0
  • Buechler, Rose Marie. The Mining Society of Potosí, 1776–1810. Ann Arbor, Syracuse University, 1981. ISBN 978-0-8357-0591-2
  • Deans-Smith, Susan. Bureaucrats, Planters, and Workers: The Making of the Tobacco Monopoly in Bourbon Mexico. Austin, University of Texas Press, 1992. ISBN 978-0-292-70786-3
  • Fisher, John R. Commercial Relations between Spain and Spanish America in the Era of Free Trade, 1778–1796. Liverpool, University of Liverpool, 1985. ISBN 978-0-902806-12-2
  • Fisher, John R. Silver Mines and Silver Miners in Colonial Peru, 1776–1824. Liverpool, 1977. ISBN 978-0-902806-06-1
  • Fisher, John R. Trade, War, and Revolution: Exports from Spain to Spanish America, 1797–1820. Liverpool, University of Liverpool, 1992. ISBN 978-0-902806-22-1
  • Liss, Peggy K. Atlantic Empires: The Network of Trade and Revolution, 1713–1826. Baltimore, 1983. ISBN 978-0-8018-2742-6
  • Ringrose, David. Spain, Europe and the "Spanish Miracle," 1700–1900. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-585-04069-1
  • Socolow, Susan Migden. The Merchants of Buenos Aires, 1778–1810: Family and Commerce. Cambridge 1978. ISBN 978-0-521-21812-2
  • Stein, Stanley J. "Bureaucracy and Business in the Spanish Empire, 1759–1804: Failure of a Bourbon Reform in Mexico and Peru," Hispanic American Historical Review 61(1)19812-28.
  • Van Young, Eric. Hacienda and Market in Eighteenth Century Mexico: The Rural Economy of Guadalajara, 1675–1820. Berkeley, 1981. ISBN 978-0-520-04161-5


  • Andrien, Kenneth J. The Kingdom of Quito, 1690–1830: The State and Regional Development. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-521-48125-0
  • Barbier, Jacques A. Reform and Politics in Bourbon Chile, 1755–1796. Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 1980. ISBN 978-2-7603-5010-6
  • Brown, Kendall W. Bourbons and Brandy: Imperial Reform in Eighteenth-Century Arequipa. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1986. ISBN 978-0-8263-0829-0
  • Burkholder, Mark A. and D. S. Chandler. From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687–1808. Columbus, University of Missouri Press, 1977. ISBN 978-0-8262-0219-2
  • Fisher, John R. Government and Society in Colonial Peru: The Intendant System, 1784–1814. London, Athlone Press, 1970. ISBN 978-0-485-13129-1
  • Fisher, Lillian Estelle. The Intendant System in Spanish America. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1929.
  • Floyd, Troy S. (ed.). The Bourbon Reformers and Spanish Civilization; Builders or Destroyers? Boston: Heath, 1966.
  • Hamnett, Brian R. Politics and Trade in Southern Mexico, 1750–1821. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1971. ISBN 978-0-521-07860-3
  • Lynch, John. Spanish Colonial Administration, 1782–1810: The Intendant System in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. London, Athlone Press, 1958.
  • Marichal, Carlos and Matilde Souto Mantecón, "Silver and Situados: New Spain and the Financing of the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean in the Eighteenth Century," Hispanic American Historical Review 74(4) 1994, pp. 587–613.
  • McFarlane, Anthony. Colombia before Independence: Economy, Society, and Politics under Bourbon Rule. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-521-41641-2
  • McKinley, P. Michael. Pre-Revolutionary Caracas: Politics, Economy, and Society, 1777–1811. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 1985. ISBN 978-0-521-30450-4


  • Archer, Christon I. The Army in Bourbon Mexico, 1760–1810. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1977. ISBN 978-0-8263-0442-1
  • Campbell, Leon G. The Military and Society in Colonial Peru, 1750–1810. Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1978. ISBN 978-0-87169-123-1
  • Kuethe, Allan J. Military Reform and Society in New Granada, 1773-1808. Gainesville, University of Florida Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0-8130-0570-6
  • Kuethe, Allan J. Cuba, 1753–1815: Crown, Military and Society. Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 1986. ISBN 978-0-87049-487-1


  • Brading, D. A. Church and State in Bourbon Mexico: The Diocese of Michoacán, 1749–1810. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-521-46092-7
  • Farris, Nancy M. Crown and Clergy in Colonial Mexico, 1759–1821: The Crisis of Ecclesiastical Privilege. London, Athlone Press, 1968. ISBN 978-0-485-13121-5


  • Ladd, Doris M. The Mexican Nobility at Independence, 1780–1826. Austin, 1976. ISBN 978-0-292-75027-2
  • Seed, Patricia. To Love Honor and Obey in Colonial Mexico: Conflicts Over Marriage Choice, 1574–1821. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8047-1457-0
  • Premo, Bianca, "Children of the Father King: Youth, Authority and Legal Minority in Colonial Lima," Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2005 IBSN 978-0-8078-5619-2
Ambrosio de Benavides

Ambrosio de Benavides Medina Liñán y Torres (January 20, 1718 – April 27, 1787 ) was a Spanish colonial administrator who served as Royal Governor of Puerto Rico, Royal Governor of Charcas and Royal Governor of Chile.

Cabildo (council)

A cabildo (Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈβildo]) or ayuntamiento (Spanish: [aʝuntaˈmjento]) was a Spanish colonial, and early post-colonial, administrative council which governed a municipality. Cabildos were sometimes appointed, sometimes elected; but they were considered to be representative of all land-owning heads of household (vecinos). The colonial cabildo was essentially the same as the one developed in medieval Castile.

The cabildo was the legal representative of the municipality—and its vecinos—before the Crown, therefore it was among the first institutions established by the conquistadors themselves after, or even before, taking over an area. For example, Hernán Cortés established La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz to free himself from the authority of the Governor of Cuba.

The word cabildo has the same Latin root (capitulum) as the English word chapter, and in fact, is also the Spanish word for a cathedral chapter. Historically the term ayuntamiento was often preceded by the word excelentísimo (English: "most excellent") as a style of office, when referring to the council. This phrase is often abbreviated

Captaincies of the Spanish Empire

Captaincies (Spanish: capitanías) were military and administrative divisions in colonial Spanish America and the Spanish Philippines, established in areas under risk of foreign invasion or Indian attack. They could consist of just one province, or group several together. These captaincies general should be distinguished from the ones given to almost all of the conquistadores, which was based on an older tradition. During the Reconquista, the term "captain general" and similar ones had been used for the official in charge of all the troops in a given district. This office was transferred to America during the conquest and was usually granted along with the hereditary governorship to the adelantado in the patent issued by the Crown. This established a precedent that was recognized by the New Laws of 1542, but ultimately the crown eliminated all hereditary governorships in its overseas possessions.

With the establishment of appointed governors, who served only for a few years, captaincies were created in the areas where the crown deemed them necessary. The new captaincies general were governed by what was also called a captain general, and it is this title alone that is usually used by historians. The title of captain general itself is a high military rank of general officer grade, equivalent to the rank of Field Marshal, as well as, and a gubernatorial title. However, in practice this was a person who held two distinct offices: one military, which granted him command of the regional forces (the "captaincy general" proper), and another civilian, which included the presidency of the audiencia, if there was one in the provincial capital, (the governorship). The specific powers of any governor-captain general varied by time and place and were specified in the decrees establishing the captaincy general. The institution of the captaincy general predated the viceroyalty, but was incorporated into the latter when the viceroyalties were established in the mid-16th century.

Some captaincies general, such as Guatemala, Chile and Venezuela were eventually split off from their viceroyalties for better-administration purposes. Although under the nominal jurisdiction of their viceroys, governors-captains general were virtually independent, because the law granted them special military functions and given the considerable distance of their districts from the viceregal capital, they were authorized to deal directly with the King and the Council of the Indies, in Madrid. The institution was later revived as part of the Bourbon Reforms. Captaincies general were first introduced into Spain beginning in 1713 during the War of the Spanish Succession. After the losses of the Seven Years' War, the Bourbon kings established new ones in many American regions, which had not had them before. Along with the new governors-captains general, the Bourbons introduced the Intendant, to handle civilian and military expenses.

Captaincy General of Cuba

The Captaincy General of Cuba (Spanish: Capitanía General de Cuba) was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1607 as part of Habsburg Spain's attempt to better defend the Caribbean against foreign powers, which also involved creating captaincies general in Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Yucatán. The restructuring of the Captaincy General in 1764 was the first example of the Bourbon Reforms in America. The changes included adding the provinces of Florida and Louisiana and granting more autonomy for these provinces. This later change was carried out by the Count of Floridablanca under Charles III to strengthen the Spanish position vis-a-vis the British in the Caribbean. A new governor-captain general based in Havana oversaw the administration of the new district. The local governors of the larger Captaincy General had previously been overseen in political and military matters by the president of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo. This audiencia retained oversight of judicial affairs until the establishment of new audiencias in Puerto Príncipe (1800) and Havana (1838). In 1825, as a result of the loss of the mainland possessions, the Spanish government granted the governors-captain generals of Cuba extraordinary powers in matters of administration, justice and the treasury and in the second half of the 19th century gave them the title of Governor General.

Captaincy General of Puerto Rico

The Captaincy General of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Capitanía General de Puerto Rico) was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire, created in 1580 to provide better military management of the island of Puerto Rico, previously under the direct rule of a simple governor and the jurisdiction of Audiencia of Santo Domingo. Its creation was part of the, ultimately futile, Habsburg attempt in the late 16th century to prevent incursion into the Caribbean by foreign powers. Spain also established Captaincies General in Cuba, Guatemala and Yucatán.

The Captaincy General played a crucial role in the history of the Spanish Caribbean. The institution lasted until 1898 in Puerto Rico, when an autonomous local government, headed by a governor-general and an insular parliament, was instituted just months before Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States in 1898 following defeat in the Spanish–American War.

Captaincy General of Venezuela

The Captaincy General of Venezuela (Spanish: Capitanía General de Venezuela) was an administrative district of colonial Spain, created on September 8, 1777, through the Royal Decree of Graces of 1777, to provide more autonomy for the provinces of Venezuela, previously under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo (and thus the Viceroyalty of New Spain) and then the Viceroyalty of New Granada. It established a unified government in political (governorship), military (captaincy general), fiscal (intendancy) and judicial (audiencia) affairs. Its creation was part of the Bourbon Reforms and laid the groundwork for the future nation of Venezuela, in particular by orienting the province of Maracaibo towards the province of Caracas.

Captaincy General of Yucatán

The Captaincy General of Yucatán (Spanish: Capitanía General de Yucatán) was an administrative district of colonial Spain, created in 1617 to provide more autonomy for the Yucatán Peninsula, previously ruled directly by a simple governor under the jurisdiction of Audiencia of Mexico. Its creation was part of the, ultimately futile, Habsburg attempt in the late 16th century to prevent incursion into the Caribbean by foreign powers, which also involved the establishment of Captaincies General in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and neighboring Guatemala. With the addition of the title of captain general to the governor of Yucatán, the province gained greater autonomy in administration and military matters. Unlike in most areas of Spanish America, no formal corregidores were used in Yucatán, and instead the governor-captain general relied on other subordinate officials to handle the oversight of local districts. The Captaincy General remained part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, with the viceroy retaining the right to oversee the province's governance, when it was deemed necessary, and the Audiencia of Mexico taking judicial cases in appeal. The province and captaincy general covered the territory that today are the States of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Yucatán, and nominally the northern areas of Petén and Belize.

Law IV ("Que el Governador de Yucatan guarde las ordenes del Virrey de Nueva España") of Title I ("De los Terminos, Division, y Agregación de las Governaciones") of Book V of the Recopilación de Leyes de Indias of 1680 reproduces the November 2, 1627 royal decree (real cédula) of Philip V, which established the nature of the relationship between the Governor of Yucatán and the Viceroy of New Spain: "It is convenient that the governors and captain generals of the Province of Yucatán, precisely and in a timely manner fulfill the orders that the viceroys of New Spain give them. And we order that the governors obey them and fulfill them."In 1786, as part of the Bourbon Reforms the Spanish Crown established an Intendancy of Yucatán covering the same area as the Province. The intendancy took control of government and military finances and had broad powers to promote the local economy.

Great Rebellion

The Great Rebellion or Great Revolt is a term that is generally used in English for the following conflicts:

First Jewish–Roman War in 66–73 CE, also known as the Great Revolt of Judaea

Peasants' Revolt in England in 1381, also called Wat Tyler's Rebellion

English Civil War in 1642–1651, also called English Revolution

Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II in 1780–83, against Bourbon reforms in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru

Wars of the Three Kingdoms, an intertwined series of conflicts that took place in England, Ireland and Scotland between 1639 and 1651, including the English Civil War

Indian Rebellion of 1857, against the British East India Company

In the northern states of the USA, an alternate term used in naming the American Civil War (1861–65)

East Timorese rebellion of 1911–12 against Portuguese colonial authorities

Arab Revolt or Great Arab Revolt of 1917 (Arabic: الثورة العربية‎, translit. al-Thawra al-‘Arabiyya; Turkish: Arap İsyanı), against the Ottoman Empire

1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, that would come to be known as "the Great Revolt".

History of Lima

The history of Lima, the capital of Peru, began with its foundation by Francisco Pizarro on January 6, 1535. The city was established on the valley of the Rímac River in an area populated by the Ichma polity. It became the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and site of a Real Audiencia in 1543. In the 17th century, the city prospered as the center of an extensive trade network despite damage from earthquakes and the threat of pirates. However, prosperity came to an end in the 18th century due to an economic downturn and the Bourbon Reforms.

The population of Lima played an ambivalent role in the 1821–1824 Peruvian War of Independence; the city suffered exactions from Royalist and Patriot armies alike. After independence, Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru. It enjoyed a short period of prosperity in the mid-19th century until the 1879–1883 War of the Pacific when it was occupied and looted by Chilean troops. After the war, the city went through a period of demographic expansion and urban renewal. Population growth accelerated in the 1940s spurred by immigration from the Andean regions of Peru. This gave rise to the proliferation of shanty towns as public services failed to keep up with the city expansion.

Holy Week processions in Guatemala

Holy Week in Guatemala is celebrated with street expressions of faith, called processions, usually organized by a "hermandad". Each procession of Holy Week has processional floats and steps, which are often religious images of the Passion of Christ, or Marian images, although there are exceptions, like the allegorical steps of saints.

José de Gálvez

José de Gálvez y Gallardo, marqués de Sonora (2 January 1720, Macharavialla, Spain – 17 June 1787, Aranjuez, Spain) was a Spanish lawyer and Visitador generál (inspector general) in New Spain (1764–1772); later appointed to the Council of the Indies (1775–1787). He was one of the prime figures behind the Bourbon Reforms. He belonged to an important political family that included his brother Matías de Gálvez and nephew Bernardo de Gálvez.

José del Campillo

José del Campillo y Cossío (February 13, 1693 in Alles, Peñamellera Alta, Asturias – April 11, 1743 in Madrid), was a Spanish statesman. His writings were influential in shaping the Spanish monarchy's reorganization of its empire, known as the Bourbon Reforms.

Kingdom of New Spain

The Kingdom of New Spain was established following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521 as a New World kingdom dependent on the crown of Castile, since the initial funds for exploration came from Queen Isabella of Castile. Although New Spain was a dependency of Castile, it was a kingdom itself not a colony, but subject to the monarch of Castile. The monarch had sweeping power in the overseas territories, The king possessed not only the sovereign right but the property rights; he was the absolute proprietor, the sole political head of his American dominions. Every privilege and position, economic political, or religious came from him. It was on this basis that the conquest, occupation, and government of the [Spanish] New World was achieved.

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was established in 1535 in the Kingdom of New Spain, it was the first New World viceroyalty and one of only two in the Spanish empire until the eighteenth-century Bourbon Reforms.

New Spain

The Viceroyalty of New Spain (Spanish: Virreinato de Nueva España [birei̯ˈnato ðe ˈnweβa esˈpaɲa]) was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, Central America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a viceroyalty (Spanish: virreinato), the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the viceroyalty was Mexico City, established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

It included what is now Mexico plus the current U.S. states of California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Florida and parts of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana; as well as the southwestern part of British Columbia of present-day Canada; plus the Captaincy General of Guatemala (which included the current countries of Guatemala, the Mexican state of Chiapas, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua); the Captaincy General of Cuba (current Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and Guadeloupe); and the Captaincy General of the Philippines (including the Philippines, Guam, the Caroline Islands, the Mariana Islands and the short lived Spanish Formosa in modern-day northern Taiwan).

The political organization divided the viceroyalty into kingdoms and captaincies general. The kingdoms were those of New Spain (different from the viceroyalty itself); Nueva Galicia (1530); Captaincy General of Guatemala (1540); Nueva Vizcaya (1562); New Kingdom of León (1569); Santa Fe de Nuevo México (1598); Nueva Extremadura (1674) and Nuevo Santander (1746). There were four captaincies: Captaincy General of the Philippines (1574), Captaincy General of Cuba, Captaincy General of Puerto Rico and Captaincy General of Santo Domingo. These territorial subdivisions had a governor and captain general (who in New Spain was the viceroy himself, who added this title to his other dignities). In Guatemala, Santo Domingo and Nueva Galicia, these officials were called presiding governors, since they were leading real audiences. For this reason, these hearings were considered "praetorial."

There were two great estates. The most important was the Marquisate of the Valley of Oaxaca, property of Hernán Cortés and his descendants that included a set of vast territories where marquises had civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the right to grant land, water and forests and within which were their main possessions (cattle ranches, agricultural work, sugar mills, fulling houses and shipyards). The other estate was the Duchy of Atlixco, granted in 1708, by King Philip V to José Sarmiento de Valladares, former viceroy of New Spain and married to the Countess of Moctezuma, with civil and criminal jurisdiction over Atlixco, Tepeaca, Guachinango, Ixtepeji and Tula de Allende. King Charles III introduced reforms in the organization of the viceroyalty in 1786, known as Bourbon reforms, which created the intendencias, which allowed to limit, in some way, the viceroy's attributions.

New Spain developed highly regional divisions, reflecting the impact of climate, topography, indigenous populations, and mineral resources. The areas of central and southern Mexico had dense indigenous populations with complex social, political, and economic organization. The northern area of Mexico, a region of nomadic and semi-nomadic indigenous populations, was not generally conducive to dense settlements, but the discovery of silver in Zacatecas in the 1540s drew settlement there to exploit the mines. Silver mining not only became the engine of the economy of New Spain, but vastly enriched Spain and transformed the global economy. New Spain was the New World terminus of the Philippine trade, making the viceroyalty a vital link between Spain's New World empire and its Asian empire.

From the beginning of the 19th century, the viceroyalty fell into crisis, aggravated by the Peninsular War, and its direct consequence in the viceroyalty, the political crisis in Mexico in 1808, which ended with the government of viceroy José de Iturrigaray and, later, gave rise to the Conspiracy of Valladolid and the Conspiracy of Querétaro. This last one was the direct antecedent of the Mexican War of Independence, which, when concluding in 1821, disintegrated the viceroyalty and gave way to the Mexican Empire, in which finally Agustín de Iturbide would be crowned.

Provincias Internas

The Provincias Internas, also known as the Comandancia y Capitanía General de las Provincias Internas (Commandancy and Captaincy General of the Internal Provinces), was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1776 to provide more autonomy for the frontier provinces of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, present-day northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. The goal of its creation was to establish a unified government in political, military and fiscal affairs. Nevertheless, the Commandancy General experienced significant changes in its administration because of experimentation to find the best government for the frontier region as well as bureaucratic in-fighting. Its creation was part of the Bourbon Reforms and was part of an effort to invigorate economic and population growth in the region to stave off encroachment on the region by foreign powers. During its existence, the Commandancy General encompassed the Provinces of Sonora y Sinaloa, Nueva Vizcaya, Las Californias, Nuevo México, Nuevo Santander, Nuevo Reyno de León, Coahuila (formerly Nueva Extremadura) and Texas.

Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II

The Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II (1780 – c. 1782) was an uprising of native and mestizo peasants against the Bourbon reforms in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. While Túpac Amaru II, an early leader of the rebellion, was captured and executed in 1781, the rebellion continued for at least another year under other leaders.

Revolt of the Comuneros (New Granada)

The Revolt of the Comuneros was a popular uprising in the Viceroyalty of New Granada (now Colombia and parts of Venezuela) against the Spanish authorities from March through October 1781. The revolt was in reaction to the increase in taxation to raise funds for defense of the region against the British, a rise in the price of tobacco and brandy, which were part of the late eighteenth-century Bourbon reforms. The initial revolt was local and not well known outside the region of Socorro, but in the late nineteenth century, historian Manuel Briceño saw the massive revolt as a precursor to independence. Prior to the 1781 revolt, residents in New Granada had protested, at times violently, crown policy implementation there between 1740 and 1779.

Viceroyalty of Peru

The Viceroyalty of Peru (Spanish: Virreinato del Perú) was a Spanish imperial provincial administrative district, created in 1542, that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima. The Viceroyalty of Peru was one of the two Spanish Viceroyalties in the Americas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

The Spanish did not resist the Portuguese expansion of Brazil across the meridian established by the Treaty of Tordesillas. The treaty was rendered meaningless between 1580 and 1640 while Spain controlled Portugal. The creation during the 18th century of Viceroyalties of New Granada and Río de la Plata (at the expense of Peru's territory) reduced the importance of Lima and shifted the lucrative Andean trade to Buenos Aires, while the fall of the mining and textile production accelerated the progressive decay of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Eventually, the viceroyalty would dissolve, as with much of the Spanish empire, when challenged by national independence movements at the beginning of the nineteenth century. These movements led to the formation of the modern-day countries of Peru, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Guyana and Venezuela in the territories that at one point or another had constituted the Viceroyalty of Peru.

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