The Captaincy General of Venezuela (Spanish: Capitanía General de Venezuela) also known as the Kingdom of Venezuela (Spanish: Reino 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 Venezuela (Kingdom of Venezuela)
Capitanía General de Venezuela (Reino de Venezuela)
Map by Agustín Codazzi showing the six provinces of Venezuela in 1810.
|Capital||Santiago de León de Caracas|
• Royal Decree
|September 8 1777|
|April 19, 1810|
|ISO 3166 code||VE|
The Bourbon dynasty had already taken steps towards reorganizing their overseas possessions and Venezuela, in particular. When the New Granadan Viceroyalty was reestablished in 1739, the governor-captain general of Caracas was given military jurisdiction over the provinces of Maracaibo, Cumaná, Guayana, Trinidad and Margarita. The 18th century also marked a period of marked economic growth for Venezuela. Cocoa plantations were established along the littoral valleys, which resulted in large importations of slaves. The growth of the cocoa-exporting economy was fomented by the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, which was granted a full monopoly over exports and imports in 1728. The Company's second largest export was tobacco. It also promoted the exploration and settlement of Venezuela's frontiers, most famously under the Expedition of the Limits, 1750-1761 headed by José de Iturriaga y Aguirre, which resulted in new settlements in Guayana Province. This growth was not experienced evenly, and the monopoly hurt small farmers, who continued to sell most of their product in the contraband trade. Resentment of the Company exploded in open revolt in 1749 headed by Canarian immigrant Juan Francisco de León.
The Captaincy General, which was essentially a new viceroyalty in all but name, was actually created slowly over time by centralizing fiscal, administrative, military and ecclesiastical rule in Caracas. The first step was the creation of the Intendancy of Caracas, by Minister of the Indies, José de Gálvez in 1776. The new intendancy (superintendencia de ejército y real hacienda) covered the provinces of Venezuela (Caracas), Cumaná (sometimes New Andalusia), Guayana, Maracaibo, Trinidad and Margarita. Up to this point Maracaibo, Guayana and Trinidad's governance had been directly supervised by the Bogotá Audiencia; the other three provinces by the one in Santo Domingo. The following year a joint governorship-captaincy general with powers over military and administrative matters was established for the same provinces. Regional governors and military commanders were subordinated to the governor-captain general of Caracas. To maintain uniformity in judicial matters, in 1777 the provinces of Maracaibo, Margarita, Cumaná, Guayana and Trinidad were transferred to the Santo Domingo Audiencia, which had taken appeals from the Province of Caracas since 1742. Judicial matters were finally centralized in 1786 with the creation of the Audiencia of Caracas, which had jurisdiction over these same provinces and the new Barinas Province, which had been established in the intervening years from the frontier regions of Maracaibo Province. The Audiencia was composed of a regent judge, three judges and a crown attorney. The governor-captain general served as its president. It was to carry out justice and to watch over the action of royal officials in the area of its jurisdiction and only communicated directly with the Council of the Indies in Spain. A consulado was established in 1793 to oversee the new captaincy general's trade. In religious matters all of the provinces were also placed under the direction of the new archdiocese of Caracas in 1803. Two new dioceses, Mérida and Guayana were created, as well. Previously areas of the new diocese of Mérida had been part of the archdiocese of Bogotá, and Guayana had been part of the diocese of Puerto Rico. Control of the Province of Trinidad was lost to the British in 1797.
The Royal Decree establishing the Captaincy General:
The King.—Inasmuch and keeping in mind what has been reported to me by the current Viceroy, Governor and Captain General of the New Kingdom of Granada and the governors of the Provinces of Guayana and Maracaibo on the inconveniences that are created in the indicated provinces, as well as those of Cumaná and Islands of Margarita and Trinidad, by remaining united as they are to the Viceroyalty and Captaincy General of the indicated New Kingdom of Granada, because of the distance at which they find themselves from its capital Santa Fe, resulting as a consequence the delay in the decisions with the most grave harm to my Royal Service.
Therefore, to avoid these and greater harm, which would result in case of an invasion, I have best resolved the absolute separation of said Provinces of Cumaná, Guayana and Maracaibo, and islands of Trinidad and Margarita, from the Viceroyalty and Captaincy General of the New Kingdom of Granada, and add them in government and military matters to the Captaincy General of Venezuela, in the same manner that they are in regards to the administration of my Royal Treasury to the new Intendancy established in said Province and city of Caracas, its capital. In the same manner I have resolved to separate in judicial matters from the Audiencia of Santa Fe, and to add to the old one of Santo Domingo, the two mentioned Provinces of Maracaibo and Guayana, in the same manner that Cumaná and the islands of Margarita and Trinidad are, so that they find themselves under the same immediate Audiencia, Captain General and Intendant, be better ruled and governed with better utility to my Royal Service. Accordingly, I order the Viceroy and Audiencia of Santa Fe restrained from, and to abstain from, the knowledge of the respective matters which corresponded to them before the separation implied here; and order the governors of the Provinces of Cumaná, Guayana and Maracaibo, and Islands of Margarita and Trinidad, to obey as their Captain General, the one that today is, and in the future will be, of the Province of Venezuela, and carry out the orders that in my Royal Service he communicate to them in government and military matters; and that in the same way the governors of the Provinces of Maracaibo and Guayana observe the provisions that in the future my Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo issues, accepting the appeals that are lodged before it according to and in the manner they have been, or should have been done, before the Audiencia of Santa Fe; such is my will. Given in San Ildefonso on the eighth of September of 1777.—I the King.
The Royal Decree [Real Cédula] of June 13, 1786, was the first to establish the Real Audiencia, describe its functions and to define its limits (subsequent ones defined further faculties and appointed members):
His Majesty has resolved in view of everything, that the Province of Maracaibo continue united, as it is, to the Captaincy General and Intendancy of Caracas, keeping what is provided by the Royal Decree [Real Cédula] of February 15 of this year on the addition of the City of Trujillo and its jurisdiction to the Government of Maracaibo; and the creation for the present of a separate Command in the Province of Barinas. And to avoid the harm that would arise for the inhabitants of said Provinces of Maracaibo, Cumamá, Guayana, Margarita and Island of Trinidad, comprising the same Captaincy General, of having to recur for appeals in their affairs to the Audiencia Pretorial of Santo Domingo, the King has resolved to create another in Caracas, comprised for now of a Regent Dean, three judges [oidores] and a crown attorney [fiscal]; leaving the same number of ministers in the one in Santo Domingo and limiting its district to the Spanish part of that island, the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico; to which end His Majesty will of course name the ministers who should serve in one and the other.
The independence movement for Venezuela began with the establishment of the Caracas Junta in 1810. After the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence in 1811, the provinces of Caracas, Cumaná, Barinas, Margarita, and the newly separated ones of Barcelona, Trujillo, and Mérida established a Republic of Venezuela, which claimed the area of the Captaincy General. The provinces of Maracaibo and Guayana, along with the city of Coro, rejected the republic, and after a year of war against the royalists, this First Republic collapsed. The provinces that had created the Venezuelan Republic were reconquered by Frigate Captain Domingo de Monteverde, who usurped power from the appointed Captain General Fernando Miyares. Because of this the Cádiz Cortes erected the Province of Maracaibo into a separate Captaincy General with Miyares at its head, but did ratify Monteverde as Captain General of the smaller Venezuela. During this period, the Province of Maracaibo elected a representative to the Cortes, José Domingo Rus, who served from March 3, 1812, to May 10, 1814, and continued to represent the province before the crown after Ferdinand VII abolished the Cortes. With Ferdinand VII's return, Venezuela was reunited in one captaincy general.
In 1812 a new Audiencia appointed by the Cortes was able to return in Caracas. Under the leadership of Dominican-born Regent José Francisco Heredia (father of Cuban poet, José María Heredia y Heredia), the Audiencia put up fierce resistance to Monteverde's attempts to rule the Captaincy General under martial law. After an interruption due to the restoration of the Republic and attempts by Pablo Morillo to suspend the Audiencia, both the Audiencia and the Captaincy General continued to function until 1821.
Independence for Venezuela was consolidated in 1821 as part of Gran Colombia. The Congress of Cucuta looked to the territorial area of former Viceroyalty of New Granada (during the period of 1739-1777) as the basis for its territorial claims, and created a state composed of regional departments. Venezuela became the Department of Venezuela through this territorial reorganization. The rising animosity between Venezuelans and New Granadians, due to irreconcilable differences in opinion as to how the new republic ought to be governed, led to the inevitable collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830. After 1830, the provinces within the old Captaincy General of Venezuela, constituted the territory of the new independent republic of Venezuela.
The American Confederation of Venezuela was an unrecognized state located in the Captaincy General of Venezuela of the Spanish Empire, which was organized by Venezuelan patriots following the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence.Barinas Province
Barinas Province (1786 - 1864) was a province of the Captaincy General of Venezuela and later of Venezuela.
It was founded on 15 February 1786, with territory formerly part of the Maracaibo Province. In 1823, Apure Province was split from Barinas, with the Uribante River and Apure River marking the border. The following year Gran Colombia was reorganised into four Departments, with the Apure Department consisting of Apure Province and Barinas Province.It became the state of Barinas with the creation of the States of Venezuela in 1864.Colombian Declaration of Independence
The Colombian Declaration of Independence refers to the events of July 20, 1810, in Santa Fe de Bogota, in the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Granada. They resulted in the establishment of a Junta de Santa Fe that day. The experience in self-government eventually led to the creation of the Republic of Gran Colombia.Colonial Venezuela
Spanish expeditions led by Columbus and Alonso de Ojeda reached the coast of present-day Venezuela in 1498 and 1499. The first colonial exploitation was of the pearl oysters of the "Pearl Islands". Spain established its first permanent South American settlement in the present-day city of Cumaná in 1522, and in 1577 Caracas became the capital of the Province of Venezuela. There was also for a few years a German colony at Klein-Venedig.
The 16th- and 17th-century colonial economy was centered on gold mining and livestock farming. The relatively small number of colonists employed indigenous farmers on their haciendas, and enslaved other indigenous people and, later, Africans to work in the mines. The Venezuelan territories were governed at different times from the distant capitals of the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru.
In the 18th century, cocoa plantations grew up along the coast, worked by further importations of African slaves. Cacao beans became Venezuela's principal export, monopolized by the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Most of the surviving indigenous people had by then migrated to the south, where Spanish friars were active. Intellectual activity increased among the white Creole elite, centered on the university at Caracas. The Province of Venezuela was included in the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717, and became the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777.
The independence struggle began in 1810 while Spain was engaged in the Peninsular War. The Venezuelan War of Independence ensued. The Republic of Gran Colombia became independent from Spain in 1821 under the leadership of Simón Bolívar, and Venezuela separated from that Republic in 1830.First Republic of Venezuela
The First Republic of Venezuela (Primera República de Venezuela in Spanish) was the first independent government of Venezuela, lasting from 5 July 1811, to 25 July 1812. The period of the First Republic began with the overthrow of the Spanish colonial authorities and the establishment of the Junta Suprema de Caracas on 19 April 1810, initiating the Venezuelan War of Independence, and ended with the surrender of the republican forces to the Spanish Captain Domingo de Monteverde. The congress of Venezuela declared the nation's independence on 5 July 1811, and later wrote a constitution for it. In doing so, Venezuela is notable for being the first Spanish American colony to declare its independence.Guayana Esequiba
Guayana Esequiba (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡwaˈʝana eseˈkiβa]) is a territory administered and controlled by Guyana, however it is claimed by Venezuela.The territory was first included in the Viceroyalty of New Granada and the Captaincy General of Venezuela by Spain, but was later included in Essequibo by the Dutch and in British Guiana by the United Kingdom. Originally, parts of what is now eastern Venezuela were also included in the disputed area. Some believe that this is because of the recent discovery of oil on Guyana’s shores. The portion which is under the administration of Guyana today divides the area into six administrative regions (Barima-Waini, Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Pomeroon-Supenaam, Potaro-Siparuni, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo and Essequibo Islands-West Demerara). Venezuela treats it as a single entity (Guayana Esequiba or "Zona en Reclamación"). This territory of 159,500 km2 (61,600 sq mi) is the subject of a long-running boundary dispute which was resolved but has not been inherited from the colonial powers and complicated by the independence of Guyana in 1966. The status of the territory is subject to the Treaty of Geneva, which was signed by the United Kingdom, Venezuela and British Guiana on 17 February 1966. This treaty stipulates that the parties will agree to find a practical, peaceful and satisfactory solution to the dispute.Guayana Province
Guayana Province (1585−1864) was a former province of Spanish Colonial Venezuela and independent Venezuela, in northern South America.
The province was part of the Spanish colonial New Andalusia Province and Captaincy General of Venezuela from 1585 to 1821, and of independent Venezuela from 1821 to 1864.Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas
The Royal Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas (modern spelling variant Gipuzkoan, known also as the Guipuzcoana Company, Spanish: Real Compañia Guipuzcoana de Caracas; Basque: Caracasko Gipuzkoar Errege Konpainia) was a Spanish Basque trading company in the 18th century, operating from 1728 to 1785, which had a monopoly on Venezuelan trade. It was renamed in 1785 the Royal Philippine Company (Spanish: Real Compañia de Filipinas).Maracaibo Province (Spanish Empire)
Maracaibo Province or Maracaybo Province from 1676 to 1824 was a province of the Spanish Empire. It resulted from a merger of the former Province of Mérida (1622 - 1676) with the territory of Maracaibo.
In 1777 Captaincy General of Venezuela was created and the province was part of it.
In 1786 Barinas Province was created from western parts of Maracaibo.Patriot Governments (Spanish American independence)
The term "patriot" is used to refer to supporters of Spanish American independence and of their governments that emerged during the revolution between 1808-1825.
Congress and independence declarations.Second Republic of Venezuela
The Second Republic of Venezuela (Segunda República de Venezuela in Spanish) is the name used to refer to the reestablished Venezuelan Republic declared by Simón Bolívar on August 7, 1813. This declaration followed the defeat of Domingo Monteverde by Bolívar during the Admirable Campaign in the west and Santiago Mariño in his campaign in the east. The republic came to an end in the following year, after a series of defeats at the hands of José Tomás Boves.Supreme Junta
The Supreme Junta (or Junta Suprema de Caracas) was the institution that governed the Captaincy General of Venezuela following the forced resignation of the Captain General Vicente Emparan on April 19, 1810, marking the beginning of the Venezuelan War of Independence. It lasted until March 2, 1811, when the first constituent congress of the First Republic of Venezuela was established.
Following the events of the Revolution of April 19, 1810, the commanding General and other colonial officials designated by Joseph Bonaparte to oversee the Captaincy General of Venezuela, were deposed by an expanded municipal government in Caracas that called itself: the Supreme Junta to Preserve the Rights of Ferdinand VII (La Suprema Junta Conservadora de los Derechos de Fernando VII).
One of the first measures of revolutionaries after securing the support of six provinces was to send diplomatic missions abroad to seek support for the revolution and the recognition of the Supreme Junta of Caracas as the legitimate councilor of Venezuela in the absence of the King. To London were sent Simon Bolivar and Luis Lopez Mendez with Andres Bello as secretary, which left La Guaira in early June 1810. At the United States were Juan Vicente Bolívar Palacios, brother of the Liberator, Jose Rafael Revenga and Telesforo Orea who obtained some success in interesting the government of that country to support the Supreme Junta.Third Republic of Venezuela
The Third Republic of Venezuela is the name commonly used to refer to the reestablished Republic of Venezuela declared by Simón Bolívar in the year 1817, during the Venezuelan War of Independence. The beginning of the Third Republic of Venezuela is attributed to the period after the Guyana Campaign, during which the republicans restored democratic institutions in Angostura. The Republic ended after the Congress of Angostura of 1819 decreed the union of Venezuela with New Granada, to form the republic of Gran Colombia.
Venezuela would become once again an independent republic after its separation from Gran Colombia in 1830, with José Antonio Páez as President.Trinidad Province
The Province of Trinidad (1525−1802) was a province of the Spanish Empire which was created in 1525. It occupied almost the whole territory of the modern republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
From 1591 to 1731 it was merged with Guayana Province, as Trinidad-Guayana Province. It was lost to the British in 1797, a loss recognised by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.Venezuela Province
The Venezuela Province (or Province of Caracas) was a province of the Spanish Empire (from 1527), of Gran Colombia (1824-1830) and later of Venezuela (from 1830), apart from an interlude (1528 - 1546) when it was contracted as a concession by the King of Spain to the German Welser banking family, as Klein-Venedig.Venezuelan Declaration of Independence
The Venezuelan Declaration of Independence (Cinco de Julio) is a statement adopted by a congress of Venezuelan provinces on July 5, 1811, through which Venezuelans made the decision to separate from the Spanish Crown in order to establish a new nation based on the premises of equality of individuals, abolition of censorship and dedication to freedom of expression. These principles were enshrined as a constitutional principal for the new nation and were radically opposed to the political, cultural, and social practices that had existed during three hundred years of colonization.
Seven of the ten provinces belonging to the Captaincy General of Venezuela declared their independence and explained their reasons for this action, among them, that it was baneful that a small European nation ruled the great expanses of the New World, that Spanish America recovered its right to self-government after the abdications of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII at Bayonne, and that the political instability in Spain dictated that Venezuelans rule themselves, despite the brotherhood they shared with Spaniards. The seven provinces were Caracas Province, Cumaná Province, Barinas Province, Margarita Province, Barcelona Province, Mérida Province and Trujillo Province.
The three remaining provinces (Maracaibo Province, Coro Province and Guayana Province) which did not take part in the Venezuelan congress opted to stay under Spanish rule.
The declaration proclaimed a new nation called the American Confederacy of Venezuela and was mainly written by Cristóbal Mendoza and Juan Germán Roscio. It was ratified by Congress on July 7, 1811, and recorded in the Congress's Book of Minutes on August 17, 1811, in Caracas.
The anniversary of this declaration is celebrated as Independence Day. The original Book of Minutes of the first Congress of Venezuela is in the Federal Legislative Palace in Caracas.
The document is kept at the museo de la Casa de las Primeras Letras Simón Rodríguez. The signature of president Hugo Chávez was added to an exhibited copy of the document on May 31, 2013, by the Maduro administration, as an homage to the former president. This resulted in outrage among various sectors opposing said administration.Venezuelan War of Independence
The Venezuelan War of Independence (1810–1823) was one of the Spanish American wars of independence of the early nineteenth century, when independence movements in Latin America fought against rule by the Spanish Empire, emboldened by Spain's troubles in the Napoleonic Wars.
The establishment of the Supreme Caracas Junta following the forced deposition of Vicente Emparan as Captain General of the Captaincy General of Venezuela on 19 April 1810, marked the beginnings of the war. On 5 July 1811, seven of the ten provinces of the Captaincy General of Venezuela declared their independence in the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence. The First Republic of Venezuela was lost in 1812 following the 1812 Caracas earthquake and the Battle of La Victoria (1812). Simón Bolívar led an "Admirable Campaign" to retake Venezuela, establishing the Second Republic of Venezuela in 1813; but this too did not last, falling to a combination of a local uprising and Spanish royalist reconquest. Only as part of Bolívar's campaign to liberate New Granada in 1819-20 did Venezuela achieve a lasting independence from Spain (initially as part of Gran Colombia).
On 17 December 1819, the Congress of Angostura declared Gran Colombia an independent country. After two more years of war, the country achieved independence from Spain in 1821 under the leadership of its most famous son, Simón Bolívar. Venezuela, along with the present-day countries of Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, formed part of the Republic of Gran Colombia until 1830, when Venezuela separated and became a sovereign state.Vicente Emparán
Vicente Emparán (Spanish pronunciation: [biˈθente empaˈɾan], or sometimes Emparan [emˈpaɾan]; 1747 – 3 October 1842) was a Spanish Basque Captain General.
Emparán was born in Azpeitia, Guipúzcoa, Basque Country, in 1747 as the son of José Joaquín de Emparan. He was governor of Cumaná Province in the Captaincy General of Venezuela between 1792 and 1804, where he had gained a favorable reputation among Venezuelans.By 1808, Emparán had returned to Spain during the Peninsular War. There Joseph I's recently installed government named him Captain General of Venezuela, but after this appointment Emparán crossed over to the territory controlled by the Supreme Central Junta. He swore allegiance to the Junta and to Ferdinand VII, the king who was being held captive by the French invaders. In January 1809 the Central Junta ratified his appointment to replace the former captain general, Manuel de Guevara y Vasconcelos, who had died two years earlier.
Emparán arrived in Venezuela in May 1809. During the following year he successfully avoided several attempts by the elites to establish a junta in Venezuela (among them the famous Conspiración de Los Mantuanos), often by personally talking with proponents of the movements. Although a well-liked governor, on 19 April 1810, various members of the municipal council (cabildo) of Caracas and other important residents took advantage of the large crowds gathered for Maundy Thursday services to orchestrate popular agitation for the establishment of a junta. The crowd prevented him from arriving at the Cathedral for the day's services and he was directed to the cabildo building (today site of the Casa Amarilla) just across the main square from the Cathedral. There he met with an expanded council (cabildo abierto). Emparán spoke directly to the crowd from the balcony of the building and seeing the amount of support for a junta, he voluntarily stepped down. The cabildo transformed itself into the Supreme Junta of Caracas, and began to manage the affairs of the province. Following his ouster, he left for Philadelphia, United States, from where he reported to the Spanish government on the events of 19 April, before returning to Spain. There, it seems, he was tried for his failure to stop the establishment of a junta, but was acquitted. He died in El Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz, Spain on 3 October 1842.Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada (Spanish: Virreinato de Nueva Granada [birei̯ˈnato ðe ˈnweβa ɣɾaˈnaða]) was the name given on 27 May 1717, to the jurisdiction of the Spanish Empire in northern South America, corresponding to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739, and the provinces of Venezuela were separated from the Viceroyalty and assigned to the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777. In addition to these core areas, the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada included Guyana, southwestern Suriname, parts of northwestern Brazil, and northern Peru.