Governorate of the Río de la Plata

The Governorate of the Río de la Plata (1549−1776) (Spanish: Gobernación del Río de la Plata, pronounced [goβeɾnaˈsjon ðel ˈri.o ðe la ˈplata]) was one of the governorates of the Spanish Empire. It was created in 1549 by Spain in the area around the Río de la Plata.

It was at first simply a renaming of the New Andalusia Governorate and included all of the land between 470 and 670 leagues south of the mouth of the Río Santiago along the Pacific coast. After 1617, Paraguay was separated under a separate administration (Asunción had been the capital of the governorate since Juan de Ayolas.)

After the founding of the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542, the governorate was since its birth under its authority until the formation of the independent Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata in 1776. Similarly, it was under the jurisdiction of the Royal Audience of Charcas until the formation of the independent Royal Audience of Buenos Aires from 1661 to 1671 and after 1783.

Gobernaciones españolas en América del Sur (1534-1539)
The adelantado grants of Charles V prior to the establishment of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Governors of New Andalusia

Governors of the Rio de la Plata

  • Governor Domingo Martínez de Irala (1544–1556). Encouraged his men to marry and keep concubines from local women. Two adelantados are unable to arrive from Spain and de Irala confirmed in his post by the king 1552. Died peacefully.
  • Governor Gonzalo de Mendoza (1556–1558). Ciudad Real de Guayrá founded by Ruy Díaz de Malgarejo in 1557. Died peacefully.
  • Governor Francisco Ortiz de Vergara (1558–1569). Elected by the colonists. Foundations fail at San Francisco, Sancti Spiritus, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Arrested and returned to Spain for trial.
  • Lt. Governor Felipe de Cáceres (1569–1572). Appointed by Royal Audience. Arrested and returned to Spain for trial.
  • Adelantado Governor Juan Ortiz de Zárate (1572–1576). Sailed to Spain to confirm his election. Foundation of Tucuman.
  • Lt. Governor Diego Ortiz de Zárate (1576–1578). Juan Ortiz leaves administration to his daughter Juana, but others de facto governors.
  • Lt. Governor Juan de Garay (1578–1583). Buenos Aires refounded 1580.
  • Lt. Governor Alonso de Vera y Aragón (1583–1587). And de facto governor at Asunción until 1592.
  • Adelantado Governor Juan Torres de Vera y Aragón (1587–1592). Judge of the Royal Audience, married to Juana Ortiz de Zárate. Last appointed adelantado.

Governors of the Rio de la Plata and Paraguay

Governors of Rio de la Plata

Audencias of Viceroyalty of Peru
The audiencias of the Viceroyalty of Peru c.1650. The Audience of Charcas is section 5.[1]
  • Governor Hernando Arias de Saavedra (1617–1618).
  • Governor Diego de Góngora (1618–1623). Found guilty post mortem of corruption, allowing trade in slaves and contraband to flourish.
  • Governor Alonso Pérez de Salazar (1623–1624).
  • Governor Francisco de Céspedes (1624–1631). Continued efforts to pacify the Charrua.
  • Governor Pedro Esteban Dávila (1631–1637). Concepción del Bermejo destroyed by natives.
  • Governor Mendo de la Cueva y Benavidez (1637–1640). Defense of Buenos Aires improved. Expedition against the Calchaquís. Fort Santa Teresa erected.
  • Governor Ventura Mojica (or Mujica) (1640–1641).
  • Governor Andrés de Sandoval (1641).
  • Governor Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera (1641–1645). Ban of Portuguese attempted in governorate.
  • Governor Jacinto Lariz (1645–1653). Arrested.
  • Governor Pedro Baigorrí Ruiz (1653–1660). Three French ships successfully repelled from Buenos Aires. Calchaquís repelled from Santa Fe.
  • Governor Alonso Mercado y Villacorta (1660–1663). Request to be able to send two trade ships annually denied. Dutch ships permitted to dock in Buenos Aires.
  • Governor Juan Martínez de Salazar (1663–1674). Continued requests for free commerce. The Royal Audience of Buenos Aires briefly independent of the court at Charcas.
  • Governor Andrés de Robles (1674–1678).
  • Governor José de Garro (1678–1682). Portuguese expelled from Colonia de Sacramento in 1680.
  • Governor José Antonio de Herrera y Sotomayor (1682–1691). Tucuman relocated.
  • Governor Agustín de Robles (1691–1698).
  • Governor Manuel de Prado y Maldonado (1698–1704). Visit from Danish squadron in Buenos Aires.
  • Governor Alonso Juan de Valdés e Inclán (1704–1708). Colonia de Sacramento retaken.
  • Governor Manuel de Velasco y Tejada (1708–1712). Purchased office for 3000 pesos. Arrested.
  • Governor Juan José de Muliloa (1712).
  • Governor Alonso de Arce y Soria (1712–1714). Buys the position for 18,000 pesos. Dies five months later.
  • Governor José Bermúdez de Castro (1714–1715).
  • Governor Baltasar García Ros (1715–1717). Colonia del Sacramento returned to the Portuguese. Campaigns against the Charrua, Yaro, and Bohanes.
  • Governor Bruno Mauricio de Zabala (1717–1734). Portuguese removed from Montevideo.
  • Governor Miguel de Salcedo y Sierraalta (1734–1742). Expulsion of foreigners from Buenos Aires ordered. Failed attempt to retake Colonia del Sacramento.
  • Governor Domingo Ortíz de Rozas (1742–1745). Refortified Montevideo.
  • Governor José de Andonaegui (1745–1756). First mail delivery opened with Chile and Potosí.
  • Governor Pedro Antonio de Cevallos (or Ceballos) (1756–1766). Colonia del Sacramento retaken.
  • Governor Francisco de Paula Bucarelli y Ursúa (1766–1770). English expelled from the Falkland Islands. Mail inaugurated between A Coruña and the Río de la Plata.
  • Governor Juan José de Vértiz y Salcedo (1770–1776). After which, the governorate is replaced by the Viceroyalty and Intendancy of Buenos Aires in the Bourbon reforms.

See also


  1. ^ For two, somewhat different interpretations of the boundaries in unsettled areas, see Burkholder, Mark A. and Lyman L. Johnson. Colonial Latin America (10 editions). (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), Map 2, 73 ISBN 0-19-506110-1; and Lombardi, Cathryn L., John V. Lombardi and K. Lynn Stoner. Latin American History: A Teaching Atlas. (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), 29. ISBN 0-299-09714-5
Baltazar García Ros

Baltazar García Ros (Valtierra, Spain, ca. 1670 - Buenos Aires, Río de la Plata, September 18, 1740) was a Navarrese-Spanish soldier and administrator. He was maestre de campo and interim governor of the Governorate of Paraguay from 1706 to 1707 and governor of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata from 1715 to 1717. During his career, he campaigned against the indigenous Charrua, Yaro, and Bohán people; the Portuguese; and the comunero rebels of Paraguay.


Cangapol was a Tehuelche cacique born in the area of Huilin, on the Negro River in today's Argentina from 1735 to 1753. He was the chieftain of the nomadic Leuvuche people, who moved through a huge area from the Negro River to the Vulcan hills, today known as Tandilia hills, between the modern cities of Tandil and Mar del Plata. The Leuvuches were in fact called Serranos (people from the hills) by the Spaniards. In 1751, Cangapol and his warriors expelled the Jesuits from Laguna de los Padres and destroyed the settlement built by them five years before. In 1753, he became an allied of the Spaniards against the Mapuches, who used to take profit of the Leuvuches' plunder raids north of the Salado river and then sought safe haven in Chile, leaving the Leuvuches to face the Spanish retaliation alone. He died the same year and was succeeded by his son Nicolás.

City of the Caesars

The City of the Caesars (Spanish Ciudad de los Césares), also variously known as City of Patagonia, the Wandering City, Trapalanda or Trapananda, Lin Lin or Elelín, is a mythical city of South America. It was supposedly located somewhere in Patagonia, in a valley of the Andes between Chile and Argentina. Despite being searched for during the colonization of South America, no evidence proves that it ever existed, although reports of it circulated for two hundred years. In 1766 a Jesuit, Father José García Alsue, explored the area now part of Queulat National Park in Aysén Region, Chile, searching unsuccessfully for the City of the Caesars.

First Cevallos expedition

The First Cevallos expedition was a military action between September 1762 and April 1763, by Spanish colonial forces led by Don Pedro Antonio de Cevallos, Governor of Buenos Aires, against Portuguese colonial forces in the Banda Oriental area on the aftermath of a massively defeated Spanish Invasion of Portugal (1762), as part of the Seven Years' War.

The Portuguese territories of Colonia do Sacramento and Rio Grande do Sul were conquered by the Spaniards. The Anglo-Portuguese forces were defeated and forced to surrender and retreat. The Colonia do Sacramento and the near territories were under Spanish control until the Treaty of Paris (1763), while Rio Grande do Sul would be reconquered by Portugal a few years later.

This expedition was one of only two significant Spanish successes (the other was the defense of the Philippines) in a short war marked by defeats. As admitted by the king of Spain Carlos III when the news arrived:

" … [This victory] fills me with joy for the honor of my troops, since for everything else it is not that way. "

Governorate of Paraguay

The Governorate of Paraguay (Spanish: Gobernación del Paraguay), originally called the Governorate of Guayrá, was a governorate of the Spanish Empire and part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Its seat was the city of Asunción; its territory roughly encompassed the modern day country of Paraguay. The Governorate was created in December 16, 1617 by the royal decree of King Philip III as a split of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata and of Paraguay into its respective halves. The Governorate lasted until 1782, after which the massive Viceroyalty of Peru was split, and Paraguay became an intendency (intendencia) of the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.


Guayrá was a historical region of the Spanish Empire, located in the Governorate of the Río de la Plata, within the colonial Viceroyalty of Peru. The region is located in present-day Paraguay and Paraná.

There are some conflicting etymologies for the origin of the name, with some claiming it was named after a cacique of the region whose name was Guayrá or Guayracá. Alternatively, the word might come from Guarani "kwa y ra" ("can not pass", "impassable") or even "guay ra" ("river that goes [beyond]").

Hernando Arias de Saavedra

Hernando Arias de Saavedra (September 10, 1561 – 1634), commonly known as Hernandarias, was a soldier and politician of criollo ancestry. He was the first person born in the Americas to become a governor of a European colony in the New World, serving two terms as governor of Governorate of the Río de la Plata, 1597–1599 and 1602–1609, and one of the Governorate of Paraguay 1615–1617.

Isabel de Guevara

Isabel de Guevara (fl. 1530 – after 1556) was one of the few European women to accept the offer from the Spanish crown to join colonizing missions to the New World during the first wave of conquest and settlement. Guevara sailed in 1534 the first voyage of Pedro de Mendoza and with a group of 1,500 colonists, including twenty women, bound for the Río de la Plata region of what is now Argentina. According to Spanish archives, she “suffered all the discomforts and dangers of the conquest.” De Guevara's correspondences paint one of the most elaborate, enduring portraits of the hazards of colonial life.

Within three months of arrival, because of hostile indigenous people, starvation, and hardship, Isabel de Guevara estimated that a thousand of the settlers who had arrived with her in the New World had died of hunger. Estimates by other colonists at the time went as high as 10,000.

Jesuit reduction

The Jesuit reductions or better known as the Paraguayan reductions were a type of settlement for indigenous people specifically in the Rio Grande do Sul area of Brazil, Paraguay and neighbouring Argentina in South America, established by the Jesuit Order early in the 17th century and wound up in the 18th century with the banning of the Jesuit order in several European countries. Subsequently it has been called an experiment in "socialist theocracy" or a rare example of "benign colonialism".

In their newly acquired South American dominions the Spanish and Portuguese Empires had adopted a strategy of gathering native populations into communities called "Indian reductions" (Spanish: reducciones de indios) and Portuguese: "redução" (plural "reduções""). The objectives of the reductions were to organize and exploit the labour of the native indigenous inhabitants while also imparting Christianity and European culture. Secular as well as religious authorities created "reductions".

The Jesuit reductions, were Christian missions, that extended successfully in an area straddling the borders of present-day Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina (the triple frontera) amongst the Guarani peoples. The reductions are often called collectively the Rio de la Plata missions. The Jesuits attempted to create a "state within a state" in which the native peoples in the reductions, guided by the Jesuits, would remain autonomous and isolated from Spanish colonists and Spanish rule. A major factor attracting the natives to the reductions was the protection they afforded from enslavement and the forced labour of encomiendas.

Under the leadership of both the Jesuits and native caciques, the reductions achieved a high degree of autonomy within the Spanish colonial empire. With the use of native labour, the reductions became economically successful. When the incursions of Brazilian Bandeirante slave-traders threatened the existence of the reductions, Indian militias were set up which fought effectively against the Portuguese colonists. However, directly as a result of the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in several European countries, including Spain, in 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from the Guaraní missions (and the Americas) by order of the Spanish king, Charles III. So ended the era of the Paraguayan reductions. The reasons for the expulsion related more to politics in Europe than the activities of the Jesuit missions themselves.The Jesuit Rio de la Plata reductions reached a maximum population of 141,182 in 1732 in 30 missions in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The reductions of the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos in eastern Bolivia reached a maximum population of 25,000 in 1766. Jesuit reductions in the Llanos de Moxos, also in Bolivia, reached a population of about 30,000 in 1720. In Chiquitos the first reduction was founded in 1691 and in the Llanos de Moxos in 1682.

The Jesuit reductions have been lavishly praised as a "socialist utopia" and a "Christian communistic republic" as well as criticized for their "rigid, severe and meticulous regimentation" of the lives of the Indian people they ruled with a firm hand through Guaraní intermediaries.

Juan Ortiz de Zárate

Juan Ortiz de Zárate (c. 1521 Orduña, Biscay (Spain) – 1575 Asunción, (Paraguay). was a Spanish Basque explorer and conquistador. He journeyed to the Americas as a teenager, where he took part in the conquest of Peru under Diego de Almagro.

On the removal of Francisco Ortiz de Vergara from office, he was the conquistadors' preferred choice to be his replacement, but the Royal Audience required he return to Spain for confirmation by the Council of the Indies while Felipe de Cáceres governed in his stead.

He returned to Spain and was appointed the third adelantado of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata, with the goal of exploring and populating the lands, founding towns, and introducing cattle and horses. His expedition left the port of San Lúcar de Barrameda in October 1572 but reached the mouth of the Plata more than a year later, disembarking at the location of present-day Colonia, Uruguay.

Zárate attempted to subdue the Charrúa, who had destroyed several previous settlements in what is now Uruguay, but he was attacked and forced to seek shelter on Martín García Island. Juan de Garay, who had just founded the city of Santa Fe, was sent for and promptly came to the rescue; the combined forces defeated the Charrúas. Ortiz de Zárate was forced to leave a permanent guard at the settlement, while he marched to Asunción to assume his post as governor.

He held this office until his death in 1575. He willed his authority to his daughter, Juana, but was succeeded by her husband, Juan Torres de Vera y Aragón.

Juan de Arregui

Juan de Arregui (June 24, 1656 – †1736) was a Spanish Franciscan priest native of America and became Roman Catholic Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1730.

de Arrgui was born on 24 June 1656 in Buenos Aires (then in Governorate of the Río de la Plata of the Viceroyalty of Peru), entered the Franciscan order and studied theology at National University of Córdoba.

He died as Bishop of Buenos Aires on 19 December 1736.

Martín de Barúa

Martín de Barúa (d. Buenos Aires, Governorate of the Río de la Plata, August 18, 1739) was a Spanish soldier and administrator in the Spanish Empire. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Santa Fe between 1714–1716 and 1717–1722, and as Governor of Paraguay between 1725–1730. Under his direction as governor, the cities of Carapeguá and Itauguá were founded, in May 14, 1725 and June 27, 1728, respectively.

Nombre de Jesús (Patagonia)

Nombre de Jesús was a Spanish town in Patagonia, settled in 1584 by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa in the Magellan Strait. Nombre de Jesús also refers to the archaeological site located in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina, where the remains of this settlement were found. This was the first European settlement in the Magellan Strait.

Real Audiencia of Buenos Aires

The Real Audiencia de Buenos Aires, were two audiencias, or highest courts, of the Spanish crown, which resided in Buenos Aires. The authority of the first extended to the territory of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata and operated from 1661 to 1671. The second began to function in 1783 and had as its territory the areas of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata not covered by the Audiencia de Charcas, that is to say the intendancies of Buenos Aires, Córdoba del Tucumán, Salta del Tucumán and Paraguay. In 1810, after the May Revolution, it was suspended, and in 1813 the Assembly of the Year XIII permanently disbanded it. The Audiencias resided in the city's cabildo building.

Real Audiencia of Charcas

The Real Audiencia of Charcas (Spanish: Audiencia y Cancillería Real de La Plata de los Charcas) was a Spanish audiencia with its seat in what is today Bolivia. It was established in 1559 in Ciudad de la Plata de Nuevo Toledo (later Charcas, today Sucre) and had jurisdiction over Charcas, Paraguay and the Governorate of the Río de la Plata, today Uruguay and northern Argentina. This court oversaw the incredible silver output of the mines at Potosí. It was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1776, when it was transferred to the newly created Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and began to be referred to as Upper Peru.

Reducción de Santa María la Mayor, Argentina

Reducción de Santa María la Mayor (Reduction of Holy Maria Major), located in the Santa María Department of the Misiones Province, Argentina, at approximate coordinates 27°33′S 55°20′W, was one of the missions or reductions founded in the 17th century by the Jesuits in the Americas during the Spanish colonial period. In 1984 it was one of four reduction sites in Argentina designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Siege of Colonia del Sacramento

The Siege of Colonia del Sacramento was a successful siege in 1704 by Spanish forces of the Portuguese colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento, opposite Buenos Aires and now in the nation of Uruguay. Four thousand natives and 650 Spaniards, led by the governor of Buenos Aires, Don Alonso Juan de Valdes e Inclán, and Baltasar García Ros, besieged the city beginning late in 1704. One week after a frontal assault failed, in early February 1705, the Portuguese abandoned Colonia del Sacramento.

Spanish–Portuguese War (1735–1737)

The Spanish-Portuguese War between 1735-1737 was fought over the Banda Oriental, roughly present-day Uruguay.

At that time, this part of South-America was sparsely populated and was on the border between Portuguese Colonial Brazil and the Spanish Governorate of the Río de la Plata. Spain claimed the area based on the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, but Portugal had founded the first city there, the Sacramento Colony, in 1680. Spain had taken the city twice, in 1681 and in 1705, but had had to give it back to the Portuguese by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

The following years saw an expansion of the Portuguese settlements around the Sacramento Colony, in a radius of up to 120 km. As a reaction, capitán general of Río de la Plata Bruno Mauricio de Zabala had founded Montevideo on December 24, 1726 to prevent further expansion. But the Portuguese trade made the Spanish suffer, as they were still compelled to trade with Spain over the Viceroyalty of Peru, who imposed heavy taxes. Spain considered the Portuguese presence illegitimate and their trade contraband.

In March 1734, the new capitán general of Río de la Plata, Miguel de Salcedo y Sierraalta, received orders from Madrid to reduce the action radius of the Sacramento Colony to "a gunshot", say two kilometers. He sent an ultimatum to António Pedro de Vasconcelos, the Portuguese governor of the colony, who stalled for time.

In 1735 tensions raised between Spain and Portugal and Spanish ships under Alzaybar captured several Portuguese vessels. On April 19, Prime minister José Patiño ordered Salcedo to attack Sacramento.

Salcedo gathered 1500 men and marched slowly on Sacramento, wasting a lot of time attacking minor targets along the road. He was supported by 4,000 Guaraní warriors who came from the Jesuit Reductions. The siege started on October 14, 1735.

By that time Vasconcelos had prepared the defense with a garrison of about 900 men, and sent a messenger to Rio de Janeiro to ask for reinforcements. José da Silva Pais sent six Portuguese ships, which arrived on January 6 followed by 12 more ships a few days later. The Spanish had tried to impose a naval blockade, but the Portuguese had more ships and gained naval superiority.

In 1736 and 1737 more ships were sent from Spain and Portugal and an occasional confrontation between a few ships occurred. But Spain couldn't gain the upper hand and on September 6, 1736, the Portuguese even lay siege to Montevideo, but withdrew when Salcedo sent a relief force of 200 men.

On March 16, 1737 under influence of France, Great Britain and the Dutch Republic, a treaty was signed. In September the siege was lifted and the Spanish withdrew their forces and Miguel de Salcedo was disposed as governor of Buenos Aires.

The war was local and involved only a couple of thousand men on each side.

São Miguel das Missões

São Miguel das Missões is a municipality in Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil. Important 17th century Spanish Jesuit mission ruins are located in the municipality. San Miguel Mission is within Sant'Angelo Microregion, and the Riograndense Northwest Mesoregion. The city covers 1,246 square kilometres (481 sq mi) and had a population of 7,682 resident.

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