Real Audiencia

The Real Audiencia (Spanish pronunciation: [reˈal auˈðjenθja]), or simply Audiencia (Catalan: Reial Audiència, Audiència Reial, or Audiència), was an appellate court in Spain and its empire. The name of the institution literally translates as Royal Audience.[1] The additional designation chancillería (or cancillería, Catalan: cancelleria, English: chancellery[2]) was applied to the appellate courts in early modern Spain.[3] Each audiencia had oidores (Spanish: judges, literally, "hearers").

Audiencias in Spain

The first audiencia was founded in the Kingdom of Castile in 1371 at Valladolid. The Valladolid Audiencia functioned as the highest court in Castile for the next two centuries. Appeals from the Castilian audiencias could only be made to the Council of Castile after its creation in 1480.

After the union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon in the Kingdom of Spain and the subsequent conquest of Granada in 1492, the audiencia was divided in two, with the Audiencia of Valladolid taking cases originating north of the Tagus River, and the Royal Audiencia of Ciudad Real (1494) taking cases from south of the river. The second audiencia was moved to Granada in 1505.[3]

Under Charles V and Philip II, the audiencia system was extended first in Spain proper, with the Royal Audiencia of Aragon (1528) and then to the rest of the Spanish Empire. Audiencias in cities and provinces that belong to Spain today included Seville (1566), Las Palmas (1568), Majorca (1571), Asturias (1717), and Extremadura (1790). The audiencias and viceroys of the Crown of Aragon were overseen by the Council of Aragon, which had been established in 1494.

Members of the Real Audiencia of Lima, the presidente, alcaldes de corte, fiscal and alguacil mayor. (Nueva Crónica y Buen Gobierno, p. 488)

Audiencias in the Indies

In the Indies, the two institutions were also united, but with a different power relationship. The Crown of Castile early on introduced the audiencia into the Americas as part of its campaign to bring the area and its Spanish settlers and conquerors under royal control. With the vast conquests on the American mainland, which began in the 1520s, it became clear that the audiencia system would not be sufficient to effectively run the overseas government. Viceroys were therefore introduced, but without the judicial powers the office had enjoyed under the Aragonese Crown. In the New World, instead, the audiencias were given a consultative and quasi-legislative role in the administration of the territories. Both viceroys and audiencias were ultimately overseen by a Council of the Indies.[4] Most of the laws dealing with the establishment of the 16th- and 17th-century audiencias can be found in Book II, Title XV of the Recopilación de Leyes de los Reynos de las Indias issued in 1680.

The first audiencia in the Americas was established at Santo Domingo (modern Dominican Republic) in 1511 with jurisdiction over the Caribbean islands and the adjacent mainland. It was quickly suppressed due to opposition by the Spanish settlers, but was re-established permanently in 1526.

As the Spanish conquest of the continent continued, more audiencias were founded in the new areas of settlement. The first mainland audiencia was set up in Mexico City in 1527, just six years after the fall of Tenochtitlan, which had jurisdiction over most of what is now Mexico and Central America.

This audiencia was followed by the Audiencia of Panama, 1538, overseeing Central America and the littoral regions of northern South America until its abolishment in 1543. It later was reestablshed with jurisdiction only over Panama proper in 1564, which functioned until 1751.

In 1543 with the abolition of the first Audiencia of Panama, two audiencias were established in its place: one in Guatemala with jurisdiction over Central America and another in Lima with jurisdiction over the newly settled areas of South America, which had been gained by the conquest of Peru and surrounding regions. Venezuela, settled earlier, remained under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo until the establishment of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century.

By the end of the 16th century six more audiencias had been established in:

In the 17th century two new audiencias were created in:

  • Santiago, 1609, replacing the one in Concepción
  • Buenos Aires, which only operated from 1661 to 1672.

The last colonial audiencias were created under the Bourbon kings as part of their administrative reforms, which also involved setting up new viceroyalties. The new dynasty found no need for the second Audiencia of Panama and abolished it in 1751, transferring its jurisdiction to the one in Bogotá. New audiencias were established in:

This meant that at the moment of Spanish American independence in the early 19th century, the overseas possessions of the Spanish Monarchy were overseen by twelve audiencias. After the loss of Santo Domingo to the French in 1795, the Audiencia of Santo Domingo was transferred to Camagüey, Cuba and renamed the Audiencia of Puerto Príncipe. In 1838 a second Cuban audiencia was established in Havana, and from 1831 to 1853 Puerto Rico had its own audiencia.

Duties and composition of audiencias in the Indies

Unlike their peninsular counterparts, the overseas audiencias had legislative and executive functions in addition to their judicial ones, and thus represented the king in his role as maker of laws and dispenser of justice, as evidenced by the fact that, as chanceries (chancillerías, modern Spanish: cancillerías), they alone had the royal seal. Their importance in handling the affairs of state is reflected in the fact that many of the modern countries of Spanish-speaking South America and Panama have boundaries that are roughly the same as those of the former audiencias. Audiencias shared many government duties with the viceroys and governors-captains generals of the regions they oversaw, and so they served as a check on the authority of the latter.

An audiencia could issue local ordinances and served as a "privy council" to the viceroy or governor-captain general. In this function it often met weekly and was called by the term real acuerdo. An audiencia also oversaw the royal treasury, and when meeting in this capacity with the royal treasurer, it was referred to as a junta de hacienda (literally, "finance board"). The crown attorney (fiscal) also had the right to correspond directly with the crown, especially on treasury issues and acuerdo decisions.[5] In turn, in the viceregal capitals of Spanish America, such as Mexico and Lima, the viceroy himself served as a presidente (president) of the audiencia. Likewise the governor-captain general served in this function in the various audiencias located in the capital of a captaincy general. In both cases the president had no vote in judicial matters, unless he was a trained lawyer, and only oversaw the administration of the court.[6]

The audiencias with a viceroy or captain general in charge were referred to as audiencias pretoriales ("praetorial audiencias"), or occasionally audiencias virreinales ("viceregal audiencias"), in the case of the former. In the remaining audiencias, such as in Quito, where there was no viceroy or captain general, the president of the audiencia served as the main governor of the audiencia district and the region was often referred to as a "presidency," (e.g., the Presidency of Quito). The viceroy retained the right to oversee the administration of these audiencia districts, but could not interfere in judicial matters. These audiencias were referred to as audiencias subordinadas ("subordinate audiencias", although this did not imply that the audiencias pretoriales had the right to hear appeals).

Audiencia officials, especially the president, were subject to two forms of review. At the end of the president's term, a juicio de residencia (literally, "judgement of the period in office") was carried out, which reviewed the president's performance on the job and collected interviews many people affected by the audiencia's performance. Unscheduled inspections, called visitas (literally, "visits"), were also carried out if the crown felt it was needed. As part of the Bourbon Reforms, further limits were placed on viceroys and captains general. The office of regente, a type of chief justice, was created which removed most of the administrative functions from the viceroy or captain general. Their role as audiencia president became honorary.[7] A viceroy or captain general, as the president of the audiencia, was charged by law with corresponding with the audiencia in writing, not in verbal commands. This created a record that could be checked later. Audiencias were styled, as a body, "vuestra merced" ("your grace", in the singular) and addressed directly as "señores."[8]

The size and composition of an audiencia varied over time and place. For example, the first audiencia of Mexico had four oidores, one president and a fiscal, or crown attorney, meeting as only one chamber overseeing both civil and criminal cases. By the 17th century it had grown to two chambers handling civil and criminal cases separately. The civil chamber had eight oidores and one fiscal. The criminal chamber had four alcaldes del crimen (the chamber's equivalent of an oidor) and its own fiscal. In addition the audiencia had sundry other officers such as notaries, bailiffs, and the equivalent of modern public defenders. The smallest overseas audiencias had a composition similar to the early Mexican one.

In their judicial function, an audiencia heard appeals from cases initially handled by justices of first instance, which could be, among others, guild courts, corregidores, and alcaldes ordinarios. (See Fuero.) The audiencia also served as the court of first instance for crimes committed in the immediate jurisdiction of the city that served as the audiencia's seat and any case involving crown officials. In criminal cases the audiencia was the court of final appeal. Only civil cases involving more than 10,000 silver pesos could be appealed to the Council of the Indies, and only then within a statute of limitation of one year.[9]

The fact that Audiencia presidents were not habitually either magistrates or lawyers, but men clad in sword and cape, caused that they did not have any vote in court cases, and the court did not submit to their authority, but in representation that of the king.[10] Thus, the authority of the president, when he was not a magistrate, was void in judicial matter and merely signed the verdicts.[11] The Audiencias chaired by the viceroy were called viceregal Audiencias,[12] and the chaired ones by a governor-captain general were the pretorial Audiencias.[13][14][15]

As the pretorial Audiencias were chaired by a governor-captain general, this situation caused to appear the post of president-governor of major districts, with direct rule over a province and superior control of other provinces included inside the territorial district of the Audiencia, so that they exercised functions similar to the viceroys.[16] Thus, another administrative division appeared: while the territories in charge of a governor were the minor provinces,[17] the juridisdiccional scope of the Audiencias constituted the major provinces.[18]

Former Viceregal Palace and seat of the Audiencia of Mexico, since independence in 1821, the National Palace.

The members (oidores) of the Audiencia met with the president in a committee called royal agreement (real acuerdo), to take measurements for the government concerning the review of bylaws, appointments of commissioners (jueces pesquisidores), or retention of bulls, but the advice did not correspond to the Audiencia as institution but to its members as reputable people.[10] The decisions of the royal agreement were established in the concerted writs (autos acordados), nevertheless, there were matters as dispatching the issues of government, in which the Audiencia could not interfere either with the viceroy or the president-governor.[19] This way, the control of the Audiencias over the viceroys enabled to the Crown to control the functions of government of the viceroys.[20]

While the viceregal and pretorial Audiencias were chaired by men clad in sword and cape, the presidents of the subordinated Audiencias were magistrates,[12] so that, in the juridisdiccional scope of the subordinated Audiencias, the functions of government, Treasury and war belonged to the viceroy.[11][13][21] Therefore, in these sections of the viceroyalties there were no governors-captains general but Audiencias, and the presidency gave them the name, for example in Charcas and Quito.[22]

Although there were accumulated in the same person the offices of viceroy, governor, captain general and president of the Audiencia, each of them had different jurisdictional areas.[23][24] The jurisdiction of the viceregal Audiencia, whose president was the viceroy, ended face up to the jurisdiction of other Audiencias inside the same viceroyalty: as the pretorial Audiencias chaired by a governor-captain general, who had administrative, political and military authority, as the subordinated Audiencias, whose president did not have this administrative, political and military authority.[13] Therefore, as governor, the direct administration of the province where was placed the viceregal capital belonged to the viceroy; nevertheless, with respect to the other governorates of the viceroyalty, his function was mere oversight or general inspection over the management of political affairs.[25][26][27] The imprecision in defining the powers of the viceroy and those of the provincial governors allowed the Crown to control their officials.[28]

In the viceroyalty of New Spain, the Audiencia of Mexico, chaired by the viceroy, ended its jurisdiction face up to the jurisdiction of other Audiencias of Guatemala (1543–1563; 1568-), of Manila (1583–1589; 1595-), of Guadalajara (established in Compostela in 1548 and transferred in 1560 to Guadalajara)[29] and that of Santo Domingo (1526-). The viceroy of New Spain as governor only had jurisdiction over a more reduced governorate of New Spain, and as captain general his authority did not comprise either the captaincies of Yucatán or the New Kingdom of León,[30] but it comprised the military command over the governorate of Nueva Galicia,[31][32] which was a territory under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Guadalajara, until in 1708 the captaincy general was attached to the governor of this province of Nueva Galicia.[33]

In the viceroyalty of Peru, the viceroy presided the Audiencia of Lima (1542-), and the jurisdiction of this Audiencia ended face up to the jurisdictions of the pretorial Audiencias of Panama (1538–1543; 1563–1717), of Santa Fe de Bogotá (1547-), of Santiago de Chile (in Concepción between 1565 and 1575, and in Santiago de Chile since 1605), and that of Buenos Aires (1661–1672), whose presidents were also both governors and captains general, and in addition to these Audiencias, the viceroyalty comprised the subordinated Audiencias of Charcas (La Plata; 1559-) and Quito (1563-).[34]

Audiencias in Italy

Audiencias in the Spanish possessions in Europe included the Italian domains of Sardinia (1564–1714) and Kingdom of Sicily (1569–1707). In Italy, the Castilian institution of the audiencia was united with the Aragonese institution of the viceroy. The Aragonese viceroys were literally "vice-kings," and as such, had the power to administer justice and issue laws; therefore they were integrally involved in the judicial proceedings of the Italian audiencias.[35] In 1555 a Council of Italy was created to oversee the viceroys and audiencias in Italy.


  1. ^ "Real Audiencia". Google Translate. Google. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Chancillería". Google Translate. Google. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b Elliot, Imperial Spain, 86.
  4. ^ Elliot, 165–166.
  5. ^ Fisher, Viceregal Administration, 29.
  6. ^ Haring, The Spanish Empire in America, 124
  7. ^ Fisher, 33.
  8. ^ Fisher, 142–143.
  9. ^ Haring, 120-122
  10. ^ a b Bosco Amores, Juan (2006). Historia de América (in Spanish). Editorial Ariel. p. 276. ISBN 978-84-344-5211-4.
  11. ^ a b Muro Orejón, Antonio, ed. (1977). Cedulario americano del siglo XVIII: Cédulas de Luis I (1724), Cédulas de Felipe V (1724–46) (in Spanish). 3. CSIC. p. 32. ISBN 978-84-00-03735-2.
  12. ^ a b Celso, Ramón Lorenzo (1994). Manual de historia constitucional Argentina (in Spanish). 1. Editorial Juris. p. 28. ISBN 978-950-817-022-4.
  13. ^ a b c Bridikhina, Eugenia (2007). Theatrum mundi: entramados del poder en Charcas colonial (in Spanish). Plural Editores. p. 38. ISBN 978-99954-1-080-3.
  14. ^ Lohmann Villena, Guillermo (1999). "La nueva estructura política". In Carrera Damas, Germán (ed.). Historia general de América Latina (in Spanish). 2. UNESCO. p. 464. ISBN 978-92-3-303151-7.
  15. ^ Martínez Ruiz, Enrique (2007). Diccionario de historia moderna de España, (in Spanish). 2. Ediciones Akal. p. 188. ISBN 978-84-7090-353-3.
  16. ^ Historia general de España y América (in Spanish). 10. Ediciones Rialp. 1992. p. 611. ISBN 978-84-321-2102-9.
  17. ^ Muro Romero, Fernando (1975). Las presidencias-gobernaciones en Indias (siglo XVI) (in Spanish). CSIC. p. 103. ISBN 978-84-00-04233-2.
  18. ^ Fernández Álvarez, Manuel (1979). España y los españoles en los tiempos modernos (in Spanish). Universidad de Salamanca. p. 513. ISBN 978-84-7481-082-0.
  19. ^ Bridikhina, Eugenia (2007). Theatrum mundi: entramados del poder en Charcas colonial (in Spanish). Plural Editores. p. 41. ISBN 978-99954-1-080-3.
  20. ^ Pinet Plasencia, Adela (1998). La Península de Yucatán en el Archivo General de la Nación (in Spanish). UNAM. p. 34. ISBN 978-968-36-5757-2.
  21. ^ Góngora, Mario (1998). Estudios sobre la historia colonial de hispanoamérica (in Spanish). p. 103. ISBN 978-956-11-1381-7.
  22. ^ Vicente Villarán, Manuel (1998). Lecciones de derecho constitucional (in Spanish). Fondo Editorial PUCP. p. 473. ISBN 978-9972-42-132-7.
  23. ^ Andreo García, Juan (2007). "Su Majestad quiere gobernar: la Administración española en Indias durante los siglos XVI y XVII". In Juan Bautista Vilar; Antonio Peñafiel Ramón; Antonio Irigoyen López (eds.). Historia y sociabilidad: homenaje a la profesora María del Carmen Melendreras Gimeno (in Spanish). EDITUM. p. 282. ISBN 978-84-8371-654-0.
  24. ^ Diego-Fernández, Rafael (2007). "Estudio introductorio". In Juan Bautista Vilar; Antonio Peñafiel Ramón; Antonio Irigoyen López (eds.). Historia y sociabilidad: homenaje a la profesora María del Carmen Melendreras Gimeno (in Spanish). EDITUM. p. xxix. ISBN 978-84-8371-654-0.
  25. ^ de Blas, Patricio (2000). Historia común de Iberoamérica (in Spanish). EDAF. p. 208. ISBN 978-84-414-0766-4.
  26. ^ Szászdi, Adam (2002). "Virreyes y Audiencias de Indias en el reinado de don Felipe II: Algunos señalamientos necesarios". In Feliciano Barrios (ed.). Derecho y administracion pub'lica en las Indias hispánicas: Actas del XII Congreso Internacional de Historia del Derecho Indiano, Toledo (in Spanish). 2. Universidad de Castilla La Mancha. p. 1709. ISBN 978-84-8427-180-2.
  27. ^ Rubio Mañé, Ignacio José (1992). El Virreinato (in Spanish). 1. UNAM. p. 45. ISBN 978-968-16-1354-9.
  28. ^ Rubio Mañé, Ignacio José (1992). El Virreinato (in Spanish). 1. UNAM. p. 50. ISBN 978-968-16-1354-9.
  29. ^ Morón, Guillermo (1995). Medina, José Ramón (ed.). Obra escogida (in Spanish). Fundacion Biblioteca Ayacucho. p. 65. ISBN 978-980-276-313-9.
  30. ^ Pinet Plasencia, Adela (1998). La Península de Yucatán en el Archivo General de la Nación (in Spanish). UNAM. p. 33. ISBN 978-968-36-5757-2.
  31. ^ Garavaglia, Juan Carlos; Marchena Fernández, Juan (2005). América Latina de los orígenes a la Independencia (in Spanish). Editorial Critica. p. 267. ISBN 978-84-8432-652-6.
  32. ^ Méndez Salcedo, Ildefonso (2002). La Capitanía General de Venezuela, 1777–1821 (in Spanish). Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Universidad de los Andes. p. 69. ISBN 978-980-244-299-7.
  33. ^ Cornejo Franco, José (1993). Testimonios de Guadalajara (in Spanish). UNAM. p. viii. ISBN 978-968-36-2671-4.
  34. ^ de Blas, Patricio (2000). Historia común de Iberoamérica (in Spanish). EDAF. p. 210. ISBN 978-84-414-0766-4.
  35. ^ Elliot, 165.

Further reading

  • Artola, Miguel (1991) Enciclopedia de Historia de España. (V. Diccionario Temático). Madrid, Alianza Editorial ISBN 84-206-5294-6
  • Burkholder, Mark A. and D. S. Chandler. Biographical Dictionary of Audiencia Ministers in the Americas. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1982. ISBN 0-313-22038-7
  • Burkholder, Mark A. and D. S. Chandler. From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687–1808. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1977. ISBN 0-8262-0219-5.
  • Coronas González, S.M. (1981), "La Audiencia y Chancilleria de Ciudad Real (1494–1505)" en Cuadernos de Estudios Manchegos, 11, pp. 47 – 139.
  • Dougnac Rodríguez, Antonio (1994), Manual de Historia del Derecho Indiano, México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. ISBN 968-36-4147-4.
  • Elliott, J. H. Imperial Spain: 1469-1716. London: Edward Arnold, 1963.
  • Elliott, J. H. "A Provincial Aristocracy: The Catalan Ruling Class in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries" in Spain and its World, 1500-1700. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-300-04217-5
  • Fisher, Lillian Estelle. Viceregal Administration in the Spanish American Colonies. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1926.
  • Haring, C. H., The Spanish Empire in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1947.
  • Parry, J. H. (2008) [1948]. The Audiencia of New Galicia in the Sixteenth Century: A Study in Spanish Colonial Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-08096-5
  • Sánchez Bella, Ismael; De la Hera, Alberto; y Díaz Rementeria, Carlos (1992), Historia del Derecho Indiano, Madrid: MAPFRE. ISBN 84-7100-512-3.
Battle of Pichincha

The Battle of Pichincha took place on 24 May 1822, on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, 3,500 meters above sea-level, right next to the city of Quito, in modern Ecuador.

The encounter, fought in the context of the Spanish American wars of independence, pitted a Patriot army under General Antonio José de Sucre against a Royalist army commanded by Field Marshal Melchor Aymerich. The defeat of the Royalist forces loyal to Spain brought about the liberation of Quito, and secured the independence of the provinces belonging to the Real Audiencia de Quito, or Presidencia de Quito, the Spanish colonial administrative jurisdiction from which the Republic of Ecuador would eventually emerge.

Captaincy General of Venezuela

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.


Cusco (Spanish: Cuzco [ˈkusko]; Quechua: Qusqu, Qosqo [ˈqʊsqʊ], [ˈqɔsqɔ]), often spelled Cuzco (), is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region and of the Cusco Province. In 2017, the city had a population of 428,450. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft).

The site was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. In 1983 Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with the title "City of Cuzco". It has become a major tourist destination, hosting nearly 2 million visitors a year. The Constitution of Peru designates it as the Historical Capital of Peru.

Legarda Street

Legarda Street is a short street located in Sampaloc district in Manila, Philippines. It crosses through the eastern section of the University Belt area in a generally east–west orientation between the Nagtahan Interchange in Sampaloc and the intersection with Nepomuceno Street and Concepcion Aguila Street in Quiapo. It is served by Legarda station of the Manila Line 2.

The street was named after Filipino legislator and resident commissioner to the U.S., Benito Legarda y Tuason. It was formerly called Calle Alix, after Real Audiencia of Manila magistrate of the 1860s, José María Alix y Bonache.

New Kingdom of Granada

The New Kingdom of Granada (Spanish: Nuevo Reino de Granada), or Kingdom of the New Granada, was the name given to a group of 16th-century Spanish colonial provinces in northern South America governed by the president of the Audiencia of Santa Fe, an area corresponding mainly to modern-day Colombia, Panama and Venezuela. The conquistadors originally organized it as a captaincy general within the Viceroyalty of Peru. The crown established the audiencia in 1549. Ultimately the kingdom became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada first in 1717 and permanently in 1739. After several attempts to set up independent states in the 1810s, the kingdom and the viceroyalty ceased to exist altogether in 1819 with the establishment of Gran Colombia.

Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago

The Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago (English: Royal Court Palace or Palace of the Boxes) is a building located in the north central village of the Plaza de Armas in Santiago, Chile. The building dates back to 1808 and houses, since 1982, the National History Museum of Chile.

The building was built between 1804 and 1807 to serve as the home for the royal courts of justice. It was the work of Juan Goycolea, a pupil and disciple of the Italian-born Joaquin Toesca who had designed the nearby La Moneda Palace and the east facade of the Cathedral during the last two decades of the 18th century. The courts were there for two years until Chile's first government junta, in 1810, assembled to replace the Spanish governor. Eight years later the Chilean Declaration of Independence was solidified and the building served as the first meeting place for the new congress. It served as the seat of government until 1846, until President Manuel Bulnes moved to La Moneda Palace.

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.

Real Audiencia of Concepción

Before 1565, the highest court of Chile was the justicia mayor, whose sentences were appealed before the Royal Audiencia of Lima. In 1560 local authorities formally requested the president of the Audiencia of Lima for the creation of an audiencia for Chile. It was argued that it would serve to control the actions of the governors of Chile, improve royal treasury's collection of revenue and hasten the end of the Arauco War.

In 1565 King Phillip II ordered the creation of a Chilean audiencia in his decree of May 18. The audiencia had four oidores, one of them serving as president; a fiscal or public prosecutor; and the related subordinate officials, such as an alguacil mayor (greater bailiff) and his lieutenants, notaries public, an interpreter, a chaplain and a doorman.

In cases when the office of the governor of Chile went vacant, the oidores of the Audiencia were to assume administration of the government. Due to various problems in its operation, the Audiencia was dissolved less than a decade later by the royal decree of August 26, 1573, which took effect on June 25, 1575, a month after it received notification of the decree. After it was dissolved the judicial functions of the Audiencia were entrusted to the lieutenant governor and capitán general of Chile.

Real Audiencia of Guatemala

The Real Audiencia of Santiago de Guatemala (Spanish: Audiencia y Cancillería Real de Santiago de Guatemala), simply known as the Audiencia of Guatemala or the Audiencia of Los Confines, was a superior court in area of the New World empire of Spain, known as the Kingdom of Guatemala. This area included the current territories of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Mexican state of Chiapas. The Audiencia's presiding officer, the president, was the head of the government of the area. The Audiencia was initially created by decrees of November 20, 1542 and September 13, 1543, and had its seat in Antigua Guatemala (Santiago de Guatemala).

Real Audiencia of Lima

The Real Audiencia and Chancery of Lima (Spanish: Audiencia y Cancillería Real de Lima) was a superior court in the New World empire of Spain, located in the city of Lima, capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru. It was created on November 20, 1542 as was the viceroyalty itself, by the Emperor Charles V. The Audiencia began functioning in 1543 and initially had jurisdiction over the entire viceroyalty—virtually all of Spanish-controlled South America and Panama. Later other audiencias were established in the Viceroyalty. The Audiencia functioned until 1821 when the forces of José de San Martín entered Lima.

Real Audiencia of Manila

The Real Audiencia de Manila (English: Royal Audience of Manila) was the Real Audiencia of the Spanish East Indies, which included modern-day Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Micronesia and the Philippines. Similar to Real Audiencias throughout the Spanish Empire, it was the highest tribunal within the territories of the Captaincy General of the Philippines, a dependency of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

The Governor-General of the Philippines was appointed as its highest judge, although on many occasions his absence forced other members to rule the tribunal and assume temporary civilian and military powers.

Real Audiencia of Mexico

The Real Audiencia of Mexico (Spanish: Real Audiencia de México) or high court was the highest tribunal of the Spanish crown in the Kingdom of New Spain (not to be confused with the Viceroyalty of New Spain— named after the kingdom—which had a higher hierarchy and controller). The Audiencia was created by royal decree on December 13, 1527, and was seated in the viceregal capital of Mexico City. The First Audiencia was dissolved by the crown for its bungling and corruption and the crown established the Second Audiencia in 1530. Another Audiencia was created in Guadalajara in western Mexico in 1548.

Assertion of Royal Control

After the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521 conqueror Hernán Cortés exercised power in New Spain as its first European governor and proceeded to allocate rewards to Spaniards who had participated in the victory. He initially established a government in the town of Coyoacán, south of Lake Texcoco, because Tenochtitlan was in ruins after the conquest. From here he governed with the title of Captain General and Justicia Mayor. In his letters to the king, he explained and justified his actions, arguing that it was necessary to grant rewards of encomiendas to conquerors in order to persuade them to remain in the area now under Spanish control rather than see them depart for conquests elsewhere.The crown sent treasury officials to New Spain, asserting the right of the crown to the revenues from the newly conquered lands. During Cortés's expedition to Honduras (1524–26), treasury officials were left in charge and the political situation descended into chaos. After Cortés's return to Mexico City in 1526, the crown realized that to assert its power over him that a higher level of royal authority was needed and created the Audiencia of Mexico.The first Audiencia in Mexico was created in 1528 and headed by crown official Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán. Hernán Cortés, who as leader of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, had accrued considerable wealth and power after the conquest that was not effectively checked by crown treasury officials. By setting up the Audiencia the crown sought to limit Cortés's personal power by creating the high court as an effective instrument of royal power.Guzmán was opposed by the first bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumárraga, an ally of Cortés Guzmán's tenure as the president of the Audiencia was marked by ruthless attacks on his political rivals, corruption, and extreme violence against Indians. One scholar calls him "a natural gangster." However, structurally the crown had set up a conflictive situation between the conquerors turned encomenderos and the high court determined to assert royal authority. The crown's choice of Nuño de Guzmán as president of the Audiencia was a major blunder. Guzmán largely ignored the crown's instructions and intentions to assert royal authority against the conqueror group and their rewards with Guzmán acting as a rival to accrue power and wealth to himself and his retinue via the power of the Audiencia. The crown rectified its blunder and dissolved the First Audiencia in 1530 and established the Second Audiencia with judges who recognized crown authority; this body functioned until the end of the colonial era.

In 1532, the Viceroyalty of New Spain was created, although the first Viceroy, Don Antonio de Mendoza, would not arrive in Mexico until 1535. The Viceroy took over the executive functions of government from the Audiencia and served as its president. In the following decade, as more mainland areas were conquered, a second Audiencia was created in Guadalajara, the provincial capital of the Kingdom of New Galicia, in 1548.

Real Audiencia of Panama

The Real Audiencia and Chancery of Panama in Tierra Firme (Spanish: Audiencia y Cancillería Real de Panamá en Tierrafirme) was a governing body and superior court in the New World empire of Spain. The Audiencia of Panama was the third American audiencia after the ones of Santo Domingo and Mexico. It existed three times under various guises since it first creation in 1538 until its ultimate abolition in 1751.

Real Audiencia of Quito

The Real Audiencia of Quito (sometimes referred to as la Presidencia de Quito or el Reino de Quito) was an administrative unit in the Spanish Empire which had political, military, and religious jurisdiction over territories that today include Ecuador, parts of northern Peru, parts of southern Colombia and parts of northern Brazil. It was created by Royal Decree on 29 August 1563 by Philip II of Spain in the city of Guadalajara (Law X of Title XV of Book II of the Recopilación de Leyes de Indias). It ended in 1822 with the incorporation of the area into the Republic of Gran Colombia.

Real Audiencia of Santiago

The Royal Audiencia of Santiago (Spanish: Real Audiencia de Santiago) was an Audiencia Real or royal law court that functioned in Santiago de Chile during the Spanish colonial period. This body heard both civil and criminal cases. It was founded during the 17th century and abolished in 1818.

Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo

The Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo was the first court of the Spanish crown in America. It was created by Ferdinand V of Castile in his decree of 1511, but due to disagreements between the governor of Hispaniola, Diego Colon and the Crown, it was not implemented until it was reestablished by Charles V in his decree of September 14, 1526. This audiencia would become part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain upon the creation of the latter two decades later. Nevertheless, the audiencia president was at the same time governor and captain general of the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, which granted him broad administrative powers and autonomy over the Spanish possessions of the Caribbean and most of its mainland coasts. This combined with the judicial oversight that the audiencia judges had over the region meant that the Santo Domingo Audiencia was the principal political entity of this region during the colonial period.

Real Audiencia y Chancillería de Valladolid

The Royal Audiencia and Chancellería of Valladolid was a judicial body established by Henry II of Castile in 1371, with jurisdiction over the entire territory of the Crown of Castile, except for the characteristics of the Hall of Justice (also called Mil y Quinientas) of the Council of Castile. The building was originally called El Palacio de los Vivero.

It was based in the city of Valladolid and operated for much of the Middle Ages and throughout the Early Modern Ages as the highest court of law in the kingdom, and was suppressed in 1834 as a result of liberal reforms.

In 1494, it lost part of its jurisdiction to the newly created Real Audiencia y Chancillería de Ciudad Real, which was itself soon transferred to Granada, with the creation of the Real Chancillería de Granada in 1505.

Royal Audiencia of Guadalajara

The Real Audiencia of Guadalajara (or Real Audiencia de Nueva Galicia), was the highest tribunal of the Spanish crown in what is today northern Mexico and the southwestern United States in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It was created by royal decree on February 13, 1548, and was originally located in Compostela and permanently seated in Guadalajara in 1560. Its president was the chief political and executive officer of the district, subordinated only to the Viceroy.

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