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 Spainnamed 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5][6]

Guzmán was opposed by the first bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumárraga, an ally of Cortés[7] 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."[8] 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.[9] The crown rectified its blunder and dissolved the First Audiencia in 1530 and established the Second Audiencia with judges who recognized crown authority;[10] 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.[11][12]

Structure of the Audiencia

Law III (Audiencia y Chancillería Real de México en la Nueva España) of Title XV (De las Audiencias y Chancillerias Reales de las Indias) of Book II of the Recopilación de Leyes de las Indias of 1680—which compiles the decrees of November 29, 1527; December 13, 1527; July 12, 1530; April 22, 1548, November 17, 1553; and January 19, 1560—describes the borders and functions of the Audiencia.[13]

In the City of Mexico-Tenuxtitlan, capital of the Provinces of New Spain shall reside another Royal Audiencia and Chancellery of ours, with our viceroy-governor-captain general and our lieutenant, who shall be president; eight judges of civil cases [oidores]; four judges of criminal cases [alcaldes del crimen]; and two crown attorneys [fiscales], one civil and the other criminal; a bailiff [alguacil mayor]; a lieutenant of the Gran Chancellor; and the other necessary ministers and officials, which will have for district the provinces which are properly called of New Spain, with the ones of Yucatán, Cozumel and Tabasco; and by the coast of the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to the cape of Florida; and by the South Sea from where the district of the Audiencia of Guatemala ends to where that of the Audiencia of Galicia [Guadalajara] begins as demarcated by the laws in this title, dividing these among them by the east and west; with the North Sea and Province of Florida by the north and with the South Sea by the South.

Law XXXXVII, of the same book and title, is the Decree of Philip III of January 30, 1600, which mandated that when the office of viceroy was vacant, the Audiencia of Mexico became the acting viceroy, directly governing the provinces of New Spain and overseeing the area of the Audiencia of Guadalajara in administrative matters.

See also


  • Arregui Zamorano, Pilar (1981). La Audiencia de México según los visitadores (siglos XVI y XVII). México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas. ISBN 968-5801-96-7 [1].
  • Parry, J.H. (1948). The Audiencia of New Galicia in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge University Press.
  • Ruiz Medrano, Ethelia (1991). Gobierno y sociedad en Nueva España: segunda audiencia y Antonio de Mendoza. Zamora (Michoacán, México): Gobierno del Estado de Michoacán, El Colegio de Michoacán. ISBN 968-7230-69-X.


  1. ^ Peggy K. Liss, Mexico under Spain, 1521-1556: Society and the Origins of Nationality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1975, 52.
  2. ^ Liss, Mexico Under Spain p. 48.
  3. ^ Hernán Cortés, Letters from Mexico, Anthony Pagden, editor and translator. New Haven: Yale University Press 2001, pp. 279-80.
  4. ^ Liss, Mexico Under Spain, p. 51.
  5. ^ Liss, Mexico Under Spain, p. 51
  6. ^ Ida Altman, The War for Mexico's West: Indians and Spaniards in New Galicia, 1524-1550. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2010, p. 21.
  7. ^ Altman, War for Mexico's West, p. 22
  8. ^ J.H. Parry,The Audiencia of New Galicia in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1948.
  9. ^ Liss, Mexico Under Spain, p. 52.
  10. ^ Liss, Mexico Under Spain p. 52-55
  11. ^ Ida Altman, The War for Mexico's West: Indians and Spaniards in New Galicia, 1524-1550. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2010, p. 185
  12. ^ J.H. Parry, The Audiencia of New Galicia in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1948.
  13. ^ Spain (1680). Recopilación de las Leyes de Indias. Titulo Quince. De las Audiencias y Chancillerias Reales de las Indias. Madrid. Spanish-language facsimile of the original.
Antonio de León y Gama

Antonio de León y Gama (1735–1802) was a Mexican astronomer, anthropologist and writer. When in 1790 the Aztec calendar stone (also called sun stone) was discovered buried under the main square of Mexico City, he published an essay about it, Descripción histórica y cronológica de las dos piedras que con ocasión del nuevo empedrado que se está formando en la plaza principal de México, se hallaron en ella el año de 1790 (Historical and chronological description of two Stones that were found in the plaza of Mexico in 1790 upon the occasion of laying the new pavement) explaining the functioning of aztec calendars.

Censo General de Población y Vivienda

The Censo General de Población y Vivienda (General Census of Population and Housing, or National Census of…) is the main national census for Mexico. It is produced by the national statistics agency INEGI, a decentralized agency of the Mexican Federal government, with the purpose of collating and reporting detailed demographic, socioeconomic and geographical data from across the nation. Since 1900 the censo general has been conducted on a decennial basis, taking place the year ending in zero of each decade. The only variation to this schedule thus far occurred with the fourth census (IV censo general), where difficulties arising from the Mexican Revolution resulted in its deferral from 1920 to 1921. As of 2014 there have been a total of 13 censos generales taken at the national level, the most recent completed in 2010.From the 1990s INEGI began to produce an intermediate series of national population and housing censuses, surveying only a smaller and selected subset of key demographic indicators. This intermediate series—the Conteo de Población y Vivienda (Count of Population and Housing)—is also conducted decennially, in the years ending in "5" midway between two successive censos generales. These conteos allow the planning for public policy and services to be based on data that is more current than would otherwise be the case, as the alternating conteos and censos provide a refresh of key population indices that is no more than five years old.

Francisco Romá y Rosell

Francico Romá y Rosell (b. Mataró, Spain, died 1784) was a Spanish royal official in Valladolid and New Spain. He was the first regent of the Real Audiencia of Mexico. In this capacity, after the death of Viceroy Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa and before the arrival of his successor, Martín de Mayorga, Romá served as interim governor of the colony from April 9, 1779 to August 23, 1779.

List of governors in the Viceroyalty of New Spain

Governors in the various provinces of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

In addition to governors, the following list (under construction) intends to give an overview of colonial units of the provincial level; therefore it also includes some offices of similar rank, especially the intendant. Intendente is both a Spanish and Portuguese word, derived from the French Intendant. It was introduced to the Spanish Empire by the Bourbon Dynasty, which Spain shared with France after the early 18th century. This list also does not distinguish between Gobernaciones and Provincias, because they were essentially two grades of provinces.

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.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.