The overseas expansion under the Crown of Castile was initiated under the royal authority and first accomplished by the Spanish conquistadors. The Americas were incorporated into the Spanish Empire, with the exception of Brazil, Canada, the eastern United States and several other small countries in South America and The Caribbean. The crown created civil and religious structures to administer the region. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Catholic faith through indigenous conversions.
Beginning with the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean and continuing control of vast territory for over three centuries, the Spanish Empire would expand across the Caribbean Islands, half of South America, most of Central America and much of North America (including present day Mexico, Florida and the Southwestern and Pacific Coastal regions of the United States). It is estimated that during the colonial period (1492–1832), a total of 1.86 million Spaniards settled in the Americas and a further 3.5 million immigrated during the post-colonial era (1850–1950); the estimate is 250,000 in the 16th century, and most during the 18th century as immigration was encouraged by the new Bourbon Dynasty. In contrast, the indigenous population plummeted by an estimated 80% in the first century and a half following Columbus's voyages, primarily through the spread of Afro-Eurasian diseases. This has been argued to be the first large-scale act of genocide in the modern era, although this claim is largely disputed due to the unintended nature of the disease introduction, which is considered a byproduct of Columbian exchange. Racial mixing was a central process in the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and ultimately led to the Latin American identity, which combines Hispanic, native American and often African ethnicities.
Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when silver and gold from American mines increasingly financed a long series of European and North African wars. In the early 19th century, the Spanish American wars of independence resulted in the secession and subsequent balkanization of most Spanish colonies in the Americas, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico, which were finally given up in 1898, following the Spanish–American War, together with Guam and the Philippines in the Pacific. Spain's loss of these last territories politically ended the Spanish rule in the Americas.
The Catholic Monarchs Isabella of Castile, Queen of Castile and her husband King Ferdinand, King of Aragon, pursued a policy of joint rule of their kingdoms and created a single Spanish monarchy. Even though Castile and Aragon were ruled jointly by their respective monarchs, they remained separate kingdoms. The Catholic Monarchs gave official approval for the plans of Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus for a voyage to reach India by sailing West. The funding came from the queen of Castile, so the profits from Spanish expedition flowed to Castile. In the extension of Spanish sovereignty to its overseas territories, authority for expeditions of discovery, conquest, and settlement resided in the monarchy.
Columbus made four voyages to the West Indies as the monarchs granted Columbus the governorship of the new territories, and financed more of his trans-Atlantic journeys. He founded La Navidad on the island later named Hispaniola (now divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic), in what is the present-day Haiti on his first voyage. After its destruction by the indigenous Taino people, the town of Isabella was begun in 1493, on his second voyage. In 1496 his brother, Bartholomew, founded Santo Domingo. By 1500, despite a high death rate, there were between 300 and 1000 Spanish settled in the area. The local Taíno people continued to resist, refusing to plant crops and abandoning their Spanish-occupied villages. The first mainland explorations were followed by a phase of inland expeditions and conquest. In 1500 the city of Nueva Cádiz was founded on the island of Cubagua, Venezuela, followed by the founding of Santa Cruz by Alonso de Ojeda in present-day Guajira peninsula. Cumaná in Venezuela was the first permanent settlement founded by Europeans in the mainland Americas, in 1501 by Franciscan friars, but due to successful attacks by the indigenous people, it had to be refounded several times, until Diego Hernández de Serpa's foundation in 1569. The Spanish founded San Sebastian de Uraba in 1509 but abandoned it within the year. There is indirect evidence that the first permanent Spanish mainland settlement established in the Americas was Santa María la Antigua del Darién.
The Spanish conquest of Mexico is generally understood to be the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire (1519–21) which was the base for later conquests of other regions. Later conquests were protracted campaigns with less spectacular results than the conquest of the Aztecs. The Spanish conquest of Yucatán, the Spanish conquest of Guatemala, the war of Mexico's west, and the Chichimeca War in northern Mexico expanded Spanish control over territory and indigenous populations. But not until the Spanish conquest of Peru was the conquest of the Aztecs matched in scope by the victory over the Inca empire in 1532.
The Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire was led by Hernán Cortés. The victory over the Aztecs was relatively quick, from 1519 to 1521, and aided by his Tlaxcala and other allies from indigenous city-states or altepetl. These polities allied against the Aztec empire, to which they paid tribute following conquest or threat of conquest, leaving the city-states' political hierarchy and social structure in place.
The Spanish conquest of Yucatán was a much longer campaign, from 1551 to 1697, against the Maya peoples in the Yucatán Peninsula of present-day Mexico and northern Central America. Hernán Cortés' landing ashore at present day Veracruz and founding the Spanish city there on April 22, 1519 marked the beginning of 300 years of Spanish hegemony over the region. The assertion of royal control over the Kingdom of New Spain and the initial Spanish conquerors took over a decade, with importance of the region meriting the creation of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Established by Charles V in 1535, the first viceroy was Don Antonio de Mendoza.
In 1532 at the Battle of Cajamarca a group of Spaniards under Francisco Pizarro and their indigenous Andean Indian auxiliaries native allies ambushed and captured the Emperor Atahualpa of the Inca Empire. It was the first step in a long campaign that took decades of fighting to subdue the mightiest empire in the Americas. In the following years Spain extended its rule over the Empire of the Inca civilization.
The Spanish took advantage of a recent civil war between the factions of the two brothers Emperor Atahualpa and Huáscar, and the enmity of indigenous nations the Incas had subjugated, such as the Huancas, Chachapoyas, and Cañaris. In the following years the conquistadors and indigenous allies extended control over Greater Andes Region. The Viceroyalty of Perú was established in 1542. The last Inca stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.
European explorers arrived in Río de la Plata in 1516. Their first Spanish settlement in this zone was the Fort of Sancti Spiritu established in 1527 next to the Paraná River. Buenos Aires, a permanent colony, was established in 1536 and in 1537 Asunción was established in the area that is now Paraguay. Buenos Aires suffered attacks by the indigenous peoples that forced the settlers away, and in 1541 the site was abandoned. A second (and permanent) settlement was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay, who arrived by sailing down the Paraná River from Asunción (now the capital of Paraguay). He dubbed the settlement "Santísima Trinidad" and its port became "Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires." The city came to be the head of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata and in 1776 elevated to be the capital of the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.
Between 1537 and 1543, six Spanish expeditions entered highland Colombia, conquered the Muisca Confederation, and set up the New Kingdom of Granada (Spanish: Nuevo Reino de Granada). Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada was the leading conquistador with his brother Hernán second in command. It was governed by the president of the Audiencia of Bogotá, and comprised an area corresponding mainly to modern-day Colombia and parts of 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.
Spain's administration of its colonies in the Americas was divided into the Viceroyalty of New Spain 1535 (capital, Mexico City), and the Viceroyalty of Peru 1542 (capital, Lima). In the 18th century the additional Viceroyalty of New Granada 1717 (capital, Bogotá), and Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata 1776 (capital, Buenos Aires) were established from portions of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The change diminished the political and economic power of the viceroyalty and opened formal connections between the mining district of Upper Peru and the port of Buenos Aires.
The system of crown rule evolved from the era of the Catholic Monarchs, which established the Council of the Indies, to the establishment of viceroyalties in Mexico and Peru following their conquests in the Habsburg era, and then into an Intendant system in the eighteenth century as part of the Bourbon Reforms. The reform was aimed at increasing crown control over its colonies, raising more revenue, and promoting greater efficiency.
During the Napoleonic Peninsular War in Europe between France and Spain, assemblies called juntas were established to rule in the name of Ferdinand VII of Spain. The Libertadores (Spanish and Portuguese for "Liberators") were the principal leaders of the Spanish American wars of independence. They were predominantly criollos (Americas-born people of European ancestry, mostly Spanish or Portuguese), bourgeois and influenced by liberalism and in some cases with military training in the mother country.
In 1809 the first declarations of independence from Spanish rule occurred in the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The first two were in present-day Bolivia at Sucre (May 25), and La Paz (July 16); and the third in present-day Ecuador at Quito (August 10). In 1810 Mexico declared independence, with the Mexican War of Independence following for over a decade. In 1821 Treaty of Córdoba established Mexican independence from Spain and concluded the War. The Plan of Iguala was part of the peace treaty to establish a constitutional foundation for an independent Mexico.
These began a movement for colonial independence that spread to Spain's other colonies in the Americas. The ideas from the French and the American Revolution influenced the efforts. All of the colonies, except Cuba and Puerto Rico, attained independence by the 1820s. The British Empire offered support, wanting to end the Spanish monopoly on trade with its colonies in the Americas.
In 1898, the United States achieved victory in the Spanish–American War with Spain, ending the Spanish colonial era. Spanish possession and rule of its remaining colonies in the Americas ended in that year with its sovereignty transferred to the United States. The United States took occupation of Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico continues to be a possession of the United States, now officially continues as a self-governing unincorporated territory.
It has been estimated that over 1.86 million Spaniards emigrated to Latin America in the period between 1492 and 1824, with millions more continuing to immigrate following independence.
In Hispaniola, the indigenous Taíno pre-contact population before the arrival of Columbus of several hundred thousand had declined to sixty thousand by 1509. Although population estimates vary, Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas, the "Defender of the Indians" estimated there were 6 million (6,000,000) Taíno and Arawak in the Caribbean at the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492.
The population of the Native American population in Mexico declined by an estimated 90% (reduced to 1–2.5 million people) by the early 17th century. In Peru, the indigenous Amerindian pre-contact population of around 6.5 million declined to 1 million by the early 17th century. The overwhelming cause of the decline in both Mexico and Peru was infectious diseases, such as smallpox and measles, although the brutality of the Encomienda also played a significant part in the population decline.
Of the history of the indigenous population of California, Sherburne F. Cook (1896–1974) was the most painstakingly careful researcher. From decades of research, he made estimates for the pre-contact population and the history of demographic decline during the Spanish and post-Spanish periods. According to Cook, the indigenous Californian population at first contact, in 1769, was about 310,000 and had dropped to 25,000 by 1910. The vast majority of the decline happened after the Spanish period, during the Mexican and US periods of Californian history (1821–1910), with the most dramatic collapse (200,000 to 25,000) occurring in the US period (1846–1910).
Adelantado (Spanish pronunciation: [aðelanˈtaðo]) (meaning "advanced") was a title held by Spanish nobles in service of their respective kings during the Middle Ages. It was later used as a military title held by some Spanish conquistadores of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
Adelantados were granted directly by the monarch the right to become governors and justices of a specific region, which they were charged with conquering, in exchange for funding and organizing the initial explorations, settlements and pacification of the target area on behalf of the Crown of Castile. These areas were usually outside the jurisdiction of an existing audiencia or viceroy, and adelantados were authorized to communicate directly with the Council of the Indies.Castilla de Oro
Castilla de Oro or del Oro (Spanish: [kasˈtiʎa ðe ˈoɾo]) was the name given by the Spanish settlers at the beginning of the 16th century to the Central American territories from the Gulf of Urabá, near today's Colombian-Panamanian border, to the Belén River. Beyond that river, the region was known as Veragua, and was disputed by the Spanish crown along with the Columbus family. The name "Castilla de Oro" was made official in May 1513 by King Ferdinand II of Aragon, then regent of the Crown of Castile.
After Vasco Núñez de Balboa's discovery of the Pacific Ocean, Castilla de Oro's jurisdiction was broadened to include the Pacific coasts of Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
With the creation, in 1527, of the Province of Nicaragua, which included today's Nicaragua as well as the Nicoya Peninsula, Castilla de Oro's jurisdiction was reduced. In 1537, once the conflict between the crown and the Columbus family was settled, Castilla de Oro was split up, divided by the Duchy of Veragua.
The western portion, which comprised most of Panama's and Costa Rica's Pacific coasts, was merged in 1540 with Royal Veragua, to create the Province of Nuevo Cartago y Costa Rica.
The eastern part, the last remnant of Castilla de Oro, in time became known as the Realm of Tierra Firme, or Panamá, especially after the creation of the Royal Academy of Panamá in 1538. In 1560, the new Province of Veragua, created by Philip II out of the now defunct Duchy of Veragua, was merged with Castilla de Oro.Chichimeca Jonaz
The Chichimeca Jonaz are an indigenous people of Mexico, living in the states of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí. In Guanajuato, the Chichimeca Jonaz people live in a community in San Luis de la Paz municipality. The settlement is 2,070 m above sea level. They call this place Rancho Úza or Misión Chichimeca. They are descendants of the Pame people, who fought in the Chichimeca War (1550-1590) in the Chichimeca Confederation.
In the 2000 General Census by INEGI 2,641 people named themselves as speakers of the Chichimeca Jonaz language. Of these 1,433 speakers lived in Guanajuato, and the other 115 in San Luis Potosí.
Their language belongs to the Pamean sub-branch of the Oto-Pamean branch of the Oto-Manguean language family, the closest relative of the Chichimeca Jonaz language is the Pame language.Colonial Argentina
Colonial Argentina is designated as the period of the History of Argentina when it was an overseas colony of the Spanish Empire. It begins in the precolumbian age of the indigenous peoples of Argentina, with the arrival of the first Spanish conqueror.Governorate of Cuba
Since the 16th century the island of Cuba had been under the control of the governor-captain general of Santo Domingo. The conquest of Cuba was organized in 1510 by the recently restored Viceroy of the Indies, Diego Colón, under the command of Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, who became Cuba's first governor until his death in 1524.
Velázquez founded the city of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa in 1511 and convoked a general cabildo (a local government council) to govern Cuba, which was authorized by the king of Spain.
Hernán Cortés's Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was undertaken from Cuba. Cuba was incorporated in New Spain after the conquest of Mexico.Governorate of New Andalusia
New Andalusia Governorate (Spanish: Gobernación de Nueva Andalucía, pronounced [ɡoβeɾnaˈθjon de ˈnweβa andaluˈθi.a]; 1534−1542) was one of the colonial governorates of the Spanish Empire, located in southern South America.Governorate of New Andalusia (1501–13)
The Governorate of New Andalusia (Spanish: Gobernación de Nueva Andalucía, pronounced [ɡoβeɾnaˈθjon de ˈnweβa andaluˈθi.a]) was a Spanish colonial entity in present-day Venezuela, from 1501 to 1513.Governorate of New Castile
The Governorate of New Castile (Gobernación de Nueva Castilla, pronounced [ɡoβeɾnaˈθjon de ˈnweβa kasˈtiʎa]) was the gubernatorial region administered to Francisco Pizarro in 1528 by King Charles I of Spain, of which he was appointed governor.
The region roughly consisted of modern Peru and was after the foundation of Lima in 1535 divided. The conquest of the Inca empire in 1531–1533, performed by Pizarro and his brothers set the basis for the territorial boundaries of New Castile.Governorate of New Toledo
The Spanish Imperial Governorate of New Toledo was formed from the previous southern half of the Inca Empire, stretching south into present day central Chile, and east into present day central Brazil.
Established by King Charles I of Spain in 1528. Diego de Almagro was the appointed Spanish colonial governor.
It was replaced by the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542.Governorates of the Spanish Empire
After the territorial division of South America between Spain and Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) the colonial administration of the continent was divided into Governorates.New Navarre
New Navarre (Spanish: Nueva Navarra, Basque: Nafarroa Berria) was a province in the Provincias Internas, one of the frontier provinces of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Brigadier Pedro de Rivera, who visited the northern presidios from 1724 to 1728, suggested to the viceroy Juan de Acuña, Marquis of Casafuerte, the political and administrative reorganization of the northwest provinces. The viceroy supported the idea, and it was approved by Philip V of Spain in 1732, and executed the following year with the appointment of the first governor, Manuel Bernal de Huidobro, at that time mayor of Sinaloa. In the branches of government, finance and war, the governor was directly subject to the viceroy, while the field of justice was under the jurisdiction of the Royal Audience of Guadalajara (Real Audiencia of Guadalajara) of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. By 1806, the province was generally recognized as Sonora or Nueva Navarra, with the capital in Arispe, and including the area comprising Sinaloa (de Iriarte, 1806). After Independence Sonora y Sinaloa became one of the constituent states of the Mexican Republic. The Sonoran Desert ecoregion covers much of the state.
In the early years of European migration to Nueva Navarra, the Basques became a significant proportion of the population. The Basque immigrants reached 6% of total migrants in the first 15 years of colonization, the same percentage as those from the Castile or Extremadura, most populated regions. More specific data shows ratios between 8% and 16% of Basques in the nuclei urban settlements of those first decades, indicating a trend which would persist in the future: the Basque-Navarre preference for urban settlement (Boyde-Bowman, 1964).Oidor
An oidor (Spanish pronunciation: [oiˈðoɾ]) was a judge of the Royal Audiencias and Chancillerías, originally courts of Kingdom of Castile, which became the highest organs of justice within the Spanish Empire. The term comes from the verb oír, "to hear," referring to the judge's obligation to listen to the parts of a judicial process, particularly during the phase of pleas.Open cabildo
The open cabildo (Spanish: cabildo abierto) is a Latin American political action for convening citizens to make important decisions. It is comparable to the North American town hall meeting.Peninsulars
In the context of the Spanish colonial caste system, a peninsular (Spanish pronunciation: [peninsuˈlaɾ], pl. peninsulares) was a Spanish-born Spaniard residing in the New World or the Spanish East Indies. The word "peninsulars" makes reference to Peninsular Spain and was originally used in contrast to the "islanders" (isleños), viz. the native Canary Islanders (also known as guanches).
In the Portuguese Colonial Brazil, white people born in the Iberian Peninsula were known as reinóis, while whites born in Brazil with both parents being reinóis were known as mazombos.
Higher offices in the Americas and Philippines were held by peninsulares. Apart from the distinction of peninsulares from criollos, the castas system distinguished also mestizos (of mixed Spanish and Amerindian ancestry in the Americas, and mixed Spanish and Chinese or native Filipino in the Philippines), mulatos (of mixed Spanish and black ancestry), indios, zambos (mixed Amerindian and black ancestry) and finally negros. In some places and times, such as during the wars of independence, peninsulares were called deprecatively godos (meaning Goths, referring to the "Visigoths", who had ruled Spain) or, in Mexico, gachupines or gauchos. Godos is still used in the Canary Islands for the peninsular Spanish.
Colonial officials at the highest levels arrived from Spain to fulfill their duty to govern Spanish colonies in Latin America and the Philippines. Often, the peninsulares possessed large quantities of land. They defended Cádiz's monopoly on trade, upsetting the criollos, who turned to contraband with British and French colonies, especially in areas away from the main ports of call for the Flota de Indias. They worked to preserve Spanish power and sometimes acted as agents of patrol.
In a colonial social hierarchy, the peninsulares were nominally at the top, followed by criollos, who developed a fully entrenched powerful local aristocracy in the 17th and the 18th centuries. During the French Revolution, the peninsulares were generally conservative.Reductions
Reductions or in Spanish reducciones, also called 'congregaciones', (Portuguese: redução, plural reduções) were settlements created by Spanish rulers in Spanish America and the Spanish East Indies. The Spanish relocated, forcibly if necessary, native inhabitants of their colonies (the indios) into settlements which were modeled on towns and villages in Spain. In Portuguese-speaking Latin America, reductions were also called aldeias.Spanish Main
In the context of Spain's New World Empire, its mainland coastal possessions surrounding the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico were referred to collectively as the Spanish Main. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the southern portion of these coastal possessions was known as the Province of Tierra Firme, or the "mainland province" (as contrasted with Spain's nearby insular colonies).Spanish colonial real
The silver real (Spanish: real de plata) was the currency of the Spanish colonies in America and the Philippines. In the seventeenth century the silver real was established at two billon reals (reales de vellón) or sixty-eight maravedís. Gold escudos (worth 16 reales) were also issued. The coins circulated throughout Spain's colonies and beyond, with the eight-real piece, known in English as the Spanish dollar, becoming an international standard and spawning, among other currencies, the United States dollar. A reform in 1737 set the silver real at two and half billon reals (reales de vellón) or eighty-five maravedís. This coin, called the real de plata fuerte, became the new standard, issued as coins until the early 19th century. The gold escudo was worth 16 reales de plata fuerte.Spanish missions in Arizona
Beginning in the 16th century Spain established missions throughout New Spain (consisting of Mexico and portions of what today are the Southwestern United States) in order to facilitate colonization of these lands.
In the Spring of 1687, a Jesuit missionary named Father Eusebio Francisco Kino lived and worked with the native Americans in the area called the Pimería Alta, or "Upper Pima Country," which presently is located in the areas between the Mexican state of Sonora and the state of Arizona in the United States. During Father Eusebio Kino's stay in the Pimería Alta, he founded over twenty missions in eight mission districts. In Arizona, unlike Mexico, missionization proceeded slowly.
Father Kino founded missions San Xavier and San Gabriel at the Piman communities of Bac and Guevavi along the Santa Cruz River.Trial of residence
A juicio de residencia (literally, judgment of residence) was a judicial procedure of Castilian law and the Laws of the Indies. It consisted of this: at the termination of a public functionary's term, his performance in office was subject to review, and those with grievances against him were entitled to a hearing. This was largely an automatic procedure, and did not imply prior suspicion of misconduct.
The official was not allowed to leave the place where he exercised his authority, nor to assume another office, until the conclusion of this judicial inquiry. Generally, the person charged with directing the inquiry, called the juez de residencia (residence judge), was that individual already named to succeed to the position. The penalties for conviction varied, but generally consisted of fines.
The juicio de residencia took on great importance in the administration of the Indies, perhaps because of the great distances involved and the difficulty of direct supervision by the Crown. It extended from the viceroys and the presidents of the Audiencia to the alcaldes and the alguaciles (judicial officials, sometimes translated as sheriffs). With the entrance into force of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, the procedure no longer applied.
Originally, every viceroy had to pass his juicio de residencia before his successor could take office. But in the eighteenth century viceregal juicios were conducted after the outgoing viceroy had returned to Spain. During the lengthy process (up to six months), the degree of the viceroy's compliance with his instructions was analyzed, his job performance was reviewed, and many testimonies were collected from different parties.
Another formula the Crown used to control its officials, including the viceroy in his capacity as president of the Audiencia, was the visitador who collected visitas. The visitador was an inspector named at the pleasure of the king to investigate a particular administration. Like the juicio, this institution had the aim of discovering abuses committed by the authorities, and proposing necessary reforms.
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Latin America articles