restricted access 19. Imperial Systems
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CHAPTER 19 Imperial Systems Royal government in Spanish and Portuguese America expanded steadily after the era of the Conquest both territorially and in terms of its functions and powers. Newly occupied regions had to be provided with governors and magistrates , and in kingdoms and provinces settled earlier increasingly complex societies needed a larger governmental apparatus. The growth of royal absolutism in theory and fact led to the promulgation of more rigorous and detailed laws, and preoccupation with mercantilist doctrines produced a growing body of rules and regulations affecting production and commerce. The defense of trade and territory against mounting foreign threats required larger military and naval forces. The expansion of government was accompanied by shifts in its meaning and ends. In law and in theory it was still the king'sgovernment,but in the last part of the sixteenth century the more impersonal concept of the "state," which encompassed the entire body politic, gained a certain currency among political thinkers. And, although law and theory still declared the primary purpose of government to be the provision of justice and the safeguarding of the common good—in America as well as in the metropolis—in practice it became more and more the exploitation of the colonies for the benefit of metropolitan interests. New Territorial Jurisdictions in Spanish America: Civil and Ecclesiastical Territorial expansion in North America led to the creation of new superior provinces: the gobernaciones of New Vizcaya (1562), New Leon (1579), New 423 4 2 4 I M P E R I A L S Y S T E M S Mexico (1598), and Coahuila (1687). All of these came under the political and military command of the viceroy of New Spain. In matters of justice, New Vizcaya fell under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of New Galicia; the other three provinces, under the Audiencia of Mexico. Far across the Pacific, the Spanish crown established the Captaincy-General of Manila in 1583 to govern and defend the pacified islands of the Philippine group and attached it to the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In the Viceroyalty of Peru, the king suppressed the Audiencia of Chile in 1573 but then, in 1609, reestablished it with the status of a captaincy-general and relocated its seat in Santiago. Two thirds of a century later, in 1661, an audiencia was seated in Buenos Aires with jurisdiction over the province of the same name as well as over Paraguay and Tucuman. In matters of general government and defense it was dependent on Lima. The Platine provinces, however, were so poor and rustic that they could not support such a dignified tribunal in proper style. In 1671, therefore, it was disbanded, and its jurisdiction reverted to the Audiencia of Charcas. The foundation of new audiencias in the Indies, including the Philippines, raised the total number of these jurisdictions to eleven by the end of the seventeenth century. Their identities, type, and official dates of establishment are listed in table 9; their territorial dimensions are shown on map 6.1 Within American audiencias, both old and newly established, the crown marked out additional corregimientos, alcaldes mayores, and minor gobernaciones . By 1700 there were some 200 such provinces within the territories of the Viceroyalty of New Spain alone. New units of ecclesiastical administration were also created in the wake of pacification and settlement. In New Spain the diocese of Guadiana was established in 1623 with its seat in Durango and suffragan to the archbishopric of Mexico. In South America the list of new sees was longer: the archbishopric of Caracas (1638); the bishoprics of Trujillo (1577), Arequipa (1577), and Ayacucho (1609), allsuffragan to Lima; and the bishoprics of Cordoba (1570), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (1605), La Paz (1608), and Buenos Aires (1620), all suffragan to the archbishopric of Sucre. The establishment of these sees raised the total in the Spanish Indies to five archdioceses and thirty-one dioceses, not counting the Philippines, which had one archbishopric and three suffragan bishoprics. At lower levels of church government, parishes multiplied. Some were formed to serve new congregations of Spaniards and Indians, others by the secularization of the older indigenous congregations created by the missionary I M P E R I A L S Y S T E M S 4 2 5 Table 9 The Governmental Organization of Spanish America in About 1700 Viceroyalty of New Spain Audiencial Types Mexico (1528, 1530) Viceregal Santo Domingo (1511) Captaincy-General Guatemala (1542) Captaincy-General Manila (1583) Captaincy-General New Galicia...


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Subject Headings

  • America -- Discovery and exploration -- Spanish.
  • America -- Discovery and exploration -- Portuguese.
  • Latin America -- History -- To 1830.
  • Spain -- Colonies -- America -- History.
  • Portugal -- Colonies -- America -- History.
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