New Spain, or Viceroyalty of New Spain (Spanish: Virreinato de Nueva España), was the formal name of Spanish colonial Mexico until independence in 1821. The king of New Spain was also king of Spain, and his highest appointed minister was his viceroy.
New Spain is not to be confused with the Spanish imperial office of the Viceroy of New Spain. New Spain was a geographical territory, whereas “viceroyal” refers to the political position of a man.
As the highest-ranking officer of New Spain, the Viceroy was also the Spanish king's official representative to the northern half of the global Spanish empire. Thus, the Viceroy supervised a number of countries above South America, such as the country of the Philippines, which was halfway around the world on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Numerous countries, including New Spain proper, held the right of appeal to the viceregal authority.
The office of Viceroy was formally styled the "Viceroyalty of New Spain" (Spanish: Virreinato de Nueva España), which served the kingdom of the crown of Castile. The Kingdom of New Spain was formed in 1535, the foremost realm of the Spanish empire which comprised the territories in the north overseas 'Septentrion', from North America and the Caribbean, to the Philippines.
New Spain was established following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521. At its greatest extent, it included, on the mainland of the Americas, much of North America south of Canada, that is: all of present-day Mexico and Central America except Panama; most of the United States west of the Mississippi River, plus the Floridas.
To the west of the continent, New Spain also included the Spanish East Indies (the Philippine Islands, the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, parts of Taiwan, and parts of the Moluccas) To the east of the continent, it included the Spanish West Indies (Cuba, Hispaniola (comprising the modern states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Trinidad, and the Bay Islands).
On the mainland, the administrative units included Las Californias, that is, Alta California (present-day Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, and south Wyoming); and Baja California Norte and Sur, Nueva Extremadura (the present-day states of Coahuila and Texas), and Santa Fe de Nuevo México (parts of Texas and New Mexico). and Louisiana (including the western Mississippi river basin and the Missouri River basin).
The Spanish governed New Spain from Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan: the conquered capital of the Aztec Empire. It was ruled by a viceroy, governing the various territories on behalf of the King of Spain.
It was the first of four viceroyalties created to govern Spain's overseas colonies. The Viceroyalty of Peru was created soon after, following the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire in 1542. For nearly two centuries these were the sole viceroyalties, until in the 18th century the Viceroyalty of New Granada, and the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata were also created.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Foundation (1521–1535)
- 1.2 Exploration and colonization (1519–1643)
- 1.3 The last Spanish Habsburgs (1643–1713)
- 1.4 The Bourbon Reforms (1713–1806)
- 1.5 End of the Viceroyalty (1806–1821)
- 2 Politics
- 3 Economy
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Culture
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
|Part of a series on the|
|History of New Spain|
|Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire|
|Spanish conquest of Guatemala|
|Spanish conquest of Yucatán|
|History of the Philippines (1521–1898)|
|Piracy in the Caribbean|
|Spanish missions in the Americas|
|Queen Anne's War|
|Spanish American wars of independence|
|New Spain portal|
The creation of a New World viceroyalty, that is a territorial expanse governed by the highest official or viceroy in the name of the king of Spain was a result of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire (1519 to 1521). Ferdinand I had placed his Iberian kingdom of Aragon under a viceroy, after he and his wife Isabel of the Kingdom of Castile began to rule their kingdoms jointly as the Catholic Monarchs, with Castile was the more important monarchy.
The Caribbean islands and early Spanish explorations around the circum-Caribbean region had until 1521 not been of sufficient political, strategic, or financial importance until the conquest of the Aztec Empire. The indigenous societies of Mesoamerica brought under Spanish control were of unprecedented complexity and wealth, which presented both an incredible opportunity and a threat to the Crown of Castile. The societies could provide the conquistadors, especially Hernán Cortés, a base from which to become autonomous, or even independent, of the Crown. As a result the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V created the Council of the Indies in 1524. Since the time of the Catholic Monarchs, central Iberia was governed through councils appointed by the monarch with particular jurisdictions. Thus, the creation of the Council of the Indies became another -- but extremely important advisory body -- to the monarch.
A few years later the first mainland high court or Audiencia was created in 1527 to take over the administration of New Spain from Hernán Cortés. An earlier Audiencia had been established in Santo Domingo in 1526 to deal with the Caribbean settlements. The Audiencia, housed in the Casa Reales in Santo Domingo, was charged with encouraging further exploration and settlements under its own authority. Management by the Audiencia, which was expected to make executive decisions as a body, proved unwieldy. Therefore in 1535, King Charles V named Don Antonio de Mendoza as the first Viceroy of New Spain.
Exploration and colonization (1519–1643)
Upon his arrival, Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza vigorously took to the duties entrusted to him by the King and encouraged the exploration of Spain's new mainland territories. He commissioned the expeditions of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado into the present day American Southwest in 1540–1542. The Viceroy commissioned Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in the first Spanish exploration up the Pacific Ocean along the western coast of the Las Californias Province in 1542–1543. He sailed above present day Baja California (Vieja California), to what he called 'New California' (Nueva California), becoming the first European to see present day California, U.S. The Viceroy also sent Ruy López de Villalobos to the Spanish East Indies in 1542–1543. As these new territories became controlled, they were brought under the purview of the Viceroy of New Spain.
During the 16th century, many Spanish cities were established in North and Central America. Spain attempted to establish missions in what is now the Southern United States including Georgia and South Carolina between 1568 and 1587. These efforts were mainly successful in the region of present day Florida, where the city of St. Augustine was founded in 1565, the oldest European city in the United States.
Seeking to develop trade between the East Indies and the Americas across the Pacific Ocean, Miguel López de Legazpi established the first Spanish settlement in the Philippine Islands in 1565, which became the town of San Miguel (present-day Cebu City). Andrés de Urdaneta discovered an efficient sailing route from the Philippine Islands to Mexico which took advantage of the Kuroshio Current. In 1571, the city of Manila became the capital of the Spanish East Indies, with trade soon beginning via the Manila-Acapulco Galleons. The Manila-Acapulco trade route shipped products such as silk, spices, silver, porcelain and gold to the Americas from Asia.
Products brought from East Asia were sent to Acapulco then overland to Veracruz México, and then shipped to Spain aboard the West Indies Fleets. Later they were traded across Europe. Some isolated attacks on these shipments took place in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea by British and Dutch pirates and privateers. One such act of piracy was led by Francis Drake in 1586, and another by Thomas Cavendish in 1587. In one episode, the cities of Huatulco (Oaxaca) and Barra de Navidad in Jalisco Province of México were sacked. However, these maritime routes, both across the Pacific and the Atlantic were successful in the defensive and logistical role they played in the history of the Spanish Empire. For over three centuries the Spanish Navy escorted the galleon convoys which sailed around the world.
Lope Díez de Armendáriz was the first Viceroy of New Spain that was born in the 'New World' (Nueva España). He formed the 'Navy of Barlovento' (Armada de Barlovento), based in Veracruz, to patrol coastal regions and protect the harbors, port towns, and trade ships from pirates and privateers.
The viceroy Don Luis de Velasco, marqués de Salinas gained control over many of the semi-nomadic Chichimeca indigenous tribes of northern México in 1591 for a while. This allowed expansion into the 'Province of New Mexico' or Provincia de Nuevo México. In 1598, Juan de Oñate pioneered 'The Royal Road of the Interior Land' or El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro between Mexico City and the 12CE Tewa village of 'Ohkay Owingeh' or San Juan Pueblo. He also founded the settlement (a Spanish pueblo) of San Juan on the Rio Grande near the Native American Pueblo, located in the present day U.S. state of New Mexico. In 1610, Pedro de Peralta, a later governor of the Province of New Mexico, established the settlement of Santa Fe in the region of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the Rio Grande. Missions were established for conversions and agricultural industry. The territory's Puebloan peoples resented the Spaniards denigration and prohibition of their traditional religion, and their encomienda system's forced labor. The Pueblo Revolt ensued in 1680, with final resolution including some freedom from Spanish efforts to eradicate their culture and religion, the issuing of substantial communal land grants to each Pueblo, and a public defender of their rights and for their legal cases in Spanish courts. In 1776 the Province came under the new Provincias Internas jurisdiction. In the late 18th century the Spanish land grant encouraged the settlement by individuals of large land parcels outside Mission and Pueblo boundaries, many of which became ranchos.
In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno, the first Spanish presence in the 'New California' or Nueva California region of the frontier Las Californias Province since Cabrillo in 1542, sailed as far upcoast north as Monterey Bay. The Catholic order of Jesuits, who had established missions in the Baja (lower) California region of Las Californias. In 1767 King Charles III ordered all Jesuits expelled from all Spanish possessions, including New Spain. New Spain's Visitador General José de Gálvez replaced them with the Dominican Order in Baja California, and the Franciscans to establish the new northern missions. In 1768, Visitador General José de Gálvez received the following orders: "Occupy and fortify San Diego and Monterey for God and the King of Spain." The Spanish colonization there, with far fewer recognized natural resources and less cultural development than Mexico or Peru, was to combine establishing a presence for defense of the territory with a perceived responsibility to convert the indigenous people to Christianity. The method was the traditional Catholic missions aimed at the local Indians (misiones), forts (presidios), civilian Spanish towns (pueblos), and land grant ranches (ranchos) model, but more simplified due to the region's great distance from supplies and support in México.
Between 1769 and 1833 twenty one Spanish missions in California were established. In 1776 the Province came under the administration of the new 'Commandancy General of the Internal Provinces of the North' (Provincias Internas) to invigorate growth. The crown created two new governments in Las Californias, the southern peninsular one called Baja California, and the northern mainland one called Alta California in 1804. The issuing of Spanish land grants in California encouraged settlement and establishment of large California ranchos. Some Californio rancho grantees emulated the Dons of Spain, with cattle and sheep marking wealth. The work was usually done by displaced and relocated Native Americans. After the Mexican War of Independence and subsequent secularization ("disestablishment") of mission lands, Mexican land grant transactions increased the spread of ranchos. The land grants and ranchos established land-use patterns that are recognizable in present day California and New Mexico.
Philippines and associated Spanish Pacific possessions.
In the colonial era of 1521, the navigator Ferdinand Magellan in the service of Spain reached the Philippine archipelago and took legal possession of the islands under the Spanish throne, but without leaving a single soldier or Spanish either on the islands that was worth the colonization of Spain. Although it was known that the Indians were very docile and also wanted to take the power of Portugal in the East Indies, Hernán Cortés sent three ships bound for Asia, which sailed from Zihuatanejo in 1527. On the road, two of them were wrecked and the third came, but did not return for not finding the stream return. Then in 1541, López de Villalobos was sent by the Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza to lead an expedition to the East Indies in search of new trade routes. His expedition departed from Puerto de Navidad in 1542 aboard four ships.
In 1543 the fleet hit the southern coast of the island of Luzon (Philippines), which explored the coast and made contact with the natives of the archipelago. From there they set further east to reach the island of Leyte and was named "Philippines" in honor of King Philip II. Because of hunger and a ship that was ruined by a boating accident, the expedition was a disaster and had to go to seek refuge in the Moluccas, Portuguese rule, and after some skirmishes were taken prisoners. Villalobos died in prison in 1544 on the island of Amboina. The rest of the crew managed to escape and return to New Spain, where told the stories to Viceroy, and so was considered part of New Spain the Captaincy General of the Philippines.
The attempt at colonization of the Philippines did not end there. The Viceroy Luis de Velasco commissioned Miguel López de Legazpi put to sea on a new expedition. He sailed from Puerto de Navidad, New Galicia (now Jalisco) on 21 November 1564 and in the voyage won Guam, Saavedra Islands (Marshall Islands) and the Mariana Islands (climbing there), and landed Samar on 27 April 1565. Also expanded the Spanish rule to multiple locations on the island of Taiwan, the Moluccas (fortress of Tidore) and North Borneo (now Sabah area). Cleverly, López de Legazpi avoided harassing the inhabitants of the islands, and found no resistance to explore. Because of the scarcity of products, Legazpi was forced to move from island to island and expanded the domains there. The move was easy, because in the islands, as in Mexico, the clans were rivaled, and Legazpi established bonds of friendship that easily allowed to move from island to island, up to the time the first Spanish settlements: the town of the Villa del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús and Villa de San Miguel (now Cebu City).
The conquest of the Philippines, named in honor of King Philip II, by Miguel López de Legazpi in 1565 made it possible for first time to visit New Spanish lands the Philippines Galleon. Over time, this route would be the main link that would join Spain's possessions in America with its strongholds in Asia. In that year, Philip II ruled, in England Elizabeth I ruled, were met eighteen years of death of the principal Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, and the Jesuit Hernando Menéndez de Avilés founded the first missions in St. Augustine, Florida. One of the main places where were stored the goods brought from Eastern was New Orleans, in the coast of Gulf of Mexico and was won by Andrew Jackson in 1815, coinciding with the rebellion for independence in New Spain. The routes were established for more than two centuries. However, the ways of the Orient to Acapulco, where they used to unload the goods, were full of risks, disease and pirate attacks in Australia. The products handled were silk, spices, and gold. The route was the way to link the internal trade of the overseas possessions of Spain, but also were transmitted liberal ideas to the American colonies, as in the Philippines had more freedom of expression. The last galleon reached Mexico in 1813, just days before making port at the hands of José María Morelos.
The last Spanish Habsburgs (1643–1713)
The Presidios (forts), pueblos (civilian towns) and the misiones (missions) were the three major agencies employed by the Spanish crown to extend its borders and consolidate its colonial holdings in these territories.
The town of Albuquerque (present day Albuquerque, New Mexico) was founded in 1706. The Mexican towns of: Paso del Norte (present day Ciudad Juárez) founded in 1667; Santiago de la Monclova in 1689; Panzacola, Tejas in 1681; and San Francisco de Cuéllar (present day city of Chihuahua) in 1709. From 1687, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, with the marqués de Villapuente's economic help, founded over twenty missions in the Sonoran Desert (in present day Mexican state Sonora and U.S. state Arizona). From 1697, Jesuits established eighteen missions throughout the Baja California Peninsula. In 1668 Padre San Vitores established the first mission in the Mariana Islands (now Guam). Between 1687 and 1700 several Missions were founded in Trinidad, but only four survived as Amerindian villages throughout the 18th century. In 1691, explorers and missionaries visited the interior of Texas and came upon a river and Amerindian settlement on June 13, the feast day of St. Anthony, and named the location and river San Antonio in his honor.
Immersed in a low intensity war with Great Britain (mostly over the Spanish ports and trade routes harassed by British pirates), the defenses of Veracruz and San Juan de Ulúa, Jamaica, Cuba and Florida were strengthened. Santiago de Cuba (1662), St. Augustine Spanish Florida (1665) or Campeche 1678 were sacked by the British. The Tarahumara Indians were in revolt in the mountains of Chihuahua for several years. In 1670 Chichimecas invaded Durango, and the governor, Francisco González, abandoned its defense. In 1680, 25,000 previously subjugated Indians in 24 pueblos of New Mexico rose against the Spanish and killed all the Europeans they encountered. In 1685, after a revolt of the Chamorros, the Marianas islands were incorporated to the Captaincy General of the Philippines. In 1695, this time with the British help, the viceroy Gaspar de la Cerda attacked the French who had established a base on the island of Española.
Early in the Queen Anne's War, in 1702, the English captured and burned the Spanish town St. Augustine, Florida. However, the English were unable to take the main fortress (presidio) of St. Augustine, resulting in the campaign being condemned by the English as a failure. The Spanish maintained St. Augustine and Pensacola for more than a century after the war, but their mission system in Florida was destroyed and the Apalachee tribe was decimated in what became known as the Apalachee Massacre of 1704. Also in 1704 the viceroy Francisco Fernández de la Cueva suppressed a rebellion of the Pima Indians in Nueva Vizcaya.
Diego Osorio de Escobar y Llamas reformed the postal service and the marketing of mercury. In 1701 under the Duke of Alburquerque the 'Court of the Agreement' (Tribunal de la Acordada), an organization of volunteers, similar to the 'Holy Brotherhood' (Hermandad), intended to capture and quickly try bandits, was founded. The church of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron of Mexico, was finished in 1701.
The Bourbon Reforms (1713–1806)
The new Bourbon kings did not split the Viceroyalty of New Spain into smaller administrative units as they did with the Viceroyalty of Peru. The first innovation, in 1776, was by José de Gálvez, the new Minister of the Indies (1775–1787), establishing the Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas known as the Provincias Internas (Commandancy General of the Internal Provinces of the North, (Spanish: Comandancia y Capitanía General de las Provincias Internas). He appointed Teodoro de Croix (nephew of the former viceroy) as the first Commander General of the Provinicas Internas, independent of the Viceroy of New Spain, to provide more autonomy for the frontier provinces. They included Nueva Vizcaya, Nuevo Santander, Sonora y Sinaloa, Las Californias, Coahuila y Tejas (Coahuila and Texas), and Nuevo México.
The prime innovation introduction of intendancies, an institution borrowed from France. They were first introduced on a large scale in New Spain, by the Minister of the Indies José de Gálvez, in the 1770s, who originally envisioned that they would replace the viceregal system (viceroyalty) altogether. With broad powers over tax collection and the public treasury and with a mandate to help foster economic growth over their districts, intendants encroached on the traditional powers of viceroys, governors and local officials, such as the corregidores, which were phased out as intendancies were established. The Crown saw the intendants as a check on these other officers. Over time accommodations were made. For example, after a period of experimentation in which an independent intendant was assigned to Mexico City, the office was thereafter given to the same person who simultaneously held the post of viceroy. Nevertheless, the creation of scores of autonomous intendancies throughout the Viceroyalty, created a great deal of decentralization, and in the Captaincy General of Guatemala, in particular, the intendancy laid the groundwork for the future independent nations of the 19th century.
In 1780, Minister of the Indies José de Gálvez sent a royal dispatch to Teodoro de Croix, Commandant General of the Internal Provinces of New Spain (Provincias Internas), asking all subjects to donate money to help the American Revolution. Millions of pesos were given.
The focus on the economy (and the revenues it provided to the royal coffers) was also extended to society at large. Economic associations were promoted, such as the Economic Society of Friends of the Country Governor-General José Basco y Vargas established in the Philippines in 1781. Similar "Friends of the Country" economic societies were established throughout the Spanish world, including Cuba and Guatemala.
A secondary feature of the Bourbon Reforms was that it was an attempt to end the significant amount of local control that had crept into the bureaucracy under the Habsburgs, especially through the sale of offices. The Bourbons sought a return to the monarchical ideal of having outsiders, who in theory should be disinterested, staff the higher echelons of regional government. In practice this meant that there was a concerted effort to appoint mostly peninsulares, usually military men with long records of service (as opposed to the Habsburg preference for prelates), who were willing to move around the global empire. The intendancies were one new office that could be staffed with peninsulares, but throughout the 18th century significant gains were made in the numbers of governors-captain generals, audiencia judges and bishops, in addition to other posts, who were Spanish-born.
18th century military conflicts
The first century that saw the Bourbons on the Spanish throne coincided with series of global conflicts that pitted primarily France against Great Britain. Spain as an ally of Bourbon France was drawn into these conflicts. In fact part of the motivation for the Bourbon Reforms was the perceived need to prepare the empire administratively, economically and militarily for what was the next expected war. The Seven Years' War proved to be catalyst for most of the reforms in the overseas possessions, just like the War of the Spanish Succession had been for the reforms on the Peninsula.
In 1720, the Villasur expedition from Santa Fe met and attempted to parley with French- allied Pawnee in what is now Nebraska. Negotiations were unsuccessful, and a battle ensued; the Spanish were badly defeated, with only thirteen managing to return to New Mexico. Although this was a small engagement, it is significant in that it was the deepest penetration of the Spanish into the Great Plains, establishing the limit to Spanish expansion and influence there.
The War of Jenkins' Ear broke out in 1739 between the Spanish and British and was confined to the Caribbean and Georgia. The major action in the War of Jenkins' Ear was a major amphibious attack launched by the British under Admiral Edward Vernon in March, 1741 against Cartagena de Indias, one of Spain's major gold-trading ports in the Caribbean (today Colombia). Although this episode is largely forgotten, it ended in a decisive victory for Spain, who managed to prolong its control of the Caribbean and indeed secure the Spanish Main until the 19th century.
Following the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War, the British troops invaded and captured the Spanish cities of Havana in Cuba and Manila in the Philippines in 1762. The Treaty of Paris (1763) gave Spain control over the Louisiana part of New France including New Orleans, creating a Spanish empire that stretched from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean; but Spain also ceded Florida to Great Britain to regain Cuba, which the British occupied during the war. Louisiana settlers, hoping to restore the territory to France, in the bloodless Rebellion of 1768 forced the Louisiana Governor Antonio de Ulloa to flee to Spain. The rebellion was crushed in 1769 by the next governor Alejandro O'Reilly who executed five of the conspirators. The Louisiana territory was to be administered by superiors in Cuba with a governor onsite in New Orleans.
The 21 northern missions in present-day California (U.S.) were established along California's El Camino Real from 1769. In an effort to exclude Britain and Russia from the eastern Pacific, King Charles III of Spain sent forth from Mexico a number of expeditions to the Pacific Northwest between 1774 and 1793. Spain's long-held claims and navigation rights were strengthened and a settlement and fort were built in Nootka Sound, Alaska.
Spain entered the American Revolutionary War as an ally of France in June 1779, a renewal of the Bourbon Family Compact. In 1781, a Spanish expedition during the American Revolutionary War left St. Louis, Missouri (then under Spanish control) and reached as far as Fort St. Joseph at Niles, Michigan where they captured the fort while the British were away. On 8 May 1782, Count Bernardo de Gálvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, captured the British naval base at New Providence in the Bahamas. On the Gulf Coast, the actions of Gálvez led to Spain acquiring East and West Florida in the peace settlement, as well as controlling the mouth of the Mississippi River after the war—which would prove to be a major source of tension between Spain and the United States in the years to come.
In the second Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolution, Britain ceded West Florida back to Spain to regain The Bahamas, which Spain had occupied during the war. Spain then had control over the river south of 32°30' north latitude, and, in what is known as the Spanish Conspiracy, hoped to gain greater control of Louisiana and all of the west. These hopes ended when Spain was pressured into signing Pinckney's Treaty in 1795. France reacquired 'Louisiana' from Spain in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800. The United States bought the territory from France in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
New Spain claimed the entire west coast of North America and therefore considered the Russian fur trading activity in Alaska, which began in the middle to late 18th century, an encroachment and threat. Likewise, the exploration of the northwest coast by James Cook of the British Navy and the subsequent fur trading activities by British ships was considered an invasion of Spanish territory. To protect and strengthen its claim, New Spain sent a number of expeditions to the Pacific Northwest between 1774 and 1793. In 1789 a naval outpost called Santa Cruz de Nuca (or just Nuca) was established at Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound (now Yuquot), Vancouver Island. It was protected by an artillery land battery called Fort San Miguel. Santa Cruz de Nuca was the northernmost establishment of New Spain. It was the first colony in British Columbia and the only Spanish settlement in what is now Canada. Santa Cruz de Nuca remained under the control of New Spain until 1795, when it was abandoned under the terms of the third Nootka Convention. Another outpost, intended to replace Santa Cruz de Nuca, was partially built at Neah Bay on the southern side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca in what is now the U.S. state of Washington. Neah Bay was known as Bahía de Núñez Gaona in New Spain, and the outpost there was referred to as "Fuca". It was abandoned, partially finished, in 1792. Its personnel, livestock, cannons, and ammunition were transferred to Nuca.
In 1789, at Santa Cruz de Nuca, a conflict occurred between the Spanish naval officer Esteban José Martínez and the British merchant James Colnett, triggering the Nootka Crisis, which grew into an international incident and the threat of war between Britain and Spain. The first Nootka Convention averted the war but left many specific issues unresolved. Both sides sought to define a northern boundary for New Spain. At Nootka Sound, the diplomatic representative of New Spain, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, proposed a boundary at the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the British representative, George Vancouver refused to accept any boundary north of San Francisco. No agreement could be reached and the northern boundary of New Spain remained unspecified until the Adams–Onís Treaty with the United States (1819). That treaty also ceded Spanish Florida to the United States.
End of the Viceroyalty (1806–1821)
The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso ceded to France the vast territory that Napoleon then sold to the United States, known as the Louisiana Purchase (1803). Spanish Florida followed in 1819. In the 1821 Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, both Mexico and Central America declared their independence after three centuries of Spanish rule and formed the First Mexican Empire, although Central America quickly rejected the union. After priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's 1810 Grito de Dolores (call for independence), the insurgent army began an eleven-year war. At first, the Criollo class fought against the rebels. But in 1820, coinciding with the approval of the Spanish Constitution, which took privileges away from the Criollos, they switched sides. This led to Mexican triumph in 1821. The new Mexican Empire offered the crown to Ferdinand VII or to a member of the Spanish royal family that he would designate. After the refusal of the Spanish monarchy to recognize the independence of Mexico, the ejército Trigarante (Army of the Three Guarantees), led by Agustin de Iturbide and Vincente Guerrero, cut all political and economic ties with Spain and crowned Agustin I as emperor of Mexico. Central America was originally planned to be part of the Mexican Empire, but seceded peacefully in 1823, forming the United Provinces of Central America.
|History of Mexico|
Part of a series on the
|History of the Philippines|
|Classical Period (900–1521)|
|Spanish Period (1521–1898)|
|American Period (1898–1946)|
The Viceroyalty of New Spain united many regions and provinces of the Spanish Empire throughout half a world. These included on the North American mainland, central Mexico, Nueva Extremadura, Nueva Galicia, the Californias, Nueva Vizcaya, Nuevo Reyno de León, Texas and Nuevo Santander, as well as the Captaincy General of Guatemala. In the Caribbean it included Cuba, Santo Domingo, most of the Venezuelan mainland and the other islands in the Caribbean controlled by the Spanish. In Asia, the Viceroyalty ruled the Captaincy General of the Philippines, which covered all of the Spanish territories in the Asia-Pacific region. The outpost at Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island, was considered part of the province of California.
Therefore, the Viceroyalty's former territories included what is now the present day countries of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Costa Rica; the United States regions of California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Puerto Rico, Guam, Mariana Islands, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Florida; a portion of the Canadian province of British Columbia; the Caribbean nations of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the island of Hispaniola, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda; the Asia-Pacific nations of the Philippine Islands, Palau and Caroline Islands.
The Viceroyalty was administered by a viceroy residing in Mexico City and appointed by the Spanish monarch, who had administrative oversight of all of these regions, although most matters were handled by the local governmental bodies, which ruled the various regions of the viceroyalty. First among these were the audiencias, which were primarily superior tribunals, but which also had administrative and legislative functions. Each of these was responsible to the Viceroy of New Spain in administrative matters (though not in judicial ones), but they also answered directly to the Council of the Indies. Audiencia districts further incorporated the older, smaller divisions known as governorates (gobernaciones, roughly equivalent to provinces), which had been originally established by conquistador-governors known as adelantados. Provinces, which were under military threat, were grouped into captaincies general, such as the Captaincies General of the Philippines (established 1574) and Guatemala (established in 1609) mentioned above, which were joint military and political commands with a certain level of autonomy. (The viceroy was captain-general of those provinces that remained directly under his command).
At the local level there were over two hundred districts, in both Indian and Spanish areas, which were headed by either a corregidor (also known as an alcalde mayor) or a cabildo (town council), both of which had judicial and administrative powers. In the late 18th century the Bourbon dynasty began phasing out the corregidores and introduced intendants, whose broad fiscal powers cut into the authority of the viceroys, governors and cabildos. Despite their late creation, these intendancies had such an impact in the formation of regional identity that they became the basis for the nations of Central America and the first Mexican states after independence.
With dates of creation:
Autonomous Captaincies General
With dates of creation:
7. Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas (1776) (Analogous to a dependent captaincy general.)
|Year of Creation||Intendancy|
|Puerto Príncipe (separated from the Intendancy of Havana)|
|Santiago de Cuba (separated from the Intendency of Havana)|
|San Luis Potosí|
In order to pay off the debts incurred by the conquistadors and their companies, the new Spanish governors awarded their men grants of native tribute and labor, known as encomiendas. In New Spain these grants were modeled after the tribute and corvee labor that the Mexica rulers had demanded from native communities. This system came to signify the oppression and exploitation of natives, although its originators may not have set out with such intent. In short order the upper echelons of patrons and priests in the society lived off the work of the lower classes. Due to some horrifying instances of abuse against the indigenous peoples, Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas suggested bringing black slaves to replace them. Fray Bartolomé later repented when he saw the even worse treatment given to the black slaves. The other discovery that perpetuated this system was extensive silver mines discovered at Potosi and other places that were worked for hundreds of years by forced native labor and contributed most of the wealth flowing to Spain. The Viceroyalty of New Spain was the principal source of income for Spain among the Spanish colonies, with important mining centers like Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí and Hidalgo. Cacao and indigo were also important exports for the New Spain, but was used through rather the vice royalties rather than contact with European countries due to piracy, and smuggling. The indigo industry in particular also helped to temporarily unite communities throughout the Kingdom of Guatemala due to the smuggling.
There were several major ports in New Spain. There were the ports of Veracruz the viceroyalty's principal port on the Atlantic, Acapulco on the Pacific, and Manila near the South China Sea. The ports were fundamental for overseas trade, stretching a trade route from Asia, through the Manila Galleon to the Spanish mainland.
These were ships that made voyages from the Philippines to Mexico, whose goods were then transported overland from Acapulco to Veracruz and later reshipped from Veracruz to Cádiz in Spain. So then, the ships that set sail from Veracruz were generally loaded with merchandise from the East Indies originating from the commercial centers of the Philippines, plus the precious metals and natural resources of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. During the 16th century, Spain held the equivalent of US$1.5 trillion (1990 terms) in gold and silver received from New Spain.
However, these resources did not translate into development for the Metropolis (mother country) due to Spanish Roman Catholic Monarchy's frequent preoccupation with European wars (enormous amounts of this wealth were spent hiring mercenaries to fight the Protestant Reformation), as well as the incessant decrease in overseas transportation caused by assaults from companies of British buccaneers, Dutch corsairs and pirates of various origin. These companies were initially financed by, at first, by the Amsterdam stock market, the first in history and whose origin is owed precisely to the need for funds to finance pirate expeditions, as later by the London market. The above is what some authors call the "historical process of the transfer of wealth from the south to the north."
The role of epidemics
Spanish settlers brought to the American continent smallpox, typhoid fever, and other diseases. Most of the Spanish settlers had developed an immunity to these diseases from childhood, but the indigenous peoples lacked the needed antibodies since these diseases were totally alien to the native population at the time. There were at least three, separate, major epidemics that decimated the population: smallpox (1520 to 1521), measles (1545 to 1548) and typhus (1576 to 1581). In the course of the 16th century, the native population in Mexico went from an estimated pre-Columbian population of 8 to 20 million to less than two million. Therefore, at the start of the 17th century, continental New Spain was a depopulated country with abandoned cities and maize fields. These diseases would not have a similar impact in the Philippines because they were already present there.
The role of interracial mixing
Following the Spanish conquests, new ethnic groups were created, primary among them the Mestizo. The Mestizo population emerged as a result of the Spanish colonizers having children with indigenous women, both within and outside of wedlock, which brought about the mixing of both cultures. Many of the Spanish colonists were men with no wives and took partners from the indigenous population.
Initially, if a child was born in wedlock, the child was considered, and raised as, a member of the prominent parent's ethnicity. (See Hyperdescent and Hypodescent.) Because of this, the term "Mestizo" was associated with illegitimacy. Mestizos do not appear in large numbers in official censuses until the second half of the 17th century, when a sizable and stable community of mixed-race people with no claims to being either Indian or Spanish appeared, although, of course, a large population of biological Mestizos had already existed for over a century in Mexico.
The Spanish conquest also brought the migration of people of African descent to the many regions of the Viceroyalty. Some came as free blacks, but vast majority came because of the introduction of African slavery. As the native population was decimated by epidemics and forced labor, black slaves were imported. Mixes with Europeans and indigenous peoples also occurred, resulting in the creation of new racial categories such as Mulattos and Zambos to account for these offspring. As with the term Mestizo, these other terms were associated with illegitimacy, since a majority—though not all—of these people were born outside of wedlock.
Eventually a caste system was created to describe the various mixes and to assign them a different social level. In theory, each different mix had a name and different sets of privileges or prohibitions. In reality, mixed-race people were able to negotiate various racial and ethnic identities (often several ones at different points in their lives) depending on the family ties and wealth they had. In its general outline, the system reflected reality. The upper echelons of government were staffed by Spaniards born in Spain (peninsulares), the middle and lower levels of government and other higher paying jobs were held by Criollos (Criollos were "Spaniards" born in the Americas, or—as permitted by the casta system—"Spaniards" with some Amerindian or even other ancestry.) The best lands were owned by Peninsulares and Criollos, with Native communities for the most part relegated to marginal lands. Mestizos and Mulattos held artisanal positions and unskilled laborers were either more mixed people, such as Zambos, recently freed slaves or Natives who had left their communities and settled in areas with large Hispanic populations. Native populations tended to have their own legally recognized communities (the repúblicas de indios) with their own social and economic hierarchies. This rough sketch must be complicated by the fact that not only did exceptions exist, but also that all these "racial" categories represented social conventions, as demonstrated by the fact that many persons were assigned a caste based on hyperdescent or hypodescent.
Even if mixes were common, the white population tried to keep their higher status, and were largely successful in doing so. With Mexican and Central American independence, the caste system and slavery were theoretically abolished. However, it can be argued that the Criollos simply replaced the Peninsulares in terms of power. Thus, for example, in modern Mexico, while Mestizos no longer have a separate legal status from other groups, they comprise approximately 65% of the population. White people, who also no longer have a special legal status, are thought to be about 9–18% of the population,. In modern Mexico, "Mestizo" has become more a cultural term, since Indigenous people who abandon their traditional ways are considered Mestizos. Also, most Afro-Mexicans prefer to be considered Mestizo, since they identify closely with this group. (See also, Demographics of Mexico.)
The population of New Spain in 1810
Population estimates from the first decade of the 19th century varied between 6,122,354 as calculated by Francisco Navarro y Noriega in 1810, to 6.5 million as figured by Alexander von Humboldt in 1808. Navarro y Noriega figured that half of his estimate constituted indigenous peoples. More recent data suggests that the actual population of New Spain in 1810 was closer to 5 or 5.5 million individuals.
Because the Roman Catholic Church had played such an important role in the Reconquista (Christian reconquest) of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors, the Church in essence became another arm of the Spanish government. The Spanish Crown granted it a large role in the administration of the state, and this practice became even more pronounced in the New World, where prelates often assumed the role of government officials. In addition to the Church's explicit political role, the Catholic faith became a central part of Spanish identity after the conquest of last Muslim kingdom in the peninsula, the Emirate of Granada, and the expulsion of all Jews who did not convert to Christianity.
The conquistadors brought with them many missionaries to promulgate the Catholic religion. Amerindians were taught the Roman Catholic religion and the language of Spain. Initially, the missionaries hoped to create a large body of Amerindian priests, but this did not come to be. Moreover, efforts were made to keep the Amerindian cultural aspects which did not violate the Catholic traditions. As an example, most Spanish priests committed themselves to learn the most important Amerindian languages (especially during the 16th century) and wrote grammars so that the missionaries could learn the languages and preach in them. This was similarly practiced by the French colonists.
At first, conversion seemed to be happening rapidly. The missionaries soon found that most of the natives had simply adopted "the god of the heavens", as they called the Christian god, as just another one of their many gods. While they often held the Christian god to be an important deity because it was the god of the victorious conquerors, they did not see the need to abandon their old beliefs. As a result, a second wave of missionaries began an effort to completely erase the old beliefs, which they associated with the ritualized human sacrifice found in many of the native religions, eventually putting an end to this practice common before the arrival of the Spaniards. In the process many artifacts of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture were destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of native codices were burned, native priests and teachers were persecuted, and the temples and statues of the old gods were torn down. Even some foods associated with the native religions, like amaranth, were forbidden.
Many clerics, such as Bartolomé de las Casas, also tried to protect the natives from de facto and actual enslavement to the settlers, and obtained from the Crown decrees and promises to protect native Mesoamericans, most notably the New Laws. Unfortunately, the royal government was too far to fully enforce them, and many abuses against the natives, even among the clergy, continued. Eventually, the Crown declared the natives to be legal minors and placed under the guardianship of the Crown, which was responsible for their indoctrination. It was this status that barred the native population from the priesthood. During the following centuries, under Spanish rule, a new culture developed that combined the customs and traditions of the indigenous peoples with that of Catholic Spain. Numerous churches and other buildings were constructed by native labor in the Spanish style, and cities were named after various saints or religious topics such as San Luis Potosí (after Saint Louis) and Vera Cruz (the True Cross).
The Spanish Inquisition, and its New Spanish counterpart, the Mexican Inquisition, continued to operate in the viceroyalty until Mexico declared its independence. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Inquisition worked with the viceregal government to block the diffusion of liberal ideas during the Enlightenment and the revolutionary republican and democratic ideas of the United States War of Independence and the French Revolution.
The Viceroyalty of New Spain was one of the principal centers of European cultural expansion in the Americas. The viceroyalty was the basis for a racial and cultural mosaic of the Spanish American colonial period.
The first printing press in the New World was brought to Mexico in 1539, by printer Juan Pablos (Giovanni Paoli). The first book printed in Mexico was entitled La escala espiritual de San Juan Clímaco. In 1568, Bernal Díaz del Castillo finished La Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España. Figures such as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Juan Ruiz de Alarcón stand out as some of the viceroyalty's most notable contributors to Spanish Literature. In 1693, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora published El Mercurio Volante, the first newspaper in New Spain.
Architects Pedro Martínez Vázquez and Lorenzo Rodriguez produced some fantastically extravagant and visually frenetic architecture known as Mexican Churrigueresque in the capital, Ocotlan, Puebla or remote silver-mining towns. Composers including Manuel de Zumaya, Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, and Antonio de Salazar were active from the early 1500s through the Baroque period of music.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to History of New Spain.|
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- Cañeque, Alejandro. "The Political and Institutional History of Colonial Spanish America" History Compass (April 2013) 114 pp 280–291, DOI: 10.1111/hic3.12043
- Collier, Simon. From Cortes to Castro: An Introduction to the History of Latin America, 1492–1973 (1974)
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