Relaciones geográficas

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Relaciones geográficas were a series of elaborate questionnaires distributed to the lands of King Philip II of Spain in the Viceroyalty of New Spain in North America. They were done so, upon his command, from 1579—1585.[1] This was a direct response to the reforms imposed by the Ordenanzas, ordnances, of 1573.[2]

Format[edit]

These questionnaires had upward of fifty questions that requested information on various aspects of the Spanish colonial life in each region or major town, in order to govern it more effectively. Thus, these questionnaires had more of an administrative and functional purpose as opposed to intellectual gain. These questionnaires are often times considered the first statistical study of the New World, since they attempted to chart the lands, peoples, and trade routes.[3] The value of these questionnaires continues to grow over time due to these surveys being first-person information.[4]

Purpose[edit]

These extensive questionnaires have provided incredibly rich information with regard to 16th century ethnic groups in Mesoamerica. These questionnaires included questions regarding politics, taxes paid, the natural environment and resources, population history, settlement patterns, the language, markets and trade, native history and customs, maps, and the progress of the “missionization” program.[5] These maps were created by indigenous people, sailors, local officials, and other individuals in New Spain.[6] Some of these maps that were requested were often commissioned by artists and have now been linked to the Casta paintings[7] of the period.

Result[edit]

These surveys were reported back to Spain’s King Phillip II and allowed the Spanish monarchy to have better control over the people and the politics in New Spain. However, not all major cities and regions are accounted for because not all local officials returned the questionnaire or perhaps their response did not survive. Along with this, since all people were allowed to send in a map it showed the bias of each social class and represented common issues of the time.[8] Nevertheless, this scientific process of data collection and statistics essentially built a bridge between two continents.

Today, many of the manuscript versions of these questionnaires are found in four different locations: The General Archive of the Indies in Seville, the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid, the Benson Library at the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Glasgow Library.[9]


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Howard F. Cline, "The Relaciones Geográficas of the Spanish Indies, 1577-1586." Hispanic American Historical Review 44, (1964) 341-374.
  • Howard F. Cline, "A Census of the Relaciones Geográficas, 1579-1612." Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 12: 324-69. Austin: University of Texas Press 1972.
  • Howard F. Cline, "The Relaciónes Geográficas of the Spanish Indies, 1577-1648." Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 12: 183-242. Austin: University of Texas Press 1972.
  • Howard F. Cline, "The Relaciones Geográficas of Spain, New Spain, and the Spanish Indies: An Annotated Bibliography." Handbook of Middle American Indians vol. 12, 370-95. Austin: University of Texas Press 1972.
  • Barbara E. Mundy, The Mapping of New Spain: Indigenous Cartography and the Maps of the Relaciones Geográficas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1996.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cline, Howard (August 1964). The Hispanic American Historical Review. pp. 341–374. 
  2. ^ Diaz, Lily. "Introduction to the Relaciones Geográficas De Indias". Retrieved 29 Sep 2013. 
  3. ^ Harris, W (2003). Mesoamerican Cultures: Relaciones Geográficas. The Oxford Encyclopaedia, Or, Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and General Literature: Bristol: Thoemmes. 
  4. ^ Diaz, Lily. "Introduction to the Relaciones Geográficas De Indias". Retrieved 29 Sep 2013. 
  5. ^ "Pre-Columbian Civilizations". Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  6. ^ Mundy, Barbara (1996). The Mapping of New Spain: Indigenous Cartography and the Maps of the Relaciones Geográficas. Chicago: Chicago University. pp. xviii–30. 
  7. ^ Katzew, Ilona (2004). . Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-century Mexico. New Haven: Yale UP. p. 8. 
  8. ^ Mundy, Barbara (1996). The Mapping of New Spain: Indigenous Cartography and the Maps of the Relaciones Geográficas. Chicago: Chicago University. pp. xviii–30. 
  9. ^ Harris, W (2003). Mesoamerican Cultures: Relaciones Geográficas. The Oxford Encyclopaedia, Or, Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and General Literature: Bristol: Thoemmes.