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The Bourbon Reforms (Spanish : Reformas Borbónicas) consisted of political legislation promulgated by the Spanish Crown under various kings of the House of Bourbon, mainly in the 18th century.the beginning of the nub crown's power with clear lines of authority to officials contrasted to the complex system of government that evolved under the Habsburg monarchs. In particular, the crown pursued state supremacy over the Catholic Church, resulting in the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1767 as well as an attempt to abolish ecclesiastical privilege (fuero eclesiástico).
The reforms resulted in significant restructuring of administrative structure and personnel.The reforms were intended to stimulate manufacturing and technology to modernise Spain. In Spanish America, the reforms were designed to make the administration more efficient and to promote its economic, commercial and fiscal development. The crown did so, hoping that it would have a positive effect on the economy of Spain. Furthermore, the Bourbon Reforms were intended to limit the power of the Criollos and re-establish Spanish supremacy over the colonies.
The reforms achieved mixed results administratively but succeeded in alienating the local elites of the Americas (who called themselves Criollos) and eventually led to the demise of all overseas dominions of the Spanish crown.
At the end of the 17th century, Spain was an ailing empire, facing declining revenues and the loss of military power, ruled by a weak king, Charles II, who left no successor. Even before his death in 1700, the European powers were already positioning themselves to see which noble house would succeed in placing someone on the Spanish throne and thereby gain its vast empire. Louis XIV of France asked for and received the Pope's consent for his grandson, Philip of Anjou, a great-nephew of Charles, to take the throne. On his deathbed, Charles willed the crown to the French-born successor, but an international conflict ensued, known as the War of the Spanish Succession.
After the war, the new French dynasty had to surrender in compromise with the Austrian Habsburgs some of the Spanish Habsburg Empire's European territories, and some maritime enclaves such as Jamaica, some of the Balearic islands and the continental stronghold of Gibraltar and grant a monopoly on the valuable Atlantic slave trade with the Americas to England.
Philip V of Spain, the first king of the House of Bourbon, took measures intended to counter the decline of Spanish power. Even before the war, the state of the empire was precarious. When Charles II died, the military was practically nonexistent, consisting of only one division; the treasury was bankrupt; and there was no state promotion of commerce or industry. Philip V and his ministers needed to act quickly to reconstruct the empire.
The new Bourbon kings kept close ties with France and used many Frenchmen as advisors. French innovations in politics and social manners never fully replaced Spanish laws and traditions but became an important model in both areas. As a result, there was an influx of French goods, ideas, and books, which helped spread the ideas of the Enlightenment throughout the Spanish world. In a sense, all things French came into fashion during the subsequent century and gave rise to a new type of person, the afrancesado , who welcomed the new influence. In addition, during the War of Succession, the ports in Spanish America were blockaded by British and Dutch fleets. Spain turned to France for help with the export of its goods, which was the first time in Spanish colonial history that trade occurred with a foreign nation. The new commercial relationship stimulated the colonial economy, especially that of Chile.
The early reforms were aimed at improving the economic and political structure of Spain. They sought to modernize agriculture, construction of ships, and infrastructure to monitor and incite economic integration and development on a regional and national level. These reforms unfortunately fell through for Spain. The socio-economic reforms left the country with almost no investment capital. That hindered the nationalization of industries and so disrupted the class system. It left almost no middle class and separated the lower and upper significantly. As a result of the early reforms, the country was dwindling and its progression rate put it behind its neighboring countries such as Great Britain and France.
The failure of reform measures became evident when Spain, under Charles III, lost the Seven Years' War with Great Britain (1756–1763). Charles III's counselors sought more detailed reports of Spain's overseas territories/and now understood the need to take them fully into account. The new wave of reforms included larger exploitation of resources in the colonies, increased taxes, the opening of new ports allowed to trade only with Spain, and the establishment of several state monopolies.
In Spanish America, José del Campillo y Cosío's Nuevo Sistema de gobierno económico para la América (New System of Economic Government for America) (1743) was a key text that shaped the reforms. He compared the colonial systems of Britain and France with that of Spain, as the first two nations reaped far greater benefits than Spain. He advocated reforming Spain's economic relations with its overseas territories to a system more like the mercantilism of France's Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683).
The Bourbon reforms have been termed "a revolution in government" for their sweeping changes in the structure of administration that sought to strengthen the power of the Spanish state, decrease the power of local elites in favor of office holders from the Iberian peninsula, and increase revenues for the crown.
The bulk of the changes in Spanish America came in the second half of the 18th century following the visita general (general inspection) of New Spain (1765–1771) by José de Gálvez, who was later named Minister of the Indies. The reforms attempted in New Spain were implemented elsewhere in Spanish America subsequently.There had been one earlier reform in the creation of the new Viceroyalty of New Granada (1717), carved out from the Viceroyalty of Peru to improve the administration of the overseas possessions. The new viceroyalty was created initially in 1717, suppressed just six years later, and then permanently established in 1739, still earlier than the reforms of the late 18th century. It was an administrative change that reflected the recognition (as early as the 16th century) that the northern area of South America had certain challenges of distance from Peru. There had been earlier creations of captaincies general in Guatemala and Venezuela, marking an increase in their importance. In 1776, a second jurisdiction, the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata was also carved out of the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1776 as part of José de Gálvez's comprehensive administrative reform. In the same year, an autonomous captaincy general was also established in Venezuela.
Under Charles III, colonial matters were concentrated in a single ministry, which took powers away from the Council of the Indies. Furthermore, the advances Americans ( Criollos ) had made in the local bureaucracy in the past century and a half, usually through the sale of offices, were checked by the direct appointment of (supposedly more qualified and disinterested) Spanish officials.
Charles III also initiated the difficult process of changing the complex administrative system practised under the former ruling family, the House of Habsburg. Corregidores were to be replaced with a French institution, the intendant. The intendancies had the intended effect of further decentralizing the administration at the expense of viceroys, captains general and governors, since intendants were directly responsible to the Crown and were granted large powers in economic and political matters. The intendancy system proved to be efficient in most areas and led to an increase in revenue collection. Intendency seats were mainly based in large cities and successful mining centers. Almost all of the new intendants were Peninsulares, people who were born in Spain, exacerbating the conflict between Peninsulares and Criollos, who wished to retain some control of local administration. Charles III and Charles IV also reversed the advances that Criollos had made in the high courts ( audiencias ). Under the Habsburgs, the Crown had sold audiencia positions to Criollos. The Bourbon kings ended this policy. By 1807, “only twelve out of ninety-nine [audiencia] judges were creoles.”
With regards to the economy, collection of taxes was more efficient under the intendancy system. In 1778, Charles III established the "Decree of Free Trade," which allowed the Spanish American ports to trade directly with one another and most ports in Spain. Therefore, "commerce would no longer be restricted to four colonial ports (Veracruz, Cartagena, Lima/Callao, and Panama)."Tax reductions were given to the silver mining industry. Tobacco proved to be a successful crop after state monopolies were expanded. Also, many of the colonies began to produce an abundance of resources, which became vital to many European powers and the British colonies in North America and the Caribbean despite the fact that most of this trade was considered contraband since it was not carried on Spanish ships. Most of the Bourbon kings tried to outlaw this trade through various programs like increasing the customs receipts, with little avail.
Spanish America barely had an operational military before the Bourbon reforms, and what it had was inconsistent and scattered. The Bourbons created a more organized militia and first used men deployed straight from Spain as officers, but soon that broke down, as locals took most positions. The colonial militias became a source of prestige for status-hungry Criollos. The hierarchy of the military was racially based. Militias were often created along race lines, with militias for whites, blacks and mixed race people. Almost all the higher officers were Spanish-born, with Criollos occupying the secondary levels of command.
The Bourbons also made the government more secular. The political role of the Church was diminished but never removed completely. Unlike the Habsburgs, who often selected churchmen to fill political offices, the Bourbons preferred to appoint career military officers. The process reached a high point with the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1767. The Jesuits were one of the wealthiest religious orders and had been instrumental in the missionary work carried out in the Americas and the Philippines. Because they had major rivals in the other orders of the church, their dismissal was greeted with covert approval. The crown also tried to place the more secular clergy in the church hierarchy, reversing a trend since the beginning of the colonial period of having the regular clergy fill these posts. Overall, these changes had little effect on the Church as a whole. Towards the end of the Bourbon reign, on the "eve of independence, the crown attempted to confiscate church property, but the measure proved hard to enforce."
The Catholic Church played a major role in the Bourbon Reforms, specifically in the vice royalties. A vice royalty is basically a territory governed by a viceroy, a ruler exercising authority in a colony on behalf of a sovereign. The Catholic Church was the most widely regarded church among the vice royalties of Spanish America, and the new colonies brought forth an opportunity to spread Catholicism.
The Catholic Church came about as a religious and political entity in the Iberian Peninsula in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. From here, missionaries who possessed the banner of Christ came to the Americas for a fresh, new environment for Christianity to thrive. There was a clear alliance between the Church and the Crown in Spanish America. Ecclesiastical institutions were allotted some freedom from the Crown. The fuero eclesiástico, or clerical immunity, granted clergy members immunity from the royal courts. According to this fuero, any civil crime or criminal offense will be heard in front of the ecclesiastical instead of the royal or local court. This privilege was then extended to all clerics, nuns, priests, monks, and friars. This fuero extended to the land owned by the individuals and institutions which means the Spanish Crown could not exercise justice physically nor collect taxes.
Missionizing in maroon societies in Spanish America became essential for the nature of politics of African resistance in the Iberian Atlantic world. The Maroons were Africans who escaped slavery in America and then mixed with the indigenous people. In the sixteenth century, missionizing native peoples was seen as a moral conquest. It was used as a tool of pacification among Africans who escaped slavery and made their home in Spanish America. In Ecuador, Santo Domingo, Mexico, and Panama, imprinting and “pacifying” maroon societies was very dependent on the spread of Spanish Catholicism. Pacification is an attempt to create or maintain peace through agreements and diplomacy. Christianization often conflicted with the relationships the Maroons created with Catholic clerics and created tensions. Spanish cultural hegemony functioned to imprint submission to religious practices. Maroons, as well as other Africans, rapidly learned that Catholicism was necessary for political legitimation. However, bringing Christianity to light did not interrupt the development of localized practices that observed religious traditions of Africans and indigenous Americans. Maroon communities on the coast of colonial Ecuador learned how Christianization became a tool for Afro-Amerindian rebels in Spain's empire and in the African diasporic world. "While an Afro-Christian diasporic identity may have been in its formative stage during the sixteenth century, transfers of knowledge between the old world and the new were readily apparent in European interactions with Maroons on the Esmeraldas coast. This case study of the Maroons of colonial Ecuador will allow us to see in three acts, or phases, how clerical intervention and the discourse of Christian conversion shaped colonization over time: ultimately yielding a modus vivendi between rebel African slaves and Spanish colonial authorities." (Bryant, O'Toole, Vinson, 2012: 96–97).
The reforms caused many religious tensions as well as social tensions. One of the most major modifications in the Bourbon Reforms was the expulsion of the Jesuits. The Society of Jesus, the members being the Jesuits, had become one of the most powerful organizations in the colonies at the time and had a distinct amount of power until the Bourbon Reforms. In 1767, Charles III of Spain ordered the expulsion of 2,200 Jesuits to be removed from the vice royalties. Of the 2,200 that were exiled, 678 were from Mexico (New Spain) with 75% of the Jesuits from Mexico being Mexican-born. The expulsion of the Jesuits which was frowned upon among many colonists. Many historians believe that the Bourbon Reforms would bring forth self-confidence for American-born Spaniards. The expulsion of the Jesuits confronted the liberal ideology of the nineteenth century and conservative positions of the time. The expulsion represented aspects of liberal ideology as a need to break away from colonial past, progress and civilization as attainable objectives, education as a neutral term of religious instruction, and the separation of the Catholic Church and state. These factors played a major role in the modernization of Spanish America.Spanish soldiers went to Mexico and rounded up the Jesuits to be exiled to Italy. The Jesuits were then placed on Spanish warships and sent to the Italian port of Civitavecchia. Upon arrival, Pope Clement XIII refused to let the prisoners set foot on papal territory. The warships then went to the island of Corsica, but due to a rebellion on shore, it took a while to let the Jesuits onto the island. Bernardo Tanucci, adviser to Charles III, did not welcome the Jesuits into Naples and the Jesuits were threatened with death if they crossed the border of the papal states back to Naples. Historian Charles Gibson stated that the expulsion of the Jesuits was a "sudden and devastating move" by the Spanish Crown to assert royal control.
Emphasis on the dominant role of the state in ecclesiastical reform sometimes made the church seem defensive and resistant to change and modern ideas. Many nuns of the eighteenth century were resistant and even rebelled against the thought of the church and state joining together. Many priests and nuns were hesitant to join forces with the state because they feared the state would gain too much power and try to alter the preexisting ideals and beliefs of the Catholic Church.With the formation of Spanish America, the Catholic Church and the Spanish Crown formed an alliance that lasted for centuries both in the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish America.
Though the legislation passed by the Bourbons did much to reform the Empire, it was not enough to save it. The racial tensions continued to grow and massive discontent lead to a number of revolts, the most important of which were the Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II and Revolt of the Comuneros. Criollos, Mestizos, and Indians were among the most common to be involved in such revolts.Over time, these uprisings led to the fight for the independence of the American colonies.
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to the jurisdiction of the Spanish Empire in northern South America, corresponding to modern Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739, and the provinces of Venezuela were separated from the Viceroyalty and assigned to the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777. In addition to these core areas, the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada included Guyana, southwestern Suriname, parts of northwestern Brazil, and northern Peru.
The overseas expansion under the Crown of Castile was initiated under the royal authority and first accomplished by the Spanish conquistadors. The Americas were invaded and incorporated into the Spanish Empire, with the exception of Brazil, Canada, the north-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.
The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a Kingdom, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the kingdom was Mexico City, established on the ancient Tenochtitlan.
The Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish imperial provincial administrative district, created in 1542, that originally contained modern-day Peru and most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima. Peru was one of the two Spanish Viceroyalties in the Americas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
A hacienda, in the colonies of the Spanish Empire, is an estate, similar to a Roman latifundium. Some haciendas were plantations, mines or factories. Many haciendas combined these activities. The word is derived from the Spanish word "hacer" or "haciendo", which means: to make or be making, respectively; and were largely business enterprises consisting of various money making ventures including raising farm animals and maintaining orchards.
An intendant was and sometimes still is a usually public official, especially in France, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. The intendancy system was a centralizing administrative system developed in France. When France won the War of the Spanish Succession and the House of Bourbon was established on the throne of Spain, the intendancy system was extended to Spain and Portugal and the Spanish Empire and Portuguese Empire. Regions were divided into districts administered by the intendant. The title continues to be used in Spain and parts of Spanish America for particular government officials.
The suppression of the Jesuits in the Portuguese Empire (1759), France (1764), the Two Sicilies, Malta, Parma, the Spanish Empire (1767) and Austria and Hungary (1782) is a complex topic. Analysis of the reasons is complicated by the political maneuvering in each country which was not carried out in the open but has left some trail of evidence. The papacy reluctantly went along with the demands of the various Catholic kingdoms involved, and advanced no theological reason for the suppression.
The ideas of the Age of Enlightenment came to Spain in the 18th century with the new Bourbon dynasty, following the death of the last Habsburg monarch, Charles II, in 1700. This period in Spanish history is often referred to as Bourbon Spain. "Like the Spanish Enlightenment, the Spanish Bourbon monarchs were imbued with Spain's Catholic identity." The period of reform and 'enlightened despotism' under the Bourbons focused on centralizing and modernizing the Spanish government, and improvement of infrastructure, beginning with the rule of King Charles III and the work of his minister, José Moñino, count of Floridablanca. In the political and economic sphere, the crown implemented a series of changes, collectively known as the Bourbon reforms, which were aimed at making the overseas empire more prosperous to the benefit of Spain.
The Captaincy General of Guatemala, also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala, was an administrative division of the Spanish Empire, under the viceroyalty of New Spain in Central America, including the present-day nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas. The governor-captain general was also president of the Royal Audiencia of Guatemala, the superior court.
The Criollo are Latin Americans who are of full or near full Spanish descent, distinguishing them from both multi-racial Latin Americans and Latin Americans of post-colonial European immigrant origin.
Before the 1910 Mexican Revolution that overthrew Porfirio Díaz, most of the land was owned by a single elite ruling class. Legally there was no slavery or serfdom; however, those with heavy debts, native wage workers, or peasants, were essentially debt-slaves to the landowners. A small percentage of rich landowners owned most of the country's farm land. With so many people brutally suppressed, revolts and revolution were common in Mexico. To relieve the Mexican peasant's plight and stabilize the country, various leaders tried different types of agrarian land reform.
Manuel Abad y Queipo was a Spanish Roman Catholic Bishop of Michoacán in the Viceroyalty of New Spain at the time of the Mexican War of Independence. He was "an acute social commentator of late colonial Mexico, ... an exemplification of the enlightened clergyman."
The New Kingdom of Granada, or Kingdom of the New Granada, was the name given to a group of 16th-century Spanish colonial provinces in northern South America governed by the president of the Audiencia of Santa Fe, an area corresponding mainly to modern-day Colombia, Panama and 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.
The Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II was an uprising of native and mestizo peasants against the Bourbon reforms in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. While Túpac Amaru II, an early leader of the rebellion, was captured and executed in 1781, the rebellion continued for at least another year under other leaders.
The Captaincy General of Yucatán was an administrative district of colonial Spain, created in 1617 to provide more autonomy for the Yucatán Peninsula, previously ruled directly by a simple governor under the jurisdiction of Audiencia of Mexico. Its creation was part of the, ultimately futile, Habsburg attempt in the late 16th century to prevent incursion into the Caribbean by foreign powers, which also involved the establishment of Captaincies General in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and neighboring Guatemala. With the addition of the title of captain general to the governor of Yucatán, the province gained greater autonomy in administration and military matters. Unlike in most areas of Spanish America, no formal corregidores were used in Yucatán, and instead the governor-captain general relied on other subordinate officials to handle the oversight of local districts. The Captaincy General remained part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, with the viceroy retaining the right to oversee the province's governance, when it was deemed necessary, and the Audiencia of Mexico taking judicial cases in appeal. The province and captaincy general covered the territory that today are the States of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Yucatán, and nominally the northern areas of Petén and Belize.
The history of the Catholic Church in Mexico dates from the period of the Spanish conquest (1519–21) and has continued as an institution in Mexico into the twenty-first century. Catholicism is one of the two major legacies from the Spanish colonial era, the other being Spanish as the nation's language. The Catholic Church was a privileged institution until the mid nineteenth century. It was the sole permissible church in the colonial era and into the early Mexican Republic, following independence in 1821. Following independence, it involved itself directly in politics, including in matters that did not specifically involve the Church.
Captaincies were military and administrative divisions in colonial Spanish America and the Spanish Philippines, established in areas under risk of foreign invasion or Indian attack. They could consist of just one province, or group several together. These captaincies general should be distinguished from the ones given to almost all of the conquistadores, which was based on an older tradition. During the Reconquista, the term "captain general" and similar ones had been used for the official in charge of all the troops in a given district. This office was transferred to America during the conquest and was usually granted along with the hereditary governorship to the adelantado in the patent issued by the Crown. This established a precedent that was recognized by the New Laws of 1542, but ultimately the crown eliminated all hereditary governorships in its overseas possessions.
David Anthony Brading Litt.D, FRHistS, FBA, is a British historian and Professor Emeritus of Mexican History at the University of Cambridge, where he is an Emeritus Fellow of Clare Hall and a Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College. His work has been recognized with several awards,including the Bolton Prize in 1972 the Order of the Aztec Eagle in 2002 from the Mexican government. and the Medal of Congress from the Peruvian government in 2011. Brading has received honorary degrees from several universities, including Universidad del Pacifico, Universidad de Lima and the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo
The ideas of the Spanish Enlightenment, which emphasized reason, science, practicality, clarity rather than obscurantism, and secularism, were transmitted from France to the New World in the eighteenth century, following the establishment of the Bourbon monarchy in Spain. In Spanish America, the ideas of the Enlightenment affected educated elites in major urban centers, especially Mexico City, Lima, and Guatemala, where there were universities founded in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In these centers of learning, American-born Spanish intellectuals were already participants in intellectual and scientific discourse, with Spanish American universities increasingly anti-scholastic and opposed to “untested authority” even before the Spanish Bourbons came to power. The best studied is the University of San Carlos Guatemala, founded in 1676.
The historiography of Spanish America has a long history. It dates back to the early sixteenth century with multiple competing accounts of the conquest, Spaniards’ eighteenth-century attempts to discover how to reverse the decline of its empire, and Latin American-born Spaniards' (creoles') search for an identity other than Spanish, and the creation of creole patriotism. Following independence in some parts of Spanish America, some politically-engaged citizens of the new sovereign nations sought to shape national identity. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, non-Spanish American historians began writing chronicles important events, such as the conquests of Mexico and Peru, dispassionate histories of the Spanish imperial project after its almost complete demise in the hemisphere, and histories of the southwest borderlands, areas of the United States that had previously been part of the Spanish Empire, led by Herbert Eugene Bolton. At the turn of the twentieth century, scholarly research on Spanish America saw the creation of college courses dealing with the region, the systematic training of professional historians in the field, and the founding of the first specialized journal, Hispanic American Historical Review. For most of the twentieth century, historians of colonial Spanish America read and were familiar with a large canon of work. With the expansion of the field in the late twentieth century, there has been the establishment of new subfields, the founding of new journals, and the proliferation of monographs, anthologies, and articles for increasingly specialized practitioners and readerships. The Conference on Latin American History, the organization of Latin American historians affiliated with the American Historical Association, awards a number of prizes for publications, with works on early Latin American history well represented.
In Spanish unless otherwise noted.