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Captaincy General of Venezuela (Kingdom of Venezuela)
Capitanía General de Venezuela (Reino de Venezuela)
Map by Agustín Codazzi showing the six provinces of Venezuela in 1810.
|Capital||Santiago de León de Caracas|
|Government||Captaincy / kingdom|
• Royal Decree
|September 8 1777|
|April 19, 1810|
|ISO 3166 code||VE|
The Captaincy General of Venezuela (Spanish : Capitanía General de Venezuela), also known as the Kingdom of Venezuela (Spanish: Reino de Venezuela), was an administrative district of colonial Spain, created on September 8, 1777, through the Royal Decree of Graces of 1777, to provide more autonomy for the provinces of Venezuela, previously under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo (and thus the Viceroyalty of New Spain) and then the Viceroyalty of New Granada. It established a unified government in political (governorship), military (captaincy general), fiscal (intendancy) and judicial ( audiencia ) affairs. Its creation was part of the Bourbon Reforms and laid the groundwork for the future nation of Venezuela, in particular by orienting the province of Maracaibo towards the province of Caracas.
The Bourbon dynasty had already taken steps towards reorganizing their overseas possessions and Venezuela, in particular. When the New Granadan Viceroyalty was reestablished in 1739, the governor-captain general of Caracas was given military jurisdiction over the provinces of Maracaibo, Cumaná, Guayana, Trinidad and Margarita. The 18th century also marked a period of marked economic growth for Venezuela. Cocoa plantations were established along the littoral valleys, which resulted in large importations of slaves. The growth of the cocoa-exporting economy was fomented by the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, which was granted a full monopoly over exports and imports in 1728. The Company's second largest export was tobacco. It also promoted the exploration and settlement of Venezuela's frontiers, most famously under the Expedition of the Limits, 1750-1761 headed by José de Iturriaga y Aguirre, which resulted in new settlements in Guayana Province. This growth was not experienced evenly, and the monopoly hurt small farmers, who continued to sell most of their product in the contraband trade. Resentment of the Company exploded in open revolt in 1749 headed by Canarian immigrant Juan Francisco de León.
The Captaincy General, which was essentially a new viceroyalty in all but name, was actually created slowly over time by centralizing fiscal, administrative, military and ecclesiastical rule in Caracas. The first step was the creation of the Intendancy of Caracas, by Minister of the Indies, José de Gálvez in 1776. The new intendancy (superintendencia de ejército y real hacienda) covered the provinces of Venezuela (Caracas), Cumaná (sometimes New Andalusia), Guayana, Maracaibo, Trinidad and Margarita. Up to this point Maracaibo, Guayana and Trinidad's governance had been directly supervised by the Bogotá Audiencia; the other three provinces by the one in Santo Domingo. The following year a joint governorship-captaincy general with powers over military and administrative matters was established for the same provinces. Regional governors and military commanders were subordinated to the governor-captain general of Caracas. To maintain uniformity in judicial matters, in 1777 the provinces of Maracaibo, Margarita, Cumaná, Guayana and Trinidad were transferred to the Santo Domingo Audiencia, which had taken appeals from the Province of Caracas since 1742. Judicial matters were finally centralized in 1786 with the creation of the Audiencia of Caracas, which had jurisdiction over these same provinces and the new Barinas Province, which had been established in the intervening years from the frontier regions of Maracaibo Province. The Audiencia was composed of a regent judge, three judges and a crown attorney. The governor-captain general served as its president. It was to carry out justice and to watch over the action of royal officials in the area of its jurisdiction and only communicated directly with the Council of the Indies in Spain.A consulado was established in 1793 to oversee the new captaincy general's trade. In religious matters all of the provinces were also placed under the direction of the new archdiocese of Caracas in 1803. Two new dioceses, Mérida and Guayana were created, as well. Previously areas of the new diocese of Mérida had been part of the archdiocese of Bogotá, and Guayana had been part of the diocese of Puerto Rico. Control of the Province of Trinidad was lost to the British in 1797.
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|History of Venezuela|
The Royal Decree establishing the Captaincy General:
The King.—Inasmuch and keeping in mind what has been reported to me by the current Viceroy, Governor and Captain General of the New Kingdom of Granada and the governors of the Provinces of Guayana and Maracaibo on the inconveniences that are created in the indicated provinces, as well as those of Cumaná and Islands of Margarita and Trinidad, by remaining united as they are to the Viceroyalty and Captaincy General of the indicated New Kingdom of Granada, because of the distance at which they find themselves from its capital Santa Fe, resulting as a consequence the delay in the decisions with the most grave harm to my Royal Service.
Therefore, to avoid these and greater harm, which would result in case of an invasion, I have best resolved the absolute separation of said Provinces of Cumaná, Guayana and Maracaibo, and islands of Trinidad and Margarita, from the Viceroyalty and Captaincy General of the New Kingdom of Granada, and add them in government and military matters to the Captaincy General of Venezuela, in the same manner that they are in regards to the administration of my Royal Treasury to the new Intendancy established in said Province and city of Caracas, its capital. In the same manner I have resolved to separate in judicial matters from the Audiencia of Santa Fe, and to add to the old one of Santo Domingo, the two mentioned Provinces of Maracaibo and Guayana, in the same manner that Cumaná and the islands of Margarita and Trinidad are, so that they find themselves under the same immediate Audiencia, Captain General and Intendant, be better ruled and governed with better utility to my Royal Service. Accordingly, I order the Viceroy and Audiencia of Santa Fe restrained from, and to abstain from, the knowledge of the respective matters which corresponded to them before the separation implied here; and order the governors of the Provinces of Cumaná, Guayana and Maracaibo, and Islands of Margarita and Trinidad, to obey as their Captain General, the one that today is, and in the future will be, of the Province of Venezuela, and carry out the orders that in my Royal Service he communicate to them in government and military matters; and that in the same way the governors of the Provinces of Maracaibo and Guayana observe the provisions that in the future my Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo issues, accepting the appeals that are lodged before it according to and in the manner they have been, or should have been done, before the Audiencia of Santa Fe; such is my will. Given in San Ildefonso on the eighth of September of 1777.—I the King.
The Royal Decree [Real Cédula] of June 13, 1786, was the first to establish the Real Audiencia, describe its functions and to define its limits (subsequent ones defined further faculties and appointed members):
His Majesty has resolved in view of everything, that the Province of Maracaibo continue united, as it is, to the Captaincy General and Intendancy of Caracas, keeping what is provided by the Royal Decree [Real Cédula] of February 15 of this year on the addition of the City of Trujillo and its jurisdiction to the Government of Maracaibo; and the creation for the present of a separate Command in the Province of Barinas. And to avoid the harm that would arise for the inhabitants of said Provinces of Maracaibo, Cumamá, Guayana, Margarita and Island of Trinidad, comprising the same Captaincy General, of having to recur for appeals in their affairs to the Audiencia Pretorial of Santo Domingo, the King has resolved to create another in Caracas, comprised for now of a Regent Dean, three judges [oidores] and a crown attorney [fiscal]; leaving the same number of ministers in the one in Santo Domingo and limiting its district to the Spanish part of that island, the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico; to which end His Majesty will of course name the ministers who should serve in one and the other.
The independence movement for Venezuela began with the establishment of the Caracas Junta in 1810. After the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence in 1811, the provinces of Caracas, Cumaná, Barinas, Margarita, and the newly separated ones of Barcelona, Trujillo, and Mérida established a Republic of Venezuela, which claimed the area of the Captaincy General. The provinces of Maracaibo and Guayana, along with the city of Coro, rejected the republic, and after a year of war against the royalists, this First Republic collapsed. The provinces that had created the Venezuelan Republic were reconquered by Frigate Captain Domingo de Monteverde, who usurped power from the appointed Captain General Fernando Miyares. Because of this the Cádiz Cortes erected the Province of Maracaibo into a separate Captaincy General with Miyares at its head, but did ratify Monteverde as Captain General of the smaller Venezuela. During this period, the Province of Maracaibo elected a representative to the Cortes, José Domingo Rus, who served from March 3, 1812, to May 10, 1814, and continued to represent the province before the crown after Ferdinand VII abolished the Cortes.With Ferdinand VII's return, Venezuela was reunited in one captaincy general.
In 1812 a new Audiencia appointed by the Cortes was able to return in Caracas. Under the leadership of Dominican-born Regent José Francisco Heredia (father of Cuban poet, José María Heredia y Heredia), the Audiencia put up fierce resistance to Monteverde's attempts to rule the Captaincy General under martial law. After an interruption due to the restoration of the Republic and attempts by Pablo Morillo to suspend the Audiencia, both the Audiencia and the Captaincy General continued to function until 1821.
Independence for Venezuela was consolidated in 1821 as part of Gran Colombia. The Congress of Cucuta looked to the territorial area of former Viceroyalty of New Granada (during the period of 1739-1777) as the basis for its territorial claims, and created a state composed of regional departments. Venezuela became the Department of Venezuela through this territorial reorganization. The rising animosity between Venezuelans and New Granadians, due to irreconcilable differences in opinion as to how the new republic ought to be governed, led to the inevitable collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830. After 1830, the provinces within the old Captaincy General of Venezuela, constituted the territory of the new independent republic of Venezuela.
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 Real Audiencia, or simply Audiencia, was an appellate court in Spain and its empire. The name of the institution literally translates as Royal Audience. The additional designation chancillería was applied to the appellate courts in early modern Spain. Each audiencia had oidores.
The Venezuelan Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by a congress of Venezuelan provinces on July 5, 1811, through which Venezuelans made the decision to separate from the Spanish Crown in order to establish a new nation based on the premises of equality of individuals, abolition of censorship and dedication to freedom of expression. These principles were enshrined as a constitutional principal for the new nation and were radically opposed to the political, cultural, and social practices that had existed during three hundred years of colonization.
The First Republic of Venezuela was the first independent government of Venezuela, lasting from 5 July 1811, to 25 July 1812. The period of the First Republic began with the overthrow of the Spanish colonial authorities and the establishment of the Junta Suprema de Caracas on 19 April 1810, initiating the Venezuelan War of Independence, and ended with the surrender of the republican forces to the Spanish Captain Domingo de Monteverde. The congress of Venezuela declared the nation's independence on 5 July 1811, and later wrote a constitution for it. In doing so, Venezuela is notable for being the first Spanish American colony to declare its independence.
Antonio de la Pedrosa y Guerrero was an attorney in Spain and in Santa Fe de Bogotá, a member of the Council of the Indies, and the first (provisional) viceroy of New Granada, from June 13, 1718 to November 25, 1719.
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 United Provinces of New Granada was a country in South America from 1811 to 1816, a period known in Colombian history as the Patria Boba. It was formed from areas of the New Kingdom of Granada, roughly corresponding to the territory of modern-day Colombia. The government was a federation with a parliamentary system, consisting of a weak executive and strong congress. The country was reconquered by Spain in 1816.
The Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo was the first court of the Spanish crown in America. It was created by Ferdinand V of Castile in his decree of 1511, but due to disagreements between the governor of Hispaniola, Diego Colon and the Crown, it was not implemented until it was reestablished by Charles V in his decree of September 14, 1526. This audiencia would become part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain upon the creation of the latter two decades later. Nevertheless, the audiencia president was at the same time governor and captain general of the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, which granted him broad administrative powers and autonomy over the Spanish possessions of the Caribbean and most of its mainland coasts. This combined with the judicial oversight that the audiencia judges had over the region meant that the Santo Domingo Audiencia was the principal political entity of this region during the colonial period.
The Captaincy General of Cuba was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1607 as part of Habsburg Spain's attempt to better defend the Caribbean against foreign powers, which also involved creating captaincies general in Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Yucatán. The restructuring of the Captaincy General in 1764 was the first example of the Bourbon Reforms in America. The changes included adding the provinces of Florida and Louisiana and granting more autonomy for these provinces. This later change was carried out by the Count of Floridablanca under Charles III to strengthen the Spanish position vis-a-vis the British in the Caribbean. A new governor-captain general based in Havana oversaw the administration of the new district. The local governors of the larger Captaincy General had previously been overseen in political and military matters by the president of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo. This audiencia retained oversight of judicial affairs until the establishment of new audiencias in Puerto Príncipe (1800) and Havana (1838). In 1825, as a result of the loss of the mainland possessions, the Spanish government granted the governors-captain generals of Cuba extraordinary powers in matters of administration, justice and the treasury and in the second half of the 19th century gave them the title of Governor General.
The Province of Trinidad (1525–1802) was a province of the Spanish Empire which was created in 1525. It occupied almost the whole territory of the modern republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Republic of Gran Colombia was a former independent country in northern South America, a post-Spanish colonial country that existed from 1819 to 1831. Its initial subdivisions, created in 1820, were revised and expanded in 1824.
The Venezuela Province was a province of the Spanish Empire, of Gran Colombia (1824-1830) and later of Venezuela, apart from an interlude when it was contracted as a concession by the King of Spain to the German Welser banking family, as Klein-Venedig.
New Andalusia Province or Province of Cumaná (1537–1864) was a province of the Spanish Empire, and later of Gran Colombia and Venezuela. It included the territory of present-day Venezuelan states Sucre, Anzoátegui and Monagas. Its most important cities were Cumaná and New Barcelona.
The Provinces of Venezuela were administrative divisions used from Venezuela's independence from Gran Colombia in 1830 to 1864, when the States of Venezuela were created. There were initially 11 provinces, with 4 created later, until in 1856 the Law of Territorial Division divided Venezuela into 21 provinces.
Venezuela Department was one of the three departments of Gran Colombia until 1824.
Spanish expeditions led by Columbus and Alonso de Ojeda reached the coast of present-day Venezuela in 1498 and 1499. The first colonial exploitation was of the pearl oysters of the "Pearl Islands". Spain established its first permanent South American settlement in the present-day city of Cumaná in 1502, and in 1577 Caracas became the capital of the Province of Venezuela. There was also for a few years a German colony at Klein-Venedig.
Joan Orpí i del Pou, also Juan Orpín or Juan Urpín was a Spanish conquistador, known for founding New Barcelona in Venezuela, and for founding the short-lived Province of New Catalonia (1633–1654).
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.
Juan Fermín de Huidobro was a Spanish military engineer who was Governor of Margarita Province, in what is now Venezuela, between 1681 and 1683.
The United States of Venezuela was the official name of Venezuela, adopted in its 1864 constitution under the Juan Crisóstomo Falcón government. This remained the official name until 1953, when the constitution of that year renamed it the Republic of Venezuela. In 1999 under newly elected president Hugo Chavez and his modification to the Constitution, Venezuela's official name became the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.