Captaincy General of the Philippines

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Captaincy General of the Philippines

Capitanía General de Filipinas
Kapitaniyang Heneral ng Pilipinas
Seal of the Captaincy General of the Philippines.svg
Motto:  Plus Ultra
"Further Beyond"
Anthem:  Marcha Real
"Royal March"
Capitania general de Filipinas.svg
Status Colony
  • Cebu (1565–1571)
  • Manila (1571–1898)
  • Iloilo (13 August 1898 – 10 December 1898)
Common languages Spanish (official)
Tagalog (common)
Philippine languages, Micronesian languages
Roman Catholicism (state religion), Philippine traditional religion, Islam
Government Monarchy
Philip II
Philip IV
Charles III
Amadeo I
Alfonso XIII
Miguel López de Legazpi
Diego Fajardo Chacón
Simón de Anda
Carlos María de la Torre
Diego de los Ríos
Legislature Cortes Generales
 European settlement
April 27, 1565
March 15, 1646
September 24, 1762
January 20, 1872
August 19, 1896
June 12, 1898
December 10, 1898
Currency Real de a ocho, Peso fuerte
ISO 3166 code PH
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Long red right-pointing triangle.svg Tondo Kingdom
Barter of Panay Landmark.jpg Confederation of Madja-as
Blank.png Rajahnate of Cebu
Flag of Maguindanao.svg Sultanate of Maguindanao
Late 19th Century Flag of Sulu.svg Sulu Sultanate
Sovereign Tagalog Nation(During Philippine Revolution) Philippine revolution flag pugadlawin.svg
First Philippine Republic Philippines Aguinaldo flag (obverse).svg
German New Guinea Flag of Deutsch-Neuguinea.svg

The Captaincy General of the Philippines (Spanish : Capitanía General de FilipinasSpanish pronunciation:  [kapitaˈni.a xeneˈɾal ðe filiˈpinas] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Filipino : Kapitaniyang Heneral ng Pilipinas), also known as the Kingdom of the Philippines (Spanish: Reino de Filipinas; Filipino: Kaharian ng Pilipinas), was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire in Southeast Asia governed by a Governor-General. The Captaincy General encompassed the Spanish East Indies, which included among others the Philippine Islands and the Caroline Islands. It was founded in 1565 with the first permanent Spanish settlements.

Spanish, or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 450 million native speakers in Spain and the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Filipino language official language of the Philippines

Filipino is the national language of the Philippines. Filipino is also designated, along with English, as an official language of the country. It is a standardized variety of the Tagalog language, an Austronesian regional language that is widely spoken in the Philippines. As of 2007, Tagalog is the first language of 28 million people, or about one-third of the Philippine population, while 45 million speak Tagalog as their second language. Tagalog is among the 185 languages of the Philippines identified in the Ethnologue. Officially, Filipino is defined by the Commission on the Filipino Language as "the native dialect, spoken and written, in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and in other urban centers of the archipelago."

Spanish Empire world empire from the 16th to the 19th century

The Spanish Empire, historically known as the Hispanic Monarchy and as the Catholic Monarchy, was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World, the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies" and territories in Europe, Africa and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Portuguese Empire. It has been described as the world's most powerful empire of the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, a description also given to the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Empire as a whole, and Ming China. It was known as "the empire on which the sun never sets" and reached its maximum extension in the 18th century.


For centuries all the political and economic aspects of the Captaincy General were administered in Mexico City by the Viceroyalty of New Spain, while the administrative issues had to be consulted with the Spanish Crown or the Council of the Indies through the Royal Audience of Manila. However, in 1821, following the independence of Mexico, all control was transferred to Madrid. It was succeeded by the short-lived First Philippine Republic following its Independence through the Philippine Revolution.

Mexico City Capital City in Mexico, Mexico

Mexico City, or the City of Mexico, is the capital of Mexico and the most populous city in North America. It is one of the most important cultural and financial centres in the Americas. It is located in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus in the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 ft). The city has 16 boroughs.

Council of the Indies administrative organ of the Spanish Empire for the Americas and the Philippines

The Council of the Indies; officially, the Royal and Supreme Council of the Indies, was the most important administrative organ of the Spanish Empire for the Americas and the Philippines. The crown held absolute power over the Indies and the Council of the Indies was the administrative and advisory body for those overseas realms. It was established in 1524 by Charles V to administer "the Indies," Spain's name for its territories. Such an administrative entity, on the conciliar model of the Council of Castile, was created following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire in 1521, which demonstrated the importance of the Americas. Originally an itinerary council that followed Charles V, it was subsequently established as an autonomous body with legislative, executive and judicial functions by Philip II of Spain and placed in Madrid in 1561. The Council of the Indies was abolished in 1812 by the Cádiz Cortes, briefly restored in 1814 by Ferdinand VII of Spain, and definitively abolished in 1834 by the regency, acting on behalf of the four-year-old Isabella II of Spain.

First Philippine Republic Self-proclaimed independent republic from 1899–1901

The Philippine Republic, more commonly known as the First Philippine Republic or the Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines. It was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899, in Malolos, Bulacan, and endured until the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901, in Palanan, Isabela, which effectively dissolved the First Republic.


Early explorations

Reception of the Manila Galleon by the Chamorro in the Ladrones Islands, ca. 1590 Boxer Codex Reception of the Manila Galleon by the Chamorro in the Ladrones Islands, ca. 1590.jpg
Reception of the Manila Galleon by the Chamorro in the Ladrones Islands, ca. 1590 Boxer Codex

After a long, tolling voyage across the Pacific Ocean, Ferdinand Magellan reached the island of Guam on March 6, 1521 and anchored the three ships that were left of his fleet in Umatac Bay, before proceeding to the Philippines, where he met his death during the Battle of Mactan. Antonio Pigafetta, the expedition's chronicler and one of only 18 original crew members to survive Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe, recorded all details of the voyage.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by the continents of Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Ferdinand Magellan Portuguese explorer in the service of Spain

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano.

Guam Island territory of the United States of America

Guam is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States in Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean. It is the westernmost point and territory of the United States, along with the Northern Mariana Islands. The capital city of Guam is Hagåtña and the most populous city is Dededo. The inhabitants of Guam are called Guamanians, and they are American citizens by birth. The indigenous Guamanians are the Chamorros, who are related to other Austronesian natives of Eastern Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Guam has been a member of the Pacific Community since 1983.

Magellan landing site in Umatac Bay Umatac Guam.jpeg
Magellan landing site in Umatac Bay

Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Umatac in 1565 and claimed the island of Guam for Spain, before proceeding to the Philippines, where, in a short period of time, they successfully incorporated into Spain's empire Cebu, Samar, Mazaua, Leyte, and Bohol, before conquering Manila.

Miguel López de Legazpi Spanish navigator and colonial governor

Miguel López de Legazpi, also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo, was a Spanish navigator and governor who established the first Spanish settlement in the East Indies when his expedition crossed the Pacific Ocean from the Viceroyalty of New Spain in modern-day Mexico, arrived in Cebu of the Philippine Islands, 1565. He was the first Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies which included the Philippines and other Pacific archipelagos, namely Guam and the Marianas Islands. After obtaining peace with various indigenous nations and kingdoms, he made Cebu the capital of the Spanish East Indies in 1565 and later transferred to Manila in 1571. The capital city of the province of Albay bears his name.

Cebu Province in Central Visayas, Philippines

Cebu is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas (Region VII) region, and consists of a main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets. Its capital is Cebu City, the Queen City of the South, the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines, which is politically independent from the provincial government.

Samar island of the Philippines

Samar is the third largest island in the Philippines. Located in eastern Visayas, within central Philippines. The island is divided into three provinces: Samar, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar. These three provinces, along with the provinces on the nearby islands of Leyte and Biliran are part of the Eastern Visayas region.

Later (in 1569), Miguel López de Legazpi transferred the Spanish headquarters from Cebu to Panay, where they found allies, who were never conquered by Spain but were accomplished as vassals by means of pacts, peace treaties, and reciprocal alliances. [1] On 5 June 1569, Guido de Lavezaris, the royal treasurer in the archipelago, wrote to Philip II reporting about the Portuguese attack on Cebu in the preceding autumn. A letter from another official, Andres de Mirandaola (dated three days later, on 8 June), also described briefly this encounter with the Portuguese. The danger of another attack led the Spaniards to remove their camp from Cebu to Panay, which they considered a safer place. Legazpi himself, in his report to the Viceroy in New Spain (dated 1 July 1569), mentioned the same reason for the relocation of Spaniards to Panay. [2] It was in Panay that the conquest of Luzon was planned, and launched on 8 May 1570. [3] Two of Lepazpi's lieutenant-commanders, Martín de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo, conquered Luzon's northern region.

Panay island in the Philippines

Panay is the sixth-largest and fourth most-populous island in the Philippines, with a total land area of 12,011 km2 (4,637 sq mi) and with a total population of 4,477,247. Panay comprises 4.4 percent of the entire population of the country. The City of Iloilo is its largest settlement with a total population of 447,992 inhabitants. It is a triangular island, located in the western part of the Visayas. It is about 160 km (99 mi) across. It is divided into four provinces: Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo, all in the Western Visayas Region. Just closely off the mid-southeastern coast lies the island-province of Guimaras. It is located southeast of the island of Mindoro and northwest of Negros across the Guimaras Strait. To the north and northeast is the Sibuyan Sea, Jintotolo Channel and the island-provinces of Romblon and Masbate; to the west and southwest is the Sulu Sea and the Palawan archipelago and to the south is Panay Gulf. Panay is the only main island in the Visayas whose provinces don't bear the name of their island.

Guido de Lavezaris Spanish colonial governor

Guido de Lavezaris was the second Spanish Governor General of the Philippines. He succeeded Miguel López de Legazpi in 1572 as governor, and was succeeded by Francisco de Sande on August 25, 1575.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Several Pacific islands were claimed by Spain during the 16th century, including the Caroline Islands by Toribio Alonso de Salazar in 1526, Palau by Ruy López de Villalobos in 1543, Bonin Islands by Bernardo de la Torre in 1543, New Guinea by Yñigo Ortiz de Retez in 1545, Solomon Islands by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa in 1568, New Hebrides by Pedro Fernandes de Queirós in 1606, Marquesas Islands by Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira in 1595, and Vanuatu by Pedro Fernández de Quirós, although Spain did not make any serious attempt to establish permanent settlements in them until the 18th century.

Caroline Islands archipelago

The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end. Historically, this area was also called Nuevas Filipinas or New Philippines as they were part of the Spanish East Indies and governed from Manila in the Philippines.

Palau Republic in Oceania

Palau, officially the Republic of Palau, is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. The country contains approximately 340 islands, and together with parts of the Federated States of Micronesia, forming the western chain of the Caroline Islands. Its area is 466 square kilometers (180 sq mi). The most populous island is Koror. The capital Ngerulmud is located on the nearby island of Babeldaob, in Melekeok State. Palau shares maritime boundaries with the Philippines, Indonesia and Micronesia.

Ruy López de Villalobos was a Spanish explorer who sailed the Pacific from Mexico to establish a permanent foothold for Spain in the East Indies, which was near the Line of Demarcation between Spain and Portugal according to the Treaty of Zaragoza in 1529. Villalobos gave the Philippines their name, after calling them Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip of Austria, the Prince of Asturias at the time, who later became Philip II of Spain. In 1542 he also discovered a Pacific group of islands, most likely Hawaii, but the Spaniard kept the discovery secret.

The Murillo Velarde Map (Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Yslas Filipinas Dedicada al Rey Nuestro Senor por el Mariscal d. Campo D. Fernando Valdes Tamon Cavallo del Orden de Santiago de Govor. Y Capn), (Manila, 1734) A Hydrographical and Chorographical Chart of the Philippine Islands WDL10089.png
The Murillo Velarde Map (Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Yslas Filipinas Dedicada al Rey Nuestro Señor por el Mariscal d. Campo D. Fernando Valdes Tamon Cavallº del Orden de Santiago de Govor. Y Capn), (Manila, 1734)

Spanish settlement and creation of the Captaincy General

In 1574, the Captaincy General of the Philippines was created as a dependency of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In 1584, the Real Audiencia of Manila was established by King Felipe II, who appointed as its President the same governor of the Captaincy General of the Philippines. The Captaincy General had its capital in Cebu from 1565 to 1595, and in Manila from 1595 until 1898.

As part of the extensive governmental reforms during the early Bourbon period throughout the overseas possessions, an Intendencia was established in Manila by Royal Decree of July 17, 1784 that handled issues regarding the government finances and to promote the economy. Ciriaco González Carbajal was appointed as Oidor of the Audiencia of Manila and was instructed to abide by the Royal Ordinance of Mayors of 1782, that had been enacted in Rio de la Plata. Carbajal proposed the establishment of more Intendencias in Ilocos, Camarines, Iloilo and Cebu, and although they were created on November 24, 1786, they were later abolished by the Royal Decree of November 20, 1787. [4] A month earlier, on October 23, the Intendencia of Manila had been attached to the Captaincy General of the Philippines. [5]

Until 1822, all General Captains were civilians, but after that year they were always chosen among the military. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, there were established many dependent local government offices and military settlements, very numerous due to a large number of islands and the extent of the districts.

Territorial divisions

Until the second half of the 18th century, there were 24 provinces, 19 alcaldías mayores and five corregimientos: [6]


Alcaldías mayores

Other administrative units established afterward

Established during the 19th century

Until the second half of the 19th century, there existed the administrative units:

Spanish rule in the Philippines ceased in 1898 after the war with the United States, which annexed most territories, although the administrative jurisdictions remained intact.

Most of the remaining territories in the Pacific Ocean were sold to Germany during the German-Spanish Treaty of 1899.

See also

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  1. Cf. William Henry Scott, Cracks in the Parchment Curtain, Quezon City: 1998, p. 4. Also cf. Antonio Morga, Sucessos de las Islas Filipinas, 2nd ed., Paris: 1890, p. xxxiii.
  2. Cf. BLAIR, Emma Helen & ROBERTSON, James Alexander, eds. (1911). The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803. Volume 03 of 55 (1493-1803). Historical introduction and additional notes by Edward Gaylord BOURNE. Cleveland, Ohio: Arthur H. Clark Company. ISBN   978-0554259598. OCLC 769945704. "Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the beginning of the nineteenth century.", pp. 15 - 16.
  3. Cf. BLAIR, Emma Helen & ROBERTSON, James Alexander, eds. (1911). The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803. Volume 03 of 55 (1493-1803). Historical introduction and additional notes by Edward Gaylord BOURNE. Cleveland, Ohio: Arthur H. Clark Company. ISBN   978-0554259598. OCLC 769945704. "Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the beginning of the nineteenth century.", p. 73.
  4. Enciclopedia GER Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  5. Biblioteca de legislación ultramarina en forma de diccionario alfabético. Pág. 621. Compilado por: José María Zamora y Coronado. Editor: Impr. de J. M. Alegria, 1845
  6. Memorias históricas y estadísticas de Filipinas y particularmente de la grande isla de Luzon. Author: Rafael Díaz Arenas. Publicado por Imprenta del Diario de Manila, 1830