Columbian Viceroyalty

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Columbian Viceroyalty

Lesser Royal Coat of Arms of Spain (c.1504-1580).svg
Lesser coat of arms of the Kings of Spain.
Moll - A Map of the West-Indies.png
Status Colony of the Spanish Empire
Capital Santo Domingo
Common languages Spanish
Ferdinand II
and Isabella I (first)
Charles I (last)
Christopher Columbus
Diego Columbus de facto
 Human settlement
Before 1493
 European settlement
 Creation of the Viceroyalty of New Spain
54,642 km2 (21,097 sq mi)
CurrencySanto Domingo real
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Copia de Cacicazgos de la Hispaniola.png Chiefdoms of Hispaniola
New Spain Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg
Captaincy General of Santo Domingo Flag of New Spain.svg
Today part ofFlag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic
Flag of Haiti.svg  Haiti

The Columbian Viceroyalty, Viceroyalty of India or First Viceroyalty in the Indies is the name that designates the number of titles and rights granted to Christopher Columbus by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 on the lands discovered and undiscovered, before embarking on his first trip that culminated in the discovery of the Americas.

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. Rights are of essential importance in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology.

Christopher Columbus Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer

Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonist who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. He led the first European expeditions to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, initiating the permanent European colonization of the Americas. Columbus discovered the viable sailing route to the Americas, a continent that was then unknown to the Old World. While what he thought he had discovered was a route to the Far East, he is credited with the opening of the Americas for conquest and settlement by Europeans.



The titles and powers over discovered lands granted to Christopher Columbus were entered in the capitulations of Santa Fe agreed on April 17 of 1492. Under them, the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand, awarded for the period of his life, and after his death, to be conferred on his heirs or Successors one after the other perpetually:

Capitulations of Santa Fe

The Capitulations of Santa Fe between Christopher Columbus and the Catholic Monarchs were signed in Santa Fe, Granada on April 17, 1492. They granted Columbus the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, the Viceroy, the Governor-General and honorific Don, and also the tenth part of all riches to be obtained from his intended voyage. The document followed a standard form in 15th-century Castile with specific points arranged in chapters (capítulos). Although not a formal agreement, the capitulations resulted from negotiation.

Catholic Monarchs Title for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon

The Catholic Monarchs is the joint title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; on marriage they were given a papal dispensation to deal with consanguinity by Sixtus IV. They married on October 19, 1469, in the city of Valladolid; Isabella was eighteen years old and Ferdinand a year younger. It is generally accepted by most scholars that the unification of Spain can essentially be traced back to the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella. Some newer historical opinions propose that under their rule, what later became Spain was still a union of two crowns rather than a unitary state, as to a large degree Castile and Aragon remained separate kingdoms, with most of their own separate institutions, for decades to come. The court of Ferdinand and Isabella was constantly on the move, in order to bolster local support for the crown from local feudal lords.

Isabella I of Castile 15th and 16th-century Castilian queen

Isabella I reigned as Queen of Castile from 1474 until her death. Her marriage to Ferdinand II of Aragon became the basis for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V. After a struggle to claim her right to the throne, she reorganized the governmental system, brought the crime rate to the lowest it had been in years, and unburdened the kingdom of the enormous debt her brother had left behind. Her reforms and those she made with her husband had an influence that extended well beyond the borders of their united kingdoms. Isabella and Ferdinand are known for completing the Reconquista, ordering conversion or exile of their Muslim and Jewish subjects, and for supporting and financing Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage that led to the opening of the New World and to the establishment of Spain as the first global power which dominated Europe and much of the world for more than a century. Isabella, granted together with her husband the title "the Catholic" by Pope Alexander VI, was recognized as a Servant of God by the Catholic Church in 1974.

Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM". The rank is generally thought to have originated in Sicily from a conflation of Arabic: أمير البحر‎, amīr al-baḥr, "commander of the sea", with Latin admirabilis ("admirable") or admiratus ("admired"), although alternative etymologies derive the word directly from Latin, or from the Turkish military and naval rank miralay. The French version – amiral without the additional d – tends to add evidence for the Arab origin.

A viceroy is an official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roy, meaning "king". A viceroy's territory may be called a viceroyalty, though this term is not always applied. The adjective form is viceregal, less often viceroyal. The term vicereine is sometimes used to indicate a female viceroy suo jure, although viceroy can serve as a gender-neutral term. Vicereine is more commonly used to indicate a viceroy's wife.

In addition, other powers and economic prerogatives.

Firstly, that Your Highnesses, Masters as you are of the said Oceans, hereby and henceforth make Don Christopher Columbus your admiral in all those islands and all that land which, by his hand or industry, may be discovered or won in the said Oceans for the period of his life, and after his death, to be conferred on his heirs or Successors one after the other perpetually with all the privileges and prerogatives attendant thereto, and his successors in the said rank enjoyed them in their districts. ...

Furthermore, that Your Highnesses make the said Don Christopher Columbus your Viceroy and Governor General in all the said islands and land which as said herein he should discover or win in the said Oceans, and that for the government of each and every of them, he should elect three persons for each rank, and that Your Highnesses should take and choose the one who is most suited to your service, so that in this way the lands which Our Lord permits him to find or win in Your Highnesses service may be better ruled.

[...] [1]

These titles would be confirmed by the monarchs on his return from his first voyage in May 1493. Of these, the best known in Castile, which paid the most attention both Columbus and the monarchs, was the Admiral.[ clarification needed ]


According to the capitulations of Santa Fe, all lands discovered by Christopher Columbus were part of his viceroyalty:

Americas Landmass comprising North America, Central America and South America

The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.

Guanahani island

Guanahani is an island in the Bahamas that was the first land in the New World sighted and visited by Christopher Columbus' first voyage, on October 12, 1492. It is not known precisely which island it was, and several theories have been put forth by historians. Guanahani is the native Taíno name; Columbus called it San Salvador.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Christopher Columbus Travels Westindies.jpg
Christopher Columbus Travels
Guadeloupe Overseas region and department in France

Guadeloupe is an overseas region of France in the Caribbean. It consists of six inhabited islands, Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes, as well as many uninhabited islands and outcroppings.

Puerto Rico Unincorporated territory of the United States

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

Lesser Antilles Archipelago in the Southeast Caribbean

The Lesser Antilles is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America. The islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Together, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles. When combined with the Lucayan Archipelago, all three are known as the West Indies.

The kings sent to the Spanish as pesquisador judge (with government functions) to Francisco de Bobadilla in 1500, which upon arrival (August 23) arrested Columbus and his brothers and sailed Spain, dismissing him from the government. Columbus refused to be removed the shackles around his trip to Spain, during which he wrote a long letter to the Catholic Monarchs. Upon arriving to Spain he regained his freedom, but had perdidosu prestige, its powers and the virreinato. Bobadilla was also relieved of his government and replaced by Nicolas de Ovando in 1502.

Since 1499 the kings authorized other trips of discovery without the authorization of Columbus, including those of Alonso de Ojeda and Vicente Yanez Pinzon, creating for them governments in the territories they discovered: the governorate Coquibacoa on the coast of Venezuela, except Paria discovered by Columbus was for De Ojeda and Pinzón the governor off the coast of Brazil between the Amazon river and the Cape Holy Mary of Consolation. These governorates were exempted from the Viceroyalty of the Indies.

The Viceroyalty after the death of Columbus

On Christopher Columbus's death his eldest son Diego Columbus inherited his father's rights in the Americas, including the viceroyalty. However, King Ferdinand refused at first to transfer all rights of his father and appointed him governor of Hispaniola in 1508. Diego began a series of lawsuits against the crown known as the Columbian Lawsuits, and in 1511 his rights as viceroy were recognized, but with limited jurisdiction over those territories that had been officially discovered by his father. Consequently, Diego Columbus became the second Viceroy of the Indies. He died in 1526 bequeathing his rights to the viceroyalty to his son Luis Colón.

During the minority of Luis Colón the transaction occurred and arbitration that ended Columbian Lawsuits with the Spanish crown and in 1537 he received the knighthood of this I Duke of Veragua and Manor territorial six hundred twenty-five square leagues, composed of lands of ancient Veragua and Castilla del Oro. He was also graced with the hereditary dignity of I Marquis of Jamaica and the lordship of the island, putting an end to the Viceroyalty of the Indies

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La Navidad Place

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  1. MEMORY OF THE WORLD REGISTER - Santa Fe Capitulations. Ref N̊ 2006-42 [ permanent dead link ] Discussion of the historical significance of the document, history, translation of text.