General Archive of the Indies

Last updated
General Archive of the Indies
Native name
Spanish: Archivo General de Indias
Archivo de Indias 002.jpg
The Archivo de Indias, Seville
Location Seville, Andalusia, Spain
Coordinates 37°23′02″N5°59′31″W / 37.384°N 5.992°W / 37.384; -5.992 Coordinates: 37°23′02″N5°59′31″W / 37.384°N 5.992°W / 37.384; -5.992
Built16th century
Architect Juan de Herrera
Juan de Mijares
Architectural style(s) Renaissance
Official name: Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
TypeCultural
Criteriai, ii, iii, vi
Designated1987 (118th session)
Reference no. 383
Region Europe
Location map Seville.png
Red pog.svg
Location in Seville

The Archivo General de Indias (Spanish pronunciation:  [aɾˈtʃiβo xeneˈɾal de ˈindjas] , "General Archive of the Indies"), housed in the ancient merchants' exchange of Seville, Spain, the Casa Lonja de Mercaderes, is the repository of extremely valuable archival documents illustrating the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines. The building itself, an unusually serene and Italianate example of Spanish Renaissance architecture, was designed by Juan de Herrera. This structure and its contents were registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site together with the adjoining Seville Cathedral and the Alcázar of Seville.

Seville Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Seville is a Spanish city, the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville. It is situated on the lower reaches of the Guadalquivir River, in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Seville has a municipal population of about 690,000 as of 2016, and a metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the largest city in Andalusia, the fourth-largest city in Spain and the 30th most populous municipality in the European Union. Its Old Town, with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. Seville experiences high temperatures in the Summer, with daily maximums routinely above 35 °C (95 °F) in July and August.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

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 and the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies". It also included 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 was the world's most powerful empire during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, reaching its maximum extension in the 18th century. The Spanish Empire had been called "the empire on which the sun never sets".

Contents

Structure

The origin of the structure dates to 1572 when Philip II commissioned the building from Juan de Herrera, the architect of the Escorial to house the Consulado de mercaderes of Seville. Until then, the merchants of Seville had been in the habit of retreating to the cool recesses of the cathedral to transact business.

Philip II of Spain King of Spain and King of England by marriage to Mary I

Philip II of Spain was King of Spain (1556–98), King of Portugal, King of Naples and Sicily, and jure uxoris King of England and Ireland. He was also Duke of Milan. From 1555 he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.

Juan de Herrera Spanish architect

Juan de Herrera was a Spanish architect, mathematician and geometrician.

Consulado de mercaderes

The Consulado de mercaderes was the merchant guild of Seville founded in 1543; the Consulado enjoyed virtual monopoly rights over goods shipped to America, in a regular and closely controlled West Indies Fleet, and handled much of the silver this trade generated.

The building encloses a large central patio with ranges of two storeys, the windows set in slightly sunken panels between flat pilasters. Plain square tablets float in the space above each window. The building is surmounted by a balustrade, with rusticated obelisks standing at the corners. There is no sculptural decoration, only the discreetly contrasting tonalities of stone and stucco, and the light shadows cast by the slight relief of the pilasters against their piers, by the cornices, and by the cornice strips that cap each window.

An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape or pyramidion at the top. These were originally called tekhenu by their builders, the Ancient Egyptians. The Greeks who saw them used the Greek term 'obeliskos' to describe them, and this word passed into Latin and ultimately English. Ancient obelisks are monolithic; that is, they consist of a single stone. Most modern obelisks are made of several stones.

The building was begun in 1584 by Juan de Mijares, using Herrera's plans, and was ready for occupation in 1598, according to an inscription on the north façade. Work on completing the structure proceeded through the 17th century, directed until 1629 by the archbishop Juan de Zumárraga and finished by Pedro Sanchez Falconete.

Researchers who wish to examine the archive's sources use another building located across the street.

Contents

View of the main courtyard. ArchivoIndias patio interior.JPG
View of the main courtyard.

In 1785, by decree of Charles III the archives of the Council of the Indies were to be housed here, in order to bring together under a single roof all the documentation regarding the overseas empire, which until that time had been dispersed among various archives, as Simancas, Cádiz and Seville. [1] Responsibility for the project was delegated to José de Gálvez y Gallardo, Secretary for the Indies, who depended on the historian Juan Bautista Muñoz for the plan's execution. Two basic motivations underlay the project; in addition to the lack of space in the Archivo General de Simancas, the central archive of the Spanish Crown, there was also the expectation, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, that Spanish historians would take up the history of Spain's colonial empire. It was decided that, for the time being, documents evolved after 1760 would remain with their primary institutions.

Charles III of Spain King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788

Charles III was King of Spain (1759–1788), after ruling Naples as Charles VII and Sicily as Charles V (1734–1759). He was the fifth son of Philip V of Spain, and the eldest son of Philip's second wife, Elisabeth Farnese. A proponent of enlightened absolutism, he succeeded to the Spanish throne on 10 August 1759, upon the death of his half-brother Ferdinand VI, who left no heirs.

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.

Simancas Municipality in Castile and León, Spain

Simancas is a town and municipality of central Spain, located in the province of Valladolid, part of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is situated approximately 10 km southwest of the provincial capital Valladolid, on the road to Zamora and the right bank of the river Pisuerga.

The first cartloads of the documents arrived in October 1785. Some restructuring of the Casa Lonja to accommodate the materials was required, and a grand marble staircase was added in 1787, to designs of Lucas Cintara.

The archives are rich with autograph material from the first of the Conquistadores to the end of the 19th century. Here are Miguel de Cervantes' request for an official post, the Bull of Demarcation Inter caetera of Pope Alexander VI that divided the world between Spain and Portugal, the journal of Christopher Columbus, maps and plans of the colonial American cities, in addition to the ordinary archives that reveal the month-to-month workings of the whole vast colonial machinery, which have been mined by many historians in the last two centuries.

Miguel de Cervantes Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish writer who is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists. His novel Don Quixote has been translated into over 140 languages and dialects; it is, after the Bible, the most-translated book in the world.

Papal bull Type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church

A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It is named after the leaden seal (bulla) that was traditionally appended to the end in order to authenticate it.

<i>Inter caetera</i> papal bull

Inter caetera was a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI on the fourth of May 1493, which granted to the Catholic Majesties of Ferdinand and Isabella all lands to the "west and south" of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde islands.

Today the Archivo General de Indias houses some nine kilometers of shelving, in 43,000 volumes and some 80 million pages, which were produced by the colonial administration:

Fountain.
View of a corridor with a cannon. ArchivoIndias pasillo.JPG
View of a corridor with a cannon.

The structure underwent a thorough restoration in 2002–2004, without interrupting its function as a research library. As of 2005, its 15 million pages are in the process of being digitized. The digitized sources are accessible online [2]

Related Research Articles

<i>Casa de Contratación</i> crown agency for the Spanish Empire

The Casa de Contratación or Casa de la Contratación de las Indias was established by the Crown of Castile, in 1503 in the port of Seville as a crown agency for the Spanish Empire. It functioned until 1790, when it was abolished in a government reorganization. Before the establishment of the Council of the Indies in 1524, the Casa de Contratación had broad powers over overseas matters, especially financial matters concerning trade and legal disputes arising from it. It also was responsible for the licensing of emigrants, training of pilots, creation of maps and charters, probate of estates of Spaniards dying overseas. Its official name was La Casa y Audiencia de Indias.

Seville Cathedral Church in Seville, Spain

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the adjoining Alcázar palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies. "See" refers to the episcopal see, i.e., the bishop's ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It is the third-largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church.

History of Seville

Seville has been one of the most important cities in Spain since ancient times; the first settlers of the site have been identified with the Tartessian culture. The destruction of their settlement is attributed to the Carthaginians, giving way to the emergence of the Roman city of Hispalis, built very near the Roman colony of Itálica, which was only 9 km northwest of present-day Seville. Itálica, the birthplace of the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian, was founded in 206-205 BC. Itálica is well preserved and gives an impression of how Hispalis may have looked in the later Roman period. Its ruins are now an important tourist attraction. Under the rule of the Visigothic Kingdom, Hispalis housed the royal court on some occasions.

Alcázar of Seville cultural property in Sevilla, Spain

The Alcázar of Seville, commonly known as the Royal Alcázars of Seville, is a royal palace in Seville, Spain, built for the Christian king Peter of Castile. It was built by Castilian Christians on the site of an Abbadid Muslim residential fortress destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville. The palace, a preeminent example of Mudéjar architecture in the Iberian Peninsula, is renowned as one of the most beautiful. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as their official residence in Seville, and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the adjoining Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

Casco Antiguo

The Casco Antiguo is the city centre district of Seville, the capital of the Spanish region of Andalusia. It lies on the east bank of the Guadalquivir river. The Casco Antiguo borders the Macarena to the north, Nervión and San Pablo-Santa Justa to the east and the Distrito Sur to the south. Bridges across the Guadalquivir link the Casco Antiguo to Triana and Los Remedios on the Isla de La Cartuja.

Llotja ; in Aragonese: loncha; in Spanish: lonja; is a Spanish term for important buildings used for commercial purpose during the Middle Ages and Early Modern Ages.

La Casa de la Ciencia Science museum in Seville, Spain

La Casa de la Ciencia in the city of Seville, Spain is a centre for popularizing science.

Juan Bautista Muñoz Spanish philosopher and historian

Juan Bautista Muñoz was an 18th-century Spanish philosopher and historian.

There are numerous sights and landmarks of Seville. The most important sights are the Alcázar, the Seville Cathedral, and the Archivo General de Indias, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Seville Shipyard

The Seville Shipyard is a medieval shipyard in the city of Seville. They were operative between the 13th and 15th centuries, and are built in Gothic style.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Seville, Andalusia, Spain.

San Nicolás de Bari, Burgos cultural property in Burgos, Spain

Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari is a Catholic church on Fernán González street in Burgos, Spain, located next to the Camino de Santiago, behind the Cathedral of Burgos. It is mainly known for having one of the largest altarpieces in Spain and the only one carved in limestone, commissioned by the Polanco noble merchant family of Burgos.

The Puerta de Triana was the generic name for an Almohad gate and a Christian gate rose in the same place. It was one of the gates of the walled enclosure of Seville (Andalusia).

The Alcázar de San Juan–Cádiz railway is an important Iberian-gauge railway line in Spain. It branches from the Madrid–Valencia railway at Alcázar de San Juan and terminates in Cádiz. It was once the only line linking Madrid to Seville, but now primarily serves local commuter rail services and regional traffic since the opening of the Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line in 1992.

References

  1. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World. Stanford: Stanford University Press 2001, p. 170.
  2. "Portal de Archivos Españoles". pares.mcu.es. 18 May 2018.