Real Audiencia

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The Real Audiencia (Spanish pronunciation:  [reˈal auˈðjenθja] ), or simply Audiencia (Catalan : Reial Audiència, Audiència Reial, or Audiència), was an appellate court in Spain and its empire. The name of the institution literally translates as Royal Audience. [1] The additional designation chancillería (or cancillería, Catalan: cancelleria, English: chancellery [2] ) was applied to the appellate courts in early modern Spain. [3] Each audiencia had oidores (Spanish: judges, literally, "hearers").

Catalan language Romance language

Catalan is a Western Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin and named after the medieval Principality of Catalonia, in northeastern modern Spain. It is the only official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia. It also has semi-official status in the Italian comune of Alghero. It is also spoken in the eastern strip of Aragon, in some villages of the region of Murcia called Carche and in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France. These territories are often called Països Catalans or "Catalan Countries".

An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court, court of appeals, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In most jurisdictions, the court system is divided into at least three levels: the trial court, which initially hears cases and reviews evidence and testimony to determine the facts of the case; at least one intermediate appellate court; and a supreme court which primarily reviews the decisions of the intermediate courts. A jurisdiction's supreme court is that jurisdiction's highest appellate court. Appellate courts nationwide can operate under varying rules.

An oidor was a judge of the Royal Audiencias and Chancillerías, originally courts of Kingdom of Castile, which became the highest organs of justice within the Spanish Empire. The term comes from the verb oír, "to hear," referring to the judge's obligation to listen to the parts of a judicial process, particularly during the phase of pleas.

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Audiencias in Spain

The first audiencia was founded in the Kingdom of Castile in 1371 at Valladolid. The Valladolid Audiencia functioned as the highest court in Castile for the next two centuries. Appeals from the Castilian audiencias could only be made to the Council of Castile after its creation in 1480.

Crown of Castile Former country in the Iberian Peninsula

The Crown of Castile was a medieval state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then Castilian king, Ferdinand III, to the vacant Leonese throne. It continued to exist as a separate entity after the personal union in 1469 of the crowns of Castile and Aragon with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs up to the promulgation of the Nueva Planta decrees by Philip V in 1715.

Valladolid Municipality in Castile and León, Spain

Valladolid is a city in Spain and the de facto capital of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of 309,714 people, making it Spain's 13th most populous municipality and northwestern Spain's biggest city. Its metropolitan area ranks 20th in Spain with a population of 414,244 people in 23 municipalities.

Council of Castile former part of the Spanish Empire

The Council of Castile, known earlier as the Royal Council, was a ruling body and key part of the domestic government of the Crown of Castile, second only to the monarch himself. It was established under Queen Isabella I in 1480 as the chief body dealing with administrative and judicial matters of the realm. With the 1516 ascension of King Charles I to the throne of both Castile and Aragon, the Royal Council came to be known as the Council of Castile because Charles was king of many dominions other than Castile, while the Council retained responsibility only over Castile.

After the union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon in the Kingdom of Spain and the subsequent conquest of Granada in 1492, the audiencia was divided in two, with the Audiencia of Valladolid taking cases originating north of the Tagus River, and the Royal Audiencia of Ciudad Real (1494) taking cases from south of the river. The second audiencia was moved to Granada in 1505. [3]

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a European country located in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. 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.

Granada Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Granada is the capital city of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of four rivers, the Darro, the Genil, the Monachil and the Beiro. It sits at an average elevation of 738 m (2,421 ft) above sea level, yet is only one hour by car from the Mediterranean coast, the Costa Tropical. Nearby is the Sierra Nevada Ski Station, where the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 1996 were held.

Tagus Longest river in the Iberian Peninsula

The Tagus is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula. It is 1,007 km (626 mi) long, 716 km (445 mi) in Spain, 47 km (29 mi) along the border between Portugal and Spain and 275 km (171 mi) in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Lisbon. It drains an area of 80,100 square kilometers (30,927 sq mi). The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course. Several dams and diversions supply drinking water to places of central Spain and Portugal, while dozens of hydroelectric stations create power. Between dams it follows a very constricted course, but after Almourol it enters a wide alluvial valley, prone to flooding. Its mouth is a large estuary near the port city of Lisbon.

Under Charles V and Philip II, the audiencia system was extended first in Spain proper, with the Royal Audiencia of Aragon (1528) and then to the rest of the Spanish Empire. Audiencias in cities and provinces that belong to Spain today included Seville (1566), Las Palmas (1568), Majorca (1571), Asturias (1717), and Extremadura (1790). The audiencias and viceroys of the Crown of Aragon were overseen by the Council of Aragon, which had been established in 1494.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor 16th-century Holy Roman Emperor

Charles V was Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria from 1519, King of Spain from 1516, and Lord of the Netherlands as titular Duke of Burgundy from 1506. Head of the rising House of Habsburg during the first half of the 16th century, his dominions in Europe included the Holy Roman Empire extending from Germany to northern Italy with direct rule over the Austrian hereditary lands and the burgundian Low Countries, and a unified Spain with its southern Italian kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. Furthermore, his reign encompassed both the long-lasting Spanish and short-lived German colonizations of the Americas. The personal union of the European and American territories of Charles V was the first collection of realms labelled "the empire on which the sun never sets".

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.

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.

Members of the Real Audiencia of Lima, the presidente, alcaldes de corte, fiscal and alguacil mayor. (Nueva Cronica y Buen Gobierno, p. 488) POMA0488.jpg
Members of the Real Audiencia of Lima, the presidente, alcaldes de corte, fiscal and alguacil mayor. (Nueva Crónica y Buen Gobierno, p. 488)

Audiencias in the Indies

In the Indies, the two institutions were also united, but with a different power relationship. The Crown of Castile early on introduced the audiencia into the Americas as part of its campaign to bring the area and its Spanish settlers and conquerors under royal control. With the vast conquests on the American mainland, which began in the 1520s, it became clear that the audiencia system would not be sufficient to effectively run the overseas government. Viceroys were therefore introduced, but without the judicial powers the office had enjoyed under the Aragonese Crown. In the New World, instead, the audiencias were given a consultative and quasi-legislative role in the administration of the territories. Both viceroys and audiencias were ultimately overseen by a Council of the Indies. [4] Most of the laws dealing with the establishment of the 16th- and 17th-century audiencias can be found in Book II, Title XV of the Recopilación de Leyes de los Reynos de las Indias issued in 1680.

<i>Conquistador</i> soldiers, explorers, and adventurers primarily at the service of the Spanish Empire, and also to the Portuguese Empire

Conquistadors were the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Spain and Portugal in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

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.

Laws of the Indies

The Laws of the Indies are the entire body of laws issued by the Spanish Crown for the American and the Philippine possessions of its empire. They regulated social, political, religious, and economic life in these areas. The laws are composed of myriad decrees issued over the centuries and the important laws of the 16th century, which attempted to regulate the interactions between the settlers and natives, such as the Laws of Burgos (1512) and the New Laws (1542).

The first audiencia in the Americas was established at Santo Domingo (modern Dominican Republic) in 1511 with jurisdiction over the Caribbean islands and the adjacent mainland. It was quickly suppressed due to opposition by the Spanish settlers, but was re-established permanently in 1526.

Dominican Republic Country in the Caribbean

The Dominican Republic is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of only two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two sovereign states. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area at 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10,299,000 people, of whom approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.

As the Spanish conquest of the continent continued, more audiencias were founded in the new areas of settlement. The first mainland audiencia was set up in Mexico City in 1527, just six years after the fall of Tenochtitlan, which had jurisdiction over most of what is now Mexico and Central America.

This audiencia was followed by the Audiencia of Panama, 1538, overseeing Central America and the littoral regions of northern South America until its abolishment in 1543. It later was reestablished with jurisdiction only over Panama proper in 1564, which functioned until 1751.

In 1543 with the abolition of the first Audiencia of Panama, two audiencias were established in its place: one in Guatemala with jurisdiction over Central America and another in Lima with jurisdiction over the newly settled areas of South America, which had been gained by the conquest of Peru and surrounding regions. Venezuela, settled earlier, remained under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo until the establishment of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century.

By the end of the 16th century six more audiencias had been established in:

In the 17th century two new audiencias were created in:

The last colonial audiencias were created under the Bourbon kings as part of their administrative reforms, which also involved setting up new viceroyalties. The new dynasty found no need for the second Audiencia of Panama and abolished it in 1751, transferring its jurisdiction to the one in Bogotá. New audiencias were established in:

This meant that at the moment of Spanish American independence in the early 19th century, the overseas possessions of the Spanish Monarchy were overseen by twelve audiencias. After the loss of Santo Domingo to the French in 1795, the Audiencia of Santo Domingo was transferred to Camagüey, Cuba and renamed the Audiencia of Puerto Príncipe. In 1838 a second Cuban audiencia was established in Havana, and from 1831 to 1853 Puerto Rico had its own audiencia.

Duties and composition of audiencias in the Indies

Unlike their peninsular counterparts, the overseas audiencias had legislative and executive functions in addition to their judicial ones, and thus represented the king in his role as maker of laws and dispenser of justice, as evidenced by the fact that, as chanceries (chancillerías, modern Spanish: cancillerías), they alone had the royal seal. Their importance in handling the affairs of state is reflected in the fact that many of the modern countries of Spanish-speaking South America and Panama have boundaries that are roughly the same as those of the former audiencias. Audiencias shared many government duties with the viceroys and governors-captains generals of the regions they oversaw, and so they served as a check on the authority of the latter.

An audiencia could issue local ordinances and served as a "privy council" to the viceroy or governor-captain general. In this function it often met weekly and was called by the term real acuerdo. An audiencia also oversaw the royal treasury, and when meeting in this capacity with the royal treasurer, it was referred to as a junta de hacienda (literally, "finance board"). The crown attorney (fiscal) also had the right to correspond directly with the crown, especially on treasury issues and acuerdo decisions. [5] In turn, in the viceregal capitals of Spanish America, such as Mexico and Lima, the viceroy himself served as a presidente (president) of the audiencia. Likewise the governor-captain general served in this function in the various audiencias located in the capital of a captaincy general. In both cases the president had no vote in judicial matters, unless he was a trained lawyer, and only oversaw the administration of the court. [6]

The audiencias with a viceroy or captain general in charge were referred to as audiencias pretoriales ("praetorial audiencias"), or occasionally audiencias virreinales ("viceregal audiencias"), in the case of the former. In the remaining audiencias, such as in Quito, where there was no viceroy or captain general, the president of the audiencia served as the main governor of the audiencia district and the region was often referred to as a "presidency," (e.g., the Presidency of Quito). The viceroy retained the right to oversee the administration of these audiencia districts, but could not interfere in judicial matters. These audiencias were referred to as audiencias subordinadas ("subordinate audiencias", although this did not imply that the audiencias pretoriales had the right to hear appeals).

Audiencia officials, especially the president, were subject to two forms of review. At the end of the president's term, a juicio de residencia (literally, "judgement of the period in office") was carried out, which reviewed the president's performance on the job and collected interviews many people affected by the audiencia's performance. Unscheduled inspections, called visitas (literally, "visits"), were also carried out if the crown felt it was needed. As part of the Bourbon Reforms, further limits were placed on viceroys and captains general. The office of regente, a type of chief justice, was created which removed most of the administrative functions from the viceroy or captain general. Their role as audiencia president became honorary. [7] A viceroy or captain general, as the president of the audiencia, was charged by law with corresponding with the audiencia in writing, not in verbal commands. This created a record that could be checked later. Audiencias were styled, as a body, "vuestra merced" ("your grace", in the singular) and addressed directly as "señores." [8]

The size and composition of an audiencia varied over time and place. For example, the first audiencia of Mexico had four oidores, one president and a fiscal, or crown attorney, meeting as only one chamber overseeing both civil and criminal cases. By the 17th century it had grown to two chambers handling civil and criminal cases separately. The civil chamber had eight oidores and one fiscal. The criminal chamber had four alcaldes del crimen (the chamber's equivalent of an oidor) and its own fiscal. In addition the audiencia had sundry other officers such as notaries, bailiffs, and the equivalent of modern public defenders. The smallest overseas audiencias had a composition similar to the early Mexican one.

In their judicial function, an audiencia heard appeals from cases initially handled by justices of first instance, which could be, among others, guild courts, corregidores, and alcaldes ordinarios. (See Fuero .) The audiencia also served as the court of first instance for crimes committed in the immediate jurisdiction of the city that served as the audiencia's seat and any case involving crown officials. In criminal cases the audiencia was the court of final appeal. Only civil cases involving more than 10,000 silver pesos could be appealed to the Council of the Indies, and only then within a statute of limitation of one year. [9]

The fact that Audiencia presidents were not necessarily magistrates or lawyers, but men "clad in sword and cape", meant that they did not have any vote in court cases, and the court was not bound to submit to their authority, deferring ultimately to the crown. [10] Thus, the authority of the president, when he was not a magistrate, was void in judicial matter and merely signed the verdicts. [11] The Audiencias chaired by the viceroy were called viceregal Audiencias, [12] and the chaired ones by a governor-captain general were the pretorial Audiencias. [13] [14] [15]

As the pretorial Audiencias were chaired by a governor-captain general, this situation caused to appear the post of president-governor of major districts, with direct rule over a province and superior control of other provinces included inside the territorial district of the Audiencia, so that they exercised functions similar to the viceroys. [16] Thus, another administrative division appeared: while the territories in charge of a governor were the minor provinces, [17] the juridisdiccional scope of the Audiencias constituted the major provinces. [18]

Former Viceregal Palace and seat of the Audiencia of Mexico, since independence in 1821, the National Palace. MexCity-palacio.jpg
Former Viceregal Palace and seat of the Audiencia of Mexico, since independence in 1821, the National Palace.

The members (oidores) of the Audiencia met with the president in a committee called royal agreement (real acuerdo), to take measurements for the government concerning the review of bylaws, appointments of commissioners (jueces pesquisidores), or retention of bulls, but the advice did not correspond to the Audiencia as institution but to its members as reputable people. [10] The decisions of the royal agreement were established in the concerted writs (autos acordados), nevertheless, there were matters as dispatching the issues of government, in which the Audiencia could not interfere either with the viceroy or the president-governor. [19] This way, the control of the Audiencias over the viceroys enabled to the Crown to control the functions of government of the viceroys. [20]

While the viceregal and pretorial Audiencias were chaired by men clad in sword and cape, the presidents of the subordinated Audiencias were magistrates, [12] so that, in the juridisdiccional scope of the subordinated Audiencias, the functions of government, Treasury and war belonged to the viceroy. [11] [13] [21] Therefore, in these sections of the viceroyalties there were no governors-captains general but Audiencias, and the presidency gave them the name, for example in Charcas and Quito. [22]

Although there were accumulated in the same person the offices of viceroy, governor, captain general and president of the Audiencia, each of them had different jurisdictional areas. [23] [24] The jurisdiction of the viceregal Audiencia, whose president was the viceroy, ended face up to the jurisdiction of other Audiencias inside the same viceroyalty: as the pretorial Audiencias chaired by a governor-captain general, who had administrative, political and military authority, as the subordinated Audiencias, whose president did not have this administrative, political and military authority. [13] Therefore, as governor, the direct administration of the province where was placed the viceregal capital belonged to the viceroy; nevertheless, with respect to the other governorates of the viceroyalty, his function was mere oversight or general inspection over the management of political affairs. [25] [26] [27] The imprecision in defining the powers of the viceroy and those of the provincial governors allowed the Crown to control their officials. [28]

In the viceroyalty of New Spain, the Audiencia of Mexico, chaired by the viceroy, ended its jurisdiction face up to the jurisdiction of other Audiencias of Guatemala (1543–1563; 1568-), of Manila (1583–1589; 1595-), of Guadalajara (established in Compostela in 1548 and transferred in 1560 to Guadalajara) [29] and that of Santo Domingo (1526-). The viceroy of New Spain as governor only had jurisdiction over a more reduced governorate of New Spain, and as captain general his authority did not comprise either the captaincies of Yucatán or the New Kingdom of León, [30] but it comprised the military command over the governorate of Nueva Galicia, [31] [32] which was a territory under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Guadalajara, until in 1708 the captaincy general was attached to the governor of this province of Nueva Galicia. [33]

In the viceroyalty of Peru, the viceroy presided the Audiencia of Lima (1542-), and the jurisdiction of this Audiencia ended face up to the jurisdictions of the pretorial Audiencias of Panama (1538–1543; 1563–1717), of Santa Fe de Bogotá (1547-), of Santiago de Chile (in Concepción between 1565 and 1575, and in Santiago de Chile since 1605), and that of Buenos Aires (1661–1672), whose presidents were also both governors and captains general, and in addition to these Audiencias, the viceroyalty comprised the subordinated Audiencias of Charcas (La Plata; 1559-) and Quito (1563-). [34]

Audiencias in Italy

Audiencias in the Spanish possessions in Europe included the Italian domains of Sardinia (1564–1714) and Kingdom of Sicily (1569–1707). In Italy, the Castilian institution of the audiencia was united with the Aragonese institution of the viceroy. The Aragonese viceroys were literally "vice-kings," and as such, had the power to administer justice and issue laws; therefore they were integrally involved in the judicial proceedings of the Italian audiencias. [35] In 1555 a Council of Italy was created to oversee the viceroys and audiencias in Italy.

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The Royal Audiencia of Santiago was an Audiencia Real or royal law court that functioned in Santiago de Chile during the Spanish colonial period. This body heard both civil and criminal cases. It was founded during the 17th century and abolished in 1818.

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The Real Audiencia de Manila was the Real Audiencia of the Spanish East Indies, which included modern-day Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Micronesia and the Philippines. Similar to Real Audiencias throughout the Spanish Empire, it was the highest tribunal within the territories of the Captaincy General of the Philippines, a dependency of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Captaincy General of Yucatán Spanish 1617-1821 possession in Central America

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 Real Audiencia and Chancery of Lima was a superior court in the New World empire of Spain, located in the city of Lima, capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru. It was created on November 20, 1542 as was the viceroyalty itself, by the Emperor Charles V. The Audiencia began functioning in 1543 and initially had jurisdiction over the entire viceroyalty—virtually all of Spanish-controlled South America and Panama. Later other audiencias were established in the Viceroyalty. The Audiencia functioned until 1821 when the forces of José de San Martín entered Lima.

Colombian Declaration of Independence

The Colombian Declaration of Independence refers to the events of July 20, 1810, in Santa Fe de Bogota, in the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Granada. They resulted in the establishment of a Junta de Santa Fe that day. The experience in self-government eventually led to the creation of the Republic of Colombia.(Note: The initial ambitious area, in accordance with the Viceroyalty of New Granada and Captaincy of Venezuela, included much more than current Colombia; to differentiate it, historians call this supra-nation: Republic of Gran Colombia.)

The Royal Audience and Chancery of Panama in Tierra Firme was a governing body and superior court in the New World empire of Spain. The Audiencia of Panama was the third American audiencia after the ones of Santo Domingo and Mexico. It existed three times under various guises since it first creation in 1538 until its ultimate abolition in 1751.

The Real Audiencia of Santiago de Guatemala, simply known as the Audiencia of Guatemala or the Audiencia of Los Confines, was a superior court in area of the New World empire of Spain, known as the Kingdom of Guatemala. This area included the current territories of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Mexican state of Chiapas. The Audiencia's presiding officer, the president, was the head of the government of the area. The Audiencia was initially created by decrees of November 20, 1542 and September 13, 1543, and had its seat in Antigua Guatemala.

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.

References

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  2. "Chancillería". Google Translate. Google. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
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Further reading