Friday, October 19, 2012

Viceroyalty of Peru

Today I continue my look at the colonial New World, focusing on the Viceroyalty of Peru, which, until 1717, encompassed Spanish South America and Panama.  In 1717, the Viceroyalty of New Granada would be carved off the north, and in 1776, the Viceroyalty of La Plata to the Southeast.  You might note the map below.

File:Audencias of Viceroyalty of Peru.PNG
The Viceroyalty of Peru around 1650AD.  The numbers and colors designate Audiencias -- 1, Panama, 2, Bogota, and 3, Quito would become, with Venezuela, the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717AD, 4, Lima, and 6, Santiago, which would remain under the Viceroy of Lima until independence, and 5, Las Charcas, which became the Viceroyalty of La Plata in 1776AD.  This map, if anything, over estimates how far the authority of the audiencias of Lima and Las Charcas extended -- the Portuguese were in the way!

[* refers to the date of the establishment of a diocese, ** is for an Archdiocese]

  • Initially, from the formation of the Viceroyalty seated at Lima in 1542, all of Spanish South America was part of a single Viceroyalty of Peru.  It consisted of several audiencias:
      • Lima: It was from here that St. Rose of Lima & St. Martin de Porres hailed! The capital was Lima, the “City of the Kings,” (*1541, **1546) which, in 1574, boasted 2,000 Spanish families, 25,000 Indians, five monasteries, two convents, two hospitals. This was established as a viceroyalty in 1542, and Audiencia in 1543, but it was not well organized until Viceroy Francisco de Toledo (1569-1580) arrived.
      • Further inland the old Inca city of Cuzco would be the early seat of a bishopric (*1536) and later, in 1787, an audiencia.
      • To the south, there would eventually be an Audiencia in Chile in 1609 (*1561 at Santiago).  The highlands to the north subsisted on mining, but this area would be focused on agriculture.  A Captaincy General was erected in Chile in 1778.
·     The second Viceroyalty of South America, New Granada was split off of Peru in 1717, suppressed in 1723, and then again established in 1739, this viceroyalty consisted of northern South America. This included the famous Spanish Main along the coast of the Caribbean Sea.  Its audiencias were as follows:
  • oThe capital was Santa Fe de Bogota, founded in 1538 by Jiminez de Quesada at over 8,000 ft. (*1562, **1564), which received its Audiencia in 1548, and oversaw what is now modern Colombia. St. Peter Claver did his work at the important port of Cartagena, founded in 1533 (*1534) in this area.  The Audiencia would be famous for its emeralds.
    oPanama (*1513), which received an Audiencia in 1538/1564, but was suppressed in 1751 and merged with Santa Fe.
    oQuito was raised to an Audiencia in 1563, and governed the area of modern Ecuador.  It was added to the realms of Spain in 1534 by Sebastian de Benalcazar.  It was a relative backwater, owing to the lack of mineral wealth.  In Quito of 1574, there were 400 Spanish families, three monasteries (with an Indian school at the Franciscan monastery), and a hospital.  It would also be notable for its art.
    oVenezuela (under Santo Domingo until formation of New Granada), and made a Captaincy General, at Caracas, in 1777 (*1531, Diocese of Coro until 1637). It received an Audiencia in 1786.

    • The last of the viceroyalties created, Rio de la Plata was in the south, and bordered the Portuguese colony of Brazil. The Viceroyalty was formed in 1776, to combat foreign incursions into what had been the backwater of Spanish America
      • The capital of the Viceroyalty was Buenos Aires (*1620), a city founded initially in 1536, but abandoned in 1541, and permanently founded in 1580, but cut off from foreign trade, except for black market activities, it received an Audiencia in 1783.  The Spanish crown hoped to exert itself into an area that the Portuguese sought to encroach upon.  Most of Argentina had been a vast cattle ranch, whose products were taken into the mountains of Bolivia and Peru – to feed the mines. 
      • The original Audiencia of this area, since 1559, was known as Las Charcas, under the Viceroyalty of Peru.  This was located in the modern city of Sucre (*1552), Bolivia. Of crucial importance, at least until the late 17th century for this area were the silver mines at Potosi – founded around 1545 at 13,780 ft.; for its first 50 years it was the most plentiful source of silver ever known. It would reach a population of 160,000. It would later be eclipsed by the mines of Mexico and Peru.
      • It was in the border land between modern Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, that the famous Jesuit reductions operated.  This was the real thriving part of Argentina and Paraguay – the Jesuits missions and a city like Cordoba (*1570), officially founded in 1573, which had one of the earliest Universities in the New World, founded in 1613.  Of course, the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1769 would be tragic for this region, as had the earlier conflicts with the Portuguese.

Sources: American Colonial and Revolutionary History by Smelser, Spain in America by Bourne, and The Columbia Encyclopedia [for a few dates].

Live well!

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