Viceroyalty of Peru
One of the territorial units in which the Spanish Crown divided its territories in America. In this article we will provide you information about Viceroyalty of Peru.
|Capital||Lima (1543-1821) – Cusco (1821-1824).|
The viceroyalty of Peru was one of the territorial units in which the Spanish Crown divided its territories in America from the conquest .
The viceroyalty was founded by the New Laws of the Indies, dictated by Carlos I, in November 1542 , although its effective implementation only took place the following year. At the time of its foundation, it covered most of the territories of South America, from present-day Argentina to Panama . The current Venezuela, which made up the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, dependent on the Viceroyalty of New Spain, nor most of the territory of Brazil, which remained unexplored or was part of the Portuguese Empire, were not part of the viceroyalty.
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The territory of the viceroyalty of Peru was undergoing changes over time. On the eastern region, the Portuguese advance occupied areas of the Amazon region. In addition, from the arrival of the Bourbon dynasty to the Spanish Crown, a series of political reforms were implemented that modified the structure of the viceroyalty.
In 1717 the viceroyalty of Nueva Granada was instituted , which included present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Guyana, and in 1776 the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata was created , made up of the current territories of Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and part of Brazil and Chile. In this way, the viceroyalty of Peru was reduced approximately to the current Peruvian territory and the north of Chile .
The viceroyalty of Peru was dissolved in 1824 when Pío de Tristán, its last viceroy, recognized the Independence of Peru after the battle of Ayacucho .
Characteristics of the viceroyalty of Peru
The main characteristics of the viceroyalty of Peru were the following:
- Between 1542 and 1821 its capital was the city of Lima , founded by Francisco Pizarro under the name of Ciudad de los Reyes, in 1535. When General José de San Martín declared the independence of Peru, in 1821, the capital moved to Cusco , which remained in royal power .
- The viceregal territory was divided for its administration into provinces, called corregimientos , which were under the command of a magistrate. The number and extension of the townships has varied throughout history. From the end of the 18th century the townships were replaced by municipalities .
- The economy of the viceroyalty was rigidly controlled by the metropolis . According to the mercantilist theory prevailing in the first centuries of the occupation, the economy was mainly sustained by mining and trade with Spain . Precious metals, especially potosine silver, were sent to Spain through the port of El Callao.
- The silver mines of Potosí, in present-day Bolivia, were one of the most important sources of precious metals in America. They were exploited through the work of the indigenous people with the mitas system inherited from the Inca Empire .
- The activity agriculture in some areas was important, but was devoted mostly to the domestic consumption of the Viceroyalty.
- During the early days, the port of El Callao, in Lima, was, together with that of Veracruz and Seville, in Spain, one of the only ones authorized for trade. As a consequence, during the first century of its existence, the city of Lima lived through a period of great prosperity that it could not sustain when other ports were opened to trade, starting with the Bourbon Reforms.
- During the independence wars, the viceroyalty of Peru was the last place of realistic resistance . From there armies were organized and sent to fight the revolutionary forces.
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Causes of the creation of the Viceroyalty of Peru
Among the causes of the creation of the viceroyalty of Peru, the following can be mentioned:
- The enormous extension of the conquered lands required organizing a system that would allow the effective occupation of the continent and the control of the aboriginal peoples immediately after the conquest of the Inca Empire.
- The conflicts between the conquerors and the abuse they exerted on the native peoples convinced the monarch of the need to impose his authority in a concrete way, through the figure of a direct representative: the viceroy.
- The Spanish monarchy had the need to impose its presence in the American territory with authorities designated by the crown.
- The need to order activities in America through a centralized policy that would establish a system of specific laws for the new reality.
Political organization of the viceroyalty of Peru
The political organization of the viceroyalty of Peru was as follows:
- The highest authority of the viceroyalty was a viceroy , representative of the King of Spain in America and elected by him at the suggestion of the Council of the Indies . This body, which was based in Spain, also made the laws that governed life in the viceroyalty. In theory the viceroys had broad powers, but in practice they found certain limitations in the innumerable laws that governed life in America. In addition, when they left their position they had to go through a residency trial in which their performance was evaluated.
- Justice was in charge of the hearings . In the early days 6 were founded: Panama (1538), Lima (1543), Santa Fe de Bogotá (1548); Ponds (1559); Quito (1563) and Chile (1563-1573, founded again in 1606). Later, 2 more were founded: the Royal Court of Buenos Aires (1661-1672 and then in 1776) and the Royal Court of Cusco (1787).
- The viceroys, the captains general (in charge of the general captaincies located in strategic areas) and the oidores (members of the audiences) were administratively dependent on the Council of the Indies .
- The corregidores were the political heads of each of the provinces or townships into which the viceroyalty was divided until 1784, when these jurisdictions were replaced by intendencies. They also dispensed justice, presided over town councils and took care of the security of the cities. In addition to the Spanish corregidores, there was the figure of the Indian corregidor . This official dealt with matters related to native peoples.