New Spain
Overview
 
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. Its capital was Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire. New Spain was established following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521, and at its greatest extent included much of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 south of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

: all of present-day Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 (except Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

), most of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and the Floridas
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

.

New Spain also included the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

 (Philippine Islands, Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands
The Mariana Islands are an arc-shaped archipelago made up by the summits of 15 volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east...

, the Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

, Taiwan
Spanish Formosa
Spanish Formosa was a Spanish colony established in the north of Taiwan from 1626 to 1642...

, and parts of the Moluccas) and the Spanish West Indies
Spanish West Indies
The Spanish West Indies was the contemporary name for the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean...

 (Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 with Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica...

, Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, and the Bay Islands
Bay Islands (department)
Islas de la Bahía is one of the 18 departments into which the Central American nation of Honduras is divided. The departmental capital is Roatan, on the island of Roatán....

).

Administrative units included Las Californias
Las Californias
The Californias, or in — - was the name given by the Spanish to their northwestern territory of New Spain, comprising the present day states of Baja California and Baja California Sur on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico; and the present day U.S. state of California in the United States of...

 (present-day Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

, Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur , is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state on October 8, 1974, the area was known as the South Territory of Baja California. It has an area of , or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises...

, western Colorado, Utah and south Wyoming), Nueva Extremadura
Nueva Extremadura
Nueva Extremadura could refer to* a region in the north of New Spain, in present day Texas, the United States of America, and northern Mexico.* the name given to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia...

 (including the present-day states of Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

 and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

), and Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and later Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande , in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico...

 (including parts of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

).

New Spain was the first of four viceroyalties created to govern Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

's foreign colonies.
Encyclopedia
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. Its capital was Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire. New Spain was established following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521, and at its greatest extent included much of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 south of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

: all of present-day Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 (except Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

), most of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and the Floridas
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

.

New Spain also included the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

 (Philippine Islands, Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands
The Mariana Islands are an arc-shaped archipelago made up by the summits of 15 volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east...

, the Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

, Taiwan
Spanish Formosa
Spanish Formosa was a Spanish colony established in the north of Taiwan from 1626 to 1642...

, and parts of the Moluccas) and the Spanish West Indies
Spanish West Indies
The Spanish West Indies was the contemporary name for the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean...

 (Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 with Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica...

, Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, and the Bay Islands
Bay Islands (department)
Islas de la Bahía is one of the 18 departments into which the Central American nation of Honduras is divided. The departmental capital is Roatan, on the island of Roatán....

).

Administrative units included Las Californias
Las Californias
The Californias, or in — - was the name given by the Spanish to their northwestern territory of New Spain, comprising the present day states of Baja California and Baja California Sur on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico; and the present day U.S. state of California in the United States of...

 (present-day Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

, Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur , is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state on October 8, 1974, the area was known as the South Territory of Baja California. It has an area of , or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises...

, western Colorado, Utah and south Wyoming), Nueva Extremadura
Nueva Extremadura
Nueva Extremadura could refer to* a region in the north of New Spain, in present day Texas, the United States of America, and northern Mexico.* the name given to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia...

 (including the present-day states of Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

 and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

), and Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and later Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande , in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico...

 (including parts of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

).

New Spain was the first of four viceroyalties created to govern Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

's foreign colonies. New Spain was ruled by a viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 in Mexico City who governed the various territories of New Spain on behalf of the King of Spain. The Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 was created in 1542 following the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This historic process of military conquest was made by Spanish conquistadores and their native allies....

. In the 18th century the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada, and the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata
Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, , was the last and most short-lived Viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire in America.The Viceroyalty was established in 1776 out of several former Viceroyalty of Perú dependencies that mainly extended over the Río de la Plata basin, roughly the present day...

 were also created.

Establishment (1521–1535)

The creation of a viceroyalty in the Americas was a result of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire (1519 to 1521). The lands and societies brought under Spanish control were of unprecedented complexity and wealth, which presented both an incredible opportunity and a threat to the Crown of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

. The societies could provide the conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

s, especially Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

, a base from which to become autonomous, or even independent, of the Crown. As a result the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 and King of Spain, Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 created the Council of the Indies in 1524.

A few years later the first mainland Audiencia was created in 1527 to take over the administration of New Spain from Hernán Cortés. An earlier Audiencia had been established in Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

 in 1526 to deal with the Caribbean settlements. The Audiencia, housed in the Casa Reales
Museo de las Casas Reales
The Museo de las Casas Reales, is one of the important cultural monuments built during the colonial era in la Hispanola. This monument is located in the Colonial district, of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic....

 in Santo Domingo, was charged with encouraging further exploration and settlements under its own authority. Management by the Audiencia, which was expected to make executive decisions as a body, proved unwieldy.

Therefore in 1535, King Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 named Antonio de Mendoza
Antonio de Mendoza
Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, Marquis of Mondéjar, Count of Tendilla , was the first viceroy of New Spain, serving from April 17, 1535 to November 25, 1550, and the second viceroy of Peru, from September 23, 1551 to July 21, 1552...

 as the first Viceroy of New Spain. After the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This historic process of military conquest was made by Spanish conquistadores and their native allies....

 in 1532 opened up the vast territories of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 to further conquests, the Crown established an independent Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 there in 1540.

Exploration and Settlement (1519–1643)


Upon his arrival, Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza vigorously took to the duties entrusted to him by the King and encouraged the exploration of Spain's new mainland territories. He commissioned the expeditions of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado into the present day American Southwest
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

 in 1540–1542. The Viceroy commissioned Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was a Portuguese explorer noted for his exploration of the west coast of North America on behalf of Spain. Cabrillo was the first European explorer to navigate the coast of present day California in the United States...

 in the first Spanish exploration up the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 along the western coast of the Las Californias
Las Californias
The Californias, or in — - was the name given by the Spanish to their northwestern territory of New Spain, comprising the present day states of Baja California and Baja California Sur on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico; and the present day U.S. state of California in the United States of...

 Province in 1542–1543. He sailed above present day Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

 (Vieja California), to what he called 'New California' (Nueva California), becoming the first European to see present day California, U.S. The Viceroy also sent Ruy López de Villalobos
Ruy López de Villalobos
Ruy López de Villalobos was a Spanish explorer who sailed the Pacific from Mexico to establish a permanent foothold for Spain in the East Indies, which was near the Line of Demarcation between Spain and Portugal according to the Treaty of Saragossa in 1529...

 to the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

 in 1542–1543. As these new territories became controlled, they were brought under the purview of the Viceroy of New Spain.

During the 16th century, many Spanish cities were established in North and Central America. Spain attempted to establish missions in what is now the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 including Georgia
Spanish missions in Georgia
The Spanish missions in Georgia comprise a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholics in order to spread the Christian doctrine among the local Native Americans. The Spanish chapter of Georgia's earliest colonial history is dominated by the lengthy mission era, extending from...

 and South Carolina
Spanish missions in the Carolinas
The Spanish missions in the Carolinas were part of a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholics in order to spread the Christian doctrine among the local Native Americans...

 between 1568 and 1587. Despite their efforts, the Spaniards were only successful in the region of present day Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, where they founded St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

 in 1565.

Seeking to develop trade between the East Indies
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

 and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 across the Pacific Ocean, Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador who established one of the first European settlements in the East Indies and the Pacific Islands in 1565. He is the first Governor-General in the Philippines...

 established the first Spanish settlement in the Philippine Islands in 1565, which became the town of San Miguel. Andrés de Urdaneta
Andrés de Urdaneta
Friar Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A., was a circumnavigator, explorer and Augustinian friar. As a navigator he achieved in 1536 the "second" world circumnavigation after first one led by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1522...

 discovered an efficient sailing route from the Philippine Islands returning to Mexico. In 1571, the city of Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 became the capital of the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

, with trade soon beginning via the Manila-Acapulco Galleons
Manila Galleon
The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila in the Philippines, and Acapulco, New Spain . The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from...

. The Manila-Acapulco trade route shipped products such as silks, spices, silver, and gold, and enslaved people to the Americas from Asia.

Products brought from East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 were sent to Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

 México, then shipped to Spain, and then traded across Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. There were attacks on these shipments in the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 and Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

 by British and Dutch pirates and privateers, led by Francis Drake
Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the...

 in 1586, and Thomas Cavendish
Thomas Cavendish
Sir Thomas Cavendish was an English explorer and a privateer known as "The Navigator" because he was the first who deliberately tried to emulate Sir Francis Drake and raid the Spanish towns and ships in the Pacific and return by circumnavigating the globe...

 in 1587. In addition, the cities of Huatulco
Huatulco
Huatulco , centered on the town of La Crucecita, is a tourist development in Mexico. It is located on the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca. Huatulco's tourism industry is centered on its nine bays thus the name Bahias de Huatulco but has since been unofficially shortened to simply Huatulco...

 (Oaxaca) and Barra de Navidad
Barra de Navidad
Barra de Navidad is a small town located on the western coast-line of the Mexican state of Jalisco.The town of Barra de Navidad with a population of 7000+ is a small farming and fishing community located on the east end of the Bahía de Navidad, 60 km north of Manzanillo...

 in Jalisco
Jalisco
Jalisco officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and divided in 125 municipalities and its capital city is Guadalajara.It is one of the more important states...

 Province of México were sacked. Lope Díez de Armendáriz was the first Viceroy of New Spain that was born in the 'New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

' (Nueva España). He formed the 'Navy of Barlovento' (Armada de Barlovento), based in Veracruz, to patrol coastal regions and protect the harbor
Harbor
A harbor or harbour , or haven, is a place where ships, boats, and barges can seek shelter from stormy weather, or else are stored for future use. Harbors can be natural or artificial...

s, port towns, and trade ships from pirates
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 and privateers.

New Mexico

Luis de Velasco, marqués de Salinas
Luis de Velasco, marqués de Salinas
Luis de Velasco, marqués de Salinas , Spanish nobleman, son of the second viceroy of New Spain, and himself the eighth viceroy. He governed from January 27, 1590 to November 4, 1595, and again from July 2, 1607 to June 10, 1611...

 gained control over many of the semi-nomadic Chichimeca
Chichimeca
Chichimeca was the name that the Nahua peoples of Mexico generically applied to a wide range of semi-nomadic peoples who inhabited the north of modern-day Mexico and southwestern United States, and carried the same sense as the European term "barbarian"...

 indigenous tribes of northern México in 1591 for awhile. This allowed expansion into the 'Province of New Mexico' or Provincia de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and later Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande , in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico...

. In 1598, Juan de Oñate
Juan de Oñate
Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar was a Spanish explorer, colonial governor of the New Spain province of New Mexico, and founder of various settlements in the present day Southwest of the United States.-Biography:...

 pioneered 'The Royal Road of the Interior Land' or El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro between Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and the 12CE Tewa village of 'Ohkay Owingeh' or San Juan Pueblo
Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico
Ohkay Owingeh is a pueblo and census designated place in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, United States. Its elevation is and it is located at . One of its boundaries is contiguous with Española, about north of Santa Fe....

. He also founded the settlement (a Spanish pueblo) of San Juan
San Juan, New Mexico
San Juan is a census-designated place in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 592 at the 2000 census.-Geography:San Juan is located at , a few miles north of Espanola....

 on the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

 near the Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 Pueblo, located in the present day U.S. state of New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

. In 1609, Pedro de Peralta, a later governor of the Province of New Mexico
Spanish governors of New Mexico
The following is a list of governors of the Province of New Mexico under the Viceroyalty of New Spain.*Juan de Oñate *Cristóbal de Oñate *Pedro de Peralta *Bernadino de Ceballos...

, established the settlement of Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

 in the region of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. They are located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the United States...

 on the Rio Grande. Missions were established for conversions and agricultural industry. The territory's Puebloan peoples resented the Spaniards denigration and prohibition of their traditional religion, and their encomienda
Encomienda
The encomienda was a system that was employed mainly by the Spanish crown during the colonization of the Americas to regulate Native American labor....

 system's forced labor. The Pueblo Revolt
Pueblo Revolt
The Pueblo Revolt of 1680, or Popé's Rebellion, was an uprising of several pueblos of the Pueblo people against Spanish colonization of the Americas in the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México.-Background:...

 ensued in 1680, with final resolution including some freedom from Spanish efforts to eradicate their culture and religion, the issuing of substantial communal land grant
Land grant
A land grant is a gift of real estate – land or its privileges – made by a government or other authority as a reward for services to an individual, especially in return for military service...

s to each Pueblo, and a public defender of their rights and for their legal cases in Spanish courts. In 1776 the Province came under the new Provincias Internas jurisdiction. In the late 18th century the Spanish land grant
Spanish land grants in New Mexico
The Spanish, and later the Mexican, government encouraged settlement of the Territorio de Nuevo Mexico by the establishment of large land grants, many of which were turned into ranchos, devoted to the raising of cattle and sheep. The owners of these ranchos patterned themselves after the landed...

 encouraged the settlement by individuals of large land parcels outside Mission
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

 and Pueblo boundaries, many of which became ranch
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

os.

California

In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno
Sebastián Vizcaíno
Sebastián Vizcaíno was a Spanish soldier, entrepreneur, explorer, and diplomat whose varied roles took him to New Spain, the Philippines, the Baja California peninsula, the California coast and Japan.-Early career:...

, the first Spanish presence in the 'New California' or Nueva California region of the frontier Las Californias
Las Californias
The Californias, or in — - was the name given by the Spanish to their northwestern territory of New Spain, comprising the present day states of Baja California and Baja California Sur on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico; and the present day U.S. state of California in the United States of...

 Province since Cabrillo in 1542, sailed as far upcoast north as Monterey Bay
Monterey Bay
Monterey Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean, along the central coast of California. The bay is south of San Francisco and San Jose, between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey....

. In 1767 King Charles III
Charles III of Spain
Charles III was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788. He was the eldest son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, the Princess Elisabeth Farnese...

 ordered the Jesuits, who had established missions in the lower Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

region of Las Californias, forcibly expelled and returned to Spain.[15] New Spain's Visitador General José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez y Gallardo, marqués de Sonora was a Spanish lawyer, a colonial official in New Spain and ultimately Minister of the Indies . He was one of the prime figures behind the Bourbon Reforms...

 replaced them with the Dominican Order
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 in Baja, and the Franciscans to establish the new northern missions. In 1768, Visitador General José de Gálvez received the following orders: "Occupy and fortify San Diego and Monterey for God and the King of Spain." The Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 colonization there, with far fewer recognized natural resources and less cultural development than Mexico or Peru, was to combine establishing a presence for defense of the territory with a perceived responsibility to convert the indigenous people to Christianity. The method was the traditional missions
Spanish missions in California
The Spanish missions in California comprise a series of religious and military outposts established by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order between 1769 and 1823 to spread the Christian faith among the local Native Americans. The missions represented the first major effort by Europeans to...

 (misiones), forts (presidios), civilian towns (pueblos), and land grant ranches (ranch
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

os)
model, but more simplified due to the region's great distance from supplies and support in México. Between 1769 and 1833 twenty one Spanish missions in California
Spanish missions in California
The Spanish missions in California comprise a series of religious and military outposts established by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order between 1769 and 1823 to spread the Christian faith among the local Native Americans. The missions represented the first major effort by Europeans to...

 were established. In 1776 the Province came under the administration of the new 'Commandancy General of the Internal Provinces of the North' (Provincias Internas) to invigorate growth. The crown created two new governments in Las Californias
Las Californias
The Californias, or in — - was the name given by the Spanish to their northwestern territory of New Spain, comprising the present day states of Baja California and Baja California Sur on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico; and the present day U.S. state of California in the United States of...

, the southern peninsular one called Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

, and the northern mainland one called Alta California
Alta California
Alta California was a province and territory in the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later a territory and department in independent Mexico. The territory was created in 1769 out of the northern part of the former province of Las Californias, and consisted of the modern American states of California,...

 in 1804. The issuing of Spanish land grants in California encouraged settlement and establishment of large California ranchos
Ranchos of California
The Spanish, and later the Méxican government encouraged settlement of territory now known as California by the establishment of large land grants called ranchos, from which the English ranch is derived. Devoted to raising cattle and sheep, the owners of the ranchos attempted to pattern themselves...

. Some Californio
Californio
Californio is a term used to identify a Spanish-speaking Catholic people, regardless of race, born in California before 1848...

 rancho grantees emulated the Dons
Don (honorific)
Don, from Latin dominus, is an honorific in Spanish , Portuguese , and Italian . The female equivalent is Doña , Dona , and Donna , abbreviated "Dª" or simply "D."-Usage:...

 of Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, with cattle and sheep marking wealth. The work was usually done by displaced and relocated Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. After the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 and subsequent secularization
Secularization
Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious values and secular institutions...

 ("disestablishment") of mission lands, Mexican land grant transactions increased the spread of ranch
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

os. The land grants and ranchos established land-use patterns that are recognizable in present day California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

.

The last Spanish Habsburgs (1643–1713)

The Presidio
Presidio
A presidio is a fortified base established by the Spanish in North America between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The fortresses were built to protect against pirates, hostile native Americans and enemy colonists. Other presidios were held by Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth...

s (forts), pueblo
Pueblo
Pueblo is a term used to describe modern communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States of America. The first Spanish explorers of the Southwest used this term to describe the communities housed in apartment-like structures built of stone, adobe mud, and other local material...

s (civilian towns) and the misiones (missions) were the three major agencies employed by the Spanish crown to extend its borders and consolidate its colonial
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 holdings in these territories.

The town of Alburquerque (present day Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

) was founded in 1706. The Mexican towns of: Paso del Norte (present day Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez , officially known today as Heroica Ciudad Juárez, but abbreviated Juárez and formerly known as El Paso del Norte, is a city and seat of the municipality of Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Juárez's estimated population is 1.5 million people. The city lies on the Rio Grande...

) founded in 1667; Santiago de la Monclova
Monclova
On the other hand, temperatures during late spring and summer can have bouts of extreme heat, with evenings above 40°C for many consecutive days. In recent decades the hottest records have climbed as high as 43°C on July 13, 2005 and 45°C on May 4, 1984. However nighttime low temperatures are...

 in 1689; Panzacola, Tejas in 1681; and San Francisco de Cuéllar (present day city of Chihuahua
Chihuahua, Chihuahua
The city of Chihuahua is the state capital of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It has a population of about 825,327. The predominant activity is industry, including domestic heavy, light industries, consumer goods production, and to a smaller extent maquiladoras.-History:It has been said that the...

) in 1709. From 1687, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, with the marqués de Villapuente's economic help, founded over twenty missions
Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert
The Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert are a series of Jesuit Catholic religious outposts established by the Spanish Catholic Jesuits and other orders for religious conversions of the Pima and Tohono O'odham indigenous peoples residing in the Sonoran Desert...

 in the Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is a North American desert which straddles part of the United States-Mexico border and covers large parts of the U.S. states of Arizona and California and the northwest Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is one of the largest and hottest...

 (in present day Mexican state Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

 and U.S. state Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

). From 1697, Jesuits established eighteen missions throughout the Baja California Peninsula. In 1668 Padre San Vitores
Diego Luis de San Vitores
Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores was a Spanish Jesuit missionary who founded the first Catholic church on the island of Guam. He is responsible for establishing the Spanish presence in the Mariana Islands.-Early life:...

 established the first mission in the Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands
The Mariana Islands are an arc-shaped archipelago made up by the summits of 15 volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east...

 (now Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

). Between 1687 and 1700 several Missions were founded in Trinidad
Spanish missions in Trinidad
Spanish Missions in Trinidad were established as part of the Spanish colonisation of its new possessions. In 1687 the Catholic Catalan Capuchin friars were given responsibility for religious conversions of the indigenous Amerindian residents of Trinidad and the Guianas. In 1713 the missions were...

, but only four survived as Amerindian villages throughout the 18th century. In 1691, explorers and missionaries
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 visited the interior of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and came upon a river and Amerindian settlement on June 13, the feast day of St. Anthony
Anthony of Padua
Anthony of Padua or Anthony of Lisbon, O.F.M., was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. Though he died in Padua, Italy, he was born to a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, which is where he was raised...

, and named the location and river San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

 in his honor.

Immersed in a low intensity war with Great Britain (mostly over the Spanish ports and trade routes harassed by British pirates), the defenses of Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

 and San Juan de Ulúa
San Juan de Ulúa
San Juan de Ulúa, also known as Castle of San Juan de Ulúa is a large complex of fortresses, prisons and one former palace on an island overlooking the seaport of Veracruz, Mexico.-History:...

, Jamaica, Cuba and Florida were strengthened. Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city of Cuba and capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province in the south-eastern area of the island, some south-east of the Cuban capital of Havana....

 (1662), St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

 Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

 (1665) or Campeche 1678 were sacked by the British. The Tarahumara
Tarahumara
The Rarámuri or Tarahumara are a Native American people of northwestern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability...

 Indians were in revolt in the mountains of Chihuahua for several years. In 1670 Chichimeca
Chichimeca
Chichimeca was the name that the Nahua peoples of Mexico generically applied to a wide range of semi-nomadic peoples who inhabited the north of modern-day Mexico and southwestern United States, and carried the same sense as the European term "barbarian"...

s invaded Durango
Durango
Durango officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Durango is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is located in Northwest Mexico. With a population of 1,632,934, it has Mexico's second-lowest population density, after Baja...

, and the governor, Francisco González, abandoned its defense. In 1680, 25,000 previously subjugated Indians in 24 pueblos of New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 rose against the Spanish and killed all the Europeans they encountered. In 1685, after a revolt of the Chamorros
Chamorros
The Chamorro people, or Chamoru people, are the indigenous peoples of the Mariana Islands, which include the American territory of Guam and the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Micronesia. Today, significant Chamoru populations also exist in several U.S. states...

, the Marianas islands were incorporated to the Captaincy General of the Philippines. In 1695, this time with the British help, the viceroy Gaspar de la Cerda
Gaspar de la Cerda Sandoval Silva y Mendoza, 8th conde de Gelves
Gaspar Melchor Baltasar de la Cerda Silva Sandoval y Mendoza, 8th Count of Galve, Lord of Salcedón and Tortola was viceroy of New Spain from November 20, 1688 to February 26, 1696.-As viceroy of New Spain:...

 attacked the French who had established a base on the island of Española
Espanola
Places called Espanola or Española include:* Espanola, Florida, United States* Española Island, one of the Galápagos Islands* Espanola, New Mexico, United States* Espanola, Ontario, Canada* Hispaniola, an island known in Spanish as "La Española"...

.

Early in the Queen Anne's War
Queen Anne's War
Queen Anne's War , as the North American theater of the War of the Spanish Succession was known in the British colonies, was the second in a series of French and Indian Wars fought between France and England, later Great Britain, in North America for control of the continent. The War of the...

, in 1702, the English captured and burned the Spanish town St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

. However, the English were unable to take the main fortress (presidio) of St. Augustine, resulting in the campaign being condemned by the English as a failure. The Spanish maintained St. Augustine and Pensacola
Pensacola
Pensacola is a city in the western part of the U.S. state of Florida.Pensacola may also refer to:* Pensacola people, a group of Native Americans* A number of places in the Florida:** Pensacola Bay** Pensacola Regional Airport...

 for more than a century after the war, but their mission system in Florida was destroyed and the Apalachee
Apalachee
The Apalachee are a Native American people who historically lived in the Florida Panhandle, and now live primarily in the U.S. state of Louisiana. Their historical territory was known to the Spanish colonists as the Apalachee Province...

 tribe was decimated in what became known as the Apalachee Massacre
Apalachee Massacre
The Apalachee massacre was a series of brutal raids by English colonists from the Province of Carolina and their Indian allies against a largely pacific population of Apalachee Indians in northern Spanish Florida that took place during Queen Anne's War in 1704...

 of 1704. Also in 1704 the viceroy Francisco Fernández de la Cueva suppressed a rebellion of the Pima
Pima
The Pima are a group of American Indians living in an area consisting of what is now central and southern Arizona. The long name, "Akimel O'odham", means "river people". They are closely related to the Tohono O'odham and the Hia C-ed O'odham...

 Indians in Nueva Vizcaya
Nueva Vizcaya, New Spain
Nueva Vizcaya was the first province in the north of New Spain to be explored and settled by the Spanish. It consisted mostly of the area which is today the states of Chihuahua and Durango in Mexico.-Early exploration and the Viceroyalty:...

.

Diego Osorio de Escobar y Llamas
Diego Osorio de Escobar y Llamas
Diego Osorio de Escobar y Llamas was Roman Catholic bishop of Puebla and viceroy of New Spain from June 29, 1664 to October 15, 1664.-Ecclesiastical career:...

 reformed the postal service and the marketing of mercury. In 1701 under the Duke of Alburquerque the 'Court of the Agreement' (Tribunal de la Acordada), an organization of volunteers, similar to the 'Holy Brotherhood
Hermandad
Hermandad, literally "brotherhood" in Spanish, was a peacekeeping association of armed individuals, which became characteristic of municipal life in medieval Spain, especially in Castile....

' (Hermandad), intended to capture and quickly try bandits, was founded. The church of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron of Mexico, was finished in 1702.

The Bourbon Reforms (1713–1806)

The new Bourbon kings did not split the Viceroyalty of New Spain into smaller administrative units as they did with the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

. The first innovation, in 1776, was by José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez y Gallardo, marqués de Sonora was a Spanish lawyer, a colonial official in New Spain and ultimately Minister of the Indies . He was one of the prime figures behind the Bourbon Reforms...

, the new Minister of the Indies (1775–1787), establishing the Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas known as the Provincias Internas (Commandancy General of the Internal Provinces of the North, . He appointed Teodoro de Croix
Teodoro de Croix
Teodoro de Croix was a Spanish soldier and colonial official in New Spain and Peru. From April 6, 1784 to March 25, 1790 he was viceroy of Peru.-Background:...

 (nephew of the former viceroy) as the first Commander General of the Provinicas Internas, independent of the Viceroy of New Spain, to provide more autonomy for the frontier provinces. They included Nueva Vizcaya
Nueva Vizcaya, New Spain
Nueva Vizcaya was the first province in the north of New Spain to be explored and settled by the Spanish. It consisted mostly of the area which is today the states of Chihuahua and Durango in Mexico.-Early exploration and the Viceroyalty:...

, Nuevo Santander
Nuevo Santander
Nuevo Santander was a region of the Virreinato de Nueva España, corresponding generally to the modern Mexican state of Tamaulipas and southern Texas. Nuevo Santander was named after Santander, Spain, and settled by Spanish American colonists in a concerted settlement campaign peaking in 1748-1750...

, Sonora y Sinaloa
Sonora y Sinaloa
Sonora y Sinaloa was a province in the Provincias Internas and under the jurisdiction of the Real Audiencia of Guadalajara of Viceroyalty of New Spain. After Independence Sonora y Sinaloa became one of the constituent states of the Mexican Republic...

, Las Californias
Las Californias
The Californias, or in — - was the name given by the Spanish to their northwestern territory of New Spain, comprising the present day states of Baja California and Baja California Sur on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico; and the present day U.S. state of California in the United States of...

, Coahuila y Tejas
Coahuila y Tejas
Coahuila y Tejas was one of the constituent states of the newly established United Mexican States under its 1824 Constitution.It had two capitals: first Saltillo, and then Monclova...

 (Coahuila and Texas), and Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and later Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande , in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico...

.

The prime innovation introduction of intendancies
Intendant
The title of intendant has been used in several countries through history. Traditionally, it refers to the holder of a public administrative office...

, an institution borrowed from France.
They were first introduced on a large scale in New Spain, by the Minister of the Indies José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez y Gallardo, marqués de Sonora was a Spanish lawyer, a colonial official in New Spain and ultimately Minister of the Indies . He was one of the prime figures behind the Bourbon Reforms...

, in the 1770s, who originally envisioned that they would replace the viceregal system (viceroyalty) altogether. With broad powers over tax collection and the public treasury and with a mandate to help foster economic growth over their districts, intendants encroached on the traditional powers of viceroys, governors and local officials, such as the corregidores, which were phased out as intendancies were established. The Crown saw the intendants as a check on these other officers. Over time accommodations were made. For example, after a period of experimentation in which an independent intendant was assigned to Mexico City, the office was thereafter given to the same person who simultaneously held the post of viceroy. Nevertheless, the creation of scores of autonomous intendancies throughout the Viceroyalty, created a great deal of decentralization, and in the Captaincy General of Guatemala
Captaincy General of Guatemala
The Captaincy General of Guatemala , also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala , was an administrative division in Spanish America which covered much of Central America, including what are now the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas...

, in particular, the intendancy laid the groundwork for the future independent nations of the 19th century.

In 1780, Minister of the Indies José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez
José de Gálvez y Gallardo, marqués de Sonora was a Spanish lawyer, a colonial official in New Spain and ultimately Minister of the Indies . He was one of the prime figures behind the Bourbon Reforms...

 sent a royal dispatch to Teodoro de Croix
Teodoro de Croix
Teodoro de Croix was a Spanish soldier and colonial official in New Spain and Peru. From April 6, 1784 to March 25, 1790 he was viceroy of Peru.-Background:...

, Commandant General of the Internal Provinces of New Spain (Provincias Internas), asking all subjects to donate money to help the American Revolution. Millions of pesos were given.

The focus on the economy (and the revenues it provided to the royal coffers) was also extended to society at large. Economic associations were promoted, such as the Economic Society of Friends of the Country
Sociedad Económica de los Amigos del País
The Sociedades Económicas de Amigos del País were private associations established in various cities throughout Enlightenment Spain, and to a lesser degree in some of her colonies .-History:The Sociedades Económicas were founded as part of a movement to...

 Governor-General José Basco y Vargas
José Basco y Vargas
José Basco y Vargas, 1st Count of the Conquest of Batanes Islands was a naval officer who served as the 53rd governor of the Philippines under Spanish colonial rule, from 1778 to 1787...

 established in the Philippines in 1781. Similar "Friends of the Country" economic societies were established throughout the Spanish world, including Cuba and Guatemala.

A secondary feature of the Bourbon Reforms was that it was an attempt to end the significant amount of local control that had crept into the bureaucracy under the Habsburgs, especially through the sale of offices. The Bourbons sought a return to the monarchical ideal of having outsiders, who in theory should be disinterested, staff the higher echelons of regional government. In practice this meant that there was a concerted effort to appoint mostly peninsulares
Peninsulares
In the colonial caste system of Spanish America, a peninsular was a Spanish-born Spaniard or mainland Spaniard residing in the New World, as opposed to a person of full Spanish descent born in the Americas or Philippines...

, usually military men with long records of service (as opposed to the Habsburg preference for prelates), who were willing to move around the global empire. The intendancies were one new office that could be staffed with peninsulares, but throughout the 18th century significant gains were made in the numbers of governors-captain generals, audiencia judges and bishops, in addition to other posts, who were Spanish-born.

18th century military conflicts

The first century that saw the Bourbons on the Spanish throne coincided with series of global conflicts
Second Hundred Years' War
The Second Hundred Years' War is a periodization used by some historians to describe the series of military conflicts between the Kingdom of England and France that occurred from about 1689 to 1815. The term appears to have been coined by J. R...

 that pitted primarily France against Great Britain. Spain as an ally of Bourbon France was drawn into these conflicts. In fact part of the motivation for the Bourbon Reforms was the perceived need to prepare the empire administratively, economically and militarily for what was the next expected war. The Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 proved to be catalyst for most of the reforms in the overseas possessions, just like the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

 had been for the reforms on the Peninsula.

In 1720, the Villasur expedition
Villasur expedition
The Villasur expedition of 1720 was a Spanish military expedition intended to check the growing French presence on the Great Plains of central North America...

 from Santa Fe met and attempted to parley with French
French colonization of the Americas
The French colonization of the Americas began in the 16th century, and continued in the following centuries as France established a colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere. France founded colonies in much of eastern North America, on a number of Caribbean islands, and in South America...

- allied Pawnee in what is now Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

. Negotiations were unsuccessful, and a battle ensued; the Spanish were badly defeated, with only thirteen managing to return to New Mexico. Although this was a small engagement, it is significant in that it was the deepest penetration of the Spanish into the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

, establishing the limit to Spanish expansion and influence there.

The War of Jenkins' Ear
War of Jenkins' Ear
The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1858, relates to Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship, who exhibited his severed ear in...

 broke out in 1739 between the Spanish and British and was confined to the Caribbean and Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. The major action in the War of Jenkins' Ear was a major amphibious attack launched by the British under Admiral Edward Vernon in March, 1741 against Cartagena de Indias
Battle of Cartagena de Indias
The Battle of Cartagena de Indias was an amphibious military engagement between the forces of Britain under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon and those of Spain under Admiral Blas de Lezo. It took place at the city of Cartagena de Indias in March 1741, in present-day Colombia...

, one of Spain's major gold-trading ports in the Caribbean (today Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

). Although this episode is largely forgotten, it ended in a decisive victory for Spain, who managed to prolong its control of the Caribbean and indeed secure the Spanish Main
Spanish Main
In the days of the Spanish New World Empire, the mainland of the American continent enclosing the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico was referred to as the Spanish Main. It included present-day Florida, the east shore of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Mexico, Central America and the north coast of...

 until the 19th century.

Following the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

/Seven Years War, the British troops invaded and captured the Spanish cities of Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 and Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 in the Philippines in 1762. The Treaty of Paris (1763)
Treaty of Paris (1763)
The Treaty of Paris, often called the Peace of Paris, or the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763, by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement. It ended the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

 gave Spain control over the New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 Louisiana Territory
Louisiana Territory
The Territory of Louisiana or Louisiana Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1805 until June 4, 1812, when it was renamed to Missouri Territory...

 including New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

 creating a Spanish empire that stretched from the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 to the Pacific Ocean, but Spain also ceded Florida to Great Britain to regain Cuba, which the British occupied during the war. Louisiana settlers, hoping to restore the territory to France, in the bloodless Rebellion of 1768
Rebellion of 1768
The Rebellion of 1768 was an unsuccessful attempt by Creole and German settlers around New Orleans, Louisiana to stop the handover of the French Louisiana Territory, as had been stipulated in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, to Spain in 1768....

 forced the Louisiana Governor Antonio de Ulloa
Antonio de Ulloa
Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Girault was a Spanish general, explorer, author, astronomer, colonial administrator and the first Spanish governor of Louisiana.Rebellion of 1768]]....

 to flee to Spain. The rebellion was crushed in 1769 by the next governor Alejandro O'Reilly
Alejandro O'Reilly
Alejandro O'Reilly , was a military reformer and Inspector-General of Infantry for the Spanish Empire in the second half of the 18th century...

 who executed five of the conspirators. The Louisiana territory was to be administered by superiors in Cuba with a governor onsite in New Orleans.

The 21 northern missions in present-day California (U.S.) were established along California's El Camino Real
El Camino Real (California)
El Camino Real and sometimes associated with Calle Real usually refers to the 600-mile California Mission Trail, connecting the former Alta California's 21 missions , 4 presidios, and several pueblos, stretching from Mission San Diego de Alcalá in San Diego...

 from 1769. In an effort to exclude Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 and Russia from the eastern Pacific, King Charles III of Spain
Charles III of Spain
Charles III was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788. He was the eldest son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, the Princess Elisabeth Farnese...

 sent forth from Mexico a number of expeditions to the Pacific Northwest between 1774 and 1793. Spain's long-held claims and navigation rights were strengthened and a settlement and fort were built in Nootka Sound
Nootka Sound
Nootka Sound is a complex inlet or sound of the Pacific Ocean on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Historically also known as King George's Sound, as a strait it separates Vancouver Island and Nootka Island.-History:The inlet is part of the...

, Alaska.

Spain entered the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 as an ally of France in June 1779, a renewal of the Bourbon Family Compact. In 1781, a Spanish expedition during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 left St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

 (then under Spanish control) and reached as far as Fort St. Joseph
Fort St. Joseph (Niles)
Fort Saint Joseph was a fort established on land granted to the Jesuits by King Louis XIV; it was located on what is now the south side of the present-day town of Niles, Michigan. Père Claude-Jean Allouez established the Mission de Saint-Joseph in the 1680s...

 at Niles, Michigan
Niles, Michigan
Niles is a city in Berrien and Cass counties in the U.S. state of Michigan, near South Bend, Indiana. The population was 11,600 at the 2010 census. It is the greater populated of two principal cities of and included in the Niles-Benton Harbor, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a...

 where they captured the fort while the British were away. On 8 May 1782, Count Bernardo de Gálvez
Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez
Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Viscount of Galveston and Count of Gálvez was a Spanish military leader and the general of Spanish forces in New Spain who served as governor of Louisiana and Cuba and as viceroy of New Spain.Gálvez aided the Thirteen Colonies in their quest for independence and led...

, the Spanish governor of Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, captured the British naval base at New Providence
New Providence
New Providence is the most populous island in the Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It also houses the national capital city, Nassau.The island was originally under Spanish control following Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World, but the Spanish government showed...

 in the Bahamas
The Bahamas
The Bahamas , officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a nation consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets . It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola , northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States...

. On the Gulf Coast, the actions of Gálvez led to Spain acquiring East
East Florida
East Florida was a colony of Great Britain from 1763–1783 and of Spain from 1783–1822. East Florida was established by the British colonial government in 1763; as its name implies it consisted of the eastern part of the region of Florida, with West Florida comprising the western parts. Its capital...

 and West Florida
West Florida
West Florida was a region on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. West Florida was first established in 1763 by the British government; as its name suggests it largely consisted of the western portion of the region...

 in the peace settlement, as well as controlling the mouth of the Mississippi River after the war—which would prove to be a major source of tension between Spain and the United States in the years to come.

In the second Treaty of Paris (1783)
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

, which ended the American Revolution, Britain ceded West Florida back to Spain to regain The Bahamas, which Spain had occupied during the war. Spain then had control over the river south of 32°30' north latitude, and, in what is known as the Spanish Conspiracy, hoped to gain greater control of Louisiana and all of the west. These hopes ended when Spain was pressured into signing Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty, also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo or the Treaty of Madrid, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on October 27, 1795 and established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain. It also defined the boundaries of the United States with the Spanish...

 in 1795. France reacquired 'Louisiana' from Spain in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso
Third Treaty of San Ildefonso
The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso was a secretly negotiated treaty between France and Spain in which Spain returned the colonial territory of...

 in 1800. The United States bought the territory from France in the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 of 1803.

New Spain claimed the entire west coast of North America and therefore considered the Russian fur trading activity in Alaska, which began in the middle to late 18th century, an encroachment and threat. Likewise, the exploration of the northwest coast by James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 of the British Navy and the subsequent fur trading activities by British ships was considered an invasion of Spanish territory. To protect and strengthen its claim, New Spain sent a number of expeditions to the Pacific Northwest between 1774 and 1793. In 1789 a naval outpost called Santa Cruz de Nuca (or just Nuca) was established at Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound
Nootka Sound
Nootka Sound is a complex inlet or sound of the Pacific Ocean on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Historically also known as King George's Sound, as a strait it separates Vancouver Island and Nootka Island.-History:The inlet is part of the...

 (now Yuquot), Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

. It was protected by an artillery
Artillery battery
In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of guns, mortars, rockets or missiles so grouped in order to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems...

 land battery
Land battery
A land battery is a special type of gun emplacement or anti-shipping naval interdiction fortification used in coastal defense to protect areas such as anchorages, harbors, and rivers...

 called Fort San Miguel
Fort San Miguel
For Angola fort, see Fortaleza de São MiguelFort San Miguel was a Spanish fortification at Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound , Vancouver Island....

. Santa Cruz de Nuca was the northermost establishment of New Spain. It was the first colony in British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 and the only Spanish settlement in what is now Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. Santa Cruz de Nuca remained under the control of New Spain until 1795, when it was abandoned under the terms of the third Nootka Convention
Nootka Convention
The Nootka Conventions were a series of three agreements between the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Great Britain, signed in the 1790s which averted a war between the two empires over overlapping claims to portions of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America.The claims of Spain dated back...

. Another outpost, intended to replace Santa Cruz de Nuca, was partially built at Neah Bay
Neah Bay, Washington
Neah Bay is a census-designated place on the Makah Indian reservation in Clallam County, Washington, United States. The population was 794 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Neah Bay is located at ....

 on the southern side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Strait of Juan de Fuca
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about long that is the Salish Sea outlet to the Pacific Ocean...

 in what is now the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Washington. Neah Bay was known as Bahía de Núñez Gaona in New Spain, and the outpost there was referred to as "Fuca". It was abandoned, partially finished, in 1792. Its personnel, livestock, cannons, and ammunition were transferred to Nuca.

In 1789, at Santa Cruz de Nuca, a conflict occurred between the Spanish naval officer Esteban José Martínez
Esteban José Martínez Fernández y Martínez de la Sierra
Esteban José Martínez Fernández y Martínez de la Sierra, or simply Esteban José Martínez was a Spanish navigator and explorer, native of Seville...

 and the British merchant James Colnett
James Colnett
James Colnett was an officer of the British Royal Navy, an explorer, and a maritime fur trader. He served under James Cook during Cook's second voyage of exploration...

, triggering the Nootka Crisis
Nootka Crisis
The Nootka Crisis was an international incident and political dispute between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Spain, triggered by a series of events that took place during the summer of 1789 at Nootka Sound...

, which grew into an international incident
International incident
An international incident is a seemingly relatively small or limited action or clash that results in a wider dispute between two or more nation-states...

 and the threat of war between Britain and Spain. The first Nootka Convention
Nootka Convention
The Nootka Conventions were a series of three agreements between the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Great Britain, signed in the 1790s which averted a war between the two empires over overlapping claims to portions of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America.The claims of Spain dated back...

 averted the war but left many specific issues unresolved. Both sides sought to define a northern boundary for New Spain. At Nootka Sound, the diplomatic representative of New Spain, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra
Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra
Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra was a Spanish naval officer born in Lima, Peru. Assigned to the Pacific coast Spanish Naval Department base at San Blas, in the Viceroyalty of New Spain , this navigator explored the Northwest Coast of North America as far north as present day Alaska.Juan...

, proposed a boundary at the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the British representative, George Vancouver
George Vancouver
Captain George Vancouver RN was an English officer of the British Royal Navy, best known for his 1791-95 expedition, which explored and charted North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of contemporary Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon...

 refused to accept any boundary north of San Francisco. No agreement could be reached and the northern boundary of New Spain remained unspecified until the Adams–Onís Treaty with the United States (1819). That treaty also ceded Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

 to the United States.

End of the Viceroyalty (1806–1821)

The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso
Third Treaty of San Ildefonso
The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso was a secretly negotiated treaty between France and Spain in which Spain returned the colonial territory of...

 ceded to France the vast territory that Napoleon then sold to the United States, known as the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 (1803). Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

 followed in 1819. In the 1821 Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire
Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire
The Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire is the foundational document of the empire, and therefore, of the Mexican nation. The morning after the Army of the Three Guarantees entered Mexico City on September 28, 1821, Agustín de Iturbide ordered the Supreme Provisional Governmental...

, Mexico and Central America declared their independence after three centuries of Spanish rule and formed the First Mexican Empire
First Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1821 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper...

. After priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's 1810 Grito de Dolores
Grito de Dolores
The Grito de Dolores also known as El Grito de la Independencia , uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on April 19, 1810 is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico...

 (call for independence), the insurgent army began an eleven-year war. At first, the Criollo class fought against the rebels. But in 1820, coinciding with the approval of the Spanish Constitution
Spanish Constitution of 1812
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was promulgated 19 March 1812 by the Cádiz Cortes, the national legislative assembly of Spain, while in refuge from the Peninsular War...

, which took privileges away from the Criollos, they switched sides. This led to Mexican triumph in 1821. The new Mexican Empire
First Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1821 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper...

 offered the crown to Ferdinand VII or to a member of the Spanish royal family that he would designate. After the refusal of the Spanish monarchy to recognize the independence of Mexico, the (Army of the Three Guarantees
Army of the Three Guarantees
At the end of the Mexican War of Independence, the Army of the Three Guarantees was the name given to the army after the unification of the Spanish troops led by Agustín de Iturbide and the Mexican insurgent troops of Vicente Guerrero, consolidating Mexico's independence from Spain...

), led by Agustin de Iturbide
Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín Cosme Damián de Iturbide y Aramburu , also known as Augustine I of Mexico, was a Mexican army general who built a successful political and military coalition that was able to march into Mexico City on 27 September 1821, decisively ending the Mexican War of Independence...

 and Vincente Guerrero, cut all political and economic ties with Spain and crowned Agustin I as emperor of Mexico. Central America was originally part of the Mexican Empire, but seceded peacefully in 1823, forming the United Provinces of Central America
Federal Republic of Central America
The Federal Republic of Central America, known as the United Provinces of Central America in its first year of creation, was a sovereign state in Central America, which consisted of the territories of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala of New Spain...

.

This left only Cuba, the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

 (including the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 and Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

), and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 in the Spanish empire until their loss to the United States in the Spanish–American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

 (1898).

Politics

The Viceroyalty of New Spain united many regions and provinces of the Spanish Empire throughout half a world. These included on the North American mainland, New Spain proper (central Mexico), Nueva Extremadura
Nueva Extremadura
Nueva Extremadura could refer to* a region in the north of New Spain, in present day Texas, the United States of America, and northern Mexico.* the name given to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia...

, Nueva Galicia
Nueva Galicia
El Nuevo Reino de Galicia or Nueva Galicia was an autonomous kingdom of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It was named after Galicia in Spain...

, Nueva Vizcaya
Nueva Vizcaya, New Spain
Nueva Vizcaya was the first province in the north of New Spain to be explored and settled by the Spanish. It consisted mostly of the area which is today the states of Chihuahua and Durango in Mexico.-Early exploration and the Viceroyalty:...

, and Nuevo Santander
Nuevo Santander
Nuevo Santander was a region of the Virreinato de Nueva España, corresponding generally to the modern Mexican state of Tamaulipas and southern Texas. Nuevo Santander was named after Santander, Spain, and settled by Spanish American colonists in a concerted settlement campaign peaking in 1748-1750...

, as well as the Captaincy General of Guatemala
Captaincy General of Guatemala
The Captaincy General of Guatemala , also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala , was an administrative division in Spanish America which covered much of Central America, including what are now the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas...

. In the Caribbean it included Cuba, Santo Domingo
Colony of Santo Domingo
The Captaincy General of Santo Domingo was the first Spanish colony in the New World, and later became the Dominican Republic. Originally known as "La Española", the colony was organized as the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo in 1511. After years of struggles with the French, the Spanish remained...

, most of the Venezuelan mainland
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and the other islands in the Caribbean controlled by the Spanish. In Asia, the Viceroyalty ruled the Captaincy General of the Philippines
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

, which covered all of the Spanish territories in the Asia-Pacific region. The outpost at Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

, was considered part of the province of California.

Therefore, the Viceroyalty's former territories included what is now the present day countries of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

; the United States regions of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands
The Mariana Islands are an arc-shaped archipelago made up by the summits of 15 volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east...

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

; a portion of the Canadian province of British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

; the Caribbean nations of Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

; the Asia-Pacific nations of the Philippine Islands
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

 and Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

.

The Viceroyalty was administered by a viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 residing in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and appointed by the Spanish monarch
Spanish monarchy
The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish monarchy or Hispanic Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and an historic office of Spain...

, who had administrative oversight of all of these regions, although most matters were handled by the local governmental bodies, which ruled the various regions of the viceroyalty. First among these were the audiencias, which were primarily superior tribunals, but which also had administrative and legislative functions. Each of these was responsible to the Viceroy of New Spain in administrative matters (though not in judicial ones), but they also answered directly to the Council of the Indies. Audiencia districts further incorporated the older, smaller divisions known as governorate
Governorate
A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either states, provinces, or colonies, the term governorate is often used in translation from non-English-speaking administrations.The...

s (gobernaciones, roughly equivalent to provinces), which had been originally established by conquistador-governors known as adelantado
Adelantado
Adelantado was a military title held by some Spanish conquistadores of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.Adelantados were granted directly by the Monarch the right to become governors and justices of a specific region, which they charged with conquering, in exchange for funding and organizing the...

s
. Provinces, which were under military threat, were grouped into captaincies general
Captaincy
A captaincy is a historical administrative division of the former Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires. Each was governed by a captain general.-In the Portuguese Empire:...

, such as the Captaincies General of the Philippines (established 1574) and Guatemala (established in 1609) mentioned above, which were joint military and political commands with a certain level of autonomy. (The viceroy was captain-general of those provinces that remained directly under his command).

At the local level there were over two hundred districts, in both Indian and Spanish areas, which were headed by either a corregidor
Corregidor (position)
A corregidor was a local, administrative and judicial position in Spain and its empire. He was the highest authority of a Corregimiento. In the Americas a corregidor was often called an alcalde mayor. They began to be appointed in fourteenth century Castile and the institution was definitively...

(also known as an alcalde mayor) or a cabildo
Cabildo (council)
For a discussion of the contemporary Spanish and Latin American cabildo, see Ayuntamiento.A cabildo or ayuntamiento was a former Spanish, colonial administrative council that governed a municipality. Cabildos were sometimes appointed, sometimes elected, but were considered to be representative of...

(town council), both of which had judicial and administrative powers. In the late 18th century the Bourbon dynasty began phasing out the corregidores and introduced intendant
Intendant
The title of intendant has been used in several countries through history. Traditionally, it refers to the holder of a public administrative office...

s, whose broad fiscal powers cut into the authority of the viceroys, governors and cabildos. Despite their late creation, these intendancies had such an impact in the formation of regional identity that they became the basis for the nations of Central America and the first Mexican states after independence.

Audiencias

With dates of creation:

1. Santo Domingo
Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo
The Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo was the first court of the Spanish crown in America. It was created by Ferdinand V of Castile in his decree of 1511, but due to disagreements between the governor of Hispaniola, Diego Colon and the Crown, it was not implemented until it was reestablished by...

 (1511, effective 1526, predated the Viceroyalty)

2. Mexico
Real Audiencia of Mexico
The Royal Audience of Mexico was the highest tribunal of the Spanish crown in the Kingdom of New Spain or the Kingdom of Mexico...

 (1527, predated the Viceroyalty)

3. Panama (1st one, 1538–1543)

4. Guatemala (1543)

5. Guadalajara
Real Audiencia of Guadalajara
The Real Audiencia of Guadalajara was the highest tribunal of the Spanish crown in what is today northern Mexico and the southwestern United States in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It was created by royal decree on February 13, 1548, and was originally located in Compostela and permanently seated...

 (1548)

6. Manila (1583)

Autonomous Captaincies General

With dates of creation:

1. Santo Domingo (1535)

2. Philippines
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

 (1574)

3. Puerto Rico
Captaincy General of Puerto Rico
The Captaincy General of Puerto Rico was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire, created in 1580 to provide better military management of the island of Puerto Rico, previously under the direct rule of a simple governor and the jurisdiction of Audiencia of Santo Domingo...

 (1580)

4. Cuba
Captaincy General of Cuba
The Captaincy General of Cuba was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1607 as part of Habsburg Spain's attempt better to defend the Caribbean against foreign powers, which also involved creating captaincies general in Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Yucatán. The restructuring of...

 (1607)

5. Guatemala
Captaincy General of Guatemala
The Captaincy General of Guatemala , also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala , was an administrative division in Spanish America which covered much of Central America, including what are now the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas...

 (1609)

6. Yucatán
Captaincy General of Yucatán
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...

 (1617)

7. Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas
Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas
The Provincias Internas or Commandancy General of the Internal Provinces of the North was a colonial, administrative district of the Spanish Empire, created in 1776 to provide more autonomy for the frontier provinces in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, present day northern Mexico and southwestern...

 (1776) (Analogous to a dependent captaincy general.)

Intendancies

Year of Creation Intendancy
1764 Havana
Captaincy General of Cuba
The Captaincy General of Cuba was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1607 as part of Habsburg Spain's attempt better to defend the Caribbean against foreign powers, which also involved creating captaincies general in Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Yucatán. The restructuring of...

1766 New Orleans
1784 Puerto Rico
Captaincy General of Puerto Rico
The Captaincy General of Puerto Rico was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire, created in 1580 to provide better military management of the island of Puerto Rico, previously under the direct rule of a simple governor and the jurisdiction of Audiencia of Santo Domingo...

1786 Mexico
Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

San Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

Comayagua
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

Léon
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

Puerto Príncipe
Camagüey
Camagüey is a city and municipality in central Cuba and is the nation's third largest city. It is the capital of the Camagüey Province.After almost continuous attacks from pirates the original city was moved inland in 1528.The new city was built with a confusing lay-out of winding alleys that made...

 (separated from the Intendancy of Havana)
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city of Cuba and capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province in the south-eastern area of the island, some south-east of the Cuban capital of Havana....

 (separated from the Intendency of Havana)
1787 Guanajuato
Guanajuato
Guanajuato officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Guanajuato is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato....

Valladolid
Michoacán
Michoacán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Michoacán de Ocampo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia...

Guadalajara
Jalisco
Jalisco officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and divided in 125 municipalities and its capital city is Guadalajara.It is one of the more important states...

Zacatecas
Zacatecas
Zacatecas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Zacatecas is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is Zacatecas....

San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí officially Estado Libre y Soberano de San Luis Potosí is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is San Luis Potosí....

Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

Puebla
Puebla
Puebla officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital city is Puebla....

Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Oaxaca , , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Oaxaca is one of the 31 states which, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided into 571 municipalities; of which 418 are governed by the system of customs and traditions...

Durango
Durango
Durango officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Durango is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is located in Northwest Mexico. With a population of 1,632,934, it has Mexico's second-lowest population density, after Baja...

Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

1789 Mérida
Yucatán
Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....


Economy

In order to pay off the debts incurred by the conquistadors and their companies, the new Spanish governors awarded their men grants of native tribute and labor, known as encomiendas. In New Spain these grants were modeled after the tribute and corvee
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

 labor that the Mexica
Mexica
The Mexica were a pre-Columbian people of central Mexico.Mexica may also refer to:*Mexica , a board game designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling*Mexica , a 2005 novel by Norman Spinrad...

 rulers had demanded from native communities. This system came to signify the oppression and exploitation of natives, although its originators may not have set out with such intent. In short order the upper echelons of patrons and priests in the society lived off the work of the lower classes. Due to some horrifying instances of abuse against the indigenous peoples, Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas
Bartolomé de Las Casas
Bartolomé de las Casas O.P. was a 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer and Dominican friar. He became the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians"...

 suggested bringing black slaves to replace them. Fray Bartolomé later repented when he saw the even worse treatment given to the black slaves. The other discovery that perpetuated this system was extensive silver mines discovered at Potosi and other places that were worked for hundreds of years by forced native labor and contributed most of the wealth flowing to Spain. The Viceroyalty of New Spain was the principal source of income for Spain among the Spanish colonies, with important mining centers like Guanajuato
Guanajuato
Guanajuato officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Guanajuato is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato....

, San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí officially Estado Libre y Soberano de San Luis Potosí is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is San Luis Potosí....

 and Hidalgo.

There were several major ports in New Spain. There were the ports of Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

 the viceroyalty's principal port on the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

 on the Pacific, and Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 near the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

. The ports were fundamental for overseas trade, stretching a trade route from Asia, through the Manila Galleon
Manila Galleon
The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila in the Philippines, and Acapulco, New Spain . The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from...

 to the Spanish mainland.

These were ships that made voyages from the Philippines to Mexico, whose goods were then transported overland from Acapulco to Veracruz and later reshipped from Veracruz to Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

 in Spain. So then, the ships that set sail from Veracruz were generally loaded with merchandise from the East Indies originating from the commercial centers of the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, plus the precious metal
Precious metal
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals...

s and natural resources of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. During the 16th century, Spain held the equivalent of US$1.5 trillion (1990 terms) in gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 and silver received from New Spain.

However, these resources did not translate into development for the Metropolis
Metropolis
A metropolis is a very large city or urban area which is a significant economic, political and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections and communications...

 (mother country) due to Spanish Roman Catholic Monarchy's frequent preoccupation with European wars (enormous amounts of this wealth were spent hiring mercenaries to fight the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

), as well as the incessant decrease in overseas transportation caused by assaults from companies of British buccaneer
Buccaneer
The buccaneers were privateers who attacked Spanish shipping in the Caribbean Sea during the late 17th century.The term buccaneer is now used generally as a synonym for pirate...

s, Dutch corsairs and pirates
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 of various origin. These companies were initially financed by, at first, by the Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 stock market
Stock market
A stock market or equity market is a public entity for the trading of company stock and derivatives at an agreed price; these are securities listed on a stock exchange as well as those only traded privately.The size of the world stock market was estimated at about $36.6 trillion...

, the first in history and whose origin is owed precisely to the need for funds to finance pirate expeditions, as later by the London market. The above is what some authors call the "historical process of the transfer of wealth from the south to the north."

The role of epidemics

Spanish settlers brought to the American continent smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

, typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

, and other diseases. Most of the Spanish settlers had developed an immunity to these diseases from childhood, but the indigenous peoples lacked the needed antibodies since these diseases were totally alien to the native population at the time. There were at least three, separate, major epidemics that decimated the population: smallpox (1520 to 1521), measles (1545 to 1548) and typhus (1576 to 1581). In the course of the 16th century, the native population in Mexico went from an estimated pre-Columbian population of 8 to 20 million to less than two million. Therefore, at the start of the 17th century, continental New Spain was a depopulated country with abandoned cities and maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 fields. These diseases would not have a similar impact in the Philippines because they were already present there.

The role of interracial mixing

Following the Spanish conquests, new ethnic groups were created, primary among them the Mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

. The Mestizo population emerged as a result of the Spanish colonizers having children with indigenous women, both within and outside of wedlock, which brought about the mixing of both cultures. Many of the Spanish colonists were either men or women with no wives or husbands and took partners from the indigenous population.

Initially, if a child was born in wedlock, the child was considered, and raised as, a member of the prominent parent's ethnicity. (See Hyperdescent
Hyperdescent
Hyperdescent is the practice of classifying a child of mixed race ancestry in the more socially dominant of the parents' races.Hyperdescent is the opposite of hypodescent...

 and Hypodescent
Hypodescent
In societies that regard some races of people as dominant or superior and others as subordinate or inferior, hypodescent is the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union or mating between members of different socioeconomic groups or ethnic groups to the subordinate group...

.
) Because of this, the term "Mestizo" was associated with illegitimacy. Mestizos do not appear in large numbers in official censuses until the second half of the 17th century, when a sizable and stable community of mixed-race people with no claims to being either Indian or Spanish appeared, although, of course, a large population of biological Mestizos had already existed for over a century in Mexico.

The Spanish conquest also brought the migration of people of African descent to the many regions of the Viceroyalty. Some came as free blacks, but vast majority came because of the introduction of African slavery
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

. As the native population was decimated by epidemics and forced labor, black slaves were imported. Mixes with Europeans and indigenous peoples also occurred, resulting in the creation of new racial categories such as Mulatto
Mulatto
Mulatto denotes a person with one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of mixed black and white ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term varies greatly, and the broader sense of the term makes its application rather subjective, as not all people of mixed white and black...

s and Zambo
Zambo
Zambo or Cafuzo are racial terms used in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires and occasionally today to identify individuals in the Americas who are of mixed African and Amerindian ancestry...

s to account for these offspring. As with the term Mestizo, these other terms were associated with illegitimacy, since a majority—though not all—of these people were born outside of wedlock.

Eventually a caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 system was created to describe the various mixes and to assign them a different social level. In theory, each different mix had a name and different sets of privileges or prohibitions. In reality, mixed-race people were able to negotiate various racial and ethnic identities (often several ones at different points in their lives) depending on the family ties and wealth they had. In its general outline, the system reflected reality. The upper echelons of government were staffed by Spaniards born in Spain (peninsulares
Peninsulares
In the colonial caste system of Spanish America, a peninsular was a Spanish-born Spaniard or mainland Spaniard residing in the New World, as opposed to a person of full Spanish descent born in the Americas or Philippines...

), the middle and lower levels of government and other higher paying jobs were held by Criollo
Criollo (people)
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

s (Criollos were "Spaniards" born in the Americas, or—as permitted by the casta system—"Spaniards" with some Amerindian or even other ancestry.) The best lands were owned by Peninsulares and Criollos, with Native communities for the most part relegated to marginal lands. Mestizos and Mulattos held artisan
Artisan
An artisan is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools...

al positions and unskilled laborers were either more mixed people, such as Zambo
Zambo
Zambo or Cafuzo are racial terms used in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires and occasionally today to identify individuals in the Americas who are of mixed African and Amerindian ancestry...

s, recently freed slaves or Natives who had left their communities and settled in areas with large Hispanic
Hispanic
Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

 populations. Native populations tended to have their own legally recognized communities (the repúblicas de indios) with their own social and economic hierarchies. This rough sketch must be complicated by the fact that not only did exceptions exist, but also that all these "racial" categories represented social conventions, as demonstrated by the fact that many persons were assigned a caste based on hyperdescent or hypodescent.

Even if mixes were common, the white population tried to keep their higher status, and were largely successful in doing so. With Mexican and Central American independence, the caste system and slavery were theoretically abolished. However, it can be argued that the Criollos simply replaced the Peninsulares in terms of power. Thus, for example, in modern Mexico, while Mestizos no longer have a separate legal status from other groups, they comprise approximately 65% of the population. White people, who also no longer have a special legal status, are thought to be about 9–18% of the population,. In modern Mexico, "Mestizo" has become more a cultural term, since Indigenous people who abandon their traditional ways are considered Mestizos. Also, most Afro-Mexicans prefer to be considered Mestizo, since they identify closely with this group. (See also, Demographics of Mexico
Demographics of Mexico
With a population 112,336,538 in 2010, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, the second-most populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil, and the second in North America, after the United States. Throughout most of the twentieth century Mexico's...

.
)

The population of New Spain in 1810

Population estimates from the first decade of the 19th century varied between 6,122,354 as calculated by Francisco Navarro y Noriega in 1810, to 6.5 million as figured by Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt...

 in 1808. Navarro y Noriega figured that half of his estimate constituted indigenous peoples. More recent data suggests that the actual population of New Spain in 1810 was closer to 5 or 5.5 million individuals.

Culture

Because the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 had played such an important role in the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

(Christian reconquest) of the Iberian peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 from the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

, the Church in essence became another arm of the Spanish government. The Spanish Crown granted it a large role in the administration of the state, and this practice became even more pronounced in the New World, where prelates often assumed the role of government officials. In addition to the Church's explicit political role, the Catholic faith became a central part of Spanish identity after the conquest of last Muslim kingdom in the peninsula, the Emirate of Granada
Emirate of Granada
The Emirate of Granada , also known as the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada , was an emirate established in 1238 following the defeat of Muhammad an-Nasir of the Almohad dynasty by an alliance of Christian kingdoms at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212...

, and the expulsion of all Jews
Alhambra decree
The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second...

 who did not convert to Christianity.

The conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

s brought with them many missionaries to promulgate the Catholic religion. Amerindians were taught the Roman Catholic religion and the language of Spain. Initially, the missionaries hoped to create a large body of Amerindian priests, but this did not come to be. Moreover, efforts were made to keep the Amerindian cultural aspects which did not violate the Catholic traditions. As an example, some Spaniards learned some of the Amerindian languages (especially during the 16th century) and wrote grammars for them so that they could be more easily translated. This was similarly practiced by the French colonists.

At first, conversion seemed to be happening rapidly. The missionaries soon found that most of the natives had simply adopted "the god of the heavens", as they called the Christian god, as just another one of their many gods. While they often held the Christian god to be an important deity because it was the god of the victorious conquerors, they did not see the need to abandon their old beliefs. As a result, a second wave of missionaries began an effort to completely erase the old beliefs, which they associated with the ritualized human sacrifice
Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

 found in many of the native religions, eventually putting an end to this practice common before the arrival of the Spaniards. In the process many artifacts of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture were destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of native codices
Codex
A codex is a book in the format used for modern books, with multiple quires or gatherings typically bound together and given a cover.Developed by the Romans from wooden writing tablets, its gradual replacement...

 were burned, native priests and teachers were persecuted, and the temples and statues of the old gods were torn down. Even some foods associated with the native religions, like amaranth
Amaranth
Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold...

, were forbidden.

Many clerics, such as Bartolomé de las Casas
Bartolomé de Las Casas
Bartolomé de las Casas O.P. was a 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer and Dominican friar. He became the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians"...

, also tried to protect the natives from de facto and actual enslavement to the settlers, and obtained from the Crown decrees and promises to protect native Mesoamericans, most notably the New Laws
New Laws
The New Laws, in Spanish Leyes Nuevas, issued November 20, 1542 by King Charles V of Spain regarding the Spanish colonization of the Americas, are also known as the "New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians", and were created to prevent the exploitation of the...

. Unfortunately, the royal government was too far to fully enforce them, and many abuses against the natives, even among the clergy, continued. Eventually, the Crown declared the natives to be legal minors
Ward (law)
In law, a ward is someone placed under the protection of a legal guardian. A court may take responsibility for the legal protection of an individual, usually either a child or incapacitated person, in which case the ward is known as a ward of the court, or a ward of the state, in the United States,...

 and placed under the guardianship of the Crown, which was responsible for their indoctrination. It was this status that barred the native population from the priesthood. During the following centuries, under Spanish rule, a new culture developed that combined the customs and traditions of the indigenous peoples with that of Catholic Spain. Numerous churches and other buildings were constructed by native labor in the Spanish style, and cities were named after various saints or religious topics such as San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí, commonly called SLP or simply San Luis, is the capital of, and most populous city in the Mexican state of the same name. The city lies at an elevation of 1,850 meters...

 (after Saint Louis
Louis IX of France
Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

) and Vera Cruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...

 (the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

).

The Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

, and its New Spanish counterpart, the Mexican Inquisition
Mexican Inquisition
The Mexican Inquisition was an extension of the Spanish Inquisition into the New World. The Spanish Conquest of Mexico was not only a political event for the Spanish, but a religious event as well. In the early 16th century, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the Inquisition were in full...

, continued to operate in the viceroyalty until Mexico declared its independence. During the seventeenth and 18th centuries, the Inquisition worked with the viceregal government to block the diffusion of liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 ideas during the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 and the revolutionary republican and democratic ideas of the United States War of Independence and the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

.

Arts

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was one of the principal centers of European cultural expansion in the Americas. The viceroyalty was the basis for a racial and cultural mosaic of the Spanish American colonial period.

The first printing press in the New World
House of the First Print Shop in the Americas
The House of the First Print Shop in the Americas at the corner of Moneda and Licenciado Primo Verdad streets in Mexico City was the home of the first printing press/print shop in the New World....

 was brought to Mexico in 1539, by printer Juan Pablos
Juan Pablos
Giovanni Paoli, better known as Juan Pablos , a native of Lombardy, was the first documented printer in the Americas when he started printing in Mexico in 1539.-Biography:...

 (Giovanni Paoli). The first book printed in Mexico was entitled La escala espiritual de San Juan Clímaco. In 1568, Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Bernal Díaz del Castillo was a conquistador, who wrote an eyewitness account of the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards for Hernán Cortés, himself serving as a rodelero under Cortés.-Early life:...

 finished La Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España. Figures such as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Juan Ruiz de Alarcón
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza , one of the greatest Novohispanic dramatists of the Golden Age, was born in New Spain .-Genealogy:...

 stand out as some of the viceroyalty's most notable contributors to Spanish Literature
Spanish literature
Spanish literature generally refers to literature written in the Spanish language within the territory that presently constitutes the state of Spain...

. In 1693, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora
Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora
Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora was one of the first great intellectuals born in the Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. A polymath and writer, he held many colonial government and academic positions.-Early career:...

 published El Mercurio Volante, the first newspaper in New Spain.

Architects Pedro Martínez Vázquez and Lorenzo Rodriguez produced some fantastically extravagant and visually frenetic architecture known as Mexican Churrigueresque in the own capital, Ocotlan
Ocotlán
Ocotlán is a city and municipality in Jalisco, Mexico. Its industry includes furniture production.-Toponymy:The toponym Ocotlán means: "near the pines" or "place of the ocote ". Ocote is from the Náhuatl ocōtl, Pinus montezumae, a species of pine, .-History:Ocotlán was founded in 1530. Two main...

, Puebla
Puebla, Puebla
The city and municipality of Puebla is the capital of the state of Puebla, and one of the five most important colonial cities in Mexico. Being a planned city, it is located to the east of Mexico City and west of Mexico's main port, Veracruz, on the main route between the two.The city was founded...

 or remote silver-mining towns.

See also

  • Colonialism
    Colonialism
    Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

  • List of Viceroys of New Spain
  • List of Governors in the Viceroyalty of New Spain
  • Spanish colonization of the Americas
    Spanish colonization of the Americas
    Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

  • Spanish Empire
    Spanish Empire
    The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....


External links



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