In the past few years, historians — especially from Latin America and Spain — have reexamined the central roles played by the consulado merchant guilds of both the peninsula and Spanish America. This present book, which evolved out of a 2000 conference held in Argentina, complements and builds on a 1999 volume on consulados by Enriqueta Vila Vilar and Allan Kuethe titled Relaciones de poder y comercio colonial (Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos de Sevilla, 1999).

In what is perhaps the most interesting essay, coeditors Hausberger and Ibarra introduce general hypotheses regarding the role of the Spanish and American merchant guilds. The authors see the relationship between the consulados and the crown as symbiotic. The crown could not completely exert its authority over the consulados because it depended on their loans and donations. Consulado merchants, in turn, relied on the crown to maintain their privileged positions in the highly regimented colonial...

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