Creoles in the Spanish colonies, long viewed as unhappy victims of systematic exclusion from high office throughout the colonial period, have recently emerged as participants, sometimes an overwhelming majority of the participants, in Spanish American government during the eighteenth century. Particular attention has been paid to their place in bureaucracy during the reigns of Charles III (1759-88) and Charles IV (1788-1808). Although the studies now available are limited geographically and chronologically, they represent an important advance in understanding both the workings of imperial administration and the power and position creoles enjoyed within colonial society.

Several historians have demonstrated that in the audiencias of Mexico, Lima, and Santiago, creoles, many of them natives of the districts, held a preponderance of the judgeships at the beginning of the 1770s. David Brading has shown that the Mexican tribunal had eight creole judges in 1769; Leon G. Campbell has clearly displayed creole predominance in Lima during the mid-1770s; and Jacques Barbier has done the same for the Audiencia of Chile.1 These detailed presentations support Jaime Eyzaguirre’s earlier impressionistic contention that Americans had held the majority of audiencia positions since the mid-eighteenth century, a contention previously doubted by many historians.2

Recognition that creoles enjoyed numerous audiencia positions has led to emphasis upon the audiencia as an important institution for creole political interests.3 Campbell and Barbier have detailed close links between American-born judges and the local aristocracies in Lima and Chile.4 Moreover, peninsular judges frequently were related to prominent creole families through marriages, god-parentage, or economic interests.5 As John Fisher has suggested for Lima, peninsular administrators tended to join with local interests rather than to challenge them.6 These relationships were of great significance, for they made possible “the expression of colonial desires at the level of enforcement.”7

Viewed from the perspective of Madrid, however, creole predominance was inimical to the interests of the Crown. The ascendancy of José de Gálvez, Visitor General of New Spain (1765-71) and Minister of the Indies (1776-87), brought a visible effort to curtail creole influence in government. Appointments to the audiencias and the new position of intendant clearly revealed the new policy. Brading notes that from eight judgeships in 1769, creole representation in Mexico fell to four in 1779 and three in the following decade.8 This article will show an even greater drop in creole judges in Lima. Nevertheless, premature generalization about the overall long-range effects of the Gálvez policy should be avoided until more audiencas have been studied. Barbier suggests that creole influence in Chile, although tempered under Gálvez, was largely restored by 1810.9

The case for the exclusion of Americans has been better developed for the intendant system than for the audiencias. In his study of the Río de la Plata, John Lynch found no creoles with confirmed appointments serving as intendant in the period before 1808.10 Fisher discovered the same situation in Peru, while in Mexico eleven of the twelve original appointees were peninsulares.11 Thus the Crown preserved this office principally for natives of Spain. The same cannot be said for the post of subdelegate. Most subdelegates in Peru and many in the Río de la Plata were creoles.12 This, however, did little to allay growing creole feelings of exclusion from high office, for a drastic change in audiencia appointment policy paralleled the appointment of peninsular intendants. An examination of the Audiencia of Lima from the mid-eighteenth century to 1808 explicitly reveals limeño attitudes toward the policy Gálvez implemented.

Throughout the reign of Ferdinand VI (1746-59), creoles dominated the Audiencia of Lima. American-born lawyers, many from the City of Kings, continued to hold an overwhelming majority of the judicial positions of oidor and alcalde del crimen during the first years of Charles III’s rule.13 But between 1775 and 1779 the membership of the Audiencia changed from a creole to a peninsular majority, and in the following decades peninsular strength increased until in 1804 only two creoles remained on the tribunal. Limeños noticed this dramatic transformation and, when the Empire cracked following the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, joined with creoles throughout the Americas to press for equality with peninsulares in obtaining appointments to high positions. For limeños this demand did not express a desire to transform centuries of “oppression” and denial of opportunity into a new era of equal rights. It revealed instead their longing to return to the creole, indeed limeño, preeminence enjoyed prior to the days of José de Gálvez and the visita of José Antonio de Areche.

The foundation for over three decades of creole preponderance on the Audiencia of Lima had been laid in the 1740s.14 From 1740 through 1751 the Crown appointed eleven oidores or civil judges and three alcaldes del crimen or criminal judges.15 All of the fourteen men were creoles, and eleven were limeños.16 Thus in a dozen years the Crown made the appointments that determined not only creole, but local predominance in the most important audiencia in South America. In the years from 1752 through 1774, the Crown made only three appointments to the tribunal, all for the position of civil judge. Two of the men it named were creoles and were to serve for many years; the third, a Spaniard, refused the appointment.17 In 1774 the Audiencia of Lima included eight civil and four criminal judges. All of the oidores were Americans; five were natives of Lima, two came from Chile, and one from Panama. Of the four criminal judges, three were creoles and from Lima. Thus on the eve of its transformation, the Lima tribunal had only one peninsular judge for eight natives of Lima.18

As a group the judges were linked intimately to the Lima aristocracy, thus giving vested interests access to political power. In his recent examination of the Audiencia as Visitor General Areche found it in 1777, Campbell has shown that the long-term members were men of property and wealth who were often either born of or married into leading limeño families. Through direct participation or marriages, the local nobility had turned the tribunal into a focal point for its political strength.19 Whether or not this creole domination brought partial justice, limeños had grown accustomed to being judged by limeños, or at least creoles, and to having a strong voice in decisions affecting their interests. It is against this background of creole power that one must view the transformation of the Audiencia from a creole to a predominantly peninsular body. While limeños might complain about specific decisions by the tribunal, they had no desire to have their own ministers replaced with new men from Spain.

The transformation of the Audiencia of Lima began in 1775 when the Council of the Indies proposed candidates for three vacant positions of oidor, two previously held by limeños and one by a Chilean. To fill these openings, the Council followed the time-honored practice of looking to the tribunal itself for potential candidates. Apparently on the basis of their seniority, it suggested promoting Alfonso Carrión and José Villalta from their posts of alcalde del crimen.20 In addition, it recommended the fiscal de lo civil, Gerónimo Manuel de Ruedas, a Spaniard who soon would marry a limeña of distinguished family and wealth.21 As replacements for these three men, the Council proposed two creoles and a Spaniard.22 Royal títles of office confirmed these appointments, and so, at the close of 1775, there were ten creoles and two peninsulares holding judicial appointments to the Audiencia.23

In the year that followed, several events foreshadowed important changes in the composition of the Audiencia: José de Gálvez became the Minister of the Indies and set forth his view of wise appointment policy; the Audiencia was enlarged in size and gained the new position of regent; and José Antonio de Areche was named Visitor General of Peru.

On January 28, 1776, on the death of the previous Minister of the Indies, Charles III appointed as the new minister José de Gálvez, Councilor of the Indies and former Visitor General to New Spain.24 Until his death in 1787, Gálvez exercised enormous influence in determining royal policy toward the colonies. Soon after entering his office he directed special attention toward Peru, and within several years limeños were bitterly denouncing him as “anti-American.”25

Gálvez immediately revealed his attítude toward creoles serving in American audiencias when he first conferred with the confessor of Charles III about a new policy of appointment for religious positions in the Indies. Both agreed that creole control of the positions in the colonial cathedrals should be broken; in the future Spaniards were to be named until their number exceeded that of the Americans. At the same time, outstanding creoles were to be given places in churches in Spain. In passing the recommendation on to the governor of the Council of the Indies, however, Gálvez advocated broadening this proposed policy to include positions on the audiencias. Charles III approved the suggestions, reserving one-third of the canonries and prebends for creoles. He did not extend the provision to audiencias.26 The royal order appearing on February 21 represented an important shift in appointment policy, a shift that implied systematic discrimination against creoles.27

Several weeks after this royal order appeared, the effort to strengthen royal authority in the colonies was extended by the appointment of Areche as Visitor General of Peru with instructions not only to improve financial administration, but also to investigate the Audiencia thoroughly.28 On the same day that Charles III named Areche, he issued a royal decree enlarging the audiencias of America. By this decree of March 11, 1776, the Audiencia of Lima was increased by four members: two civil judges, one criminal judge, and one regent, making a total of sixteen judges and two fiscales.29

To fill these new posts and additional vacancies resulting from death and promotion, the King selected eight men. For the eminent position of regent, Charles passed over all of the candidates proposed by the Council of the Indies to elect the malagueño Melchor Jacot Ortiz Rojano, a judge of the Chancellery of Valladolid.30 For the two new posts of oidor, he chose the limeños Antonio de Borda, a criminal judge, and José Clemente Traslaviña, an experienced judge in Santiago who had been named an alcalde del crimen in the previous year.31 To fill the vacancy created by the death of the long-term criminal judge and newly elected oidor José Villalta, Charles restored the retired oidor Pedro Bravo del Rivero, another limeño, to an active position.32 For the new post of alcalde del crimen, the King named the Spaniard Cosme Mier y Trespalacios; however, when Mier was subsequently appointed to the Audiencia of Mexico, in his stead the King promoted Juan Verdugo, a creole judge in Santiago.33 Charles also moved another Chilean oidor, Domingo Martínez de Aldunate, to fill the vacancy left by Borda’s promotion.34 The final appointment as alcalde went to Ramón Rivera y Peña, a Spaniard who had been serving in the Audiencia of Charcas.35 Thus by the end of 1776, twelve creoles, including eight limeños, and four Spaniards held appointments to the Audiencia of Lima. The new appointments had not brought great change to Lima, but the increasing number of peninsulares did suggest a changing pattern of appointment in which they rather than creoles would be favored.

Increased evidence that a dramatic change in the Audiencia was in the offing came in 1777 with the simultaneous arrival in Lima of the regent Jacot and Visitor General Areche.36 Jacot arrived clutching a copy of the detailed “Instruction” for regents, determined to fulfil the responsibilities it outlined and to insist upon the prerogatives it gave him.37 Typically, the “Instruction” offered numerous opportunities for friction among colonial authorities, in this case the regent, the Audiencia, and the viceroy, and disputes and mutual recrimination were soon to ensue. The day after reaching Lima, Jacot demonstrated his determination to carry out the duties of his office. He discovered records of innumerable unresolved cases in the Audiencia’s archives and promptly concluded that a major reason for this backlog was the failure of the ministers to devote adequate time to their responsibilities. Accordingly he ordered a series of minor but irritating changes in the routine of the tribunal.38 He informed the King a month later that the backlog of cases arose from the indolence of the ministers, the short hours of work, and the practice of observing many more holidays than were legally permitted.39

Soon Jacot was quarreling with Bravo del Rivero, the influential dean of the Audiencia. Jacot reported that Bravo was the most partial judge on the tribunal; only his enemies had cause for fear when their cases reached the court.40 In December, 1777, Bravo’s actions further antagonized the regent. The conflict arose when Viceroy Manuel Guirior invited the Audiencia to attend a special religious service that his wife was sponsoring. In discussing this request with the tribunal, the regent declared that while the members could attend as private citizens, laws forbade their corporate presence. Bravo immediately opposed this legal argument, protesting that attendance as a body was advisable in order to retain harmonious relations with the viceroy. That evening Jacot stubbornly sat alone in the church while the other judges, prominently dressed in their robes of office, sat together.41

Jacot did not limit his complaints to Bravo. As early as August he had complained to the King that the creole judges Manuel de Mansilla and the Count of Sierrabella, who were married to wives from Lima and possessed ample wealth and family connections within the city, were allied with Pedro Echeberz to support the dean in whatever he wanted. Together they worked only for the benefit of their friends and relatives, taking care to remain in the favor of Viceroy Guirior. The limeño Antonio Hermenegildo de Querejazu frequently sided with this clique and he, too, was an “intimate of the [viceregal] palace.” In cooperation with Guirior, these ministers sought to thwart rather than provide justice.42

The burden of Jacot’s many letters to Gálvez and the King during his first months in office was that the Audiencia of Lima was not fulfilling its responsibilities and that changes were badly needed. The judges, naturally, resented these attacks on their way of life, and relations between Jacot and his colleagues were strained.43

Although Jacot and Areche knew at once that they would not get along,44 their correspondence reveals agreement about the necessity of changing the membership of the Audiencia. In complying with his commission to investigate the tribunal, Areche obtained statements from eight long-term members about their family relationships and property holdings in Lima.45 On February 20, 1778, the Visitor General sent his confidential conclusions and recommendations directly to Charles III.46

In this thorough and highly influential evaluation, Areche confirmed Jacot’s charges that the ministers were closely related to the principal families of Lima, supplying detailed testimony by the judges themselves concerning their relatives and property. He also corroborated the regent’s charges that these personal interests strongly affected the course of justice. In short, the Audiencia of Lima was in a lamentable state and needed changes in personnel. In his recommendations for these changes, Areche revealed his ability to discriminate judiciously among the ministers involved and his concern to improve judicial administration in Lima as inexpensively as possible. The moderation of his suggestions is striking. Far from proposing a wholesale dismissal of the ministers, he did not recommend transferring the limeños Urquizu Ibáñez, Querejazu, Mansilla, or the Marquis of Corpa. Despite the fact that they were natives of Lima and closely related to the nobility of the city, Areche believed they were capable of serving the King well in this tribunal—if they had some upstanding, disinterested colleagues to emulate.47

Four judges did need to be removed from the Audiencia, in Areche’s opinion. Alfonso Carrion’s advanced age, poor health, and poverty entítled him to retirement with full salary. Pedro Bravo del Rivero, wealthy and the acknowledged leader of the ministers, should be retired at half salary. Despite Bravo’s abilities, Areche argued, the populace suspected him of partiality and, in any case, his many relatives’ frequent litigation meant that he was free to sit in judgment for only a small number of cases. The Count of Sierrabella, whom Areche considered a chief supporter of Bravo, was short on knowledge, long on investments and relatives in Lima, and worthy only of being relieved of his position. Finally, Areche recommended that Pedro de Tagle y Bracho, a disruptive limeño who had been recently appointed criminal judge after years of service on the Audiencia of Charcas, should be transferred. In sum, Areche proposed leaving four limeños on the Audiencia, retiring one, transferring another, moving a Chilean, and retiring Carrión.48 Of the four resulting vacancies, three would be posts previously held by creoles.

Charles III and José de Gálvez gave Areche’s report their immediate attention. In view of the gravity of reordering the Audiencia, Charles ordered Antonio Porlier, a fiscal of the Council of the Indies, to comment on the probable efficacy of the proposals before implementing the Visitor’s suggestions.49 Porlier, a former fiscal of the Audiencia of Lima and personal acquaintance of the ministers in question, confirmed the accuracy of the information concerning the judges’ personal ties and wealth, as well as the inconveniences Areche had described. He affirmed that the Visitor’s proposals were good ones, although presciently expressing doubt that Sierrabella would accept a transfer.50

Upon receipt of Porlier’s report, Charles and his Minister of the Indies moved to implement Areche’s suggestions. The decrees issued on August 20, 1778, retired Bravo with half salary and honors of the Council of the Indies, and Carrión with full salary, while transferring Sierrabella to the Audiencia of Mexico and Pedro Tagle y Bracho to the Audiencia of Santa Fe. In addition, although Areche had not proposed it, the Panamanian Pedro de Echeberz (about whom Jacot had complained) was moved to the Audiencia of Mexico. Finally, the Ministry sent strongly worded notes to the four limeños allowed to remain as oidores, admonishing them to conform to their obligations.51 Thus one criminal and four civil judges were removed from the Audiencia, four of whom were creoles and two of these limeños.

A marginal note on Areche’s report revealed the royal desire to replace these ministers with Europeans whose ability had been proven through service in other audiencias.52 The same consideration apparently also applied to an additional position of criminal judge vacant by the retirement of Juan Verdugo. In filling these six positions, the King named five Spaniards in 1778 and a sixth in the following year.53 Gálvez informed Areche two months later that the replacements were “the best from other tribunals.”54 Clearly the Crown intended to rehabilitate this viceregal court from its “pitiful state.”55 At the end of 1778, eight Americans, including seven limeños, and six peninsulares held appointments, and two places remained to be filled. The creoles were now a majority of only two, where they had been a majority of ten in the previous year.

Spaniards finally outnumbered creoles in 1779. The retirement of Traslaviña, the limeño who had refused to leave Chile, the promotions of Ramón Rivera y Peña to the House of Trade and Melchor de Santiago Concha from criminal to civil judge, and the death of Domingo Martínez de Aldunate, called for five appointments. To fill the vacancies, Charles named two creoles and three peninsulares.56 Thus seven Americans and nine Spaniards now held judicial appointments to the Audiencia. The Crown was regaining control of this major tribunal.

Even though the Spaniards were in the majority, however, six limeños remained among the judges in 1779: Urquizu, José de Tagle, Querejazu, Mansilla, the Marquis of Corpa, and Santiago Concha. Each of these men had purchased his initial appointment to an audiencia between 1740 and 1750.57 Thus the Crown’s financial urgencies at that time had made possible a continuing local influence in the court. The subsequent longevity of these men helped to maintain a substantial creole minority (and brief majority) until the mid-1760s. A noticeable characteristic of the peninsulares holding appointments in 1779 was that, except for the regent, all had previously held appointments to minor American audiencias. None of these men had purchased their appointments. All nine Spaniards had been appointed during the reign of Charles III; seven had received their first appointment to an American audiencia in the 1770s, and two had been appointed in the previous decade.

The change of the Audiencia of Lima from a creole to a peninsular body followed a policy of installing Spaniards while not totally excluding creoles. From 1775 through 1779, Charles made twenty-three appointments, involving twenty men, to positions of oidor or alcalde del crimen. Of these twenty, eight were creoles, including four limeños, and twelve peninsulares. Another pattern evident during these years was the frequent promotion of criminal judges to the position of oidor. Of the eleven civil judges named, seven previously had been named alcalde del crimen, one had been a fiscal in Lima, and three had served as judges in Guatemala, Quito, and Chile respectively.

From 1780 to 1808 the Crown continued its policy of favoring Spaniards over Americans; over three-fourths of the appointees in this period were from Spain. Fourteen of eighteen appointees to alcalde del crimen and thirteen of eighteen to oidor were peninsulares. Although thirty-six appointments had been made, however, the practice of promoting criminal judges to the civil chamber meant that only twenty-three men were involved. Eighteen of these were Spaniards; José Baquíjano y Carrillo was the only limeño of the five creoles.

In addition to favoring peninsulares, the Crown regularly employed the ascenso system in making appointments. This system had two applications for Lima: service in a minor audiencia such as Chile or Charcas was the usual prerequisite for obtaining an appointment as a criminal judge in Lima; and service as alcalde del crimen was the usual prerequisite for promotion to oidor of the tribunal. The effect of this system is indicated in the appointments made from 1780 to 1808. During these years, thirteen of the eighteen men appointed as alcalde del crimen had previously been either judges (ten) or fiscales (three) on minor audiencias. Moreover, thirteen of the eighteen oidores had previously served as criminal judges in Lima. Only one appointed oidor, José de la Portilla y Gálvez, had not previously served on an audiencia, having been instead the asesor general for the viceroy of Peru. It is clear that with the transformation of the Audiencia of Lima came a tightening of the requirements for reaching that body. With few exceptions, appointment came only after apprenticeship elsewhere. Gone were the days when limeños purchased appointments to serve in their home tribunal.

In 1797 only three creoles, including two limeños, remained on the Audiencia of Lima. The death of the long-lived Manuel Mansilla in 1803 left Baquíjano as the only Lima representative on the tribunal.58 However, the implementation of the new appointment policy was neither rapid nor continuous. The reordering of the Audiencia in the 1780s and the longevity of a core of limeños combined to help maintain the numerical strength of the creoles until the 1790s. From its maximum strength of sixteen appointees in 1776, the Audiencia decreased to a temporary low of twelve in 1787. This reduction in size coincided with the establishment of audiencias in Buenos Aires and Cuzco. In its initial appointments to these new tribunals, the Crown named four Spaniards serving in Lima—two civil and two criminal judges.59 Therefore while peninsulares were being moved in and out of the City of Kings, creoles continued to hold seven positions from 1779 through 1791 and, with the decreased size of the Audiencia, once more enjoyed a majority from 1787 through 1791.60

After 1791 the creole, and especially limeño, membership declined rapidly.61 The death of Querejazu and the subsequent appointment of a Spaniard in 1792 once again placed the creoles in the minority, this time for good.62 The retirement of Melchor de Santiago Concha and the promotion of Ambrosio Cerdán y Pontero to the regency of the Audiencia of Guatemala in 1794, the deaths of José de Tagle y Bracho and Nicolás Vélez de Guevara in 1796, and the appointment of three peninsulares and only one creole to serve in Lima, further augmented peninsular strength.63 By the end of 1797, ten peninsulares and only three creoles held appointments to the judicial positions in Lima. This peninsular majority would remain untouched through 1808.64 The policy of peninsular dominance outlined in 1776 had been fully realized.

A confidential report by Viceroy José Abascal in May, 1808, however, revealed that even with peninsular dominance in office, the Crown had failed to terminate all close ties between its ministers and their district. Although the extent of the judges’ relationships with local vested interests was far less in 1808 than in 1774 or even 1795, these ties still existed, particularly in economic matters. Abascal reported that of the eleven judges then serving in Lima, five oidores and the regent either owned or administered haciendas near the city. The regent Manuel de Arredondo had inherited property from his two creole wives. Manuel del Valle y Postigo owned three haciendas and was married to a native of the district, while Baquíjano, the only creole of the men in question, owned one hacienda. Fernando Quadrado had purchased an hacienda, while both Manuel García de la Plata and Juan del Pino Manrique administered landed estates for their sons-in-law. In Abascal’s opinion, these ministers had overly close ties in the district; because of these ties the older men would undoubtedly turn down appointments as regent of other audiencias, or even seats on the Council of the Indies itself.65 In addition, judges born in Spain did not disdain taking creole wives or, as in the case of García de la Plata, developing close friendships with leading ladies of the city.66 Consequently, personal relationships developed between the ministers and prominent limeño families guaranteeing that creole desires would be voiced within the tribunal.

Nevertheless, important limeños were not content with such minimal Peruvian representation on the Audiencia, even though judges continued to select mates from among their midst or proved amenable to bribery. The limeños grasped the significance of increased appointment of peninsulares to the Audiencia; they recognized and resented the Crown’s attempt to strengthen its authority at the expense of what had become a local vested interest. While creoles held nearly half of the judicial positions in Lima, it was difficult to cry discrimination, but by the early 1790s, it was apparent not only that the King was failing to appoint limeños (the last had been named in 1777), but also that those remaining on the tribunal were aged and must soon be replaced. It was at this point that the city council of Lima took advantage of Baquíjano’s planned voyage to Spain to express its concern over the declining position of limeños in the Audiencia.67 After appointing this aggressive native son its representative in January 1793, the cabildo gave him a set of instructions which, although consisting in great measure of desired honorific privileges and local concerns, included a specific request that Peruvians be given one-third of the positions in each audiencia within the viceroyalty, and that no objection be made to ministers serving in their home districts.68 These political requests are a significant revelation of Peruvian inclination to protest the visible change in royal appointment policy that had occurred after 1776. They also illustrate concern to have Peruvians, not merely Americans, serving in the viceroyalty.

Further expressions of desire to return to pre-Gálvez conditions came from the cabildo in 1799 and 1809. In 1799, with only two limeños holding appointments to the Audiencia, the corporation issued a modified version of the 1793 instructions. It cautioned the new representative, however, to use discretion in soliciting that Peruvians be given one-third of the audiencia positions in Peru.69 Then, amid the rising tide of complaints and requests that followed the Napoleonic invasion of Spain and the abdications of Ferdinand and Charles, the cabildo joined in the widespread American demands for equality with peninsulares in obtaining government employment. In 1808 and 1809 only three creoles, including but a single limeño, held appointments to the Audiencia.70

The instructions that the cabildo gave to Peru’s deputy to the Junta Central, Dr. José de Silva, in October, 1809, clearly presented its position on creole employment and its recognition that creole opportunities for government employment had deteriorated since the middle of the eighteenth century. In these instructions the cabildo now called for the appointment of creoles to one half of all government positions. It justified this increase over its previous requests both by the recent declaration proclaiming unity and equality between Spain and the Indies, and by the demonstrated ability of creoles as office holders.71

The cabildo pointed out that, in earlier times, the Crown had been most solicitous toward Americans when selling offices. As a result of their purchases, creoles had held many high positions and had served with distinction. Furthermore, no apparent disadvantages had resulted from persons serving in their home districts or from marrying natives or holding property. What the cabildo now desired was a return to conditions in which numerous limeños would serve in their native city. Beyond this the city fathers sought an explicit statement guaranteeing that one half of all civil and military positions would be given to Americans, and that there would be no hindrance to natives serving in their home districts. Finally, the cabildo wanted creoles to be able to serve without having to pay for their appointments, journey to Spain to solicit employment, or hire the services of expensive agents in Madrid to petítion for them.72

While the cabildo referred to earlier creole service in purchased offices and implied that royal appointment policy had changed, it did not indicate when this change had occurred. However, a former representative and the only limeño to win appointment to the Audiencia from 1780 to 1808 had earlier protested on his own behalf against the change in policy and had not hesitated to date its beginnings. José Baquíjano had grown up in Lima during the period of creole pre-eminence in the tribunal. He had observed with dismay that from the late 1770s peninsulares were receiving the majority of the appointments to the Audiencia, and, soon after arriving in Spain in 1793, he wrote a sharp protest. His comments further illustrate limeño response to the Crown’s recent appointments. The reaction voiced within the Ministry of the Indies to his assertions also provides a candid statement of the rationale for the changed policy.

In a request for an appointment to the Audiencia, differing markedly from the usual humble repetítion of personal qualifications and years spent in royal service, Baquíjano flatly charged that since the accession of Gálvez, the Ministry of the Indies had discriminated against Peruvians in making appointments to the Audiencia of Lima. While Julián de Arriaga had been minister, he asserted, officials had never listened to the “unfounded maxim” that it was poor policy, or even prohibited, to name creoles to serve on American audiencias. Arriaga had impartially rewarded capable Americans with audiencia positions. However, the Marquís of Sonora (José de Gálvez) had changed Arriaga’s sagacious policy, convincing Charles III that wisdom bore against considering creoles for places on American audiencias. Sonora’s successor, the Marquis of Bajamar (Antonio Porlier) had continued his discriminatory policy, applying it invariably against the Peruvians. Such a policy of exclusion, Baquíjano protested, was not only discriminatory, but unfounded in law.73 The Recopilación stated that natives not only were to be given judicial and administrative offices, but were to be the preferred candidates for positions in their home districts. Special favor, moreover, was to be given to descendants of conquistadores.74

Baquíjano’s unusual petítion did not win him an appointment; the Ministry of the Indies made a detailed examination of his complaint, issued a hot denial of his charges, and refused his request. The response within the Ministry reveals explicitly the policy held toward appointments to the American audiencias.

In the second week of February, 1794, Antonio Porcel, the official charged with summarizing Baquíjano’s requests, gathered the relevant materials. He turned to the Recopilación and the archives for information to confirm or refute the limeño’s avowal of discrimination. Porcel stated that he did not know what rules Arriaga had followed in filling the American audiencias, but that Baquíjano was correct in asserting that the Recopilación contained no law prohibiting Americans from being named ministers in the colonies, even if they were natives of the audiencia district. But, “in practice,” he continued, “the maxim has generally been upheld of not conferring these offices on those [persons] who are natives of the provinces under the authority of those tribunals.”75 This policy, however, was a tradition within the ministry rather than a formal law.

The statement closest to a formal policy excluding Americans from American audiencias was that of February 21, 1776 which had been drawn up under José de Gálvez. Porcel added, though, that he could not ascertain its effectiveness since, during his ten years in the ministry, he had never seen reference to it. Moreover, Baquíjano’s admission that Gálvez had appointed limeños as oidores proved the falseness of his complaints. These appointments, “far from proving the aversion of the ministry to creoles, attest that it was not trying to exclude them absolutely, but to moderate their number” in the American audiencias.76 The appointments made after 1776 clearly show that the Crown was successful in moderating the number of creoles in the Audiencia of Lima. Baquíjano’s protest, like those of the cabildo, however, demonstrates that this achievement brought on creole resentment over the loss of positions which decades of possession had convinced them was their right.

Creole predominance on the Audiencia of Lima in 1774 is evidence that at the time these American ministers were appointed, principally in the 1740s, the Crown did not exclude Americans from this viceregal tribunal. From 1775 through 1779, though, the number of peninsulares increased until it exceeded that of the creoles. This transformation resulted from a combination of circumstances: expansion of the size of the Audiencia, deaths and promotions, and the transfers and retirements produced by Jacot’s and particularly Areche’s criticism of the existing membership’s close ties with the local aristocracy and vested interests. The results reflected the Crown’s desire to provide the tribunal with more Spanish ministers as set forth in the general order of February 21, 1776.

The pattern of appointments from 1780 to 1808 indicates a continuing royal policy to secure control over the Audiencia. In comparison with the members in 1774, the later appointees, almost all peninsulares, generally reached Lima as criminal judges after service in a minor audiencia in South America, and then received promotion to oidor. Also, since the ministers appointed after 1780 usually remained in Lima less time than had their predecessors appointed in the 1740s, their opportunities to establish personal and economic ties with the limeño aristocracy were reduced. One reason for shorter tenure was that the new position of regent offered a previously unavailable source of promotion. The Crown promoted eleven judges and three fiscales of the Audiencia to the office of regent between 1780 and 1808. Furthermore, the judges promoted to regent, or in the 1780s transferred to the new audiencias of Buenos Aires and Cuzco, were with only one exception peninsulares.77 As Abascal’s report of 1808 shows, however, the frequent appointment of Spaniards instead of creoles did not altogether eliminate close ties between the Audiencia and the Lima aristocracy.

Limeños recognized the change in appointment policy and resented the increased discrimination against natives of the viceroyalty. Far from seeking an innovation in requesting an equal share of appointments, however, Peruvian sentiment, as enunciated by Baquíjano and the cabildo, was to return to the better days existing before José de Gálvez became Minister of the Indies. Awareness of previous limeño domination of the Audiencia, moreover, sharpened a sense of grievance. The coincidence of greatly diminished creole representation on the Audiencia with the systematic employment of peninsulares as intendants gave Peruvians ample justification to believe that the Crown had adopted a policy designed to reduce their status and political power.

The frustration experienced by limeños hopeful for high judicial appointments paralleled that of the Mexicans. In the northern viceroyalty as well, Spaniards came to dominate the capital’s audiencia in the 1770s. Since the ascenso system was working effectively in the late eighteenth century, and principally Spaniards were moving up from the minor audiencias to Lima, it seems quite possible that Gálvez’ pro-peninsular policy had been implemented throughout the Empire. If creoles had dominated most of the audiencias immediately prior to this royal offensive, it would help to explain the widespread American clamor for equal appointments that appeared after 1808.

Though it now appears likely that creoles throughout the Empire were complaining about a recent increase in discrimination rather than about centuries of continued exclusion from high office, the subject requires further study. In light of creole demands for one half of all government positions, investigation should go beyond the audiencias to encompass the entire bureaucracy. The results would reveal whether creole concern to reverse a declining position was limited to higher offices alone or extended to the lower ones as well. In either case, though, it seems clear that American unhappiness grew with the implementation of Gálvez’ appointment policy. Present knowledge suggests that, on the eve of independence, the prevailing creole attitude toward obtaining high office was reactionary, focused on a reversal of recent policy, rather than revolutionary and directed toward providing Americans with unprecedented political and social status.

Judges Holding Appointment to the Audiencia of Lima, 1774-1809a


There are slight discrepancies owing, for example, to the promotion or death of one man and failure to name his replacement until the following year. The outline, however, remains the same.


D. A. Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763-1810 (Cambridge, Eng., 1971), p. 40. Leon G. Campbell, “A Colonial Establishment: Creole Domination of the Audiencia of Lima During the Late Eighteenth Century,” HAHR, 52:1 (February 1972), 1-25. Jacques Barbier, “Elite and Cadres in Bourbon Chile,” in this issue of the HAHR. In an earlier, more limited study, Jorge Tovar Velarde demonstrated creole domination of the Audiencia of Lima in the early eighteenth century. “La Audiencia de Lima 1705-1707. Dos años de gobierno criollo en el Perú,” Revista Histórica (Lima), 23 (1957-1958), 338-453.


Jaime Eyzaguirre, Ideario y ruta de la emancipación chilena (2nd ed., Santiago, 1969), p. 56. The critical passage is translated in Troy S. Floyd (ed.), The Bourbon Reformers and Spanish Civilization: Builders or Destroyers? (Boston, 1966), p. 46, and in R. A. Humphreys and John Lynch (eds.), The Origins of the Latin American Revolutions 1808-1826 (New York, 1966), p. 259.

The only part of Eyzaguirre’s argument previously accepted was that creoles wanted all of the government positions. Thus Humphreys and Lynch agree with this point, but only after they assert that “Spaniards virtually monopolized higher offices” and that creoles by the end of the eighteenth century had obtained only the lower positions. Origins, p. 23.


For example, Brading, Miners and Merchants, pp. 39-40.


Campbell, “A Colonial Establishment,” pp. 10-13; Barbier, “Elite and Cadres.”


Particular attention should be paid to the suggestive work of Stuart B. Schwartz for the High Court of Bahia. See “Magistracy and Society in Colonial Brazil,” HAHR, 50:4 (November 1970), 715-30.


J. R. Fisher, Government and Society in Colonial Peru: The Intendant System 1784-1814 (London, 1970), p. 9.


Stuart B. Schwartz, “Toward a New Interpretation of Government and Society in Colonial Spanish and Portuguese America,” paper presented at the XXXIX International Congress of Americanists (Lima, 1970), p. 13. I am gratefid to Professor Schwartz for sending me a copy of this paper.


Brading, Miners and Merchants, pp. 34-42.


Barbier, “Elite and Cadres.”


John Lynch, Spanish Colonial Administration, 1782-1810: The Intendant System in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (New York, 1969), pp. 291-301.


Fisher, Government, pp. 240-50; Brading, Miners and Merchants, p. 64. Although the limeño Nicolás Manrique de Lara was nominated to be one of the first intendants in Peru, the Crown did not confirm him in office, selecting a peninsular instead. The 1805 appointment of limeño Manuel Quimper Benites del Pino to a Peruvian intendancy proved premature, and he served only in an interim capacity until 1811.


Fisher, Government, p. 82; Lynch, Spanish Colonial Administration, pp. 77-80.


This discussion of the Audiencia of Lima concerns only the oidores, alcaldes del crimen, and, after 1776, the regent. I have omitted the fiscales from the computations for several reasons: with only one exception, the thirteen appointed from 1766 through 1808 were peninsulares; although certainly influential, these officials had no vote in judicial matters; and, the office of fiscal in Lima did not serve at this time as a regular channel of promotion into the offices of criminal or civil judge. Only two of the thirteen appointees received promotion to these judicial positions.


Campbell errs in implying that creoles filled a majority of the seats from the beginning (or first third) of the century until 1796. See “A Colonial Establishment,” pp. 3, 10, 18. The dominance of the early decades disappeared under the appointment of sixteen peninsulares to only eight creoles from 1708 to 1730. Despite four creole appointments in the mid-1730s, a peninsular majority remained into the early 1740s. See below for a discussion of the end of creole dominance.


The numerical totals throughout this article have been compiled principally from copies of the royal titles (títulos) of appointment available in the Archivo General de Simancas, Sección XXIII, Inventario 2 (hereafter AGS). Consultas in the Archivo General de Indias (hereafter AGI), Audiencia of Lima (hereafter Lima) have provided supplemental material.


A discussion of the nature of creole appointments in the 1740s appears in M.A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler, “Creole Appointments and the Sale of Audiencia Positions in the Spanish Empire under the Early Bourbons, 1701-1750,” forthcoming article in the Journal of Latin American Studies.


Christóbal Mesía y Munive, supernumerary judge, Lima (Buen Retiro: December 21, 1755), AGS, leg. 41, tít. 32; Benito Casal y Montenegro, dean, Lima (San Ildefonso: July 26, 1763), ibid., leg. 47, tít. 221; Manuel de Mansilla, judge, Lima (El Pardo: March 18, 1770), ibid., leg. 54, tít. 45. Casal y Montenegro was the Spaniard. I have employed “judge” for “oidor” and “criminal judge” for “alcalde del crimen” throughout the notes.


Judges of the Audiencia in 1774, their places of birth, and dates of appointment were as follows:

Urquizu Ibáñez, Gaspar de Lima 1740 
Tagle y Bracho, José de (suspended from serving since 1767) Lima 1741 
Querejazu, Antonio Hermenegildo de Lima 1744 
Gorena y Beyra, Manuel de Chile 1748 
Orrantia, Domingo de Lima 1749 
Echeberz, Pedro Antonio de Panama 1750 
Mesía y Munive, Christóbal de (Count of Sierrabella) Chile 1755 
Mansilla, Manuel de Lima 1770 
   Alcaldes del Crimen   
Carrion, Alfonso Spain 1729 
Borda y Echevarría, Manuel de Lima 1736 
Villalta y Núñez, José Antonio Lima 1738 
Puente Ibáñez, Juan José de la (Marquis of Corpa from 1777) Lima 1747 
   Retired Oidor   
Bravo del Rivero, Pedro Lima 1733 
Urquizu Ibáñez, Gaspar de Lima 1740 
Tagle y Bracho, José de (suspended from serving since 1767) Lima 1741 
Querejazu, Antonio Hermenegildo de Lima 1744 
Gorena y Beyra, Manuel de Chile 1748 
Orrantia, Domingo de Lima 1749 
Echeberz, Pedro Antonio de Panama 1750 
Mesía y Munive, Christóbal de (Count of Sierrabella) Chile 1755 
Mansilla, Manuel de Lima 1770 
   Alcaldes del Crimen   
Carrion, Alfonso Spain 1729 
Borda y Echevarría, Manuel de Lima 1736 
Villalta y Núñez, José Antonio Lima 1738 
Puente Ibáñez, Juan José de la (Marquis of Corpa from 1777) Lima 1747 
   Retired Oidor   
Bravo del Rivero, Pedro Lima 1733 


“A Colonial Establishment,” passim.


Consultas of the Cámara of the Indies (May 22, 1775 and September 6, 1775), AGI, Lima, leg. 877.


Consulta of the Cámara of the Indies (May 22, 1775), ibid. He married Mariana Baquíjano y Carrillo, a sister of the future Lima judge José Baquíjano.


The creoles were José Clemente Traslaviña and Pedro de Tagle y Bracho, judges of the audiencias of Chile and Charcas. The peninsular was Serafín Veyán, judge of the Audiencia of Quito. Consultas of the Cámara of the Indies (September 6, 1775 and November 29, 1775), ibid., leg. 877.


Serafín Veyán, fiscal del crimen, Lima (San Lorenzo: October 27, 1775), AGS, leg. 39, tít. 143; Pedro de Tagle Bracho, criminal judge, Lima (El Pardo: March 13, 1776), ibid., leg. 60, tít. 32; Josef Clemente Traslaviña, judge, Lima (San Ildefonso: July 27, 1776), ibid., tít. 172. See  Appendix for the impact of these and subsequent appointments on the composition of the Audiencia.


General order to the three viceroys (El Pardo: February 2, 1776), AGI, Indiferente General, leg. 546.


Letter 341 by Areche to Gálvez (Lima: November 22, 1781), AGI, Lima, leg. 1086.


Mesa report to February 19, 1794, AGI, leg. 620. The royal order of February 21, 1776 is printed in Richard Konetzke (ed.), Colección de documentos para la historia de la formación social de Hispanoamérica 1493-1810 (3 vols., Madrid, 1953-1962), III, 405-406. Brading provides the background to this decision in Miners and Merchants, pp. 35-36.


The adverse reaction this order brought in Mexico City is reflected in the royal order of January 2, 1778. Konetzke, Colección de documentos, III, 434-435. See also Brading, Miners and Merchants, pp. 37-39.


Instructions from Aranjuez, June 20, 1776 and Madrid, May 17, 1776. AGI, Lima, leg. 1082.


Royal decree of March 11, 1776 (El Pardo), AGI, Audiencia de México, leg. 1641.


Consulta of the Cámara of the Indies (September 23, 1776), AGI, Lima, leg. 881; Melchor Jacot Ortiz Rojano, regent, Lima (San Lorenzo: November 14, 1776), AGS, leg. 60, tít. 287.


Consulta of the Cámara of the Indies (June 14, 1776), AGI, Lima, leg. 881; Josef Clemente Traslaviña, judge, Lima (San Ildefonso: July 27, 1776), AGS, leg. 60, tít. 172.


AGI, Lima, leg. 881, exped. 29.


Cosme de Mier y Trespalacios, criminal judge, Lima (El Pardo: March 27, 1776), AGS, leg. 60, tít. 52; Juan Antonio Verdugo, criminal judge, Lima (San Lorenzo: July 27, 1776), ibid., tít. 171.


Domingo Martínez de Aldunate, criminal judge, Lima (San Ildefonso: July 27, 1776), ibid., tít. 170.


Ramón de Rivera y Peña, criminal judge, Lima (El Pardo: January 26, 1777), ibid., leg. 61, tít. 5. The consulta of the Cámara had been on December 16, 1776.


Jacot arrived in Callao on June 11. Areche arrived in Lima on June 14 and made his public entry two days later. Letter 182 by Manuel de Guirior to Gálvez (Lima: June 20, 1777), AGI, Lima, leg. 656.


“Instrucción de lo que deben observar los regentes de las reales audiencias de América: sus funciones, regalías, cómo se han de haber con los virreyes, y presidentes, y estos con aquellos” (Aranjuez: June 20, 1776), ibid., Indiferente, leg. 379.


Letter by Melchor Jacot Ortiz Rojano to Gálvez (Lima: June 20, 1777), AGI, Lima, leg. 792.


Ibid., July 20, 1777.


Letters by Jacot to Gálvez (Lima: July, 1777 and August 20, 1777), ibid.


Ibid., December 3, 1777.


Ibid., August 20, 1777.


Ibid., September 20, 1777.


See Letter by Areche to Gálvez (Lima: June 20, 1777), ibid., leg. 1445; and Letters by Jacot to Gálvez (Lima: June 20, 1777 and October 20, 1778), ibid., leg. 792. The conflict between Areche and Guirior is well known, but, in fact, the presence of Jacot added further problems and made the conflict three-sided. On Areche and Guirior, see Vincente Palacio Atard, Areche y Guirior. Observaciones sobre el fracaso de una visita al Perú (Seville, 1946).


Testimony number seven, duplicate. Respuestas de los Ministros de la R1 Audiencia de Lima, AGI, Lima, leg. 1082. These are thoroughly treated in Campbell, “A Colonial Establishment.”


Confidential letter 31 by Areche to the King (Lima: February 20, 1778), ibid., leg. 617. This letter is also in ibid., leg. 1082, but the copy does not contain the marginal comments made in the ministry.






Confidential royal order to Antonio Porlier (Palace: July 31, 1778), ibid., leg. 617.


Report by Porlier to Gálvez (Madrid: August 2, 1778), ibid. Porlier held appointment to the Audiencia of Lima from December 7, 1766 until July 17, 1775.


Año de 1778. Expediente reservado que trata de la Jubilación de algunos Ministros de la Audiencia de Lima, y traslación de otros á otros Tribunales con las demás providencias que se han tomado a cerca de los Ministros qe quedan allí, y se le previene este a la mira de la conducta de todos, ibid.


Confidential letter 31 by Areche to the King (Lima: February 20, 1778), ibid.


José Cabeza Henriquez, Jorge Escobedo Alarcón, José Ferrer, Benito de la Mata Linares, Ramón Rivera y Peña, and, in 1779, Manuel Arredondo y Pelegrín.


Letter by Gálvez to Areche (San Lorenzo: October 14, 1778), AGI, Lima, leg. 1445.


The phrase appears in the confidential royal order to Porlier (Palace: July 31, 1778), ibid., leg. 617.


The creoles were Melchor de Santiago Concha and Nicolás Vélez de Guevara; peninsulares were Manuel Arredondo y Pelegrín, Ambrosio Cerdán y Pontero, and Ramón de Posada y Soto.


Mark Alan Burkholder, “José Baquíjano and the Audiencia of Lima” (Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1970), pp. 68, 288, 289.


Letter by Manuel María del Valle y Postigo (Lima: November 26, 1803), AGI, leg. 725.


Numero 20 Estado actual de las Audiencias del Perú. Año de 1788. Secria del Perú. Estado actual conforme al Reglamto aprovado por S.M. en 27 de marzo de las Audiencias de su departamento, AGI, Indiferente, leg. 404.


In 1788 a fourth place of alcalde del crimen was restored to Lima, giving the tribunal thirteen judicial positions again. The peninsular Juan del Pino Manrique was appointed to fill the restored post. (San Lorenzo: October 8, 1788), AGS, leg. 72, tít. 190. Even with this appointment, there were eight Americans on the Audiencia in 1788.


See  Appendix.


Tomás González Calderón, judge, Lima (San Lorenzo: November, 1792), AGS, leg. 76, tít. 250; Manuel Pardo, criminal judge, Lima (San Lorenzo: November 9, 1792), ibid., tít. 223.


Manuel García de la Plata, judge, Lima (San Lorenzo: December 4, 1794), ibid., leg. 78, tít. 175; Francisco Xavier Moreno y Escandón, criminal judge, Lima (San Lorenzo: December 4, 1794), ibid., tít. 174; Juan Rodríguez Ballesteros, judge, Lima (San Lorenzo: November 24, 1794), ibid., tít. 167; Juan del Pino Manrique, judge, Lima (San Ildefonso: November 26, 1796), ibid., leg. 80, tít. 246; Fernando Quadrado, judge, Lima (San Lorenzo: November 26, 1796), ibid., tít. 245. Moreno y Escandón was the creole.


See  Appendix.


Confidential letter 55 by José Abascal (Lima: May 23, 1808), AGI, Lima, leg. 737.




Burkholder, “José Baquíjano,” pp. 215-217.


Archivo Municipal (Lima), Libro de Cabildo 39, fols. 139-146b.


Ibid., fol. 144. Mansilla and Baquíjano were the two limeños.


Francisco Xavier Moreno y Escandón, Baquíjano, and José de Santiago y Concha, a Chilean who never left Chile to serve in Lima.


Cabildo of Lima to José de Silva (Lima: October 11, 1809), AGI, Lima, leg. 802. See John Fisher, “The Intendant System and the Cabildos of Peru, 1784-1810,” HAHR, 49:3 (August 1969), 451-452, for a summary of these instructions.


Cabildo of Lima to Silva (Lima: October 11, 1809), AGI, Lima, leg. 802.


Petítion by Baquíjano, n.d. A marginal note is dated February 10, 1794. AGI, Lima, leg. 620.


Ibid.; Recopilación [Madrid, 1791], Lib. III, tít. ii, leyes xiii, xiiii, xvi.


Mesa report to February 19, 1794, AGI, Lima, leg. 620.




Francisco Antonio Moreno y Escandón was the creole.

Author notes


The author is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.