The decision of the Spanish crown in 1633 to begin the systematic sale of high-ranking treasury appointments in the Indies had far-reaching consequences for the administration of royal finance in the Viceroyalty of Peru. The viceregal treasury, centered in Lima, exercised broad powers over financial matters in the realm; and the implementation of all crown revenue policies depended on the loyalty and efficiency of its officers. Throughout the seventeenth century, treasury officials (Oficiales reales) acted as political brokers: mediating between the financial demands of the crown and the frequent resistance of taxpayers in the viceroyalty to new government levies, and helping to maintain the political balance of power essential to the cohesion of the empire.1 The sale of these important fiscal appointments after 1633 eventually tipped this balance pronouncedly in favor of local citizens as purchasers with strong local connections came to dominate the treasury.

The political changes brought about by the sales between 1633 and 1700 proved particularly damaging to royal authority in the Viceroyalty of Peru. The seventeenth century was a time of financial crisis for the Hapsburg monarchy, when officials in Madrid needed increased contributions from the viceregal treasury to help stem the economic and military decline of Spain in Europe.2 Selling treasury offices yielded useful funds. At the same time, however, such sales allowed untrained, inefficient, and even dishonest officials to exercise power in this period of crisis. As a result, the sales begun in 1633 contributed to a steady decline in royal control over these officials, whose family, business, and political ties to magnates in the viceroyalty proved stronger than their allegiance to the king. In the end, the ministers of the Peruvian treasury failed to meet the pressing needs of the crown, and remissions of revenue to the metropolis steadily declined.


Historians have long debated the consequences of selling bureaucratic offices in the Spanish Indies. J. H. Parry and Antonio Domínguez Ortiz content that the sale of public offices placed political power in the hands of inexperienced and incompetent men, who viewed their positions as sinecures rather than as public trusts.3 For Parry and Domínguez, this process was one manifestation of the overall decline of the Spanish empire during the seventeenth century. Their conclusions have been modified significantly by Mark A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler in their exhaustive prosopographical study of the colonial audiencias.4 Burkholder and Chandler argue that creole appointments to the high courts increased dramatically after the systematic sale of appointments in 1687. In addition, many peninsular Spaniards who purchased audiencia positions forged close alliances with citizens in their district and became radicados en país, or “firmly rooted in local society by social and economic ties.”5 Burkholder and Chandler’s study clearly indicates that local influence in the audiencias did not necessarily signal the decline of the courts, but instead indicated a shift in the balance of power in the empire. The link that Burkholder and Chandler have established between the sale of audiencia positions and political change in the empire poses several important questions. For example, what was the impact of selling treasury appointments in the Indies after 1633? Was the rapid rise of local influence in the audiencias tied to the sale of offices begun in 1633? Did the consequences of selling bureaucratic offices vary in different areas of the empire? The aim of this study is to examine how such political changes in the two chief agencies of the royal treasury in the Viceroyalty of Peru, the tribunal of accounts and the central treasury office in Lima, led to a steady erosion of royal authority during the seventeenth-century imperial crisis.6


The royal treasury played a crucial role in maintaining Spanish power and authority in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Throughout the seventeenth century, treasury officials collected the taxes that financed the empire and distributed this income according to the needs of the viceregal administration and the demands of the metropolitan government in Madrid. They also served as judicial officials and took part in the formulation and implementation of crown fiscal policies. Particularly during periods of financial distress within the empire, treasury officials were among the most powerful members of the viceregal government.

For Peru, the tribunal of accounts and the central treasury office in Lima formed the core of this fiscal bureaucracy. Along with the viceroy, who legally headed the treasury, these two agencies supervised or controlled most of the financial operations of the realm. In addition, the senior auditor of the tribunal and the officials from the central treasury office served with the viceroy and the senior oidor of the audiencia on the council of finance (junta de hacienda).7 This council met every Thursday afternoon in Lima to set general policies and priorities for the various treasury offices (cajas reales) in Peru and Upper Peru. The junta de hacienda coordinated the operation of these widely scattered cajas, resolved problems of jurisdictional conflict, made decisions about debt collection, new tax levies, and government expenditures, and dispatched government visitas. The outcome of any financial reform measures designed to increase remissions of revenue to the hard-pressed Spanish crown in Europe ultimately depended on the successful completion of these duties.

Once the junta de hacienda established official policies for the viceregal treasury, the task of implementing these directives fell to the individual treasury offices. The crown established these in major mining, agricultural, commercial, military, and administrative centers of the realm; officials serving in them carried out the daily administrative chores of collecting taxes and paying government expenses in their districts. Each office was the center of an administrative orbit of considerable importance. Indeed, the operation of local government depended greatly on the honesty and efficiency of the officials attached to the royal treasury.

The most important treasury office in the Viceroyalty of Peru was that in Lima. Treasury officials in Lima not only collected taxes in their district and served on the important junta de hacienda, but also handled funds from other offices since the caja of Lima acted as a central clearinghouse for all cajas subordinadas in Peru and Upper Peru. At regular intervals the subordinate offices sent their fiscal accounts and surplus income to the central treasury (caja principal or caja matriz) in Lima.8 The central office used these funds to pay the expenses of the viceregal administration and dispatched the rest to Spain.

Despite the considerable power of the treasury office in Lima, its administrative structure was quite simple during the seventeenth century. Three senior treasury officials collected the taxes: a comptroller (contador), a treasurer (tesorero), and a business manager (factor).9 The comptroller supervised the income and expenditures of the caja, while the treasurer handled the actual receipt and payment of all authorized funds. The business manager sold all goods confiscated by the government and all taxes collected in kind at public auction, kept the armories in Lima and Callao stocked, and attended to any other commercial transactions involving royal money. One of these three senior officials also served, in rotation, at Callao to operate the customshouse and to oversee the military expenditures of the port. The treasury officer at Callao frequently received aid from a supernumerary (supernumerario) of the caja, who served as an adjutant at half-pay until one of the senior posts became vacant. In addition, each of the three senior officers had subordinates to assist him in his duties. The crown held the three senior officials collectively responsible for the administration of the treasury.10

Apart from administering the royal revenues, treasury officers possessed extensive judicial responsibilities as judges of the court of first instance in all fiscal suits. They commonly ruled on cases concerning taxes, debts, violations of fiscal legislation, corruption, and other fiscal matters. The three officers in Lima heard these cases as a group and had to render unanimous rulings. Even governors and corregidors had to yield to the treasury officers in fiscal cases.

After 1607 the task of supervising the financial dealings of all the treasury offices in the viceroyalty was entrusted to a special tribunal of accounts, located in the viceregal palace in Lima.11 Each year all the treasury offices in the Audiencias of Lima, Quito, Charcas, Chile, and Panama sent copies of their accounts to the tribunal for audit. The tribunal also examined the accounts of the various individuals or agencies serving as tax farmers in the viceroyalty.12 After completing these periodic audits, the tribunal sent a summary of its findings to the Council of the Indies, keeping copies for its own files in Lima. The tribunal of accounts also served as the final court of appeals in all cases relating to treasury activities in the realm.

Like the Lima treasury office, the tribunal of accounts had a small staff to fulfill its many responsibilities. Early in the seventeenth century only three senior auditors (contadores mayores), two lesser accountants (contadores ordenadores), and a few minor functionaries served in the tribunal in Lima.13 By 1629 a backlog of unfinished accounts had accumulated, and the crown authorized the addition of two new accountants (contadores de resultas) in order to handle the back accounts and collect debts. Still, the workload of the agency proved beyond the capacity of its staff, and by 1651 the viceroy had added two more contadores ordenadores and also authorized the enlistment of several part-time accountants.14

To curb the considerable power of the treasury and tribunal officers, the crown imposed a host of laws regulating their behavior. Although many of the regulations were ignored during the seventeenth century, they served as a model of conduct for crown officials of the period. Fiscal officers could not, in law, hold another bureaucratic office, an encomienda grant, or serve in any public or private position that might hinder them from discharging their duties effectively.15 Personal ties among members of the bureaucracy were forbidden, and intermarriage among the families of government officials was particularly discouraged.16 Moreover, the law prohibited treasury officers from engaging in commercial ventures. They could not borrow money, or own mines, sugar mills, or land without the consent of their superiors.17 Authorities in Madrid were adamant in forbidding fiscal officials to use their political position for personal gain or to turn royal funds to their own use.18 Most of these prohibitions extended to the wives and sons of the bureaucrats. The contadores of the tribunal were also prohibited from meeting collectively outside the chambers of the viceregal palace.19 Even a short trip beyond the confines of their district had to be approved by the viceroy or the president of the audiencia. When accused of breaking any of these laws, fiscal officials in Lima were suspended from office until the charges were resolved. If found guilty, an official might he obliged to forfeit his office, his personal property, or even his life.

It is not surprising that the crown sought to regulate closely the power of officials serving on the tribunal of accounts and in the treasury office in Lima. Any measure that undermined the power and loyalty of these two agencies could alter dramatically the political balance of power in the empire.


Authorities in Madrid recognized many of the dangers of selling treasury appointments, and only reluctantly approved the policy in 1633.20 The debate on the measure was most heated in the Council of the Indies. Members of the council warned the king that the sales might allow unqualified, incompetent, or corrupt men to gain these important offices. The councillors cautioned the king to weigh the merits of the purchasers against the “considerable amounts of money” offered to meet the urgent needs” of the financially pressed royal treasury.21 In addition, the council recognized that the policy was a sharp break with the past. The crown had openly sold some hereditary and transferable offices (oficios vendibles y renunciables) at public auction as early as 1559, but these sales involved only minor posts: those for scribes, notaries, and some municipal offices. Treasury officers, however, had extensive financial and judicial powers and received high salaries.23 Ultimately, only under pressure from Philip IV and his chief minister, Conde Duque de Olivares, did the councillors approve the sales. Paced with bankruptcy and military defeat, the Madrid government decided to sell treasury appointments, regardless of the consequences.24

The crown derived considerable income from the sales and continued them throughout the seventeenth century. It was able to command particularly high prices for seats on both the tribunal of accounts and the central treasury office in Lima. Sales of the offices were made through individual private transactions, rather than at auction, and the receipts went directly to the Spanish treasury.25 There was no predetermined price list, however, and the amounts charged for each position varied considerably over the years.26 The price of a post in the Lima treasury office fluctuated between 5,375 and 18,750 pesos.27 In the tribunal of accounts, the office of contador mayor commanded the highest prices—from 9,000 to 20,000 pesos. The lesser positions of contador de resultas and contador ordenador cost between 2,500 and 8,750 pesos.28 Since all senior offices in the Lima caja were legally equal, no such price differential obtained there. In fact, if no position in the office was vacant, the buyer could purchase a future (futura), which entitled him to assume the first available opening in the office, whether it was that of treasurer, comptroller, or factor. Purchasers in the tribunal, on the other hand, usually received a future for one of the three specific contador positions. In the caja other considerations, such as the immediate financial position of the crown, or the political influence of the purchaser, his past record, his qualifications, and his eagerness to buy an appointment, were the factors that influenced prices. A Spaniard, Dr. Bartolomé Torres Cavallón, purchased a future in Lima, for example, in 1646 for only 6,000 pesos, but he had an advanced academic degree and boasted a distinguished record of government service in Spain and the Indies.29 On the other hand, a young native son of Lima, Francisco Antonio de los Santos, paid the sum of 14,400 pesos for his future in 1680.30 This was consistent with the crown’s policy of discouraging native sons from serving in the highest echelons of the colonial bureaucracy. In short, each transaction was negotiated separately and the receipts received by the crown varied with individual circumstances.

The prices charged by the crown for appointments to the subordinate treasury offices tended to be lower than those for a similar post in Lima. An appointment in the important mining center of Oruro cost between 8,000 and 10,000 pesos. By comparison, a similar post in a less productive mining area like Bombón varied in price from 2,000 to 5,600 pesos.31 The average cost of an appointment in the Lima office, meanwhile, was approximately 10,000 pesos, while a post as contador mayor on the tribunal of accounts averaged nearly 12,000 pesos.

Despite the considerable income accruing to the crown from the sale of treasury offices in Peru, opposition to the practice continued in the Council of the Indies. Although the councillors recognized the king’s legal right to sell public offices in any of his kingdoms, they continued to press for an end to the policy. They feared the sales would allow dishonest and inept men to gain high office during a particularly difficult period in Spain’s fiscal affairs. This was bound to damage the efficiency and responsiveness of the viceregal treasury at a time when the crown desperately needed funds from the Indies. In 1667 the president of the council, the Conde de Peñaranda, seemed obsessed with the problem. In secret instructions to the viceroy-designate for Peru, the Conde de Lemos, Peñaranda warned him to beware of opponents on the tribunal of accounts because: “I know little of the subjects who are on it; the offices were bought, and thus the officials show no respect for you.”32 The situation, Peñaranda feared, could undermine the viceroy’s position in Lima, hinder attempts to reform the treasury, and ultimately weaken the entire imperial system.


The Council of the Indies had good reason to fear the consequences of selling appointments to the tribunal of accounts and the treasury in Peru. The deteriorating financial position of the crown, which led to the sales in 1633, eventually resulted in officials in Madrid reducing their vigilance in the recruitment and promotion of crown ministers. As a consequence, inexperienced men with strong local connections came to dominate these two agencies, and to prejudice their operation during the years when the Spanish crown most desperately needed greater contributions from the Indies to shore up the financial position of its treasury.

One unforeseen effect of the sales in Lima was to undermine the viceroy’s power of patronage over the appointment of treasury officials. Although the king had the legal right to name officials to serve in the viceregal treasury, most of those who purchased offices were already resident in the Indies. In the case of these candidates, the crown had usually had to rely on the advice of the viceroy. Historically the law allowed the viceroy of Peru to make any necessary interim appointments to the treasury, and he frequently offered suggestions about permanent appointments to these important agencies. Naturally the viceroy used his influence in Madrid to ensure that his friends and retainers (criados) staffed these posts.33 After the sales began, however, treasury appointments were negotiated through private transactions between the crown and the purchaser. In some cases the viceroy was not even consulted. For example, in 1634 a prominent Lima merchant, Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor, went to Spain on business and used the opportunity to negotiate the purchase of an appointment as treasurer in the Lima caja, without the prior knowledge of the viceroy, the Conde de Chinchón. When word of the appointment finally reached Lima in 1637, Chinchón wrote a stormy letter to Madrid denouncing Quesada. He objected to merchants’ serving in the treasury, especially Quesada, who had many outstanding debts in the city and little training or talent for the job.34 Quesada’s generous offer of 18,750 pesos for the post impressed authorities in Madrid, and they overruled Chinchón’s objections.35 In other cases the crown clearly worked more closely with the viceroy in filling fiscal appointments, and a few viceregal criados still received the posts. José de Bernal, a secretary of the viceroy, the Duque de La Palata, received a position as contador mayor of the tribunal in 1697, but he was an exceptionally well-qualified man and was not obliged to pay for his appointment.36 Too often viceregal criados like Bernal could not afford to outbid wealthy radicados for the powerful and prestigious posts. As the financial distress of the crown grew, authorities in Madrid were more likely to sell the offices for the highest possible price, regardless of the man’s qualifications or the recommendations of the viceroy. As a consequence, local magnates in Lima stood a good chance of putting their own candidates in office, even without the support of the viceroy. In all likelihood, as these native sons and radicados became less dependent on the viceroy for their appointments, they also became less responsive to his will. This indirect curtailment of the viceroy’s patronage power and influence probably hindered efforts to raise taxes in the viceroyalty.

The sale of appointments to the Lima treasury office led to a significant increase in the number of local personnel recruited to serve the crown. Before the sales, the crown favored Spanish-born candidates with few previous ties in the city. In the twenty-year period before 1633, the crown appointed only two creole ministers, Leandro de Valencia and Juan de Guzmán. Valencia came from a prominent conquistador family that had settled in Lima, while Guzmán was from a notable Huánuco family with a tradition of government service.37 The remaining eight men who held office in the caja apparently came from Spain. When sales began, two radicados, Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor and Baltasar de Becerra, were among the first purchasers.38 Both were wealthy merchants who had long lived in the city. By the end of the century, the crown routinely approved sales to native sons of Lima. In fact, the last three appointments to the treasury office during the century went to Limeños, Cristóbal de Llanos Jaraba, Francisco Antonio de los Santos, and Francisco de Arnao y Granados.39 Apparently the financially destitute government of Charles II had little choice but to sell these offices to eager native sons, who were usually willing to pay high prices for the honor and prestige that went with their positions.

The sale of treasury appointments also had a direct impact on the staffing of the tribunal of accounts. The tribunal was considered a chamber (sala) of the Audiencia of Lima, the highest judicial authority in the realm, and the crown only reluctantly named native sons and radicados to that body. Between the establishment of the agency in 1607 and the inauguration of sales in 1663, authorities in Madrid named only two men identified as creoles, Hernando de Santa Cruz y Padilla and José de Jaraha y Arnedo, to the tribunal of accounts. Both were prominent native sons. Santa Cruz y Padilla was a successful and well-connected merchant, who helped found the consulado in 1613. Jaraba used the good name of his powerful father, Pedro de Jaraba y Vivar, a former treasury officer in Lima, to obtain his appointment.40 Obviously the crown felt such prominent local figures would prove trustworthy. After 1633, however, the crown seems to have become less selective. Between 1633 and 1660 it sold so many futuras that as many as six or seven men held them and were waiting to take the first available opening as contador mayor.41 Of the twelve men who bought futures on tribunal offices between 1633 and 1660, only two have been identified as peninsulars.42 Like their colleagues seeking a post in the treasury office, creoles and even native sons were apparently willing to outbid peninsular claimants for the posts. Apparently, the high prices they were willing to pay also led officials in Madrid to ignore any legal obstacles to their holding office. One Limeño, Alonso Bravo de la Maza, purchased an appointment in 1649, while holding an encomienda in the district, a clear violation of the law.43 Another, Alvaro de Alarcón, received a dispensation from the crown to buy a position on the tribunal while his father, Sebastián de Alarcon, served as an oidor in the Audiencia of Lima.44 By the second half of the century, when these purchasers gained numerical superiority in the tribunal of accounts, it had become a stronghold of local power and authority in Lima.

Most of the men who bought positions in the tribunal of accounts and the Lima treasury office were younger and claimed less experience than their predecessors. The majority of the twenty-two men who held positions in the tribunal before 1633 had had strong credentials.45 It was not unusual for a man like Juan Bautista de Aramburu to serve for two decades as a functionary in the contaduría mayor de hacienda before taking a post in Lima.46 Other members of the tribunal served for extended periods in the viceroyalty. Diego de Meneses and Hernando Bravo de Lagunas, for instance, served terms as treasury officers in the Lima caja before receiving a post as contador mayor. Likewise, the men serving in the Lima treasury office before the sales were usually competent bureaucrats, who had served in other key government positions in Spain and the Indies.47 This changed in both agencies, however, after sales commenced. In the tribunal, the new appointees usually had little training in government accounting matters. Most had only limited experience as soldiers, aldermen, or, in a few cases, as corregidors and members of the consulado. It was not unusual that a young native son, Alonso Bravo de la Maza, should have used his family’s considerable wealth and influence in Lima to secure an appointment as contador mayor, despite his lack of experience and training. The same problems appeared in the Lima treasury office. Of the nine men who bought appointments in Lima during the century, only Bartolomé Torres Cavallón and Cristóbal de Llanos Jaraba had strong bureaucratic backgrounds.48 The remainder had little experience before gaining an appointment. An unusual case occurred in 1641 when the father of Sebastián de Navarrete managed to purchase an appointment for his fifteen-year-old son, with the understanding that the boy would not begin serving until his twenty-fifth birthday.49 Some of these inexperienced officials, such as Navarrete, had to serve apprenticeships as supernumeraries in the caja, but by the end of the century even this precaution was ignored. In short, the standards of the crown in filling treasury appointments declined markedly after 1633.

The entry of inexperienced men into the Lima treasury office clearly disrupted patterns of promotion in the agency. Before the sales began, treasury officers had usually served in a number of lesser positions outside of Lima before moving to the capital. The career of Bartolomé Astete de Ulloa was in many respects typical. Before coming to serve as comptroller of the Lima caja in 1631, Astete had worked in several government posts, including those of treasurer, factor, and corregidor of the rich mining district of Potosí.50 In addition, especially competent members of the treasury office had had the opportunity to impress the viceroy and perhaps gain a lucrative promotion. Two treasury officers, Diego de Meneses and Hernando Bravo de Lagunas, were elevated to the tribunal of accounts, and treasurer Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera managed to secure an appointment as president of the Audiencia of Panama.51 After the sales began, however, these patterns of ascenso were altered. The sale of positions made it difficult to gain a promotion on merit alone. From 1633 to 1700, not a single member of the caja received a promotion from the office. The net result was that members of the treasury office usually received their jobs at a younger age and held them until retirement or death. Before the crown began selling these appointments officials had usually spent from three to ten years in office. After the sales commenced, the purchasers held office for twenty years or more. As a result, even well-trained peninsular officials, like Astete, could spend enough time in the city to become radicados. The only exception to this pattern of long tenures in office was Baltasar de Becerra, who died less than a year after assuming his duties in Lima.52 After assuming the post his father had bought him, Sebastián de Navarrete served nearly thirty years in Lima (but be died in disgrace after being exiled to Mexico for malfeasance in office).53 Treasury officers served at the king’s pleasure, and, after purchasing an office in Lima, most held the post for life. To gain a promotion, an official needed money and influence rather than a strong service record. Consequently, officers in the caja of Lima had little incentive to work honestly, efficiently, and loyally.

The crown did not have enough time between 1607 and 1633 to establish a clear-cut ascenso for the tribunal of accounts, but problems similar to those found in the treasury office emerged after sales began. Again, appointments generally went to younger men, who served long terms in office. In addition, only two men who began serving in the agency before 1633, Juan Bautista de Aramburu and Francisco Gómez Pradera, received promotions to the post of contador mayor, the pinnacle of the viceregal treasury hierarchy. All others who held that position had bought it. As in the treasury office, money and influence came to outweigh ability and experience in gaining a post.

Purchasers of offices used their long tenures in Lima to develop and sustain strong political, social, and economic ties in the city. In time, most of the bureaucrats probably had little desire for a promotion if it meant leaving behind these important connections in the capital. A senior treasury post in the tribunal or the caja provided a handsome salary, a high social position, and access to considerable political power. Local interest groups eagerly sought personal and professional alliances with these officials in order to gain influence over government policy. Treasury officials were also eager to augment their wealth and power by developing and consolidating ties with important local citizens. All this had existed before 1633, but the deteriorating financial position of the crown and the acquisition by ambitious young radicados and native sons of fiscal positions accelerated the processes and facilitated the integration of these officials into colonial society.

Some links between treasury officials and prominent citizens in Lima solidified even before the bureaucrats took office. Each employee in the Lima caja, for example, had to post a security bond (fianza) before assuming his duties.54 Since the bond frequently was between 20,000 and 45,000 pesos, the treasury officers commonly found it impossible to put up the entire amount themselves. Occasionally relatives or friends in Spain posted the bond, but more commonly local citizens performed the favor. Ten contributors met the bond of Cristóbal de Llanos Jaraba in 1665, including several merchants, family members, and two oidores of the audiencia, Juan de Retuerta and Martín de Zavala.55 Of course, the payment of a fianza did not necessarily wed the royal official to the interests of his bondsmen (fiadores), but it did provide an obvious link between government officials and prominent local citizens. Young native sons like Llanos Jaraba already had such ties before they took office, but the fianzas reinforced them.

Family and marriage ties formed an even more important bond among treasury officials and local Interest groups. Officials frequently had relatives among the most important families of Lima. Among those who were not native sons of the city, Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor had the strongest family connections in the capital. Members of his clan had preceded him to Peru after the conquest and, by the seventeenth century, several of them had accumulated fortunes of more than 250,000 pesos.56 When fiscal officers lacked strong family ties or simply wished to extend them, they frequently searched for favorable marriages. The power and influence of the officials made them attractive matches for the daughters of the rich and powerful in Lima. Young Francisco de Colmenares, for example, married a rich widow, Silveria Hermosa de Chillón. The marriage was apparently arranged for political and economic reasons: gossips in Lima continually whispered of the couple’s frequent quarrels and the beatings Colmenares meted out to his wife. Furthermore, the young official lived openly with his mistress.57 Apart from marrying for money, officials also chose their mates in order to cement political alliances. Sebastián de Navarrete’s wife was the granddaughter of Juan de Loayza Calderón, an oidor of the Lima audiencia; and Juan Fermín de Izu, a contador mayor in the tribunal, married Antonia de Ibarra, the daughter of Gregorio de Ibarra, a wealthy merchant and a member of the Lima Inquisition. Her brother, Alvaro de Ibarra, would later become an oidor of the Lima audiencia and serve as chief aide (privado) to Viceroy Conde de Lemos.58 Family ties were also evident within the staff of the treasury itself Cristóbal de Llanos Jaraba was factor of the Lima caja at the same time that his first cousin, José de Jaraba y Arnedo, served as contador mayor on the tribunal of accounts.59 In short, treasury officials developed a network of interpersonal relationships that helped to bind them to other prominent politicians, merchants, miners, farmers, and clergymen.

Economic relationships further linked officials in the tribunal of accounts and the treasury office in Lima with local magnates. More than one-third of the taxes collected in the Lima office were administered by tax farmers. Private individuals, groups, or organizations usually collected these taxes for an established yearly fee or on a percentage basis. It was frequently a very profitable enterprise. Officials in the tribunal and the treasury office had considerable influence in awarding the contracts to tax farmers, checking their accounts, and negotiating contract renewals. The sale of these offices to men with strong local connections provided an opportunity to favor friends, relatives, and business associates. The possibilities for kickbacks, favors, and other forms of corruption were numerous.

There is also evidence that the native sons and radicados serving in the central treasury office and the tribunal of accounts participated directly in illegal economic ventures. Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor provides only the most obvious example of these activities. Before he assumed his duties as the treasurer of the Lima caja in 1637, Quesada was a notable merchant in the city. He lived in an ostentatious style, and when his daughter María married in 1636, he provided a dowry of 25,000 pesos.60 This was an exorbitant sum for a man about to assume an office that paid only 2,500 pesos in annual salary. After holding office for only one year, however, Quesada used his influence to become an admiral of the Pacific armada, and in 1648 he even gained command of the treasury fleet to Panama.61 These positions allowed an enterprising merchant like Quesada the opportunity to supplement his salary by consorting with contrabandists operating in the Pacific, smuggling unregistered silver from Callao, and extorting bribes from his fellow merchants trading in legal and contraband goods.

The sale of fiscal appointments in Lima gave local interest groups the opportunity to gain influence within the viceregal government. Partisan interests in Lima had always tried to coopt government officials and forge alliances to influence government policies. By the second half of the century, radicados and native sons had gained control over both the tribunal of accounts and the Lima caja. Such ministers were unlikely to support unpopular new tax levies initiated by the crown to aid the hard-pressed Madrid government. When the crown began the systematic sale of other bureaucratic appointments, such as corregimientos and audiencia judgeships, in the 1680s, the political power of local partisan groups in the viceroyalty was already well established.


The sale of treasury appointments in 1633 set in motion a series of political changes that contributed to a steady erosion of royal authority in the Viceroyalty of Peru. During the first half of the seventeenth century, the declining position of the Hapsburg monarchy in Europe led officials in Madrid to frame a series of revenue measures for the Viceroyalty of Peru, including new tax levies, forced donations, loans, composition of land titles (composiciones de tierras), and the sale of annuities (juros) and public offices. In order to implement these measures, the crown needed loyal dedicated servants in the chief agencies of the fiscal bureaucracy, the tribunal of accounts and the treasury office in Lima. At this juncture, however, crucial financial decisions in Lima were entrusted to officials who often proved inefficient, corrupt, and strongly tied to local partisan interests hostile to heavy tax levies. As the metropolis declined, treasury officials drew closer to local magnates in order to maintain their own wealth and status. In the end royal authority over the viceregal treasury deteriorated, remissions of revenue to Spain declined, and the financial problems of the crown worsened.

A major administrative problem resulting from the sales of offices was a decline in efficiency, particularly in the tribunal of accounts. The tribunal had never proved as effective in supervising the royal treasury as officials in Madrid had hoped, but problems intensified after 1633. In 1664, royal inspectors reported that officials serving in the tribunal of accounts were not capable of performing their duties. The inspectors found Andrés de Mieses, a contador mayor, incompetent. Other members who had purchased their posts, such as Joseph de Bolívar, seldom came to work in the tribunal chambers.62 The influx of less competent auditors and the tolerance of absentee officials made it impossible for the Madrid government to maintain adequate checks on the activities of the royal treasury during these vital years.

Similar problems plagued the treasury office in Lima. In 1659 royal inspectors found several officials incompetent. Bartolomé Astete de Ulloa was knowledgeable, but at sixty-two he was too old and sickly to serve as comptroller without the aid of colleagues. The inspectors judged Bartolomé Torres Cavallón, Sebastián de Navarrete, and Francisco de Colmenares too stupid, inexperienced, or lazy to work effectively in the office.63 All except Astete had purchased their appointments. Further proof of these problems came in 1696 when Visitor General Juan de Peñalosa reported that debts owed the Lima treasury had increased dramatically by 1650. As Table 1 indicates, those who purchased their appointments after 1633 allowed large debts to accumulate.64 The declining standards of efficiency after the sales began exacted a considerable price in lost revenues; it was a price the crown could ill afford to pay.

The declining level of government efficiency after 1633 gave local treasury officials increased freedom in the administration of the royal revenues. This decline in royal authority in turn made possible greater political corruption. One of the outstanding cases of this corruption occurred in the central treasury office in Lima. For many years treasury officials in Lima had failed to collect all debts (alcances) owed the royal treasury, and these began to reach considerable sums during the second half of the century. Finally, in 1650, members of the perpetually back- logged tribunal of accounts began investigating the problem and uncovered a debt of 45,409 pesos on the Lima accounts for the year 1647 alone.65 The shortage was too large to ignore, and a special investigation, headed by Pedro Vásquez de Velasco, a judge of the audiencia, was begun. The treasury officials held responsible for the debt, Bartolomé Astete de Ulloa and Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor, protested their innocence and blamed their deceased colleague, Baltasar de Becerra. The embarrassed officials reported that in recent years they had met the immediate expenses of the caja by borrowing from the personal savings of Becerra, a man of considerable wealth. When the yearly remissions of silver arrived from the subordinate offices, Becerra simply took crown revenues as repayment. They reasoned that in 1647, when Quesada was absent in Callao and the elderly Astete was ill, Becerra, who was serving as supernumerary of the office, must have taken funds in excess of the original loans.

Quesada and Astete blamed the entire incident on the crown’s policy of selling future appointments to the caja. Becerra had been the first to purchase a future in 1636; by 1647 three other men were in line behind him waiting for a vacancy in the office.67 Astete and Quesada alleged that these three men, Sebastián de Navarrete, Francisco de Guerra, and Bartolomé Torres Cavallón, had conspired with Becerra to create the scandal in 1647 in order to replace them. Furthermore, the two treasury officials charged that the royal investigator, Pedro Vásquez de Velasco, was in league with Navarrete, Guerra, and Torres Cavallón. According to Astete and Quesada, the investigator had obtained most of his incriminating evidence from the three future holders, while he was their guest in Callao.68

The case was a complicated and confusing one, but ultimately the Council of the Indies chose to punish Astete and Quesada. The law held all three treasury officials responsible for any uncollected debts. Their excuses, moreover, did not account for an additional sum of 58,361 pesos that the tribunal and the investigator had found missing for the period 1648-50. Becerra, who died early in 1649, could not be blamed for this shortage.69 Nevertheless, in the end, the investigators in Lima collected 25,000 pesos from the estate of Baltasar de Becerra and found another 46,400 pesos in a chest carelessly pushed aside in a corner of the treasury office itself The two treasury officers had no explanation for these hidden or mislaid funds, and continued to blame everything on Becerra. The final verdict held Quesada, Astete, and their fiadores responsible for all the additional missing funds. The two treasury officials were also fined 2,500 pesos each and suspended from office for four years.

Officials in Madrid viewed the corruption and confusion in the Lima office with great alarm. In 1662, Philip IV and the Council of the Indies dispatched a visita general to the viceroyalty to reassert royal control over the colonial treasury. Authorities in Madrid gave Visitor General Juan de Cornejo broad powers to investigate the competence, performance, and loyalty of members of the audiencia, the tribunal of accounts, and the central treasury office. Cornejo was also instructed to examine the administration of the sale of indulgences (cruzada), the commercial taxes (avería, alcabala, and almojarifazgo), and the sale of public offices. Cornejo was also to account for increases in defense expenditures that the crown found worrying.

When Cornejo arrived in Lima on September 8, 1664, he received a cordial reception from the viceroy, the Conde de Santisteban.71 Santisteban had been conducting his own study of the problems of the viceregal treasury, and was appalled by the decline in tax revenues and the accumulation of uncollected debts. Accordingly, he was basically sympathetic to Cornejo’s mission. Officials in the audiencia, the tribunal of accounts, and the treasury, however, resented any curtailment of their power and viewed the visitor general with suspicion and hostility. When Cornejo began investigating reports of abuse of power, corruption, and inefficiency, many of these high-ranking officials in Lima turned against him. The comptroller of the Lima caja, Francisco de Colmenares, openly referred to the visitor general as “Juan Cuernejo’’ and feuded bitterly with him in the audiencia chambers.72 Hostility to the visita became intense after Santisteban’s death in early 1666. Officials in Lima complained to Madrid about Cornejo’s attempts to assume many of the prerogatives of the viceroy and accused him of high-handedness and lavish spending. The visitador’s conflict with local officials finally contributed to his recall. He left the city on December 10, 1666, his mission an utter failure.73 He had apparently been defeated by a combination of his own arrogance and the weakened position of the crown in the viceroyalty.

The final indication of the decline in royal authority in Peru was the drop in tax revenue flowing into the viceregal treasury. Royal revenues at the Lima caja declined steadily after 1664 (see Graph I).74 The principal cause of this was the falling silver output of the mining provinces of highland Peru and Upper Peru, particularly Potosí. The efforts of financial reformers during the reign of Philip IV to levy new imposts to offset this decline and expand the tax base of the viceregal treasury had failed by 1664. New taxes on other productive sectors provoked strong opposition in Peru, and treasury officers relied instead on measures more acceptable to local taxpayers such as borrowing, withholding funds normally remitted to Spain, and selling land titles, juros, and offices. Although these expedients allowed treasury officers to meet their immediate expenses, they never provided a consistent or permanent source of funds to counterbalance the decline in mining taxes.75 In addition, measures such as sales of juros and borrowing encumbered the treasury with debts and made fiscal solvency increasingly the product of the goodwill of local magnates. As, by the 1660s, even these sources of revenue became scarce, government income levels dropped and remissions of revenue to Spain fell even farther. The sale of treasury appointments was not the sole cause of these financial problems, but it was a contributing factor. The native sons and radicados who gained control of the central treasury office and the tribunal of accounts made the policy decisions that doomed the reform program. As one historian has noted; “A weak government cannot adequately tax. Without taxes, political administration becomes even weaker.”76 Although the crown began selling fiscal appointments to gain revenue, the measure ultimately weakened the treasury in Peru and lessened the crown’s power to draw revenue from the viceroyalty. The needs of the metropolis and the solvency of the viceregal government itself were sacrificed by the fiscal officials of the crown who came to power after 1633.

The administrative and financial problems related to the sale of treasury appointments continued into the next century. Between 1700 and 1745, for example, the crown managed to negotiate the sale of eighteen appointments to the tribunal of accounts and nine appointments to the central treasury office in Lima.77 According to Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, writing in 1749, the ultimate effect of the sales of offices was to undermine royal authority in the viceroyalty. In fact, Juan and Ulloa stated that the viceregal government was so riddled with abuses that:

Those governing Peru are presented with the pleasant prospect of absolute authority growing ever larger and more ostentatious, of precious metals to satisfy their lust and greed, and of people who ingratiate, enrich, and shower praise on the least deserving. These three factors are the poison which chokes and destroys good government in those kingdoms.78

When by 1750 Ferdinand VI finally ended the systematic sale of most high-ranking bureaucratic offices in Peru, he made a great contribution toward reversing the damage begun in 1633.


John Teddy Phelan has argued forcefully that colonial audiencia officials played an important mediating role between the crown and its subjects in the Indies during the seventeenth century. Phelan’s work does not focus on financial or economic matters, and, consequently, he does not discuss the role that treasury officials played in the political decision-making process in the Spanish empire. See John Teddy Phelan, The Kingdom of Quito in the Seventeenth Century: Bureaucratic Politics in the Spanish Empire (Madison, 1967), and “Authority and Flexibility in the Spanish Imperial Bureaucracy,” Administrative Sciences Quarterly (Ithaca), 5 (June 1960), 47-65.


For an excellent summary of the crisis in Spain, see J. H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716 (New York, 1963), pp. 317-81.


J. H. Parry, The Sale of Public Office in the Spanish Indies under the Habsburgs (Berkeley, 1953); and Antonio Dominguez Ortiz, “Un virreinato en venta,” Mercurio Peruano, 49 (enero–febrero 1965), 46-51.


Mark A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler, From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687-1808 (Columbia, 1977). See also Mark A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler, “Creole Appointments and the Sale of Audiencia Positions in the Spanish Empire under the Early Bourbons, 1701-1750,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 4 (Nov. 1972), 545-579. For an examination of creole influence in the late eighteenth century, see Mark A. Burkholder, “From Creole to Peninsular: The Transformation of the Audiencia of Lima,” HAHR, 56 (Aug. 1976), 395-15; and Leon G. Campbell, A Colonial Establishment: Creole Domination of the Audiencia of Lima During the Eighteenth Century,” HAHR, 52 (Feb. 1972), 1-25. A recent study that examines the sale of corregimientos is Alberto Yalí Bomán, “Sobre alcaldías mayores y corregimientos en Indias,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft, und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas, 9 (1974), 1-39.


Burkholder and Chandler, From Impotence to Authority, p. vii.


Information on the extent of local influence on treasury officials during the seventeenth century in New Spain may be found in Louisa S. Hoberman, “Merchants in Seventeenth-Century Mexico City: A Preliminary Portrait,” HAHR, 57 (Aug. 1977), 482-486; Marta Espejo-Ponce Hunt, “The Processes of Development in the Yucatán, 1600-1700” in Ida Altman and James Lockhart, eds., Provinces of Early Mexico: Variants of Spanish American Regional Evolution (Los Angeles, 1976), pp. 46-47; and J. I. Israel, Race, Class, and Politics in Colonial Mexico (Oxford, 1975), and “Mexico and the General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century,” Past and Present, 63 (May 1974), 33-57.


Recopilación de leyes de los reynos de las Indias (Hereinafter cited as Recopilación) (Madrid. 1681, repr. 1973). Libro VIII, tít. III, leyes 9,10,11.12.13; Libro II, tít. XVI, leyes 24, 159; Libro III, tít. III, ley 56; and Libro III, tít. XV, ley 52.


Surplus income refers to the income remaining after operating expenses for the caja had been deducted. The cajas of Potosí, Oruro, Otoca, La Paz, San Antonio de Esquilache (Chucuito), Charcas, and Carangas in Upper Peru, along with Huánuco, Pasco, Huainanga, Cuzco, Cailloma, New Potosi (Bombón), Trujillo, Cajamarca, Castrovirreyna, Arequipa, Arica, Piura y Paita. Chachapoyas, and Loja, sent their surplus income to Lima. The provinces of Tierrafirme, New Granada, Quito, Chile, and the Río de la Plata were separate political and bureaucratic units within the viceroyalty, and treasury offices in these regions never remitted surplus income to Lima.


Until 1620 the Lima office had a fourth senior position, an inspector (veedor). The veedor supervised the local mines and worked at the assay office. After 1620 the veedor s duties were assumed by the other treasury officers. Juan de Peñalosa to King, Lima, 1683, Archivo General de Indias (hereinafter cited as AGI), Seville, Lima, leg. 290.


The crown held each treasury officer responsible for paying one-third of all fines charged against the office or any money missing from the strong box (caja fuerte). In certain extraordinary cases one official might be held culpable, but normally all three officers shared the guilt and the burden of repayment. Gaspar de Escalona Agüero, Gazofilacio real del Perú, Biblioteca Boliviana, tomo II, ser. I (1647; La Paz, repr. 1941), Libro I, parte II, cap. I. núms. 11, 12. (1647; La Paz, repr. 1941), Libro 1, parte II, cap. I, núms. 11, 12.


Fray Buenaventura de Salinas y Córdoba, Memorial de las historias del nuevo mundo, Pirú (1639; Lima, repr. 1957), p. 152.


Recopilación, Libro VIII, tít. I, ley 5. The right to collect certain taxes was often farmed out to various individuals or groups for an established yearly fee or on a percentage basis. These tax-farming contracts (asientos) were granted for a limited period of time and were renewable. Such contracts were also common in Europe in the seventeenth century.


Tomás de Ballesteros, Tomo primero de las ordenanzas del Perú (Lima, 1685), Libro I, tít. XXVII, ordenanza 1.


On Sept. 9, 1651, the viceroy of Peru, the Conde de Salvatierra, provided the crown with the following list of the staff of the tribunal of accounts and their salaries: three contadores mayores and a supernumerary, each earning 2,250 pesos ensayados; two contadores de resultas, each earning 1,250 pesos ensayados; four contadores ordenadores, two named by the crown earning 1,000 pesos ensayados, and two viceregal appointees earning 500 pesos ensayados; one contador to work at the desk of the account books (mesa de libros), earning 400 pesos ensayados; and three contadores entretenidos, earning 300 pesos ensayados. Conde de Salvatierra to King, Lima, Sept. 9, 1651, AGI, Lima, leg. 55.


Ismael Sánchez Bella, La organización financiera de las Indias: Siglo xvi (Seville, 1968), pp. 145-148; and Recopilación, Libro VIII, tít. II, ley 13.


Sánchez Bella, La organización financiera, p. 147; and Escalona Agüero, Gazofilacio real. Libro I, parte II, cap. XVII, núm. 4; Libro II, parte II, cap. XVI, núms. 1-3.


Sánchez Bella, La organización financiera, p. 147.


Escalona Agüero, Gazofilacio real, Libro I, parte II, cap. XVII, núms. 1, 2; Libro II, parte I, cap. XVI, núm. 2.


Ibid., Libro II, parte I, cap. XVI, núm. 9.


Consulta, Madrid, Apr. 27, 1633, AGI, Indiferente general, leg. 757.




Parry, Sale of Public Office, pp, 1-5.


In addition, treasury offices could not be passed on to an heir or later sold by the original purchaser, unless these provisions were stated specifically in the official appointment title (título).


The list of saleable offices expanded to include corregimientos in 1678 and audiencia judgeships in 1687. By 1700, even the offices of viceroy of New Spain and Peru were sold. Guillermo Lohmann Villena, El corregidor de Indios en el Perú bajo los Austrias (Madrid, 1957), p. 130; Burkholder and Chandler, From Impotence to Authority, p. 19; and Domínguez Ortiz, “Un virreinato en venta,” 46-51.


Consulta, Madrid, Apr. 27, 1633, AGI, Indiferente generai, leg. 757.


In 1692 the viceroy, the Conde de Monclova, provided the crown with a list of office prices to serve as a guide for selling appointments to the major treasury cajas in the viceroyalty. Conde de Monclova to King, Lima, Aug. 5, 1692, AGI, Lima, leg. 89. The list is also cited in Manuel Moreyra y Paz Soldán and Guillermo Céspedes del Castillo, Virreinato peruano: Documentos para su historia. Colección de cartas de virreyes. Conde de Monclova, 3 vols. (Lima, 1954-55), I, 221.


The prices for the treasury offices in the Viceroyalty of Peru may be found in the following locations: Títulos de oficiales reales, Madrid, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070; and Títulos de Indias, Madrid, Archivo General de Simancas, Simancas (hereinafter cited as AGS), Dirección general del tesoro. Inventarios 1, 2, 24.


The prices for posts on the tribunal of accounts in Lima may be found in the following locations: Títulos de contadores del tribunal de cuentas, AGI, Lima, leg. 1123; and Títulos de Indias, AGS, Dirección general del tesoro. Inventarios 1, 2, 24.


Consulta, Lima, Madrid, Apr. 13, 1646, AGI, Lima, leg. 7.


Título de Francisco Antonio de los Santos, Madrid, Dec. 4, 1680, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070.


Moreyra y Paz Soldán and Céspedes del Castillo, Virreinato peruano, I, 221; and Títulos de oficiales reales de Bombón, Madrid, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070.


Lewis Hanke and Celso Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes españoles en América durante el gobierno de la casa de Austria, Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, 6 vols. (Madrid, 1979), IV, 243.


The careers of seventy-five members of the tribunal of accounts and the treasury office were examined for this study. This was the total number of títulos found in the AGI, AGS, and the Archivo General de la Nación, Lima (hereinafter cited as AGN). Since interim appointments and part-time officials usually did not receive a título, they were not included in the study. For the tribunal, the títulos were found from 1605, when the agency was founded, until the end of the century. For the caja, títulos were found only for the period from 1613 until the end of the seventeenth century. Of these seventy-five títulos, thirty-one were issued before 1633 and forty-four after that date. All but eight of the forty-four títulos granted after sales began were sold by the crown. Prosopographical information on these bureaucrats came from the following sources; Títulos de Indias, Madrid, AGI, Lima, legs. 1070, 1123; Consultas, Madrid, AGI, Lima, legs. 3-13; Cartas de los virreyes, Lima, AGI, Lima, legs. 33-91; Visitas, Lima, AGI, Lima, legs. 109, 115, 276, 280-290, 573, and Indiferente general, 595, 1692; Títulos de Indias, Madrid, AGS, Dirección general del tesoro. Inventarios 1, 2, 24; Manuscritos, Z-222, B-1107, Biblioteca Municipal de Lima (hereinafter cited as BM); Protocolo, ante Francisco Sánchez Becerra, AGN, leg. 1699, fol. 338; Testimonios, Lima, AGN, Superior gobierno, 4; and Testimonios, Lima, AGN, ex-Archivo Histórico del Ministerio de Hacienda y Comercio; Burkholder and Chandler, From Impotence to Authority; Hanke and Rodríguez, Los virreyes, I-VI; Guillermo Lohmann Villena, Los americanos en las órdenes nobiliarias, 1529-1900, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1947); Guillermo Lohmann Villena, El Conde de Lemos, Virrey del Perú (Madrid, 1946); Manuel de Mendiburu, Diccionario histórico-biográfico del Perú, 14 vols. (Lima, 1874); Joseph Mugaburu and Francisco Mugaburu, Chronicle of Colonial Lima, 1640-1697, trans, by Robert R. Miller (Norman, 1975); Pedro Rodríguez Crespo, “Sobre parentescos de los oidores con los grupos superiores de la sociedad limeña (a comienzos del siglo xvii),” Mercurio Peruano (julio-septiembre 1964); Juan Antonio Suardo, Diario de Lima, 1629-1639, 2 vols. (Lima, 1936); and Luis Varela y Orbegoso, Apuntes para la historia de la sociedad colonial (Lima, 1905).


Conde de Chinchón to King, Lima, May 17, 1637, AGI, Lima, leg. 48.


Quesada’s offer was the highest price received by the crown for an appointment in the Lima caja during the seventeenth century.


Hanke and Rodriguez, Los virreyes, VII, 148; and Título de José de Bernal, Madrid, Sept. 9, 1697, AGI, Lima, leg. 1123.


Lohmann Villena, Los americanos, 1, 120; and Consulta, Madrid, Jan. 16, 1613, AGI, Lima, leg. 3.


Título de Baltasar de Becerra, Madrid, Oct. 17, 1636, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070; Bartolomé Astete de Ulloa and Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor to King, Lima, Apr. 6, 1650, AGI, Lima, leg. 57; and Conde de Chinchón to King, Lima, May 17, 1637, AGI, Lima, leg. 48.


Título de Cristóbal de Llanos Jaraba, Madrid, Aug. 7, 1655, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070; Título de Francisco Antonio de los Santos, Madrid, Apr. 12, 1680, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070; and Título de Francisco de Arnao y Granados, Madrid, Dec. 20, 1680, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070.


Rodríguez Crespo, “Sobre parentescos,” 52; and Lohmann Villena, Los americanos, II, 128.


Título de Alvaro de Alarcón, Madrid, Mar. 24, 1653, AGS, leg. 24-167-37. According to a cédula of May 17, 1678, the crown ordered the viceroy of Peru, the Conde de Castellar, to reduce the size of the tribunal by asking four auditors, Bartolomé de Solórzano, Juan de San Miguel y Solier, Alvaro de Alarcón, and Andrés de Mieses y Espinosa, to step down and accept corregimientos. Hanke and Rodríguez, Los virreyes, V, 212-213.


The origins of two other purchasers could not be determined.


Mendiburu, Diccionario, III, 126.


Título de Alvaro de Alarcon, Madrid, Mar. 24, 1653, AGI, Lima, leg. 1123.


The backgrounds of seven men could not be determined. Data on the remaining officials who served during the period are sufficient to suggest that their credentials were strong.


Consulta, Madrid, Aug. 22, 1639, AGI, Lima, leg. 5.


In the period from 1613 to 1633, only one man, Juan López de Hernani, claimed any significant government experience in Spain before receiving an appointment in the Lima treasury office. The rest of the appointees had served in the Indies, usually outside Lima.


Consulta, Madrid, Apr. 13, 1648, AGI, Lima, leg. 7; and Título de Cristóbal de Llanos Jaraba, Madrid, Aug. 7, 1655, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070.


Título de Sebastian de Navarrete, Madrid, Mar. 24, 1641, AGS, leg. 1-15-30.


Título de Bartolomé Astete de Ulloa, Madrid, July 14, 1628, AGI, Lima, leg. 1070; Consulta, Madrid, Apr. 11, 1628, AGI, Lima, leg. 5; and Consulta, Madrid, July 7, 1650, AGI, Lima, leg. 7.


Relación de servicios de Fernando Bravo de Lagunas, Lima, May 30, 1637, AGI, Lima, leg. 109; Consulta, Madrid, Dec. 26, 1619, AGI, Lima, leg. 4; and Suardo, Diario, II, 84.


Bartolomé Astete de Ulloa and Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor to King, Lima, Apr. 6, 1650, AGI, Lima, leg. 57.


Mugaburu and Mugaburu, Chronicle, p. 273.


Members of the tribunal of accounts did not post a fianza.


Fianza de Cristóbal de Llanos Jaraba, Lima, Sept. 22, 1683, AGI, Lima, leg. 290.


Varela y Orbegoso, Apuntes, p. 182.


Lohmann Villena, Conde de Lemos, pp. 385-386 n.24.


Suardo, Diario, I, 190; and Lohmann Villena, Conde de Lemos, p. 135 n.27.


Lohmann Villena, Los americanos, I, 243.


Inquisition records, Seville, Apr. 13, 1636, BM, Manuscritos, Z-222.


Mugaburu and Mugaburu, Chronicle, p. 23.


The inspectors also found that Juan Bautista de Aramburu was often absent working at his other job as a professor at the University of San Marcos, while Bartolomé de Solórzano was away serving as corregidor of Chilques y Masques. Neither had purchased his post. Francisco Antonio de Manzolo to King, Lima, 1664, AGI, Lima, leg. 280.


Conde de Alba to King, Lima, Sept. 10, 1659, AGI, Lima, leg. 280.


Juan de Peñalosa to King, Lima, Sept. 15, 1696, AGI, Lima, leg. 288.


Tribunal of accounts to King, Lima, Apr. 15, 1651, AGI, Lima, leg. 57.


Bartolomé Astete de Ulloa and Juan de Quesada y Sotomayor to King, Lima, Apr. 6, 1651, AGI, Lima, leg. 57.


Ibid., Sept. 15. 1651, AGI, Lima. leg. 57.




Tribunal of accounts to King, Lima, Apr. 15, 1651, AGI, Lima, leg. 57.




Mugaburu and Mugaburu, Chronicle, p. 88.


Lohmann Villena, Conde de Lemos, p. 385 n. 24.


Mugaburu and Mugaburu, Chronicle, p. 107.


For further details on the decline of royal revenues in the Viceroyalty of Peru, see Kenneth J. Andrien, “The Royal Treasury and Society in Seventeenth Century Lima” (Ph.D. Diss., Duke University, 1977), pp, 29-64.


Ibid., pp. 50-52.


Miles Wortman, “Government Revenue and Economic Trends in Central America, 1787-1819,” HAHR, 55 (May 1975), 277.


Relación de los empleos de justicia, políticos, y de real hacienda de los dominios de el Perú, que se han concedido por servicio pecuniario desde el año de 1700 al de 1746, Madrid, Mar. 31, 1746, AGI, Indiferente general, leg. 525. The author would like to thank Mark A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler for making these data available to him.


Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, Discourse and Political Reflections on the Kingdoms of Peru, ed. and trans. by John J. TePaske and Besse A. Clement (Norman, 1978), p. 247.

Author notes


The author, Assistant Professor of History at The Ohio State University, Columbus, wishes to thank John J. TePaske, Jacques A. Barbier, Mark A. Burkholder, and Donald B. Cooper for their helpful comments and criticisms.