Meaning of Viceroyalty

What is Viceroyalty:

Viceroyalty refers to the position or dignity that a viceroy or viceroy occupies, which is appointed by a king, in order to govern in his name a portion of the territories that belong to him and for which he cannot be directly responsible, due to to its extension or remoteness.

The viceroyalty was consolidated as a political, social and administrative institution of the Crown of Spain.

The Catholic Monarchs found it necessary to appoint viceroyalties when communication and transfer from one place to another were difficult for them. Therefore, the appointment of a viceroy was the solution so that their territories were governed and administered by a person of their trust.

Consequently, at the end of the 15th century the first viceroyalty was created with the purpose of governing the vast lands that the Catholic kings owned and had inherited, and that were administered according to the systems of government of Europe.

In this case, the viceroyalty was established in order to generate a provincial government of the empire that would attend to the internal affairs of its territories and, in turn, follow orders and be dependent on the kings.

The Spanish Crown had several viceroyalties in America, including the Viceroyalty of the Indies and Tierra Firme de la Mar Oceano (1492-1524), Viceroyalty of New Spain (1535-1821), Viceroyalty of Peru (1542-1824), Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada (it existed in two stages, the first between 1717-1723, and the second between 1739-1819), and finally, the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata (1776-1811).

The kings of Portugal, around the year 1763, also formed a viceroyalty called the Viceroyalty of Brazil, which belonged to the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve, a State ruled by the House of Braganza between the years 1815 and 1822.

In the same way the reigns of France and Russia acted, constituting viceroyalties in order to be able to control the conquered territories that, because of their distances and extensions, the kings could not directly supervise and control.

At present, there are no viceroyalties, therefore this is a term that is used in the development of historical studies to refer to what happened during the colonization process in America and other parts of the world.

Viceroyalty of New Spain

The viceroyalty of New Spain existed between the 16th and 19th centuries, between 1535 and 1821, and the first appointed viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco.

The capital of this viceroyalty was Mexico City, established over the indigenous city of Tenochtitlán, after being overthrown on August 13, 1521 by Hernán Cortés, along with his indigenous men and allies.

The viceroyalty of New Spain was the most important and extensive that the Spanish Empire had. It spread throughout much of North America (Canada, the United States, and Mexico), Central America (Cuba, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua), Asia, and Oceania.

Being such a large viceroyalty, its political organization had to be adapted in order to maintain the domination of the Spanish Empire. Therefore, the viceroyalty of New Spain was divided into kingdoms and captaincies general. These subdivisions were managed by a governor and captain general.

During the colonial era, the conquerors were modifying the customs of the indigenous settlers and the teachings of the Catholic Church, various European customs, a new language and other cultural and artistic manifestations, among others, were instilled in them.

Finally, there was the miscegenation between conquerors and autochthonous settlers. There was the combination of cultures and traditions that define the countries of Latin America.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the viceroyalty entered into a political and social crisis that little by little was encouraging the need for the independence of Mexico, a struggle that Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla began.

On September 27, 1821, the Mexican independence movement won victory after an armed confrontation and put an end to the viceroyalty of New Spain and the rule of the Spanish Crown.

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