Skip to main content

Charcas, Audiencia of

Charcas, Audiencia of

Audiencia of Charcas, the high court of Charcas, which had its seat in the city of La Plata (now Sucre), in the eastern Andes in what is now Bolivia. It was often known as the Audiencia of La Plata and sometimes as that of Chuquisaca, another name for the same town. Proposals for its foundation date back to 1551, inspired in part by the great silver strike in 1545 at Potosí, 50 miles to the southwest. The resultant rise of local population called for a firmer royal presence. Final arrangements were made in 1558–1559, and the first set of four oidores (judges) took office in 1561.

After 1570 the northern limit of the audiencia's district was set 120 miles south of Cuzco and ran down on the Pacific coast to the Copiapó River valley in Chile. Inland the district extended east to a vague line in the interior, but a projection southward covered Tucumán, Paraguay, and the settlements along the Río de la Plata. Buenos Aires, after its refounding in 1580, became the district's southeastern extremity. This was the largest audiencia jurisdiction in South America, and it remained little changed until 1783, when an audiencia was permanently set up in Buenos Aires to take cases from Tucumán, Paraguay, and Buenos Aires Province.

The Audiencia of Charcas, like others in colonial Spanish America, combined judicial and administrative functions. Constant dispute over the exercise of gobierno (adminstration) took place, however, between the audiencia and the viceroy in Lima, in whose broad adminstrative domain it resided (until 1776, when it passed to the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata). The Audiencia's district, in its reduced post-1783 form, was the direct ancestor of the territory of modern Bolivia.

See alsoAudiencia; Bolivia: The Colonial Period.


Ernesto Schäfer, El Consejo Real y Supremo de las Indias; Su historia, organización y labor adminstrativa hasta la terminación de la casa de Austria (1947).

Inge Wolff, Regierung und Verwaltung der Kolonialspanischen Städte in Hochperu, 1538–1650 (1970).

Herbert S. Klein, Bolivia: The Evolution of a Multi-Ethnic Society (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Escobari de Querejazu, Laura. Caciques, yanaconas y extravagantes: La sociedad colonial en Charcas s. XVI-XVIII. La Paz, Bolivia: Embajada de España en Bolivia, 2001.

Presta, Ana María. Encomienda, familia, y negocios en Charcas colonial (Bolivia): Los encomenderos de La Plata, 1550–1600. Lima, Peru: IEP, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2000.

                                         Peter Bakewell

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Charcas, Audiencia of." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . 24 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Charcas, Audiencia of." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . (April 24, 2019).

"Charcas, Audiencia of." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Retrieved April 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.