Juzgado General de Indios

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Juzgado General de Indios

Juzgado General de Indios, a court of appeal for Indians. From the earliest days of conquest and settlement, the Spanish crown was concerned about the well-being of the native population. This concern included providing the Indians with access to judicial recourse in civil and criminal matters. In Peru an elaborate but inefficient protective system was developed that involved provincial judges and a staff in Lima, all supported by Indian taxation. In Mexico the crown in 1592 established a special tribunal in Mexico City, the General Indian Court, to hear Indian cases without charge to the individual and supported by a special tax. The Mexican court, which existed until 1820, had jurisdiction in suits of Indians against Indians and Spaniards against Indians, although other courts could hear such cases as well. It also heard numerous complaints by Indians against Spanish officials and clergy. Its existence helped to rein in the excesses of provincial governors, and Indians found it preferable to other judicial alternatives and used it extensively.

See alsoCriminal Justice; Judiciary in Latin America, The.


Woodrow Borah, Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aides of the Half-Real (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Kellogg, Susan. Law and the Transformation of Aztec Culture, 1500–1700. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Serulnikov, Sergio. Subverting Colonial Authority: Challenges to Spanish Rule in Eighteenth-century Southern Andes. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

                                     Mark A. Burkholder