New Granada, Viceroyalty of

views updated

New Granada, Viceroyalty of

Viceroyalty of New Granada. Following a failed start (1717–1723), the Viceroyalty of New Granada, with its capital in Santa Fe de Bogotá, was reestablished in 1739 both to convert northern South America into an economic asset for Spain and to strengthen its military posture in the face of imminent war. Viceroy Sebastián de Eslava led Cartagena's defenders in repulsing a massive British invasion in 1741, and the viceroyalty endured thereafter.

As constituted in 1739, New Granada included the presidencies of Quito and Panama, although the latter's audiencia was suppressed in 1751. The eastern provinces of Maracaibo, Cumaná, and Guayana were joined to Caracas to form an autonomous captaincy general in 1777. In 1803, Guayaquil, Mainas, and Quijos were detached to the Viceroyalty of Peru for strategic reasons. Militarily, commandants-general exercised regional authority. These included the governors of Cartagena and Panama and, after 1767, the president of Quito. Cartagena exercised supervisory power over the governorships of Santa Marta and Riohacha; Panama over Portobelo, Veragua, and Darién; and Quito over the jurisdictions subordinate to its audiencia, including Guayaquil and Popayán. An archbishop resided in Santa Fe and bishops in Cartagena, Popayán, Santa Marta, Panama, Quito, and, after 1779, Cuenca; the latter three were subordinate to the archbishop of Lima.

Despite a significant population, the viceroyalty (Caracas excluded) failed to become an important asset to the imperial system either commercially or fiscally. The census of 1778 recorded New Granada's population at 1,280,000 inhabitants, 324,000 of them whites, 459,000 Indians, 427,000 free mixed-bloods and blacks, and 70,000 slaves. The viceroyalty lost much of its importance commercially when the southern fleet system was abandoned following the War of Jenkins's Ear, and contraband dominated its external commerce as before.

Between 1782 and 1796, during the era of imperial free trade, New Granada absorbed only about 8 percent of Spain's exports to its American colonies and accounted for just 3 percent of its imports, principally gold and lesser amounts of cotton, tobacco, cacao, cascarilla, and sugar. Totaling just under one million in 1772, royal income rose to 3,350,000 pesos by the late 1780s, largely driven by the tobacco and Aguardiente monopolies, and then leveled off at three million after 1800.

Plagued by chronic deficits during its earlier history, fiscal reform permitted the viceroyalty to generate small surpluses for Spain during the 1790s. New Granada did not accept the yoke of colonialism easily, producing the massive Comunero Revolt against royal revenue reform in 1781 and multiple conspiracies inspired by the French Revolution during the 1790s.


Jorge de Villalonga, conde de la Cueva, 1719–1724

Sebastián de Eslava, 1740–1748

José Alonso Pizarro, marqués del Villar, 1749–1753

José Solís Folch de Cardona, 1753–1761

Pedro Mesía de la Cerda, marqués de la Vega de Armijo, 1761–1773

Manuel de Guirior, 1773–1776

Manuel Antonio Flores, 1776–1782

Juan de Torrezal Díaz Pimienta, 1782

Juan Francisco Guttiérrez de Piñeres, 1782

Antonio Caballero y Góngora, 1782–1788

Francisco Gil de Taboada, 1789

José Manuel Ignacio Timoteo de Ezpeleta, 1789–1797

Pedro de Mendinueta y Múzquiz, 1797–1803

Antonio Amar y Borbón, 1803–1810

Manuel Bernardo de Álvarez, 1810–1811

Benito Pérez Brito, 1811–1813

Francisco Montalvo y Ambulodi Arriola, 1813–1818

Juan José de Sámano y Urribarri, 1818–1819

Juan de la Cruz Mourgeón y Achet, 1819–1821


Historia extensa de Colombia, especially vol. 4, Sergio Elías Ortiz, Nuevo reino de Granada: El virreynato (1970).

Allan J. Kuethe, Military Reform and Society in New Granada, 1773–1808 (1977).

John R. Fisher et al., eds., Reform and Insurrection in Bourbon New Granada and Peru (1990).

Additional Bibliography

McFarlane, Anthony. Colombia before Independence: Economy, Society, and Politics under Bourbon Rule. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

                                 Allan J. Kuethe

About this article

New Granada, Viceroyalty of

Updated About content Print Article


New Granada, Viceroyalty of