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Regidor, alderman of a city council. The regidores were the backbone of a city council (Cabildo). Even small towns had at least four aldermen; the largest cities had many more.

Originally regidores were elected to one-year terms by a municipality's property owners, but Charles V soon began to appoint aldermen for life (regidores perpetuos). Philip II approved the systematic sale of the post of regidor in 1591, and in 1606 Philip III confirmed that purchasers held their positions in full propriety and enjoyed full rights of transferring the positions in perpetuity upon the payment of taxes. This guaranteed that local families would dominate the city councils generation after generation, benefiting financially from decisions the councils made.

Originally highly prized, the post of regidor lost its luster as cabildos lost authority to royal bureaucrats. From the early seventeenth century to the late eighteenth century, positions of regidor in many towns remained vacant for years.

See alsoPhilip II of Spain; Spanish Empire.


Clarence H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (1947).

Peter Marzahl, Town in the Empire: Government, Politics, and Society in Seventeenth-Century Popayán (1978).

Additional Bibliography

Baskes, Jeremy. Indians, Merchants, and Markets: A Reinterpretation of the Repartimiento and Spanish-Indian Economic Relations in colonial Oaxaca, 1750–1821. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.

Burkholder, Mark A., ed. Administrators of Empire. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1998.

Domínguez Ortiz, Antonio. La sociedad americana y la corona española en el siglo XVII. Spain: M. Pons: Asociación Francisco López de Gómara, 1996.

Dym, Jordana and Christophe Belaubre. Politics, Economy, and Society in Bourbon Central America, 1759–1821. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2007.

Irles Vicente, María del Carmen. Al servicio de los Borbones: Los regidores valencianos en el siglo XVIII. València: Edicions Alfons el Magnànim, Institució Valenciana d'Estudis i Investigació: Generalitat Valenciana, Diputació Provincial de València, 1996.

Mariluz Urquijo, José María. El agente de la administración pública en Indias. Buenos Aires: Instituto Internacional de Historia del Derecho Indiano: Instituto de Investigaciones de Historia del Derecho, 1998.

                                          Mark A. Burkholder

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