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Revillagigedo, Conde de (1740–1799)

Revillagigedo, Conde de (1740–1799)

Conde de Revillagigedo (Juan Vicente de Güemes-Pacheco y Padilla; b. 1740; d. 1799), one of New Spain's greatest viceroys. Born in Havana, Revillagigedo gained firsthand knowledge of Mexico as a youth, during the viceregal administration of his father (1746–1755). Appointed viceroy himself in 1789, he initiated many new projects and reforms, including a large-scale road-building program, the development of more efficient and regular mail service, the construction of many primary schools, the founding of the Archivo General, and the marked improvement of public facilities in Mexico City, making the capital cleaner, healthier, and better policed. He also sponsored artistic, scientific, and scholarly endeavors, providing patronage to the Academy of San Carlos and inaugurating the Museum of Natural History in 1793.

The epitome of an enlightened Bourbon administrator, Revillagigedo sought to bring New Spain under more efficient bureaucratic control and to increase its yield to the crown. Toward these ends, he established a new system of intendancies, initiated an overhaul of the treasury department, and reorganized and reduced Mexican militia units. He also attempted, with less success, to weaken the power of the church, the Audiencia of Mexico, and the Mexico City merchants' guild. Though many of his reforms were undermined by entrenched bureaucratic opposition, or by later viceroys, Revillagigedo demonstrated what could be accomplished by a government leader who combined energy, scope, and attention to detail in planning with pragmatism and flexibility in execution. He died in Madrid.

See alsoNew Spain, Viceroyalty of; Spanish Empire.


Ignacio J. Rubio Mañe, "Síntesis histórica de la vida del II conde de Revillagigedo, virrey de Nueva España," in Anuario de Estudios Americanos 6 (1949): 451-496.

D. A. Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810 (1971), pp. 33-92.

Additional Bibliography

Brading, D. A. El ocaso novohispano: Testimonios documentales. Mexico City: INAH: Dirección General de Publicaciones del Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1996.

González Echegaray, María del Carmen. El Virrey Revillagigedo y sus orígenes. Santander: Diputación Regional de Cantabria, 1990.

                                R. Douglas Cope

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