Visita, Visitador

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Visita, Visitador

Visitador Visita, a special investigation undertaken in the Spanish colonies in response to perceived mismanagement or an emergency.

Visitas were of two types. A specific visita focused on a single official or lesser jurisdiction such as a village or corregimiento. A general visita, in contrast, focused on an entire audiencia district or viceroyalty. In a general visita, a visitador-general was sent from Spain to undertake a detailed and often lengthy examination of government and church officials' actions and of conditions within a specified region. Since a visitador-general could interrogate anyone he chose and was often sent because of concerns over a viceroy's behavior, relations between him and the viceroy were rarely cordial. While general visitas invariably disrupted the viceroyalty where they took place, few, if any, were clear successes.

First seriously used in the New World in the 1540s, general visitas proved to be very expensive and, consequently, few were undertaken. The bestknown late colonial visita was that of New Spain by José de Gálvez from 1765 to 1771. Gálvez took a series of steps to bolster royal revenues, notably by establishing a royal tobacco monopoly that won him acclaim at court. When he subsequently became minister of the Indies in 1776, he sent visitadores-generales to New Granada and Peru. Their actions contributed to uprisings against the government in both locations.

See alsoGálvez, José de; New Spain, Viceroyalty of.


Clarence H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (1947), pp. 153-156.

Additional Bibliography

Guamán Poma de Ayala, Felipe. Nueva crónica y buen gobierno. 3 vols. Ed. John Murra, Rolena Adorno & Jorge L. Urioste. Madrid: Historia 16, 1987, folios 676[690]-691[705].

Mongrovejo, Santo Toribio. Libro de visitas de Santo Toribio Mogrovejo. Ed. José Antonio Benito. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2006.

Río, Ignacio del. La aplicación regional de las reformas borbónicas en Nueva España: Sonora y Sinaloa, 1768–1787. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1994.

Taylor, William B. Magistrates of the Sacred: Priests and Parishioners in Eighteenth-century Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.

Zimmerman, Arthur Franklin. Francisco de Toledo: Fifth Viceroy of Peru, 1569–1581. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968, especially chapters IV, V, VI, VII, VIII.

                                Mark A. Burkholder