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The Creoles: The Spread Of The Spanish

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The 17th century proved to be a difficult time for the Spanish state, as it’s grip on the overseas empire was slipping, and the stagnant trade in the American colonies began to add to the mounting debt. During this time, other European powers had grown greatly in power, including the English, Dutch, and the French. After the death of Charles II, the Bourbon assumption of the Spanish throne heralded the onset of a host of changes in various laws and policies, both in Spain and overseas. The goals of these Bourbon reforms were simple, to strengthen Spain’s domain and control of its colonial holdings, which would lead to a strengthening of the empire. These reforms worked in several ways, first to increase production and trade within the colonies;…show more content…
These reforms would assign new Viceroys to Peru, New Granada, and Rio de la Plata. Equally important, in each province of the empire, “the government had come to be dominated by a small colonial establishment, composed of the Creole elite”. This elite group of Creoles consisted of “lawyers, great landlords and churchmen - a few long-serving officials from the peninsula and the great import merchants.”(399). The hastness of these reforms in the colonies was a direct result of the Creoles, whose influence, in the view of the crown, had grown too large. To lower the power of the Creoles, audiencias, or royal courts, were enlarged and their memberships were restricted to exclude most creoles. The underlying message in all of the political reforms, was the obvious affection towards peninsular Spaniards versus the determent of Creole…show more content…
In 1753, as part of the broader effort to reassert royal supremacy through religion, the Crown negotiated a concordat with Rome giving greater royal authority in the nomination and appointment of ecclesiastical authorities. This small step was almost insignificant when compared to the most important reform, which was the expulsion of the Jesuits from all of Spanish America (and Spain) in 1767. The numerous policies during the Bourbon regime ultimately altered future relations between the major power groups. The administration of these policies “itself was the first to disturb the balance.” Secondly, the “enlightened absolutism enlarged the function of the state at the expense of the private sector and ultimately alienated the local ruling class” which had previously held most of the control. The Bourbon reforms “overhauled imperial government, centralized the mechanism of control and modernized the bureaucracy.” In the colonies, new viceroyalties and other units of administration were created to further extend the Crown’s reach(8). Looking back, the success of the Bourbon reforms were only in the short term, since the administration of the policies would begin the process of independence. The largest mistake was the alienation of the Creoles, who in their respective colonies, held most of the power. To say
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