From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687-1808by Mark A. Burkholder; D. S. Chandler

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  • From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687-1808by Mark A. Burkholder; D. S. ChandlerReview by: Leon G. CampbellThe American Historical Review, Vol. 82, No. 5 (Dec., 1977), p. 1373Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 28/06/2014 10:18

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  • Latin America 1373

    the colonial period. By contrast, the third and fourth chapters offer more exhaustive studies, namely the port of Antwerp's participation in the Latin American sugar trade and the involvement of the German Hanse towns in Latin American commerce in about i8oo.

    With typical abruptness, events of compelling interest that led to the laying of the first German overseas cable to South America are discussed next. And, again. the painstaking quality of this investigation overshadows a subsequent shallow treatment of urban employment opportunities in colonial Spanish America. The remaining chap- ters embrace meaningful discussions of the textile industry in colonial Puebla, the industrial and ag- rarian evolution in Mexico under Porfirio Diaz, and, strangely in last place, the nature of economic enterprise engaged in by the Spanish American aristocracy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These last chapter texts also include several useful references to pertinent scholarly lit- erature.


    College of the Holy Cross

    MARK A. BURKHOLDER and D. S. CHANDLER. From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, I687-I808. Columbia: Univer- sity of Missouri Press. 1977. Pp. Xii, 253. $I5.00.

    The recent use of statistical data and quantitative techniques by colonial Latin American historians has permitted a more precise definition of the so- cial, commercial, and financial structure of the Spanish American empire. This quantitative anal- ysis of Spain's changing policy of appointing judges to the eleven American audiencias, or royal high courts of appeal, nicely complements the ear- lier works of Ernst Schafer and Richard Kagan by helping to define the administrative structure of the Indies.

    The book is based on a statistical assessment of the 693 oidores, or judges, appointed to the Ameri- can audiencias between 1687 and 1821. Although approximately two thousand men served on these courts from their inception in 151 1, Mark A. Burk- holder and D. S. Chandler focus their study on those appointed in the years following Charles II's decision to sell these judgeships. During this time royal control over the courts rapidly crumbled, ushering in an "Age of Impotence" that ended only with the advent of Bourbon regalism after 1750. Prior to this time, the emphasis placed upon social and economic background, particularly at- tendance at certain major Spanish universities, tended to favor Peninsular, as opposed to Ameri- can-born creole appointees. After I687, however, creoles began to obtain judgeships in increasing

    numbers, many of them "native sons" who were appointed to the bench in their districts of birth. Others developed networks of interests and devel- oped connections based on consanguinity and marriage, becoming radicado, or "rooted" to par- ticular locales.

    Although the later Bourbons never formally es- tablished a policy excluding creoles from service on the American audiencias, the authors' analysis of audiencia appointments made after 1750 indicates the existence of a de facto policy by 1776. In an apparent effort to reestablish and maintain royal authority in the Indies, the Bourbon monarchs and their zealous ministers, notably Jose de Gal- vez, replaced native sons and radicado judges with experienced Spaniards who more nearly con- formed to the ideal of "Platonic guardians." By i8o8 only twenty-five creoles remained among the ninety-nine men serving on the American courts and of this number only six were native sons. Without the "safety valve" effect afforded by the former Hapsburg policy, creole requests for in- creased representation mounted as part of a gen- eral demand for home rule. In the wake of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain in i8o8, the Spanish judges on the audiencias predictably became the earliest casualties of the independence period.

    By clearly delineating the pressures and actions that contributed to the evolution of royal policy governing audiencia appointments and developing a series of career biographies of appointees, sup- ported and illustrated by useful statistical charts and graphs, Chandler and Burkholder point the way toward the collective biographical history of the Indies bureaucracy. Case studies of particular courts can tell Us precisely how creoles responded to these policy changes and can perhaps explain why creole influence was allowed to persist longer in Lima and in Chile than elsewhere. It would, for example, be useful to place the 693 appointees in the larger context of the letrado-the lawyer bu- reaucracy-and of the creole social community, in order to address questions concerning the overall growth of the government under the later Bour- bons, the shared characteristics of their adminis- trators, and the linkages between population growth and demand for appointments. Answers to these and other questions, however, are closer as a result of the appearance of this scholarly and well- written book which substantially advances the field of colonial administrative history.


    University of California, Riverside

    PEGGY K. LISS. Mexico under Spain, I52I-I556: Society and the Origins of Nationality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1975. Pp. XVi, 229. $12.50.

    This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 10:18:31 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

    Article Contentsp. 1373

    Issue Table of ContentsThe American Historical Review, Vol. 82, No. 5 (Dec., 1977), pp. i-x+1133-1458+1(a)-8(a)+11(a)-58(a)Volume Information [pp. 1393-1458]Front Matter [pp. i-x]Science and Values: The Eugenics Movement in Germany and Russia in the 1920s [pp. 1133-1164]On Lamennais, Chaadaev, and the Romantic Revolt in France and Russia [pp. 1165-1186]Witchcraft Trials in Seventeenth-Century Russia [pp. 1187-1207]Reviews of BooksGeneralReview: untitled [p. 1208]Review: untitled [p. 1209]Review: untitled [pp. 1209-1210]Review: untitled [pp. 1210-1211]Review: untitled [p. 1211]Review: untitled [pp. 1211-1212]Review: untitled [p. 1212]Review: untitled [pp. 1212-1213]Review: untitled [pp. 1213-1214]Review: untitled [pp. 1214-1215]Review: untitled [p. 1215]Review: untitled [pp. 1215-1216]Review: untitled [pp. 1216-1217]Review: untitled [pp. 1217-1218]Review: untitled [p. 1218]Review: untitled [pp. 1218-1219]Review: untitled [pp. 1219-1220]

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    Communications [pp. 1378-1379]Festschriften and Miscellanies [pp. 1380-1386]Other Books Received [pp. 1387-1392]Back Matter [pp. 1(a)-58(a)]


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