The politics of government in the Audiencia of New Granada, 1681-1719
This is a study of government and governance in the Audiencia of Santa Fe during the last two decades of Habsburg rule and the first two decades of Bourbon rule, a period largely neglected by historians of New Granada and of Spanish America in general. However, it is not simply an administrative history. Rather than focus primarily on the structure of government and formal mechanisms of power and authority, this study aims, as the title indicates, to examine the political activity contained within the formal structure of institutions and laws. It looks at the ways in which institutions of government actually functioned within the society they were designed to govern and control, in other words the workings of government. These are themes which have been little studied by historians of the region, despite the importance which has been attached to the colonial state as a force which played a primary role in shaping New Granada's history. Studies of the colonial state have tended to portray it as a hierarchy of institutions, closely controlled from the centre, which developed as Spain's monarchs sought to legitimise their dominion and impose their control over the vast territories of the Americas. They have presented royal institutions of government in the Indies, the audiencia and provincial governors in the case of New Granada as the tools of an absolutist monarchy, employed by the Spanish crown to expand royal power over Spanish American subjects. The present study thus aims to challenge this picture by making detailed reference to contemporary documentation and taking into account recent research on early modern government and governance in areas outside New Granada. We will attempt to show that government in the Audiencia of Santa Fe was not a rigid structure but very political in nature.