The American Finances of the Spanish Empire: Royal Income and Expenditures in Colonial Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia, 1680-1809

The American Finances of the Spanish Empire: Royal Income and Expenditures in Colonial Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia, 1680-1809

The American Finances of the Spanish Empire: Royal Income and Expenditures in Colonial Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia, 1680-1809

The American Finances of the Spanish Empire: Royal Income and Expenditures in Colonial Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia, 1680-1809

Excerpt

The present book began as a research project in Argentina in 1971, when I encountered my first royal treasury materials in the Archivo General de la Nación. Faced by these enormous tomes and curious as to what they contained, I began my long quest to determine what they meant and what one could do with them. Almost immediately I became perplexed by the arcane terminology and complex accounting practices I encountered. It was at this early stage that I wrote to Marcello Carmagnani and John TePaske to ask for their knowledgeable help in interpreting what I had found. Their assistance made possible my first successful penetration of these materials.

In these first efforts, I was forced to confine myself to just one year, because of the quantity of the materials which I encountered. But when I returned to the United States and talked over my results with John TePaske, we decided that the time had come to begin a more systematic investigation in this area, which he himself had just begun to think about in his collection of Mexican materials. The introduction of modern computers into historical research in the late 1960s had finally provided the tools to begin the processing of these massive royal treasury accounts. In the mid-1970s we organized a major project to gather together the extant royal treasury records for the Viceroyalties of New Spain, Peru, and the Rio de la Plata, as well as the allied zones of Chile and the Audiencia of Charcas, which we eventually published.

But the publication of the available archival materials in a readable and usable format was just the beginning of the project. This work is the next stage in understanding royal finances; it uses the data TePaske and I assembled, along with my own reconstructions, to analyze the evolution of royal incomes and expenditures in the premier American colonies in the eighteenth century. In preparation for this analytical phase, I began working closely with Jacques Barbier on the contemporaneous Spanish metropolitan fiscal accounts, which gave me an entirely new perspective on the colonial American materials. I also had an opportunity to discuss my initial findings with the late Germán Colmenares and with Hermes Tovar, when I was working in the Archivo General de Indias, and with Carlos Marichal and his students, when I was teaching at the Colegio de México. Both John TePaske and I have published together . . .

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