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How and why did the Bourbon kings of Spain in the 18th century change the Empire’s mercantilist commercial system?
Prior to the 18th century, Western Europe was dominated by mercantilism, a system where governments and colonial powers controlled foreign trades among colonies (McCannon, 2006). The 18th century began in Spain with a change in dynasty which saw the ascending to power of Felipe V after the death of Charles II in 1700. The Bourdon regime in Spain, which reached its highest expression under Charles III (1759-1788), completely overhauled both political and economic structures of Spain. It centralized the colonial administration so as to reinforce commercial ties with its colonies. Besides, by centralizing the colonial administration, it stopped the decade-long illegal imports trade. The “Decree of Free Trade” allowed Spanish American Ports to trade directly with each other.
On the other hand, the Bourdon regime reforms brought an upsurge in economic activities within Spain and its colonies through tax reduction and expansion of state monopoly. For instance, the production of sugar, indigo, cacao and tobacco rose sharply to the increased European demand for these products and the impact of the Bourdon Reforms. For instance, Tax reduction was given to silver mining industries while tobacco benefitted from an expanded market (Haynes and Keen, 2009).
The reforms were aimed at rescuing Spain’s ailing economy which would consequently modernize Spain. This could only be possible through effective administration and the stimulation of manufacturing industries and technological advancement in Spain.
Many times during the colonial period, native people and slaves revolted against the Spanish rule. Describe the revolts that occurred in Peru and New Granda. Discuss the impacts that they had upon the colonial administration.
In 1544, the first Spanish viceroy arrived in Peru and faced rebellion up to 1556 when they were defeated. In 1569, the Spanish colonial administrator, de Toledo arrived and established an oppressive government of Spanish officials who ruled through lower-level Native Americans officials. In 1780, the natives led by Condorcanqui successfully revolted against the Spanish rule although it was crashed a year later. In 1814, another revolt emerged which was subsequently suppressed by the Spanish authority.
However, the arrival of an invasion army at the seaport of Peru led by Jose Martin, an Argentine soldier, brought freedom from the Spanish Rule (McCannon, 2006). On July 12, 1821, the army entered an abandoned state called Lima which led to the formal Declaration of Peruvian Independence on July 28, 1821. The revolt against Spanish continued with the assistance of the Venezuelan revolutionary hero, Bolivar, rooting out the Spanish in 1824.
Impact on Colonial Government
There were a few institutional changes to Peru apart from the transfer of power. Although the racial codes of colonial empires disappeared, the new administration maintained the racial intolerance. Besides, the economic and social life remained as before, with the Europeans and the indigenous people living side by side though strongly divided. Most important, there were no major changes in the landholding as the status quo was maintained.
New Granda was previously under Peru. The rebellion in New Granda was caused by the Wayuu who were taken captive by the Spanish in 1769. The reaction by the Wayuu was spontaneous, setting ablaze buildings and kidnapping two Spaniards and a priest. The Spanish reacted by sending an expedition to capture them which again turned violent leading to the death of eight Spaniards. A battle later ensued between the Wayuu and the Spanish and although the Wayuu were subdued, they had already gained more territory.
The independence of Latin American countries resulted from a number of factors. Discuss the most important of these and explain why the actual struggle for independence began, in many places, in 1810. Also why did Brazil independence occur in a mostly peaceful manner?
A number of factors may be attributed to the independence of Latin American countries. To begin with, racial segregation contributed to resentment. Most countries in Latin America were inhabited by people from various ethnic and racial backgrounds such as the Europeans, Indians and the Blacks (Haynes and Keen, 2009). Racism and racial stereotype promoted resentment especially from the Spaniards who were born in the New World like Simon Bolivar. Spain itself perpetuated racism in the distribution of government positions by only appointing native-born Spaniards to government positions.
Secondly, there were economic factors and trade barriers by the Spanish. Most Latin American countries produced many commercial goods including coffee, cacao and minerals. However, they were only required to trade with the exploitative Spanish merchants, hence compelling some producers to trade illegally with the Britons and Americans. Though Spain loosened some of the trade restrictions, producers still demanded a fair price.
Finally, the weakening of Spain: The death of Charles III, an able ruler destabilized Spain. His successor, Charles IV was indecisive and with a weak ruler and the military engaged in the war pitting Spain and France on one side and British on the other side, Spain’s influence decreased considerably. After the 1895 defeat of Spain at the Battle of Trafalgar, Spain’s ability to control the colonies reduced considerably.
Most struggles for independence in Latin America began in 1810 after Spain’s influence in the New World had reduced and after Napoleon had secured the resignation of King Ferdinand VII of Spain. With no Spanish government in place, the colonies had to fend for themselves. A series of revolutions emerged with first the expulsion of the Spanish governor from Caracas (Pouwels &Adler, 2008). However, Brazil attained a peaceful independence because it was part of the Portuguese Empire and unlike the Spanish, the Portuguese did not divide their colonial territory in America. The adoption of a monarchy in Brazil also contributed to the nation’s peace.