The viceroyalty of Peru embraced most of Spanish South America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. XVIII however it was gradually shrinking with the creation of the viceroyalty of New Granada (1739) and later (1778) of the viceroyalty of Buenos Aires, including also Upper Peru, and of the captaincy general of Santiago del Chile (1778). Subjected strictly and directly to the crown of Castile even before the government of the Spanish monarchy, the supreme legislative and judicial body of the central administration was for it the Supreme Consejo da Indias with its Royal Chamber (Cámara da Indias), in charge among other things of the patronage of the colonial churches whose heads, even if confirmed by the papacy, will thus be designated by the crown and will come directly to depend on it.
Only in the second half of the eighteenth century, with the creation under Charles III of Bourbon of a special ministry for the colonies, the Supreme Council of the Indies will lose its importance and autonomy. The other fundamental organ of the central administration was constituted by the Casa de la Contratación, a kind of chamber of commerce and commercial court at the same time for the colonies, located in Seville, transported to Cadiz in 1717 and suppressed only in 1790.
According to A2zdirectory, the colonial government was entrusted to a viceroy, first three years, then (18th century) five years; supreme civil and military chief by name, but in fact nothing more than a sumptuous royal commissioner, charged with overseeing an administration, the appointment of whose chiefs was reserved to the crown. Subject during the office to the possible inspection (visit) by commissioners of the central government (visitadores) and subjected, after leaving it, to a kind of investigation (residencia) conducted on the spot by a jurist designated by the Council of the Indies, the viceroy (“bronze giant with feet of clay”, as the Marquis of Montesclaros called himself) saw his power limited by that of the Royal Audience of Ciudad de Los Reyes (Lima), a political body of control and consultation (beyond and even more than the supreme viceregal court), composed of members appointed by the crown and directly corresponding with it, before which the decisions of the viceroy were appealable. A kind of Court of Auditors (Tribunal de cuenta) and a Treasury Chamber (Cajareal) were in charge of the financial administration of the viceroyalty. This (the Real Hacienda) constituted the most delicate part of the viceroy’s functions: the others, if time and desire left him, were indigenous politics as defender of indigenous people, affairs of worship as viceregal patron of churches, military defense as captain general and admiral. The territory of the viceroyalty not falling under the direct jurisdiction of the royal audience of Lima, was divided between the ordinary audiences (in the 17th century Charcas, Quito and Chile), jurisdictional-administrative bodies directly dependent on the viceregal government and only communicating with it. Under the Audience were the governments (gobiernos), the districts of corregidor (corregimientos), the castellanie (alcaldias mayores). No participation of the residents in the local administration, except in the cities, whose administration was presided over by municipal councils (cabildos) constituted, in addition to alcades, of elective regidores and gifted in the early days of fueros analogous to those of metropolitan cities. From the military point of view all the settlers, in principle, were soldiers and constituted permanent militias; but these, of a purely local character rather than framed in a unitary organization, poorly armed and distributed according to race or profession or social condition, even increasing their number on paper to conspicuous figures (in the early eighteenth century 100,000 men infantry only), were actually good only for expeditions against indios bravos (indigenous people who were not subjected) or for the maintenance of public order. With the second half of the century. XVIII only regular troops (tropes veteranas) will be established alongside the provincial and rural and urban militias. Cabildos and provincial militias, however, by their very constitution mainly Creole and mestizo, will represent the dominated national element in the face of the Spanish ruler, to whom only the civil, military and even ecclesiastical higher offices are reserved.
Finally, the Church had a first-rate position even after, if not before, the revenge of the royal power against its privileges during the viceregal administrations of the Count of Superunda (1745-1761) and even more than Manuel Amat y Junient (1761) -1771), who expelled the Jesuits from Peru, and the loss of the power of the Inquisition; its properties were immense, constituting a mortar of enormous extension (the only building property of it in Lima alone embraced 1135 buildings out of a total urban area of 3941 in 1790); its judicial and civil privileges are great; his income was formidable (the tenth among them), higher in 1788 than half of the public revenues of the viceroyalty (2,294,000 pesos compared to 3,959,065).
From an economic point of view, Spain’s greatest, if not the only, objective of Spain in Peru was mining production, for the proceeds it insured to the tax authorities, even before the profits that could be achieved by private individuals; agriculture, on the other hand, was neglected, with the abandonment and ruin of the irrigation works of the Inca period on the one hand, with land regimes based on commendation, manomorta and majorasco and with the growing scarcity of the indigenous workforce on the other, it came with the Spanish dominion regressing; indirectly hindered, when not directly prohibited, any form of manufacturing industry; finally jealously guarded and gagged the trade. This name was reserved for the nationals (indeed, until 1775, only for the Castilians), but in fact monopolized by the Universidad de mercadores, the powerful merchant corporation of Lima, definitively recognized in 1627 and governed by the Consulado de Lima consisting of a prior and two consuls, with the assistance of a certain number of deputies, elected by the merchants. This trade was done through the Isthmus of Panamá, where goods destined for or from Peru arrived and distributed through it. A special convoy was used for the need, the so-called “fleet of galleons” which departed annually from the port of Seville (in 1720 from that of Cadiz) and headed to Porto Bello: from Porto Bello to Panama, where the Peruvian ship arrived, the goods were carried by mule. The direct trade of Peru with the other American colonies of the same Spain was proclaimed free only in 1774, and even later (in 1788) that between Callao (port of Lima) and 13 Spanish ports: but it was necessary to wait another 20 years, until to 1808, in order to establish full freedom of trade between Peru and the motherland itself. from Porto Bello to Panama, where the Peruvian shipping arrived, the goods were brought by mule. The direct trade of Peru with the other American colonies of the same Spain was proclaimed free only in 1774, and even later (in 1788) that between Callao (port of Lima) and 13 Spanish ports: but it was necessary to wait another 20 years, until to 1808, in order to establish full freedom of trade between Peru and the motherland itself. from Porto Bello to Panama, where the Peruvian shipping arrived, the goods were brought by mule. The direct trade of Peru with the other American colonies of the same Spain was proclaimed free only in 1774, and even later (in 1788) that between Callao (port of Lima) and 13 Spanish ports: but it was necessary to wait another 20 years, until to 1808, in order to establish full freedom of trade between Peru and the motherland itself.
In this viceregal order, which jealously segregated Peru from the rest of the world, even Hispano-American, and in which under the appearances of unitary centralization lay the anarchy produced by the immunity of classes, institutes, individuals, and the exclusion of natives (including creoles) from any participation in political and even administrative life, was accompanied by the lack of individual freedom and religious intolerance represented, as in the metropolis, by the Inquisition; and Spanish-Peruvian society was being shaped over the course of nearly three centuries. Towards the end of that period, in 1790 (according to official data of the time), Peru included 1,300,000 residents (of them 800,000 indigenous, 200,000 Creoles and Spaniards, 300,000 mestizos) divided between 10 cities (maximum among them Lima with 52. 000 residents of which 17,000 between Creoles and Spaniards, the rest Negri, Indî, mestizos, Zambos and mulattoes), 481 doctrinas and 963 pueblos: the viceroyalty portrayed (in 1788) 3,959,065 pesos of income, while he had to spend 4,638,937 and send large sums annually to the motherland (in 1802 and 1803 for no less than 2 million pesos ; in 1804 for 1,200,000), which explains the fiscal exploitation, alongside the oppressive political subjugation, of the country with the chronically unhealthy state of public finances. The basis of Hispano-Peruvian society was constituted by the decimated, exploited and trampled Indian race with the slavery of labor still existing in fact alongside the slavery of Negroes imported from Africa (there were then 40,000 slaves); the summit of it by that economic oligarchy, constituted by the landed property of the mining enterprise and the corporation of merchants, which overlapped, together with the Church, the near but nominal power of the viceroy, not to say the distant one of the crown.