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The New Kingdom of Granada ( ) was the name given to a group of 16th century Spanish colonial provinces in northern South America governed by the Audiencia of Bogotá, an area corresponding mainly to modern Colombiamarker, Venezuelamarker, Ecuadormarker and Panamamarker. Originally part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, it became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada first in 1717 and permanently in 1739. It ceased to exist altogether with the Viceroyalty's end in 1819 and the establishment of an independent Republic of Colombia.


Old map showing the location of the New Kingdom of Granada


In 1514, the Spanish first permanently settled in the area. With Santa Martamarker (founded on July 29, 1525 by the Spanish conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas) and Cartagenamarker (1533), Spanish control of the coast was established, and the extension of colonial control into the interior could begin. Starting in 1536, the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada explored the extensive highlands of the interior of the region, by following the Magdalena Rivermarker into the Andean cordillera. There his force defeated the powerful Chibcha people and founding the city of Santa Fé de Bogotá (c. 1538, currently Bogotámarker) and naming the region El nuevo reino de Granada, "the new kingdom of Granada", in honor of the last part of Spain to be conquered, the kingdom of Granadamarker which had existed until 1492. Quesada, however, lost control of the province when Emperor Charles V granted the right to rule over the area to rival conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar in 1540, who had entered the region from what is today Ecuadormarker, and established himself as governor of Popayánmarker.


Belalcázar's victory placed the region under the Viceroyalty of Peru, which was being organized at the time. However, because it was at large distances from either Limamarker or Santo Domingo, the Spanish Crown realized that the newly settled area need its own government. It therefore, ordered the establishment of an Audiencia, a type of superior court that combined executive and judicial authority, at Santa Fé de Bogotá in 1549. Initially the body as a whole held executive power, but this proved ineffective. Despite several royal inspectors (visitadores) sent to improve its function, its performance did not improve, so executive power was centralized in one officer, the Audiencia "president," who was also made governor and captain general in 1564. (For this reason the region was also referred to as a presidencia in the language of the time.) With these two offices the president oversaw the civilian government and the headed the command of the Kingdom's military forces. The Audiencia's jurisdiction defined the boundaries of the new kingdom.

Functions and Territory of the Audiencia

Law VIII ("Royal Audiencia and Chancellery of Santa Fe in the New Kingdom of Granada") of Title XV ("Of the Royal Audiencias and Chancelleries of the Indies") of Book II of the Recopilación de Leyes de las Indias of 1680—which compiles the decrees of July 17, 1549; May 10, 1554; and August 1, 1572—describes the limits and functions of the Audiencia.

In Santa Fé de Bogotá of the New Kingdom of Granada shall reside another Royal Audiencia and Chancellery of ours, with a president, governor and captain general; five judges of civil cases [oidores], who shall also be judges of criminal cases [alcaldes del crimen]; a crown attorney [fiscal]; a bailiff [alguacil mayor]; a lieutenant of the Gran Chancellor; and the other necessary ministers and officials, and which will have for district the provinces of the New Kingdom and those of Santa Martamarker, Río de San Juan, and of Popayánmarker, except those places of the latter which are marked for the Real Audiencia of Quitomarker; and of Guayana, or El Dorado, it shall have that which is not of the Audienicia of Hispaniola, and all of the Province of Cartagena; sharing borders: on the south with said Audiencia of Quito and the undiscovered lands, on the west and north with the North Seamarker and the provinces which belong to the Royal Audiencia of Hispaniola, on the west with the one of Tierra Firme.
And we order that the Governor and Captain General of said provinces and president of their Royal Audiencia, have, use and exercise by himself the government of all the district of that Audiencia, in the same manner as our Viceroys of New Spain and appoint the repartimiento of Indians and other offices that need to be appointed, and attend to all the matters and business that belong to the government, and that the oidores of said Audiencia do not interfere with this, and that all sign what in matters of justice is carried out, sentenced and carried out.

The governor-president was loosely dependent upon the Viceroy of Peru at Limamarker in administrative matters, but the slowness of communications between the two capitals led to the establishment of an independent Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717 (and its reestablishment in 1739 after a short interruption), under the Bourbon kings. The governor-president of Bogotá became the viceroy of the new entity, with oversight over the neighboring Presidency of Quito and the provinces of Venezuela.

Administrative divisions

The New Kingdom was organized into several Governments and Provinces:
Government/Province Capital Established Founder

Main cities

The largest cities of the New Kingdom of Granada in the 1791 Census were
  1. Cartagena de Indias - 154,304
  2. Santa Fé de Bogotá - 108,533
  3. Popayan - 56,783
  4. Santa Marta - 49,830
  5. Tunja - 43,850
  6. Mompóx - 24,332

See also


  • Fisher, John R., Allan J. Keuthe and Anthony McFarlane, eds. Reform and Insurrection in Bourbon New Granada and Peru. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1990. ISBN 9780807116548
  • Kuethe, Alan J. Military Reform and Society in New Granada, 1773-1808. Gainsville, University Presses of Florida, 1978. ISBN 9780813005706
  • McFarlane, Anthony. Colombia Before Independence: Economy, Society and Politics under Bourbon Rule. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 9780521416412
  • Phelan, John Leddy. The People and the King: The Comunero Revolution in Colombia, 1781. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1978. ISBN 9780299072902


Government of Santa Marta Santa Marta 1525 Don Rodrigo de Bastidas
Government of Cartagena de Indias Cartagena de Indias 1533 Don Pedro de Heredia

(Alternative Capital of Viceroyalty)
Government of Popayan Popayan 1537 Don Sebastián de Belalcázar
Province of Pasto San Juan de Pasto 1539 Don Lorenzo de Aldana
Government of Santa Fé (de Bogotá),

the area originally called the "New Kingdom of Granada"
Santa Fé de Bogota 1538 Don Gonzalo Ximénez de Quezada

(Capital of Viceroyalty)
Government of Tunja Tunja 1539 Don Gonzalo Suárez Rendón
Government of Antioquia Santa Fé de Antioquia 1541 Don Jorge Robledo
Province of Chocó Quibdó 1648 Manuel Cañizales
Government of Panama Ciudad de Panama 1519 Don Pedro Arias Davila
Vast Province of Guyana

(special province)
Angostura 1595 Don Antonio de Berríos

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