What are the Bourbon reforms? – Learn what the Bourbon reforms consist of
The Bourbon Reforms were a series of orders implemented by the Bourbon dynasty in Spain and the Spanish Empire during the 18th century. They sought to strengthen the European state, adapt it to the new policies and economies of Europe. Next, we will talk about it.
What were the Bourbon reforms about?
The Bourbon reforms were changes of government in the aspect political, administrative and economic defined by the Spanish monarchs of the Bourbon dynasty from the 18th century in America and Spain. These reforms sought to modernize the colonial system and strengthen the central power of the Spanish State.
They included important measures such as the creation of new administrative and judicial institutions, the reorganization of the tax system, the promotion of agriculture and industry, the strengthening of trade and the creation of commercial companies, the centralization of political power and the reorganization of the army. They also had a significant impact on the organization of the Catholic Church in America and on the activation of measures to control the indigenous and slave population.
They were implemented in a context of financial and political crisis in the Spanish empire and were seen as a response to the challenges facing the European state at the time. Some of these modalities provoked negative consequences for the villages, they also marked the roots for future movements in Latin America.
Bourbon reforms in New Spain
In New Spain, the Bourbon Reforms had a crucial impact on the political, administrative, and economic organization of the territory. One of the most important measures was the creation of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717, which had jurisdiction over the nations of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, and parts of Peru and Brazil.
In 1765, King Carlos III implemented a series of movements that sought to centralize and modernize the colonial administration, as well as increase tax revenue. These reforms included:
- The creation of municipalities for the fiscal and administrative management of the provinces, which allowed greater supervision by the central government and a better organization of resources.
- The promotion of agriculture and mining through the creation of trading companies and the regulation of markets, which favored the economic growth of New Spain.
- The implementation of measures to limit the power of the Catholic Church and his influence on politics, and the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767.
- The promotion of education and the creation of academic institutionssuch as the Royal University of Mexico in 1551, which allowed for greater intellectual training and the spread of enlightenment ideas.
However, these reforms also had a negative impact on the indigenous population and slaves, since they were subjected to greater control and exploitation by the State and Creole elites. In addition, the increasing fiscal pressure and the reduction of commercial privileges affected Spanish merchants, which generated disagreements and triggered the Mexican War of Independence in 1810.
What is the origin story of the Bourbon reforms?
They had their creation in the political, economic and military crisis that affected Spain in the eighteenth century. The Bourbon dynasty came to the throne in 1700, in the midst of a war of succession that weakened the Spanish economy and created a huge debt.
The new monarchs, Felipe V and Carlos III, sought modernize and strengthen the Spanish State, which implied a reform in the political, administrative and economic system of the Spanish empire. In this sense, the Bourbons were a response to the need to face the internal and external challenges facing the European state.
In the context of the crisis, the Spanish economy she was stuck, which made it difficult to finance wars and colonial administration. In addition, criollo elites in the colonies were gaining power and seeking greater political and economic rule, posing a threat to Spanish control over the Americas.
To deal with these situations, they created a series of measures aimed at strengthening the power of the Spanish State, increase administrative activity and improve the economy. These measures included the creation of new institutions, the reorganization of the tax system, the promotion of agriculture and industry, the origination of commercial companies, the centralization of political power, and the reorganization of the army.
Although the Bourbon reforms had positive consequences in some areas, they also had a negative impact in others, such as the increase in exploitation and oppression of the indigenous and slave population. Furthermore, these reforms created the foundations for future independence movements in Latin America, since many of the changes implemented by the Bourbons affected the political and economic authority of colonialism.
What is the goal of the Bourbon reforms?
The main purpose was to modernize and strengthen the Spanish State, especially in the context of the political, economic and military crisis it faced in the 18th century. For it, sought to reform and improve the administration, economy and society of the Spanish empire in general, including the American colonies.
In general terms, the specific objectives of the Bourbon Reforms were the following:
- Strengthen the central power of the Spanish State: This implied a greater centralization of political value and a reduction in the autonomy of the regions and provinces.
- Modernize the colonial administration: it sought to improve its efficiency and transparency, as well as reduce corruption and nepotism.
- Increase tax revenue: Measures were implemented to improve tax collection and reduce smuggling and tax evasion.
- Promote economic development: sought to increase agriculture, the search and exploitation of minerals, industry and trade to improve the Spanish economy and reduce dependence on other countries.
- Limit the power of the Catholic Church: Measures were implemented to reduce the influence of Catholicism in politics and limit its economic strength.
- Promote education and culture: academic institutions were created and training and civilization were promoted, to improve the level of the population and encourage scientific and cultural development.
In summary, the Bourbon Reforms sought to promote the power of the Spanish State, modernize the administration and economy of the empire, to deal with internal and external challenges it faced in the eighteenth century.
What were the causes of the Bourbon reforms?
The causes can be divided into two main groups: internal cause and external cause.
Among the internal causesthey find each other:
- The political, economic and military crisis that Spain faced in the 18th century: The Spanish Succession War (1701-1713) and subsequent wars generated enormous debt, weakened Spain’s economy and political power.
- The need to modernize the administration and the economy: The administrative and economic system of the 17th century had become null, inefficient and vulnerable to corruption and smuggling.
- The need to strengthen the central power: Unfocused political power, making decision-making and policy implementation difficult.
Among the external causesthey find each other:
- Economic and military competition from other European countries: Spain had to face the competition of nations of the continent such as England and France in the commercial and military aspect, which required greater activity and response capacity.
- The growing autonomy of the American colonies: Creole elites in the colonies were gaining power and seeking greater political and economic autonomy, which represented a threat to Spanish control over the American territories.
Why are they called Bourbon reforms?
They get their name because they were implemented during the reign of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain, which began in 1700 with the accession to the throne of Felipe V. The Bourbons came to power after the War of Succession (1701-1713), which pitted allies of the Habsburg dynasty and supporters of the Bourbon dynasty.
After the war, Felipe V began a series of reforms that sought to modernize and strengthen the Spanish State and the Empire, to face the internal and external challenges that he faced in the 18th century. These reforms were driven by the need to adapt to the new political and economic realities of Europe and leave behind the conflicting precedents, as well as the intention to centralize political power and consolidate the Spanish State. Therefore, the Bourbon Reforms bear that name in honor of the Bourbon dynasty, which promoted them and ruled Spain for much of the 18th century.
What are the consequences of the Bourbon reforms?
They had significant consequences in the history of Spain and the Spanish Empire, both at the time and in the long term. Some of the major consequences are the following:
- centralization of power: this in the hands of the monarch and the creation of a more efficient and hierarchical administration, which allowed a greater capacity for decision and action on the part of the Spanish State.
- Modernization of the economy: The economic reforms promoted free trade, the modernity of agriculture and industry, and improved infrastructure. All this allowed an increase in production and the market, which in turn generated significant economic growth.
- institution building: The reforms included the formation of foundations that were in charge of improving education, justice and public health. This contributed to the creation of a more educated, fair and healthy society.
- Discontent of the colonial elites: Despite the fact that the reforms sought to modernize the Empire and strengthen Spanish control over the colonies, they generated great discontent among the Creole elites. This helped the origin of independent movements in Latin America.
- Strengthening of national identity: The reforms helped to reinforce the identity of the nation, since they allowed a greater political, economic and cultural integrity of the country.