Versión en Español


Introducción de Álvaro Jara y John Jay TePaske al volumen 4 titulado The Royal Treasuries of the Spanish Empire in America, Volume 4. Eighteenth-century Ecuador. Publicados por Duke University Press, Durham, N.C. en 1990. (Reproducido con autorización de los autores).




Development of the Royal Treasury System in Colonial Ecuador


On the northern edge of the Inca Empire in the late pre-Columbian epoch, Ecuador remained a fringe area of empire during the Spanish colonial epoch which followed. Resembling a small pie/wedge sandwiched between its two larger neighbors on the Pacific coast of South America-Nueva Granada (Colombia) and Peru-Spanish colonial Ecuador was fundamentally an agricultural region producing farm products and rough cloth but not gold or silver, which made Peru and Upper Peru (Bolivia) so alluring to European invaders. Spaniards first reached the coast of Ecuador in the 1520s, and very early in the next decade, it became a staging area for Francisco Pizzaro's conquest of Peru. In 1533-1534 Pizarro´s lieutenants, first Sebastián Benazcázar, moving north from Piura on the Peruvian coast, and then Diego Almagro,penetrated the interior of Ecuador. Almagro established Santiago de Quito, present-day Riobamba in August, 1534. Four months later in December Benalcázar founded San Francisco de Quito high in the Andes, the capital and principal city of Spanish Ecuador. A town council (cabildo) began functioning immediately to manage the affairs of the new city, and in 1538 Francisco Pizarro appointed Gonzalo Pizarro the first governor of Ecuador. In 1545 Charles V set up the first bishopric for the Quito district, and in 1563, to strengthen royal power in the region, Phillip II established the presidency or audiencia of Quito, encompassing most of present-day Ecuador.

        On the Pacific coast 240 miles southwest of Quito,Guayaquil became the second most important city of Ecuador (although residents of the city might argue it was first).Sebastián Benalcázar established the first town in 1535 at the month of the Babahoyo River, but flooding and outbreaks of disease made the site untenable. As a result, in 1538 Francisco de Orellana, famous for his epochal voyage down the Amazon from the eastern Amazon basin to the mouth of the river in the 1540s, moved the city upstream forty-five miles, naming it Santiago de Guayaquil after a local Indian chief Guaya and his mate Quila. With one of the best harbors along the Pacific coast of South America, Guayaquil found its fortune tied very closely to Peru. As Peru expanded its imperial role, particularly as a source of bullion and as the most important kingdom of the Indies in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, so too did Guayaquil grow in importance. At first a convenient stopping point to ships plying the Pacific coast between Callao and Panamá, Guayaquil later achieved significance as a shipbuilding center and producer of lumber, naval stores, cacao, oranges, and brandy. As legal and illegal commerce with the Oriental expanded in the late sixteenth century, Guayaquil also became an important entrepot for the far eastern trade.

         Throughout the colonial period, Guayaquil’s ties to Quito were very tenuous. The route from the capital to the coast through Latacunga, Ambato, Riobamba, and Chimbo and then by water down the Guayas river to Guayaquil was tortuous in good weather and impassable during the rainy season. Not surprisingly, because of its good harbour on the route of the Armada del Sur to and from Panamá and Peruvian reliance on ships and naval stores produced in the region, Guayaquil developed stronger links with Lima and Callao, reflected ultimately in a royal order of July 7, 1803 separating Guayaquil from Quito and making it a part of the Peruvian treasury nexus. 1

        As Ecuador began to attract more settlers, other Spanish cities grew up in the area. Founded in 1577, Cuenca became the third most important town of colonial Ecuador. Located almost two hundred miles directly south of Quito in the south central region of the Quito presidency, Cuenca was a significant regional market center with a large Indian population on the land-water route running from Quito to Lima via Cuenca, Loja, Piura, Trujillo, and Callao. South of Cuenca, Zamora had temporal significance as a modest gold producing area, while in the Amazon basin of Ecuador, Jaén de Bracamoros attained a bit of status in the late eighteenth century when it became a sub-treasury. For Spanish immigrants Ecuador did not have the lure of a Mexico or a Peru with promise of great riches. Some Spaniards settle in Ecuador, however, attracted by the possibilities of encomiendas and the labor and tribute the Indian could provide.

Spanish friars arrived-Jesuits, Franciscans, and Dominicans in particular-to Hispanicize and Christianize the indigenous peoples and to reinforce the Spanish presence in Ecuador, a presence which brought European diseases that decimated at least one-half of the Indian population by the 1590s. 2 At the time, Spanish imperial bureaucrats began to trickle into Ecuador to enforce Spanish laws, collect taxes and tribute and promote royal interests in the region. The president of the audiencia of Quito, established in 1563, served as governor, aided by a small number of judges in the audiencia, which double both as an appeals court and governor's council. 3 The number of Spanish officials exercising jurisdiction in local areas-corregidores, gobernadores, and tenientes-also began to grow throughout Ecuador in the sixteenth century, further extending Spanish domination. 4

        As a part of the Spanish crown´s efforts to tighten control over Ecuador, the king, as elsewhere in the Indies, established a network of the royal cajas to collect taxes and tribute, to disburse these revenues for the needs of the local treasury district, and generally, to oversee the fiscal interest of the king in his colonial kingdoms. 5 The exact dates for the founding of the royal cajas in Ecuador is difficult to establish 6 , but evidence indicates that the Quito treasury began operation in 1535 immediately after the founding of the city late in 1534. for the extreme south of Ecuador crude accounts exist for the gold mining district of Zamora from 1551-1565 and for nearby Valladolid from 1567-1576, most probably indicating a shift in the physical site of the caja from Zamora to Valladolid after 1565. Accounts for the royal treasury of Guayaquil appear as early as 1564 and 1565, although a seventeenth-century expert on Peruvian treasury affairs states that the Guayaquil caja did not begin functioning until 1582. 7 Strangely, however, despite the establishment of these various caja districts, only a few scattered accounts remain extant for sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Ecuador, so few in fact that they have not been included in this volume.

        At the opening of the eighteenth century, of those cajas which had existed in the sixteenth century, only Guayaquil and Quito still remained. In 1772, however, a new caja was founded at Loja and Cuenca with treasury officials operating in both towns through 1724 but solely in Cuenca beginning in 1725. Much later in the eighteenth century in 1762, a tiny sub-treasury was established in the Amazon basin of Ecuador at Jaén de Bracamoros, but in produced only a token income of less than 10,000 pesos annually from taxes and tribute and was phased out in 1792. Thus, over the eighteenth century Ecuador had four treasury districts-Cuenca, Guayaquil, Quito, and Jaén de Bracamoros: the eighteenth-century accounts of these four cajas constitute the substance of this volume.

Operation of the Cajas Reales in Colonial Ecuador.


Although operation of the cajas reales differed from treasury to treasury, Spanish law rigidly prescribed how the royal treasury system should function. Normally each caja had two major officials an accountant (contador) and a treasurer (tesorero), called royal officials (oficiales reales) after the late medieval practice which gave that name to those who performed fiscal functions in the customs houses of Aragón and in the armadas of the crown of Castile. Oficiales mayores or bookkeepers assisted the contador in ordering the accounts, while an alguacil mayor or constable aided the tesorero. In some mirror cajas the office of tesorero or contador was held by one person, but normally two officials served each caja as much to share the work load as to insure the honesty of each treasury transaction. Salaries for oficiales reales in Ecuador were not as high as those paid in the major cajas such as Lima or Potosí. Of the three principal cajas of Ecuador, Quito paid the highest salaries to its royal officials, 1,000 to 1,500 pesos de ocho reales annually or a bit more late in the eighteenth century. In Guayaquil and Cuenca, these two functionaries got one-half to three-quarters of this sum. In Jaén there were probably no royal officials at all, only collectors (cobradores) to garner the meagre revenues being takes in there.

      Royal law scrupulously regulates the conduct of royal treasury officials. 8 If coming from Spain, a contador or tesorero had to present a bond to the Council of the Indies along with a detailed statement of his financial condition, to receive minute instructions on how to carry out his duties, and to take an oath of office. If coming from either the Indies or Spain, a royal official had to deposit his bond in the caja where he served, present his credentials to the major administrative and judicial officials in his district, and swear an oath of office before them. The senior treasury official-either the contador or tesorero-had to live in the royal treasury house (casa real) where the treasury monies were kept and caja transactions carried on. If there was no casa real, he was to reside in “the most secure house in the community.” Royal offcials could not hold any other imperial or local government post such as corregidor, alcalde, or regidor, engage in trade, smelting of ore, or mining activity; hold encomiendas; consort with residents of the community on festival days; or marry their daughters, sons, or the other close relatives to other treasury bureaucrats. Such restrictions, it was hoped, would prevent graft, fraud, and nepotism.

      Royal laws clearly specified the duties of contador and tesorero. Ordinarily considered the more important of the two, the contador kept the books or supervises the bookkeepers who did so, certified all treasury transactions, and held one of the keys to the royal strong-box (real caja) containing treasury founds. In keeping his accounts the contador used two books-a libro mayor and libro manual. The libro mayor was divides into income categories (ramos) called the cargo with entries such as sales taxes (alcabalas), sale of offices (oficios vendibles y renunciables), tribute, (tributos), indulgences (bulas de santa cruzada), tithes (novenos), etc. On the expenditure side called the data were entries for salaries (salarios), war (guerra), monies remitted elsewhere (remitido a España, remitido a Cartagena, remitido a Quito); hospital support (hospitals), social security pensions (montes píos), etc. The libro mayor also included a summary for the account period with the cargo and data sides listing the aggregate amounts collected or expended from each ramo for the account period. The libro mayor was daybook listing daily income and disbursements for all monies collected or disbursed by the caja real-date, name of payee or payee, and ramo of the treasury to which the payment or expenditure belonged. The two treasury officials and a third witness verified very payment or disbursement. Where necessary the contador supervised the keeping of especial accounts for some ramos such as tribute, although in a few cases special accountants kept separate ledgers such as those for the sale of mercury or the sale of indulgences. Contadores in the major cajas were also responsible for the periodic submission of estados or spread sheets as they would be called today. Occasionally requested by high officials in Madrid who wanted an overview of the financial condition of certain regions of the Indies over time, estados were a useful source for obtaining more precise knowledge on the fiscal state of various regions of the empire. For colonial Ecuador, however, there was little call for such documents.

      After 1605 contadores in Ecuador and elsewhere in Peru became responsible for submitting their accounts to the newly established auditing bureau (Tribunal de Cuentas) in Lima, set up insure accuracy and honesty in the accounts and reports from the cajas reales. 9 If the contador was not prompt in submitting the accounts for auditing by the Tribunal, he was liable to loss of salary. This never seemed to have become a significant issue, however; rather, as time went on, the major problem became excruciating delays by the Tribunal, which often fell years behind in their audits and in remitting the closed accounts to the royal auditing bureau (Real Contaduría) in Spain.

      Like the contador the tesorero performed specific duties. He was responsible for personally accepting revenue payments and marking disbursements. He was also charged with safeguarding the caja real and securing the casa real where treasury funds and the account books were housed. Law required strong doors for the room or vault containing the strongbox with the specie or bars of gold and silver belonging to the caja and that either the tesorero or contador live in the casa real where caja business was transacted. The tesorero also held one of the three keys to the treasury strongbox. This strongbox or caja was literally that, a strong metal or wooden box reinforced with metal strips with three different locks, making it necessary for three officials to be present whenever the caja was opened for specie to be removed or places in it. As noted, the contador held one key, the tesorero the second, and high-ranking official in the community the third. If one of the three gave his key to another person, he was subjet to dismissal from office and loss of half his property. If there were no payments or disbursements during any given week, law still required inspection of the caja. Usually this occurred on Saturday, but if Saturday was a fiesta day, the inspection took place on Wednesday.

      Most cajas, and those in Ecuador were no exception, observed a regular routine similar to the one caja described below. 10 Normally, each caja was open for five hours a day, three in the morning and two in the afternoon. Tax payments could be made at any time during these hours, and royal officials were under stern injunctions to place the revenues collected in the caja the same day they were collected. Regular treasury disbursements usually occurred on Saturday. Royal officials also had to supervise the auction of goods in kind presented in payment of taxes or tribute-corn, beans, potatoes, cloth, chickens, and other products. This usually occurred on Tuesday or Friday mornings. Auction of confiscated illicit or contraband goods to produce comisos was still another duty of treasury officials.

      Laws regulating the conduct of royal treasury officials in Ecuador and elsewhere were based on the desire to prevent fraud and corruption. The three-key locks on the caja, the certification of each account entry by three officials, the keeping of two types of accounts, and the posting of a large bond by the accountant and treasurer were all measures calculated to maintain the honesty and integrity of treasury officials in the Indies. Still other regulations attempted to insure that the king received his share of the tax revenues being produced in the Indies. Royal officials had strict instructions to keep a scrupulous accounting of surplusus revenues remaining at the end of the account period (existencia) and to remit these excess funds to Spain immediately. They were enjoined never to retain these monies in their own district to meet anticipated expenses. All specie and bars sent to Spain were to be shipped in secure strongboxes, accompanied by an account of the sources which generated the shipment. For the treasury officials of Ecuador, however, these injunctions were of little importance. Virtually all tax surpluses went to New Granada for support of Spanish garrisons and strongholds at Santa Marta, Cartagena, and Río Hacha.

      Treasury posts in the Indies were much coveted, particularly those in the major cajas. Treasury officials were well paid and held wide power, privilege, and status in the community. For the most past, however, they did not need scrupulous training like that of a modern-day accountant. The main requisites for their tasks were to be able to read, write, do simple arithmetic, and be wealthy enough to pay the bond required for taking a treasury office. They had to read in order to understand the welter of royal laws which prescribed their conduct on office and the operation of the cajas reales. They had to write in order to certify account entries and to make their reports. They had to understand elementary arithmetic in order to keep their accounts properly and to satisfy the probing eyes of the ministers of the Tribunal of Accounts and royal auditing bureau in Madrid. Personally, they had to be somewhat compulsive, to delight in giving meticulous attention to detail and in keeping their accounts to the last tomín, grano, and marvedí. Otherwise, they needed little training. Spanish imperial accounting techniques were rudimentary, if not primitive, and could be learned easily at any colegio or on the job after a bit of training. Moreover, books of regulations or job manuals were readily available to the novice appointee should problems arise.

      This all changed dramatically early in the 1780s, when, in the wake of a series of imperial reforms instituted by the Bourbons, Charles III decreed a new double-entry book-keeping system for the cajas reales of the Indies. 11 When it went into effect in 1787 in Ecuador and elsewhere, this new system caused both confusion and trauma among imperial accountants. 12 In fact for contadores everywhere in the Indies except Lima, the new system was evidently too difficult to fathom, and the double-entry system was abandoned after three years in favor of the old cargo and data method, although with some refinements, which provided for listing taxes still owing for the year and for previous years and for keeping better track or surplus funds.

      In addition to the failed attempt to introduce double-entry bookkeeping, in the late 1780s the crown began classification of tax revenues and disbursements into the three categories of ramos de real hacienda, ramos particulares, and ramos agenos. In first category were those taxes allocated to the general operation of the caja district such as sales taxes, tribute, tithes, salary taxes, stamped sealed paper, brandy levies, powder sales, and cockfighting. In the second category, ramos particulares, were revenues specifically allocated for use by the crown-salary taxes on clerics (medias anatas eclesiásticas and mesadas eclesiásticas), sales of indulgences (bulas de santa cruzada and bulas cuadragesimales), income from vacant parishes and bishoprics, (vacantes menores and vacantes mayores), revenues from seizes Jesuit estates (temporalidades), donations (donativos), and income from the tobacco and playing card monopolies (tabaco and naipes). The third category, ramos agenos consisted of revenues allocated for specific purposes in Spain or in the empire-assessments on bishoprics to support the Royal Order of Carlos III, fines (penas de cámara), a portion of the profits from sale of seized illegal goods (comisos) allocated to the Council of the Indies and the Superintendent of the Treasury in Madrid, pensions for soldiers and bureaucrats (montes píos militares an montes píos de ministros), collections for the seminary and hospital in Quito (seminario conciliar and hospital de San Lázaro), and contributions for funds to pay ransoms to free Spanish captives (redención de cautivos). Royal ministers hoped this system would force local officials to use the income allocated for general operating expenses more efficiently, insure the crown a larger portion of income being produced in the Indies, and set up reliable, steady sources of income for special pension funds, charities, and bureaucratic needs. Unfortunately for the crown, in Ecuador and other parts of the Indies, this system designed to systematize and to classify taxes into specific categories for assuring the crown continuous revenues did not work. Local needs, sudden emergencies, and rising costs in the Indies, particularly for war expenses, causes income from the ramos particulares and ramos agenos continually to be shifted into the general operating budget of the royal treasury (ramos de real hacienda), especially during the epoch of the wars of independence.

The Royal Accounts of Ecuador as an Historical Source


The eighteenth-century accounts for the cajas of Cuenca, Guayaquil, Jaén, and Quito included in this volume are a significant source for understanding the region's fiscal structure and some aspects of life in eighteenth-century Ecuador. The accounts summaries (cartas cuentas), however, must be treated critically like any other document. Despite The spate of laws prescribing the way accounts should be kept, individual contadores had idiosyncrasies of which the analyst should be wary. Some accountants listed money collected from previous years as current revenue; some failed to note what was still owing or included what was owed as income; some listed carryover revenues as current collections; some subtracted collection costs or payments for each item, noting only net income; some aggregated income or outgo into one broad category such as real hacienda or asignaciones y situaciones; still others preferred to indicate only the ramo of the expenditure on the data side of the ledger,not the specific purposes of the disbursement. Nevertheless, used carefully and critically, the account summaries can be very useful for creating a broad picture of the fiscal structure of eighteenth-century Ecuador and various types of economic activity in the caja districts.

      Entries on the income side of the ledgers for the cajas of Cuenca, Guayaquil, Jaén, and Quito reflect the character of the individual districts. As might be expected, tribute was an important source of income for the Cuenca, Jaén, and Quito treasuries. In 1776, for example, the caja of Quito enjoyed almost one-third of its income from tribute, while that same year Cuenca produced almost three-quarters of its revenues from that source. For Jaén in the year 1744-1775, tribute amounted to over 80 percent of total income. Sales taxes (alcabalas) and tax on brandy (aguardiente)), in Quito and Cuenca were also significant, and together in 1776 these two ramos provided 20 percent of Quito revenues and 13 percent of those in Cuenca. In contrast, Guayaquil as a port depended less on tribute-under 20 percent-and far more on import-export levies (almojarifazgos, aduanas de entrada y salida), 43 percent in 1776. Taxes on salaries or income from the sale of offices (medias anatas, mesadas eclesiásticas, or oficios vendibles y renunciables) were also a source of income for the three major cajas. Other revenues were generated from sales of stamped sealed paper (papel sellado) used for all legal transactions in colonial Ecuador, indulgences (bulas de santa cruzada and bulas cuadragesimales), powder and tobacco sales (pólvora and tabaco), seizure and sale of contraband (comisos), donations (donativos), tithes (novenos), salary assessments for pensions (montepíos and inválidos), and income from vacant bishoprics or lesser clerical posts (vacantes mayores y menores). In none of the cajas of eighteenth-century Ecuador, however, were exactions on silver or gold production or profits from the sale of mercury ever significant.

      On the expenditure side of the ledger, account entries normally detailed how revenues were spent-salaries of all sorts for civil officials (salarios), military expenses (salarios militares, gastos de Guerra, expedición de limites Río Marañon), pensions (montes píos and inválidos), payments for charitable or educational purposes (becas colegio de San Luis, becas reales, Universidad de San Marcos de Lima, hospital de San Lázaro, seminario conciliar), costs of collection of various taxes, postal costs (correos), etc. For the Quito treasury, money remitted to Cartagena and Santa Marta (remitido a Cartagena y Santa Marta) was by far the biggest item on the expenditure side in the eighteenth century. These included the tax surpluses remitted to Quito from Cuenca and Guayaquil, which appeared in expenditures items as remitido a Quito; in the Quito accounts they appeared on the cargo side of the ledger as income items (caja de Cuenca or caja de Guayaquil). Toward the end of eighteenth century, money owing the treasury from back taxes (debido de cobrar) was also listed in the account ledgers. Occacionally, a special account entry verified or confirmed important events in Ecuador. In the early 1740s, for example, the Quito accounts listed amounts paid to the Spanish naval officers, Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, during their sojourn in Ecuador working with the French expedition to measure a degree on the Ecuator. So too did the listing of expenditures later in the century giving the annual costs for maintaining a Spanish military presence on the frontier with Portuguese Brazil.

Methods Uses to Compile and List the Accounts


The accounts summaries in this volume were compiled from documents housed in the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla, Spain, and the Archivo Histórico Nacional in Quito, Ecuador. Generally, accountants in the caja districts of the Indies kept triplicate accounts-one for remission to the Tribunal de Cuentas in Lima, one for the caja real, and a third for the Real Contaduría in Spain. Those which found their way to Sevilla, either from the Madrid auditing bureau or the Tribunal de Cuentas in Lima or Bogotá, are the accounts housed in the Archivo de Indias. They constitute the only source for the accounts of the cajas of Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Jaén. Some accounts for Quito unavailable in Spain, however, particularly those for the first decade of the eighteenth century and for 1739, were uncovered in Quito in the Archivo Histórico Nacional by Professor Kenneth J. Andrien of Ohio State University, who very generously made these available for publication in this volume. Moreover, some accounts for the early part of the eighteenth century encompassing the year 1711-1735 were compiled from investigative reports and files (expendientes) concerning conditions in the Quito caja, reports which reconstructed many of the original accounts not found in the Contaduría records of the Archivo de Indias (AGI). Sometimes these documents only noted the totals for each year; these have been included in the accounts in this volume.

      The sources for the accounts are as follows. For the caja of Cuenca-AGI, Contaduría, Legajos 1377 and 1576-1577 and Quito 407, 469-475, and 477; for the caja of Jaén AGI, Quito 497; and for the caja of Quito-Archivo Histórico Nacional-Quito, Real Hacienda 10 and 15, and AGI, Contaduría 1377, 1539-1540 and Quito 140-141, 173, 165, 413, 415-429. Occasionally, we encountered duplicate accounts in the Archivo General de Indias. In the case of Guayaquil, some of these contained a more detailed breakdown of what was collected in customs house (aduana). In such cases we uses the account with the mote disaggregates entries, although they were not available for every year.

      Normally, we compiled the accounts using the following method. Wherever possible, we obtained photocopies of the account summaries from the Archivo de Indias. These were then placed on computer disks in exactly the same from that the original contador set them down, except that all entries were rounded off to the nearest peso. These accounts were then printed out and checked against photocopies of the original for errors or omissions, a process repeated two or three times to insure as much accuracy as possible. A computed total (total computado) for all entries was also added to provide an additional check on the sums set down by the original contador. Any discrepancies which could not be resolved, however, remain as in the original document. These account summaries have thus been reproduces as exact replicas of the original cartas cuentas with some changes to make them more useful for researchers. First, they were all rounded off to the neatest peso; the original accounts were kept in pesos, tomínes, and granos. Thus, an account entry of 560 pesos 5 tomínes 2 granos appears as 561 pesos, an entry 12 pesos 3 tomínes 1 grano as 12 pesos. Second, all entries were placed in alphabetical order to assist the investigator. Third, most entries have been standardized. Tithe income, for example, often appeared as dos novenos in the original account summaries, but it has been listed simply as novenos. The same would be true for the entry vacantes mayores, which often appeared as vacantes de obispados. Forth, very occasionally, entries have been aggregated as in the early accounts for Cuenca where clerics serving at Valladolid, Zamora, Loyola, and Santiago received stipends from the treasury two or three times during an account period. Fifth, as already noted, we have included a computed total (total computado) at the end of each account summary to show any discrepancies between the listed entries and the accountant's original totals. Some minor differences between the two may appear because of rounding off to the nearest peso. Sixth, in the upper left-hand corner of each account is the source for each account: the archive, section, and legajo or document bundle number. AHN-Q signifies Archivo Histórico Nacional-Quito and RH an abbreviation for the Real Hacienda section of that archive. AGI signifies Archivo General de Indias with Quito indicating the Quito portion of Section V (Gobierno) and Contaduría that section of the Archivo de Indias. Otherwise, with the exception of these changes, the accounts reproduced here ate as faithful to the originals as possible.

      They money of account used in these summaries is the peso de ocho, a peso consisting of eight reales or 272 maravedís, the standard unit used throughout most of the Spanish empire in the eighteenth century. 13 Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this peso de ocho or piece of eight contained 25.561 grams of fine silver. In 1728, for the first time during the colonial epoch, Philip V ordered the debasement of the American peso to 24.908 grams of the fine silver. In 1772 Charles III further reduced the silver content to 24.433 grams and in 1786 further reduced the fineness to 24.245 grams, where it remained until the end of the colonial period. Over the course of the eighteenth century, therefore, the silver content of the peso de ocho decreased about 1.3 grams or 4 percent.



A number of institutions and individuals made possible the compilation of these accounts. We would like to thank both the Social Science Research Council and Banco de España whose grants made possible a portion of the research. So too did financial support from the Duke University Research Council. Earlier grants from the Tinker Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society to compile the royal accounts for the other areas of the Spanish Indies established the basic methods and techniques used for compilation of the cartas cuentas of colonial Ecuador reproduced in this volume. In Sevilla Dr. Rosario Parra, Director of the Archivo de Indias, and her staff, as always, cooperated in the work of compilation and photocopying of the accounts. Also in Sevilla Dr. G. Douglas Inglis provided computer assistance, while Señor Francisco Sánchez Rico (Sánchez to AGI investigators) helped to check and recheck accounts which were smeared of difficult to read. In the Unites States Gary Grady devised the time-saving software for the checking and collating the computer printouts with the original accounts and helped to prepare the accounts summaries for publication. Always helpmates, Dorothy Sapp and Thelma Kithcart prepared the manuscript to the Duke University Press. So too did Alan Tuttle of the National Humanities Center. Most of all, we wish to thank Dr. Kenneth J. Andrien of Ohio State University for his help throughout the project. He not only willingly shared with us the accounts he had compiled for early eighteenth-century Quito, but he also poured over early account printouts to point out errors and omissions. The errors that remain, however, are our responsibility.

Álvaro Jara, Universidad de Chile
John Jay TePaske, Duke University



1. AGI, Lima, Legajo 610. Real cédula, Madrid, July 7, 1803.Continuar leyendo

2. Suzanne Austin Browne, Epidemic Disease in Colonial Ecuador (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1982), p. 68.Continuar leyendo

3. The best book on the operation of the Quito audiencia is by John Leddy Phelan, The Kingdom of Quito in the Seventeenth Century: Bureaucratic Politics in the Spanish Empire (Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967).Continuar leyendo

4. In the eighteenth century the Quito presidency had the corregimientos and five gobiernos. The corregimientos were Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Loja, San Miguel de Ibarra, Otavalo, Latacunga, Riobamba, Chimbo, and Pastor. The gobiernos were Quijos y Macas, Mainas, Atacames, Bracamontes, and Popayán. See Luis Navarro García, ed., América en el siglo XVIII: Los primeros Borbones in Historia general de España y América, tomo XI-A (Madrid: Ediciones Rialp S.A., 1983) P. 603.Continuar leyendo

5. For the development of the royal treasury system in the Spanish Indies there are number of useful primary and secondary studies. For its early development, see Ismael Sánchez Bella, La administracion financiera de las Indias (siglo xvi) (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1968). Among the most useful sources for the various laws governing the functioning of the cajas reales and the duties of the oficiales reales ate the following; Recopilación de leyes de los Reynos de las Indias, 3 tomos, (Madrid: Consejo de la Hispanidad, 1943), especially Libro XVIII, Tomo II; Gaspar de Escalona Agüero, Gazofilacio real de Perú, tratado financiero del coloniaje, 4th ed. (La Paz: Editorial del Estado, 1941); Alfonso García Gallo, ed., Cedulario indiano. Recopilado por Diego de Encinas, Oficial Mayor de la Escribanía de la Cámara del Consejo Supremo y Real de las Indias, Libro Tercero (Madrid: Ediciones de Cultura, 1946), pp. 224-323; Juan de Solórzano Pereyra, Política indiana, tomo II (Madrid: Gabriel Ramírez, 1739) pp. 423-521; Fabián de Fonseca y Carlos de Urrutia Historia general de la Real Hacienda, 6 tomos (México: Vicente G. Torres , 1845-53) and its companion volume Alberto María Carreño, ed., Compendio de la historia de la Real Hacienda de Nueva España, escrito en el año 1794 por D. Joaquín Maniau (México: Imprenta de la Secretaría de la Industria y Comercio, 1914); Manuel Josef de Ayala, Diccionario de gobierno y legislación de Indias, 2 tomos (Madrid: Compañía Ibero-Americana de Publicaciones, S.S, 1929); Reglamento para el comercio libre, 1778 (Sevilla, Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1978); Gisela Morazán de Pérez Enciso, ed., Las ordenanzas de intendentes de Indias (Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, Facultad de Derecho, 1972); José Canga Argüelles, Diccionario de Hacienda, para el uso de los encargados de la suprema dirección de ella, 5 tomos (London: Imp. Español de M, Calero, 1826-1827). See also Amalia Gómez Gómez, Las visitas de la Real Hacienda novohispana en el reinado de Felipe V (1710-1733) (Sevilla; La Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1979); Miguel Artola, La hacienda del antiguo régimen (Madrid: Alianza Universidad/Banco de España, 1982); Guillermo Céspedes del Castillo. “Reorganización de hacienda peruana en el siglo xviii, “Anuario de Historia de Derecho Español 23 (1953): 229-269; Hebert S. Klein, “Structure and Profitability of Royal Finance in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1790”, “Hispanic American Historical Review 53 (August 1973): 440-469; Samuel Amaral, “Public Expenditure Financing in the Colonial Treasury: An Análisis of the Real Caja de Buenos Aires Accounts, 1789-1791, “Hispanic American Review 64 (May, 1984); 287-295 and the commentary by H. S. Klein, J. E. Cuenca, J. R. Fisher, and J. J. Te Paske. Pp. 297-322; and H. S. Klein and J. Barbier; “Recent Trends in the Study of Spanish American Colonial Public Finance”; Latin American Research Review 23 (1988): 35-62.Continuar leyendo

6. The exact date when the cajas reales were established or began functioning is difficult to determine. As noted some accounts often appear before the formal establishment of the cajas as in the case of Guayaquil. The dates used for the cajas reales of Ecuador are based on when the first extant accounts are available.Continuar leyendo

7. Francisco López de Carabantes, Noticia general del Perú, 2 tomos (Madrid: Atlas, 1968), a reprint of his seventeenth-century descriptive analysis of colonial Peru.Continuar leyendo

8. See Note 5. Continuar leyendo

9. Ronald Escobedo Mansilla, Control fiscal en el virreynato peruano. El tribunal de Cuentas (Madrid: Alambra, 1986).Continuar leyendo

10. Regulations governing caja routines differed from place to place bt were similar to the one described above except for the days of the week on which the royal officials performed certain functions. See for example. Escalona Agüero, Gazofilacio, pp. 47-48 and the routine laid by the various laws in the Recopilación de leyes de los Reynos de las Indias.Continuar leyendo

11. Pedro Martínez Santos. “Reformas a la contabilidad colonial en el siglo xviii (El método de partida doble)”, Anuario de Estudios Americanos 17 (1960): 526-536.Continuar leyendo

12. One has only to look at the ledgers of Peruvian accounts in Lima in 1787 to see how difficult it was for accounts to understand the new system, this account has a multitude of changes, scribbling, and emendations that demonstrate the confusion and bewilderment of the contador groping with the new system.Continuar leyendo

13. Two invaluable articles on colonial coinage and the changing values and types of coins are Humberto Burzio, “El ‘peso de plata’ hispanoamericano, “Historia (Buenos Aires) 3 (1958): 9-24; and “El ‘peso de oro’ hispanoamericano, “Historia (Buenos Aires) 4 (1956): 21-52.Continuar leyendo