Versión en Español


Introducción de Herbert klein y John Jay TePaske al volumen 1 titulado The Royal Treasuries of the Spanish Empire in America, Volume 1. Perú. Publicados por Duke University Press, Durham, N.C. en 1982. (Reproducido con autorización de los autores).




The Development of the Royal Treasury System (Real Hacienda) in Peru.


The Spanish conquest and colonization of the New World was a massive undertaking, not only for the small bands of conquistadores who took the Indies for Spain but also for the bureaucrats who followed. For its part, the crown's goals were to bring the indigenous peoples under royal control, maintain the loyalty of the conquerors and their progeny, and procure a share of the wealth being produced in the Indies. Using those institutions and officials which had consolidated royal power in Spain itself during the Reconquest, the crown sent a host of officials to the Indies to assert royal authority: viceroys, corregidores, captain generals, governors, judges for the audiencias, and many others.

Less well known but equally important for implanting and asserting royal power was the royal treasury system (real hacienda), a well-defined fiscal structure designed to collect royal taxes, disburse funds for colonial needs, remit surplus revenues to Castile or other parts of the empire, and generally to oversee the financial interests of the crown in the Indies. Beginning virtually at the time to the conquest, royal treasuries (cajas) arose as Castile extended its domination into new areas in America to major ports, productive mining centers vitally important military outposts administrative-market centers, and regions with dense Indian populations. These treasuries and the royal officials associated with them-accountants (contadores), treasurers (tesoreros), factors of bussines managers (factores), provisioners (proovedores), disburseers of funds (pagadores), and veedors (veedores)-were crucial links in Spain colonial administration, controlling the fiscal administrations of regions in which they were established.

In the evolution of the Spanish royal treasury, the system established in the Indies was a major improvement over the metropolitan organization. From the beginning, royal officials collected a higher percentage of royal taxes, and treasuries functioned in a far more rational, unified way. In Spain itself they were several overlapping treasury jurisdictions and semi-autonomous bodies collecting taxes. Moreover, the crown disbursed funds at many levels and did not arrange expenditures as hierarchically as the more structured American system. Finally, unlike Spain itself with its numerous local laws and exceptions, royal cajas overseas functioned much the same way throughout the empire. 1

Royal cajas functioned much the same way throughout the empire. In the large treasuries such as Lima and Cuzco the accountant or comptroller kept the books, entered all tax collections and disbursements in account ledgers, certified all transactions of the treasury district. A treasurer assumed responsibility for physically taking in tax monies and placing them in the royal treasure chests, disbursing funds to the individuals and institutions to which tax monies were allocated, safeguarding the treasury, and keeping one of the three keys to the caja. A factor served as fiscal agent or business manager for each treasury, carried on negotiations with other factors in other cajas in the Indies, and protected the arms, munitions and supplies stored in the royal warehouses of the caja district. A fourth official, a veedor gave way to an assayer (ensayador) and bullion smelting expert (fundador). Major treasuries also had a host of lesser officials to serve with these treasury officials (oficiales reales) to post entries, issue supplies (proovedor), disburse funds (pagador), make duplicate accounts, work with the treasurer in collecting the taxes, and guard cajas monies. Almost all treasury districts had lesser oficiales mayores to assist the principal treasury officials, although in small cajas a coterie of officials was unnecessary, and often the duties of accountant, treasurer and factor were combined into one. 2

The conduct of royal treasury officials was rigidly prescribed. No monies could be placed in or removed from the royal treasure chests unless the holders of the three keys were present, usually the treasurer, accountant, and factor. The accountant had to kept two books, a libro manual or daily ledger of receipts and disbursements and a libro mayor listing different taxes by category or ramo such as tribute, mining taxes, and sales taxes. These accounts and he royal treasury were always subject to audit and inspection, either suddenly by a royal investigator (pesquisador) or on a regular basis by an official of the viceregal auditing bureau (Tribunal de Cuentas). Established in 1605 in Lima by Phillip III to insure honest fiscal administration, the Tribunal also audited all the accounts for the cajas of Peru before sending them to Spain for a final inspection by the royal auditing bureau, the Contaduría Mayor of the Council of the Indies. In addition, supervising auditors (contadores mayores) of the Tribunal made annual visits to royal treasury districts in their jurisdiction, audited the books when the account year ended, and had judicial authority to bring charges against those violating the mass of regulations for administration of the treasury and for keeping the accounts. 3 Royal law closely prescribed the day-to-day activities of treasury officials. Each Monday royal officials assisted in the weighing and assaying of bullion subject to royal taxes in all mining areas. On Tuesday and Friday mornings, either from eight to ten or nine to eleven in the morning, these same officials had to sell those commodities paid to the caja in kind and transform corn, cloth, chickens, and others products into effective currency. On Wednesday and Thursday they opened the caja for collection of taxes, and on Saturday they made disbursements (libranzas). Also on Saturday, even if there were no expenditures to make, royal officials opened the royal treasure chest for a weekly inspection. If Saturday were a festival day, then the caja was inspected on Wednesday and disbursements made that day. The caja was generally open for five hours a day, three in the morning and two in the afternoon. 4

In Peru as in the other areas of the Indies, the first cajas appeared at the time of the conquest. 5 Both Lima and Cuzco became royal treasuries in the 1530s and the focal points for the fiscal administration of central coastal and Andean Peru respectively. Not surprisingly these two treasuries remained the most important treasury districts throughout the colonial period. Discovered in 1563, the mercury mines at Huancavelica ng the summaries when they take on a standard stru of silver was first introduced and the mines became a royal monopoly.

Establishment of new treasuries followed the course of both Spanish expansion and of mining strikes in Peru. In the southwest, Arequipa had treasury officials serving in the royal caja by 1599, but most likely the caja came into existence before that. 6 In the north of Peru, Trujillo's accounts appear in 1601 followed in 1606 by those for the twin towns of Piura and Paita, insuring tighter royal control of the increasing coastal trade. Silver strikes prompted the setting up of other new cajas at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Halfway betwen Pisco and Huancavelica, the treasury of Castrovirreyna began functioning in 1600, while in the north, northeast of Cajamarca, the caja of Chachapoyas appeared in 1627. Three years later in 1630 the treasury of Cailloma started operation. 7 Between Arequipa and Cuzco, Cailloma was the only one of the three mining treasuries to last. The caja of Castrovirreyna apparently functioned for only a bit over fifty years 1600-1652), and perhaps only sporadically. At Chachapoyas the mines were depleted even faster than in Castrovirreyna with the accounts for that treasury running only a bit more than twelve years (1627-1639). Two new mining cajas replaced them, however, but later in the century: these were the treasury of Vico y Pasco in 1670 in the Andes northeast of Lima and the treasury of Carabaya in 1690 in an isolated gold-producing area northeast of Lake Titicaca.

Early in the eighteenth century, perhaps in a Bourbon effort to bring the empire under tighter fiscal control, Philip V sent treasury officials into several new areas. On the coast between Trujillo and Paita, the port of Saña became a caja in 1701, the mining district of San Juan de Matucana east of Lima in 1721, and Jauja directly east of San Juan de Matucana in 1730. Probably the caja of Jauja replaced San Juan de Matucana when the silver lode there was exhausted and Indian unrest manifested itself in th Jauja-Tarma region. Later in the century in 1764 Huamanga in the mountains southeast became a sub-treasury of Huancavelica and, ultimately, the major treasury of the area in 1785. Thus, by the 1760s Peru had eleven cajas: Piura y Paita, Saña, and Trujillo, on the north coast; Lima, Jauja, Vico y Pasco, Huancavelica, and Cuzco in central Peru; Arequipa and Cailloma in the south; and Carabaya in the extreme southest.

Administrative reform increased sharply in Peru during the 1770s and 1780s and sharply affected the treasury system. The treasury of Saña closed in1776 to become a part of the caja of Trujillo. Piura y Paita did the same three years later in 1779, leaving the treasury of Trujillo preeminent in the northern section of the viceroyalty. In the south the accountant at Cailloma sent in his last edger in 1770, when that treasury was incorporated into the caja of Arequipa. Because of Indian revolts in southeastern Peru, the treasury of Carabaya closed temporarily from 1779-1783 but reopened once the rebellions ended and functioned until 1796.

Establishment of the intendancy system in 1784 further reorganized the treasury structure. The crown ultimately established eight intendancies in Peru-Arequipa, Cuzco, Huamanga, Huancavelica, Lima, Puno, Tacna, and Trujillo-but a caja was not necessarily located in the seat of each intendancy. 8 The Intendancy of Tacna, for example, had its caja in Pasco, closer to mining operations, while Huamanga became the treasury district for Huancavelica in 1785. With the reorganization and consolidation which had occurred in the 1770s, Peru had seven cajas by end of the colonial period. At one time or another since the founding of Lima, there had been sixteen treasuries, but at the opening of the nineteenth century, there were only seven: Arequipa, Cuzco, Huamanga, Lima, Puno, Trujillo, and Vico y Pasco. Unlike New Spain where the number of cajas grew consistently and then mushroomed at the end of the eighteenth century, the royal treasury system in Peru contracted, a manifestation, perhaps, of the decline in silver production and the break-off Upper Peru and the Río de la Plata region into a separate viceroyalty in 1777. Throughout the colonial period Lima was by far the most important treasury and was closely linked to the other cajas, not only in Peru but also in Upper Peru as well. In fact in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries the treasuries of Arica, Carangas, Chucuito, La Paz, Oruro, and Potosí were all included in the Lima nexus and provided that treasury with considerable revenue. As a matrix treasury Lima garnered all surplus revenues from the other treasuries. In the City of Kings royal treasury officials and the viceregal bureaucracy used these monies for imperial purposes such as defense, support of mission work, construction of public buildings or churches, alms and charitable work, salaries of viceregal officials, and a host of other purposes. Royal treasury officials in Lima also sent military subsidies to Chile, Concepción, Valdivia, and Panama and surplus treasury income to Castile via Panama.

As the matrix treasury Lima remained the most important caja of the viceroyalty throughout the colonial period. Even when annual income into this treasury dropped below one million in the first half of the eighteenth century, in retained its preeminent position. At the same time, the position or rank of the other cajas, based on the influx or royal revenues, changed a bit over time, but not significantly. At the end of the sixteenth century, for example, Lima ranked first, Cuzco second, Huancavelica third, Arequipa fourth, and Trujillo fifth. At the end of the seventeenth century Lima and Cuzco again ranked first and second, with the mining treasuries of Cailloma and Vico y Pasco third and fourth respectively; these were followed in turn by Trujillo, Huancavelica, Arequipa, Piura y Paita, Saña, and Carabaya. By 1750 Lima and Cuzco were still preeminent followed in descending order by the cajas of Trujillo, Huancavelica, Vico y Pasco, Arequipa, Piura y Paita, and Cailloma, although in fact these cajas clusters together in the amounts being collected for royal taxes. At the bottom in rank order were Jauja, Carabaya, and Saña. At the opening of the nineteenth century the City of Kings and Cuzco still dominated. Vico y Pasco was third, Trujillo fourth, Arequipa fifth, Puno Sixth, and Huamanga was seventh.

Royal Accounts as an Historical Source


Royal accounts are a vitally important source for understanding the economy and society of the viceroyalty of Peru and for the determination of Spanish imperial policies during the colonial period. The account summaries (sumarios) in this volume were developed in the following manner by the accountants who served in the cajas of colonial Peru. As pointed out previously, the accountant generally kept two accounts, the libro manual and the libro mayor. The libro manual was the day book in which he recorded tax collections and disbursements on a daily basis, a day-by-day record for the royal caja. In the libro mayor the accountant kept his ledgers by sections or ramos. All tribute collected , for example, was posted in the libro mayor in the ramo mayor in the ramo of tributos, sales taxes in the ramo of alcabalas, import-export taxes in the ramo of almojarifazgos, etc. Expenditures were posted in the same way. Then, at the end of an account period-normally in the seventeenth century the Pacific fleet (Armada del Sur) sailed from Callao to Panama- the accountant closed his books by adding the entries for each ramo together and placing these in a sumary (sumario), also called a tanteo or relación jurada, ussually at the end of the libro mayor. The summary listed al revenues and expenditures by ramo with a total for each one. The extant summaries of the accounts for the sixteen treasuries of Peru are contained in these volumes.

Entries on the cargo in income side accounts reveal a great deal about activities in the caja district. For example, income items list taxes on gold and silver production (1.5% quinto del oro, 1.5% y quinto de plata, 1.5% y diezmos de plata, etc.) and minting and assay taxes (senoreage and ensaye). Sales tax collections (alcabalas of all sorts) reflect commercial activity in the treasury district. Port taxes (almojarifazgos) in Lima (Callao), Piura y Paita, Saña, and Trujillo provide an index to traffic and trade in these coastal harbors. Ecclesiastical officeholders paid salary taxes and subsidies to the Crown including the media anata eclesiástica, mesada eclesiástica, and subsidio eclesiástico. The church bore other tax burdens as well by contributing portions of the income from major and minor ecclesiastical benefices (vacantes mayores and vacantes menores) income from the sale of the liquid wealth of a bishop who has departed his office (espoleos) and two-ninths of one-half of the tithe reserved as crown income (novenos). Toward the end of the eighteenth century bishoprics contributed fixed assessments to the crow for the support of the Real Orden de Carlos III, also called the pensión carolina. Payment for the sale, renunciation, or rental of civil offices (oficios vendibles y renunciables) of royal treasury officials, members of the cabildo (regidores), public scribes, and lesser bureaucrats was another source of income as was the tax of a half-year salary for the first year in office (media anata) levied on all royal officials. 9

Renueves from host of royal monopolies provided sustenance for the royal cajas or Peru. These incluided such things as alum (alumbre), snow (nieve), playing cards (naipes), copper (cobre), cockfighting (juego de gallos), bull fighting (plaza de toros,) stamped legal paper (papel sellado), salt (sal or salinas), lotteries (lotería), leather (cordobanes), tobacco (tabaco), and the all-important mercury (azogue) used in the amalgamation of silver. The sale of indulgences (bulas de santa cruzada and bulas cuadragesimales) helped fill the royal exchequer as well, as did monies paid for legalization and sale of land titles (composición de tierras,) taxes on foreign residents (composición de extranjeros) and store licenses (pulperías). Indians were exempt from most taxes, but they paid tribute (tributos) and other assessments such as the tomín de hospital or contribución de hospital to support Indian hospitals in Lima and Cuzco. At the end of the eighteenth century assessments were commonly made also on a military or civil official´s salary for pensions of widows, orphans, and retirees (montepío de ministros, montepío de oficinas, inválidos, montepío militar, etc.).

Entries on the incomes of the ledger were not always revenues, but sometimes included temporary infusions of money in the royal caja, monies available to the royal treasury officials during the period of the account. Sometimes these were sums left over from the previous years such as existencia or alcances de cuentas; sometimes these were sums deposited as guarantees (depositos); sometimes these were loans set down as préstamos, préstamos patrióticos, emprestitos, suplementos de real hacienda, and imposiciones de capitales. Sometimes accountants listed uncollected debts as income: debido de cobrar, debido de cobrar años anteriores, debido de cobrar esta cuenta, etc. Sometimes sums listed as income actually entered the treasury only temporarily for exchange into coins, and such cases equel amounts were usually listed as outgo on the data side of the ledger. For Lima trueques de barras or cambios de plata were the most common.

In many Peruvian accounts extraordinario was an entry of great magnitude and great importance. Technically the extraordinario ramo was for renenues entering the caja for which there was no existing ramo. In 1750, for example, extraordinary income in the Lima caja amounted to 364,945 pesos or about twenty percent of the income for that year. Among other things extraordinario included income from the sale of mercury and of surplus wood from the shipyards at Guayaquil, sale for tin, return of unpaid salaries, seizure and sale of goods confiscated from English smugglers, license fees of a Spanish captain wishing to sail from Callao to Buenos Aires, and the remissions of extraordinario income from Cuzco, La Paz, and Oruro. As the eighteenth century wore on and new ramos appeared, however, the amounts included in extraordinario became smaller, and in Lima by 1786 the entry disappeared entirely. Still extraordinario was vitally important in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a catch-all category for special taxes collected in Peru.

On the data or expenditure side entries are as revealing as those on the income side. Expenditures included salaries of all public officials serving in the caja district such as the viceroy, oidores and alcaldes del crimen of the royal audiencias, regidores, royal treasury officials, porters, guards, and a host of other civil officials serving in Peru. The account summaries also included expenses of these same officials for pen, paper, and ink (gastos del escritorio or gastos de real hacienda) as well as the rental or repair of the quarters they used (alquiler de casas reales or reparos de casas reales). Salaries and expenses for military and naval purposes fell under such categories as war (guerra), military salaries (sueldos militares), militia support (milicias), regular troops (tropa arreglada), arms (sala de armas), ship expenses (gastos de navios or marina), and other similar items. Another vital defense expenditure from the Lima caja was the subside (situado) for Chile, Chiloé, Concepción, Panama, and Valdivia, while still another costly expense for the Lima treasury was maintaining and improving the Huancavelica mercury mine (gastos de Huancavelica).

Support of the clergy and their charitable and educational work took funds from the royal treasury, but in smaller amounts than defense. These included funds allocated to the clergy for parish or mission work (sínodos, spinodos de doctrinas, sínodos de misiones, limosnas del vino y aceite, mercedes y situaciones, etc.). Hospital allocations appear in the summaries as tómin del hospital and contribución del hospital for the Indian hospitals of Lima and Cuzco and for other hospitals as hospital real or hospital militar. Expenditures for educational enterprises appear under such categories as colegio seminario, Universidad de San Marcos, situaciones de la universidad, etc. Sometimes officials serving in Peru whose families lived in Spain received income from the Lima treasury as asignaciones para España, while widows, orphans, retirees, and invalids received support from the montepíos, inválidos, and other pension funds. In some cases, particularly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, royal revenues, even those from the interior cajas, went for pious work in Spain such as San Lorenzo del Escorial, San Isidro de Madrid, or the building of the Palacio del Oriente by Philip V. Remissions to other treasuries were also listed on the expenditure side of the ledger, and for treasuries outside of Lima, particularly those in mining areas, these sums could be very high. In fact more than 90 percent of the income some treasuries was surplus, since administrative and military expenses were very low. For the interior accounts these entries appear as remitido a Lima, otras tesorerías, or remitido a otras cajas. Finally, the Lima accounts also document remissions from Peru to Spain (remitido a Castilla).

In most cases expenditures from a specific ramo normally indicated the costs of collection for that ramo. For example, in most cases the listining of alcabala expenditures indicate costs of collection of that tax. But this is, unfortunately, not always the case. Sometimes the listing on the data side will be for salaries and major expenses paid from that ramo. Instead of being listed as salaries (sueldos) or expenses (gastos), they will simply be listed as outgo from the ramo which provided the funds. In Cuzco in 1783, for example, the account lists 55,402 pesos expended from the ramo of alcabalas. This amount was not the costs of collection, which was a mere trifle. This sum was spent for administrative salaries, military salaries and expenses, and a host of other purposes; yet in the account on the expenditure side, the only listing is alcabalas 55,402 pesos disbursed. After 1787 or 1788, however, most accountants began listing the actual purposes for which royal revenues were spent. Also, fortunately, the Lima accounts normally listed the actual purpose of the expenditure throughout the history of the caja. Another problem arises over the vagaries of accountants and accounting procedures, which differed from accountant to accountant and treasury to treasury. Some accountants, for example, listed only net income on the cargo side, only the sum remaining after all expenses and salaries had been paid. This was true, for example, of tribute income report in Arequipa in the early part of the eighteenth century, where only the net income from tribute was listed after subtracting payments for sínodos and other expenses. Sometimes, also, accountants ignored the carry-over categories such as existencia and listed monies collected in previous years as current income. Sometimes too accountants changed their ways of naming certain entries. In Lima, for example, the entry for sales taxes disappears after 1786 and was included in the ramo of other treasuries (otras tesorerías), since the sales taxes came from the newly created customs house or aduana. Still another problem was the listing of all income or outgo in an aggregate form as real hacienda, marking it impossible to determine the specific sources of revenues or allocations of tax monies on the data side.

Double-entry bookkeeping began in Peru in 1787 and created chaos and turmoil among imperial record keepers until the system became standardized throughout most of the viceroyalty. 10 One of the innovations brought into the accounting system with the advent of the double-entry method was the addition of a new ramo, real hacienda en común. For the Lima accountants real hacienda en común was a category representing the sums available for disbursement after expenses had been paid from each ramo. In other words in income from tribute amounted to 15,000 pesos and expenditures from this ramo were 10,000 pesos, 5,000 would be entered in the ramo of the real hacienda en común. All such sums were the added together and appeared in the summary as real hacienda común. On the data side in Lima real hacienda en común consisted of the total for disbursements for which there were no ramos on the cargo side or disbursements made from a ramo which were larger than the sums produced by the ramo during the account year. For example, royal treasury salaries (sueldos de real hacienda) had no entry on the income side of the ledger and were placed on the sata side twice, once as sueldos de real hacienda and again aggregated into the real hacienda de común category. In other treasuries, however, real hacienda en común served a different purpose, either as the catch-all ramo like extraordinario in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries or as a carry-over category like existencia.

Closely tied to the establishment of double-entry bookkeeping was the breakdown of the ramos within each caja into three divisions: ramos of the royal treasury (ramos de real hacienda), special ramos, (ramos particulares), and assigned ramos (ramos ajenos). These distinctions prevailed through much of the eighteenth century, but toward the end of the century they were more clearly differentiated by colonial accountants. The ramos de real hacienda were the major sources of income for imperial use in Peru and were the ramos or mining taxes, tribute, sales taxes, some royal monopolies, import-export taxes, some fines, and other royal exactions. These tax revenues supported royal officials in Peru, paid the expenses of the imperial governmentt, and maintained the military and naval estabilishment in the viceroyalty. Ramos particulares, labeled also second-class ramos, consisted of taxes allocated by the crown for specific purposes which could not be used as general operating funds by royal treasury officials. In Lima and elsewhere, these included such taxes as the media anata eclesiástica, mesada eclesiástica, vacantes mayores, vacantes menores, sale of mercury from the mines of Almadén, revenues from the sale of playing cards and tobacco, and discounts from soldiers salaries used to support incapacitated or retired soldiers (inválidos). The third category, assigned ramos or ramos ajenos, was for those revenues allocated for specific purposes either in Spain or Peru itself. Among these were the Royal Order of Charles III assessed on each bishopric in Peru, the sale of the liquid wealth of a retiring or dead prelate, the payment of the tomín for the Indian hospitals of Peru, pension funds, and señoreaje tax (real en marco de minería) set aside exclusively for the promotion and development of mining. In theory, and by law, revenues from the ramos particulares and ramos ajenos could not be used for general purposes within the treasury districts of the viceroyalty: they were assigned specifically to the crown or to certain institutions or individuals. In fact, however, they were often shifted into to the ramos de real hacienda, especially in the early nineteenth century when there was considerable movement of funds from one section of the treasury to another to cover increased imperial expenses.

A quick survey of the accounts in this volume reveals that the summaries for some caja districts are remarkably complete, while others are only spotty. This is not easy to explain. Royal accountants normally kept three sets of books: one for the royal treasury itself, one for the Tribunal de Cuentas in Lima, and a third for the Contaduria Mayor of the Council of the Indies in Spain. Thus, there should have been three identical copies: one in the seat of the caja, one in Lima and one in Sevilla in the Archive of the Indies. For some cajas like Lima the series is surprisingly complete. Beginning in 1580, when these ledgers first began to take a formal structure 11 , and ending in 1820, the last year of Spanish rule in Peru, the accounts have been found for all but eight-and-a-half years, four of these in the nineteenth century. For the other cajas, unfortunately, there are larger gaps, particularly for the seventeenth century. Strangely, a great many accounts exist for the late sixteenth century for the cajas established early in the colonial period, but there are vast lacunae for the first three quarters of the seventeenth century. The series for the treasury of Cuzco, for example, begins in 1571, and although there are gaps, they are not significant until 1609 then the accounts disappear almost completely until 1676. The same is true for the other treasuries of Arequipa, Cailloma, Huancavelica, Puira y Paita, and Trujillo. On a more positive note, the accounts are virtually complete for all cajas for the eighteenth century. Undoubtedly some of the summaries will never appear and have been lost in bottom of the Pacific, Caribbean, or Atlantic or used to fuse a cañoncito in a local fiesta. 12 Other, however, are bound to appear as more and more of the materials in the Real Hacienda Section of the Archivo Histórico Nacional in Lima are catalogued. Perhaps then the yawing gaps for the seventeenth century and the lesser lacunae for the epoch of independence will be filled.

Money of Account


Accountants in Peru in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries kept their ledgers in a variety of monies. Unlike Mexico where the peso de ocho (of eight reales) was the standard accounting unit throughout the colonial period, Peru incorporated the peso ensayado, peso de ocho, peso del oro, peso ensayado de 12-1/2 reales, peso de 9 reales, peso de 10 reales, ducado, peso corriente, and other monetary units into their records. Mostly, however kept accounts in pesos de ocho reales, pesos ensayados of 450 maravedís, and peso del oro of different quilates or gold content, the three basic types of money used for the accounts in this volume. By the middle of the eighteenth century, however, the peso ensayado had fallen into disuse, and in 1764 pesos del oro disappear from Peruvian accounts, leaving the peso de ocho as the standard accounting unit troughout Peru and the entire empire.

In Spain and the Indies, the standard unit of account was the maravedí. Monies shipped from the Indies to Spain were always accounted for in Spain in maravedís to enable peninsulars to convert the value of colonial coins or bullion into units of currency used in Spain. In the Indies throughout the colonial period a peso de ocho was 272 maravedís and a peso ensayado 450 maravedís. Eight reales made one peso de ocho; each real thus contained 34 maravedís. One peso ensayado valued 1.6544 pesos de ocho. Pesos corrientes, a common unit of account in the sixteenth century, contained 400 maravedís to 1574 but dropped in value to 288 maravedís by the end of the century. Pesos de oro, ordinarily but not always of 22-1/2 quilates, increased in value. From 1580 through 1612 the peso del oro was equal to 2.0441 pesos de ocho or 556 maravedís; 1613-1642, 2.1177 pesos de ocho or 576 maravedís; 1643-1648, 2.5 pesos de ocho or 680 maravedís; 1689-1724, 3.125 pesos de ocho or 850 maravedís; and 1774-1800 approximately 3.085 pesos de ocho or about 840 maravedís. The value of a gold peso varied greatly in different regions, however. 13 For the most part, the different types of monies used have been converted to one of the three currencies used in the accounts, but with some exceptions. All gold pesos no matter what their gold content were lumped together as pesos de oro. Also, in the seventeenth century some Peruvian accounts occasionally used the peso ensayado of 12 -1/2 reales. When this occurred, the accounts were not converted but appear as pesos ensayados of 450 maravedís in the summaries. This was made necessary because it was not always clear in the accounts whether the peso ensayado was the standard unit of 450 maravedís or of 12-1/2 reales.

In terms of the fineness the crown tampered very little with the colonial monetary system in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In fact the peso de ocho or peso ensayado was never devalued in the Indies, only debase, and this debasement did not come until the eighteenth century. In fact over two centuries (1525-1728) the peso de ocho consisted of 25.561 grams of fine silver. Cheating, mistakes in weighing or assay, and other reasons caused a wide variance in the fineness of the coins coming from certain colonial mints 14 , but bay law the amount of fine silver in a peso de ocho or peso ensayado was precisely established. In 1728, however, Philip V ordered the first debasement of colonial coins, calling for a reduction in fineness of a peso de ocho from 25.562 grams to 24.908 grams. From 1772 to 1786 the peso de ocho was further debased to 24.433 grams, and after 1786 to the end of the colonial period in 1825 to 24.245. this meant that over the eighteenth century the silver content of a peso ocho decreased by about 1.3 grams or about 4 percent.

Methods Used to Compile the Accounts


The account summaries in this volume were compiled by a team of researchers working with documents found in the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla and the Archivo Nacional del Peru and the Sala de Manuscritos of the Biblioteca Nacional in Lima. This team first examined all bundles of documents (legajos) with any prospect of containing an account summary of income and outgo. Those with summaries were then microfilmed, or in some cases copied by hand in they were illegible or unable to be microfilm. Sometimes, too, the team made handwritten copies from the individual ramos when summaries were missing. In the case of Lima accounts after 1786 and all others sing a double-entry system, the team made hand copies so as to conform to the previous method of accounting which used the standard cargo and data method. The material was coded in the following way. Each tax for every summary as assigned a code number and put into cargo (income) and data (outgo) categories. Income from alcabalas reales for example, became 19C, outgo from the same ramo 13D; for tributes reales 8845C indicated cargo and 8844D data. Ultimately the codebook grew to some 8,000 separated income and outgo entries. The coding sheet also indicated the location of the document and bundle number (legajo); inclusive dates of the account summary (month and years); a tax code number of the entry followed by a C or D for cargo or data; the amount of the entry in pesos de ocho, pesos ensayados, and pesos del oro, depending upon the account unit used by the original accountant; and a grouped tax code which assigned over 8,000 tax entries to one of forty-four tax or expenditure categories. Computer cards were then punched from these sheets, and the summaries reproduced in machine-readable form on computer printouts, including also a computed total (total computado) to aid in the checking process. Each printout was then compared closely with the copyflow reproduction of the original account to determine the accuracy of the document location, dates of the record, entry name, and the amounts collected or spent for each entry. This cleaning, editing, and correcting process was then repeated several times until the computer printout conformed exactly to the original account.

Thus, the account summaries in this volume are exact replicas of the original accounts with a few minor changes. First, the original accounts were in pesos, tómines (reales), and granos with eight tomines equaling one peso and twelve granos one tómin. The printed accounts, however, were rounded off to the nearest peso. For example, if an entry appeared in the original account as 16 pesos 5 tómines 6 granos, it would appear as 17 pesos in the computer summary. If an entry was 26 pesos 3 tómines 8 granos, it would be listed in the printout as 26 pesos. Entries of four or more tómines were rounded off to the next peso, explaining in part the small discrepancies between the accountants' original totals and the computed totals. Second, to assist the researcher, the entries have been placed in alphabetical order; the originals were not in that form. Third, wherever possible, entries have been standardized. Although thus was not always possible, it was done whenever it was most obvious. For example, new indulgences providing the crown with income in the late eighteenth century were called bulas cuadragesimales and sometimes were referred to as bulas de carne, since they provided exemptions from restrictions on eating meat during Lent. Bulas de carne, are always listed in this volume as bulas cuadragesimales. Also, tribute from vacant encomiendas has almost always been entered as tributos vacos. A fourth change was necessitated because or programming restrictions which limited the length or character entries. This created the need for abbreviations, and a List of Abbreviations follows this introduction. A fifth difference was the necessity, in a few cases, to aggregate certain entries. Sometimes accounts summaries listed the individual salaries of officials and soldiers within a caja district. In such cases salaries were aggregated into their more general category. A final innovation was to add a computer total (total computado) for every account, a total for both the income and outgo sides of the ledger. Where the computer totals and the accountant's totals do not agree or cold not be reconciled, the differences have remained. Where there is no accountant's total, the account summary is complete for some reason. Basically, however, the summaries are in their rawest form as originally set down by the accountant and his aides in the royal caja district.

Besides the entries and amount of revenue or payment, the printed summaries provide other information. In the upper left-hand corner of each account are numbers or letters preceded by an S or L. An S indicates that the account is located in Sevilla in the Archivo General de Indias and an L that the account is located in Lima in the Archivo Nacional del Peru or the Biblioteca Nacional. Thus an L BN indicates that the manuscript reposes in Lima at the Biblioteca Nacional. The number following indicates the bundle or legajo number. For documents in Sevilla, the summaries to 1760 or thereabouts come from the Contaduría Section of the Archivo de Indias, after 1760 they may be found in the Audiencia of Lima or Audiencia of Cuzco sections of the same archive. In the Contaduría Section the accounts for Peru are found in legajos 1679-1873. For the Audiencia of Lima Section, accounts are located in legajos 38-50. Many of the accounts from the Archivo Nacional del Peru come from un-catalogued material. If so they are designated L RH. Others come from the Royal Hacienda Section of the Archivo Histórico, a part of the ledger Archivo Nacional, and have been catalogued and numbered; others come from the Sección Colonial del Archivo Histórico del Ministerio de Hacienda y Comercio, previously in the basement of the Palacio de Justicia in Lima but now incorporated into the Archivo Histórico of the Archivo Nacional. For these latter materials the former Director, Federico Schwab, has compiled an excellent catalogue: Catálogo de la Sección Colonial del Archivo Histórico (Lima: Imprenta Torres Aguirre, 1944).

Also included in the printed summaries are the inclusive dates for the accounts, rounded off to the nearest month. Although they were kept by calendar year in Lima after 1700 and in other parts of Peru in the 1760s, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they were either for irregular periods, ranging from a month or two to three or more years, usually geared to the departure of the Armada del Sur from Callao to Panama, or from the first of May to the end of April. If an account for fifteen or more days in a month, that account was listed as being for a whole month. If it ran for less than fifteen days, it was not included as part of the account period. Thus an account which ran from May 19, 1685 to May 1, 1687, reads 6/1685-4/1687; one which ran from May 11, 1589 to May 21, 1591, reads 5/1589-5/1591. In conclusion, this volume is a part of a ledger project to compile and publish the account summaries for five regions of the Spanish empire in America: Mexico, Peru, Upper Peru (Bolivia), Chile, and the Río de la Plata (Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay). For Mexico three volumes of account summaries for the twenty-three cajas of Mexico have been published by the Secretaría de Hacienda in Mexico City. At the same time, for those who wish to use the data in machine-readable form, the accounts are available in various data banks throughout the United Stated. These repositories are Duke University, Columbia University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Florida, and the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. We view these account data as vitally important, fundamental for the understanding of the development of the Spanish empire in America over time and space and of the regional economies within that vast structure. These data should also increase significantly our understanding of the world economy and the world economy system in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.



A large project calling for the compilation and checking of over a quarter of a million of pieces of numerical data demands a great deal of financial and personal backing. This project was no exception, and we had unusually strong support from a number of institutions and individuals. First and most significant was the financial support of the Tinker Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Without their assistance, the compilation of account summaries would not have been possible. Other support came from de Duke University Committee on International Studies and the Duke University Research Council, whose grants made it possible to determine the feasibility of the project and carry on some of the early research. To determinate the project, the American Philosophical Society provided assistance to Professor TePaske for research in Sevilla to determine the vagaries of accounting methods, meaning of certain entries, tax rates, and other questions which the work of compilation had left open. Both Duke University and Columbia University provided ample amounts of computer monies for card punching and computer time essential to the project.

A large number of individuals contributed to the work of the project. In Spain Rosario Parra, Director of the Archive of the Indies, and her entire staff cooperated in very way, both in the work of compilation and in providing the microfilm of the summaries. In Spain also, Dr. José Jesús Hernández Palomo, his wife Mariluz, and Dr. G. Douglas Inglis served as liaison consultants in Sevilla when problems arose during the course of compilation and checking. In Peru Dr. Guillermo Durán Flórez of the Archivo Nacional del Peru, Graciela Sánchez Cerro, Director of the Sala de Manuscritos of the Biblioteca Nacional, and their staffs assisted greatly in our acquiring accounts which could not be found in Sevilla. In the United States a multitude of colleagues, students, family members, and friends labored over various aspects of the project. Dr. Miles Wortman directed the team of researchers which began the initial work of compilation in Sevilla in 1975-1976, a team consisting of Kenneth Andrien, Dr. Josefina Tiryakian, and Kendall W. Brown. Subsequently, Brown took the major responsibility for coding and preparing many of the summaries in this volume. Kathy Ames, Pamela Landreth, Ellen Thompson, Nancy Smith, Marcella Litle, Neomi TePaske, Marianna TePaske, Susan TePaske-King, and Michael Jones aided in the tasks of coding, card punching, and interminable checking of the printed summaries with the original accounts. Marion Salinger of the Duke University Center for International Studies helped in innumerable ways throughout the life of the project, and Dorothy Sapp, always a helpmate and friend, provided assistance in a variety of tasks and was invaluable in preparing this volume for publication. At the Duke University Computation Center, Heath Tuttle, Gary Grady, Mildred Phillips, Andy Beamer, Amy McElhaney, Ellen Lenox, and Neal Paris gave generously of their time, advice, and expertise over a long period to guarantee the success of the technical aspects of the project. At the Duke University Press Anne Poole, John Menapace, and Ed Hayes helped immeasurably. A subside from the University Research Council of Duke University made possible the publication both of this volume and the other two in the series. For the errors which will inevitably occur-and in a work like this they are bound to occur-we are solely responsible.

John TePaske, Duke University
Herbert S. Klein, Columbia University



1. For a detailed survey of the Spanish metropolitan royal treasury, see Jacques A. Barbier and Herbert S. Klein, “Revolutionary Wars and Public Finances: The Madrid Treasury, 1784 – 1807,” Journal of Economic History 41 (June, 1981) :315 – 339; and José de Canga Argüelles, Diccionario de Hacienda, 5 Vols. (London. 1826 – 27). Continuar leyendo

2. Ismael Sánchez Bella, La organización financiera de las Indias (siglo XVI) (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano – Americanos, 1968). This is an excelent treatment of the early development of the real hacienda system in the Indies prior to the creation of the Tribunal de Cuentas in México, Santa Fé de Bogotá, and Lima in 1605. For the structure and functioning of the Peruvian treasuries in particular, see Gaspar de Escalona Agüero, Gazofilacio real del Perú, tratado financiero del coloniaje (1647) 4th ed. (La Paz, Editorial del Estado, 1941). Continuar leyendo

3. Sánchez Bella, Organización financiera, pp. 59 – 69. This provides a good description of the organization and responsibilities of the Tribunal de Cuentas. On the role of investigators in preventing fraud and insuring honest administration of the royal cajas, see Amalia Gómez Gómez, Las visitas de la Real Hacienda novohispana en el reinado de Felipe V (1710 - 1733) (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano – Americanos, 1979). Continuar leyendo

4. a basic study of the structure, development and functioning of the real hacienda for the entire colonial period is badly needed. Sánchez Bella’s Organización financiera is excellent for institutional development in the sixteenth century, and Escalona Agüero’s Gazofilacio provides a good summary of the Peruvian treasury system in the early seventeenth century. After that, however, one must rely on a variety of disparate sources. The most useful work on the various ramos of the royal trasuries besides Libro II, Parte II of the Gazofilacio is that of Fabian de Fonseca y Carlos de Urrutia, Historia general de Real Hacienda, 6 vols. (México: Vicente G. Torres, 1845 - 53). A companion work is Alberto María Carreño, ed., Compendio de la historia de la Real Hacienda de Nueva España. Escrito en el año de 1794 por D. Joaquín Maniau (México: Imprenta de la Secretaría de Industria y Comercio, 1914). Although they emphasize México, these two works help explain the development of the various ramos of the real hacienda over time and the meaning of many entries contained in the sumarios of the accounts- For the laws and regulations governing the real hacienda, there are a number of useful primary sources. For the late sixteenth century one may consult Alfonso García Gallo, ed., Cedulario Indiano. Recopilado por Diego de Encinas, Oficial Mayor de la Escribanía de Cámara del Consejo Supremo y Real de las Indias, Libro Tercero (Madrid: Ediciones de Cultura Hispánica, 1946), pp. 244 – 323; Juan de Solórzano Pereyra, Política Indiana, vol. II (Madrid: Gabriel Ramírez, 1739), pp. 423 – 521; and the Recopilación de leyes de los Reynos de las Indias, 3 vols. (Madrid: Consejo de la Hispanidad, 1943), specially Libro VIII, tomo 2. Also useful are the two volumes of Josef de Ayala, Diccionario de gobierno y legislación de Indias, 2 vols. (Madrid: Compañía Ibero-Americana de Publicaciones, S.A., 1929). For eighteenth century, two sources are valuable in spelling out changes in the administration of royal treasury and the rates of the various taxes imposed by the crown in the Indies: Reglamento para el comercio libre, 1778 (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1978) and Gisela Morazzani de Pérez Enciso, ed., Las ordenanzas de intendentes de Indias (Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, Facultad de Derecho, 1972). A synchronic study valuable for an understanding of the workings of the royal treasuries is Herbert S. Klein, “Structure and Profitability of the Royal Finance in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1790, ” Hispanic American Historical Review 53 (August, 1973) : 440 – 469. A full study of the Royal treasury system is still badly needed however. Also for a different schedule for the royal officials Continuar leyendo

5. The exact dates for the establishment of the reales cajas are not clear. The dates picked in this introduction have been chosen primarily because they are the dates for the first accounts. In fact, the treasuries may have been operating much longer than the dates established here. Continuar leyendo

6. Kendall W. Brown has pointed out, for example, that the first accounts for Arequipa appear at the very end of the sixteenth century but that the real caja of Arequipa was in operation long before then. See Kendall W. Brown, The Economic and Fiscal Structure of Eighteenth – Century Arequipa (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1979), pp. 16 – 17. Continuar leyendo

7. Brown, Economic and Fiscal Structure, pp. 17 – 18. Continuar leyendo

8. For the establishment of the intendancy system in Peru and its effects on the royal treasuries, see J. R. Fisher, Government and Society in Colonial Peru: The Intendent System, 1784 – 1814 (London: The Athlone Press, 1970), pp. 100 – 123. Continuar leyendo

9. Of course a large number of taxes, and major taxes such as alcabalas, royal monopolies, and others, were farmed out to individuals or institutions during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries. On the basis of contracts (asientos) made between individuals or institutions with the officials of the royal caja, a lump sum would be deposited in the treasury by the asentista either annually or on prescribed dates throughout the year. Thus, income from many of these taxes like the alcabalas may not actually reflect the actual, immediate level of commercial activity, although over time as a secular trend, they do reveal changes in the actual conditions of the economy. Continuar leyendo

10. A good example of the chaos the new regulation created can be seen in the account for the Lima caja in 1787 with its host of cross outs, emendations, corrections, and other scribblings which demonstrate Continuar leyendo

11. Accounts are extant for Lima and Cuzco for the period prior to the beginning of the accounts in this volume. These accounts, however, either had a very loose structure with the account summaries being far too general to be included or they were far too specific, resembling more a libro manual because of the specificity of each entry. The latter is true, for example, of the 1541 account for the caja of Cuzco. Normally, we have started listening the summaries when they take on a standard structure.Continuar leyendo

12. On the care of documents, see the article by Hernando Sanabria Fernández “Los archivos de Santa Cruz,” in J. TePaske et al., eds., Research Guide to Andean History: Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1981): 35 – 44.
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

14. In fact, contracts by traders in the Middle East and the Far East in the seventeenth century often specified the coins of Spanish colonial mints from which they wanted payment for their goods. Potosí was a particular favorite of these traders.Continuar leyendo