Aranda's memorandum: 3 kings under 1 empire

Chapter I: The memorandum
The Count of Aranda
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Aranda was a former prime minister of Spain. He had taken control of the country after the Motín de Esquilache. His ability to renegotiate the demands with the uprisers and to pacify the situation made him the right hand of Charles the III of Spain during a certain part of his reign.

Aranda was part of the enlightened reformists ministers that were common in the reign of Charles the III. During his time as prime minister he focused mostly on an agrarian reform, the colonization of Sierra Morena with German immigrants, to promote and support las Sociedades Económicas Amigas del País which had the aim of promoting the scientific and technical developments of the enlightenment, the expulsion of the Jesuits and the first population census of Spain.

However, he asked Charles to become an ambassador in Paris as his views didn’t align with the king’s.

After negotiating the 1783 peace of Paris to stop the hostilities with the United Kingdom and to officially recognize the 13 colonies as a sovereign entity, the Count of Aranda saw the writing on the wall and started writing a letter to his king.

The memorandum [1]

The count wrote

“This federal republic was born a pygmy, so to speak, and has needed the support and strength of two states as powerful as Spain and France to achieve its independence. A day will come when it grows and becomes a giant, and even a fearsome colossus in the region. Then this republic will forget the benefits it has received from us and will only think about his expansion. The American republic will first try to seize out Florida to dominate the Gulf of Mexico. After bothering us like this and our relations with New Spain, it will aspire to conquer your vast empire, which we will not be able to defend against a formidable power established on the continent.

[…]

To combat the new republic your majesty should give up all the possessions of the continent of America, keeping only the islands of the Caribbean, in order that they serve as stopovers or warehouses for trade.

To keep some control over your former possessions you should send three infants and crown them kings of your different kingdoms. One as the King of Mexico, one as the king of Peru and the latter as the king Tierra Firme, while his majesty becomes their liege and becomes an emperor.”

The reception
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The loss of the colonies was a common theme in the Spanish court. The American domains were the most valuable asset that the Spanish crown had, and it is importance with regards to the national finances, economy and emerging manufacturing sector made the subject of an eventual secessions one of the biggest concerns that the crown had at the moment.

When Charles the III received the letter, he had serious doubts about the plan. His current reforms had boosted the trade amongst the colonies to a historical high and the mining revolution was supporting a large population growth all over the Americas.

However, the rebellion of Tupac Amaru and the growing discontent among his American subjects were something that concern him deeply, as they had the potential of destroying the legacy he was trying to build.

After some thinking, he called Aranda to court to discuss the topic amongst his most trusted advisors.

The congress of Aranjuez



Charles called his main ministers to discuss the topic in the palace of Aranjuez. During the congress 3 different factions became apparent the colonials lead by the Galvez family, the unionists lead by Floridablanca and the autonomists lead by Aranda [2].

The colonists defended the status quo. They believed that criollos had used the lack of crown authority to enrich themselves while hurting the institutions in America. The colonist believed in the current status quo and believed that Spain would benefit the most by guiding the Americans and putting Peninsulares in places of power.

On the other hand, the autonomists believed that the independence of the American colonies was inevitable due logistics and practical reasons. As such they wanted a peaceful independence.

The unionists believed in a bihemispherical monarchy in which the American viceroyalties became integrated with Spain by equalizing the citizens from the Americas to the Spanish. The unionists stood up as a third way to try to preserve the unity of the empire as it was. To do this they supported stablishing quotas of criollos in top positions of the administration (both in America and Spain) and to use the university system to create a common bond between continental Spain and the Americas.

After 3 months of discussion, it became apparent that the arguments of the colonists were flawed. The precedent of the rebellion in the 13 colonies and reports like the one brought up by José Ábalos, made apparent to a lot of members of the congress that the current course of action would end up with a similar situation to the one that the British experienced with the 13 colonists. The unionist argument was also losing ground as it was seeing as a slow plan for an ever-closing threat, the fact that the issues that the ministry of the indies was growing at an alarming rate, didn’t help the case of Floridablanca either.

At the end of the congress Aranda’s party came on top and Charles and his trusted advisors started devising the plan.

The birth of 3 kingdoms and 1 empire
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Gabriel (left), Antonio Pascual (center) and Francisco Javier (right)
Charles and his team of ministries drew the plans to restructure his kingdoms. He would leave New Spain to the Infante Gabriel, Perú to Antonio Pascual and New Granada to Francisco Javier [3].

Each kingdom would pay tribute to the king of Spain to maintain a common navy that would be used to protect the trade of the different members of the empire. The emperor of Spain would manage the common navy and would directly control the islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Santo Domingo. These strategic islands would allow Spain to have a strong presence in the Caribbean and a base of operations from which they could enforce their policies and benefit from the trade that happened in America.

The emperor of Spain would deal with the foreign policy of the block while the kings would deal with the internal struggles of their different kingdoms, managing their own policies and managing their own budgets.

The 3 kings were meant to leave for Havana in a convoy that departed from La Coruña and assume kingship once they arrived at their respective kingdoms. The viceroys of La Plata, New Mexico, Granada and Perú were informed about their new kings. The plan had to be kept a secret to avoid any British interference in the shipping process.

On the 5th of March of 1784 the 3 infants left Spain and 80 days later they arrived at La Havana. After staying in the city for 1 week to rest, each brother would part separate ways. Gabriel would leave for Veracruz, Antonio Pascual would arrive to Panama and from there he would take a ship to Lima, and Francisco Javier would depart from Cartagena.

[1] The memorandum exits, however the validity of it has being questioned multiple times. As a side note Godoy believed on it firmly and wanted to execute the plan. The idea however wasn’t new and was introduced by Ábalos seeing the general tensions that already existed in America.

[2] The 3 factions did exist, however there was never a formal debate and the measures that got applied were related to the strongest minister. First Narvaez won, but then Floridablanca’s idea got traction which is why a lot of the libertadores fought in the Peninsular war before bidding for independence.

[3] In this timeline Francisco Javier survives the smallpox disease that killed him.
 
Hello guys, I thought this TL could be interesting as it has been widely unexplored as far as I could tell. I would like to focus this TL mostly on the new kingdoms (society,economics,politics,etc), but I will touch the most important events in world politics as well.
If anyone is interested I would continue the thread. I am doing my research on New Spain right now and the first 3 characters are about the first years of the reign of the new kings in their new kingdoms.
Let me know if you think the Idea is interesting or not.
 
Anything regarding Latin America is a fresh breath of air! Especially something as unique as this. I do wonder if a plan as grand as this could've gone over smoothly... but I suppose that's what this TL will explore!

You have at the very least piqued my interest.
 
Hello guys, I thought this TL could be interesting as it has been widely unexplored as far as I could tell. I would like to focus this TL mostly on the new kingdoms (society,economics,politics,etc), but I will touch the most important events in world politics as well.
If anyone is interested I would continue the thread. I am doing my research on New Spain right now and the first 3 characters are about the first years of the reign of the new kings in their new kingdoms.
Let me know if you think the Idea is interesting or not.
Looking forward to seeing where this goes. The Aranda Plan has always been something of a pet-favourite of mine
 
Chapter II: Gabriel and New Spain
Gabriel de Borbón

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Gabriel was the third son of Charles the III. He was known in the Spanish court as the most hardworking and intelligent son of the king. He was a man of high culture, and he was renown for his translations of the work of Sallust and his artistic and musical progress. His admiration for art, literature, music, and culture made him a true patron of the arts, and the most progressive and enlightened member of the Spanish Bourbons. His character and believes would shape New Spain deeply in an era of deep changes.


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La vendimiadora of Gabriel of Bourbon

Gabriel would inherit what was considered the crown jewel of the Spanish empire. New Spain was the wealthiest and most populated of the 3 kingdoms and it had the largest territorial claims after it inherited Louisiana after the 7 years’ war.


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Map of New Spain

The arrival in Veracruz

When Gabriel arrived in Veracruz the city had organized a big party for him. A lot of the local elite was happy about what they saw as a chance of getting back the power that the different Bourbon kings had stolen from them.

While the Habsburgs widely ignored and neglected the colonies, allowing criollos to occupy most positions of power, the Bourbons were much stricter with them enforcing strongly their regulations and laws to a wealthy economic elite that had dealt with a big deal of autonomy for most of their history.

The economic system of New Spain also relied a lot on economic concession from the crown as a lot of the economic activities were crown concessions and regulations from certain activities which made a lot of wealthy landowners, miners and merchants try to gather Gabriel’s good will when he arrived.

After spending 3 days in Veracruz and experiencing a bull fighting and a piano concert delivered by the king himself, Gabriel embarked on a 3-month trip around the different cities through the Mexican valley and the interior to meet the different regions of his kingdom before settling in Mexico City.

The political structure of New Spain
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Real Audiencia de Nueva España

The institutions of New Spain looked anachronistic to most Europeans at the time. The first striking difference that New Spain had with other places is that there was a different law, obligations and taxes depending on wherever you belong to la república de los indios (native communities in which the only interference of the crown was through the church) and la república de los españoles which encompassed the rest of the population (towns, villages, whites, mestizos, slaves, blacks,etc).

While most of the power, wealth, taxes, and manpower was gathered from la república de los españoles, 1/3 of the population of the New Spain lived in the native republics where the economy was very rudimentary, and they were ruled by a local chief. Each different republic had its own laws, obligations, and privileges (fueros) and the only relationship that they had with the monarchy was as tributary states to the crown.

The rest of the kingdom was ruled in the same fashion as continental Spain. The power emanated from the monarchy who delegated, for practical reasons, part of its tasks to a body of bureaucrats, or public workers that acted for him at a lower administrative level (corregidores, alcaldes mayores or gobernadores) while the local elites and the common man would represent themselves in institutions like the cabildos to communicate with these bureaucrats.

The other major institution in New Spain was the Real Audiencia which acted as the supreme court of the region, and dealt with criminal and civil lawsuits, as well as determining the right quantity to get from las repúblicas de los indios.

A lot of the top bureaucrats had been middle class European Spaniards after the Bourbon reforms, while in the past most of these positions were covered by affluent criollos that had bought the titles.

As Gabriel had a lot of power over New Spain he pursued enlightened policies, but as he believed that conflicts and wars were harmful to his kingdom, he always tried to find the balance between reforming and social peace, which made him avoid some of the structural problems of the country over growing and improving his lands.

The economy of New Spain

When Gabriel arrived, New Spain was mostly an agricultural country where most agriculture was done in a very basic and rudimentary way. A big part of the population (mostly the Indian republics) had a subsistence agriculture. However, over the years some large landowners (hacenderos) were managing to increase the agricultural output which was feeding the men and the livestock which were responsible for the economic boom that New Spain was experiencing when Gabriel arrived at the kingdom.

The hacenderos were the wealthiest men in the country, despite silver being the driving force of the economy during those years, the wealthiest people in New Spain were the hacenderos surpassing by a wide margin the net worth of most mine owners who had very unstable incomes due fluctuations of prices. The hacenderos were so wealthy that entire villages spawned around their land just to host the people that worked them. Most haciendas were still a closed economy (they produced and consumed everything internally) but over the years the excess of grain and tropical crops (such as tobacco or sugar) was getting larger and fueling the demographic growth.

At the beginning of the XVIII century the population of New Spain neared 3 million people while estimates put it at around 5.8 million people when Gabriel arrived at New Spain. The demographic recovery of the natives, the large birth rates of mestizos and criollos and the economic growth had contributed substantially to the economic growth of New Spain.

The production of silver had allowed the region to increase its international trade placing it around 60 million pesos annually, making the economy of New Spain diversify during these years (aided as well with the demographic growth due the increase agricultural yields). The urban population of New Spain grew to 11% (a percentage like that of continental Europe) which had allowed the surge of manufacturing in some of the cities. While some industries were heavily regulated like gunpowder or tobacco, a private textile industry was surging which was growing due the low cost of labor and accessibility of raw materials around the area. While Viceroys had tried to sabotage these manufacturing industries, they still managed to thrive and as there was no legal basis to prohibit them, they stayed open throughout the colonial rule.

The life in the fábricas could be very harsh for natives. A lot of times the owners refused to pay a full wage to the natives because “they would spend it all in alcohol after receiving the wage”, this excuse was used to pay the natives with food, accommodation and a very small wage while working under very harsh and exploitative conditions.

While slavery was very rare in New Spain (there were only registered 10,000 slaves in the country), a lot of the underclass composed mostly by indigenous people in la república de los españoles was treated very poorly by those who employed them. This treatment was justified institutionally as most of the natives leaving there were recent immigrants from the overpopulated Indian republics and their low level of Spanish paired with different cultural values made them be seeing as kids or uncivilized people by a lot of the hispanized society.


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Indios working in the countryside

While the hacenderos, the miners, the merchants and industry owners were getting substantially richer, the growing native population was barely seeing any of the fruits of the growth, which led to a lot of historians consider this period “a period of growth without development”. The republics in which most natives inhabited were uncapable of supporting the entire population growth that they were experiencing, which led to a lot of natives leaving their republics and move to haciendas, towns, and cities. This increase of low skill labor and economic inequality allowed New Spain to endeavor into very large projects relatively easily, as capital was very easy to raise and the cost of labor was getting lower which was leading to a general image of wealth all over the country, while the living conditions of some had not changed over the years.

Public finances

In 1784 the treasury had collected 19 million pesos.

The main source of the collected taxes was on the sale of certain monopolies such as weapons, cards, or paper letters (6.5 million pesos). However, the bulk of the sales on these monopolies was the one of tobacco which contributed 4.5 million pesos to the royal treasury. The downside of the state-run monopolies on products such as tobacco is that they had a high cost of production, as the supply chain of the state factories was very expensive overall. This meant that from every 2 pesos collected 1 was spent in covering the costs of production and distribution.

The second largest source of taxation was the tax on silver mining and coinage (5.5M pesos). While the tax rate had being reduced greatly during the years (from 1/5 under the Habsburgs to 1% in 1784), this stimulated the mining of silver and finding new mines. The lower cost of collection made the Quinto Real the main source of liquid taxation for the treasury.

The third source of tax collection was the alcabala (3 million pesos). The alcabala was a tax on any type of sale or transaction and had to be paid by the vendor.

The last main tax for the treasury was the tribute of the Indian republics, which was determined by the Audiencia and the privileges of the different ones (1.5 million pesos). It is important to note that this tribute was the only tax that the members of these states had to paid as they were exempt of any other tax such as the alcabala, which meant that the republics had a much smaller tax burden than whites, mestizos, hispanized natives and blacks.

While the crown was collecting 19 million pesos it ended up spending 6 million pesos in collection costs, 7 million pesos on internal costs (mostly split between military costs (4 million) and administrative costs), 3 million pesos on developing other Spanish colonies (Chile, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Phillipines) and 3 million pesos back to Spain in the form of remittances which was used to finance expenses like the navy or the military. When Gabriel took the throne the excess 3 million pesos for developing Spanish colonies was granted to him which meant he would have a large fiscal surplus to finance his projects. [1]

Finally, the crown relied on the figure of donativos in case there was a financial need. Donativos where usually donations from different sectors of society to finance crown projects. In exchange the crown tended to grant privileges to those who had aided the crown in times of need. New Spain was able to mobilize 7 million pesos for the American revolution through this figure, as the Viceroy tried to avoid using any sort of debt to mobilize funds.

Lending
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New Spain’s clergy

Lending in New Spain was mostly done by the church. As loans had to pay taxes (alcabala) the church started creating lines of credit (depositos irregulars) for the commercial class as these were tax exempt.

As the church was the main source of lending in New Spain, it became instrumental for the development of the economy as it gave liquidity to the growing economy of the region, however this also gathered them a lot of support and a lot of the newly founded haciendas became what was known as a capellanía, which had to pay part of its annual income to the church.

While the private sector could only access credit through the church, the treasury never engaged into public loans throughout the XVIII which is why it didn’t spend any money on interests of the debt.

Gabriel’s reforms

Gabriel was influenced by the enlightenment, but noticing the growth of New Spain, he tried to avoid any major conflict to continue and propel the economic growth of his kingdom. Even though Gabriel would end up enacting a lot of reforms, most of them were able to be done thanks to the immense size and wealth of his kingdom, rather than the merits of the own reforms themselves. The unique situation of New Spain allowed him to enable reforms without angering powerful members of society by using the excess tax expenditure that he encountered and the sparsely populated of the North and Louisiana.

The agrarian reform

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Design of the new towns of Louisiana

While growing up in Naples and living with his father in Madrid Gabriel was exposed to the principles of physiocrats that had influenced the reformists policies of his father with his agrarian reform and his colonization of Sierra Morena back in Spain. As such Gabriel got exposed to the reforms of Floridablanca, Campomanes and Jovellanos back in Spain and he planned to perform these measures in the sparsely populated lands of Louisiana to be able to export the excess grain to Mexico through the fluvial basin of the Mississippi.

The agrarian reform compromised of 4 pillars

  1. Making the land of Louisiana and the northern lands properties who could be bought or sell and would not be property of nobles or the church. The land would preferably be owned by families that would own mid-size parcels around villages built around enlightened urbanistic ideas where the presence of nobles, clergy or hacenderos would be highly reduced, to increase social cohesion.
  2. Liberalizing the market of cereals.
  3. Increase agricultural output to reduce famines in the more populated Mexico. If agricultural returns are large enough, a tax would be created on the agricultural output to create a stable stream of revenue for the crown.
  4. Support the agricultural expansion through an infrastructure program. In Louisiana roads would be created to communicate parcels with the towns on the basin of the Mississippi or its affluents while in Mexico roads would be improved to facilitate the transport of grain.
The agrarian reform would be financed with the excess revenues that the treasury obtained from the part of the budget that was transferred to other provinces. Mexico transferred towards Louisiana around 2 million pesos every year which were used to construct the villages and scout for areas that fitted the requirements for the settlement (proximity to a navigable river, fertile land, and temperate weather).

To populate the land and guaranteeing that Spanish was spoken in those lands Gabriel would allow urban mestizos and hispanized natives to populate the towns were all trade and facilities would be available while he sold the surrounding land to white catholic immigrants from his kingdom, Spain (emigration was limited but there was an influx of Canarians due a famine), catholic Germans, Acadians and Quebecois (who Gabriel had accepted to resettle in Louisiana) and Flemish colonists. To make sure that they would be able to afford it without falling under the control of the catholic church he would pair his agrarian reform with his financial reform.

The financial reform
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Market in Mexico City

The objectives of the financial reform where very clear.

  1. Eliminate the donativos for a more structure form of financing through debt. The donativos were a very erratic, unpredictable, and costly form of collecting money. Even though they were supposed to be donations, a lot of the privileges that the donors ended up asking became a lot more costly than a simple interest payment. For example, the miners of Puebla had made a considerable donation to the war against Britain during the American revolution, but they demanded to get a supply of Mercury at a fixed lower price and a tax exemption of the Quinto Real that costed the crown more than what the Spanish crown was paying in interests through the Vales Reales [2]
  2. Remove the lending monopoly by the catholic church. The church wielded a lot of power due this unofficial monopoly. Their ability to lend money to merchants and wealthy landowners slowed down the implementations of reforms and the crown authority which is why his father had expelled the Jesuits from the colonies.
To accomplish these objectives Gabriel wanted to create a local banking elite that would be able to bring liquidity to the local economy and to the government. To create these local banks, he pursued 2 main policies.

  1. The creation of the bank of Mexico to manage the debt of the royal treasury and guarantee the payments of all the loans contracted. All former donations would be abolished and exchanged for Vales Reales.
  2. Government loans would be asked to private citizens and enterprises. Due high-income inequality a lot of families in Mexico were wealthy enough to fund out of their own pocket a lot of the extraordinary expenses out of their own pocket. By making them lenders, Gabriel was expecting them to eventually form banks and permeate to other lending activities like the lines of credit or financing the purchase of land for families in Louisiana.
These policies had mixed results, but they were managed to tackle the objectives that Gabriel had set.

The 18 millionaires of Mexico [3] would form their own banks as government loans became a lucrative and simple enterprise, and this gave them experience in the lending business which poured to other sectors of the economy contesting the church’s monopolies. These banks started paying with their own IOU’s which were used all over Mexican cities and Louisiana as methods of payment which gave rise to parallel private money inside the country.

The continuous wars against France and the United Kingdom [4] made the public Treasury to spend a larger portion of its budget to paying interests of the contracted debt, but the high economic growth made repayments a lot simpler and palliated the burden that it had on the treasury. However, as donations were abolished the crown and citizens got used to a lower tax burden, the crown lost an interest free source of income in time of need.

Smuggling and illicit trade

Gabriel like his father believed that the United Kingdom was the natural enemy of his family and centered his trade policy around the principles of isolating them for the riches of his kingdom. The anti-Smuggling policies went through different phases throughout Gabriel’s kingdom.

  1. From 1784-1791 Gabriel increased the administrative body to fight and confiscate British goods throughout his kingdom. The policy ended up failing as it lacked popular support and smuggling was a much bigger problem than he anticipated and he lacked the resources to make a dent on it, even with his aggressive policy.
  2. From 1791-1794 Gabriel decided to implement a more pragmatic approach by creating a new tax on foreign goods that he would apply in what he considered nonfriendly nations. He would allow ships from the United States and the United Kingdom to use his ports, but their goods would have to pay the tarifa aduanera which made their goods more expensive. The ideas of this reform would continue in the next cycle, but the fall of the French monarchy and the shortage of supplies led him to a series of changes.
  3. From 1794 onwards Gabriel decided that to reduce the presence of manufactures of the UK he needed to reduce the need of imports of certain goods as the Spanish, New Granada and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies[] were unable to cover local demand. Gabriel liberalized and encouraged the manufactures of textiles, glass, and paper over his kingdom and devaluated the currency to make imports more expensive. When Gabriel arrived at the throne the manufacturing sector of New Spain had an output of around 9 million pesos while imports and smuggled goods were reported to be around 15 million pesos. After his reign the manufacturing sector had grown to produce 14 million pesos of goods while imports and smuggled goods had stagnated to around the same figure.
Administrative reforms

The administration in New Spain had been occupied by Peninsulares which was a source of tension in the region. Gabriel that had to criollizar his administration, concluded that the weight that Peninsulares had in New Spain was going to be a great source of problems. As such he decided that administrative positions should be obtained by passing a complicated series of exams or oposiciones to cover up these positions.

Even though the oposiciones tried to be meritocratic, they secured the position of wealthy criollos and Peninsulares as they were the only people that was able to afford the education and maintenance of their kids while they had to study for them.

Gabriel’s reign

Gabriel’s reign spawned from 1784 to 1812. His reign was known for its relative prosperity, economic growth, and development. During his reign a lot of cities got modernized, famines were reduced and smallpox sprees where reduced due the vaccination campaign [5].

While internationally New Spain got engaged in wars with France and the United Kingdom (like the rest of the Spanish empire) it managed to convincingly defeat the French and even occupy Haiti, while defending and supplying Havana, Veracruz, San Fernando and Louisiana properly against the wars with the British. He also covered a significant portion of the reconstruction of the Spanish fleet after its destruction in Trafalgar and he planned the Wilkinson plan [6] to secure the fluvial ways of the Mississippi [7].


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Mexico City during Gabriel’s reign

As a patron of the arts and sciences he promoted and financed las sociedades económicas y amigas del país that promoted art, music, and new innovations from Europe over New Spain. He created the royal pictorial museum in New Spain were there are multiple of his paintings, the royal auditorium and the national academy of science and engineering. As he experienced a period of growth and prosperity, he built his personal palace in the outskirts of Mexico and bought a lot of paintings from European artists to fill up his newly created museum.

Unlike his brothers, he refused to ban reformists and enlightened writings after the death of Louis XVI, which made Mexican society a lot more liberal and hungrier for more reforms and freedoms. At the end of his reign Gabriel created a small congress with little power to listen to the ideas and concerns of the different leaders of civil society and he en7]ded up allowing the cabildos to elect their own alcaldes in 1805.

While Gabriel had managed to keep the social order in New Spain a lot of the structural problems of the country still perdured after the end of his reign. The economic inequality kept rising and was a source of great tension, natives were still highly mistreated in the fábricas, the Indian republics were left intact which left a significant portion of the country under considerable underdevelopment, a lot of the land in Mexico was unproductive as it was not being used by the church or poorly maintained by hacenderos and corruption was still widespread.

[1] Spain would maintain the monopoly over the estancos which is how they would finance transfers of money to the imperial crown.

[2] The same measures were taken in mainland Spain. Viceroys avoided implementing this as they feared being punished if they left their Viceroyalty too indebted

[3] Mexico had 18 millionaires back then while the US had none. Economic inequality was much larger in Mexico and the wealthiest Mexicans were wealthier than most European nobles or even royalty. Antonio Bascosso was estimated to be wealthier than any banker in Europe and to have a comparable wealth to Rothschild.

[4] I will talk about them in a different character. This one was already too long

[5] Similar to the Expedición Filantrópica de la Vacuna in OTL

[6] I will talk about it in the US character. Keep in mind that the Wilkinson plot existed in OTL

[7] Free trade was granted to the Bourbon kingdoms (that was Aranda’s plan) and I will expand about New Granada in its episode
 

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Good morning guys. I have made a someone large update as there is a lot of literature about New Spain around this era and it is such a complex society that I believed that had to go over it as most people don't even know how it operated. I tried to apply Charles' reforms that he did on the mainland in New Spain, with the added bonus that Louisiana is a lot bigger, richer and prosperous than the Andalusian mountains. I hope you like the update and if you find any error feel free to point it out, I have used Von Humboldt's book about New Spain as my main source for the region in this chapter.
 
I wonder what Oregon Country will look like in this timeline, considering that Spain (as she controls the Foreign Policy of the bloc), can use the combined power of the bloc to eventually resettle Oregon at a later date.
 
he planned the Wilkinson plan [6] to secure the fluvial ways of the Mississippi [7].
[6] I will talk about it in the US character. Keep in mind that the Wilkinson plot existed in OTL
Definitely had to do some digging for this one. I had no idea about James Wilkinson before this, what a fascinating piece of history! So is this meant to imply that the intel he sold about the Lewis and Clark expedition results in Spanish patrols successfully capturing them, instead of failing as they did IOTL?
 
Definitely had to do some digging for this one. I had no idea about James Wilkinson before this, what a fascinating piece of history! So is this meant to imply that the intel he sold about the Lewis and Clark expedition results in Spanish patrols successfully capturing them, instead of failing as they did IOTL?
Wilkinson also offered the Spanish Kentucky to have full control over the Mississippi basin. Wilkinson is one of American's most infamous traitors and I want to bring expand a timeline in which his plots become more succesful. He was definetly a fascinating guy and his relationship with Burr and Andrew Jackson is fascinating to say the least.
 
Chapter III: Francisco Javier and New Granada
Francisco Javier

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Francisco Javier

As the youngest son of Charles the III, Francisco inherited the smallest of the 3 kingdoms. As an infant he had received the appropriate education of a person of his standing, but his formation was mostly theoretical, and he would rely on a court built by his father in Madrid before he departed which would have a deep impact on the first period of his reign.

After he arrived in Cartagena and the first parties where celebrated, Francisco departed towards Santa Fe where he would settle the capital of his kingdom.

The political structure of the kingdom of New Granada


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The kingdom of Nueva Granada

The kingdom of New Granada was a tripolar entity compromised by 3 centers of power. Quito, New Granada [1], and Venezuela. Even though the Audiencia de Quito and the Capitanía of Venezuela where theoretically under the Viceroyalty of New Granada, these territories were highly autonomous and had small ties amongst each other as trade and communication between the different regions was expensive and time consuming.

While New Granada and Quito had been under firm crown control over the years, Venezuela had been mostly developed by private companies [2], which had made its economy more focused on exports and with a more commercial mindset than the rest of the region. The company also brought a lot of the ideas of the enlightenment to Caracas which had made the region a bastion of progressive ideas and an upper class that was demanding more reforms. Even though the company had fallen out of grace and dissolved after the edits of free trade, it had shaped Venezuelan society and most importantly its economy.

On the other hand, the inhabitants of New Granada had been dissatisfied with the Bourbon reforms which had recently led to the Comunero revolt that had being recently suppressed. The involvement of the Peninsulares in the high positions of government, the high tax burden, the abolishment of the tithe and the monopolies of alcohol and tobacco enraged the local population and were a source of tension between the crown and the people.

The population of the kingdom was overall more homogenous than in other parts of the Spanish empire. Most of the natives and black slaves had been to some degree successfully integrated into a criollo culture, which made the region share some form of national identity unlike the more segregated areas like Peru or Mexico, however the more liberal mindset and the recent revolution in Haiti had sparked some discontent amongst slaves a mixed-race people that demanded to end slavery.

The economy of New Granada

While New Granada had become a kingdom its 3 kingdoms had completely different economies, progress, and structures due the abrupt geography of the region.

The coastal regions of the Caribbean had an economy based of plantations and based heavily on exports of tropical crops and were experiencing a strong economic growth. Cocoa beans, cotton, tobacco, indigo, sugar cane or coffee beans became lucrative crops and the weather and general fertile soil of the region made this industry develop rapidly.

The Andean regions of New Granada were developing an internal which developed a division of labor amongst the different regions, despite the logistic difficulties.

Quito had entered a recession due the reduction in trade with Peru and the collapse of its traditional textile sector and the reduction of the output of its mining sector.

Venezuela

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Venezuelan plantation

Venezuela unlike the other provinces had been developed independently. As the region was left on its own in the XVII century, it had developed a culture based around smuggling and the trafficking of goods with the Dutch. To stop the smuggling and develop the region, the king Phillip the V had granted the region as a monopoly to the Compañía Guipuzcoana who exploited the colony for profit in exchange of making sure that smuggling would be reduced, and the region would be properly defended.

While the company was hated by most of Venezuelan society [3] it had developed its economy and set it up for the economic boom after the opening of ports amongst the Spanish empire [4].

Venezuela unlike other colonies had as its main trade partners in other colonies in the Americas. The main trade partner of Venezuelan goods was New Spain that absorbed 2/3 of the cacao production that was the main crop from the colony. While the company had increased exports to Spain, its market was much smaller than the underground market and the market of New Spain.

The introduction of immigrants, slaves, ideas, books, and products from the company into Venezuela shaped an economy based on exports of crops such as cacao, coffee, tobacco, cotton, wheat, indigo, or sugar. All these conditions made Venezuela the second wealthiest plantation economy of the Spanish empire with a very wealthy class of plant owners, a class of serf-slaves and a rising number of wage laborers. Due its openness to international trade the Venezuelan consulate had approved the trade amongst foreign countries despite the wishes of the Spanish crown, making it the most open economy to trade in all of the Spanish empire.

The introduction of the monopoly of the estancos was a very controversial topic in Venezuela as unlike other parts of the empire, the production of this crop was incredibly important for the region and the regulations were strangling its growth.

New Granada

The economy of New Granada
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Colombian miners

During the XVIII century New Granada would experience a population recovery which led to a development of the economy led by gold mining, an increase in trade and the development of the interior provinces.

Despite the poor communications amongst the different regions due the Andes Mountain range the different regions started specializing in different economic activities which increased the integration within the kingdom and the economic output.

While Antioquia, Chocó and Cauca specialized in mining; Guanentá, Pato and Santa Fe specialized in artisan and manufacturing activities; the Altiplano had specialized in the production of grain and potatoes that would be exported to the plains (los Llanos) to feed the livestock grown there.

Even though the interior market was growing and specializing, its exporting sector (outside of the crops produced in the Caribbean coast) were suffering as the communication with the Caribbean ports had become increasingly worse with time. While the natural port for most of the region was Barranquilla due its location near the Margarita River, most crown authorities considered Barranquilla’s port to be a bad natural port that couldn’t sustain a lot of trade. While the best ports in the region where Santa Marta and Cartagena, they were only connected to the river through El canal del Dique who was poorly maintained and currently only useful during the rainy season.

While New Granada had slavery implemented for the exploitation of the mines, wage labor was becoming more common in the sector.

Quito

The economy of Quito had been in decline in the XVIII century. Its textile industry had been in decadence due the restrictions of trade between them and Perú, and the introduction of higher quality textiles from Europe. The free trade reforms and the higher taxations made the region bleed its currency due its high trade deficit, which caused a demonetization of the economy and the rise of trade in spice.

While the region was adopting new economic activities by increasing its exports to New Granada and the rise of Cocoa plantations to export to New Spain, these activities didn’t compensate the decline in the activity of the other sectors.

Fiscal situation of the region

While the budget in New Spain was of 19 million pesos the budget in New Granada was a lot more modest. Quito collected 500k pesos, New Granada 2.2 million pesos and Venezuela collected 1.4 million pesos but unlike New Spain, only New Granada had a stable revenue source, and the tax collection from Quito and Venezuela had a large variation which made it hard for the administration to get into debt or make long term plans.

This was mostly due different factors such as the lower mining output, the dependence on exports that had wild fluctuations, the varying degrees in which smuggling was stopped and the regulations on tobacco as it affected local production directly.

The biggest source of revenue were the monopolies of the estancos that collected around 60 to 70 percent of the total taxes, meaning that the cost of the collection of taxes in the kingdom were higher than in New Spain and there was a smaller disposable income to be spent [5]. On top of that as this monopoly was owned by the Spanish crown [6], the fiscal system had to be reworked for New Granada as it couldn’t cover its own expenses with the other taxes.

The kingdom of New Granada spent most of its budget in military defense (400k pesos on the defense of Cartagena alone), in the administration (350k pesos) and to cover up the expenses of production for the estancos. Even with a more inefficient fiscal system than New Spain it was common to get a yearly surplus. In New Granada the total surplus could reach 400k pesos, in Quito the budget could have excesses of as much as 500k pesos (which was very strange) while in Venezuela the surplus could be as high as 600k pesos.

Slavery in New Granada

Slavery was one of the main sources of population growth in New Granada. The different Spanish ministers believed that slavery was a natural way of increasing the population of the region that much needed the labor to develop it. However, the concept of slavery in New Granada was different to that of Cuba or the Southern states of the US as the colonial authorities over the region fomented slaves to be able to purchase their own freedom, by guarantee them a wage.

Slaves in the region were granted their own parcel of land to grow food and a small wage, as they had other obligations, they spent fewer time growing crops for their owners which made this form of slavery less efficient and closer to serfdom. While less productive this made it easier to integrate free slaves into society.

Peninsular period


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Spanish bureaucrat

Francisco Javier was heavily influenced by the court that his father had built for him. While his court ruled over New Granada and Quito directly, due the particularities and distance with Venezuela he decided to create a private court with a person that had experience in the region (José Abalos) [7] who would have great autonomy and would pursue an independent foreign policy to that of Francisco’s court.

The peninsular period was a period characterized by the expansion of the Bourbon reforms which had its main focuses on growing the economy (to increase tax revenue), economic and fiscal reforms, the liberalization of trade and the reduction of smuggling.

The rehabilitation of El Canal del Dique


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Andes of New Granada

The cost of transportation by land in New Granada was incredibly costly which was hurting the integration of the region with the rest of the Spanish empire and the international markets. As Cartagena had received considerable investments by the crown, Francisco’s court decided that it was instrumental to rehabilitate the infrastructure to allow a navigable fluvial way towards Cartagena.

The maintenance of the infrastructure was in the hands of the Cabildo of Cartagena, but as the cost of the rehabilitation was too high for them (100,000 pesos) they never embarked into the project themselves. The royal treasury decided to rearrange the ownership of El Canal del Dique. The infrastructure would be owned by a private company in which 60% of the ownership would be done by the royal treasury, 20% of it would be own by the Cabildo of Cartagena and the rest of the stocks would be sold in the newly found stock markets of Caracas, Quito, Cartagena and Santa Fe and the stock market of Madrid and Cadiz.

With the money raised the rehabilitation started. Cleaning it up was a laborious task, specially as the land carriers tried to sabotage it to avoid any competition, a series of parallel construction patches had to be made to regulate the Dike’s flow.

At the end the project ended up costing 130,000 pesos but it started being operational again in the year 1788 and it increased the volume of trade towards Cartagena which caused a lot of resentment in the port of Barranquilla.

Following this project, the treasury started a new dike between Santa Fe of Bogota towards the Magdalena River, centering the economic activity of the region around the basin of the river and Cartagena.

Revitalization of Quito
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Amazon river

Thanks to the tributary rivers of the Amazon River, Quito was able to export products cheaply into the Andean region of Perú which allowed the region to have a strong textile industry. This industry lost its volume of exports as European clothes were of much higher quality.

The textile industry in the region relied in large rural factories of natives that had very rudimentary techniques for making fabrics. As the fabrics were of poor quality, they ended up being replaced by very poor quality and cheap wool cloths and higher quality European textiles, which made a lot of the traditional factories to close.

Francisco’s cabinet decided that part of the booming cocoa trade profits with New Spain would be spent on creating a royal factory of clothes in Quito that would introduce modern European techniques into the region. These techniques would feed qualified workers into private factories and modernize the textile industry in the region.

These policy of centralization around the city of Quito destroyed most rural factories and created a large diaspora of natives that would live under very poor conditions in the city of Quito or the coastal plantations around Guayaquil.

The boom of the mining pacific regions of New Granada also allowed Quito’s economy to experience a modest recovery and to restructure its economy, at the expense of a large displacement of native communities into cities and haciendas.

Abalos’ reforms in Venezuela

Abalos that was an intendente in Venezuela knew the region well. He was the person that oversaw ending the monopoly of The Guipuzcoan company, but his figure was controversial due his aggressive policy of shutting down the Comunero revolt in Venezuela.

Abalos believed that Venezuela’s economy was very reliant on trade, and the regulations imposed in other regions wouldn’t work there.

His policy revolved around 4 major points

  • Formalize commercial relationships with foreign powers. Smuggling was such a large part of the local economy that catching all of it would be impossible, costly, unproductive and would end up destabilizing the region. By legalizing more forms of trade, the crown would be able to expand the economy of the region and strengthening its finances to facilitate its defense while keeping locals happy.
  • Lower the tax burden. The high taxation made smuggling a necessity for a lot of producers as they had very little surplus after taxes. By lowering taxation, he expected legal trade to increase and to be able to collect more taxes, using the same principle that had become so successful with the mining reform of the Bourbons.
  • A reduction of wasteful spending. A lot of the expenses of the administration were not necessary and a result of corruption, and to reduce this spending would allow a more dynamic economy.
  • Refocus the new crops other than cacao into New Spain as it was becoming an ever-growing market in which trade was quick, safer, cheap, and increasingly profitable.
Abalos implemented his tax reform and managed to increase the tax collections of the Alcabala by reducing the taxes of the different ports.


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Abalos tax reform

By decreasing the taxes, a lot of the trade started becoming legalized which increased tax revenues. However, the commercial elite of Caracas resented his tax reforms as the smaller ports started gaining a larger share of the commercial activity, specially when the war against the United Kingdom broke out in 1796 and Caracas was blocked and its ships suffered from attacks.

Abalos had died in 1792, but he appointed Intendente León to continue his policies.

The second Comunero revolt

The continuation of the colonial model dissatisfied a lot of people who were initially optimistic about the arrival of their new king. The continuation of the monopolies on tobacco and alcohol, the peninsulares coping most positions of power, the brutal suppression of the slave revolt lead by Chirino in Venezuela, the suppression of revolutionary ideas and the economic losers of the reforms had created an atmosphere of tension in the region.

On the 9th of November of 1798 a group of merchants, artisans, slaves, and professionals stormed the Cabildo of the city and forced the Alcalde Mayor of the region to run away towards Cartagena. When news broke out throughout revolts appeared in Choco and spread out in Caracas, the Venezuelan plantations, and native uprises around the urban areas of the mountain ranges in Quito from the recently arrived natives.

The war in Barranquilla and the pacific coast

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Barranquilla in the XVIII century

Barranquilla had been the biggest loser of the improvements in the Canal del Dique. The region had lost commercial volume and the streets were full of beggars and starving laborers. After a crown official tried to collect the Alcabala the mulatto shoemaker Enrique Maldonado, kicked him to the floor and soon a mob jumped over him and killed him, taking all the money that he had collected. After the authorities tried to catch up the murderers, the city rose and started attacking the guard taking the Cabildo of the city by storm.

When news broke out, the slaves from the mines in Chocó started attacking officials and miner owners which clogged down the production of gold.

The uprise in the mines was easily shut down as the organization was sparce and the slaves were given forgiveness if they left the rebellion, however the army from Cartagena failed to take the city while the United Kingdom started supplying the rebels. Barranquilla became a symbol for the rebels and its resilience sparked more rebellions in other parts of the kingdom.

The revolt in Venezuela


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Venezuelan slaves killing hacenderos

The Venezuelan revolt had a heavy racial component. Like the previous rebellion of Chirino the slaves in the region fought again for independence knowing the unrest in Barranquilla. The rebellion had been a lot more brutal this time and lots of hacenderos had been murdered in the process.

In Caracas the commercial elite that had being losing their business towards the smaller ports had pilled up frustrations against the policies of Abalos and León and organized a mutiny the 15 of January of 1799. Caracas became for 2 weeks in a state of anarchy until León’s troops with the financial aid of some scared wealthy criollos pacified the city and launched an offensive to pacify the different uprises. After the defeat in the battle of Arenas the rebellion was shut down in Venezuela.

The revolt in Quito

The poor life conditions that the natives suffered in Quito after the collapse of their traditional textile workshops, but they weren’t the only ones that revolted against the government. The criollos in Quito were not happy about their ostracization in public office and instead of paying the donativo to suppress the rebellion they avoided to do it in large numbers which made the garrison of the region a lot feebler than in Venezuela. The poorly maned and equipped army would lose the battle of Machachi in which the armed native militia managed to overwhelm the royalist army which led them the gates of Quito open.
After the defeat and with the moral boost, Francisco was desperate about the situation in Quito which made him call his brothers (Charles IV emperor of Spain, Gabriel I king of New Spain and Antonio I king of Perú). After 2 months of anarchy in Quito Antonio’s army met with Francisco’s army and managed to inflict 2 major defeats to the natives in Cuenca and Quito.

The end of the rebellion

After the involvement of his brothers in the war Barranquilla felt as the Spanish navy managed to break the British supplies and the city surrounded after a long siege.

Francisco decided to be magnanimous with the beaten rebels and to pursue a conciliatory policy which focused on creating some sort of social justice before pursuing any ambitious economic policy.

Criollo period

After the revolt had been crushed Francisco replaced his Peninsular cabinet with criollos that would occupy most positions of power.

The criollo administration acted for their own interests while pursuing mild reformist reforms to avoid large scale popular rebellions.

Administration reforms

The criollos created a system of quotas in which they got assigned 80% of all available positions in the Audiencias and the political offices. They also increased the figure to sell political positions which gave the slave owners a lot of positions of power in the administration.

Renegotiation of the monopolies (estancos)

Francisco and his cabinet renegotiated with Spain the amount they had to pay for the maintenance of the navy. In New Granada the government in Madrid shipped a percentage of the excess profits of the estancos back to the mainland, however the production and distribution of the products sold there were controlled in Spain which tended to use products from its territories (mostly from Cuba) rather than favoring local production. Given the situation of the revolt and the tumultuous situation in Spain Charles the IV allowed Francisco to manage the estanco’s supply chain in his kingdom himself and just repatriate a negotiable percentage of the profits back to the mainland.

This control over the estanco made the relationship with the crown very important for tobacco planters and producers of aguardientes which tried to gain an advantage over their competition through lobbying rather than market dynamics.

Reforms for the natives and the slaves

Following the revolt, the price of buying freedom got reduced.

Francisco’s administration experimented to implement a plantation model like the one in Mexico which mostly used free labor. To do this the administration created a system to distribute unemployed natives throughout the different plantations of Quito, the Caribbean coast of New Granada and Venezuela. As the number of natives willing to engage in the program was not large enough to covering the growing demand of labor, shipments of slaves kept increasing, however Francisco’s administration allowed the shipments of Chinese labor from the Philippines to Porto Belo and Panama to suppress wages and to transition some plantations from slave labor to free labor.

Fiscal reform

The revolt had scared a lot of landowners and to suppress new rebellions the excess money collected from selling public positions would be destined to the army, while the administration also increased the percentage of the tithe that the church had to give to the treasury from the current 25% to 40% of the collected tithes.

On the other hand, the tariff reforms that Ábalos and León would be implemented in the rest of the kingdom standardizing the lowering of tariffs and the opening of trade of the region with foreign powers for all products except tobacco, alcohol, ships, cloths, cards, paper and glass.

Conclusion

Francisco’s reign was mostly remembered by his infrastructure reforms that revitalized the port of Cartagena and the rapid expansion of commerce due the lower fiscal burden and the expanding demand of tropical crops in New Spain which had strengthened the ties between the two regions.

Trade between Guayaquil, Cartagena and Venezuela had been so active with New Spain, that the main Mexican bankers started setting up banking branches in the city to grant liquidity to planters and lubricating payment settlements. As time went by these banks would start operating like in New Spain and ended up breaking the monopoly on lending that the church had.

On the other hand, the softness that Francisco showed in stopping the revolt had let to a government that was closer to a tool for making money and securing one’s wealth, rather than government to protect its citizens and improve the nation. The rise in production and lobbying heavily influenced the politics and culture of the country.
[1] Colombia doesn't exist in this TL for now, so I will use the traditional name for it
[2] Venezuela was handed to 2 private companies. First under the Welser's and then with the Guipuzcoan/Caracas company
[3] As most Venezuelans lived off smuggling, they resented a lot the Guipuzcoan company.
[4 ] Venezuela was with New Spain the only provinces closed to the first free trade reform of Charles the III. They got it a couple of years later
[5] As the revenues were just the sales, the royal monopolies usually were only able to collect 1 out of 2 pesos due the expenses of running it
[6] Just like in the previous chapter, the estancos are owned by the Spanish crown.
[7] Ábalos was actually the first person to propose the plan discussed in this timeline. As he was the Intendente in Venezuela he saw the discontent with the Spanish administration as Caracas was the most opposed city to Spanish rule in the Spanish empire with Buenos Aires.
 
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Chapter IV: Antonio Pascual. Perú and La Plata
Antonio Pascual

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Antonio Pascual

Antonio has a kind heart, he is fairly smart and can gain the heart of anyone, but I fear that he might not have the needed work ethic to be a king”- Charles the III.

Antonio’s intelligence was highly rewarded amongst his teachers. He had a certain affinity for natural sciences (mostly related to agriculture and botanic sciences) and weaving. As he was not expected to ever rule, he had focused his life around designing gardens and irrigation systems in his own states. When he was not working on his hobby he liked traveling and hunting. As the third son of Charles the III, he would inherit the vast and diverse kingdom of Perú and La Plata.

After arriving to Lima through the port of Callao, Antonio decided to spend more time understanding his kingdom, rather than to rule it, and he maintained the old governors for the moment. He planned a journey around his vast possessions to understand the nature of the land and his subjects. Before departing in his journey through the Andes, Chile, the Alto Perú, Asunción and La Plata he spent a year in Lima and central Perú

Lima and Central Perú

In Lima everything is splendorous, the dressing is colorful and of the finest taste, the utensils are commonly made out of silver, the ornaments in the churches are superb and the parties in the city are done with an intensity that would impress most travelers from Europe” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 12

Lima and Central Perú were the heart of the Kingdom of Perú and La Plata. While the economic significance of Lima had been falling gradually, the economy was experiencing some strong economic growth due several factors.

For starters the economy of Perú and Chile had become highly integrated. While Perú exported silver, manufactures and tropical crops to Chile; Chile started exporting large quantities of wheat, products derived from animal fat and leather to Perú.

This integration had happened by chance. The demand of wheat became very high in the central region of Perú due a series of earthquakes in 1746 that had destroyed local production. Chilean wheat flooded the market during reconstruction, and most landowners decided to specialize in new crops like tobacco or cotton.

Lima as the largest city of the Spanish empire in the pacific coast had a series of industries that supplied other areas of the Spanish empire such as the production of soap, carpentry, iron metal work, works of masonry, candles, or leather. These industries had grown a lot in the last 30 years as the demand of silver was stimulating the economies surrounding these industries.

All workshops and factories around Lima are busier by the day. The demand for men never seems to stop as there are more and more things to do. The city fills its demand with Indians from the surrounding areas and slaves which are used as a tool to feed workers to workshops and factories with an ever-expanding demand.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 30

While Lima concentrated many artisans and workers in different industries it was an economy that relied heavily on imports, the economy of Lima tended to have a large trade deficit as imports were 20% larger than exports. These strange trade structure that the region had was mainly due the compensation of the silver that left, for the newly minted silver that replaced it which allowed more goods to be consumed in the region [1].

As the center of power of Spain in South America since the XVI century Lima had a traditional class of aristocrats and powerful clergy men that made the city a center of conservatism and royal power. While the city had recently gone through a reconstruction that had modernized the city, based on the reforms of his father in Madrid, traditional Spanish culture was very present in the city as locals attended bullfighting spectacles, the population was devoutly catholic and among the wealthy there was little desire for changes to be made, especially after the Tupac Amaru II rebellion.

While in Lima there were not as much tension as in Venezuela or La Plata basin, the local elite did want to get more involvement in the bureaucratic positions of power that had been reserved to Peninsulares. As the port of Callao (Lima’s main port) had privileges for over 2 centuries the society of Lima developed around gaining favors from royal authorities which made it harder for new ideas to be implemented in the region. Despite the static nature of Lima’s elite, it was still the second largest contributor of the American possessions in Spain and managed to collect 4 million pesos on its own due having certain control over the public monopolies and the rise of bullion production.

Before leaving Lima Antonio had an interview with a group of intellectuals from Lima which included José Javier Leandro de Baquíjano y Carrillo de Córdoba and José Hipólito Unanue y Pavón to discuss different topics such as medicine, agriculture, economics, his planned journey, and the situation of Perú. After being impressed by their knowledge he named José Javier Leandro de Baquíjano y Carrillo de Córdoba as the viceroy of Perú (the previous one had recently died), financed a hospital in Lima to be run by Unanue’s and commanded them to do the necessary reforms that Lima needed while he was gone.

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First Peruvian Viceroy of Perú

While Antonio was gone (and even when he returned to Lima) the professor Baquíjano ruled in Perú and he is remembered by his ambitious education reform and by his reforms of the Peruvian clergy to take a larger role in the literacy and hispanization efforts that his government was pursuing.

The Andes and the lower Perú

“In Lima and its surroundings are an island in what is Perú, the population is mostly composed of criollos, mestizos, mulattoes and some natives (a lot of aristocrats themselves) while through the Andes, the south of the Lower Perú and the High Perú I would be hard pressed if I could find a European that was not working in a mine, owned an hacienda or was part of the clergy. While the elite in Lima would wish to hispanize the Indians, the Indians are very proud of their origins and fiercely want to maintain their autonomy and resent some of the reforms my father and uncle had applied in these lands.

Even if their living conditions have improved, they resent the changes, in fact their improving living conditions might be the cause of their new pride after centuries of demographic decline and submission.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 80


The liberalization of trade, the controversial policy of the repartos, the demographic recovery, the rising tributary pressures and the mining boom had made the rural economy of Perú recover strongly during the XVIII century.

The Borboun reforms amongst the Indians were based on the idea that the resources from their lands were underutilized. The vastness of their land made crown officials believe that by pursuing a simple policy of increasing productivity by handling them more tools (donkeys, gunpowder, and iron tools) and increasing their tributes to force them to work more would alleviate the crown’s finances.

If the policies worked or the growth of their economy came from other sources is something to be questioned, but the reality is that there was a strong demographic recovery in the South of Perú and the Andes. The demographic growth had allowed more sectors of the economy to be exploited which had increased the specialization of labor in the region, this paired with the contributions of the miner Gerónimo de Sola allowed mining in the lower Perú to be multiplied by 10 in this century which meant that natives were able to afford more goods and to increase the consumer base of the internal market. Despite this newly found prosperity Antonio observed how austere most natives were compared to the inhabitants in Lima.

The Indians in the mines earn a good wage, a lot higher than small artisans and factory workers back in Lima, but when you see the traders in these regions, they usually return to Cuzco with a mule full of cocoa, tobacco, sugar and fine clothes from Europe.

Their diet consists of toasted corn, bread, alcohol, and potatoes and barely consume any meat, chocolate, or fruits. Their housing like their diet is austere and sad which doesn’t correspond well with what they can afford, but with all the austerity of their consumption they compensate it with their large parties that they organized around their village which are frequent and involve large gatherings, the use of fireworks and the consumption of marihuana[2] that worry a lot the intellectuals in Lima and my personal confessor, more so than the Mita which is still practiced in these lands which deprive them from their basic freedoms” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 94.


Even in the XVIII the Mita was still a commonly used in this area of Perú and some hacenderos were able to force natives to work in their lands. While the Mita had mostly disappeared, it was still present, and it was common to talk about its abolition in some inner circle in Lima. Before leaving the region Antonio wrote a letter to his Viceroy to officially abolish the Mita.

Chile

Chile was known as the poorest region of South America. The region had poor land communications due the Atacama Desert and the Andes Mountain range, which made most of the communications from Chile to be conducted through the pacific, which acted as the main communication vessel of the Spanish empire. From Acapulco to Valparaiso goods flowed around the region making Mexican silk being easier to find in Santiago than some of the clothes produced in the high Perú.

While Chile was underpopulated and less pompous than Lima and central Perú Antonio believed the region had immense potential.

“In Lima they view Chile with contempt. The wild nature of the natives, its instability, and the poor quality of the architecture of the region doesn’t seem to impress the elite from Lima. I must say that I got a pleasant surprise when I arrived. The region has an immense natural beauty and a pleasant weather for growing crops that would be hard to grow in Perú.

While the trade between Perú and Chile revolve mostly around grain, this must be only because the population of Chile is too small to properly use the land. There are large fish banks in the region, some good spots for growing different vegetables and fruits that could be exported to Perú in the form of different alcohols such as wine, beers, or ales, plenty of land for cattle, and wood and mineral resources to build tools to make agriculture more productive and tools for artisans. I have asked my father for some merino ships to grow in the region which I believe are fit to grow in the region and given the natural wools from Perú could lead to a symbiotic relationship of different fabrics.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 122.


While in Chile Antonio started his journey around Santiago which is where most of the population of the region was concentrated. After arriving to Santiago, he met the captain of the kingdom of Chile (Ambrosio de Benavides) and some intendentes such as the Intendente of Concepción that wanted to talk to him about the situation of the border with the Mapuches.

“The Chilean is different than the criollo from Perú in many ways. While Limeños are urban, aristocratic, intellectual, and pious, the Chilean is rural, freedom loving, adventurous and a risk taker. The focus of my conversations in Santiago revolved around war, their incursions against the Mapuches, hunting and cattle.

The character of the Chilean is marked by its status as the last frontier, which they take with pride. Their view of life conflicts greatly with that of the natives, while the natives are austere and spend their little money in social gatherings, the Chileans like to spend their money on Peruvian sugar and Paraguayan herbs even if they can hardly afford it and spend the rest of their time in their particular parcels as they enjoy nature and tranquility over human interactions.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 133.


The enthusiastic and ambitions Irish Intendente (Ambrosio O’Higgins) made a good impression on Antonio (more so than the current captain) and decided to arrange a private meeting with him the next day.

O’Higgins has a sharp mind and there is no one I have met as ambitious as he is. He truly believes that this land will become one day one of the most prosperous places in these empire as there is so much to do with them and so little that has been done under previous governments.

As a governor of a province in the border with the Mapuches he understands how detrimental war is and believes that through peace and prosperity the savages would incorporate voluntarily into these lands. As he believes that natives can be integrated, he wants to abolish the institution of the encomienda who had been banned multiple times but ignored mostly by the locals who enjoyed great autonomy.

O’Higgins wants to make Chile a self-sustaining colony that doesn’t have as much of a dependency from silver transfers from Perú as it currently does, but while I believe that some of his ideas are brilliant, I must say that some of them are closer to fiction than reality.

O’Higgins laid down his plans of the region to me. For starters he had an ambitious plan of creating more settlements to diversify the crops of the region. He wants to expand the colonies in the north of Santiago and the settlements in the South where the climate is cooler, and it can produce goods that are not found anywhere else in my lands. This new populations would also act as a source of labor for new harbors which would focus on fishing and salting the fish to be distributed in Chile and Perú.

To reduce floods and the uncertainty of earthquakes he wants to levy a tax on Paraguayan herbs and sugar to build dikes to stop floods like the one that happened in 1783. He believes that these goods are the reason why Chile doesn’t develop, as a lot of pesos leave these lands for those goods instead of staying here and reinvesting them in the economy.

He also wanted to introduce cotton and sugar to Chile as he believes the higher yields will allow more industries to flourish here, as the current crops have a low yield (mostly wheat), but if you could grow cotton and sugar in here there would be no need to import in Europe as the climate here can be found there. In his mind he believes that the yields of grain are little and that they don’t aid the economy, but he fails to realize that the strength of the region it’s the diversity that it brings rather than becoming a smaller version of Perú or Cuba.

Smuggling is a thing on his mind as well, but his arguments are hard to refute. It is hard to feel any kind of love towards Spain if they only pass laws to reduce the prosperity of the inhabitants here. Smuggling, at the end of the day, is just the result of more competitive goods arriving to the region. If the crown is too hard on smuggling, then the people will grow angrier as they become poorer, but if it ignores it, the crown will look weak, and its authority will be lost eventually. At the end the soft regularization that O’Higgins proposes will reduce tensions and boost trade and development.

I believe that his plans, if less paternalistic and more grounded to the ground, could yield excellent results. While I travel to Concepción with him, I will write him a tiny book with possible crops that are fitting to the land, while I will try to bring some experts from Spain to manage the soon to arrive sheep, and experts in preserving meat and artisans to work leather. I hope these book guides him well as the new captain of Chile.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 133.



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Captain of Chile Ambrosio O’Higgins

After going to Concepción, Antonio would give his advice to O’Higgins rewarding crops and potential industries and gave him the news that he would replace the current captain as the head of the region. Antonio now would embark on his journey towards Buenos Aires.

The high Perú

Before a short stay in Callao to rest Antonio would start his journey towards Buenos Aires. His first stop would be the high Perú in which he would travel through it until he arrived at the village of Potosí. Then he would depart towards the Paraguay river to make his final stop in Asunción before arriving to Buenos Aires.

“Traversing through this area is feat on its own, for a man that is not accustomed to these lands breathing and adapting to the altitude is a complicated endeavor and the natives always offer these leaves to alleviate the altitude sickness. The region can range from an arid desertic plateau to the basin of large rivers that lead to lakes in front of the Andes. Minerals are abundant in the region which gave its wealth to Perú, but the high altitude has made this region have poor agricultural yields and depend solely on mining. While in the past the ties with Perú and Lima where very strong, now the region is looking towards La Plata as trade restrictions have been lifted and the journey to Montevideo and Buenos Aires is 1/3 shorter due the advantages that shipping transport brings. While this region is rich in minerals, I doubt it will ever be as dynamic as the coast of Perú and Lima or even Chile as all its mineral riches are shipped abroad and the harsh conditions of the plateau make industry and agriculture perish.

The Indians have some interesting textiles that they make with the wool of Llamas and Alpacas, even if the animal is hideous and less docile that you would expect, the quality of its wool is supreme. The wool is resilient and manages to regulate your temperature, so it is never too cold or warm for the person that wears it. The natives use this wool on its own as the only clothes that they wear are the ones the make, but it would be interesting to experiment mixing this wool with sheep wool to produce new fabrics. I have commanded to the Intendente of Potosí to find a few Llamas and Alpacas (and some mix breeds with different wools) to be sent to Chile to complement the wool from the newly arrived sheeps.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 182.


After his stay in the Upper Perú, the journey would continue towards Asunción, departing from Santa Fé.

Asunción

The colony of Asunción was a place of deep contrasts. The region was influenced deeply by its fluvial nature which had made it an integral supplier of goods to other cities in La Plata basin like Rosario, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo. Due its warmer climate and fertile soil the region managed to develop tropical crops such as cotton, tobacco and the undisputed biggest agricultural export of the region, the Paraguayan herbs.

Yerba mate, Paraguayan herbs or Jesuitic herbs had been popularized all throughout the La Plata basin and later commercialized towards Chile and Perú by merchants from Buenos Aires. The exports of Yerba eclipsed the exports of any other product in the region and were a sign of the success of the integration of the Guarani tribes into Hispanic society.

While the trade of the region was booming due the uniqueness of its exports, there were vast regions of Asunción that had entered a deep economic decline.

“Asunción’s port is busy, while its agriculture is headless and chaotic its unique position in the region allows them to have a monopoly on the distribution of highly demanded products such as sugar, tobacco, cotton or yerba.

I have seen these herbs that resemble tea being consumed everywhere around my kingdom and it is an exceptional case of its economic and commercial integration. This herb is consumed by everyone from wealthy aristocrats to the poorest Indians and it has eclipsed the ships of coffee from Venezuela which is barely consumed here.

While the Intendente Pedro Melo told me that there were no industries in the region, I have seen some middle-sized boats being produced in the city. Pedro told me that due the abundance of wood in the different regions of the basin ships were ordered from all of La Plata. While most boats produced here are small to be used in the fluvial basin, there are some Spanish engineers that are building a 400 tons frigate, as the area is becoming the main shipyard in La Plata.

But while Asunción is prospering by every metric given by the intendente I must say that the situation on the former Jesuitic missions is in a deplorable state. It is normal for bandits to venture into the old cities and steal religious goods, porcelain from China and wooden statues to resell them at Asunción. Where there was once progress, advances, and the heart of the integration of the region, now there are only ruins and a group of bandits and opportunists that want to use the few natives that are left as slave labor.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 205.



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Jesuit mission from Asunción

The reforms of the intendencies and the newly gained autonomy had given Asunción a bigger voice, but the region still lacked resources as most of the money transfers from the mines of Potosí had been focused on Montevideo and Buenos Aires leaving fewer funds from the development of the region. In fact, a lot of the wealthy people from Asunción had moved to Buenos Aires where they could commercialize their products, get more financing, and enjoy a higher quality of live which had drained resources for the region.

Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires

The journey from Asunción to Buenos Aires was fast. Faster than I would have expected. The current of the river moved our boat at a fast day and every day I could notice the difference in landscape and climate. While Asunción was warm and tropical, the adjacent regions to the river while we were descending was a plane bathed by the basin of the region.

The vastness of the land and the magnitude of the rivers are something that I have never seen before. The land is fertile, and I have never seen as much abundance of grain than in these lands, but it is barely worked, and it occupies a very small portion of the land used as the gauchos prefer to use the land to feed their cattle. Cattles in the region were released so nobody knows who owned them, so they were declared the ownership of the initial settlers who mostly use the cattle to obtain leather. Every year the cauchos in the interior provinces slaughter 450,000 heads of cattle, but they only consume the meat of 15,000 of them, but as the land is so plentiful the impact is not noted by the inhabitants.

The gauchos are mostly young and marry early. It is not strange to see them have 16 kids. The smaller financial burdens that in Europe and the abundance of land and food has made young couples to start breeding very early in their lives and as the wages keep increasing due the lack of manpower a man can sustain large families on his own with little to no trouble.

Buenos Aires does not stop growing, everyday families from around La Plata end up arriving to Buenos Aires as the economic opportunities are plentiful. Trade has flourished since its liberalization, the city receives yearly all the silver minted in Potosí and on top of its part of it gets used in the city directly. Despite being the wealthiest city on the area, Buenos Aires gets transferred annually 1 million Pesos from Potosí which has made the city prosper and double its population every 9 years. The inhabitants of Buenos Aires consume 7 times as much meat as the ones in Madrid and just with the yield of the surrounding areas of Buenos Aires there is enough grain and vegetables to feed everyone with a consumption of goods closer to that of an aristocrat than those of a laborer.

The city while being half the size of Lima has a larger volume of trade than the port of Callao and the potential of the region is mostly untapped. Given its size, soil, and topography the country could hold a population larger to that of Spain and France put together, but for the moment it is important to bring some experts from the old world to correct some inefficiencies that I have seen.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 236.


As a lover of agriculture Antonio believed that Buenos Aires and La Plata basin had tremendous potential and decided to spend some time in the city to arrange a series of reforms and to oversee some military reforms due the rising tensions with the Portuguese crown and the United Kingdom.

The agrarian reforms in La Plata

“Colonial authorities have prioritized animal husbandry over growing crops and settling the land. These has created a culture that has reduced economic calculus to a minimum as the resources are plentiful and the authority is scarce. These lack of respect for property is hurting the development of the region as for gauchos’ concepts like property are nothing but a formality.

This attitude has led to an inefficient use of resources. The region could produce enough meat to feed the entire Spanish army and navy, enough cheese to export and expand trade and use the excrements of the cattle to increase the output of crops.

To make a better use of resources we need people to have a stake on the resources that they use, by stablishing stricter property rights on parcels of land and privately owned communal enclaves in which the management of resources will settle the gauchos and create a population base that would improve the management of resources as they will start treating them as their own and make sound investments.

It is also fundamental to give them credit and to allow settlers to raise money for their investments. Rural lending is nonexistent here and there is barely any person that can give it outside of the church, but to manage the distribution of new land and the property of the new land it is necessary to create a bank and a stock market to record and manage the sales of the communal enclaves.” My kingdom – Antonio Pascual’s journal page 303


The military reorganization

The increasing pressure that the Portuguese and the British were applying on the region was worrisome which is why the Viceroyalty was created in the first place. The current military garrison in Buenos Aires and Montevideo was very small and the defense of the city relied on local militias. The Portuguese had managed to capture Montevideo more than once and the port was important to the La Plata as it was deeper than Buenos Aires and a lot of the bigger shipments were done in Montevideo. The value of the port did not only rely on the quality of the port, but on protecting the monopoly that he currently held on to the navigation of La Plata basin. If the Portuguese were able to take Montevideo, they could start expanding their territorial claims into the interior of the kingdom, which would be preferable for the British interests who were allied with the Portuguese.

The previous war against Portugal had been won thanks to the lack of participation of Britain which allowed the Spanish troops to quickly move and attack strategic targets, but as this situation was not expected to repeat itself a contingency plan had to be created.

The first step was to increase the permanent army of the region and to create permanent fluvial navy to transport troops from the interior provinces and Asunción if needed. The Guaraní and the native tribes closed to Asunción had been used effectively against the Portuguese and the local rebellions in Asunción in the past, but since the Jesuits left these relationships had been widely ignored.

The second step was to increase the size of navy. A combat navy was too expensive for him, but to have a small navy to be able to harass the Portuguese was instrumental. However, these army was supposed to act as a support navy for the main Spanish navy.

The last step was to increase the supplies of weapons and gunpowder in the case that the local population needed to take arms to defend the city.

Border tensions and war against the United Kingdom

Antonio and his family [3] planned to move to Lima in 1796 but the war against the United Kingdom made the journey to dangerous and the family would remain in Buenos Aires until 1802. While the first stage of the war against the United Kingdom didn’t have much activity in South America it did impact deeply the economy of the region. The slowdown of trade with Spain (and its mercury supplies) and the exhaustion of mercury of Huancavelica had left the mining industry of Perú to slow down for the first time in 70 years.

When mining slowed down a lot of the adjacent industry were forced to close and urban poverty started rising as wages were contracted and more people were unemployed. In La Plata smuggling was oversaw to avoid any major unrest in the city and to compensate the tax loses that hit the treasury of Perú that made over 70% of the total collected taxes in the kingdom [4].

In 1801 Spain declared war to Portugal in a brief war known as the war of the oranges. While the war in the Peninsula lasted less than a month, a group of Portuguese irregulars had invaded the region of the Misiones Orientales. When Francisco heard the news, he organized a counter invasion organized in Asunción with the aid of the allied Guaraní tribes who had being given certain autonomy in the abandoned area of the Misiones in exchange of military aid. The combined Guaraní-Spanish army drove back the Portuguese army back and did some minor raids around the surrounding area, however as the war with the United Kingdom continued no further expedition was done.


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Misiones Orientales

In 1802 the United Kingdom and Spain signed a peace treaty and finally Antonio and his family managed to return to Lima as they had not been to the city which was meant to be the capital since they arrived in Buenos Aires.
In 1804 war broke again against the UK but this time Buenos Aires would be one of the main scenarios of the war. The United Kingdom had sought a larger presence in South America and Buenos Aires had always been the main target of these plans. After successfully capturing the Cape Colony from the Dutch. David Baird as the commander of a colonial army had the autonomy of waging limited war without reporting it to Westminster or the king. As he had a large debt, he decided to attack Buenos Aires to capture a ship that was containing 1 million pesos that would be heading to Spain.


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Willam Carr Beresford

David Baird named Beresford as the commander of the fleet that he would send to Buenos Aires. Beresford arrived at Buenos Aires and started to open fire at the fortifications of the city. Believing that the city was poorly garrisoned Beresford disembarked at Ensenada. His contingent was of 1600 men of well-trained infantry and cavalry, but the colonial army of 2000 men and a small militia of volunteers managed to defeat them in open battle. While the first British invasion was small, in the next 4 months an invasion of Montevideo succeeded, but they were finally pushed away by Santiago de Liniers.

The United Kingdom would send a second expedition to Montevideo, but the size of this expedition would be of a much larger size. In February an expeditionary force of 4300 men was sent around Montevideo and took the city of Sacramento as well while an expedition of 11000 troops was sent led by captain John Whitelock.
Before Whitelock arrived 3000 horsemen from Córdoba were moved to Buenos Aires, to that force an army of 3000 men had been sent from the High Perú while the Guaraní army from Misiones started raiding and pushing back against the British.

Whitelock like Beresford landed in Ensenada, but the response was a lot different. With the local militia, the reinforcements from Córdoba and Perú, and the local army Lenier managed an army of roughly 9000 men, but as they had prepared the city for the invasion with barracks and trenches they managed to deal a convincing defeat to Whitelock who surrendered to Lenier on the 12th of August of 1807.


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Surrender of Whitelock, Buenos Aires [5]

After the failed invasions and the arrival of Charles the IV to Havana in 1808, after the coup of his son Ferdinand the VII backed by Napoleon, froze the hostilities between the Spanish America and the British empire.

Conclusions
Antonio ruled little as he never liked ruling, as a king he was more interested on traveling, writing his books and designing irrigation cities and gardens. However, his greatest strength was knowing well his kingdoms and the people that he could trust. His journeys made him friends all around a vast area which always remembered kindly his kind heart and his humbleness. Antonio’s large stay in Buenos Aires made Spanish rule gain popularity in one of the most dissatisfied regions in the empire.

Amongst his greatest legacy was the abolishment of the mita, the encomienda, slavery, the creation of the principality of La Plata (ruled by his direct heir once he becomes an adult), the creation of the Buenos Aires stock exchange and the incorporation of criollos into higher ranks such as intendencies and viceroyalties. Despite his liberal approach to certain topics, the execution of his relatives in France scared him and there was some serious censorship between 1793 to 1804 from certain books into the kingdom.

Antonio’s intellectual work was published after his death, and his 2 main books are still used as primary sources to understand the late XVIII century and early XIX in Perú. His book “My Kingdom” compiled a variety of descriptions of the main characters of the time, some financial data, the political situation, the pre-hispanic cultures in that period and the geographic landscape of the region. The final words of his book are still present in the Peruvian national anthem

For all men on earth, god has made me the most fortunate as he gave me the privilege of ruling in heaven” Antonio Pascual’s journal page 434

His second book compiled a variety of clothes that he found in different parts of the region compiling one of the best samples of clothes from the period. Mexican silk, Quito’s clothes, native clothes from the High Perú, Wool clothes and different experimental wool clothes from merino sheep.


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Textiles in the kingdom of Perú

While Antonio’s rule was not very ambitious or reformist he did accomplished general stability and unity, and his small reforms were focused correctly and were achievable unlike some of the reforms that had been tried in America and Europe during this period.

[1] Perú had a very strange trade structure that resembled that of a metropoli more than that of a colony. It is also interesting how they monetized debt before the concept was even invented.

[2] I have actually got this snipet of information from Von Humboldt’s book about New Spain, but I believe it was an interesting bit of trivia and it was probably common in Perú as well. Marihuana concerned the Spanish clergy greatly and a lot of reformists in Lima believed that it was the reason why the lands of the natives were not fullfilling their potential.

[3] I will talk about the family marriages later on. As these characters are packed with info I believe it will not add too much to them.

[4] I didn’t spend as much time talking about finances as I tried to change the style of writing from this chapter (and also the chapter was becoming very long). From what I could gather the Viceroyalty of Perú managed to collect 6 million pesos with just 1.4 million people (75% of the taxes from Lima and its surroundings, 14% from the south and the rest in the north).

From Chile there is little info, but it received transfers from wealth mostly from Perú (around 500k pesos).

The La Plata Viceroyalty collected 2 million pesos in total but the local intendencias transferred a lot of money towards Buenos Aires which is how it got developed. As taxing bullion (through mercury) was much easier the wealthier Buenos Aires and cowboys got subsidized by the miners of the High Perú in what is today’s Bolivia’s (as much as half of the entire budget every year went just to Buenos Aires and Montevideo).

[5] This is Beresford, but for literary purposes I swapped them around.
 

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Chapter V: The birth of the French empire
Floridablanca and Aranda
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The count of Floridablanca

After the death of Charles III in 1788, his son became emperor of Spain. The reign of Charles the IV started as a continuation as that of his father, maintaining the same cabinet that had ruled Spain until that point.

The count of Floridablanca was appointed as his state secretary and the initial plans of the country where to control the price of bread, reduce the number of idle lands controlled by the church and some aristocrats, and to boost the sugar industry of Cuba with the objective of making it the largest producer of sugar in the world.

Floridablanca’s reforms were short lived, as the revolution in France scared the monarch and his ministers greatly and focused all their efforts in avoiding the spree of the revolution to reach Spain. Floridablanca and later Aranda focused all their time in increasing the censorship of revolutionary ideas, increase the border patrol with France and bribing French officials to save the life of Louis XVI.

After Aranda’s failure to liberate Louis XVI, he was deposed and got Replaced by Godoy

Manuel Godoy
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Manuel Godoy

Manuel Godoy was a controversial election as the universal minister [2] of the country. Godoy was a hidalgo that had been appointed as a bodyguard for the king. Due the close relationship that Charles developed with him, he ended up trusting him as the most powerful minister in the country.

While Godoy had kept the policies of saving Louis XVI, he took back some of the reforms that had been abandoned by Floridablanca and Aranda. Godoy reduced the amount of censorship, he confiscated some lands from religious organizations to propel an agrarian reform, he liberalized the price of manufactures, and he promulgated an ambitious education reform which didn’t depend on the church.

However, after the execution of Louis XVI and the French victory against the Habsburgs at Jemappes, the revolutionaries declared war against Spain in 1793

The war of the Pyrenees

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Antonio Ricardos

Throughout the XVIII the Spanish army had gradually reduced its activity and importance. While enjoying some success during the reign of Phillip the V, the army entered a large hiatus during the reign of Ferdinand the VI which was patent when Charles the III tried to invade Portugal. Due the family pacts that Charles the III signed, the focus of the country became the navy as the border with France was secured and Portugal’s army had little offensive capabilities.

To the loss of martial tradition, the Spanish army faced other problems. For starters the army was filled with aristocrats who heavily opposed Godoy’s reforms. The country also lacked financing as the government was too scared of raising taxes as a revolution could spark in the country. These factors led to a demotivated leadership and an army that was poorly paid and that lacked supplies.

While at the beginning of the war the Spanish army led by Antonio Ricardos had some major victories at the Rosellón, the lack of financing and supplies made this army withdraw.

In America Gabriel and the army of New Spain managed to repel the French attacks against Florida and Louisiana. To retaliate against the French aggression Gabriel and the United Kingdom coordinated an attack on Haiti to conquer the country from the republican rebels and create a puppet royalist government. From Veracruz the British navy operated by Whitelocke [3] would take 2,000 soldiers and supplies paid by Gabriel to attack Haiti. The squadron led by Whitelocke and the Spanish sailor Gabriel de Aristizábal y Espinoza would coordinate a series of attacks against the Republican forces and managed to capture Port-au-Prince in 1794 thanks to the support of white and mulatto loyalists. While the Anglo-Spanish army managed to subdue the Republican holdings, they never made any incursions into the interior of Haiti which was controlled by the slave rebels.

While the war in Catalonia was on a practical stalemate and the Anglo-Spanish alliance was dominating the French forces in America, the war in the Basque country was a complete disaster for the Spanish monarchy. The local government of Guipuzcoa was liberal, and due the centralizing efforts of the Bourbon governments and their sympathy for the revolution they decided to join the French Republic. The treason of Guipuzcoa paired with a large mobilization of French conscripts made the western flank of the Pyrenees collapse and the French were able to arrive as far as Miranda del Ebro.

Godoy panicking about the French advances in the western Pyrenees and decided to sue for peace. The coalition would sign with the French the treaty of Basel in which Spain would get back its conquered provinces in exchange of abandoning all its conquests in Haiti and to cede their part of the island as soon as possible, which never ended up happening.

After signing the treaty of Basel, Spain signed the treaty of San Ildefonso in which a Franco-Spanish alliance would be stablished.

Spain after the war of the Pyrenees

The Spanish navy had a strong comeback in the XVIII as the different kings had prioritized it over the army due the loss of the territories in Europe [1]. When the first Bourbon king arrived at the throne the Spanish navy had a size comparable to that of the Portuguese navy, and by the end of Charles the III reign the Spanish navy had the third largest Atlantic navy with a size comparable to that of France.



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Atlantic navies measured by total displacement in 1,000 tons



After the war of the Pyrenees the focus of the Spanish foreign policy pivoted from the Empire to Europe. These meant that the army would get a predominant role, and the navy’s budget would be reduced as new taxes were not desirable to avoid any kind of uprising in the country.

Due the budget reductions in 1795 the Spanish navy entered a process of accelerated decadence. Ships were not renewed, fewer sailors were trained, the naval suppliers reduced the number of people that they employed, and some ships were dismantled. In 1795 the Spanish navy had 76 ships of the line and by 1799 only 25 were operational while the rest were poorly maintained and rooting.

The alliance with France meant that Spain embarked into a series of wars with the UK and Portugal, and the different coalitions against France. As the navy had been largely ignored, the Spanish engaged in a series of defensive wars against Britain in the colonies (attacks on Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and La Plata) while the royal treasury saw its income from the American kingdoms reduce due the disruption of the supply lines which caused a serious economic crisis and the rising unpopularity of the regime.

The biggest blow for the Franco-Spanish alliance during these wars was the battle of Trafalgar in which the British navy would stablish its dominance over the seas and reduced the importance of the Spanish alliance for Napoleon.

Napoleon and the Spanish question

After the explosion of the war of the fourth coalition, Godoy ordered the Spanish army to deploy its troops around the French border. Godoy was expecting that the Prussian army with the aid of the Russians would defeat Napoleon and he would use this situation to realign the country with the anti-French alliance.

To Godoy’s surprise the Prussians were quickly defeated by Napoleon in one of his most brilliant campaigns, and his stunt did nothing but hurt the relations between Spain and the Empire.

Napoleon angered by Godoy’s treasons started to contemplate different alternatives for the country. Spain was no longer a useful ally due the weakness of its fleet. The biggest value of the alliance was its relationship with the American kingdoms and the stability of the Franco-Spanish border which allowed him to mobilize more troops in other European theaters.

Napoleon thought about deposing the current Spanish royal family to stablish his own on the throne, but he dismissed this option as it would make him lose a presence in America to combat the British presence in the continent.

Napoleon believed that the only way he could defeat the United Kingdom, would be by hurting its economy. The ever-expanding global influence that the British had made their economy more resilient and less dependent on the European economies. To combat the British outside of Europe Napoleon needed allies, and the control of the American colonies would become fundamental for an expansion of the empire into the Pacific and the Caribbean.

One day Napoleon received a letter from the Prince of Asturias, Ferdinand VII who was looking for his approval to take control over the Spanish throne and arrange a weeding with one of his nieces.

Ferdinand VII
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Ferdinand VII

Godoy had created a lot of enemies from the reactionary sectors of the Spanish society. The church hated him as he had confiscated some of their properties, the aristocrats hated him because of his meteoric rise as a low ranked noble and how he was combating their privileges, and the general population hated him as most priests talked lowly about his government and his reforms.

While Godoy’s rivals were plenty, the number of his allies was not. The only people that were supporting the Principe de la Paz [4] were Charles IV, his wife, some reformists that he had hired like Campomanes and some sectors of the navy that had approved of his reforms of creating the admiralty based on the British system.

Ferdinand who disliked Godoy quickly got the support from large sectors of society to take power, but Ferdinand knew that he would have a hard time ruling without the approval of Napoleon, as the French army was strong enough to depose him.

Ferdinand’s friend the duke of the Infantado and his tutor Escóiquiz were gathering support for a coup d’etat while Ferdinand was trying to convince Napoleon about arranging a royal marriage between him and one of his nieces.

Godoy’s men had intercepted a letter of Napoleon accepting the marriage of Fernando with her niece Charlotte Bonaparte. Godoy ordered his guard to inspect Ferdinand’s room while he was hunting with his friends. Godoy found out Ferdinand’s intention and he advised the rest of the royal family to move to the court to the Americas.

Godoy contacted the British and arranged an Anglo-Spanish convoy in Cadiz in which the remainders of the Spanish navy would be moved to Cuba and the royal family would be escorted to the city of Havana [5] where the exiled monarchy would set their new court.

The 6th of September of 1808 the Spanish royal family left the port of Cadiz, officially disowned their heir Ferdinand, named his son Carlos María Isidro as the new prince of Asturias and Gerona, and formalized their alliance with the United Kingdom against Napoleon.

The weeding and the invasion of Portugal


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The royal weeding of Ferdinand and Charlotte at Aranjuez

Napoleon got enraged at the news of the Spanish royal leaving, but the weeding was finally arranged for the 12th of December of 1808 in the palace of Aranjuez, in which the invasion of Portugal was secretly agreed on.

Napoleon wanted to inflict a blow to the United Kingdom for aiding Charles and Godoy. Portugal was the perfect target, as they were not fulfilling the obligations of the Continental system and it was the United Kingdom’s closest ally in the continent.

Ferdinand’s transition into power was smooth as most of Spanish society saw Charles and Godoy as traitors for leaving the country with the navy and stealing the American territories, despite Napoleon’s unpopularity in the country.

On the 16th of February of 1808 the French ambassador notified prince John of Braganza that if he didn’t give control of the Portuguese fleet to France and Spain, declared war to the United Kingdom, seize all British goods in Portuguese ports and to arrest any British citizen living in the country, the French empire and Spain would invade the country.

After the refusal of the prince, a Franco Spanish army led by Murat [6] invaded Portugal. Regent John failed to mobilize the army or any kind of militias and the only thing that slowed down the invasion was the poor quality of the Spanish and Portuguese roads around the border. John ended up agreeing to the French demands, but Murat had been ordered to depose him. Seeing that the arrival of Murat’s army was inevitable, the Portuguese royal family and some aristocrats departed from Lisbon to Brazil.

Murat would be crowned king of Portugal on the 8th of April of 1808, but the Portuguese navy would be distributed amongst the French and Spanish navies.

The invasion of Russia


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Europe before the invasion of Russia

After the French victory during the war of the fifth coalition Napoleon had secured most of Europe to aligned with Napoleon. Spain, Portugal, Naples, the kingdom of Italy, the Confederation of the Rhine, the duchy of Warsaw and Switzerland were his puppets (Spain was supposedly an ally but Ferdinand was very servile), while France had directly annexed Holland and Illyria, and Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, and Austria were his allies.

The only country who was not under his thumb in continental Europe was Russia. Russia had started to ignore the continental system as their economy had taken a hit and they were not pleased with the current situation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon decided to invade Russia with the largest army ever assembled compromised of the armies of France, its allies, and its puppet states.

Napoleon’s army started marching towards Moscow, but the Russian army didn’t engage in battle like Napoleon was expecting. As there were not enough resources to live from the earth, the French army to started to starve while marching towards Moscow. After winning the bloody battle of Borodino, Napoleon entered Moscow, but the city was burn to the ground and its inhabitants had fled. After waiting for the surrender of Tsar Alexander; Napoleon realized that the Russians were not going to surrender, and he planned the evacuation of his force. During the retreat Napoleon’s army lost 300,000 French soldiers, 70,000 Polish soldiers, 50,000 Italian soldiers and 80,000 German soldiers.

The war of the sixth coalition

While the British army tried to make a series of invasions in Portugal, most of their attempts had failed to amount to anything and the resistance in the region was mostly done by small pockets of resistance done by irregulars. As the French an Spanish army had stablish a supply chain from Spain, the Spanish and French garrisons were properly supplied and managed to crush most resistance attempts.

After the heavy losses suffered by Napoleon in his invasion of Russia, the British managed to convince the king of Sweden to join their coalition by accepting their claims to Norway. King Frederick William III of Prussia published a call to arms to his subjects, An Mein Volk, and declared war on France too, while Austria remained neutral.

Napoleon managed to raise an army of 400,000 and Ferdinand, Murat and Joseph managed to supply him enough horses to pursue his campaign in Central Europe. After the battle of Lützen and Bautzen the French army convincingly defeated the Prussian and Russian alliance.


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Battle of Lützen

After the battle Bautzen the French army managed to take over Berlin and push the Russian army out of Poland. Later on, a small French contingent managed to quickly quick out the Swedish army out of Mecklenburg and Denmark.

Napoleon had achieved a great victory against the coalition, but his country was exhausted after the heavy loses of the Russian invasion. To gain a strong hand against the Russians, he tried to secure his alliance with Austria.

The conference of Berlin

While France was occupying Prussia Napoleon met with Metternich in Berlin to discuss a new alliance between the 2 countries. It was fundamental to secure the gains in the latest coalition war while France focused on building back its navy to dispute the British dominion of the seas.

After failing to invade Russia, the strategy of the French empire would pivot around isolating both Russia and Britain and the dissolution of Prussia (the monarchy and the army) to have a stronger grip on central Europe and avoid the alliance of Prussia, Russia, and Britain.

To the conference of Berlin only France, Austria, the Grand Duchy of Poland, and Sweden attended.

The conference of Berlin would see the following changes:

  • Austria gets Silesia and the Illyrian provinces.
  • The Grand duchy of Warsaw would get East and West Prussia.
  • Pomerania and Brandenburg would join the German confederacy.
  • Sweden will pay 1 million francs to Denmark as reparations.
  • If Sweden is attacked by Russia or Britain the French and Austrian empire would defend them.
  • Austria’s army limitations are raised.
As the conference left out Russia and Britain, the war with Russia and Britain continued, but after the Russian defeat at Lomza stopped their advances against the coalition.

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European Borders after the conference of Berlin

The evolution of the French empire

The French empire had secured and consolidated its position in Europe, and now the attention of the empire was to build back its navy and that of its allies. The French empire had a much larger population than the British Isles, and thanks to Napoleon’s fiscal reforms it had access to a large tax base to finance the buildup of its navy.

The main problem that the French empire was facing was a scarcity of sailors all over Europe. Most of the trained sailors in Europe where British, and even the United Kingdom had a scarcity of sailors due the growth of international trade. Training sailors was costly and making them gain experience was a hard endeavor as the United Kingdom kept harassing continental navies.

Despite the problems faced by the French naval build, the empire had a clear advantage over Britain in the number of naval bases and ports that they had. The French empire had friendly ports from Naples to Danzig which allowed them to project power all over Europe and North Africa with ease which was putting a strain on the British navy as corsair licenses were given to navies in the Mediterranean, the Northern Sea, and the Baltic Sea.

The increase of the French, Spanish, Danish and Italian navies raised the alarms in Westminster and the British started to finance the revolts in Germany, Italy and Portugal, and the Russian Tzar to drag resources from the French navy to its army, while increasing the budget of the Royal Navy.

French policy during these years (1814-1821) focused on the necessary build up for a global empire, to expand French influences and trade abroad, and to force the UK to decrease their global influence by concentrating their navy in Europe.

The main targets of French imperialism would become:

  • Egypt, to build up a presence in Africa and Asia to disrupt British trade with Britain
  • The Spanish Hispaniola which legally belonged to France by the treaty of Basel, to build a larger base of operations in the Caribbean.
  • Consolidate the power of Ferdinand VII as the true Spanish emperor to control the Spanish kingdoms and gain a strong grip on the American continent.
  • Finally take over Gibraltar, Sicily and Sardinia once the navy would become strong enough to block naval supplies from the royal navy.
The French imperial adventure was not supposed to be only economical. Napoleon wanted to expand French knowledge and culture abroad, to civilize other regions of the world by exporting its ideas, its technical knowledge, and its industry.

Before venturing into the invasion of Egypt, Napoleon died in 1821. Napoleon the II was crowned in Paris at the age of 10 as emperor of the French and king of Italy and the Netherlands, as the emperor was too young to rule her mother became the regent of the empire.

Charles the IV and his American Empire

Charles, his family, and Godoy arrived at Havana and were greeted by the local population. The arrival of Charles in the American continent and the new alliance with the United Kingdom were seen with good eyes by most of the population.

The loss of power of the Spanish empire meant that the kingdoms had the upper hand and were able to take control over the Spanish monopolies on tobacco and alcohol and increase the budget of their treasuries greatly.

The loss of power of the empire also meant that the navy would be filled by more criollos as the legal flow of Peninsulares to America had decreased since the split, even though a lot of loyal people to Charles had resettled to America, mostly in Havana, New Orleans, Mexico, and Venezuela. Due the relative low population of the Antilles the center of power of the empire pivoted to New Spain which had a central position in the empire (including the control of trade with the Phillipines) and the largest population of all the kingdoms.

The alliance with Britain meant that smuggling got reduced, as most of the trade with Britain got legalized. These led to a surge in revenue of the treasury to a larger collection of the Alcabala and the booming of exports towards the UK as the commerce with Europe was getting reduced. The alliance with Britain also pacified the relationships with Brazil and trade surged between Brazil and the Kingdom of Perú who started a process of economic integration.

However, these short spurs of prosperity started to dwindle after the French empire started its naval build up. The United Kingdom allowed fewer ships to depart to America as they were needed in Europe for the defense of the island, which created an economic recession in the continent during 1816 to 1821.

Gabriel had grown skeptical about the dependence from the United Kingdom and kept pushing to stimulate local production by increasing taxes on imports and by granting a series of benefits to local manufacturers and foreign investments in the country. The increase trading between Perú, New Spain, New Granada and Brazil would influence the pairing policy of the different Kingdoms, bonding them through commerce, a share catholic culture and blood.

In 1810 Charles would abdicate in his son Carlos as his gout got worse due the warm and humid climate of Cuba. Charles spent the last years of his life in Mexico City as his doctors recommended the climate for his disease and the city had a lot of the past times that he liked.

[1] Phillip the V did want to establish the Spanish control over Italy which consumed a large part of the foreign policy of Spain.

[2] Godoy held a lot of power. He was probably the most powerful minister since the times of Olivares. In fact, he became part of the royalty and had controlled over multiple branches of government such as the navy.

[3] Whitelocke was involved in the assaults on Buenos Aires from the previous episode.

[4] This title was given to him after he managed to secure a peace with France in the war of the Pyrenees.

[5] In our timeline the plan was going to Mexico City, however with the division of the Viceroyalties I decided to set their court in La Havana which still nominally belonged to them.

[6] Joseph stays as king of Naples and Napoleon gives Murat the kingdom of Portugal. From what I gathered Napoleon did not trust the Portuguese prince that acted as regent (even less so than the Spanish monarchy) and he wanted to depose them at all costs even when they surrendered and accepted all their demands.
 
oh well you have to put weight on the navy from now on, to avoid Napoleon. Well, the Spanish empire continues to exist, but now there are two, that of America and that of Europe. In the long run, the empire in America will surpass that of Europaby with the massive amount of land that the viceroyalties have, they will be able to house a lot of people and grow in population rapidly, in addition to stability and without many wars the population will not decrease. At this point, New Spain has the same population growth rate as the USA.
 
oh well you have to put weight on the navy from now on, to avoid Napoleon. Well, the Spanish empire continues to exist, but now there are two, that of America and that of Europe. In the long run, the empire in America will surpass that of Europaby with the massive amount of land that the viceroyalties have, they will be able to house a lot of people and grow in population rapidly, in addition to stability and without many wars the population will not decrease. At this point, New Spain has the same population growth rate as the USA.
There are multiple outcomes for the empire. It depends on the US as well and how Britain tries to manage the future conflicts between a country that is trying to move West and the Spanish Empire of America.
 
There are multiple outcomes for the empire. It depends on the US as well and how Britain tries to manage the future conflicts between a country that is trying to move West and the Spanish Empire of America.
I don't think that the United States is a big problem at the moment, its population is smaller than that of New Spain and the United Kingdom is allied with the Spanish Empire of America, if a war does not break out at the rate that things are going, I do not think that the United States will United can easily outnumber its neighbor in population.
 
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