Council of the Indies

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Council of the Indies

 

(Consejo de Indias; official name, Royal Council and Board of War of the Indies), the high legislative, executive, and judicial body that from the 16th to 19th centuries carried out Spain’s colonial policies in the Americas (referred to as “the Indies” in Spanish documents until the 18th century), Oceania, and Asia. Established in 1511, the Council of the Indies consisted of a president, a chancellor, eight councillors, a procurator general, two secretaries, a cosmographer, a mathematician, and a historian. It had charge of such matters as finances, the conclusion of capitulations (treaties) with the conquistadores, the conversion of Indians to Christianity, the provisioning of expeditions, and the selection of military, ecclesiastical, and civil personnel. It was through the Council of the Indies that Spain plundered newly discovered lands and exploited the native population in its overseas possessions. The Council of the Indies existed until 1809 and at intervals thereafter (1810–20,1823–34, and 1846–47); it was permanently abolished in 1847.

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