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BEARD-PULLING AND FURNITURE-REARRANGING: Conflict Within the Seventeenth-Century Audiencia of Santo Domingo

  • Marc Eagle (a1)


On April 8,1626, a violent confrontation took place between the president and one of the oidores of the audiencia of Santo Domingo. According to a letter from oidor Alonso de Cereceda, President Diego de Acuña had called three of the magistrates and the fiscal of the audiencia to his residence in order to question them in private about their response to a message from Acuña's wife, doña Ana de Acuña, instructing them to release a prisoner. When Cereceda suggested that doña Ana's involvement in official business was undermining the tribunal's authority, Acuña flew into a rage and physically assaulted the oidor, punching him in the body and face and knocking his chair to the ground. After the other two oidores and the fiscal pulled the two men apart, Acuña called some of the presidio soldiers into the chamber to guard the letrado officials with drawn swords. Cereceda claimed that while these other witnesses were present, Acuña “attacked me two or three more times, throwing punches at me and putting his hand to my beard for greater injury.” He was then escorted home by the sargento mayor of the presidio, while the other officials remained to calm the president. Following this altercation, Cereceda stopped attending the court's audiencia publica and acuerdo sessions in person, sending his votes with the audiencia scribes instead, until Acuña finally had him placed under arrest.



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This research was conducted mainly on a Fulbright-Institute of International Education grant in Spain during 2001 and 2002. Thanks go to Mark Burkholder for his encouragement and to The Americas’ two anonymous reviewers for comments that helped to improve the focus of this article.

1. Doña Ana de Acuña may indeed have shared the power of her husband’s offices; in his letter Cere¬ceda referred to her as the “gobierno” of her husband, while in an earlier letter his colleague, oidor Diego Gil de la Sierpe, claimed that President Acuña and his wife had jointly asked him for a favorable verdict in a case involving the son of an ally of theirs. Archivo General de Indias (hereafter AGI), Santo Domingo 55, R. 6, N. 42/1 (April 24, 1626); R. 5, N. 29/1 (May 16, 1625).

2. “me acometió otras dos o tres vezes tirándome puñadas y hechándome mano a las barbas por más injuria”; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 6, N. 42/1 (April 24, 1626).

3. AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 6, N. 49/1 (June 15, 1626).

4. As Ann Twinam notes, the extensive literature on honor must be used with care: literary sources in particular tend to emphasize bodily conflict, yet disputes among audiencia ministers almost never went beyond verbal threats; Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor, Sexuality, and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), p. 31. Lyman Johnson has also observed that violence over honor among elites was very infrequent by the eighteenth century, as they competed for status in a vari¬ety of other ways, and this appears to be true for seventeenth-century Santo Domingo as well; “Dangerous Words, Provocative Gestures, and Violent Acts: The Disputed Hierarchies of Plebeian Life in Colonial Buenos Aires,” in The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America, eds. Johnson, Lyman L.and Lipsett-Rivera, Sonya (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998), p. 129.

5. John L. Phelan's classic study of the audiencia of Quito discusses a variety of enmities among the per¬sonnel of that tribunal, as well as additional institutional conflicts generated by the presence of visitador jen-eral Mañozca, Juan de; The Kingdom of Qiiito in the Seventeenth Century: Bureaucratic Politics in the Spanish Empire (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967). For similar examples, see Scháfer, Ernst, El Consejo Real y Supremo de las Indias, vol. 2 (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos de Sevilla, 1947), p. 155; Parry, J. H., The Audiencia of New Galicia in the Sixteenth Century: A Study in Spanish Colonial Gov¬ernment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948), pp. 73, 128; Zamorano, Pilar Arregui, La Audien¬cia de Mexico según los visitadores: siglos XVI y XVII (Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1985), p. 231; and Herzog, Tamar, Upholding Justice: Society, State, and the Penal System in Qttito (1650–1750) (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2004), pp. 127130.

6. The viewpoint provided by metropolitan legislation and official correspondence tends to reinforce the perception of the audiencias and other colonial institutions as discrete entities. For example, Francisco de Pelsmaeker e Iváñez uses mainly peninsular sources to argue that colonial audiencias with well-defined insti¬tutional boundaries simply conveyed Spanish sovereignty and culture to America in La Audiencia en las colo¬nias espartólas de America (Madrid: Tipografia de la Revista de Archivos, 1925), while Gabriel René Moreno concentrates on the jurisdictional struggle between a mostly unified tribunal in Charcas and the Peruvian viceroy in La Audiencia de Charcas (La Paz: Ministeria de Educación y Cultura, 1970).

7. Herzog, , Upholding Justice, pp. 159160, 258. For a critique of the idea of colonial Spanish admin¬istration as a unified “state” distinct from the society of the time, see also Cañeque, Alejandro, The King’s Living Image: The Culture and Politics of Viceregal Power in Seventeenth-Century New Spain (New York: Rout-ledge, 2004), pp. 713.

8. I am generally using “honor” in this article to mean publicly acknowledged reputation, sometimes abbreviated by scholars as “honor-status,” in contrast to a personal sense of moral behavior, or “honor-virtue,” although these distinctions were not explicitly acknowledged by contemporaries. See John¬son, Lyman and Lipsett-Rivera, Sonya, “Introduction,” in Faces of Honor, pp. 34, and Twinam, Ann, “The Negoti¬ation of Honor: Elites, Sexuality, and Illegitimacy in Eighteenth-Century Spanish America,” p. 73, in the same volume.

9. The expectation that men were responsible for ensuring their wives’ appropriate behavior is discussed by Johnson, , “Dangerous Words,” p. 145. Susan Socolow also notes the male anger directed against women (like Acuña’s wife) who did not follow expected gender norms, though in this case Cereceda seems to have used this as a pretext for trying to reduce Acuña’s scope of action as president; The Women of Colonial Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 148–149.

10. A number of scholars have noted the central importance of an audience for insults, including Pitt-Rivers, Julian, “Honour and Social Status,” in Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society, ed. Peristiany, J. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), p. 27; Lipsett-Rivera, Sonya, “De Obra y Palabra: Patterns of Insults in Mexico, 1750–1856,The Americas 54: 4 (April 1998), p. 511; and Boyer, Richard, “Respect and Identity: Horizontal and Vertical Reference Points in Speech Acts,” The Americas 54:4 (April 1998), pp. 494496.

11. The beard was regarded as a symbol of manhood; Johnson, , “Dangerous Words,” pp. 132133. Cereceda understood that Acuña pulled his beard specifically to dishonor him.

12. Pitt-Rivers sees physical violence as a last resort for proving one’s honor, though part of the motivation for Acuña’s assault on Cereceda was that the president considered the magistrate to be his social infe¬rior; “Honour and Social Status,” pp. 29, 31. Frank Henderson Stewart’s treatment of honor as a right seems to agree with Acuña’s behavior; Honor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 21.

13. As this article is not primarily about honor, a thorough review of the literature on honor and status is outside its scope; however, a few sources bear mention. Julian Pitt-Rivers’s 1966 article “Honour and Social Status” in Honour and Shame is the standard departure point for theoretical considerations of the concept of honor. Julio Caro Baroja’s selection in the same volume, “Honour and Shame: A Historical Account of Sev¬eral Conflicts,” underscores the importance of changes in the meaning and practices associated with honor in different times and places. The edited volume Faces of Honor by Lyman Johnson and Sonia Lipsett-Rivera pro¬vides an excellent application of these ideas to colonial Latin America and demonstrates the concern of people in all sectors of society for reputation even when it was not labeled as honor; in particular, Mark Burkholder’s article, “Honor and Honors in Colonial Spanish America,” illustrates the competition among elites for social preeminence. Ann Twinam also provides some useful warnings about the problems of applying general assumptions about honor to a specific time, place, or group, and stresses that the theoretical categories of honor employed by modern scholars were not recognized by colonial Latin American elites; Public Lives, Private Secrets, pp. 31–32.

14. Schàfer, , El Consejo Real, vol. 2, p. 533. The previous letrado presidents of Santo Domingo had received the title of captain-general starting in 1577; Romero, Fernando Muro, Las Presidencias-Gobernaciones en Indias (siglo XVI) (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos de Sevilla, 1975), pp. 8384. The mil¬itary powers of the Dominican tribunal’s president made it a “praetorian” audiencia, as compared to “vicere¬gal” and “subordinate” audiencias (headed by viceroys and letrado presidents, respectively); Guiñazú, Enrique Ruiz, La magistratura indiana (Buenos Aires: Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias Sociales, 1916), pp. 4144.

15. I use the terms “president” or “president-governor” (an abbreviation occasionally used in royal leg¬islation) to refer to the men who led the Dominican audiencia in the seventeenth century, though officially each was governor, captain-general, and president; Romero, Muro, Presidencias-Gobernaciones, p. 185.

16. The audiencias of Guatemala, Panama, Santa Fe, Manila, and Chile were also headed by military men in the seventeenth century; Schàfer, , El Consejo Real, vol. 2, pp. 2730, 119-120. The audiencia of Chile was spared a certain amount of this military-letrado conflict because the president-governor usually resided in Concepción instead of Santiago, the seat of the audiencia; Márquez, Jaime Valenzuela, Las liturgias del poder: celebraciones públicas y estrategias persuasivas en Chile colonial (1609-1709) (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones LOM, 2001), pp. 8083.

17. Cañeque, , King’s Living Image, p. 94.

18. Due to the chronic shortage of letrados on Hispaniola, the president of the audiencia of Santo Domingo had special dispensation to use an oidor as an asesor; Recopilación de leyes de los reynos de las Indias (Madrid: Julián de Paredes, 1681), L. 2, T. 16,1. 14. This practice frequently sharpened divisions among the court’s personnel, as in 1645 when incoming president-governor Nicolás de Velasco appointed oidor Juan Melgarejo Ponce de León as his asesor for the residencia of outgoing president-governor Juan Bitrián de Bia-monte, despite fiscal Francisco Alarcón Coronado’s strenuous objections that Melgarejo should be disquali¬fied since he had earlier served as Bitrián de Biamonte’s asesor; AGI Santo Domingo 56, R. 5, N. 40/3 (August 12, 1645).

19. “que los subditos viniesen a ser superiores y que los que an de obedecer den leyes a los que les toca por su oficio gobernarlos,” AGI Santo Domingo 57, R. 2, N. 32/1 (August 5, 1650).

20. Recopilación, L. 2, T. 15,11. 36, 38; Pereyra, Juan de Solórzano , Política indiana (Madrid: Biblioteca Castro, 1996), L. 5, cap. 3, n. 30. See also AGI Santo Domingo 54, R. 1, N. 24/1 (September 30, 1610), N. 24/2 (n.d.).

21. AGI Santo Domingo 54, R. 2, N. 73/1 (July 18, 1611). These privileges were not unique to Santo Domingo, but were generally given to the president-governors of audiencias, and later extended to provincial governors to keep the oidores from interfering with matters of war; see Recopilación, L. 3, T. 11, I. 2, and Solórzano, Política Indiana, L. 5, cap. 13, n.41.

22. President Andrés Pérez Franco seems to have used this device with some frequency, according to a complaint from the letrado members of the audiencia; AGI Santo Domingo 57, R. 4, Ν. 61/1 (August 22, 1652).

23. After losing his right to a chair, the fiscal would have had to sit on a bench like other lawyers; although this change might seem minor, it functioned as a public declaration that the fiscal was an unimpor¬tant member of the audiencia. AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 20, N. 124/1 (June 30, 1640).

24. AGI Santo Domingo 56, R. 2, N. 10/1 (July 15, 1642); Santo Domingo 57, R. 1, N. 1/1 (Feb¬ruary 12, 1649), N. 2/1 (February 12, 1649).

25. AGI Santo Domingo 57, R. 4, N. 61/1 (August 22, 1652); R. 5, N. 72/1 (April 26, 1653). For the oidores, the disrespect shown by the local cabildo members at Orozco's funeral was a clear example of how Pérez Franco was actively damaging the public reputation of the tribunal. Pérez Franco even tried to block the senior oidor from becoming interim president in case of his death by arranging to have the alcaldes ordinarios succeed him, but when he died this decree was overturned by the audiencia as patently illegal; AGI Santo Domingo 57, R. 5, N. 75/1-75/3 (August 20, 1653).

26. In 1620, oidores of the Audiencia of Mexico made a similar complaint that the viceroy was restrict¬ing them from writing to the king; Cañeque, , King’s Living Image, pp. 6061. These were supposed to be shocking accusations, since they meant that the king and Consejo de Indias were deliberately being deceived about conditions across the Atlantic.

27. “que solo es tribunal de justizia … que ni es de su profesión ni tienen experienzias para su exerz-izio”; AGI Santo Domingo 58, R. 3, N. 51/1 (July 30, 1656). His views clearly contrasted with royal legis¬lation concerning audiencias in the Indies; for example, the oidores were supposed to meet with and advise the president on administrative matters regularly in the acuerdo sessions. Zúñiga seemed to think this arrange¬ment simply made no sense, and felt that his predecessor in office, the conde de Peñalba, had allowed the oidores to become overly involved in the government of the island.

28. AGI Santo Domingo 54, R. 1, N. 9/1 (March 20, 1610). The 1605 depopulation of the western side of the island under president-governor Antonio Osorio is described in detail in Pérez, Frank Peña, Anto¬nio Osorio, monopolio, contrabando y despoblación (Santiago, D.R.: Universidad Católica Madre y Maestre, 1980), while a summary of the modern literature on the depopulations is provided in Deive, Carlos Esteban, Tangomanjjos: contrabando y piratería en Santo Domingo, 1522-1606 (Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana, 1996), pp. 245249.

29. “los que sabemos derramar su sangre por vuestra magestad”; AGI Santo Domingo 64, R. 1, N. 16/1 (March 28, 1679). Segura Sandoval was asking that a recent order that the oidores were to help oversee troop musters be rescinded, because the oidores did not understand the proceedings and did little more than harass the soldiers; the Consejo granted his request.

30. The presidents of the seventeenth century included both minor titled nobles and men who had risen through the ranks from common soldiers, though most displayed a sense that their military service elevated them above mere bureaucrats. The one notable exception, Ignacio Pérez Caro, a former ship captain who pur¬chased the office of president-governor in 1689, seems not to have fought with the letrado ministers over pre¬eminence to the same degree. Scholars have discussed the idea of ‘vertical’ (dividing social groups into a hier-archy of status) and ‘horizontal’ (related to the members within a social group) honor; for most of the president-governors, their claims to honor placed them above letrados vertically. It is difficult to find clear evi¬dence that oidores and fiscales accepted this argument, however. See Correa, Gustavo, “El doble aspecto de la honra en el teatro del siglo XVII,” Hispanic Review 26:2 (April 1958), pp. 99102; Boyer, , “Respect and Iden¬tity,” pp. 492494.

31. “que era un bachiller hablador, y que mirase que hablaba con Don Félix de Zúñiga y que su sangre y puestos a vista de un emperador no son como los de algunos nacidos en un muladar”; AGI Santo Domingo 58, R. 5, N. 72/1 (November 4, 1658).

32. AGI Santo Domingo 58, R. 3, N. 45/1 (July 28,1656); AGI Escribanía de Cámara 12A, n. 5, pza. 2, ff. 235v-236r. These pejorative terms are not easy to translate directly; “roguish pettifoggers” and “dirty jackets” do not really convey how belittling these comments were meant to be.

33. In discussing the complaints about Zúñiga, the Consejo de Indias conceded that his temperament “no es ni ha sido nunca para gobernar audiencias ni negocios de justicia gobierno y gracia”; AGI Santo Domingo 2, R. 1, 70 (August 28, 1658).

34. “le hubiera encerrado en un torre”; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 10, N. 61/1 (July 12, 1630).

35. “algún demonio encarnado”; AGI Escribanía de Cámara 33A, pza. 1 (second series), ff. 11 lv-127v. A few years later Chávez Osorio again complained that Cereceda had not been attending acuerdos on Mon¬days and Thursdays for over a year because he claimed that the president wanted to kill him. Chávez Osorio pointed out that the oidor did attend audiencias públicas on Tuesdays and Fridays when the two of them were often alone behind closed doors, and argued (perhaps a bit sarcastically) that it was unlikely that he should want to kill Cereceda only on specific days of the week; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 14, N. 78/1 (August 20, 1634).

36. He was eventually called to Spain to account for his behavior, though he died before receiving the order. AGI Santo Domingo 7, R. 1, N. 50 (1639); Santo Domingo 56, R. 1, N. 4/1 (February 10, 1641); Santo Domingo 2, R. 1, 43-C (May 27, 1654), N. 45 (August 3, 1654).

37. Boyer, , “Respect and Identity,” pp. 492494.

38. See Cañeque, , King’s Living Image, pp. 119124, for a discussion of markers of precedence in the Mexican audiencia. The fiscal was usually regarded as part of the superior ministers of the audiencia, but below the junior oidor in status.

39. Phelan mentions the frequency of litigation over seniority among audiencia ministers; Kingdom of Qttito, pp. 126-127. See also Burkholder, , “Honor and Honors in Colonial Spanish America,” p. 29.

40. AGI Santo Domingo 65, R. 3, N. 82/1 (August 22, 1687).

41. Oidor-elect Manuel de la Cruz Ahedo, who had arrived on the same ship as Córdoba, also refused to swear in until the confusion over seniority could be resolved, so that De la Riva Agüero remained the audi-cncia's only oidor for another year; the entire episode demonstrates how seriously these ministers regarded seniority. AGI Santo Domingo 65, R. 3, N. 82/1 (August 22, 1687).

42. Cañeque, , King’s Living Image, p. 154.

43. AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 5, N. 25/1 (February 13, 1625), N. 29/1 (May 16, 1625). De la Sierpe blamed another oidor, Juan Martínez Tenorio, for originally allowing Parra de Meneses to make this change in the seating arrangements, and thereby failing to defend the structure of seniority. Martínez Tenorio was unusually unconcerned with promotion and ended up retiring on the island, where he remained until he was at least 70, occasionally attending acuerdo sessions; AGI Escribanía de Cámara 33A, pza. 1, (second series) f. 99v-100v.

44. Jehn, Karen A., “A Qualitative Analysis of Conflict Types and Dimensions in Organizational Groups,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 42:3 (September 1997), pp. 531533.

45. Ibid., pp. 540–541.

46. There are some exceptions; for example, process conflict that led to more capable individuals being assigned to certain tasks apparently boosted overall efficiency. Jehn, , “Qualitative Analysis of Conflict,” pp. 547549.

47. A significant part of Jehn’s study is concerned with various dimensions of conflict, for example, the level of negative emotions involved, or the group’s perception of how important or acceptable these conflicts were and whether they were likely to be resolved, and how they affect group productivity; “Qualitative Analy¬sis of Conflict,” pp. 541–546, 549–551. However, consistent or reliable information on these aspects of con¬flict simply does not exist for the seventeenth-century Dominican audiencia, and other problems like the impossibility of measuring “productivity” make it fruitless to imitate her approach.

48. The debate in the acuerdo among the audiencia’s members over what to do with Portuguese residents of the island after receiving news of a potential uprising in the spring of 1650 is an excellent example of task conflict that was a normal part of the audiencia’s activities. Each minister had the opportunity to present his opinion, but in the end the acuerdo itself rendered a single decision; AGI Santo Domingo 57, R. 2, N. 23/1 (March 14, 1650).

49. Dividing these incidents into categories is not always straightforward; in the case of the fight between oidor Cereceda and President Acuña, all three types are evident to some degree. The question of whether or not to set the prisoner free was task conflict, the ability of Acuña’s wife to issue orders in her husband's name was a procedural matter, and Cereceda’s insulting suggestion that the president's wife was not obeying gender norms was a personal conflict.

50. Jehn, , “Qualitative Analysis of Conflict,” pp. 541, 553.

51. MacLachlan, Colin, Spain’s Empire in the Hew World: The Role of Ideas in Institutional and Social Change (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 125.

52. Herzog, , Upholding Justice, pp. 4647, 60–61. A large part of the reason that royal justice was entrusted to a conciliar body in Santo Domingo and elsewhere during the sixteenth century was a metropol¬itan preference for multiple officials who had personal loyalty to the king and could provide a variety of view¬points, instead of a single authority figure who might develop too much autonomy; Pietschmann, Horst, El estado y su evolución al principio de la colonización española de América, trans. Angelica Scherp (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989), p. 137.

53. For example, when responding to a complaint from oidor Rodrigo de Valcárcel in 1616, the Con¬sejo decided that President Diego Gómez de Sandoval should be reminded of existing procedure and instructed to use moderation in the way he summoned the audiencia magistrates, while both the president and the audiencia should be urged to have “toda buena correspondencia” with each other; AGI Santo Domingo 54, R. 7, N. 115 (May 8, 1616).

54. Volume I of Schàfer, El Consejo Real, remains an excellent examination of the process by which overseas officials were chosen. See also Phelan, , Kingdom of Qiiito, pp. 128139; Burkholder, Mark and Chandler, D.S., From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audienicias, 1687-1808 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1977), pp. 24; and Herzog, , Upholding Justice, pp. 6271.

55. On the conception of public office during this period, see Cañeque, , King’s Living Image, pp. 180181.

56. Hispaniola was the lowest-status audiencia in the Indies, and the hunger for promotion, especially to a viceregal audiencia such as Mexico or Lima, is revealed clearly in a 1638 memorial from oidor Cereceda in which he complained about having his promotion to oidor of Mexico suspended after his residencia, and referred to Santo Domingo as “el más miserable lugar que ay” in the Indies or in Spain; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 18, N. 91/1 (n.d.). In a 1658 consulta, the members of the Consejo de Indias noted that there were no other audiencias below Santo Domingo in status; AGI Santo Domingo 2, R. 1, 73 (December 19, 1658).

57. It is worth repeating the observation that the definition of and behavior associated with honor varies considerably across social groups, places, and periods; see for example Baroja, Julio Caro, “Honour and Shame,” p. 81; Twinam, , “Negotiation of Honor,” pp. 72, 93–94.

58. It seems likely that Acuña understood the relative positions of president-governor and oidor as a natural patron-client relationship, though De la Sierpe saw more advantage in maintaining his independence from the president’s network of allies; see the description of clientelism in Kettering, Sharon, Patrons, Brokers, and Clients in Seventeenth-Century France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 35.

59. De la Sierpe also implied that Acuña was protecting Parra de Meneses, who was friendly with the president and voted according to his will; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 5, N. 29/1 (May 16, 1625).

60. This allegation of destroying written records was meant to be a shocking accusation in its own right, to demonstrate that Acuña had gone far beyond his authority as president. De la Sierpe’s description of Acuña tearing up the testimony “con sus manos en mis barbas” is also interesting for its connotation of physically establishing domination in the presence of others, though in a more limited way than the assault on Cereceda the following year; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 5, N. 29/1 (May 16, 1625).

61. When De la Sierpe protested Acuña’s use of coercion, the president apparently suggested that he was lucky to have any teeth left in his head after defying him in this manner, asking “pues si yo fuera otro abia le de aber quedado ya diente ni muela por lo que me a hecho”; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 5, N. 29/1 (May 16, 1625).

62. Julian Pitt-Rivers has noted the importance of personally witnessing an insult, though his claim that turning to the judicial process in response was itself dishonoring seems to be contradicted by the actions of letrado ministers who were quick to complain to the Consejo de Indias, underscoring the difficulty of apply¬ing general patterns to specific places and times; “Honour and Social Status,” pp. 25–26, 30.

63. According to De la Sierpe, Acuña said “voto a Dios que me lo a de dar que me va en ello mi honrra”; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 5, N. 29/1 (May 16, 1625). Seventeenth-century elites used the terms ‘honor’ and ‘honra’ without a clear qualitative distinction; see Johnson and Lipsett-Rivera, “Introduction,” pp. 3–4.

64. “no se an hecho al licenciado Gil de la Sierpe que al resplandor del sol de Vuestra Magestad es una hormiga pero la insigne y singular justiçia y liberalidad de Vuestra Magestad me eleva y visto de su grandeza dándome su misma jurisdición de manera que en lo exterior no pareçe ya Gil de la Sierpe sino la real magestad de mi rey y señor a quien por esta causa y razón verdaderamente se an hecho estas descortezías y agravios”; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 5, N. 29/1 (May 16, 1625)

65. “siendo oydor de Su Magestad que si no lo fuera y ciñiera espada no me consintiera tratar de esta manera”; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 6, N. 42/1 (April 24, 1626).

66. Recopilación, L. 2, T. 15, II. xxviii and xxx, underscore the special status of the acuerdo as a corpo¬rate assembly of the superior personnel. Solórzano describes the special treatment due to the oidores when they appeared at the cathedral “en cuerpo de Audiencia”; Politica indiana, L. 5 cap. 3 η. 22. See also Cañeque, King’s Living Image, p. 60.

67. AGI Escribanía de Cámara 33A, pza. 1 (second series), ff. 28v-29r. The involvement of Parra de Meneses’s wife, together with the participation of doña Ana de Acuña in her husband’s affairs, offers further evidence that the alliances and interests of audiencia members went far beyond the boundaries of the institu¬tion. The wives and mistresses of royal officials in Santo Domingo seem to have frequently acted as liaisons between local residents and their husbands.

68. See Caneque, , King’s Living Image, pp. 5765, on the related tensions between the viceroy and audiencia in Mexico, and Herzog, Upholding Justice, pp. 131–132, on the alliances of individual audiencia members.

69. In 1640, President Bitrián de Bianionte complained that Pimentel regularly dined with several judges even though the audiencia was hearing two cases involving his relatives, while in 1683 President Francisco de Segura Sandoval relied on Pimentel’s counsel in allowing a suspected pirate to sail out of the harbor after paying a fine; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 20, N. 123/1 (June 30, 1640); Santo Domingo 3, Ramo 2, 66a (December 17, 1683). A brief summary of Pimentel’s life may be found in Nolasco, Flérida de, Días de la colonia (Estudios históricos) (Ciudad Trujillo: Impresora Dominicana, 1952), pp. 88113.

70. The Consejo sent repeated orders to President Gómez de Sandoval and fiscal Herrera to cease their bickering after their initial disagreements in 1610, although these were largely ignored; AGI Santo Domingo 1, R. 2, 141-A (October 24, 1617).

71. AGI Santo Domingo, 869, L. 6, f. 112r (June 7, 1611), f. 112v(June 7, 1611).

72. In 1641, fiscal Alarcón Coronado received two cédulas de reprehensión (letters of reprimand), one to be read in the acuerdo and one in the audiencia, which he reportedly heard “con mucha sumisión”; AGI Santo Domingo 56, R. 1, N. 4/1 (February 10, 1641). After receiving a reprimand and a fine in 1674 over a treasury matter, President Ignacio de Zayas B.izán wrote to the Consejo to say how devastated he was not by the fine but by the shame, and claimed that if he were not married he would have retired to a monastery. His response may have been a bit melodramatic, but gives a sense of how deeply a royal rebuke could sting; AGI Santo Domingo 62, R. 7, N. 56/1 (May 13, 1674).

73. In this way metropolitan authorities recognized and took advantage of audiencia ministers’ concern for honor; as the king was above and outside of individual contests over honor, this public humiliation could not be contested. The king’s ability to legitimate claims to honor, discussed by Ann Twinam, represents the opposite of his ability to shame; Public Lives, Private Secrets, pp. 42–43.

74. This judge, Juan de Ibarra y Gueztara, seems to have performed his inquiries somewhat perfunctorily, and much of the paperwork he left behind was finished up by Diego Gil de la Sierpe, who was serving as fiscal of the audiencia at the time; AGI Santo Domingo 1, R. 1, 141 (November 29, 1617); Santo Domingo 55, R. 1, N. 1/1 (February 27, 1620). Using an official who was already leaving for the Indies was another effort to limit the costs of an investigation.

75. Herrera also fought with the other oidores and the new fiscal, and by 1620 it may simply have been easiest for the Consejo to move him elsewhere; AGI Santo Domingo 54, R. 10, N. 124/1 (February 5, 1619); Santo Domingo 1, R. 2, 152 (March 18, 1620).

76. For example, as a result of problems between Gómez de Sandoval and oidor Mejía de Villalobos, the Consejo recommended moving the oidor to a place in the audiencia of Panama to avoid further aggrava¬tion; AGI Santo Domingo 1, R. 2, 117 (April 8, 1614). Officials targeted by a visita might receive substan¬tial fines, but were rarely permanently stripped of their positions; for examples from Quito, see Phelan, , Kingdom of Quito, pp. 298300, 304–305.

77. It is worth noting that the early clashes between Herrera and Gómez de Sandoval began with pro¬cedural issues, over the extent of the president-governor’s authority in the depopulated north and west of the island of Hispaniola; AGI Santo Domingo 54, R. 1, N. 9/1 (March 20, 1610).

78. See García, Juana Gil-Bermejo, La Española: anotaciones históricas (1600-1650) (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos de Sevilla, 1983), pp. 216224. After a string of similarly disastrous visitas gen¬erales of several other American audiencias from the mid-1620s to the 1640s, the Consejo only rarely recom¬mended broad investigations. An overview of these visitas is given by Phelan, , Kingdom of Quito, p. 217. Conflict among audiencia personnel was never a sufficient justification on its own for a visita general; the king and Consejo were more concerned about abuses like financial malfeasance or partiality. Zamorano, Arregui, La Audiencia de Mexico, p. 86.

79. During their review of the problems in Santo Domingo under Pérez Franco’s administration, the Consejo members discussed “las combeniençias y neçesidad que ay de hazer nueva planta de presidente y demás ministros de aquella audiencia” at such an opportune time; AGI Santo Domingo 2, R. 1, 36-A (August 27, 1653).

80. Although he certainly generated conflict, President-governor Félix de Zúñiga was recalled to Spain in 1659 mainly due to the gravity of other charges against him, such as permitting contraband trade and main¬taining illicit local alliances, even if his radical subjugation of the audiencia played a role in his removal. Cañeque’s contention that the Spanish king was not an “absolute” monarch but was bound by the terms of royal justice (King’s Living Image, pp. 54–56) is well illustrated by the concern for the rights and reputation of Zúñiga in the royal response to the 1658 consulta discussing his recall; AGI Santo Domingo 2, R. 1, 70 (August 28, 1658).

81. AGI Santo Domingo 52, R. 1, N. 1/1 (February 8, 1601); Santo Domingo 67, R. 1, N. 39/1 (June 4, 1699).

82. Crahan, Margaret E., “Spanish and American Counterpoint: Problems and Possibilities in Spanish Colonial Administrative History,” in New Approaches to Latin American History, eds. Graham, Richard and Smith, Peter H. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974), p. 56.

83. For example, the audiencia ministers appeared to show remarkable cooperation under President Bernardino Hurtado de Meneses, the conde de Peñalba, especially during 1655 in the face of the attempted English invasion of the island. However, a year later Meneses expressed his low opinion of most of the audi¬encia’s ministers when he wrote to the Consejo to praise oidor Andrés Caballero; AGI Santo Domingo 58, R. 3, N. 23/1 (March 20, 1656).

84. Oidores and fiscales wore a short cape called a garnacha, a mark of office that was important enough that they were not allowed to begin wearing it until they had started the journey to take up their new positions; Recopilación, L. 2, T. 16,11. 97, 98. See also Herzog, , Upholding Justice, pp. 229231, for more details on the dress of letrado officials.

85. Márquez, Valenzuela, Las liturgias del poder, p. 25, and Cañeque, , King’s Living Image, p. 124, pro¬vide some details on the audiencia’s place in public processions. On the idealized display of royal administra¬tion in the entrances of the viceroy to seventeenth-century Mexico City, see Curcio-Nagy, Linda, The Great Festivals of Colonial Mexico City: Performing Power and Identity (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004), pp. 1920.

86. For example, Presidents Ignacio de Zayas Bazán and Francisco de Segura Sandoval began carrying the bastón, or governor’s staff of office, in public appearances with the audiencia in order to emphasize their individual authority, but were ordered to end this practice by the Consejo; AGI Santo Domingo 64, R. 1, N. 13/1 (March 28, 1679), N. 13/2 (August 20, 1677); R. 3, N. 53/1 (June 8, 1681).

87. See n. 48 above. Tamar Herzog has described a similar process for the elections of alcaldes ordi¬narios in Quito, which gave the appearance of unanimity to a municipal cabildo that might be deeply divided; Upholding Justice, p. 116.

88. See for example the copy of oidor Francisco Manso de Contreras's letter from Havana on August 30, 1606, in AGI Santo Domingo 52, R. 6, N. 81/2 (n.d.), or AGI Escribanía 12A, leg. 2, η. 3, f. 18r. This does not mean that provincial authorities always gave the audiencia's decisions the same respect as those that came directly from the king; Enriqueta Vila Vilar gives an example of a hostile reception of the Dominican audiencia’s authorized representative in Historia de Puerto Rico (1600–1650) (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos de Sevilla, 1974), pp. 50–52.

89. Alarcón Coronado stressed that he wore the same garnacha as the oidores and was part of the same body, and so should be accorded the proper level of respect; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 17, N. 90/1 (Sep¬tember 20, 1637).

90. The 1633 recommendation for a supplemental monetary grant for the archbishop of Santo Domingo and the 1674 request for aid for a regidor who had been financially affected by a recent cacao blight are two examples of these kinds of letters. AGI Santo Domingo 55, R 13, N. 75/1 (September 6, 1633), N. 75/2 (Sep¬tember 6, 1633), N. 75/3 (September 6, 1633), N. 75/4 (September 2, 1633); Santo Domingo 62, R 7, N. 59/1 (May 16, 1674), N. 59/2 (May 24, 1674), N. 59/3 (May 17, 1674), and N. 59/5 (May 30, 1674).

91. In 1687, when Nicolas Francisco, the slave of a local militia captain, petitioned the president and oidores for payment of back wages he was owed for publicly proclaiming the sale of seized cargo, he could only hope that these royal officials would decide in his favor; AGI Escribanía de Cámara 13A, leg. 3, η. 3, f. 304.

92. For example, the audiencia’s members seemed to close ranks during a clash with Archbishop Juan de Escalante Turcios y Mendoza in 1675 and 1676, and even during a period of substantial internal tensions in 1609 the president and oidores expressed agreement in confronting resistance to their collective authority from the governor of Santiago de Cuba, Juan de Villaverde Urreta, over an issue resulting from the 1605 depopulations; AGI Santo Domingo 63, R. 2, N. 23/1 (August 12,1676); Santo Domingo 53, R. 1, N. 26/1 (June 6, 1609).

93. These issues are often related to each other: in analogous fashion to individual contests over honor, institutions might compete over corporate status, which was associated with the reputation of their members, though jurisdictional conflicts could also result from differing interpretations of royal intent. The fight between the audiencia of Santo Domingo and the city’s cabildo in 1607 and 1608 over their respective positions in public processions is representative of struggles with other civil and religious authorities; AGI Santo Domingo 52, R. 7, N. 95/1 (July 1, 1607); R. 8, N. 101/1 (January 4, 1608).

94. Archbishops who felt the audiencia had usurped ecclesiastical authority could and did excommuni¬cate the tribunal’s members; see for example AGI Santo Domingo 61, R. 1, N. 1/1 (September 25, 1665); N. 1/4 (September 24, 1665).

95. Other authors have noted struggles among different institutional authorities; see for example Cañeque, , King’s Living Image, pp. 106107, 135, 148. There were also instances of cooperation among different bodies, as when the cabildo eclesiástico helped mediate the fight between the audiencia and Archbishop Escalante; AGI Santo Domingo 63, R. 2, N. 23/1 (August 12, 1676).

96. There were occasional exceptions when personal aggravation seemed to outweigh bureaucratic cau¬tion. During a quarrel with his colleagues, Jerónimo de Herrera reportedly swore that he would call for a visita general of the entire court, while fiscal Francisco Alarcón Coronado was so incensed about the mistreatment he had received that he wrote to the Consejo to present a number of reasons why a thorough visita of the audiencia was required as soon as possible. AGI Santo Domingo 54, R. 10, N. 124/1 (February 5, 1619); Santo Domingo 56, R. 6, N. 47/1 (October 20, 1646).

97. AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 6, N. 46/1 (June 14, 1626), N. 47/1 (June 25, 1626), N. 48/1 (June 15, 1626), N. 49/1 (June 15, 1626).

98. This attack is described in some detail in Vilar, Vila, Historia de Puerto Rico, pp. 137139.

99. “quando estubo [la] ciudad zercada del enemigo olandés”; AGI Santo Domingo 55, R. 6, N. 46/1 (June 14, 1626).

100. AGI Escribanía de Cámara 33B, pza. 11, f. 8r.

101. Phelan, , Kingdom of Quito, p. 217. The letrado members of the audiencia may also have been trying to contain the potential threat Cereceda’s intemperate behavior represented to their own careers. By 1629 the king and Consejo de Indias had indeed decided to make a visita general of the audiencia of Santo Domingo; AGI Santo Domingo 1, R. 3, 232 (November 22, 1634).

BEARD-PULLING AND FURNITURE-REARRANGING: Conflict Within the Seventeenth-Century Audiencia of Santo Domingo

  • Marc Eagle (a1)


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