El Salvador and Spain: A Common Past

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El Salvador and Spain: A Common Past.

Salto de línea The Spanish first arrived in present-day El Salvador in 1522. Almost 300 years later, in 1821, all of Central America gained independence from Spain, forming a federal republic that lasted until 1841. Since then, El Salvador has been an independent country.

Salto de línea The three hundred years of the Spanish period are fundamental to the formation of today's Salvadoran society and culture. This exhibition aims to show some of the most important aspects of those times.

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Castile meets Central America.

Salto de línea The Castilians reached the coast of present-day El Salvador in 1522. Historians consider the conquest of Central America to have lasted from 1524 to 1540. From that moment on, the Spanish phase began.

The arrival of the Spanish in Central America was led by the Alvarado family. Pedro de Alvarado had participated with Hernán Cortés in the conquest of Mexico. Cortés sent him to continue the advance southwards.

For this reason, he is considered the conqueror of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He was appointed by Charles V as the first governor of the Kingdom of Guatemala, which included the present-day countries of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Costa Rica and Guatemala, as well as the Mexican state of Chiapas.

AGI, MP-Guatemala, 309 AGI, MP-Guatemala, 309 Pulse para ampliar

Boundaries and jurisdictions.

The conquest was a war, but it also meant the arrival of inhabitants, the creation of institutions and the founding of new settlements.Salto de línea The institutions are bodies exercising functions within their jurisdiction, and within a given territory, which is their boundary.

The current territory of the Republic of El Salvador was integrated into the district of the Audiencia of Guatemala, which in turn became part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

The jurisdiction most similar to today's Republic of El Salvador was the Alcaldía Mayor de San Salvador, founded in 1577.Salto de línea Cities were entities where people of different origins and administrative centres lived together.

These new boundaries were incorporated into the Crown of Castile and, therefore, Castilian law applied to them. All its inhabitants were subjects of the King of Castile.

AGI, Guatemala, 43, N. 54 AGI, Guatemala, 43, N. 54 Pulse para ampliar AGI, Guatemala, 43, N. 54

Institutions styled after Castile.

The Spaniards contributed their administration. In the Americas, the law and institutions were the same as in Spain, although as the Court was far away and circumstances were different, some adaptations were necessary.Salto de línea These institutions were in charge of governing the territory and the cities, administering justice and managing the economy.

Indian law was the set of norms and laws applied in the territories during the Spanish period, regulating administrative, economic and social aspects. It can be said that it was the same Castilian law into which certain Indigenous customs and norms were incorporated.

The successive compilations of the Laws of the Indies sought to protect the Indians from the excesses of some Spaniards, as well as to regulate the exploitation of resources. The fact that they had to be reiterated many times is indicative of the fact that compliance was not always adequate.

Indian law had a lasting influence on the legal systems of Latin American countries, as many of its provisions and principles were incorporated into national legislation after independence.

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Infrastructure and communications.

In addition to institutions, a territory needs infrastructures and means of communication. When these were too costly, they were financed directly by the Crown. Here are some examples of harbours, bridges and official buildings.

In addition, there was a postal service responsible for transporting letters and documents between different parts of the New World and the Iberian Peninsula.

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During the Spanish period, the inhabitants of these lands had three possible origins: Indians (also known at the time as "naturales"), Spaniards (whether born in the Old or New World) and Africans (who could be slaves or free descendants of slaves). Spanish ancestry tended to correspond to a higher social status, although there were people of poor European origin, and also freed Africans or Indians who could achieve a certain social status.

These three groups were far from closed. Mixed heritage was the most common situation, and there was a large social mass of persons born of Indigenous and Spanish ancestry, persons born of African and Spanish ancestry, and persons of indigenous and African ancestry. They ended up forming the group called ladinos.

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Beginnings of the Contemporary Era.

With the independence of the United States and the French Revolution, many things changed in the world. The idea of the King's sovereignty of divine origin began to be replaced by the idea of national sovereignty and liberal parliamentary regimes emerged.

This, in the case of Spain and its overseas territories, coincided with the discontent of the American-born people, provoked by their lack of participation in the spheres of power.

A final attempt in this direction was the Courts of Cadiz, for which deputies were sent from overseas, but the comings and goings of absolutism on the Iberian Peninsula truncated these attempts at modernisation, and finally, in the 1820s, all the territories of continental America gained independence from Spain.

In 1821, the territories of El Salvador became independent as part of the Mexican Empire. Immediately afterwards, the Federal Republic of Central America was created, in the context of which El Salvador appeared as a federated state that finally proclaimed itself sovereign and independent in 1841.