Royal Audiences

Being the New World so far away and due to the difficulties to communicate with Spain, there is the need to implement judges to attend appeals in America. In 1511, there is judgment pronouncement on the Colombian confrontations that will result in the creation of the First Royal Audience in Saint-Domingue.

The Royal Audiences are collegiate legal institutions with governmental power and single judge. Audiences administrate justice among the inhabitants and safeguard the enforcement of the instructions and regulations issued by the king. Besides having a consultative status, they have civil and criminal jurisdiction and with some exceptions, governmental and administrative competences. The law allows to substitute viceroys and governors in their duties in the case of death, illness or vacancy.

Not all audiences will be the same. The Recopilación de Leyes de Indias (Collection of Laws of the Indies) from 1680 distinguish three: viceroyal, preceded by the viceroy when being in the capital; Pretorian, led by a governor of the province; and subordinates, with a president without any political power. In its personnel includes the president, a captain general or civil, depending on the audience; a series of Oidores (judges) and mayors for crime; one or two prosecutors; one high clerk of the court (alguacil); a lieutenant of the great chancellor; as well as ministers and other necessary servants. In the 18th century, the regent is added.

The First Audience is founded in Saint-Domingue in 1511, but it did not last very long. Under the reigns of Charles I of Spain (Charles V) and Phillip II, the audiences extend to the whole America where the Royal Audience will be definitely settle in Saint-Domingue in 1526. Other Royal Audiences created are: from Mexico (New Spain, 1527), Panama (1538), Guatemala (1543), Lima (Peru, 1543), Guadalajara (Nueva Galicia, 1548), Bogota (Nueva Granada, 1548), Charcas (Upper Peru, 1559), from Quito (Ecuador, 1563), from Concepción (Chile, 1565) and from Manila (Philippines, 1583). In the 17th Century, Chile´s Audience is reinstated, renamed from now on Real Audiencia de Santiago (1605). The Real Audiencia de Buenos Aires is also created in Rio de la Plata in 1661, but had a short life. In the 18th Century, the Real Audiencia de Buenos Aires is reinstated in 1783 and appears the Real Audiencia de Caracas in 1786 and the Real Audiencia de Cuzco in 1787