Juan de Ovando: Governing New Spain in the Reign of Philip II

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Philip II is a fascinating and enigmatic figure in Spanish history, but it was his letrados--professional bureaucrats and ministers trained in law--who made his vast castilian empire possible. In Juan de Ovando, Stafford Poole traces the life and career of a key minister in the king’s government to explore the role that letrados played in Spanish society as they sought to displace the higher nobility in the administration through a system based upon merit.

Juan de Ovando was an industrious, discerning, and loyal servant, yet, like all letrados, he owed his position to royal favor. Ovando began his career as an ecclesiastical judge and inquisitor in Seville. From there, at the king’s order, he undertook the reform of the University of Alcalá de Henares, one of his most enduring achievements. Appointed then to the supreme council of the Spanish Inquisition, Ovando was commissioned to investigate the Council of the Indies, over which he eventually presided. In this role, Ovando began codifying laws and collecting information about Spain’s overseas possessions through the famed Relaciones geográficas--wide-ranging surveys of daily life in the New World. He devised long-term and forward-looking colonial policies for New Spain while, also serving as president of the Council of Finance, he sought to bring order to Spain’s chaotic financial situation.

Poole’s biography of Juan de Ovando provides an intimate view of the day-to-day influence letrados wielded over the Spanish colonial machine.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806135922
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stafford Poole, C.M., an ordained Roman Catholic priest, is the author of Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531–1797 and Juan de Ovando: Governing the Spanish Empire in the Reign of Philip II.

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Table of Contents

1 The Spain of the letrados 3
2 A provincial first family 22
3 The provisor of Seville 29
4 The reform of the University of Alcala de Henares 56
5 The council of the supreme and general inquisition 80
6 An empire threatened 98
7 The visita of the council of the Indies 116
8 The grand design 138
9 The road to bankruptcy 162
10 The king's good servant 189
App Spanish coinage of the sixteenth century 205
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