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Confronting a Mercantile Elite: Bourbon Reformers and the Merchants of Lima, 1765-1796 Author(s): Patricia H. Marks
Source: The Americas, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Apr., 2004), pp. 519-558 Published by: Academy of American Franciscan History
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4144490 .
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The Americas
60:4 April 2004, 519-558
Copyrightby the Academy of American
FranciscanHistory

A
CONFRONTING MERCANTILEELITE:
A
BOURBON REFORMERS ND THE
MERCHANTSOF LIMA, 1765-1796

After Spain'sdefeatin the SevenYears'War(1757-1763),whenthe
Britishhad occupied Havanaand Manila,a series of territorial, omc mercial, and tax reformsbroughtsignificantchange to the viceroyalty of Peru.Theireconomic effects have been mattersfor debateever since. Some historianshave emphasizedtheir positive effects. Following promulgation of the Reglamentode comerciolibre of 1778, the volume and value of m

European anufactures xportedto the Pacific coast of SpanishSouthAmere ica increased.Lima and its portcity, Callao, remainedimportant s commera cial centersof SpanishSouthAmerica.'But otherssuggest thatthe viceregal capital-home to a powerfulmercantileelite, the magnatesof the consulado (merchant uild) of Lima-suffered a decline in its economic fortunes,as did g

the entireviceroyalty.2 upportfor this point of view was widespreadin late S
colonial Peru. In spite of the evidence for growth, a rising chorus of complaint bemoaned the increasing poverty of the viceroyalty in general and Lima in particular. ow can we accountfor this discrepancy?

H
The answer is to be found in the structure f commercialreformin Peru. o
It is clear that the Bourbonreformersattemptedto diminish the wealth and power of the limehiocommercial elite-close-knit family networks constructed during the first half of the century3-that had interposed itself ' John R.

Fisher, CommercialRelations between Spain and Spanish America in the Era of Free Trade, 1778-1796 (Liverpool:Centre for Latin American Studies, The University of Liverpool MonographSeries No. 13, 1985), pp. 16-46, and Fisher,"TheEffects of ComercioLibreon the Economies of New Granadaand Peru:A Comparison," eformand Insurrectionin BourbonNew Granadaand Peru, R

ed. John R. Fisher,Allan J. Kuethe,andAnthony McFarlane(Baton Rouge and London:LouisianaState University Press, 1990), pp. 150-151.
2
Timothy E. Anna, The Fall of the Royal Governmentin Peru (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980), p. 14, believes that the perceptionof "the weakness of Peru's economy before the independence era"was accurate. 3 Jestis Turiso Sebastiin, Comerciantesespaiioles en la Lima borbdnica:Anatomiade una dlite de poder 1701-1761 (Valladolid:Universidadde...
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