Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Latin American History. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 05 December 2023

Venality and Colonial Administration in Iberian Americalocked

Venality and Colonial Administration in Iberian Americalocked

  • Roberta StumpfRoberta StumpfHistória, Artes e Humanidades, Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa


A comparative analysis of the Portuguese and Spanish administrations in Latin America during the early modern period reveals both similarities and differences in the policies by which governmental, tax collection, and judiciary posts were filled. The practice of selling appointments to civil posts in the Americas, common to both monarchies, was not only based on a shared legal framework but was also actively transposed to Portugal during the period when the Portuguese kingdom and its possessions were incorporated into the Habsburg monarchy while at the same time maintaining and emphasizing the Portuguese differences. It’s worth studying the reasons that led the Iberian monarchies to sell appointments to civil offices on the American continent beginning in the 16th century for Spain and in the 17th century for Portugal. It is worth highlighting differences in the chronology (which are also visible in the 18th century), the manner of filling the posts, and the regulations governing the offices that were sold. Both monarchies not only sold appointments to offices that were held for a particular period but also published notices advertising the sale of lifetime appointments and some offices held in perpetuity. Although the policies on the sale of appointments were not synchronized, they were also not mere coincidences. When studying the official venality of offices it is necessary to focus on the sale of offices by the monarchs or their representatives rather than on those negotiated, usually illegally, between private parties. Because the topic is better known and more thoroughly studied in the context of Spanish America, it is important to give greater attention to the sale of offices and administration in Portuguese America.


  • History of Brazil
  • History of Northern and Andean Spanish America
  • 1492–1824

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription