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Spanish Viceroyalties Vs. English Colonies

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Spanish Viceroyalties vs. English Colonies

Both the economy of Spanish viceroyalties in Latin America and that of the English colonies were mercantilistic. However, their political and social systems differed in that the Spanish states had an elaborate bureaucracy while the British colonies elected colonial assemblies, and the social distinctions in the Spanish viceroyalties were more complex than those of the British colonies.

Both the Spanish and English colonies had economies based on mercantilism. Mercantilism, the prevailing economic ideology in Europe at the time, stated that the relationship between colonies and their mother country is for the benefit of the mother country. Using the mercantilist system, the governments of Spain and England intervened in the trade of their respective colonies constantly in order to gain wealth. The British government regulated their colonies' economy through government-endorsed joint-stock companies. By regulating the companies that founded the colonies, they were able to regulate much of the imports and exports of the colonies. The Spanish government, however, intervened directly into the economy by imposing laws and taxes that encouraged economic standards that were beneficial to Spain's economy.

The political systems of the Spanish viceroyalties and the British colonies varied greatly. The Spanish government set up a complex bureaucracy in their colonies, trying to ensure that the colonies remained loyal to the Spanish king. The British government, however, often paid little attention to their colonies. An internal power struggle between the king and the parliament meant that the colonies were left to deal with their own internal affairs. The colonies set up their own "mini-parliaments" of elected representatives. These assemblies butt heads with the royal governors sent by the British government. The Spanish viceroys had much less opposition. They set up their governments in urban areas, to ensure that the members of the bureaucracy lived nearby. They also built army headquarters within the cities. These cities became economic, political and cultural centers of the viceroyalties.

The Spanish viceroyalties developed a social system much more complex than that of the British North America. While both had ethnically-based social classes, there was a lot more racial mixing in the Spanish colonies. This was mainly due to the ratio of Spanish women to men in the early colonies. Seven times as many Spaniards came to America than women. Many Spanish men took native wives. Another cause of racial mixing was the integration of Mesoamericans into Spanish society. Because the silver mines needed such a large work force, Mesoamericans worked as laborers in the viceroyalties and played a large role in the Spanish economy. This caused a separate social class



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