New Spain c. 1600

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Map Code: Ax00685

New Spain was the first viceroyalty established in the Americas by the Spanish Crown. Formed in 1535, it comprised Florida, much of the North American southwest and northern Central America. Beneath the Viceroy, administration and jurisdiction was implemented by two ‘Royal Courts’ based in Mexico City and Guadalajara. Much of the territorial expansion was generated by the search for precious metals. Francisco de Ibarra discovered silver deposits in New Vizcaya in the 1550s, and the governor of New Galicia, Nuno de Guzman, ruthlessly suppressed the local tribes in a quest for gold. The survivors of the De Narvaez expedition (1527–29) north into the American interior brought back tales of the fabled ‘Seven Cities of Cibola’ awash with gold. The Cibola legend spurred the Coronado (1540–42) and Onate (1598–1605) expeditions to modern day Kansas and New Mexico. Jesuit missionaries were used to consolidate Spanish control.

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