Uruguay During Colonial Period

By | November 9, 2021

The arrival of the Europeans dates back to 1516, when the territory was discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan Díaz de Solís, who sailed on the La Plata River. However, attempts at European colonization were long discouraged by the Charruas. [5] In 1527 Sebastián Gaboto, under the orders of the Spanish monarchy, built a first fortified camp on the eastern coast of the Río de la Plata in front of the confluence with the Paraná River, this town was called San Lázaro and was a few kilometers to the northeast of the current city of Carmelo, days later the same Spanish expedition under the command of Sebastián Gaboto built a fort at the mouth of the river that he named San Salvador in the same way as the fort. [6]

The Banda Oriental, a designation that the Spanish would give to the Uruguayan territory, was a region of late colonization, contemporary especially with the Spain of the Bourbons in the 18th century. It was populated for three fundamental reasons: the quality of its natural pasture combined with the multiplication of cattle abandoned by the Spanish in its plains; the advantages of Montevideo as the only natural port of the Río de la Plata; and the condition of border territory in permanent dispute between the crowns of Spain and Portugal. [7] The advance Hernando Arias de Saavedra would be the one to verify the favorable conditions of the area, which is why he introduced cattle and horses in these lands so that they multiplied with total naturalness, reaching notable amounts of head of cattle. This proliferation of cattle and horses determined that the indigenous people had their meat as food, their hides as clothing items and for the construction of tolderías; and that by learning to master the horse they would become skilled riders.

Between 1680 and 1683, disputing Spanish possession of the region, Portuguese settlers established several colonies on the banks of the La Plata River, including Sacramento. However, the Spanish continued their progression and founded the city of Montevideo, on December 24, 1726, under the command of the Spanish captain Bruno Mauricio de Zabala. [7] The Banda Oriental would be part of the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata until its independence. [7] Hispano-Portuguese rivalries continued in the course of the 18th century, ending in 1777, with the establishment of the Spanish authority in the entire region, dependent on the viceroyalty of Buenos Aires. [5] During the eighteenth century, the saladeros arose that converted part of the beef from the ranches (dominating farms that dominated the rural environment), into jerky. This was salty, tough, and lean meat, so it was initially consumed by only slaves from Cuba and Brazil. The saladeros were a mixture of ranch and industry settled in Montevideo. Although in 1832 They incorporated the steam engine to produce fats, the elaboration of jerky only required the manual skill of the gaucho, which was the linker of almost wild cattle, and the skillful craftsmanship of the peons – until 1830 almost all black slaves – cut meat into thin slices that were later salted. and they piled up for two or three days. Then the salty meat was dried by laying it out in the sun.

The 22 of November of 1749, the king of Spain names first Governor of Montevideo to Jose Joaquin de Viana. It reaches the Rio de la Plata on the ship Nuestra Señora de la Concepción 3 of February of 1751, disembarking in Buenos Aires, where he swears that position first Governor to the Captain General Andonaegui and takes possession of the same in solemn session that the Cabildo Montevideo will celebrate on March 1 4. The Government of Montevideo comprised the territories that went from the mouth of the Cufré stream, in the west, to the Pan de Azúcar hill, in the east, arriving from the north from the sources of the San José and Santa Lucía rivers, following the line from Cuchilla Grande to the Ojosmín hill, which is located in the current department of Flores. In terms of the present national political subdivision, it corresponds to the current departments of Montevideo, Canelones and part of those of San José, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja and Maldonado. [8]

Through the port of Montevideo they traded legally with Spain and Buenos Aires (since 1779), and illegally with Portuguese Brazil and the European ships that “forcibly” arrived on their beaches. This activity generated sufficient income to support both the Spanish bureaucracy that governed the Banda Oriental, as well as the rich merchants that made up the municipal body called Cabildo, the only and imperfect school of self-government to which “criollos” had access.

Colonial society

According to topschoolsintheusa, Uruguayan colonial society is divided into races and classes. Merchants, moneylenders, ranchers and high officials, formed an upper class whose origins were in the Canarian, Basque and Catalan emigrants who had arrived from Europe. looking for fortune. Small shopkeepers, pulperos, military and low-ranking officials, and artisans, were part of a middle-class sketch. Below everyone, a third of the population was black and slave. In the interior, the rural environment, was the world where all the social distinctions that existed tended to blur or amalgamate with other features of the economy and culture until they became very unique. The ranchers of the landowners had expelled the poorer and less influential former ranchers before the Spanish authorities. Most of the large ranchers did not own their land with perfect title deeds. Many had only started the process to acquire it in Buenos Aires and had abandoned it, tired by the delays of the Bourbon bureaucracy, as well as disgusted by its cost that always exceeded the price of the land. Others had paid land to the Spanish crown within certain limits. These rooms, once measured, turned out to have a much larger surface than paid. All these events made the farmers dependent on the resolutions of the Spanish State first and republican later. [7]

In that Interior the wandering population abounded, sometimes mestizo. Life was easy and food was almost unique and essential, meat was free. This fact is explained because the production was infinitely superior to a reduced demand in the scarce domestic market and the limited Cuban and Brazilian foreign markets. The Eastern Band, with perhaps 6 million cattle and half a million yeguarizos, had the largest number of cattle and horses per resident in the world. The rural “proletariat” – the gaucho – was equestrian (even the beggars rode on horseback in Montevideo), and they always had food assured. Asked one of the leaders of the Revolution of 1811 about his livelihoods, he replied that “when he needed a shirt he used to conchavate” (he used), and if not, he “walked”. For these peasants, work was an option, not a necessity. The latifundistas watched with annoyance at an independent labor force, who only worked when the state occasionally persecuted the “vagrants.” [7]

The gauchos and Indians hated all the measures that came from the Montevideo Cabildo or its Governor in an attempt to contain smuggling, the persecution of the “vagos”, or the expulsion of small landowners from large estancias. This last point had generated strong resentments. The pioneers occupied the fields, surrounded the abandoned and wild cattle, built ranches and corrals, fought the incursions of the Portuguese and the Indians on their lands. And when the region became habitable, the favorite of Governors and Viceroys appeared, or the rich Buenos Aires or Montevideo merchant who had bought those lands and obtained an order for the expulsion of the pioneers. All of Uruguay had thus been colonized in four or five successive waves of pioneers who had later been declared “ [7]

Uruguay During Colonial Period