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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> States >> Spain

Map of Europe in 1700 showing the kingdom of Spain published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license
Capital Madrid
Language(s) Spanish, Catalonian, Galician, Basque
Religion Catholic
Population Approximately 5,700,000 inhabitants (excluding the 1,500,000 inhabitants of the Spanish Netherlands and of all colonies)
Annual Revenues about £1,600,000 (normalized in British pounds to allow comparison)

However, during the reign of Charles II (1665-1700), the public debt of Spain increased from 35 million ducats to 162 million ducats

Government Kingdom
  • the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium)
  • many Italian principalities
    • the Duchy of Milan
    • the Duchy of Modena
    • the Duchy of Parma
    • Naples
    • Sicily
    • Sardinia
  • Several colonies in America
    • the Viceroyalty of Nueva España (New Spain) with Mexico Vity as capital which comprised Mexico, Central America, the Spanish colonies of the Caribbean colonies, parts of the Gulf Coast of North America (primarily Florida), Texas and New Mexico
    • the Viceroyalty of Peru with Lima as capital, which comprised most of Spanish-ruled South America
  • Philippines with Manila as capital (most of Mindanao Island was still under Muslim rule), administratively subordinated to the Viceroyalty of Nueva España. Spanish colonization had by then barely started.
  • Oran in Algeria was a Spanish stronghold
  • in Morocco, Spain had several forts in the Riff region: Melilla, Ceuta, Alhucemas and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera
Rulers 1700-1724: King Philip V
Army see the article on the Spanish Army
Navy see the article Spanish Navy
Trade Spain had been the first colonial power to impose a monopoly of trade to its colonies. Thus:
  • all exportations of silver from Mexico could be done exclusively to Spain;
  • several local industries were prohibited such as spinning mills, weaving mills, dyeing, leather, etc.; similarly vineyards and olive groves were prohibited in all Spanish possessions in America (to the exception of Peru and Chile considered too distant from the metropolis);
  • all importations in the colonies had to come from Spain (more precisely from Castile).

By the end of the XVIIth century, Cádiz had supplanted Seville as the main Spanish port.

The Viceroyalty of Nueva España exported mainly silver, gold, copper, pearls and precious gems to Spain. Commerce with this viceroyalty was done by a Royal Fleet (around 60 ships) who made the trip between Spain and Veracruz on the eastern coast of Mexico each year or two years, escorted by warships.

The Viceroyalty of Peru exported mainly silver to Spain. Commerce with this viceroyalty was done by a Royal Fleet (around 30 ships) who made the trip between Spain and Portobelo on the eastern coast of Panama each year, escorted by warships.

Once transactions completed, the fleets from Nueva España and Peru assembled at Havana on the Island of Cuba from where they sailed back for Spain.

Spain exported woollen and linen cloth, furniture, ploughing equipment, metal works, luxury objects, wine, oil and various provisions. However, the national industry could not produce enough for the demand of the Americas and soon smuggling became one of the main sources for goods destined to the colonies. Dutch, French and British possessions in the West Indies became the source of smuggling on a very large scale. Spain even came to the point where it exported its raw materials who were transformed and then re-imported into Spain.

There was also a state monopoly on the trade of wax, salt, lead, mercury, sulfur, tobacco, brandy and powder.

By 1600, 90% of goods consumed in the Spanish colonies originated from smuggling.

In 1701, when the House of Bourbon acceeded to the throne of Spain, the contract giving to Portugal the monopoly to import black slaves into the Spanish Empire was abrogated and a new contract concluded with the French Compagnie de la Guinée. Under the terms of this contract, the company had to supply 4,800 black slaves annually.

Manila in the Philippines was used as a hub to trade with China. Direct trade with China was prohibited since 1593. Furthermore the value of Chinese goods (silk, cotton, spices, china) transiting by Manila for Acapulco was limited. The Manila galleon always followed the same route: she sailed from Acapulco in March, then passed near Marshall Islands, Guam, the Mariannes; returning from Manila in July to the coasts of California then arriving in Acapulco in November or December. There was a Chinese quarter in Manila (Parian).


Anon.: The History of Modern Europe, Part II, London: 1784, pp. 298-315

Arneth, Alfred Ritter von: Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, Vol. 1, Vienna, 1864, p. 131

McEvedy, Colin: The Penguin Atlas of Modern History (to 1815), Harmondsorth: Penguin Books, 1972, pp. 54-61

Scherer, Herman: Histoire du commerce de toutes les nations depuis les temps ancies jusqu'à nos jours, Vol. 2 – Temps Modernes; Paris: Capelle, 1857, pp. 72, 83, 180-241