The Spanish political system

The Spanish political system

Once the Spanish had arrived in the Philippines it wasn’t long before they began to rearrange the colony according to their own model of civilisation. Once they had inserted themselves in all the major colonies (and displaced some of the indigenous people) they began to impose a new political system.

The first political system put in place by the Spanish was known as the encomienda system, and largely resembled the feudal system that was present across medieval Europe during that time. As was the case in Europe, certain ‘higher’ people were given titles and land according to their status. This included conquistadores, friars and native nobles, who were given their own estates in exchange for providing their services to the King.

These high-status nobles - known as encomienda or the encomendero - were also provided with special privileges including the right to collect tributes from those inhabiting their estates. Just like in medieval Europe, however, they were also expected to provide military protection and governance in return.

However, while military protection was dedicated to the locals during peacetime, the King had the monopoly over this service. Should battles or war break out, for example, the encomendero was responsible for providing soldiers for the King to help defend the colony from invaders, including the Chinese and the Dutch.

While the system was based on sound logic at the time, it was largely abused by the encomendero and by the 1700s it was beginning to disappear. In its place, the Spanish imposed administrative provinces that were headed by a provincial governor (known as an alcalde mayor).

These mayors were based in the centre of the main cities in each of the regions, presiding over rapidly developed European-style areas that included plazas, government buildings, a church and a market.

Additionally, there were government units known as corregimiento, who would head provinces that were not yet fully under the control of the Spanish. While they had significantly less status than their equivalents in the Spanish-held provinces, they did provide a crucial service by gradually introducing Spanish concepts and rules to areas that were resistance to the King’s rule.

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Spanish political system". 2023. Web.