Nueva Vizcaya, New Spain

Nueva Vizcaya, New Spain

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Nueva Vizcaya, New Spain

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Nueva Vizcaya was the first province in the north of New Spain to be explored and settled by the Spanish. It consisted mostly of the area which is today the states of Chihuahua and Durango in Mexico.

Early exploration and the Viceroyalty

Spanish exploration of the area began in 1531 with Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán's expedition. He named the main city he founded Villa de Guadalajara after his birthplace and the area he conquered "Conquista del Espíritu Santo de la Mayor España" ("Conquest of the Holy Spirit of Greater Spain"). The Spanish regent Queen Joanna replaced this with Nuevo Reino de Galicia ("New Kingdom of Galicia").

Especially under the leadership of Francisco de Ibarra, settlements moved north into the interior of the continent after silver was discovered around Zacatecas. Ibarra named the new area Nueva Vizcaya after his homeland in Spain, Biscay. Nueva Vizcaya included the modern Mexican states of Chihuahua and Durango, the eastern parts of Sonora y Sinaloa and the southwest part of Coahuila. The region was under the jurisdiction of the Royal Audience of Guadalajara and the administration of its president.

As part of the Bourbon Reforms, the northern provinces of the Viceroyalty were organized into the Commandancy General of the Internal Provinces of the North in 1777. The Internal Provinces were originally designed to function independently from the New Spanish Viceroy, but being...
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