el virey


El Virrey de Lima á los habitantes del Perú. Lima, [1810].


With Napoleon’s invasion of the Iberian peninsula in 1808, the forced abdication of King Ferdinand VII, and the imposition of Napoleon’s brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne, the Spanish colonies experienced a crisis of legitimacy. In the absence of the monarch, where did sovereignty lie? Drawing on legal theories elaborated long before by the Jesuit thinker Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), which argued that sovereignty emanates from the people and that the people are justified in rebelling against a tyrannical government, many cities in Spain and the Americas formed juntas to oppose Bonaparte and govern local affairs in Ferdinand’s name. Ultimately, the Supreme Central Junta in Cadiz assumed the paramount role, but not everyone in America agreed that colonial juntas should follow its lead. In 1810 the Central Junta dissolved itself and formed the much smaller Council of the Regency, which in turn called a Cortes, a legislative body for Spain and the Indies. This work contains a proclamation of Viceroy Abascal y Sousa of Peru, who accepted the authority of the Council of the Regency, along with two decrees by the Regency government announcing the convocation of the Cortes and election of representatives.