Three cases of new towns in Jaen (Spain), New Granada (Colombia), and Cuyo (Argentina).
Siblings Overseas is a research project that aims to contribute to the global urban history of Hispanic grid cities, building connections between practices, morphologies, and ideas from both shores of the Atlantic Ocean. This line of research has its precedent in the previous work Granada Des-Granada, published in Colombia in 2018 by Ed. Uniandes, which offered a survey on Muslim medinas and the evolution of Christian grid cities between the 11th and 15th centuries.
Siblings Overseas takes over where Granada Des-Granada ended and focuses on grid cities founded in Spanish domains during the Early Modern period. The 16th century brought diverse transformations to Spanish colonial new towns both in the Iberian Peninsula, the Mediterranean context and the American frontier. Af-ter the first fortified settlements in the American coastline, more value was pro-gressively placed into settlement laws and foundational acts, moving from walled urban models in the early 1500s to a greater number of open cities in the 1530s. Literature has amply studied this phenomenon in America while Spanish founda-tions in Europe and the Mediterranean context have been mostly neglected. Span-ish archives conserve original 16th-century settlement books and logs of several cities founded in the Iberian south and the former Andalusian frontier, which have been studied and transcribed by local historians who signaled their familiarity with their American sisters. However, these «Andalusian colonies» are mostly unknown by international historiography, and no comparative analysis has been developed in this sense.
The objective of this dissertation is to present an in-depth comparative study between European and American urban foundation protocols, focusing on unforti-fied new towns whose foundational processes evolved during the 16th century.
The general hypothesis is that Spanish practices for the foundation of cities in Europe and America present a set of shared aspects based on their common frame of laws, institutions, agents, and beliefs. These elements were in constant evolution in both shores of the Atlantic due to their dynamic socio-political situa-tion. These parallelisms have been studied and evidenced through the analysis of primary written sources, historical cartographies, and a graphic assessment of their contemporary urban form. Their urban grid form is one of their foundational traits, even an archetypical one; however, it did not operate by itself. Hence, there was no pre-established model for all new towns around the global Spanish Empire, but a shared set of urban protocols organically applied in diverse contexts.
The leading case of study in this project is the foundational process of four new towns in Sierra Sur de Jaen (Andalucía), which took place between 1508 and 1539 and includes the settlements of Mancha Real, Valdepeñas de Jaén, Los Vil-lares, and Campillo de Arenas. Sierra Sur was the main friction point between the kingdoms of Jaen and Granada during the last centuries of the Reconquista, mak-ing it a strategic territory for colonization after the Granada War (1582-92). Avail-able primary sources are mainly written documents: instructions for founding agents, judicial processes, lawsuits over land rights, independence privileges, etc. Only one graphic record survived: the partition plan of Mancha Real, which shows the distribution of urban parcels between settlers.
American cases include a unique set of laws and two selected cities. On the one hand, the Indias law compilation reunites edicts from the earliest 16th century until its publication in 1681, each with its respective date and ordering king/queen. Its analysis shows how Laws enacted by monarchs like the Catholic Kings, Juana I, Charles V, and Phillip II recommend the same principles and rules for America as those applied in Sierra Sur. Several editions are conserved today in both private and public collections. However, official records and foundational plans of did not survive in many early Spanish colonial settlements. The oldest partition plan conserved of an American foundation is the one of Mendoza, first Spanish city in the province of Cuyo (1561-2), originally under the jurisdiction of Capitanía Gen-eral de Chile and later included in La Plata vice-kingdom (Argentina). The town was founded in two acts, each of them with its plan and written log conserved in the Archivo General de Indias (Seville). The second American case study is Villa de Leyva in the Kingdom of New Granada (Colombia), founded with in 1572 and then moved in 1582. The foundational acts conserved for this city are ones of the oldest in Colombia and the whole of South America. Villa de Leyva depended on Tunja’s jurisdiction, forty kilometers away, in the same manner that Sierra Sur’s new towns were under the authority of Jaen.