King Phillip II dictates the layout of new towns, 1573

English Translation
San Lorenzo, July 3, 1573
I the King.
Ordinances for discoveries, new settlements and pacifications.

110. . . . After having made the discovery and selected the province, district and land to be peopled and the sites where new settlements are to be founded those who intend to settle are to proceed in the following manner: On arriving at the locality where the new settlement is to be founded (which according to our will and ordinance must be one which is vacant and can be occupied without doing harm to the Indians and natives or with their free consent) the plan of the place, with its squares, streets and building lots is to be outlined by means of measuring by cord and ruler beginning with the main square from which streets are to run to the gates and principal roads and leaving sufficient open space so that, even if the town grows it can always spread in a symmetrical manner. Having thus laid out the chosen site the settlement is to be founded in the following form.

111. The chosen site shall be on an elevation; healthful; with means of fortification; fertile and with plenty of land for farming and pasturage; fuel and timber; fresh water, a native population, commodiousness; resources and of convenient access and egress. It shall be open to the north wind. If on the coast care is to be taken that the sea does not lie to the south or west of the harbor. If possible the port is not to be near lagoons or marshes in which poisonous animals and corruption of air and water breed.

112. In the case of a sea–coast town the main plaza which is to be the starting point for the building of the town, is to be situated near the landing place of the port. In inland towns the main plaza should be in the center of the town and of an oblong shape, its length being equal to at least one and a half times its width, as this proportion is the best for festivals in which horses are used and any other celebrations which have to be held.

113. The size of the plaza shall be in proportion to the number of residents, heed being given to the fact that towns of Indians, being new are bound to grow and it is intended that they shall do so. Therefore the plaza is to be planned with reference to the possible growth of the town. It shall not be smaller than two hundred feet wide all three hundred feet long nor larger than eight hundred feet long and three hundred feet wide. A well proportionated medium size is one six hundred feet long and four hundred feet wide.

114. From the plaza the four principal streets are to diverge, one from the middle of each of its sides and two streets are to meet at each of its corners. The four corners of the plaza are to face the four points of the compass, because thus the streets diverging from the plaza not be directly exposed to the four principal winds, which would cause much inconvenience.

115. The whole plaza and the four main streets diverging from it shall have arcades, for these are a great convenience for those who resort thither for trade. The eight streets which run into the plaza at its four corners are to do so freely without being obstructed by the arcades of the plaza. These arcades are to end at the corners in such a way that the sidewalks of the streets can evenly join those of the plaza.

116. In cold climates the streets shall be wide; in hot climates narrow, however, for purposes of defense and where horses are kept the streets had better be wide.

117. The other streets laid out consecutively around the plaza are to be so planned that even if the town should increase considerably in size it would meet with no obstruction which might disfigure what had already been built or be a detriment to the defense or convenience of the town.

118. At certain distances in the town smaller, well portioned plazas are to be laid out on which the main church, the parish church or monastery shall be built so that the teaching of religious doctrine may be evenly distributed.

119. If the town lies on the coast its main church shall be so situated that it may be visible from the landing place and so built that its structure may serve as means of defense for the port itself.

120. After the plaza and streets have been laid out building lots are to be designated, in the first place, for the erection of the main church, the parish church or monastery and these are to occupy respectively an entire block so that no other structure car be built next to them excepting such as contribute to their commodiousness or beauty.

121. Immediately afterwards the place and site are to be assigned for the Royal and Town Council House, the Custom–House and Arsenal which is to be close to the church and port so that in case of necessity can protect the other. The hospital for the poor and sick non contagious diseases shall be built next to the church forming its cloister.

122. The lots and sites for slaughterhouses, fisheries, tanneries, such like productive of garbage shall be so situated, that the latter can be easily disposed of.

123. It would be of great advantage if inland towns of a distance from ports were built on the banks of a navigable river, in which case an endeavor should be made to build on the northern river bank, all occupations producing garbage being relegated to the river bank or sea situated below the town.

124. In inland towns the church is not to be on the plaza but at a distance from it in a situation where it can stand by itself, separate from other buildings so that it can be seen from all sides. It can thus be made more beautiful and it will inspire more respect. It would be built on high ground so that in order to reach its entrance people will have to ascend a flight of steps. Near-by and between it and the main plaza the Royal Council and Town House and the Custom-house are to be erected in order to increase its impressiveness but without obstructing it in any way. The hospital of the poor who are ill with non contagious diseases shall be built facing the north and so planned that it will enjoy a southern exposure.

125. The same plan shall be carried out in any inland settlements where there are no rivers, much care being taken that they enjoy other conveniences requisite and necessary.

126. No building lots surrounding the main plaza are to be given to private individuals for these are to be reserved for the church, Royal and Town house, also shops and dwellings for the merchants, which are to be the first erected. For the erection of the public buildings the settlers shall contribute and for this purpose a moderate tax shall be imposed on all merchandise.

127. The remaining building lots shall be distributed by lottery to those of the settlers who are entitled to build around the main plaza. Those left over are to be held for us to grant to settlers who may come later or to dispose of at our pleasure. In order that entries of these assignments be better made a plan of the town is always to be made in advance.

128. After the plan of the town and the distribution of the lots have been made each settler is to set up his tent on his lot if he has one, for which purpose the captains shall persuade them to carry tents with them. Those who own none are to built huts of such materials as are available, wherever they can be collected. All settlers, with greatest possible haste, are to erect jointly some kind of palisade [a thick fence] or dig a ditch around the main plaza so that the Indians cannot do them harm.

129. A common shall be assigned to each town, of adequate size so that even though it should grow greatly there would always be sufficient space for its inhabitants to find recreation and for cattle to pasture without encroaching upon private property.

130. Adjoining the common there shall be assigned pastures for team oxen, for horses, for cattle destined for slaughter and for the regular number of cattle which according to law, the settlers are obliged to have, so that they can be employed for public purposes by the council. The remainder of land is to be subdivided into as many plots for cultivation as there are town lots and the settlers are to draw lots for these. Should there be any land which can be irrigated it is to be distributed to the first settlers in the same proportion and drawn for by lottery. What remains over is to be reserved for us so that we can make grants to those who may settle later.

131. As soon as the plots for cultivation have been distributed the settlers shall immediately plant all the seeds that they have brought or are obtainable, for which reason it is advisable that all go well provided. All cattle transported thither by the settlers or collected, are to be taken to the pasturelands so that they can begin at once to breed and multiply.

132. Having sown their seeds and provided accommodation for their cattle in such quantities and with such diligence that they can reasonably hope for an abundance of food, the settlers, with great care and activity are to erect their houses, with solid foundations and walls for which purpose they shall go provided with moulds or planks for making adobes and all other tools for building quickly and at little cost.

133. The building lots and the structures erected thereon are to be so situated that in the living rooms one can enjoy air from the south and from the north, which are the best. All town homes are to be so planned that they can serve as a defense or fortress against those who might attempt to create disturbances or occupy the town. Each house is to be so constructed that horses and household animals can be kept therein, the courtyards and stockyards being as large as possible to insure health and cleanliness.

134. Settlers are to endeavor, as far as possible, to make all structures uniform, for the sake of the beauty of the town.

135. The faithful executors and architects and persons who may be deputized by the governor for the purpose shall be most scrupulous in carrying out the above instructions and in hurrying both field labor and house building so that the town may be completed in a short time.

136. If the natives should wish to oppose the establishment of a settlement they are to be given to understand that the settlers desire to build a town there not in order to deprive them of their property but for the purpose of being on friendly terms with them; of teaching them to live in a civilized way; of teaching them to know God and His Law by means of which they shall be saved. This shall be explained to them by the friars and clergy and persons deputized by the governor, by means of good interpreters. Attempts are to be made by all fair means to establish the settlement peaceably and with the consent of the natives. If, after many different attempts have been made to gain their consent the natives still withhold it then the settlers are to proceed to establish their town but are not to take any of the personal belongings of the Indians or to do them more hurt than what may be necessary in order to protect the settlers and enable them to build without interference.

137. While the new town is being built the settlers, as far as possible, shall try to avoid communication and intercourse with the Indians and are not to go to their villages or amuse themselves or disperse themselves over the country. Nor are the Indians to enter the circuit of the settlement until the latter is complete and in condition for defense and the houses built, so that when the Indians see them they will be filled with wonder and will realize that the Spaniards are settling there permanently and not temporarily. They will consequently fear the Spaniards so much that they will not dare to offend them and will respect them and desire their friendship. When the settlers begin to construct the town the governor is to appoint some one to take charge of the sowing and cultivating of wheat and vegetables so that the settlers can immediately employ these for their maintenance. The cattle are to graze and be tended in a safe place where they can do no injury to the cultivated lands or anything else belonging to the Indians. The aforesaid cattle and their offspring are to be at the service of the settler, and for their use and subsistence. . .

Spanish Original
San Lorenzo, 3 de Julio 1573.
Yo el Rey.
Ordenanzas para descubrimientos, nuevas poblaçiones y pacificaciones.

110. . . . Aviendo hecho el descubrimiento y elegido la Provincia Comarca y tierra que se oviere de poblar y los sitios de los lugares adonde se han de hazer las nuebas poblaçiones y tomandose el assiento sobre ellos, los que fueren a cumplirlo executen en la forma siguiente— llegando al lugar donde se a de hazer la poblaçion el qual mandamos que sea de los que estuvieren vacantes y que por disposiçion nuestra, se puede tomar sin perjuicio de los yndios y naturales, o con su libre consentimiento se haga la planta del lugar rrepartiendola por sus plaças calles y solares a cordel y rregla, començando desde la plaça mayor, y desde alli sacando las calles a las puertas y caminos principales y dexando tanto compas abierto que aunque la poblaçion vaya en crecimiento se pueda siempre prosseguir en la mesma forma, y auiendo dispusiçion en el sitio y lugar que se escogiere para poblar se haga la planta en la forma siguiente.

111. Auiendo Hecho la Eleçion del sitio adonde se ha de hazer la poblaçion que como esta dicho a de ser en lugares lebantados, a donde aya sanidad fortaleza fertilidad y copia de tierra de labor y pasto, leña y madera y materiales, aguas dulces, gente natural, comodidad, acarretos, entrada y salida, que este descubierto de viento norte, siento en costa tengase consideraçion al puerto y que no tenga al mar al medio dia ni al poniente si fuere pussible no tenga cerca de si lagunas ni pantanos en que se crien animales venenossos y corrupçion de ayre y aguas.

112. La Plaça mayor de donde se a de començar la poblaçion siendo en costa de mar se deue hazer al desembareadero del puerto y siendo en lugar mediterraneo, en medio de la poblaçion. La plaça sea en cuadro prolongado que por lo menos tenga de largo una vez y media de su ancho porque este tamaño es el mejor para las fiestas de a cavallo y qualesquier otras que se ayan de hazer.

113. La grandeza de la plaça sea proporcionad a a la cantidad de los vezinos teniendo consideraçion que en las poblaçiones de yndios como son nuebas se van y es con yntento de que an de ir en augmento y anssi se hara la Eleçion de la plaça teniendo rrespecto a que la poblaçion puede crecer, no sea menor que de duçientos pies en ancho y treçientos en largo, ni mayor de ochocientos pies de largo y trescientos de ancho de mediana y de buena proporçion es de seysçientos pies de largo y quatroçientos de ancho.

114. De la plaça salgan quatro calles prinçipales una por medio de cada costado de la plaça y dos calles por cada esquina de la plaça, las quatro esquinas de la plaça miren a los quatro vientos principales, porque desta manera saliendo las calles de la plaça no estan expuestas a los quatro vientos principales que seria de mucho ynconveniente.

115. Toda la plaça a la rredonda y las quatro calles principales que dellas salen tengan portales, porque son de mucha comodidad para los tratantes que aqui suelen concurrir, las ocho calles que salen de la plaça por las quatro esquinas lleguen libres a la plaça sin encontrarse con los portales retrayendoles de manera que hagan azera derecha con la calle y plaça.

116. Las calles en lugares frios sean anchas y en los calientes sean angostas, pero para defenssa adonde ay cauallos son mexores anchas.

117. Las calles se prossigan desde la plaça mayor de manera que aunque la poblaçion venga en mucho crecimiento no venga a dar en algun ynconveniente que sea caussa de afear lo que se houiere edificado o perjudique su defenssa y comodidad.

118. A trechos de la poblaçion se vayan formando plaças menores en buena proporçion adonde se an de edificar los templos de la yglesia mayor, parochias y monasterios de manera que todo se rreparta en buena proporçion por la dotrina.

119. Para el templo de la yglesia mayor siendo la poblaçion en costa se edifique en parte que en saliendo de la mar se vea y su fabrica que en parte sea como defenssa del mesmo puerto.

120. Para el templo de la yglesia mayor parochia o monasterio, se señalen solares, los primeros despues de la plaça y calles y sean en ysla entera de manera que ninguna edificio se le arrime sino el perteneçiente a su comodidad y ornato.

121. Señalese luego sitio y lugar para la cassa Real de conçejo y cavildo y aduana y atarazana junto al mesmo templo y puerto de manera que en tiempo de neçessidad se puedan fluoreçer las unas a las otras. El ospital para pobres y enfermos de enfermedades que no sean contagiossas se ponga junto al templo y por claustro del, para los enfermos de enfermedades contagiossas se ponga el ospital en parte que ningun viento dañoso passando para el vaya a herir en la demas poblaçion, y si se edificare en lugar leuantado sera mejor.

122. E1 Sitio y solares para carniçerias, pescaderias tenerias y otras, cossas que se caussan ynmundiçias se den en parte que con facilidad se puedan conserbar sin ellas.

123. Las poblaçiones que se hizieren fuera del puerto de mar en lugares mediterraneos si pudieren ser en ribera de rio navegable sera de mucha comodidad y procuresse que la ribera quede la parte del cierço y quede la parte del rrio y mar baxa de la poblaçion se pongan todos los ofiçios que caussan ynmundiçias.

124. El templo en lugares mediterraneos no se ponga en la plaça sino distante della y en parte que este separado de edifiçio que a el se llegue que no sea tocante a el, y que de todas partes sea visto porque se puede ornar mejor y tenga mas authoridad, ase de procurar que sea algo leuantado del suelo de manera que se aya de entrar en el por gradas y çerca del entre la plaça mayor y se edifiquen las cassas rreales y del conçejo y cauildo aduana no de manera que den embaraço al templo sino que lo authorizen, el ospital de los pobres que no fueren de enfermedad o contagiossa a la parte del çierço con comodidad suya de manera que goza del medio dia.

125. La mesma planta se guarde en qualquier lugar mediterraneo en que no aya ribera con que se mire mucho que aya las demas comodida–des que se Requieren y son menester.

126. En la Plaça no se den solares para particulares donde para fabrica de la yglessia y cassas Reales propios de la çuidad y edifiquense tiendas y cassas para tratantes y sea lo primero que se edifique para lo qual contribuyan todos los pobladores y se ymponga algun moderado derecho sobre las mercaderias para que se edifiquen.

127. Los demas solares se rrepartan por suerte á 1os pobladores continuandolos a los que dellos corresponden a la plaça mayor y los que restaren queden para nos para hazer m[e]r[e]d dellos a los que despues fueren a poblar, o, 1o que la n[uest]ra m[e]r[ce]d fuere, y para que se açiente mejor lleuase siempre hecha la planta de la poblacion que se ovieren de hazer.

128. Auiendo hecho la planta de la poblaçion y rrepartimiento de solares cada vno de los pobladores en el suyo assienten su toldo si lo tuuiere para lo qual los capitanes les persuadan que los lleuen y los que no los tuuieren hagan su rrancho de materiales que con façilidad puedan auer, adonde se puedan rrecoger y todos con la mayor presteza que pudieren hagan alguna paliçada o trinchea en çerco de la plaça de manera que no puedan rreçiuir daño de los yndios naturales.

129. Señalese a la poblaçion exido en tan competente cantidad que aunque la poblacion vaya en mucho crecimiento siempre quede bastante espacio adonde la gente se pueda salir a recrear y salir los ganados sin que hagan daño.

130. Confinando con los exidos se señalen dehessas para los bueyes de labor y para los Cauallos y para los ganados de las carnicerias y para el numero ordinario de ganados que los pobladores por ordenança an de tener en a1guna buena, cantidad, mas para que se acojan para propios del conçejo y lo rrestante se señale en tierras de labor de que se hagan suertes en la cantidad que se ofreçiere de manera que sean tantas como los solares que puede auer en la poblaçion, y si ouiere tierras de regadio se haga dellas suertes y se repartan en la misma proporçion a los primeros pobladores por sus suertes y los demas queden para nos, para que hagamos m[e]r[ce]d a los que despues fueren a poblar.

131. En las tierras de labor repartidas luego ynmediatamente siembren los pobladores todas las semillas que llebaren y pudieren auer, para lo qual conviene que vayan muy proueydos y en la dehessa señaladamente todo el ganado que llebaren y pudieren juntar para que luego se comiençe a criar y multiplicar.

132. Auiendo sembrado los pobladores y acomodado el ganado en tanta cantidad y con tan buena diligencia de que esperen aver abun–dancia de comida comiençen con mucho cuydado y valor a fundar sus cassas y edificar de buenos cimientos y paredes, para lo qual vayan aperçibidos de Tapiales ó tablas para los Hazer y todas las otras herramientas para edificar con brebedad y a poca costa.

133. Dispongan los solares y edificios que en ellos hizieren de manera que en la habitaçion dellos se pueda gozar de los ayres de medio dia y del norte por ser los mejores disponganse los edifiçios de las cassas de toda la poblaçion generalmente, de manera que sirban de defenssa y fuerça contra los que quissieren estorbar ó ynfestar la poblaçion y cada cassa en particular la labren, de manera que en ella puedan tener sus cauallos y vestias de servicio con patios y corrales y con la mas anchura que fuere pussible para la salud y limpieza.

134. Procuren quanto fuere pussible que los edifiçios sean de vna forma por el ornato de la poblacion.

135. Tenga cuidado de andar viendo como esto se cumple, los fieles executores Y alarifes y las perssonas que para esto diputare el gouernaor, y que se den priessa en la labor y edificio para que se acabe con brebedad la poblaçion.

136. Si los naturales quissieren poner en defenssa de la poblacion se le de a entender como se quiere poblar alli no para hazerles algun mal ni tomarles sus haziendas sino para tomar amistad con ellos ensesñarlos a vivir politicamente Y mostrarles a conocer á Dios y enseñarles su ley por lo qual se salbaran dandoselo á entender por medio de los religiossos y clerigos y perssonas que para ello diputaren gouernador y por buenas lenguas y procurando por todos los buenos medios pussibles que la poblacion se baga con su paz y consentimiento, y si todavia no lo consintieren auiendoles requerido por los muchos medios diverssas vezes los pobladores hagan su poblaçion sin tomar de lo que fuere particular de los yndios, y sin hazerles mas daño del que fuere menester para defenssa de los pobladores y para que la poblaçion [no] se estorbe.

137. Entretanto que la nueba poblaçion ae acaua los pobladores en quanto fuere possible procuren evitar la comunicançion y trato con los yndios y de no yr a sus pueblos ni diuertirse ni derramarse por la tierra, ni que los yndios entren en el circuyto de la poblacion hasta tener hecha y puesta on defenssa y las cassas de manera que quando los yndios las vean les causse admiracion, y entiendan que los españoles pueblan alli de assiento y no de passo y los teman para no ossar ofender rrespeten para dessear su amistad, y en començandose a hazer la poblaçion, el gouernador reparta alguna persona que se oeupe en sembrar y cultibar la tierra de pan y legumbres de que luego so puedan socorrer para sus mantenimientos y que los ganados que metieren se apaçienten donde esten seguros y no hagan daño en heredad ni cossa de los yndios para que assi mesmo de los susodichos ganados y sus crias se puedan serbir socorrer y sustentar la poblacion. . .

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