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Cabildo (council)

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A cabildo was a former Spanish colonial administrative unit governed by a council. Cabildos were the governing bodies of municipalities in the viceroyalties in the Americas and in the Pacific possessions. For instance, the Cabildo de Buenos Aires was the most important cabildo of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. Cabildos were sometimes appointed, sometimes elected, and sometimes considered to be composed of all members of the nobility, or significant landowners, in the given area.


In theory every municipality in the Spanish colonies in the Americas had a cabildo. Municipalities were not just the cities but included the surrounding lands. All lands were ultimately assigned to a municipality. Usually the cabildo made local laws and reported to the presidente (president) of the audiencia, who in turn reported to the viceroy.

City government

Because cabildos were the city government, the city administrative offices were often called the Cabildo. These names are preserved throughout Latin America, and even in New Orleans.

Modern cabildos

At present, cabildos exist only on the Canary Islands, one governing each island, and they are elected. Cabildos there resemble the consells insulars (island councils) of the Balearic Islands.


Pike, Fredrick B. (1960) "The Cabildo and Colonial Loyalty to Hapsburg Rulers" Journal of Inter-American Studies 2(4): pp. 405-420

Pike, Fredrick B. (1958) "The Municipality and the System of Checks and Balances in Spanish American Colonial Administration" The Americas 15(2): pp. 139-158

Fisher, John (1969) "The Intendant System and the Cabildos of Peru, 1784-1810" The Hispanic American Historical Review 49(3): pp. 430-453

Din, Gilbert C. (1996) ''The New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana's First City Government, 1769-1803Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, ISBN 0-8071-2042-1

Meissner, Jochen (1993) Eine Elite im Umbruch: Der Stadtrat von Mexiko zwischen kolonialer Ordnung und unabhangigem Staat, 1761-1821'' F. Steiner, Stuttgart, ISBN 3-515-06098-7, in German,

See also

Cabildo, disambiguation page

Municipal council, comparable system in France and India

The Cabildo, Spanish governmental building in New Orleans

External links

Encyclopaedia Britannica Cabildo

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