By Daniel K. Lewis
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Extra resources for A South American Frontier: The Tri-border Region (Arbitrary Borders)
The War of the Spanish Succession decided that a branch of the House of Bourbon would rule over Spain and its empire. 25 The relative autonomy of the Jesuits represented an important challenge to the Bourbon kings. The Jesuits no longer had the influence they once enjoyed within the viceregal government. Colonial administrators resented the economic powers of the Jesuits. In 1750, the Treaty of Madrid gave the Portuguese Crown control of seven missions that operated along the southern banks of the Uruguay River.
23 The creation of such a powerful military force fundamentally transformed the region. The actions of the Jesuits effectively blocked the Portuguese invasions into the land that Spanish authorities claimed, but the Jesuits did not help establish colonial borders that served Spanish interests. Instead, the missions promoted lines of separation between the mercantile world based in Asunción and the missions themselves. ” 39 40 A SOUTH AMERICAN FRONTIER: THE TRI-BORDER REGION The Jesuits in the tri-border region pursued an ambitious policy that helped separate their mission operations from both Spanish authority and Portuguese incursions.
The commercial circles and relationships that had stood for centuries now lost most of their value. Colonial authority tried to force the flow of goods, labor, and services along new lines and within new borders. More important, energy and resources flowed out of the region. Little of value flowed toward the interior. A new generation of bureaucrats traveled to Asunción, but in a city of some 5,000 citizens (as registered in 1800), only 200 were of Spanish descent. These bureaucrats were officers who seldom performed their duties and whose main energies focused on escaping the region as soon as possible.