Corporate Body - Consejo de Estado (España. 1521-1834)

Consejo de Estado (España. 1521-1834)



Corporate Body

Preferred form:

Consejo de Estado (España. 1521-1834)Other forms

Fechas de Existencia:

from 1521 to 1834


The Council of State was born in the 1620s (1521-1526). Similar to other Councils, it springs up from a specialized institutional entity which gradually takes over certain jurisdictions implemented in the bosom of the Royal Council. In addition, the Council stems from the forms and traditions of government brought in by Charles V during his first years of reign and the genuine need for its existence, based on the peculiar judicial nature of the monarchy – that is to say – its supraterritoriality character.

The Council of State is a bonding agent for the entire Hispanic monarchy and it is superior to other organisms linked to the kingdoms or to a spectrum of specific competences. The explanation behind its scope, which encompasses exclusive jurisdiction in international politics and also significant matters related to the kingdoms’ domestic policy, lies in the supraterritorial dimension of the Council of State. A set of other equally unique characteristics stems from this basic feature. For instance, because the Council is called and chaired by the King whose attendance is not imperative, it lacks any regulation or jurisdictional authority. In view of the aforementioned, the Secretary of the Council gains increasing importance, since he is regarded as a nexus between the king and the Council. A number of political strategies triggered snapshot divisions and reunifications of the Secretariat of the Council throughout the 17th century. In 1570, it was divided into two: the Secretariats of Spain and the North and the Secretariat of Italy. A third Secretariat – of Spain and the Adjacent Islands – was established in 1630 and dissolved in 1661. The two secretariats persisted until 1706. On the other hand, the lack of transparency at certain points of the century downgrades both the Council and the Secretary in benefit of the political involvement of the king’s private servants, favorites and Boards. Nevertheless, there are no fundamental changes. The change of dynasty in the 18th century – the enthronement of the Bourbons – will lead to important consequences in the administrative reforms implemented. These reforms aim to emphasize the centralism, the administrative efficiency, the swiftness in the management of the affairs. On top of that, they will reinforce, as opposed to the polysynodial regime of the Councils, the single-member organisms: the Secretariats.

Having become largely inactive in the 1717-1792 time span, the Council of State is restored by Regulation of king Charles IV issued on the 25th May, 1792. It remained in office until the 26th August 1797 and first reassembled in 1808 in the wake of the disruptive events which took place during the War of Independence.

On the 21st January 1812, the Cortes of Cadiz established the Constitutional Council of State, restricted to advisory powers. The Council remained functional until May 1814, when Ferdinand VII was brought back to power, and once again returned to the operational status during the Liberal Triennium.

Ferdinand VII reestablishes the Council of State by Royal Decree issued on the 31st March 1815, which is based upon the R. D. of 1792. On the 6th January 1826, a new Regulation is implemented; it will remain in force until the 2nd October 1828, when the Regulation of 1792 comes into effect once again. The abolition of the virtually non-existent Council of State is triggered by the establishment of the Council of Government as specified in the testament of Ferdinand VII on the 2nd June 1833 and the reorientation of the State Administration. The Royal Decree issued on the 24th March 1834 implemented such abolition, as well as the establishment of the Royal Council of Spain and the Indies.

Internal Structure-Genealogy:

The matters of the Council of State were originally handled by a single Secretariat, which split into two in 1570 and was renamed as Secretariat of Spain and North and Secretariat of Italy. A number of political strategies triggered snapshot divisions and reunifications of the Secretariat of the Council of State throughout the 17th Century. The third Secretariat, known as the Secretariat of Spain and the Adjacent Islands, was established in 1630 and abolished in 1643. Having fused with the Secretariat of North, it separated once again in 1648, until permanently dissolved and appended to the Secretariat of North by Royal Decree issued on the 23rd November, 1661. The Council of State survided until 1706, when all the secretariats were reduced to a single Secretariat of State.


The documentary materials of the Council of State are mainly held in the National Historic Archive (in Spanish "Archivo Histórico Nacional") in Madrid and the General Archive of Simancas (in Spanish "Archivo General de Simancas"), located in Valladolid. Moreover, the documentation from the Council was transported to the Central General Archive based in Alcalá de Henares between 1868 and 1833. Unfortunately, when the latter was set on fire in 1938, the documents held within were destroyed.

Mandates/Legal Sources


-Creación oficial: 1 de julio de 1526

-Supresión: Real Decreto de 24 de marzo de 1834

Related Authorities

Temporary relationships :

Consejo de Estado (España. 1812-1814)  - Earlier (Es sustituida temporalmente por)

Consejo Real de España e Indias  - Earlier (Es predecesor inmediato/a de - es sustituido por)

See successors

Hierarchical relationships :

Junta de Dependencia y Negocios de Extranjeros (España)  - Parent (Integra a)

See descendants

External Links

Fichero de Autoridades:

Biblioteca Nacional de Espa¿a

Fichero de Autoridades:

Biblioteca Nacional de Francia

Fichero de Autoridades:

Cat¿logo autoridades SUDOC