Corporate Body - Secretaría de Estado y del Despacho de Gracia y Justicia (España)

Secretaría de Estado y del Despacho de Gracia y Justicia (España)



Corporate Body

Preferred form:

Secretaría de Estado y del Despacho de Gracia y Justicia (España)Other forms

Fechas de Existencia:

from 1754-08-26 to 1851-10-20


The far-reaching reforms in the administration system were brought by the change of dynasty in the 18th century. As far as central administration is concerned, all of the precise competencies were removed in an attempt to reduce the powers of the Councils. They were borne by the preexisting Secretariat, officially known as Secretaría del Despacho. Although universal and unique since its creation in 1621, it was necessary to split the Secretariat into several Secretarías del Despacho and State Secretariats to comply with diverse administrative matters that were formerly instructed to the Councils. The first step forward was the Decree issued on the 11th July 1705, whereby Philip V splits the Universal Secretariat into two: a State Secretary for War and Finance* and another Secretariat for “everything else”. Nevertheless, the characteristics of the new administrative organization were sketched in the Decree issued on the 20th November, 1714. As in 1705, the reform was motivated by the accumulation of business affairs and the need to handle those affairs more swiftly. The system coined for this purpose is analogous to the one implemented in France, with four Secretariat divisions based on matters: Secretary of State, War, Navy and The Indies, as well as a Secretary of Ecclesiastical Matters, justice and jurisdiction. The finance-related matters fall under the jurisdiction of the Oversight Committee for Finance**, headed by an Oversight Inspector and a Universal Intendent, who staff the Cabinet Council. Although subject to minor modifications motivated by several reforms, this situation will remain until the biennium 1754-1755. As far as the Secretariat of Ecclesiastic Matters, Justice and Jurisdiction is concerned, it will be retitled as Secretariat of Justice, Political Government and Treasury of Spain and the Indies by Royal Decree issued on the 2nd April 1717, whereby it takes over the powers of Treasury in the wake of the abolition of the Oversight Committee for Finance and the fusion of the Secretariats into three organisms. Nevertheless, it will be a short-term situation, since the Treasury matters will become autonomous and separate from the Secretariat of Justice in December, 1720. The far-reaching reforms by Ferdinand VI in 1754-1755 will define the permanent classification of the Secretariats and their powers. Thus, between May 1754 and the 24th May 1755, there will be a total of five secretariats (the Secretariat of Treasury is created) with a fixed plant, which are established by a number of Royal Decrees. By the Royal Decree issued on the 26th August 1754, the Secretariat of Ecclesiastical Matters, Justice and Jurisdiction shall be referred to as Secretariat of Justice, Political Government and Treasury of Spain and the Indies. The subsequent 1787 reform will lead to a greater fractioning of the Secretariats as a solution to an increasing number of matters and business affairs in the Indies. On this date, the preexisting Secretariat of Navy and the Indies will be divided into three secretariats: Navy, Grace and Justice of the Indies, and War-Treasury-Trade-Navigation of the Indies. Therefore, the matters of the Indies which were originally the responsibility of the Secretary of Grace and Justice are taken over by a new specialized Secretariat. This reform, however, will not settle the problems as initially intended, hence why the comeback to the classical division in five Secretariats and State Secretariats (Decree issued on the 25th April, 1790): State, War, Navy, Treasury and Grace and Justice. Each Secretariat takes on the responsibility of the corresponding matters of the Indies. This division of the different administrative spheres will remain until the implementation of other reforms in the Cortes of Cadiz. In 1812, the designation “Secretariat of Grace and Justice” will be replaced with the name “Ministry of Grace and Justice”. Even though the Statute of Bayonne of 1808 and the Constitution of 1837 already use the term “minister” to refer to the secretaries, both words will be regarded as synonyms until 1851 (Royal Decree issued on the 20th September, whereby the Ministry of Development is established). This is the year when the term “ministries” used for the former Secretariats becomes official. As a consequence, the designation Ministry of Grace and Justice becomes permanent. The Secretariat of Grace and Justice, in terms of its powers, was responsible for such matters as the royal patronage, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and the organization and performance of the court of justice, which formerly fell under the jurisdiction of the Chamber of Castile and the Royal Council. Thus, the following functions were assigned to the Secretariat: the oversight of business affairs under the Royal Patronage, the appointment of archbishops, bishops, Church dignitaries, prebends, services and chaplaincies; the administration of courts and chancelleries, the appointment of their presidents, governors and ministers, and the justice resources; the provision of the jurisdiction of the corregidor not intended for war and treasury; the safeguard of the Crown royalties; any matter concerning the royal houses and the provision of services, as well as the compliance with the laws and pragmatics.

*Officially known in Spain as "Secretaría de Estado y del Despacho de Guerra y Hacienda"

**Officially known in Spain as "Veeduría general de Hacienda"

Internal Structure-Genealogy:

Mandates/Legal Sources


Decreto de 26 de agosto de 1754 por el que la Secretaría de Negocios eclesiásticos, justicia y jurisdicción pasa a denominarse Secretaría de Estado y de Despacho de Gracia y Justicia

Real Decreto de 20 de septiembre de 1851 por el que se crea el Ministerio de Fomento


Código Referencia:ES.47161.AGS/2.18//

Related Authorities

Associative relations :

Cafranga Costilla, José de (1780-1854)  (Tiene como empleado a_en)