Term of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of History

Committee Chair

Kathleen Comerford

Committee Member 1

Solomon Smith

Committee Member 2

Anna Alexander


The Council of the Indies was responsible for the governing of the Spanish Empire, including issues of religion. During the reign of Philip II, the Council gained independence from the Council of Castile and was able to take more control of the Spanish territories. In response to outside factors, the Council codified its laws regarding the spread of the Catholic faith, which became the basis for Council control of religion under the authority of the king. A review of the Council during this time led to many changes in an effort to make the Council less corrupt and more efficient. These changes were not all successful, but they did change the appearance of the Council and they reveal how it functioned. A case study of two Spanish colonies, La Florida and New Spain demonstrates the role of the Council of the Indies in the area it supposedly governed. These two colonies are vastly different and illustrate how the Council adapted to serve the needs of the empire. During Philip’s reign, the high point of the Council’s power concerning religion, the Council of the Indies was more involved with the spread of religion in the areas of evangelization and establishing the Church in the Spanish territories.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material