Biography of Francisco [jurisconsulto español] Alfaro (ca. 1575-?)

Spanish jurist born about 1575 in Seville and Madrid died in date unknown. He/She acted in several Indian audiences and are distinguished by their famous regulations in favour of the Indians of the Rio de la Plata, Tucumán and Paraguay.

After studying law, he/she was sent to the Audiencia de Panama, where he/she worked as a Prosecutor in 1594. He/She was subsequently appointed to the Audiencia of Lima and the viceroy Juan de Mendoza ordered him to make information about the yanaconas Indians. Then he/she was appointed Inspector General of the provinces of the Río de la Plata, Tucumán and Paraguay, to check the deal that gave the Indians the encomiendas in.

He began his visit in 1611. Straight thinking man, felt he/she had to finish the personal services of the Indians, which also defended the Jesuits in Tucumán, which had abolished all the parcels in their homes. A meeting held in Santiago del Estero on December 12, 1611, under the chairmanship of Bishop Trejo confirmed the wrongfulness of the personal service of the natives. Then two opposing parties were formed: one was favourable to the abolition, and Alfaro, the Jesuits, the Franciscans and the Bishop; the other was fond of continue holding the personal service, and was formed by the mercedarian and most of the Spaniards. Alfaro published his Ordinances in the midst of great controversy on October 11, 1611 in Asuncion of Paraguay. In Chapter 2 of these Ordinances reiterated the ban in these provinces Indians slaves and in the 3rd prohibited treatment and trade of Indians as slaves, although had been made such by other Indians as the guaycurus, condemning who buy them or sell, if it were Spanish or mestizo of low condition, "six years of galleys or other equivalent service", and being more consideration to serve simultaneously in the Kingdom of Chile, and the black or fined imposed you the penalty of galleys". These two Ordinances were incorporated into the laws of the Indies six years later and contained in the compilation of 1681. Alfaro also reiterated the prohibition that live Spaniards, blacks or mestizos in indigenous towns, and commanded that the damage that did to the Indians the children, servants, guests, or slaves of the encomenderos were paid by their masters.

A part of the reform of the Ordinances of Alfaro was frustrated later when don Manuel Frias, Attorney General of the provinces of the Río de la Plata and Paraguay, made a representation to the monarch, informing him that the cities of Asunción and Concepción risked a serious rebellion in 1613 of the guaycurus Indians and payaguas, which had become haughty following the enactment of the Ordinances of Alfaro, and requested "that become them war to fire and blood to such two nations of payaguas and guaycurus Indians", which passed the Council of the Indies and the King himself April 16, 1618. Stipulated that prisoners captured could be used in the Spanish service, but could not sell it: "not written them [...]" so is my will". The war originated a large number of slaves of service. Alfaro, he/she returned to Spain and became a member of the Council of the Indies, who was serving when he/she died in Madrid.


EGAÑA, ANTONIO: History of the Church in the Spanish America, southern hemisphere, Madrid: B.A.E., 1966.

LEVAGGI, ABELARDO: "treaties between the Crown and the Indians of Chaco", in tribute to Ismael Sánchez Bella, Pamplona: Universidad de Navarra, 1992, pp. 291-323.