Captaincy General of Chile

Capitanía General de Chile
Flag of Chile
Map of the Captaincy General of Chile in 1796 and claimed territories
Map of the Captaincy General of Chile in 1796 and claimed territories
StatusSpanish colony
Common languagesSpanish, Mapudungun
Roman Catholicism
• 1541–1556
Charles I
• 1808–1813
Joseph I
• 1813–1818
Ferdinand VII
Royal Governor 
• 1541–1553
Pedro de Valdivia
• 1815–1817
Casimiro Marcó del Pont
Historical eraSpanish Empire
• Established
February 12 1818
ISO 3166 codeCL
Succeeded by
Conservative Republic

The General Captaincy of Chile (Capitanía General de Chile [kapitaˈni.a xeneˈɾal ðe ˈt͡ʃile]) or Gobernación de Chile, was a territory of the Spanish Empire, from 1541 to 1818. It comprised most of modern-day Chile and southern parts of Argentina. Its capital was Santiago de Chile. In 1818 it declared itself independent, becoming the Republic of Chile. It had a number of Spanish governors over its long history and several kings.


The General Captaincy of Chile was incorporated to the Crown of Castile as were all the other Spanish possessions in the New World. The General Captaincy of Chile was first known as New Extremadura (a name subsequently given to a part of Mexico) and then as Indian Flanders. The Captaincy was a part of the Viceroyalty of Perú.

The administrative apparatus of the General Captaincy of Chile was subordinate to the Council of the Indies and the Laws of the Indies, like the other Spanish colonial possessions. The day-to-day work was handled mostly by viceroys and governors, who represented the king in the overseas territories. The areas of the Americas, which had been the site of complex civilizations or became rich societies were usually referred to by the Spanish as "kingdoms," such as the "New Kingdom of Granada", the "Kingdom of Mexico", or the "Kingdom of Guatemala."

Chile never reached the status of a viceroyalty and was instead classified as a captaincy general because this was a very warlike territory and thus was ruled by a military and not a nobleman like a viceroy.