The Factor General del Rey and finances of the Hispanic monarchy
Carlos Alvarez Nogal
Revista de Historia Económica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Año 17, 3, 1999, pp. 507-539
This paper studies the figure of "Factor General del rey" in the organization and work of the Royal Finances of Castile between 1627 and 1644, under the reformist government of the Count-Duke of Olivares. During these years, the Factor General was Bartolomé Spinola, one of the most important Genoese bankers of Phillip IV. This article analyses the strategy of Royal Finances in the financial market during the early seventeenth century, and the role played by the most important bankers. To begin with, I examine why the Royal Finances needed a Factor General. At this moment, the Crown was establishing a system where the policy was established by experts. The presence of financiers in the court of Madrid grew as much as to influence economic policy. Later afterwards, I explain who Bartolomé Spinola was and how he got to become the main important banker, and then the Factor General. Drawing upon the experience and understanding he gained from his activities in the financial markets as a private banker, he could influence the direction of the political economy of the Spanish Empire. Finally, I analyse briefly some of the functions of the Factor General in the financing of the Crown's expenses, and his intervention in the problems relative to the vellon coinage.