From 1789 onward, a detailed, large-scale investigation was carried out in the territories of the Crown of Castile into its inhabitants, land, buildings, livestock, trades, and taxes. It included data from the census and even the geographical features of each town or village. The investigation was commissioned by Ferdinand VI of Spain at the suggestion of his minister, the Marquess of Ensenada, after whom the investigation was named.
The General Answers to the Catastro of Ensenada constitute the oldest and most comprehensive survey in existence of the towns and villages of the Crown of Castile in the mid-18th century.
The Catastro of Ensenada was to be the first step toward fiscal reform, which in the end did not happen. Its aim was to simplify the existing, complicated "provincial rents" system of taxation and replace it with a Single Tax "in proportion to what each individual has, equitably and fairly."
In order to create an accurate picture of the taxes paid by individuals, places, and provinces in the Kingdom, it was necessary to first carry out a universal investigation into the assets of vassals. No exceptions were made, and it included priests and nobility.
The Single Tax was never implemented, but it left behind an important body of documentation that is now held in the Archives, as well as an unexpected result: its beautiful maps.
The Marquess of Ensenada was a pioneer in the creation of maps of Spain. The varying skill of the cartographers can be seen in the maps: it is likely that there were several teams working on them in the Kingdom of Granada. This map shows the specific answers given by the ecclesiastical and secular district of Dúrcal, in what is now the province of Granada.
In this magnificent watercolor, the artist has tried, with mixed results, to give a sense of perspective and volume. He has successfully included intricate details such as the bridge over the river with its entry and exit points, and just above that, along the river's course, a mill with two millstones outside it.
With its detailed drawings and unique features, the map is as convincingly authentic as an image that might be achieved today with professional, high-resolution photography.
Dúrcal. Cadastre of the Marquis of La Ensenada,Particular responses of the ecclesiastical and secular neighborhood of Dúrcal (1753/1758)Andalusian Archives
Discover the Village of Dúrcal in the mid-18th century
Ministry of Culture and Heritage of the Regional Government of Andalusia
Photographs: Provincial Historical Archive of Granada