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Map of Spanish Florida, c1600

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Colonial-Era Spanish Measurement Conversion Tables

 

The tables below show conversions of a few common colonial-era Spanish measurements into modern English and Metric systems.  For more in-depth discussion of the variability in the Spanish league measurements during this period, see the following sources:

Chardon, Roland, "The Elusive Spanish League: A Problem of Measurement in Sixteenth-Century New Spain," The Hispanic American Historical Review 60(2): 294-302 (1980).

Chardon, Roland, "The Linear League in North America," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 70(2): 129-153 (1980).

Spanish Leagues / Spanish Varas / Spanish Arrobas

Spanish Leagues

The two most commonly-employed league distances used for terrestrial measurements in Spanish Florida were the legua legal, which measured 3 Spanish millas, or 5,000 varas (equaling 0.8359 meters) of 3 Spanish pies (equaling 0.2786 meters), and the legua común, which measured 4 Spanish millas, or 4,000 pasos of 5 Spanish pies.  The longer legua común seems to have been used principally during the 16th century, while the shorter legua legal seems to have been in nearly universal usage in Florida during 17th and 18th centuries.

Statute Leagues

(legua legal)

Miles

Kilometers

 

Common Leagues

(legua común)

Miles

Kilometers

1

2.6

4.18

 

1

3.46

5.57

2

5.2

8.37

2

6.92

11.13

3

7.8

12.55

 

3

10.38

16.70

4

10.4

16.73

 

4

13.84

22.27

5

13

20.92

 

5

17.3

27.84

6

15.6

25.10

 

6

20.76

33.40

7

18.2

29.28

 

7

24.22

38.97

8

20.8

33.47

 

8

27.68

44.54

9

23.4

37.65

 

9

31.14

50.10

10

26

41.83

 

10

34.6

55.67

11

28.6

46.02

 

11

38.06

61.24

12

31.2

50.20

 

12

41.52

66.81

13

33.8

54.38

 

13

44.98

72.37

14

36.4

58.57

 

14

48.44

77.94

15

39

62.75

 

15

51.9

83.51

16

41.6

66.93

 

16

55.36

89.07

17

44.2

71.12

 

17

58.82

94.64

18

46.8

75.30

 

18

62.28

100.21

19

49.4

79.48

 

19

65.74

105.78

20

52

83.67

 

20

69.2

111.34

30

78

125.50

 

30

103.8

167.01

40

104

167.34

 

40

138.4

222.69

50

130

209.17

 

50

173

278.36

60

156

251.00

 

60

207.6

334.03

70

182

292.84

 

70

242.2

389.70

80

208

334.67

 

80

276.8

445.37

90

234

376.51

90

311.4

501.04

100

260

418.34

 

100

346

556.71


Spanish Varas

The Spanish vara was comprised of 3 Spanish pies, or feet, and was established as equivalent to 0.8359 meters upon the transition to the metric system during the 19th century.  The vara de Burgos upon which this measurement was based was only one of several in usage during the colonial era, however, and so a certain amount of variability is to be expected both regionally and chronologically.

 

varas

Feet

Meters
 

1

2.74

0.836

 

2

5.49

1.672

 

3

8.23

2.508

 

4

10.97

3.344

 

5

13.71

4.180

 

6

16.46

5.015

 

7

19.20

5.851

 

8

21.94

6.687

 

9

24.68

7.523

 

10

27.43

8.359

 

11

30.17

9.195

 

12

32.91

10.031

 

13

35.65

10.867

 

14

38.40

11.703

 

15

41.14

12.539

 

16

43.88

13.374

 

17

46.62

14.210

 

18

49.37

15.046

 

19

52.11

15.882

 

20

54.85

16.718

 

30

82.28

25.077

 

40

109.70

33.436

 

50

137.13

41.795

 

60

164.56

50.154

 

70

191.98

58.513

 

80

219.41

66.872

 

90

246.83

75.231

 

100

274.26

83.590


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Spanish Arrobas

The Spanish arroba was used both as a measure of dry weight and separately as a measure of liquid volume, as indicated below in a single chart.  All liquids but olive oil were measured using a larger arroba, while olive oil was measured using a smaller arroba.


 

 

Dry
Weight

Liquid
Volume

Olive Oil
Volume

 

arrobas

Pounds

Kilograms

Gallons

Liters

Gallons

Liters

 

1

25.36

11.50

4.26

16.13

3.32

12.56
 

2

50.73

23.00

8.52

32.27

6.64

25.13

 

3

76.09

34.51

12.79

48.40

9.96

37.69
 

4

101.45

46.01

17.05

64.53

13.28

50.25

5

126.81

57.51

21.31

80.67

16.60

62.82

 

6

152.18

69.01

25.57

96.80

19.91

75.38

 

7

177.54

80.52

29.84

112.93

23.23

87.94

 

8

202.90

92.02

34.10

129.06

26.55

100.50

 

9

228.26

103.52

38.36

145.20

29.87

113.07

 

10

253.63

115.02

42.62

161.33

33.19

125.63

 

11

278.99

126.53

46.89

177.46

36.51

138.19

 

12

304.35

138.03

51.15

193.60

39.83

150.76

 

13

329.71

149.53

55.41

209.73

43.15

163.32

 

14

355.08

161.03

59.67

225.86

46.47

175.88

 

15

380.44

172.53

63.94

242.00

49.79

188.45

 

16

405.80

184.04

68.20

258.13

53.11

201.01

 

17

431.16

195.54

72.46

274.26

56.43

213.57

 

18

456.53

207.04

76.72

290.39

59.74

226.13

 

19

481.89

218.54

80.98

306.53

63.06

238.70

 

20

507.25

230.05

85.25

322.66

66.38

251.26


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