Indigenous History, Culture and Consciousness under Spanish rule
This invasion brought cataclysmic change to the entire Andean region, resulted in the complete collapse of the empire and the deaths of most of the citizens through war and pestilence in later years. What had once been the proud and content citizens of the most advanced, powerful and large Empire in the Americas had their worlds completely turned on their heads, nobles and peasants alike became slaves in the Spanish conquistadors “encomiendas” while they were forced to basically watch their entire way of life crumble around them.
The author, Kenneth Andrien, is as fit a man as any to write a book about the Andean world and its unique way of life before and after the Spanish invasion. He is currently a professor at the Ohio State University where he teaches many undergraduate and graduate courses in Latin American history and Atlantic World history. He has also written four other books and published journal articles on early South America in addition to Andean Worlds. He is also currently a member of the editorial boards of the Colonial Latin American Review and the Anuario de Estudios Americanos. These credentials make him a very knowledgeable man when it comes to Latin America. Chapters one and two focus on the Incan Empire or Tawantinsuyu before the Spanish conquest.
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Chapter one is more specifically about the different perspectives you have to take into account when discussing Incan history because while there are oral histories there is a complete lack of a written language and as such, historians must rely on either word of mouth or arrangements of knotted strings, called quipu, which the Andeans used to record their census data, contents of state warehouses and the numbers of taxpayers.
They were also used to record basic information about significant events such as battles and dynastic events. There are problems with the quipu though, such as the fact that they are knotted strings which can easily fray and become damaged over time, rendering them useless to historians. Chapter two meanwhile focused on Tawantinsuyu before the Spanish invasion. It goes into great depth and discusses the political climate, how the empire functioned, the fall and eventual takeover of the empire by Francisco Pizarro and his conquistadors.This chapter was interesting because it pointed out that really one of the only reasons that the Spanish had such an easy time of it when they invaded the Empire was because a huge, five year civil war that completely crippled the empire had just ended. As such this made the empire very susceptible to invasion and interference because of the many indigenous tribes that had backed the wrong brother Huascar, were still angry and looking for payback.In fact the new Sapa Inca, Atahualpa was on his way to Cusco to claim his throne when he heard of the tiny Spanish force led by Francisco Pizarro and decided to go and see, a fatal choice.
The chapter also goes into great detail about the forming of the empire and how in only a few generations (1438-1532) it had become the most powerful, largest and advanced empire in the New World. Chapters three and four focus on Tawantinsuyu as it was after the Spanish had conquered the empire and subjugated it.Chapter three mostly talks about the early years of the Spanish conquest and how tough it was for them. During the first three years of their invasion and occupation they were already facing a massive rebellion led by the Spanish sponsored Manco Inca Yupanqui who managed to field an army of nearly 200,000 men. The Manco Inca began this rebellion because of the treatment he received from the Spanish which included several beatings and the seizure of his coya.After the failure of this rebellion the chapter goes on to describe the Years of Turmoil and Crisis during which Francisco Pizarro and his deputy Diego de Almagro had a large and drawn out war that resulted in the deaths of both of them.
The chapter also describes the results of disease brought about by the Spanish, the implementation and eventual failing of the encomienda system, the implementation of the New Laws which led to a war between the Viceroy Blasco Nunez Vela and the Pizarro Clan and the resurgence of central authority under Viceroy Fransico de Toledo.
By the early 19th century however crown authority was almost completely gone again. Chapter four describes the Colonial Socioeconomic Order of Peru. European-style markets were slow to catch on in Peru because the Conquistadors mostly just divided most indigenous communities into encomiendas which did not change much from the pre-existing Incan system but drained surplus production. The discovery of massive gold and silver deposits however led to an expansion and integration of regional market economies and the formation of what became known as The Trunk Line.
The Trunk Line, as described by James Lockhart, was essentially a railroad of “trunk lines” and “feeder lines” that went through many of the major Andean cities all the way up to Panama where the precious metals were shipped to Spain. As can be expected the communities along the line were drawn into the typical Spanish markets. The chapter also talks of the settlement of the empire by a large amount of European settlers which was made possible thanks to disease wiping out many of the people living in these areas.
Chapters five and six are about the Andean culture and society under colonial rule and Religious conversion and the imposition of orthodoxy. Chapter five begins with the account of the aged indios ladino Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala who in 1615 with his young son took a manuscript he had been writing for over 30 years. This manuscript was remarkable in that it was written in both Castilian and his native Quechua. What is so remarkable about this is that the Incan language never developed an alphabet and it was not until 1560 that a Castilian-Quechua dictionary was released.Under colonial rule Spanish friars opened schools that taught Castilian which was the most common language in Spain. Spanish arts and Andean arts merged which lead to a distinctive culture that was neither Andean nor European. Indios Ladinos were indigenous people who had learned Castilian as well as their native tongue.
They were the frist people of true mixed cultures and were extremely important because they were able to serve in many important jobs and showed the coming together of two cultures even when they had been born when Tawintinsuyu existed.Chapter six focuses on the spiritual conquest of the Andean world which although it was incomplete led to huge cultural and religious changes. Although the people accepted the trappings of Christianity such as the feasts, rituals, music, dances and prayers they viciously clung to their traditional rites and refused to give them up. This annoyed the clergy to no end and two factions developed with their own views on how to snuff out idolatry. These sides were forcible conversion that used egal campaigns to crush idolatry and the moderates who believed the continued beliefs to be religious error and though education was the sure way to combat them. Chapter seven covered the rebellions that rocked the empire and the continual resistance of the Andean people while under Spanish rule. After the Spanish captured the capital of Tawantinsuyu, Cusco in 1533 they slowly tried to stamp out native resistance.
The beginning of the Manco Inca’s rebellion began four long years of war that resulted in the Sapa Inca retreating to a fortress at Vilcabamba. The Spanish tried to negotiate with the Sapa Inca’s successors Sayri Tupac and Titu Cusi since the rebel state remained an extremely dangerous threat to the fragile Spanish territory, especially during the periodic civil wars that rocked the Spanish. Eventually Viceroy Fransico de Toledo launched a major punitive expedition that resulted in Vilcabamba falling and the capture and eventual execution in 1572 of the last king Tupac Amaru I.Resistance and rebellion did not end with the fall of Vilcabamba however as there were periodic small scale protests and revolts during the 17th century. The Bourbon Reforms in the 18th century fostered rebellions that had the potential to completely destroy the Spanish position in the new world. The major one was an uprising of native and mestizo peasants against the Bourbon reforms in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. While Tupac Amaru II, the early leader of the rebellion, was captured and executed in 1781, the rebellion continued for at least another year under other leaders.
After this rebellions continued from the 1780s until eventual independence in the 1820s. Andean Worlds by Kenneth J. Andrien is an excellent book if you wish to understand and learn about the Spanish conquest of Tawantinsuyu. By drawing on his own research and the contributions from scholars in many disciplines, the author offers a masterful interpretation of Andean colonial history, one of the most dynamic and creative fields in Latin American studies.
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