The History Of The Conquest Of Peru
William H. Prescott

Part 1 out of 17

Etext of The History Of The Conquest Of Peru
by William H. Prescott

"Congestae cumulantur opes, orbisque rapinas Accipit."

Claudian, In Ruf., lib. i., v. 194.

"So color de religion
Van a buscar plata y oro
Del encubierto tesoro."
Lope De Vega, El Nuevo Mundo, Jorn. 1.


The most brilliant passages in the history of Spanish adventure
in the New World are undoubtedly afforded by the conquests of
Mexico and Peru, - the two states which combined with the largest
extent of empire a refined social polity, and considerable
progress in the arts of civilization. Indeed, so prominently do
they stand out on the great canvas of history, that the name of
the one, notwithstanding the contrast they exhibit in their
respective institutions, most naturally suggests that of the
other; and, when I sent to Spain to collect materials for an
account of the Conquest of Mexico, I included in my researches
those relating to the Conquest of Peru.

The larger part of the documents, in both cases, was obtained
from the same great repository, - the archives of the Royal
Academy of History at Madrid; a body specially intrusted with the
preservation of whatever may serve to illustrate the Spanish
colonial annals. The richest portion of its collection is
probably that furnished by the papers of Munoz. This eminent
scholar, the historiographer of the Indies, employed nearly fifty
years of his life in amassing materials for a history of Spanish
discovery and conquest in America. For this, as he acted under
the authority of the government, every facility was afforded him;
and public offices and private depositories, in all the principal
cities of the empire, both at home and throughout the wide extent
of its colonial possessions, were freely opened to his
inspection. The result was a magnificent collection of
manuscripts, many of which he patiently transcribed with his own
hand. But he did not live to reap the fruits of his persevering
industry. The first volume, relative to the voyages of Columbus,
was scarcely finished when he died; and his manuscripts, at least
that portion of them which have reference to Mexico and Peru,
were destined to serve the uses of another, an inhabitant of that
New World to which they related.

Another scholar, to whose literary stores I am largely indebted,
is Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete, late Director of the Royal
Academy of History. Through the greater part of his long life he
was employed in assembling original documents to illustrate the
colonial annals. Many of these have been incorporated in his
great work, "Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos," which,
although far from being completed after the original plan of its
author, is of inestimable service to the historian. In following
down the track of discovery, Navarrete turned aside from the
conquests of Mexico and Peru, to exhibit the voyages of his
countrymen in the Indian seas. His manuscripts, relating to the
two former countries, he courteously allowed to be copied for me.
Some of them have since appeared in print, under the auspices of
his learned coadjutors, Salva and Baranda, associated with him in
the Academy; but the documents placed in my hands form a most
important contribution to my materials for the present history.

The death of this illustrious man, which occurred some time after
the present work was begun, has left a void in his country not
easy to be filled; for he was zealously devoted to letters, and
few have done more to extend the knowledge of her colonial
history. Far from an exclusive solicitude for his own literary
projects, he was ever ready to extend his sympathy and assistance
to those of others. His reputation as a scholar was enhanced by
the higher qualities which he possessed as a man, - by his
benevolence, his simplicity of manners, and unsullied moral
worth. My own obligations to him are large; for from the
publication of my first historical work, down to the last week of
his life, I have constantly received proofs from him of his
hearty and most efficient interest in the prosecution of my
historical labors; and I now the more willingly pay this
well-merited tribute to his deserts, that it must be exempt from
all suspicion of flattery.

In the list of those to whom I have been indebted for materials,
I must, also, include the name of M. Ternaux-Compans, so well
known by his faithful and elegant French versions of the Munoz
manuscripts; and that of my friend Don Pascual de Gayangos, who,
under the modest dress of translation, has furnished a most acute
and learned commentary on Spanish-Arabian history, - securing for
himself the foremost rank in that difficult department of
letters, which has been illumined by the labors of a Masdeu, a
Casiri, and a Conde.

To the materials derived from these sources, I have added some
manuscripts of an important character from the library of the
Escurial. These, which chiefly relate to the ancient institutions
of Peru, formed part of the splendid collection of Lord
Kingsborough, which has unfortunately shared the lot of most
literary collections, and been dispersed, since the death of its
noble author. For these I am indebted to that industrious
bibliographer, Mr. O. Rich, now resident in London. Lastly, I
must not omit to mention my obligations, in another way, to my
friend Charles Folsom, Esq., the learned librarian of the Boston
Athenaeum; whose minute acquaintance with the grammatical
structure and the true idiom of our English tongue has enabled me
to correct many inaccuracies into which I had fallen in the
composition both of this and of my former works.

From these different sources I have accumulated a large amount of
manuscripts, of the most various character, and from the most
authentic sources; royal grants and ordinances, instructions of
the Court, letters of the Emperor to the great colonial officers,
municipal records, personal diaries and memoranda, and a mass of
private correspondence of the principal actors in this turbulent
drama. Perhaps it was the turbulent state of the country which
led to a more frequent correspondence between the government at
home and the colonial officers. But, whatever be the cause, the
collection of manuscript materials in reference to Peru is fuller
and more complete than that which relates to Mexico; so that
there is scarcely a nook or corner so obscure, in the path of the
adventurer, that some light has not been thrown on it by the
written correspondence of the period. The historian has rather
had occasion to complain of the embarras des richesses; for, in
the multiplicity of contradictory testimony, it is not always
easy to detect the truth, as the multiplicity of cross-lights is
apt to dazzle and bewilder the eye of the spectator.

The present History has been conducted on the same general plan
with that of the Conquest of Mexico. In an Introductory Book, I
have endeavoured to portray the institutions of the Incas, that
the reader may be acquainted with the character and condition of
that extraordinary race, before he enters on the story of their
subjugation. The remaining books are occupied with the narrative
of the Conquest. And here, the subject, it must be allowed,
notwithstanding the opportunities it presents for the display of
character, strange, romantic incident, and picturesque scenery,
does not afford so obvious advantages to the historian as the
Conquest of Mexico. Indeed, few subjects can present a parallel
with that, for the purposes either of the historian or the poet.
The natural development of the story, there, is precisely what
would be prescribed by the severest rules of art. The conquest
of the country is the great end always in the view of the reader.
From the first landing of the Spaniards on the soil, their
subsequent adventures, their battles and negotiations, their
ruinous retreat, their rally and final siege, all tend to this
grand result, till the long series is closed by the downfall of
the capital. In the march of events, all moves steadily forward
to this consummation. It is a magnificent epic, in which the
unity of interest is complete.

In the "Conquest of Peru," the action, so far as it is founded on
the subversion of the Incas, terminates long before the close of
the narrative. The remaining portion is taken up with the fierce
feuds of the Conquerors, which would seem, from their very
nature, to be incapable of being gathered round a central point
of interest. To secure this, we must look beyond the immediate
overthrow of the Indian empire. The conquest of the natives is
but the first step, to be followed by the conquest of the
Spaniards, - the rebel Spaniards, themselves, - till the
supremacy of the Crown is permanently established over the
country. It is not till this period, that the acquisition of
this Transatlantic empire can be said to be completed; and, by
fixing the eye on this remoter point, the successive steps of the
narrative will be found leading to one great result, and that
unity of interest preserved which is scarcely less essential to
historic than dramatic composition. How far this has been
effected, in the present work, must be left to the judgment of
the reader.

No history of the conquest of Peru, founded on original
documents, and aspiring to the credit of a classic composition,
like the "Conquest of Mexico" by Solis, has been attempted, as
far as I am aware, by the Spaniards. The English possess one of
high value, from the pen of Robertson, whose masterly sketch
occupies its due space in his great work on America. It has been
my object to exhibit this same story, in all its romantic
details; not merely to portray the characteristic features of the
Conquest, but to fill up the outline with the coloring of life,
so as to present a minute and faithful picture of the times. For
this purpose, have, in the composition of the work, availed
myself freely of my manuscript materials, allowed the actors to
speak as much as possible for themselves, and especially made
frequent use of their letters; for nowhere is the heart more
likely to disclose itself, than in the freedom of private
correspondence. I have made liberal extracts from these
authorities in the notes, both to sustain the text, and to put in
a printed form those productions of the eminent captains and
statesmen of the time, which are not very accessible to Spaniards

M. Amedee Pichot, in the Preface to the French translation of the
"Conquest of Mexico," infers from the plan of the composition,
that I must have carefully studied the writings of his
countryman, M. de Barante. The acute critic does me but justice
in supposing me familiar with the principles of that writer's
historical theory, so ably developed in the Preface to his "Ducs
de Bourgogne." And I have had occasion to admire the skillful
manner in which he illustrates this theory himself, by
constructing out of the rude materials of a distant time a
monument of genius that transports us at once into the midst of
the Feudal Ages, - and this without the incongruity which usually
attaches to a modern-antique. In like manner I have attempted to
seize the characteristic expression of a distant age, and to
exhibit it in the freshness of life. But in an essential
particular, I have deviated from the plan of the French
historian. I have suffered the scaffolding to remain after the
building has been completed. In other words, I have shown to the
reader the steps of the process by which I have come to my
conclusions. Instead of requiring him to take my version of the
story on trust, I have endeavoured to give him a reason for my
faith. By copious citations from the original authorities, and
by such critical notices of them as would explain to him the
influences to which they were subjected, I have endeavoured to
put him in a position for judging for himself, and thus for
revising, and, if need be reversing, the judgments of the
historian. He will, at any rate, by this means, be enabled to
estimate the difficulty of arriving at truth amidst the conflict
of testimony; and he will learn to place little reliance on those
writers who pronounce on the mysterious past with what Fontenelle
calls "a frightful degree of certainty," - a spirit the most
opposite to that of the true philosophy of history.

Yet it must be admitted, that the chronicler who records the
events of an earlier age has some obvious advantages in the store
of manuscript materials at his command, - the statements of
friends, rivals, and enemies, furnishing a wholesome counterpoise
to each other; and also, in the general course of events, as they
actually occurred, affording the best commentary on the true
motives of the parties. The actor, engaged in the heat of the
strife, finds his view bounded by the circle around him, and his
vision blinded by the smoke and dust of the conflict; while the
spectator, whose eyes ranges over the ground from a more distant
and elevated point, though the individual objects may lose
somewhat of their vividness, takes in at a glance all the
operations of the field. Paradoxical as it may appear, truth
founded on contemporary testimony would seem, after all, as
likely to be attained by the writer of a later day, as by
contemporaries themselves.

Before closing these remarks, I may be permitted to add a few of
a personal nature. In several foreign notices of my writings,
the author has been said to be blind; and more than once I have
had the credit of having lost my sight in the composition of my
first history. When I have met with such erroneous accounts, I
have hastened to correct them. But the present occasion affords
me the best means of doing so; and I am the more desirous of
this, as I fear some of my own remarks, in the Prefaces to my
former histories, have led to the mistake.

While at the University, I received an injury in one of my eyes,
which deprived me of the sight of it. The other, soon after, was
attacked by inflammation so severely, that, for some time, I lost
the sight of that also; and though it was subsequently restored,
the organ was so much disordered as to remain permanently
debilitated, while twice in my life, since, I have been deprived
of the use of it for all purposes of reading and writing, for
several years together. It was during one of these periods that
I received from Madrid the materials for the "History of
Ferdinand and Isabella," and in my disabled condition, with my
Transatlantic treasures lying around me, I was like one pining
from hunger in the midst of abundance. In this state, I resolved
to make the ear, if possible, do the work of the eye. I procured
the services of a secretary, who read to me the various
authorities; and in time I became so far familiar with the sounds
of the different foreign languages (to some of which indeed, I
had been previously accustomed by a residence abroad), that I
could comprehend his reading without much difficulty. As the
reader proceeded, I dictated copious notes; and, when these had
swelled to a considerable amount, they were read to me
repeatedly, till I had mastered their contents sufficiently for
the purposes of composition. The same notes furnished an easy
means of reference to sustain the text.

Still another difficulty occurred, in the mechanical labor of
writing, which I found a severe trial to the eye. This was
remedied by means of a writing-case, such as is used by the
blind, which enabled me to commit my thoughts to paper without
the aid of sight, serving me equally well in the dark as in the
light. The characters thus formed made a near approach to
hieroglyphics; but my secretary became expert in the art of
deciphering, and a fair copy - with a liberal allowance for
unavoidable blunders - was transcribed for the use of the
printer. I have described the process with more minuteness, as
some curiosity has been repeatedly expressed in reference to my
modus operandi under my privations, and the knowledge of it may
be of some assistance to others in similar circumstances.

Though I was encouraged by the sensible progress of my work, it
was necessarily slow. But in time the tendency to inflammation
diminished, and the strength of the eye was confirmed more and
more. It was at length so far restored, that I could read for
several hours of the day, though my labors in this way
necessarily terminated with the daylight. Nor could I ever
dispense with the services of a secretary, or with the
writing-case, for, contrary to the usual experience, I have found
writing a severer trial to the eye than reading, - a remark,
however, which does not apply to the reading of manuscript; and
to enable myself, therefore, to revise my composition more
carefully, I caused a copy of the "History of Ferdinand and
Isabella" to be printed for of my own inspection, before it was
sent to the press for the publication. Such as I have described
the preparation of the "Conquest of Mexico"; and, satisfied with
being raised so nearly to a level with the rest of my species, I
scarcely envied the superior good fortune of those who could
prolong their studies into the evening, and the later hours of
the night.

But a change has again taken place during the last two years.
The sight of my eye has become gradually dimmed, while the
sensibility of the nerve has been so far increased, that for
several weeks of the last year I have not opened a volume, and
through the whole time I have not had the use of it, on an
average, for more than an hour a day. Nor can I cheer myself
with the delusive expectation, that, impaired as the organ has
become, from having been tasked, probably, beyond its strength,
it can ever renew its youth, or be of much service to me
hereafter in my literary researches. Whether I shall have the
heart to enter, as I had proposed, on a new and more extensive
field of historical labor, with these impediments, I cannot say.
Perhaps long habit, and a natural desire to follow up the career
which I have so long pursued, may make this, in a manner,
necessary, as my past experience has already proved that it is

From this statement - too long, I fear, for his patience - the
reader, who feels any curiosity about the matter, will understand
the real extent of my embarrassments in my historical pursuits.
That they have not been very light will be readily admitted, when
it is considered that I have had but a limited use of my eye, in
its best state, and that much of the time I have been debarred
from the use of it altogether. Yet the difficulties I have had
to contend with a very far inferior to those which fall to the
lot of a blind man. I know of no historian, now alive, who can
claim the glory of having overcome such obstacles, but the author
of "La Conquete de l'Angleterre par les Normands" who, to use his
own touching and beautiful language, "has made himself the friend
of darkness"; and who, to a profound philosophy that requires no
light but that from within, unites a capacity for extensive and
various research, that might well demand the severest application
of the student.

The remarks into which I have been led at such length will, I
trust, not be set down by the reader to an unworthy egotism, but
to their true source, a desire to correct a misapprehension to
which I may have unintentionally given rise myself, and which has
gained me the credit with some - far from grateful to my
feelings, since undeserved - of having surmounted the
incalculable obstacles which lie in the path of the blind man.

Boston, April 2 1847

Chapter I

Physical Aspect Of The Country. - Sources Of Peruvian
Civilization. - Empire Of The Incas. - Royal Family. - Nobility.

Of the numerous nations which occupied the great American
continent at the time of its discovery by the Europeans, the two
most advanced in power and refinement were undoubtedly those of
Mexico and Peru. But, though resembling one another in extent of
civilization, they differed widely as to the nature of it; and
the philosophical student of his species may feel a natural
curiosity to trace the different steps by which these two nations
strove to emerge from the state of barbarism, and place
themselves on a higher point in the scale of humanity. - In a
former work I have endeavoured to exhibit the institutions and
character of the ancient Mexicans, and the story of their
conquest by the Spaniards. The present will be devoted to the
Peruvians; and, if their history shall be found to present less
strange anomalies and striking contrasts than that of the Aztecs,
it may interest us quite as much by the pleasing picture it
offers of a well-regulated government and sober habits of
industry under the patriarchal sway of the Incas.

The empire of Peru, at the period of the Spanish invasion,
stretched along the Pacific from about the second degree north to
the thirty-seventh degree of south latitude; a line, also, which
describes the western boundaries of the modern republics of
Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chili. Its breadth cannot so easily
be determined; for, though bounded everywhere by the great ocean
on the west, towards the east it spread out, in many parts,
considerably beyond the mountains, to the confines of barbarous
states, whose exact position is undetermined, or whose names are
effaced from the map of history. It is certain, however, that its
breadth was altogether disproportioned to its length. *1

[Footnote 1: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 65. - Cieza de Leon,
Cronica del Peru, (Anvers, 1554,) cap. 41. - Garcilasso de la
Vega, Commentarios Reales, (Lisboa, 1609,) Parte 1, lib. 1, cap.

According to the last authority, the empire, in its greatest
breadth, did not exceed one hundred and twenty leagues. But
Garcilasso's geography will not bear criticism.]

The topographical aspect of the country is very remarkable. A
strip of land, rarely exceeding twenty leagues in width, runs
along the coast, and is hemmed in through its whole extent by a
colossal range of mountains, which, advancing from the Straits of
Magellan, reaches its highest elevation - indeed, the highest on
the American continent - about the seventeenth degree south, *2
and, after crossing the line, gradually subsides into hills of
inconsiderable magnitude, as it enters the Isthmus of Panama.
This is the famous Cordillera of the Andes, or "copper
mountains," *3 as termed by the natives, though they might with
more reason have been called "mountains of gold." Arranged
sometimes in a single line, though more frequently in two or
three lines running parallel or obliquely to each other, they
seem to the voyager on the ocean but one continuous chain; while
the huge volcanoes, which to the inhabitants of the table-land
look like solitary and independent masses, appear to him only
like so many peaks of the same vast and magnificent range. So
immense is the scale on which Nature works in these regions, that
it is only when viewed from a great distance, that the spectator
can, in any degree, comprehend the relation of the several parts
to the stupendous whole. Few of the works of Nature, indeed, are
calculated to produce impressions of higher sublimity than the
aspect of this coast, as it is gradually unfolded to the eye of
the mariner sailing on the distant waters of the Pacific; where
mountain is seen to rise above mountain, and Chimborazo, with its
glorious canopy of snow, glittering far above the clouds, crowns
the whole as with a celestial diadem. *4

[Footnote 2: According to Malte-Brun, it is under the equator
that we meet with the loftiest summits of this chain. (Universal
Geography, Eng. trans., book 86.) But more recent measurements
have shown this to be between fifteen and seventeen degrees
south, where the Nevado de Sorata rises to the enormous height of
25,250 feet, and the Illimani to 24,300.]

[Footnote 3: At least, the word anta, which has been thought to
furnish the etymology of Andes, in the Peruvian tongue, signified
"copper." Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 15.]

[Footnote 4: Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres et Monumens des
Peuples Indigenes de l'Amerique, (Paris, 1810,) p. 106. -
Malte-Brun, book 88.

The few brief sketches which M. de Humboldt has given of the
scenery of the Cordilleras, showing the hand of a great painter,
as well as of a philosopher, make us regret the more, that he has
not given the results of his observations in this interesting
region as minutely as he has done in respect to Mexico.]

The face of the country would appear to be peculiarly unfavorable
to the purposes both of agriculture and of internal
communication. The sandy strip along the coast, where rain
rarely falls, is fed only by a few scanty streams, that furnish a
remarkable contrast to the vast volumes of water which roll down
the eastern sides of the Cordilleras into the Atlantic. The
precipitous steeps of the sierra, with its splintered sides of
porphyry and granite, and its higher regions wrapped in snows
that never melt under the fierce sun of the equator, unless it be
from the desolating action of its own volcanic fires, might seem
equally unpropitious to the labors of the husbandman. And all
communication between the parts of the long-extended territory
might be thought to be precluded by the savage character of the
region, broken up by precipices, furious torrents, and impassable
quebradas, - those hideous rents in the mountain chain, whose
depths the eye of the terrified traveler, as he winds along his
aerial pathway, vainly endeavours to fathom. *5 Yet the industry,
we might almost say, the genius, of the Indian was sufficient to
overcome all these impediments of Nature.

[Footnote 5: "These crevices are so deep," says M. de Humboldt,
with his usual vivacity of illustration, "that if Vesuvius or the
Puy de Dome were seated in the bottom of them, they would not
rise above the level of the ridges of the neighbouring sierra"
Vues des Cordilleres, p. 9.]

By a judicious system of canals and subterraneous aqueducts, the
waste places on the coast were refreshed by copious streams, that
clothed them in fertility and beauty. Terraces were raised upon
the steep sides of the Cordillera; and, as the different
elevations had the effect of difference of latitude, they
exhibited in regular gradation every variety of vegetable form,
from the stimulated growth of the tropics, to the temperate
products of a northern clime; while flocks of llamas - the
Peruvian sheep - wandered with their shepherds over the broad,
snow-covered wastes on the crests of the sierra, which rose
beyond the limits of cultivation. An industrious population
settled along the lofty regions of the plateaus, and towns and
hamlets, clustering amidst orchards and wide-spreading gardens,
seemed suspended in the air far above the ordinary elevation of
the clouds. *6 Intercourse was maintained between these numerous
settlements by means of the great roads which traversed the
mountain passes, and opened an easy communication between the
capital and the remotest extremities of the empire.

[Footnote 6: The plains of Quito are at the height of between
nine and ten thousand feet above the sea. (See Condamine,
Journal d'un Voyage a l'Equateur, (Paris, 1751,) p. 48.) Other
valleys or plateaus in this vast group of mountains reach a still
higher elevation.]

The source of this civilization is traced to the valley of Cuzco,
the central region of Peru, as its name implies. *7 The origin of
the Peruvian empire, like the origin of all nations, except the
very few which, like our own, have had the good fortune to date
from a civilized period and people, is lost in the mists of
fable, which, in fact, have settled as darkly round its history
as round that of any nation, ancient or modern, in the Old World.
According to the tradition most familiar to the European scholar,
the time was, when the ancient races of the continent were all
plunged in deplorable barbarism; when they worshipped nearly
every object in nature indiscriminately; made war their pastime,
and feasted on the flesh of their slaughtered captives. The Sun,
the great luminary and parent of mankind, taking compassion on
their degraded condition, sent two of his children, Manco Capac
and Mama Oello Huaco, to gather the natives into communities, and
teach them the arts of civilized life. The celestial pair,
brother and sister, husband and wife, advanced along the high
plains in the neighbourhood of Lake Titicaca, to about the
sixteenth degree south. They bore with them a golden wedge, and
were directed to take up their residence on the spot where the
sacred emblem should without effort sink into the ground. They
proceeded accordingly but a short distance, as far as the valley
of Cuzco, the spot indicated by the performance of the miracle,
since there the wedge speedily sank into the earth and
disappeared for ever. Here the children of the Sun established
their residence, and soon entered upon their beneficent mission
among the rude inhabitants of the country; Manco Capac teaching
the men the arts of agriculture, and Mama Oello *8 initiating her
own sex in the mysteries of weaving and spinning. The simple
people lent a willing ear to the messengers of Heaven, and,
gathering together in considerable numbers, laid the foundations
of the city of Cuzco. The same wise and benevolent maxims, which
regulated the conduct of the first Incas, *9 descended to their
successors, and under their mild sceptre a community gradually
extended itself along the broad surface of the table-land, which
asserted its superiority over the surrounding tribes. Such is
the pleasing picture of the origin of the Peruvian monarchy, as
portrayed by Garcilasso de la Vega, the descendant of the Incas,
and through him made familiar to the European reader. *10

[Footnote 7: "Cuzco, in the language of the Incas," says
Garcilasso, "signifies navel." Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap.

[Footnote 8: Mama, with the Peruvians, signified "mother."
(Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 1.) The identity
of this term with that used by Europeans is a curious
coincidence. It is scarcely less so, however, than that of the
corresponding word, papa, which with the ancient Mexicans denoted
a priest of high rank; reminding us of the papa, "pope," of the
Italians. With both, the term seems to embrace in its most
comprehensive sense the paternal relation, in which it is more
familiarly employed by most of the nations of Europe. Nor was
the use of it limited to modern times, being applied in the same
way both by Greeks and Romans.]

[Footnote 9: Inca signified king or lord. Capac meant great or
powerful. It was applied to several of the successors of Manco,
in the same manner as the epithet Yupanqui, signifying rich in
all virtues, was added to the names of several Incas. (Cieza de
Leon, Cronica, cap. 41. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib.
2, cap. 17.) The good qualities commemorated by the cognomens of
most of the Peruvian princes afford an honorable, though not
altogether unsuspicious, tribute to the excellence of their

[Footnote 10: Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 9 - 16.]

But this tradition is only one of several current among the
Peruvian Indians, and probably not the one most generally
received. Another legend speaks of certain white and bearded
men, who, advancing from the shores of lake Titicaca, established
an ascendency over the natives, and imparted to them the
blessings of civilization. It may remind us of the tradition
existing among the Aztecs in respect to Quetzalcoatl, the good
deity, who with a similar garb and aspect came up the great
plateau from the east on a like benevolent mission to the
natives. The analogy is the more remarkable, as there is no
trace of any communication with, or even knowledge of, each other
to be found in the two nations. *11

[Footnote 11: These several traditions, all of a very puerile
character, are to be found in Ondegardo, Relacion Segunda, Ms., -
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 1, - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap.
105, - Conquista i Poblacion del Piru, Ms., - Declaracion de los
Presidente e Oydores de la Audiencia Reale del Peru, Ms., - all
of them authorities contemporary with the Conquest. The story of
the bearded white men finds its place in most of their legends.]

The date usually assigned for these extraordinary events was
about four hundred years before the coming of the Spaniards, or
early in the twelfth century. *12 But, however pleasing to the
imagination, and however popular, the legend of Manco Capac, it
requires but little reflection to show its improbability, even
when divested of supernatural accompaniments. On the shores of
Lake Titicaca extensive ruins exist at the present day, which the
Peruvians themselves acknowledge to be of older date than the
pretended advent of the Incas, and to have furnished them with
the models of their architecture. *13 The date of their
appearance, indeed, is manifestly irreconcilable with their
subsequent history. No account assigns to the Inca dynasty more
than thirteen princes before the Conquest. But this number is
altogether too small to have spread over four hundred years, and
would not carry back the foundations of the monarchy, on any
probable computation beyond two centuries and a half, - an
antiquity not incredible in itself, and which, it may be
remarked, does not precede by more than half a century the
alleged foundation of the capital of Mexico. The fiction of
Manco Capac and his sister-wife was devised, no doubt, at a later
period, to gratify the vanity of the Peruvian monarchs, and to
give additional sanction to their authority by deriving it from a
celestial origin.

[Footnote 12: Some writers carry back the date 500, or even 550,
years before the Spanish invasion. (Balboa, Histoire du Perou,
chap. 1. - Velasco, Histoire du Royaume de Quito, tom. I. p. 81.
- Ambo auct. ap. Relations et Memoires Originaux pour servir a
l'Histoire de la Decouverte de l'Amerique, par Ternaux-Compans,
(Paris, 1840.)) In the Report of the Royal Audience of Peru, the
epoch is more modestly fixed at 200 years before the Conquest.
Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

[Footnote 13: "Otras cosas ay mas que dezir deste Tiaguanaco, que
passo por no detenerme: concluyedo que yo para mi tengo esta
antigualla por la mas antigua de todo el Peru. Y assi se tiene
que antes q los Ingas reynassen con muchos tiempos estavan hechos
algunos edificios destos: porque yo he oydo afirmar a Indios, que
los Ingas hizieron los edificios grandes del Cuzco por la forma
que vieron tener la muralla o pared que se vee en este pueblo."
(Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 105.) See also Garcilasso, (Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 1,) who gives an account of these
remains, on the authority of a Spanish ecclesiastic, which might
compare, for the marvellous, with any of the legends of his
order. Other ruins of similar traditional antiquity are noticed
by Herrera, (Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos en
las Islas y Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano, (Madrid, 1730,) dec. 6,
lib. 6, cap. 9.) McCulloch, in some sensible reflections on the
origin of the Peruvian civilization, adduces, on the authority of
Garcilasso de la Vega, the famous temple of Pachacamac, not far
from Lima, as an example of architecture more ancient than that
of the Incas. (Researches, Philosophical and Antiquarian,
concerning the Aboriginal History of America, (Baltimore, 1829,)
p. 405.) This, if true, would do much to confirm the views in our
text. But McCulloh is led into an error by his blind guide,
Rycaut, the translator of Garcilasso, for the latter does not
speak of the temple as existing before the time of the Incas, but
before the time when the country was conquered by the Incas.
Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 30.]

We may reasonably conclude that there existed in the country a
race advanced in civilization before the time of the Incas; and,
in conformity with nearly every tradition, we may derive this
race from the neighborhood of Lake Titicaca; *14 a conclusion
strongly confirmed by the imposing architectural remains which
still endure, after the lapse of so many years, on its borders.
Who this race were, and whence they came, may afford a tempting
theme for inquiry to the speculative antiquarian. But it is a
land of darkness that lies far beyond the domain of history. *15

[See Antiquities: Artistic handicrafts of the ancient people of

[Footnote 14: Among other authorities for this tradition, see
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 3, 4, - Herrera, Hist. General,
dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 6, - Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms., - Zarate,
Historia del Descubrimiento y de la Conquista del Peru, lib. 1,
cap. 10, ap. Barcia, Historiadores Primitivos de las Indias
Occidentales, (Madrid, 1749,) tom. 3.

In most, not all, of the traditions, Manco Capac is recognized as
the name of the founder of the Peruvian monarchy, though his
history and character are related with sufficient discrepancy.]

[Footnote 15: Mr. Ranking,
"Who can deep mysteries unriddle,
As easily as thread a needle,"

finds it "highly probable that the first Inca of Peru was a son
of the Grand Khan Kublai"! (Historical Researches on the
Conquest of Peru, &c., by the Moguls, (London, 1827,) p. 170.)
The coincidences are curious, though we shall hardly jump at the
conclusion of the adventurous author. Every scholar will agree
with Humboldt, in the wish that "some learned traveller would
visit the borders of the lake of Titicaca, the district of
Callao, and the high plains of Tiahuanaco, the theatre of the
ancient American civilization." (Vues des Cordilleres, p. 199.)
And yet the architectural monuments of the aborigines, hitherto
brought to light, have furnished few materials for a bridge of
communications across the dark gulf that still separates the Old
World from the New.]

The same mists that hang round the origin of the Incas continue
to settle on their subsequent annals; and, so imperfect were the
records employed by the Peruvians, and so confused and
contradictory their traditions, that the historian finds no firm
footing on which to stand till within a century of the Spanish
conquest. *16 At first, the progress of the Peruvians seems to
have been sow, and almost imperceptible. By their wise and
temperate policy, they gradually won over the neighbouring tribes
to their dominion, as these latter became more and more convinced
of the benefits of a just and well-regulated government. As they
grew stronger, they were enabled to rely more directly on force;
but, still advancing under cover of the same beneficent pretexts
employed by their predecessors, they proclaimed peace and
civilization at the point of the sword. The rude nations of the
country, without any principle of cohesion among themselves, fell
one after another before the victorious arm of the Incas. Yet it
was not till the middle of the fifteenth century that the famous
Topa Inca Yupanqui, grandfather of the monarch who occupied the
throne at the coming of the Spaniards, led his armies across the
terrible desert of Atacama, and, penetrating to the southern
region of Chili, fixed the permanent boundary of his dominions at
the river Maule. His son, Huayna Capac, possessed of ambition
and military talent fully equal to his father's marched along the
Cordillera towards the north, and, pushing his conquests across
the equator, added the powerful kingdom of Quito to the empire of
Peru. *17

[Footnote 16: A good deal within a century, to say truth.
Garcilasso and Sarmiento, for example, the two ancient
authorities in highest repute, have scarcely a point of contact
in their accounts of the earlier Peruvian princes; the former
representing the sceptre as gliding down in peaceful succession
from hand to hand, through an unbroken dynasty, while the latter
garnishes his tale with as many conspiracies, depositions, and
revolutions, as belong to most barbarous, and, unhappily, most
civilized communities. When to these two are added the various
writers, contemporary and of the succeeding age, who have treated
of the Peruvian annals, we shall find ourselves in such a
conflict of traditions, that criticism is lost in conjecture.
Yet this uncertainty as to historical events fortunately does not
extend to the history of arts and institutions, which were in
existence on the arrival of the Spaniards.]

[Footnote 17: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 57, 64. - Conq. i.
Pob. del Piru, Ms. - Velasco, Hist. de Quito, p. 59. - Dec. de la
Aud. Real., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 7, cap.
18, 19; lib. 8, cap. 5-8.

The last historian, and, indeed, some others, refer the conquest
of Chili to Yupanqui, the father of Topa Inca. The exploits of
the two monarchs are so blended together by the different
annalists, as in a manner to confound their personal identity.]

The ancient city of Cuzco, meanwhile, had been gradually
advancing in wealth and population, till it had become the worthy
metropolis of a great and flourishing monarchy. It stood in a
beautiful valley on an elevated region of the plateau, which,
among the Alps, would have been buried in eternal snows, but
which within the tropics enjoyed a genial and salubrious
temperature. Towards the north it was defended by a lofty
eminence, a spur of the great Cordillera; and the city was
traversed by a river, or rather a small stream, over which
bridges of timber, covered with heavy slabs of stone, furnished
an easy means of communication with the opposite banks. The
streets were long and narrow; the houses low, and those of the
poorer sort built of clay and reeds. But Cuzco was the royal
residence, and was adorned with the ample dwellings of the great
nobility; and the massy fragments still incorporated in many of
the modern edifices bear testimony to the size and solidity of
the ancient. *18

[Footnote 18: Garcilasso, Com. Real., lib. 7, cap. 8-11. - Cieza
de Leon, Cronica, cap. 92.

"El Cuzco tuuo gran manera y calidad, deuio ser fundada por gente
de gran ser. Auia grandes calles, saluo q era angostas, y las
casas hechas de piedra pura co tan lindas junturas, q illustra el
antiguedad del edificio, pues estauan piedras tan grades muy bien
assentadas." (Ibid., ubi supra.) Compare with this Miller's
account of the city, as existing at the present day. "The walls
of many of the houses have remained unaltered for centuries. The
great size of the stones, the variety of their shapes, and the
inimitable workmanship they display, give to the city that
interesting air of antiquity and romance, which fills the mind
with pleasing though painful veneration." Memoirs of Gen. Miller
in the Service of the Republic of Peru, (London, 1829, 2d ed.)
vol. II. p. 225.]

The health of the city was promoted by spacious openings and
squares, in which a numerous population from the capital and the
distant country assembled to celebrate the high festivals of
their religion. For Cuzco was the "Holy City"; *19 and the great
temple of the Sun, to which pilgrims resorted from the furthest
borders of the empire, was the most magnificent structure in the
New World, and unsurpassed, probably, in the costliness of its
decorations by any building in the Old.

[Footnote 19: "La Imperial Ciudad de Cozco, que la adoravan los
Indios, como a Cosa Sagrada." Garcilasso, Com. Real., parte 1,
lib. 3, cap. 20. - Also Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]

Towards the north, on the sierra or rugged eminence already
noticed, rose a strong fortress, the remains of which at the
present day, by their vast size, excite the admiration of the
traveller. *20 It was defended by a single wall of great
thickness, and twelve hundred feet long on the side facing the
city, where the precipitous character of the ground was of itself
almost sufficient for its defence. On the other quarter, where
the approaches were less difficult, it was protected by two other
semicircular walls of the same length as the preceding. They
were separated, a considerable distance from one another and from
the fortress; and the intervening ground was raised so that the
walls afforded a breastwork for the troops stationed there in
times of assault. The fortress consisted of three towers,
detached from one another. One was appropriated to the Inca, and
was garnished with the sumptuous decorations befitting a royal
residence, rather than a military post. The other two were held
by the garrison, drawn from the Peruvian nobles, and commanded by
an officer of the blood royal; for the position was of too great
importance to be intrusted to inferior hands. The hill was
excavated below the towers, and several subterraneous galleries
communicated with the city and the palaces of the Inca. *21

[Footnote 20: See, among others, the Memoirs, above cited, of
Gen. Miller, which contain a minute and very interesting notice
of modern Cuzco. (Vol. II. p. 223, et seq.) Ulloa, who visited
the country in the middle of the last century, is unbounded in
his expressions of admiration. Voyage to South America, Eng.
trans., (London, 1806,) book VII. ch. 12.]

[Footnote 21: Betanzos, Suma y Narracion de los Yngas, Ms., cap.
12. - Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 1, iib. 7, cap. 27-29.

The demolition of the fortress, begun immediately after the
Conquest, provoked the remonstrance of more than one enlightened
Spaniard, whose voice, however, was impotent against the spirit
of cupidity and violence. See Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap.

The fortress, the walls, and the galleries were all built of
stone, the heavy blocks of which were not laid in regular
courses, but so disposed that the small ones might fill up the
interstices between the great. They formed a sort of rustic
work, being rough-hewn except towards the edges, which were
finely wrought; and, though no cement was used, the several
blocks were adjusted with so much exactness and united so
closely, that it was impossible to introduce even the blade of
knife between them. *22 Many of these stones were of vast size;
some of them being full thirty-eight feet long, by eighteen
broad, and six feet thick. *23

[Footnote 22: Ibid., ubi supra. - Inscripciones, Medallas,
Templos, Edificios, Antiguedades, y Monumentos del Peru, Ms.
This manuscript, which formerly belonged to Dr. Robertson, and
which is now in the British Museum, is the work of some unknown
author, somewhere probably about the time of Charles III.; a
period when, as the sagacious scholar to whom I am indebted for a
copy of it remarks, a spirit of sounder criticism was visible in
the Castilian historians.]

[Footnote 23: Acosta, Naturall and Morall Historie of the East
and West Indies, Eng. trans., (London, 1604,) lib. 6, cap. 14. -
He measured the stones himself. - See also Garcilasso, Com.
Real., loc. cit.]

We are filled with astonishment, when we consider, that these
enormous masses were hewn from their native bed and fashioned
into shape, by a people ignorant of the use of iron; that they
were brought from quarries, from four to fifteen leagues distant,
*24 without the aid of beasts of burden; were transported across
rivers and ravines, raised to their elevated position on the
sierra, and finally adjusted there with the nicest accuracy,
without the knowledge of tools and machinery familiar to the
European. Twenty thousand men are said to have been employed on
this great structure, and fifty years consumed in the building.
*25 However this may be, we see in it the workings of a despotism
which had the lives and fortunes of its vassals at its absolute
disposal, and which, however mild in its general character,
esteemed these vassals, when employed in its service, as lightly
as the brute animals for which they served as a substitute.

[Footnote 24: Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 93. - Ondegardo, Rel.
Seg., Ms. Many hundred blocks of granite may still be seen, it is
said, in an unfinished state, in a quarry near Cuzco.]

[Footnote 25: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 48. - Ondegardo,
Rel. Seg., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 7, cap.
27, 28.

The Spaniards, puzzled by the execution of so great a work with
such apparently inadequate means, referred it all, in their
summary way, to the Devil; an opinion which Garcilasso seems
willing to indorse. The author of the Antig y Monumentos del
Peru, Ms., rejects this notion with becoming gravity.]

The fortress of Cuzco was but part of a system of fortifications
established throughout their dominions by the Incas. This system
formed a prominent feature in their military policy; but before
entering on this latter, it will be proper to give the reader
some view of their civil institutions and scheme of government.

The sceptre of the Incas, if we may credit their historian,
descended in unbroken succession from father to son, through
their whole dynasty. Whatever we may think of this, it appears
probable that the right of inheritance might be claimed by the
eldest son of the Coya, or lawful queen, as she was styled, to
distinguish her from the host of concubines who shared the
affections of the sovereign. *26 The queen was further
distinguished, at least in later reigns, by the circumstance of
being selected from the sisters of the Inca, an arrangement
which, however revolting to the ideas of civilized nations, was
recommended to the Peruvians by its securing an heir to the crown
of the pure heaven-born race, uncontaminated by any mixture of
earthly mould. *27

[Footnote 26: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 7. - Garcilasso,
Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 26.

Acosta speaks of the eldest brother of the Inca as succeeding in
preference to the son. (lib. 6, cap. 12.) He may have confounded
the Peruvian with the Aztec usage. The Report of the Royal
Audience states that a brother succeeded in default of a son.
Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

[Footnote 27: "Et soror et conjux." - According to Garcilasso the
heir-apparent always married a sister. (Com. Real., Parte 1,
lib. 4, cap. 9.) Ondegardo notices this as an innovation at the
close of the fifteenth century. (Relacion Primera, Ms.) The
historian of the Incas, however, is confirmed in his
extra-ordinary statement by Sarmiento. Relacion, Ms., cap. 7.]
In his early years, the royal offspring was intrusted to the care
of the amautas, or "wise men," as the teachers of Peruvian
science were called, who instructed him in such elements of
knowledge as they possessed, and especially in the cumbrous
ceremonial of their religion, in which he was to take a prominent
part. Great care was also bestowed on his military education, of
the last importance in a state which, with its professions of
peace and good-will, was ever at war for the acquisition of

In this military school he was educated with such of the Inca
nobles as were nearly of his own age; for the sacred name of Inca
- a fruitful source of obscurity in their annals - was applied
indifferently to all who descended by the male line from the
founder of the monarchy. *28 At the age of sixteen the pupils
underwent a public examination, previous to their admission to
what may be called the order of chivalry. This examination was
conducted by some of the oldest and most illustrious Incas. The
candidates were required to show their prowess in the athletic
exercises of the warrior; in wrestling and boxing, in running
such long courses as fully tried their agility and strength, in
severe fasts of several days' duration, and in mimic combats,
which, although the weapons were blunted, were always attended
with wounds, and sometimes with death. During this trial, which
lasted thirty days, the royal neophyte fared no better than his
comrades, sleeping on the bare ground, going unshod, and wearing
a mean attire, - a mode of life, it was supposed, which might
tend to inspire him with more sympathy with the destitute. With
all this show of impartiality, however, it will probably be doing
no injustice to the judges to suppose that a politic discretion
may have somewhat quickened their perceptions of the real merits
of the heir-apparent.

[Footnote 28: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 26.]
At the end of the appointed time, the candidates selected as
worthy of the honors of their barbaric chivalry were presented to
the sovereign, who condescended to take a principal part in the
ceremony of inauguration. He began with a brief discourse, in
which, after congratulating the young aspirants on the
proficiency they had shown in martial exercises, he reminded them
of the responsibilities attached to their birth and station; and,
addressing them affectionately as "children of the Sun," he
exhorted them to imitate their great progenitor in his glorious
career of beneficence to mankind. The novices then drew near,
and, kneeling one by one before the Inca, he pierced their ears
with a golden bodkin; and this was suffered to remain there till
an opening had been made large enough for the enormous pendants
which were peculiar to their order, and which gave them, with the
Spaniards, the name of orejones. *29 This ornament was so massy
in the ears of the sovereign, that the cartilage was distended by
it nearly to the shoulder, producing what seemed a monstrous
deformity in the eyes of the Europeans, though, under the magical
influence of fashion, it was regarded as a beauty by the natives.

[Footnote 29: From oreja, "ear." - "Los caballeros de la sangre
Real tenian orejas horadadas, y de ellas colgando grandes rodetes
de plata y oro: Ilamaronles por esto los orejones los Castellanos
la primera vez que los vieron." (Montesinos, Memorias Antiguas
Historiales del Peru, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 6.) The ornament, which
was in the form of a wheel, did not depend from the ear, but was
inserted in the gristle of it, and was as large as an orange. "La
hacen tan ancha como una gran rosca de naranja; los Senores i
Principales traian aquellas roscas de oro fino en las orejas."
(Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. - Also Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte
1, lib. 1, cap. 22.) "The larger the hole," says one of the old
Conquerors, "the more of a gentleman!" Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y
Conq., Ms.]

When this operation was performed, one of the most venerable of
the nobles dressed the feet of the candidates in the sandals worn
by the order, which may remind us of the ceremony of buckling on
the spurs of the Christian knight. They were then allowed to
assume the girdle or sash around the loins, corresponding with
the toga virilis of the Romans, and intimating that they had
reached the season of manhood. Their heads were adorned with
garlands of flowers, which, by their various colors, were
emblematic of the clemency and goodness that should grace the
character of every true warrior; and the leaves of an evergreen
plant were mingled with the flowers, to show that these virtues
should endure without end. *30 The prince's head was further
ornamented by a fillet, or tasselled fringe, of a yellow color,
made of the fine threads of the vicuna wool, which encircled the
forehead as the peculiar insignia of the heir-apparent. The
great body of the Inca nobility next made their appearance, and,
beginning with those nearest of kin, knelt down before the
prince, and did him homage as successor to the crown. The whole
assembly then moved to the great square of the capital, where
songs, and dances, and other public festivities closed the
important ceremonial of the huaracu. *31

[Footnote 30: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 27.]

[Footnote 31: Ibid. Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 24 - 28.

According to Fernandez, the candidates wore white shirts, with
something like a cross embroidered in front! (Historia del Peru,
(Sevilla, 1571,) Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 6.) We may fancy ourselves
occupied with some chivalrous ceremonial of the Middle Ages.]

The reader will be less surprised by the resemblance which this
ceremonial bears to the inauguration of a Christian knight in the
feudal ages, if he reflects that a similar analogy may be traced
in the institutions of other people more or less civilized; and
that it is natural that nations, occupied with the one great
business of war, should mark the period, when the preparatory
education for it was ended, by similar characteristic ceremonies.
Having thus honorably passed through his ordeal, the
heir-apparent was deemed worthy to sit in the councils of his
father, and was employed in offices of trust at home, or, more
usually, sent on distant expeditions to practice in the field the
lessons which he had hitherto studied only on the mimic theatre
of war. His first campaigns were conducted under the renowned
commanders who had grown grey in the service of his father;
until, advancing in years and experience, he was placed in
command himself, and, like Huayna Capac, the last and most
illustrious of his line, carried the banner of the rainbow, the
armorial ensign of his house, far over the borders, among the
remotest tribes of the plateau.

The government of Peru was a despotism, mild in its character,
but in its form a pure and unmitigated despotism. The sovereign
was placed at an immeasurable distance above his subjects. Even
the proudest of the Inca nobility, claiming a descent from the
same divine original as himself, could not venture into the royal
presence, unless barefoot, and bearing a light burden on his
shoulders in token of homage. *32 As the representative of the
Sun, he stood at the head of the priesthood, and presided at the
most important of the religious festivals. *33 He raised armies,
and usually commanded them in person. He imposed taxes, made
laws, and provided for their execution by the appointment of
judges, whom he removed at pleasure. He was the source from which
every thing flowed, - all dignity, all power, all emolument. He
was, in short, in the well-known phrase of the European despot,
"himself the state." *34

[Footnote 32: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 11. -
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 7.

"Porque verdaderamente a lo que yo he averiguado toda la
pretension de los Ingas fue una subjeccion en toda la gente, qual
yo nunca he oido decir de ninguna otra nacion en tanto grado, que
por muy principal que un Senor fuese, dende que entrava cerca del
Cuzco en cierta senal que estava puesta en cada camino de quatro
que hay, havia dende alli de venir cargado hasta la presencia del
Inga, y alli dejava la carga y hacia su obediencia." Ondegardo,
Rel. Prim., Ms.]

[Footnote 33: It was only at one of these festivals, and hardly
authorizes the sweeping assertion of Carli, that the royal and
sacerdotal authority were blended together in Peru. We shall
see, hereafter, the important and independent position occupied
by the high-priest. "La Sacerdoce et l'Empire etoient divises au
Mexique; au lieu qu'i's etoient reunis au Perou, comme au Tibet
et a la Chine, et comme il le fut a Rome, lorsqu' Auguste jetta
les fondemens de l'Empire, en y reunissant le Sacerdoce ou la
dignite de Souverain Pontife." Lettres Americaines, (Paris,
1788,) trad. Franc., tom I. let. 7.]

[Footnote 34: "Porque el Inga dava a entender que era hijo del
Sol, con este titulo se hacia adorar, i governava principalmente
en tanto grado que nadie se le atrevia, i su palabra era ley, i
nadie osaba ir contra su palabra ni voluntad; aunque obiese de
matar cient mill Indios, no havia ninguno en su Reino que le
osase decir que no lo hiciese." Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
The Inca asserted his claims as a superior being by assuming a
pomp in his manner of living well calculated to impose on his
people. His dress was of the finest wool of the vicuna, richly
dyed, and ornamented with a profusion of gold and precious
stones. Round his head was wreathed a turban of many-colored
folds, called the Ilautu; and a tasselled fringe, like that worn
by the prince, but of a scarlet color, with two feathers of a
rare and curious bird, called the coraquenque, placed upright in
it, were the distinguishing insignia of royalty. The birds from
which these feathers were obtained were found in a desert country
among the mountains; and it was death to destroy or to take them,
as they were reserved for the exclusive purpose of supplying the
royal head-gear. Every succeeding monarch was provided with a
new pair of these plumes, and his credulous subjects fondly
believed that only two individuals of the species had ever
existed to furnish the simple ornament for the diadem of the
Incas. *35

[Footnote 35: Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 114. - Garcilasso,
Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 22; lib. 6, cap. 28. - Acosta,
lib. 6, cap. 12.]
Although the Peruvian monarch was raised so far above the highest
of his subjects, he condescended to mingle occasionally with
them, and took great pains personally to inspect the condition of
the humbler classes. He presided at some of the religious
celebrations, and on these occasions entertained the great nobles
at his table, when he complimented them, after the fashion of
more civilized nations, by drinking the health of those whom he
most delighted to honor. *36

[Footnote 36: One would hardly expect to find among the American
Indians this social and kindly custom of our Saxon ancestors, -
now fallen somewhat out of use, in the capricious innovations of
modern fashion. Garcilasso is diffuse in his account of the
forms observed at the royal table. (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 6,
cap. 23.) The only hours of eating were at eight or nine in the
morning, and at sunset, which took place at nearly the same time,
in all seasons, in the latitude of Cuzco. The historian of the
Incas admits that, though temperate in eating, they indulged
freely in their cups, frequently prolonging their revelry to a
late hour of the night. Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 1.]

But the most effectual means taken by the Incas for communicating
with their people were their progresses through the empire.
These were conducted, at intervals of several years, with great
state and magnificence. The sedan, or litter, in which they
travelled, richly emblazoned with gold and emeralds, was guarded
by a numerous escort. The men who bore it on their shoulders
were provided by two cities, specially appointed for the purpose.
It was a post to be coveted by no one, if, as is asserted, a fall
was punished with death. *37 They travelled with ease and
expedition, halting at the tambos, or inns, erected by government
along the route, and occasionally at the royal palaces, which in
the great towns afforded ample accommodations to the whole of the
monarch's retinue. The noble loads which traversed the
table-land were lined with people, who swept away the stones and
stubble from their surface, strewing them with sweet-scented
flowers, and vying with each other in carrying forward the
baggage from one village to another. The monarch halted from
time to time to listen to the grievances of his subjects, or to
settle some points which had been referred to his decision by the
regular tribunals. As the princely train wound its way along the
mountain passes, every place was thronged with spectators eager
to catch a glimpse of their sovereign; and, when he raised the
curtains of his litter, and showed himself to their eyes, the air
was rent with acclamations as they invoked blessings on his head.
*38 Tradition long commemorated the spots at which he halted, and
the simple people of the country held them in reverence as places
consecrated by the presence of an Inca. *39

[Footnote 37: "In lectica, aureo tabulato constrata, humeris
ferebant; in summa, ea erat observantia, vt vultum ejus intueri
maxime incivile putarent, et inter baiulos, quicunque vel leviter
pede offenso haesitaret, e vestigio interficerent." Levinus
Apollonius, De Peruviae Regionis Inventione, et Rebus in eadem
gestis, (Antverpiae, 1567,) fol. 37. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru,
lib. 1, cap. 11.

According to this writer, the litter was carried by the nobles;
one thousand of whom were specially reserved for the humiliating
honor. Ubi supra.]

[Footnote 38: The acclamations must have been potent indeed, if,
as Sarmiento tells us, they sometimes brought the birds down from
the sky! "De esta manera eran tan temidos los Reyes que si
salian por el Reyno y permitian alzar algun pano de los que iban
en las andas para dejarse ver de sus vasallos, alzaban tan gran
alarido que hacian caer las aves de lo alto donde iban volando a
ser tomadas a manos." (Relacion, Ms., cap. 10.) The same author
has given in another place a more credible account of the royal
progresses, which the Spanish reader will find extracted in
Appendix, No. 1.]

[Footnote 39: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 14;
lib. 6, cap. 3. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 11.]

The royal palaces were on a magnificent scale, and, far from
being confined to the capital or a few principal towns, were
scattered over all the provinces of their vast empire. *40 The
buildings were low, but covered a wide extent of ground. Some of
the apartments were spacious, but they were generally small, and
had no communication with one another, except that they opened
into a common square or court. The walls were made of blocks of
stone of various sizes, like those described in the fortress of
Cuzco, rough-hewn, but carefully wrought near the line of
junction, which was scarcely visible to the eye. The roofs were
of wood or rushes, which have perished under the rude touch of
time, that has shown more respect for the walls of the edifices.
The whole seems to have been characterized by solidity and
strength, rather than by any attempt at architectural elegance.

[Footnote 40: Velasco has given some account of several of these
palaces situated in different places in the kingdom of Quito.
Hist. de Quito, tom. I. pp. 195 - 197.]

[Footnote 41: Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 44. - Antig. y
Monumentos de. Peru, Ms. - See, among others, the description of
the remains still existing of the royal buildings at Callo, about
ten leagues south of Quito, by Ulloa, Voyage to S. America, book
6, ch. 11, and since, more carefully, by Humboldt, Vues des
Cordilleres, p. 197.]

But whatever want of elegance there may have been in the exterior
of the imperial dwellings, it was amply compensated by the
interior, in which all the opulence of the Peruvian princes was
ostentatiously displayed. The sides of the apartments were
thickly studded with gold and silver ornaments. Niches, prepared
in the walls, were filled with images of animals and plants
curiously wrought of the same costly materials; and even much of
the domestic furniture, including the utensils devoted to the
most ordinary menial services, displayed the like wanton
magnificence! *42 With these gorgeous decorations were mingled
richly colored stuffs of the delicate manufacture of the Peruvian
wool, which were of so beautiful a texture, that the Spanish
sovereigns, with all the luxuries of Europe and Asia at their
command, did not disdain to use them. *43 The royal household
consisted of a throng of menials, supplied by the neighboring
towns and villages, which, as in Mexico, were bound to furnish
the monarch with fuel and other necessaries for the consumption
of the palace.

[Footnote 42: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte l, lib. 6, cap. 1.
"Tanto que todo el servicio de la Casa del Rey asi de cantaras
para su vino, como de cozina, todo era oro y plata, y esto no en
un lugar y en una parte lo tenia, sino en muchas." (Sarmiento,
Relacion, Ms., cap. 11.) See also the flaming accounts of the
palaces of Bilcas, to the west of Cuzco, by Cieza de Leon, as
reported to him by Spaniards who had seen them in their glory.
(Cronica, cap. 89.) The niches are still described by modern
travellers as to be found in the walls. (Humboldt, Vues des
Cordilleres, p. 197.)]

[Footnote 43: "La ropa de la cama toda era de mantas, y frecadas
de lana de Vicuna, que es tan fina, y tan regalada, que entre
otras cosas preciadas de aquellas Tierras, se las han traido para
la cama del Rey Don Phelipe Segundo." Garcilasso, Com. Real.,
Parte 1. lib 6, cap. 1.]

But the favorite residence of the Incas was at Yucay, about four
leagues distant from the capital. In this delicious valley,
locked up within the friendly arms of the sierra, which sheltered
it from the rude breezes of the east, and refreshed by gushing
fountains and streams of running water, they built the most
beautiful of their palaces. Here, when wearied with the dust and
toil of the city, they loved to retreat, and solace themselves
with the society of their favorite concubines, wandering amidst
groves and airy gardens, that shed around their soft,
intoxicating odors, and lulled the senses to voluptuous repose.
Here, too, they loved to indulge in the luxury of their baths,
replenished by streams of crystal water which were conducted
through subterraneous silver channels into basins of gold. The
spacious gardens were stocked with numerous varieties of plants
and flowers that grew without effort in this temperate region of
the tropics, while parterres of a more extraordinary kind were
planted by their side, glowing with the various forms of
vegetable life skilfully imitated in gold and silver! Among them
the Indian corn, the most beautiful of American grains, is
particularly commemorated, and the curious workmanship is noticed
with which the golden ear was half disclosed amidst the broad
leaves of silver, and the light tassel of the same material that
floated gracefully from its top. *44

[Footnote 44: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 26;
lib. 6, cap. 2 - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 24. - Cieza de
Leon, Cronica, cap. 94.

The last writer speaks of a cement, made in part of liquid gold,
as used in the royal buildings of Tambo, a valley not far from
Yucay! (Ubi supra.) We may excuse the Spaniards for demolishing
such edifices, - if they ever met with them.]

If this dazzling picture staggers the faith of the reader, he may
reflect that the Peruvian mountains teemed with gold; that the
natives understood the art of working the mines, to a
considerable extent; that none of the ore, as well shall see
hereafter, was converted into coin, and that the whole of it
passed into the hands of the sovereign for his own exclusive
benefit, whether for purposes of utility or ornament. Certain it
is that no fact is better attested by the Conquerors themselves,
who had ample means of information, and no motive for
misstatement. - The Italian poets, in their gorgeous pictures of
the gardens of Alcina and Morgana, came nearer the truth than
they imagined.
Our surprise, however, may reasonably be excited, when we
consider that the wealth displayed by the Peruvian princes was
only that which each had amassed individually for himself. He
owed nothing to inheritance from his predecessors. On the
decease of an Inca, his palaces were abandoned; all his
treasures, except what were employed in his obsequies, his
furniture and apparel, were suffered to remain as he left them,
and his mansions, save one, were closed up for ever. The new
sovereign was to provide himself with every thing new for his
royal state. The reason of this was the popular belief, that the
soul of the departed monarch would return after a time to
reanimate his body on earth; and they wished that he should find
every thing to which he had been used in life prepared for his
reception. *45

[Footnote 45: Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 12. - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,
Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 4.]

When an Inca died, or, to use his own language, "was called home
to the mansions of his father, the Sun," *46 his obsequies were
celebrated with great pomp and solemnity. The bowels were taken
from the body, and deposited in the temple of Tampu, about five
leagues from the capital. A quantity of his plate and jewels was
buried with them, and a number of his attendants and favorite
concubines, amounting sometimes, it is said, to a thousand, were
immolated on his tomb. *47 Some of them showed the natural
repugnance to the sacrifice occasionally manifested by the
victims of a similar superstition in India. But these were
probably the menials and more humble attendants; since the women
have been known, in more than one instance, to lay violent hands
on themselves, when restrained from testifying their fidelity by
this act of conjugal martyrdom. This melancholy ceremony was
followed by a general mourning throughout the empire. At stated
intervals, for a year, the people assembled to renew the
expressions of their sorrow; processions were made, displaying
the banner of the departed monarch; bards and minstrels were
appointed to chronicle his achievements, and their songs
continued to be rehearsed at high festivals in the presence of
the reigning monarch, - thus stimulating the living by the
glorious example of the dead. *48

[Footnote 46: The Aztecs, also, believed that the soul of the
warrior who fell in battle went to accompany the Sun in his
bright progress through the heavens. (See Conquest of Mexico,
book 1, chap. 3.)]

[Footnote 47: Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. - Acosta, lib. 5, cap.

Four thousand of these victims, according to Sarmiento, - we may
hope it is an exaggeration, - graced the funeral obsequies of
Huayna Capac, the last of the Incas before the coming of the
Spaniards. Relacion, Ms., cap. 65.]

[Footnote 48: Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 62. - Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 5. - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap.

The body of the deceased Inca was skilfully embalmed, and removed
to the great temple of the Sun at Cuzco. There the Peruvian
sovereign, on entering the awful sanctuary, might behold the
effigies of his royal ancestors, ranged in opposite files, - the
men on the right, and their queens on the left, of the great
luminary which blazed in refulgent gold on the walls of the
temple. The bodies, clothed in the princely attire which they had
been accustomed to wear, were placed on chairs of gold, and sat
with their heads inclined downward, their hands placidly crossed
over their bosoms, their countenances exhibiting their natural
dusky hue, - less liable to change than the fresher coloring of a
European complexion, - and their hair of raven black, or silvered
over with age, according to the period at which they died! It
seemed like a company of solemn worshippers fixed in devotion, -
so true were the forms and lineaments to life. The Peruvians
were as successful as the Egyptians in the miserable attempt to
perpetuate the existence of the body beyond the limits assigned
to it by nature. *49

[Footnote 49: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 29.

The Peruvians secreted these mummies of their sovereigns after
the Conquest, that they might not be profaned by the insults of
the Spaniards. Ondegardo, when corregidor of Cuzco, discovered
five of them, three male and two female. The former were the
bodies of Viracocha, of the great Tupac Inca Yupanqui, and of his
son Huayna Capac. Garcilasso saw them in 1560. They were
dressed in their regal robes, with no insignia but the llautu on
their heads. They were in a sitting posture, and, to use his own
expression, "perfect as life, without so much as a hair or an
eyebrow wanting." As they were carried through the streets,
decently shrouded with a mantle, the Indians threw themselves on
their knees, in sign of reverence, with many tears and groans,
and were still more touched as they beheld some of the Spaniards
themselves doffing their caps, in token of respect to departed
royalty. (Ibid., ubi supra.) The bodies were subsequently removed
to Lima; and Father Acosta, who saw them there some twenty years
later, speaks of them as still in perfect preservation.]

They cherished a still stranger illusion in the attentions which
they continued to pay to these insensible remains, as if they
were instinct with life. One of the houses belonging to a
deceased Inca was kept open and occupied by his guard and
attendants, with all the state appropriate to royalty. On
certain festivals, the revered bodies of the sovereigns were
brought out with great ceremony into the public square of the
capital. Invitations were sent by the captains of the guard of
the respective Incas to the different nobles and officers of the
court; and entertainments were provided in the names of their
masters, which displayed all the profuse magnificence of their
treasures, - and "such a display," says an ancient chronicler,
"was there in the great square of Cuzco, on this occasion, of
gold and silver plate and jewels, as no other city in the world
ever witnessed." *50 The banquet was served by the menials of the
respective households, and the guests partook of the melancholy
cheer in the presence of the royal phantom with the same
attention to the forms of courtly etiquette as if the living
monarch had presided! *51

[Footnote 50: "Tenemos por muy cierto que ni en Jerusalem, Roma,
ni en Persia, ni en ninguna parte del mundo por ninguna Republica
ni Rey de el, se juntaba en un lugar tanta riqueza de Metales de
oro y Plata y Pedreria como en esta Plaza del Cuzco; quando estas
fiestas y otras semejantes se hacian." Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms.,
cap. 27.]

[Footnote 51: Idem, Relacion, Ms., cap. 8, 27. - Ondegardo, Rel.
Seg., Ms.

It was only, however, the great and good princes that were thus
honored, according to Sarmiento, "whose souls the silly people
fondly believed, on account of their virtues, were in heaven,
although, in truth," as the same writer assures us, "they were
all the time burning in the flames of hell"! "Digo los que
haviendo sido en vida buenos y valerosos, generosos con los
Indios en les hacer mercedes, perdonadores de injurias, porque a
estos tales canonizaban en su ceguedad por Santos y honrraban sus
huesos, sin entender que las animas ardian en los Ynfiernos y
creian que estaban en el Cielo." Ibid., ubi supra.]

The nobility of Peru consisted of two orders, the first and by
far the most important of which was that of the Incas, who,
boasting a common descent with their sovereign, lived, as it
were, in the reflected light of his glory. As the Peruvian
monarchs availed themselves of the right of polygamy to a very
liberal extent, leaving behind them families of one or even two
hundred children, *52 the nobles of the blood royal, though
comprehending only their descendants in the male line, came in
the course of years to be very numerous. *53 They were divided
into different lineages, each of which traced its pedigree to a
different member of the royal dynasty, though all terminated in
the divine founder of the empire.

[Footnote 52: Garcilasso says over three hundred! (Com. Real.,
Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 19.) The fact, though rather startling, is
not incredible, if, like Huayna Capac, they counted seven hundred
wives in their seraglio. See Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 7.]

[Footnote 53: Garcilasso mentions a class of Incas por
privilegio, who were allowed to possess the name and many of the
immunities of the blood royal, though only descended from the
great vassals that first served under the banner of Manco Capac.
(Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 22.) This important fact, to
which he often refers, one would be glad to see confirmed by a
single authority.]

They were distinguished by many exclusive and very important
privileges; they wore a peculiar dress; spoke a dialect, if we
may believe the chronicler, peculiar to themselves; *54 and had
the choicest portion of the public domain assigned for their
support. They lived, most of them, at court, near the person of
the prince, sharing in his counsels, dining at his board, or
supplied from his table. They alone were admissible to the great
offices in the priesthood. They were invested with the command
of armies, and of distant garrisons, were placed over the
provinces, and, in short, filled every station of high trust and
emolument. *55 Even the laws, severe in their general tenor, seem
not to have been framed with reference to them; and the people,
investing the whole order with a portion of the sacred character
which belonged to the sovereign, held that an Inca noble was
incapable of crime. *56

[Footnote 54: "Los Incas tuvieron otra Lengua particular, que
hablavan entre ellos, que no la entendian los demas Indios, ni
les era licito aprenderla, como Lenguage Divino. Esta me
escriven del Peru, que se ha perdido totalmente; porque como
perecio la Republica particular de los Incas, perecio tambien el
Lenguage dellos." Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 7, cap.

[Footnote 55: "Una sola gente hallo yo que era exenta, que eran
los Ingas del Cuzco y por alli al rededor de ambas parcialidades,
porque estos no solo no pagavan tributo, pero aun comian de lo
que traian al Inga de todo el reino, y estos eran por la mayor
parte los Governadores en todo el reino, y por donde quiera que
iban se les hacia mucha honrra." Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.]

[Footnote 56: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte I, lib. 2, cap. 15.]
The other order of nobility was the Curacas, the caciques of the
conquered nations, or their descendants. They were usually
continued by the government in their places, though they were
required to visit the capital occasionally, and to allow their
sons to be educated there as the pledges of their loyalty. It is
not easy to define the nature or extent of their privileges.
They were possessed of more or less power, according to the
extent of their patrimony, and the number of their vassals.
Their authority was usually transmitted from father to son,
though sometimes the successor was chosen by the people. *57 They
did not occupy the highest posts of state, or those nearest the
person of the sovereign, like the nobles of the blood. Their
authority seems to have been usually local, and always in
subordination to the territorial jurisdiction of the great
provincial governors, who were taken from the Incas. *58

[Footnote 57: In this event, it seems, the successor named was
usually presented to the Inca for confirmation. (Dec. de la Aud.
Real., Ms.) At other times, the Inca himself selected the heir
from among the children of the deceased Curaca. "In short," says
Ondegardo, "there was no rule of succession so sure, but it might
be set aside by the supreme will of the sovereign.' Rel. Prim.,

[Footnote 58: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 10. -
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 11 - Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. -
Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 93. - Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]

It was the Inca nobility, indeed, who constituted the real
strength of the Peruvian monarchy. Attached to their prince by
ties of consanguinity, they had common sympathies and, to a
considerable extent, common interests with him. Distinguished by
a peculiar dress and insignia, as well as by language and blood,
from the rest of the community, they were never confounded with
the other tribes and nations who were incorporated into the great
Peruvian monarchy. After the lapse of centuries, they still
retained their individuality as a peculiar people. They were to
the conquered races of the country what the Romans were to the
barbarous hordes of the Empire, or the Normans to the ancient
inhabitants of the British Isles. Clustering around the throne,
they formed an invincible phalanx, to shield it alike from secret
conspiracy and open insurrection. Though living chiefly in the
capital, they were also distributed throughout the country in all
its high stations and strong military posts, thus establishing
lines of communication with the court, which enabled the
sovereign to act simultaneously and with effect on the most
distant quarters of his empire. They possessed, moreover, an
intellectual preeminence, which, no less than their station, gave
them authority with the people. Indeed, it may be said to have
been the principal foundation of their authority. The crania of
the Inca race show a decided superiority over the other races of
the land in intellectual power; *59 and it cannot be denied that
it was the fountain of that peculiar civilization and social
polity, which raised the Peruvian monarchy above every other
state in South America. Whence this remarkable race came, and
what was its early history, are among those mysteries that meet
us so frequently in the annals of the New World, and which time
and the antiquary have as vet done little to explain.

[Footnote 59: Dr. Morton's valuable work contains several
engravings of both the Inca and the common Peruvian skull,
showing that the facial angle in the former, though by no means
great, was much larger than that in the latter, which was
singularly flat and deficient in intellectual character. Crania
Americana, (Philadelphia, 1829.)]

Chapter II

Orders Of The State. - Provisions For Justice. - Division Of
Lands. - Revenues And Registers. - Great Roads And Posts. -
Military Tactics And Policy.

If we are surprised at the peculiar and original features of what
may be called the Peruvian aristocracy, we shall be still more so
as we descend to the lower orders of the community, and see the
very artificial character of their institutions, - as artificial
as those of ancient Sparta, and, though in a different way, quite
as repugnant to the essential principles of our nature. The
institutions of Lycurgus, however, were designed for a petty
state, while those of Peru, although originally intended for
such, seemed, like the magic tent in the Arabian tale, to have an
indefinite power of expansion, and were as well suited to the
most flourishing condition of the empire as to its infant
fortunes. In this remarkable accommodation to change of
circumstances we see the proofs of a contrivance that argues no
slight advance in civilization.

The name of Peru was not known to the natives. It was given by
the Spaniards, and originated, it is said, in a misapprehension
of the Indian name of "river." *1 However this may be, it is
certain that the natives had no other epithet by which to
designate the large collection of tribes and nations who were
assembled under the sceptre of the Incas, than that of
Tavantinsuyu, or "four quarters of the world." *2 This will not
surprise a citizen of the United States, who has no other name by
which to class himself among nations than what is borrowed from a
quarter of the globe. *3 The kingdom, conformably to its name,
was divided into four parts, distinguished each by a separate
title, and to each of which ran one of the four great roads that
diverged from Cuzco, the capital or navel of the Peruvian
monarchy. The city was in like manner divided into four
quarters; and the various races, which gathered there from the
distant parts of the empire, lived each in the quarter nearest to
its respective province. They all continued to wear their
peculiar national costume, so that it was easy to determine their
origin; and the same order and system of arrangement prevailed in
the motley population of the capital, as in the great provinces
of the empire. The capital, in fact, was a miniature image of
the empire. *4

[Footnote 1: Pelu, according to Garcilasso, was the Indian name
for "river," and was given by one of the natives in answer to a
question put to him by the Spaniards, who conceived it to be the
name of the country. (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 6.) Such
blunders have led to the names of many places both in North and
South America. Montesinos, however, denies that there is such an
Indian term for "river." (Mem. Antiguas, Ms., lib. 1, cap. 2.)
According to this writer, Peru was the ancient Ophir, whence
Solomon drew such stores of wealth; and which, by a very natural
transition, has in time been corrupted into Phiru, Piru, Peru!
The first book of the Memorias, consisting of thirty-two
chapters, is devoted to this precious discovery.]

[Footnote 2: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com Real.,
Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 11.]

[Footnote 3: Yet an American may find food for his vanity in the
reflection, that the name of a quarter of the globe, inhabited by
so many civilized nations, has been exclusively conceded to him.
- Was it conceded or assumed?]

[Footnote 4: Ibid., parte 1, cap. 9, 10. - Cieza de Leon,
Cronica, cap. 93.

The capital was further divided into two parts, the Upper and
Lower town, founded, as pretended, on the different origin of the
population; a division recognized also in the inferior cities.
Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]
The four great provinces were each placed under a viceroy or
governor, who ruled over them with the assistance of one or more
councils for the different departments. These viceroys resided,
some portion of their time, at least, in the capital, where they
constituted a sort of council of state to the Inca. *5 The nation
at large was distributed into decades, or small bodies of ten;
and every tenth man, or head of a decade, had supervision of the
rest, - being required to see that they enjoyed the rights and
immunities to which they were entitled, to solicit aid in their
behalf from government, when necessary, and to bring offenders to
justice. To this last they were stimulated by a law that imposed
on them, in case of neglect, the same penalty that would have
been incurred by the guilty party. With this law hanging over
his head, the magistrate of Peru, we may well believe, did not
often go to sleep on his post. *6

[Footnote 5: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,
Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 15.

For this account of the councils I am indebted to Garcilasso, who
frequently fills up gaps that have been left by his
fellow-laborers. Whether the filling up will, in all cases, bear
the touch of time, as well as the rest of his work, one may

[Footnote 6: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Montesinos, Mem.
Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 6. - Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.

How analogous is the Peruvian to the Anglo-Saxon division into
hundreds and tithings! But the Saxon law was more humane, which
imposed only a fine on the district, in case of a criminal's

The people were still further divided into bodies of fifty, one
hundred, five hundred, and a thousand, with each an officer
having general supervision over those beneath, and the higher
ones possessing, to a certain extent, authority in matters of
police. Lastly, the whole empire was distributed into sections
or departments of ten thousand inhabitants, with a governor over
each, from the Inca nobility, who had control over the curacas
and other territorial officers in the district. There were,
also, regular tribunals of justice, consisting of magistrates in
each of the towns or small communities, with jurisdiction over
petty offences, while those of a graver character were carried
before superior judges, usually the governors or rulers of the
districts. These judges all held their authority and received
their support from the Crown, by which they were appointed and
removed at pleasure. They were obliged to determine every suit
in five days from the time it was brought before them; and there
was no appeal from one tribunal to another. Yet there were
important provisions for the security of justice. A committee of
visitors patrolled the kingdom at certain times to investigate
the character and conduct of the magistrates; and any neglect or
violation of duty was punished in the most exemplary manner. The
inferior courts were also required to make monthly returns of
their proceedings to the higher ones, and these made reports in
like manner to the viceroys; so that the monarch, seated in the
centre of his dominions, could look abroad, as it were, to their
most distant extremities, and review and rectify any abuses in
the administration of the law. *7

[Footnote 7: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Ondegardo, Rel. Prim.
et Seg., Mss. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap.
11-14. - Montesinos, Mem. Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 6.

The accounts of the Peruvian tribunals by the early authorities
are very meagre and unsatisfactory. Even the lively imagination
of Garcilasso has failed to supply the blank.]

The laws were few and exceedingly severe. They related almost
wholly to criminal matters. Few other laws were needed by a
people who had no money, little trade, and hardly any thing that
could be called fixed property. The crimes of theft, adultery,
and murder were all capital; though it was wisely provided that
some extenuating circumstances might be allowed to mitigate the
punishment. *8 Blasphemy against the Sun, and malediction of the
Inca, - offences, indeed, of the same complexion, - were also
punished with death. Removing landmarks, turning the water away
from a neighbour's land into one's own, burning a house, were all
severely punished. To burn a bridge was death. The Inca allowed
no obstacle to those facilities of communication so essential to
the maintenance of public order. A rebellious city or province
was laid waste, and its inhabitants exterminated. Rebellion
against the "Child of the Sun" was the greatest of all crimes. *9

[Footnote 8: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General,
dec. 5, lib. 4, cap 3.

Theft was punished less severely, if the offender had been really
guilty of it to supply the necessities of life. It is a singular
circumstance, that the Peruvian law made no distinction between
fornication and adultery, both being equally punished with death.
Yet the law could hardly have been enforced, since prostitutes
were assigned, or at least allowed, a residence in the suburbs of
the cities. See Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap.

[Footnote 9: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 23.

"I los traidores entre ellos llamava aucaes, i esta palabra es la
mas abiltada de todas quantas pueden decir aun Indio del Piru,
que quiere decir traidor a su Senor." (Cong. i Pob. del Piru,
Ms.) "En las rebeliones y alzamientos se hicieron los castigos
tan asperos, que algunas veces asolaron las provincias de todos
los varones de edad sin quedar ninguno." Ondegardo, Rel. Prim.,

The simplicity and severity of the Peruvian code may be thought
to infer a state of society but little advanced; which had few of
those complex interests and relations that grow up in a civilized
community, and which had not proceeded far enough in the science
of legislation to economize human suffering by proportioning
penalties to crimes. But the Peruvian institutions must be
regarded from a different point of view from that in which we
study those of other nations. The laws emanated from the
sovereign, and that sovereign held a divine commission, and was
possessed of a divine nature. To violate the law was not only to
insult the majesty of the throne, but it was sacrilege. The
slightest offence, viewed in this light, merited death; and the
gravest could incur no heavier penalty. *10 Yet, in the
infliction of their punishments, they showed no unnecessary
cruelty; and the sufferings of the victim were not prolonged by
the ingenious torments so frequent among barbarous nations. *11

[Footnote 10: "El castigo era riguroso, que por la mayor parte
era de muerte, por liviano que fuese el delito; porque decian,
que no los castigavan por el delito que avian hecho, ni por la
ofensa agena, sino por aver quebrantado el mandamiento, y rompido
la palabra del Inca, que lo respetavan como a Dios." Garcilasso,
Com. Real. Parte 1, lib. 2. cap. 12.]

[Footnote 11: One of the punishments most frequent for minor
offences was to carry a stone on the back. A punishment attended
with no suffering but what arises from the disgrace attached to
it is very justly characterized by McCulloh as a proof of
sensibility and refinement. Researches, p. 361.]
These legislative provisions may strike us as very defective,
even as compared with those of the semi-civilized races of
Anahuac, where a gradation of courts, moreover, with the right of
appeal, afforded a tolerable security for justice. But in a
country like Peru, where few but criminal causes were known, the
right of appeal was of less consequence. The law was simple, its
application easy; and, where the judge was honest, the case was
as likely to be determined correctly on the first hearing as on
the second. The inspection of the board of visitors, and the
monthly returns of the tribunals, afforded no slight guaranty for
their integrity. The law which required a decision within five
days would seem little suited to the complex and embarrassing
litigation of a modern tribunal. But, in the simple questions
submitted to the Peruvian judge, delay would have been useless;
and the Spaniards, familiar with the evils growing out of
long-protracted suits, where the successful litigant is too often
a ruined man, are loud in their encomiums of this swift-handed
and economical justice. *12

[Footnote 12: The Royal Audience of Peru under Philip II. - there
cannot be a higher authority - bears emphatic testimony to the
cheap and efficient administration of justice under the Incas.
"De suerte que los vicios eran bien castigados y la gente estaba
bien sujeta y obediente; y aunque en las dichas penas havia
esceso, redundaba en buen govierno y policia suya, y mediante
ella eran aumentados. . . . . . Porque los Yndios alababan la
governacion del Ynga, y aun los Espanoles que algo alcanzan de
ella, es porque todas las cosas susodichas se de terminaban sin
hacerles costas" Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

The fiscal regulations of the Incas, and the laws respecting
property, are the most remarkable features in the Peruvian
polity. The whole territory of the empire was divided into three
parts, one for the Sun, another for the Inca, and the last for
the people. Which of the three was the largest is doubtful. The
proportions differed materially in different provinces. The
distribution, indeed, was made on the same general principle, as
each new conquest was added to the monarchy; but the proportion
varied according to the amount of population, and the greater or
less amount of land consequently required for the support of the
inhabitants. *13

[Footnote 13: Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 15. - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,
Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 1.

"Si estas partes fuesen iguales, o qual fuese mayor, yo lo he
procurado averiguar, y en unas es diferente de otras, y finalmte
yo tengo entendido que se hacia conforme a la disposicion de la
tierra y a la calidad de los Indios" Ondegardo, Rel Prim., Ms]

The lands assigned to the Sun furnished a revenue to support the
temples, and maintain the costly ceremonial of the Peruvian
worship and the multitudinous priesthood. Those reserved for the
Inca went to support the royal state, as well as the numerous
members of his household and his kindred, and supplied the
various exigencies of government. The remainder of the lands was
divided, per capita, in equal shares among the people. It was
provided by law, as we shall see hereafter, that every Peruvian
should marry at a certain age. When this event took place, the
community or district in which he lived furnished him with a
dwelling, which, as it was constructed of humble materials, was
done at little cost. A lot of land was then assigned to him
sufficient for his own maintenance and that of his wife. An
additional portion was granted for every child, the amount
allowed for a son being the double of that for a daughter. The
division of the soil was renewed every year, and the possessions
of the tenant were increased or diminished according to the
numbers in his family. *14 The same arrangement was observed with
reference to the curacas, except only that a domain was assigned
to them corresponding with the superior dignity of their stations

[Footnote 14: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 2.

The portion granted to each new-married couple, according to
Garcilasso, was a fanega and a half of land. A similar quantity
was added for each male child that was born; and half of the
quantity for each female. The fanega was as much land as could
be planted with a hundred weight of Indian corn. In the fruitful
soil of Peru, this was a liberal allowance for a family.]

[Footnote 15: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 3.

It is singular, that while so much is said of the Inca sovereign,
so little should be said of the Inca nobility, of their estates,
or the tenure by which they held them. Their historian tells us,
that they had the best of the lands, wherever they resided,
besides the interest which they had in those of the Sun and the
Inca, as children of the one, and kinsmen of the other. He
informs us, also, that they were supplied from the royal table,
when living at court. (lib. 6, cap. 3.) But this is very loose
language. The student of history will learn, on the threshold,
that he is not to expect precise, or even very consistent,
accounts of the institutions of a barbarous age and people from
contemporary annalists.]

A more thorough and effectual agrarian law than this cannot be
imagined. In other countries where such a law has been
introduced, its operation, after a time, has given way to the
natural order of events, and, under the superior intelligence and
thrift of some and the prodigality of others, the usual
vicissitudes of fortune have been allowed to take their course,
and restore things to their natural inequality. Even the iron
law of Lycurgus ceased to operate after a time, and melted away
before the spirit of luxury and avarice. The nearest approach to
the Peruvian constitution was probably in Judea, where, on the
recurrence of the great national jubilee, at the close of every
half-century, estates reverted to their original proprietors.
There was this important difference in Peru; that not only did
the lease, if we may so call it, terminate with the year, but
during that period the tenant had no power to alienate or to add
to his possessions. The end of the brief term found him in
precisely the same condition that he was in at the beginning.
Such a state of things might be supposed to be fatal to any thing
like attachment to the soil, or to that desire of improving it,
which is natural to the permanent proprietor, and hardly less so
to the holder of a long lease. But the practical operation of
the law seems to have been otherwise; and it is probable, that,
under the influence of that love of order and aversion to change
which marked the Peruvian institutions, each new partition of the
soil usually confirmed the occupant in his possession, and the
tenant for a year was converted into a proprietor for life.

The territory was cultivated wholly by the people. The lands
belonging to the Sun were first attended to. They next tilled
the lands of the old, of the sick, of the window and the orphan,
and of soldiers engaged in actual service; in short, of all that
part of the community who, from bodily infirmity or any other
cause, were unable to attend to their own concerns. The people
were then allowed to work on their own ground, each man for
himself, but with the general obligation to assist his neighbour,
when any circumstance - the burden of a young and numerous
family, for example - might demand it. *16 Lastly, they
cultivated the lands of the Inca. This was done, with great
ceremony, by the whole population in a body. At break of day,
they were summoned together by proclamation from some
neighbouring tower or eminence, and all the inhabitants of the
district, men, women, and children, appeared dressed in their
gayest apparel, bedecked with their little store of finery and
ornaments, as if for some great jubilee. They went through the
labors of the day with the same joyous spirit, chanting their
popular ballads which commemorated the heroic deeds of the Incas,
regulating their movements by the measure of the chant, and all
mingling in the chorus, of which the word hailli, or "triumph,"
was usually the burden. These national airs had something soft
and pleasing in their character, that recommended them to the
Spaniards; and many a Peruvian song was set to music by them
after the Conquest, and was listened to by the unfortunate
natives with melancholy satisfaction, as it called up
recollections of the past, when their days glided peacefully away
under the sceptre of the Incas. *17

[Footnote 16: Garcilasso relates that an Indian was hanged by
Huayna Capac for tilling a curaca's ground, his near relation,
before that of the poor. The gallows was erected on the curaca's
own land. Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 2.]

[Footnote 17: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 1-3. - Ondegardo, Rel.
Seg., Ms.]

A similar arrangement prevailed with respect to the different
manufactures as to the agricultural products of the country. The
flocks of llamas, or Peruvian sheep, were appropriated
exclusively to the Sun and to the Inca. *18 Their number was
immense. They were scattered over the different provinces,
chiefly in the colder regions of the country, where they were
intrusted to the care of experienced shepherds, who conducted
them to different pastures according to the change of season. A
large number was every year sent to the capital for the
consumption of the Court, and for the religious festivals and
sacrifices. But these were only the males, as no female was
allowed to be killed. The regulations for the care and breeding
of these flocks were prescribed with the greatest minuteness, and
with a sagacity which excited the admiration of the Spaniards,
who were familiar with the management of the great migratory
flocks of merinos in their own country. *19

[Footnote 18: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.

Yet sometimes the sovereign would recompense some great chief, or
even some one among the people, who had rendered him a service,
by the grant of a small number of llamas, - never many. These
were not to be disposed of or killed by their owners, but
descended as common property to their heirs. This strange
arrangement proved a fruitful source of litigation after the
Conquest. Ibid., ubi supra.]

[Footnote 19: See especially the account of the Licentiate
Ondegardo, who goes into more detail than any contemporary
writer, concerning the management of the Peruvian flocks. Rel.
Seg., Ms.]

At the appointed season, they were all sheared, and the wool was
deposited in the public magazines. It was then dealt out to each
family in such quantities as sufficed for its wants, and was
consigned to the female part of the household, who were well
instructed in the business of spinning and weaving When this
labor was accomplished, and the family was provided with a coarse
but warm covering, suited to the cold climate of the mountains, -
for, in the lower country, cotton, furnished in like manner by
the Crown, took the place, to a certain extent, of wool, - the
people were required to labor for the Inca. The quantity of the
cloth needed, as well as the peculiar kind and quality of the
fabric, was first determined at Cuzco. The work was then
apportioned among the different provinces. Officers, appointed
for the purpose, superintended the distribution of the wool, so
that the manufacture of the different articles should be
intrusted to the most competent hands. *20 They did not leave the
matter here but entered the dwellings, from time to time, and saw
that the work was faithfully executed. This domestic inquisition
was not confined to the labors for the Inca. It included, also,
those for the several families; and care was taken that each
household should employ the materials furnished for its own use
in the manner that was intended, so that no one should be
unprovided with necessary apparel. *21 In this domestic labor all
the female part of the establishment was expected to join.
Occupation was found for all, from the child five years old to
the aged matron not too infirm to hold a distaff. No one, at
least none but the decrepit and the sick, was allowed to eat the
bread of idleness in Peru. Idleness was a crime in the eye of
the law, and, as such, severely punished; while industry was
publicly commended and stimulated by rewards. *22

[Footnote 20: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim. et Seg., Mss.

The manufacture of cloths for the Inca included those for the
numerous persons of the blood royal, who wore garments of a finer
texture than was permitted to any other Peruvian. Garcilasso,
Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 6.]

[Footnote 21: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms - Acosta, lib. 6, cap.

[Footnote 22: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,


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