Journal of Latin American Studies


The Incas and the Renaissance: The Royal Commentaries of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega

D. A. Brading

In 1572 the Viceroy of Peru, Francisco de Toledo, despatched an expedition to the stronghold of Vilcabamba to capture the last claimant to the Inca throne, Tupac Amaru. The unfortunate prince was brought to Cuzco and there before the assembled population executed in the main square. Determined to provide an historical justification for his brutal eradication of the Inca dynasty, Toledo had already earlier in the same year summoned representatives of the Inca nobility to hear a public reading of Sarmiento de Gamboa's Historia Indica, a work written with the express intention of demonstrating that the Inca empire had been an unmitigated tyranny, created but recently by force of arms, and maintained through the merciless exploitation of its subjects. The auditors at this sinister farce were then called upon to sign a notarised declaration testifying to the accuracy of a text which stripped their ancestors of their status as rightful, sovereign lords of Peru.