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VICEROYALTY OF PERU (1542–1824)

By BRUCE
Visit (16773 times)

In 1542, the Spanish Crown created the Viceroyalty of Peru, which was reorganized after the arrival of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572. He put an end to the indigenous State of Vilcabamba, executed Tupac Amaru I. He also sought economic development through commercial monopoly and mineral extraction, mainly from the silver mines of Potosí. He reused the Inca mita, a forced labor program, to mobilize native communities for mining work. This organization transformed Peru into the principal source of Spanish wealth and power in South America.
The town of Lima, founded by Pizarro on January 18, 1535 as the "Ciudad de Reyes" (City of Kings), became the seat of the new viceroyalty. It grew into a powerful city, with jurisdiction over most of Spanish South America. Precious metals passed through Lima on its way to the Isthmus of Panama and from there to Seville, Spain. On the local level, Spanish encomenderos depended on local chieftains (curacas) to control even the most remote settlements, in a rigorous hierarchy. By the 18th century, Lima had become a distinguished and aristocratic colonial capital, seat of a university and the chief Spanish stronghold in the Americas.
Nevertheless, throughout this period, the Inca were not entirely suppressed. In the eighteenth century alone, there were fourteen large uprisings, the most important of which were that of Juan Santos Atahualpa in 1742, and Sierra Uprising of Tupac Amaru II in 1780.
The creation of the Viceroyalties of New Granada and Rio de la Plata (at the expense of its territory), the duty exemptions that moved the commercial center from Lima to Caracas and Buenos Aires, and the decrease of the mining and textile production determined the progressive decay of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
The economic crisis favored the indigenous rebellion from 1780 to 1781. This rebellion was headed by Túpac Amaru II. At this time, the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and the degradation of the Royal power took place. The Creole rebellion of Huánuco arose in 1812 and the rebellion of Cuzco arose between 1814 and 1816. These rebellions defended the liberal principles sanctioned by the Constitution of Cadiz of 1812.
These events created a favorable climate so that emancipating ideas developed between the Spanish Criollo people throughout the Spanish America. In contrast, the Criollo oligarchy in Perú remained mostly Spain loyalist, which accounts for the fact that the Viceroyalty of Peru became the last redoubt of the Spanish dominion in South America.

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