History
In the wake of the earthquake of 1650 that nearly leveled the city, Cuzco's Creole residents argued that the costs of rebuilding and restoration were so great the king needed to allow them to hold on to their encomiendas, grants of native labor given by the crown to Spaniards and Creoles in its colonies. In this document, members of the Camera de Indias in Seville, a government council overseeing Spain's overseas colonies, consider such a proposal from Cuzco.

The Spanish government was reluctant to extend encomiendas, worrying that too–powerful encomenderos would compete with royal authority. But it also recognized that cities needed upstanding Spanish residents to create and maintain policia, or civic order. This was particularly the case for Cuzco, the former seat of Inka rulers and center of 16th–century native resistance.
Visual Culture
The Spanish government preferred to see Cuzco house a vibrant Spanish population which could fill the city with visible signs of Spanish culture—churches, monasteries, convents and hospitals. As the former seat of the Inka empire and onetime center of Inka resistance, Cuzco's Spanish–ness was especially important to the crown. But it was undermined by the devastating earthquake of 1650, during which many Spanish structures crumbled, but Inka–era constructions survived.

Political power—in this case, that of the royal government—was often exerted through economic measures. The crown therefore waived tribute payments and taxes so that Cuzco's Spanish residents could rebuild the city. Yet the crown stopped short of granting what the encomenderos most wanted, because their continued economic control of Cuzco's human resources came at the direct expense of its own.

See a 1643 map of Cuzco in the Vistas Gallery.







Library > 16th Century    > 17th Century    > 18th Century