When Spanish arrived to the New World, and as they were discovering new things, a priority for them was to record as much information as possible in order to inform the King, stayed in Europe, of the magnitude of all his new properties. Geography (flora and fauna), the story of his faithful servant’s conquests and their exploits, the way of living of Natives (ethnography)….
The supporting document character is undeniable (there were commissioned by the royalty) and the first purpose is frankly to acclaim the conquerors, their exploits, the grandeur of their act (civilize uncivilized tribes and save their souls by their conversion to Catholicism). Comparisons with previous conquest are numerous, all aimed in the same vain; the conquest of the Americas is the biggest discovery and the greatest epic ever. Only a few persons have been voiced against the injustices like for example the Jesuit Brother Bartholomé de las Casas (who provoked the Junta of Valladolid about the question “Do the Indians natives have a soul?”) and Guaman Poma de Ayala, Peruvian Indian who give the Inca vision on their devastated culture.
Presents in the whole Latin American continent, Peru has 3 great commentators; the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Pedro Cieza de Leon and Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala.
The most famous, Garcilaso de la Vega, is the son of a Spanish Conqueror and an Inca princess, from the imperial family. He lived in Cusco until his father’s death when he left the country for Spain. His masterpiece is untitled “Comentarios Reales de los Incas” and in its first part, he mixed descriptions of the royal line from his mother and in the second part descriptions of the Spanish conquest. Himself originating from both civilizations, he is considered as the first “biological and cultural” mestizo of the Americas and explains in a better way les Indians ways (stories transmitted by his maternal family, royal, describing the Inca Empire like a good, just and big Empire, where there weren’t human sacrifices and no beggar in the streets) but on the other hand, he justifies the Spanish conquest by the necessity to impose the Christian law to those disbelievers. The Information gathered in his masterpiece are the product of his personal memories, information transmitted by his close family and his numerous travels across the country.
Pedro Cieza de Leon has probably been the nearest South-American commentator of the real crown. Born in Spain, he went firstly to the New World in order to participate to military expeditions – and make a fortune. He participate to the foundation of many cities inside of the country and then, coming back to Lima, he is entrusted with the responsibility of official commentator. He has to gather information; during two years, he travels the country and his work give precious information particularly about geography of the country, native fauna and flora, as well as ethnographic indicators and the story of civil wars between Spanish peoples after the end of the conquest strictly speaking.
Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala is born in Ayacucho, in the central Andes, in a local noble family but he was bred by Spanish peoples. Displaced by violence providing from the conquest, he travelled around the country during 20 years to write “The First New Chronicle and Good Government”, in order to send it to the crown of Spain and denunciate the atrocities made during the conquest, through the eyes and story of Indian populations. His chronicles gather a story of the Inca dynasty, a synthesis of the Indian world view, the description of the society after the conquest, everything decorated with illustrations and a lot of cruel details. This work represents the most virulent critic to the conquest and Spanish domination written by a native during the colonial period.