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date: 26 April 2017

Competing Spanish and Indigenous Jurisdictions in Early Colonial Lima

Summary and Keywords

Spanish legal organization required that political communities be represented by a concejo or cabildo, which used customary law to determine and enforce the common good. In the Spanish colonial world, this entailed vesting indigenous communities with jurisdiction and political representation, parallel to that of the municipal cabildo, which represented the common good of most Spanish citizens. Nevertheless, the supposed common good of indigenous and Spanish jurisdictions often intersected or contested one another. In these cases, agents of the Spanish Crown might intervene, or the parties might negotiate new relations. Because Andean cabildos were entreated not to keep minutes of their deliberations or actions, historians have had difficulty in recognizing the role of indigenous authorities in self-governance, and given more credence to the acts of Spanish cabildos and the Crown. But Indian cabildos and caciques took meaningful decisions within their communities, as demonstrated by moments where they came into conflict with Spanish authorities, and as inferred from a small number of documents available for the similar Mexican case.

Keywords: pueblos de indios, Indian cabildo, Lima, cacique, customary law, water rights, jurisdiction


In his 1575 “Ordinances for the Indians of all the districts and towns of this kingdom,” Peruvian viceroy Francisco de Toledo laid out the jurisdiction of the new indigenous cabildos or town governments he was calling into existence:

I empower you, in the name of His Majesty, so that you may hear all civil litigation that one Indian has with another, up to the limit of thirty silver pesos, because the latter are the jurisdiction of the corregidor. And I order that the alcaldes may not hear litigation between one cacique and another, nor commoners with their nobility, nor litigation over cacicazgos nor cases over land between one town and another, nor about who has authority over Indians, because these all correspond to the corregidor’s office. I do permit that the alcaldes may hear cases about Indians usurping lands from one another in their community; all of this must not be written down, but be judged summarily.1

This statement lays out the framework for the administration of indigenous communities in the colonial reforms envisioned by Viceroy Toledo.2 New indigenous leaders, pushing aside hereditary nobles, would act as judges for minor civil and criminal matters; conflicts that went outside that jurisdiction would be handled by the corregidor, a royally appointed official. These cabildos would manage the everyday and unimportant, according to their customary law, and keep these petty conflicts out of the courts. And little would be recorded, saving the indigenous judge and scribe time, and not creating a paper trail that might lead to future litigiousness.3

The Indian cabildo was a parallel institution to the cabildos formed by Spanish city founders in the Americas, themselves drawn upon Castilian municipal concejos, especially that of Seville.4 Cabildos represented both a problem and a solution for monarchical rule in the medieval and early modern Iberian world. After conquest (of both Muslim al-Andalus and the New World), monarchs promoted settlement and decentralized governance through urbanization and the granting of fueros [legal charters] and privileges to conquerors.5 But the long history of conflict between urban elites and the Crown left little room for trust on either side. Cabildos were intended to provide for the commonwealth (procomún) of their citizenry, as interpreted by the vecinos or citizens who elected and filled its offices: “el cauildo es y rrepresenta todo el pueblo y tiene la potestad suya como su caueça, y assí puede lo mismo que el pueblo todo Junto,” as the Alcalde of Lima noted in 1621.6 But while committed to respecting custom, the Crown often disagreed about that good; by 1348 the Castilian king Alfonso XI had created the position of corregidor, a royal agent who could be called in by town residents to defend them against abusive officials. But these rarely waited to be called, and rapidly a corregidor or his equivalent presided over every municipal government on behalf of the king.7 In the Americas, tension between the viceroy or corregidor and urban cabildos was well-known, particularly in regional capitals such as Lima, where all manner of authorities clashed and offices were sold as well as elected and appointed. Indeed, Lima’s cabildo convinced the Crown to eliminate the city’s corregidor in 1550, leaving his duties to the two alcaldes ordinarios.8 Indigenous communities were subject to particular royal officials charged with their protection, including the protector de indios, and in 1565 Peru received its first corregidor de los naturales.9

Theoretically, then, Spanish cabildos guarded the procomún of Spanish cities, while Indian cabildos did so for their towns. But this notion of parallelism was something of a useful fiction. Not only did each cabildo have to manage its relations with the Crown’s agents, but the common good of the Spanish municipality often conflicted or intersected with that of the pueblo de indios. Ironically, given Andean cabildos’ compliance with the order not to keep minutes, it is primarily in their conflicts with other institutions that we clearly see their jurisdiction.

Thus the study of the proceedings of indigenous cabildos must be carried out, in great part, by inference. A series of recent articles have argued for the existence of this parallel jurisdiction and examined how competing Spanish and indigenous jurisdictions led to entangled conceptualizations of property, labor, and other crucial institutions in the early Lima valley.10 This article explores, the institution of the indigenous cabildo itself, which was explicitly called into being by Peru’s viceroys and given certain powers, but which is largely invisible in the archive in this period. To do so takes an act of creativity as well as detective work. Direct and indirect evidence comes from a variety of primary sources: from litigation and administrative acts outside the indigenous cabildo’s jurisdiction, notarial contracts that track transformations in the way that property and labor were described, and other archival sites where indigenous and Spanish claims entangled and overlapped. Occasionally these documents offer direct insight into the workings of the cabildo de indios, though more often reveal only the gaps that the deliberations of cabildos and caciques must have filled.

More provocatively, the minutes of other cabildos are used to draw inferences about the political spaces available to the cabildo de indios and the processes through which they might have deliberated and acted. Two sources are particularly instructive. First, the minutes of Lima’s Spanish cabildo from the same period (roughly 1535–1630) provide an important context for understanding what conflicts arose in the region, as well as a model for what offices might have existed and what their duties might have been. Given that the valley’s indigenous elites regularly interacted with the Spanish cabildo and would have been under pressure to replicate some of the format of that institution, those minutes have been used to create both content as well as form.

Second, an intriguing corpus of records from the indigenous cabildo of Tlaxcala, Mexico, in the 16th century is employed. Tlaxcala was one of a small number of Meso-American communities to maintain indigenous-language cabildo minutes, almost unique for the 16th century.11 Tlaxcala was unusual in many ways. Drawing upon the state’s key role in Cortés’s conquest of Mexico, its leaders strategically demanded rewards from the Crown, including significant autonomy for the province wherein its nobles became Spanish nobles with first-instance legal jurisdiction “such that they keep for their subjects their ancient customs for the conservation of that Province, City and Republic.”12 While few other communities achieved the scale of its autonomy, Tlaxcala was set forth as a model for the organization of reducciones around the empire.13 Tlaxcala was an extensive, powerful, and fairly autonomous state, unlike the small indigenous towns that surrounded Lima, but the cabildo’s deliberations reveal it contending with similar Spanish colonial exactions. For this reason, the Tlaxcalan records have been introduced when they illustrate how that body dealt with practices that would have been carried out in any pueblo: for example, organizing itself to pay tribute or distributing land within the community. Tlaxcala’s ability to negotiate with royal authorities, including its own corregidor, was not repeated in the Lima valley, but its desire for autonomy had echoes everywhere. Tlaxcala offers evidence that indigenous communities could sometimes do things differently from Spanish ones, and even more frequently desired to do so. This model, then, guides this imagining of the debates and inner workings of the towns of the Lima valley.

Cabildos, whether Spanish or indigenous, and royal officials all sought to impose their vision of the commonwealth, to protect their resources, and to make claims on resources that were not necessarily explicitly assigned to them. They often coexisted quietly. When they conflicted, they often produced documentation, which has been used to identify their visions of political authority, control over labor, and resource use. Thus, it can be demonstrated that local jurisdiction was central to the way that colonial institutions developed. Indigenous jurisdiction was conceptually respected by both the Crown and the Spanish municipality, even if both of these disagreed as to where that jurisdiction began and ended. Indigenous communities worked through their own notions of justice, generally translating it into Spanish legal concepts in order to promote their positions to outsiders. Thus a study of the conflicts emerging between these parallel institutions offers insight into the political workings of the indigenous Andean town, long considered a cipher due to the lack of documentation.

The Rímac River Valley in the Early Colonial Period

While Pizarro’s forces claimed victory over the Incas in 1535, the immediate post-conquest decades were taken up by warfare between Spanish forces and indigenous resistors, and civil war between Spanish factions. By the 1570s, and Toledo’s administration, the coastal indigenous population was in steep decline and Spaniards were aggressively expanding their settlements far beyond the urban footprint of Lima, into rural community space.

Cases from the Rímac River valley (also called the Lima valley), in central Peru, provide opportunities to examine rural as well as urban settings. The central coast of Peru, around the capital city of Lima, is a humid desert cut by three rivers, the Rímac, Huatca and Magdalena, which make the desert valleys fertile. The valleys were the sites of numerous small and moderate sized polities before the Spanish conquest, including the Ychsma polity under their cacique [kuraka, ethnic leader] Taulichusco, which was displaced to make room for the Spanish city of Lima in 1535. The colonial resettlement policy known as reducción moved these groups and turned them into pueblos de indios or nucleated settlements with circumscribed agricultural lands (see Map 1). These new pueblos de indios each had a cabildo, a Spanish-style elected government representing the commonwealth (procomún) of the local republic, alongside caciques and the traditional indigenous elite. The nineteen cacique-headed polities that Rostworowski has identified in the pre-Hispanic valleys were transformed into six colonial pueblos, Magdalena, Surco, Late, Lurigancho, Carabayllo, and Pachacamac, in the late 16th century.14

Competing Spanish and Indigenous Jurisdictions in Early Colonial LimaClick to view larger

Map 1. María Rostworowski, Obras Completas: Pachacamac (Lima: IEP, 2000).

Spanish Lima became home to many more indigenous men and women, including thousands of mitayo or forced temporary laborers, who were pulled out of their communities every year and sent to cities and mining towns to labor on behalf of the Crown. Increasingly, mitayos stayed behind after their rotation, joining the numerous indigenous and Spanish immigrants and enslaved Africans who resided in the capital city. Thus Lima and its valleys were interconnected in part because they required some of the same resources (human labor, water, land) but also because of constant transit across the region.

The indigenous population of the Rímac River valley was over 150,000 at conquest, and it shrank rapidly after Spanish settlement, reaching its nadir in the 1570s.15 But the communities played a vital role in the production of food for the growing city, the maintenance of irrigation canals that brought water to farmlands and urban residents, large public works projects carried out by mitayo labor, the provision of hostels and services for the many travelers passing through, and other public services. These were also the issues that produced so much of the tension that would arise between indigenous communities, the community of Spaniards in Lima, and the corregidor de los naturales, as representative of the Crown with authority over indigenous affairs.

Expanding the Elite: Caciques and the Formation of Cabildos

The cabildo was a self-governing institution, whose officers were largely elected by a voting body of vecinos or citizens.16 Lima’s Spanish cabildo was mostly self-regulating during its first half century, though the Crown reserved the right to confirm all elections and nullify them in case of impropriety.17 Elections each January confirmed two alcaldes ordinarios, a group of regidores, and a variety of other officials chosen by members; each cabildo also had a scribe, appointed by the Crown. It was a representative body, though it mainly represented the interests of the Spanish conquerors, encomenderos, and other elite property owners known as vecinos: indigenous residents of the city were not entitled to a vote, nor were most foreigners, including those of African descent, or people of Spanish descent not issued plots of land in the city. Certain professions were also denied the ability to hold office, including merchants, who exercised power through other institutions.18 The 1614 census measured the city’s population at 25,454, only some 3,000 of whom were vecinos.19

Toledo’s ordinances made clear that, in the case of indigenous communities, the cabildo would be a check on the power of caciques or traditional authorities. The cacique, he stated, cannot run for the office of alcalde; both alcaldes may not be principales or hereditary elites, nor may they be related to one another.20 The office of governador was also introduced in many regions as tribute collector and cabildo member, though that position was often taken up by caciques themselves or a close relative.21 The cabildo was not solely a means to enforce the Christianization of the population or an introduction of Spanish legal forms to indigenous communities, but it was part of an effort to manage and dilute local power, and encourage competition among elites and even commoners.

Caciques could not be shunted aside, as they were key political figures as well as effective mobilizers of their subjects, but they could be curtailed by dividing up their powers among new officials. The Crown ordered in 1618 that the elected alcaldes “solely [have authority] to make inquiries, arrest, and bring delinquents to the Spanish pueblo’s jail; but they may punish those Indians who skip Mass on a holy day or who get drunk, or do commit some such error with a day in prison or six or eight lashes… leaving to the Caciques the staffing of the mita of their Indians, the government of the pueblos in general rests with its said Alcaldes and Regidores.”22 In effect, governadores were installed as tribute collectors, alcaldes and regidores were to have power over petty civil and criminal affairs, especially moral ones, and caciques were responsible for the labor of their subjects.

In practice, such stratification was rarely clear and the roles were not always separable. The first alcaldes were almost certainly caciques or other traditional elites: Viceroy Cañete in 1556 called for royal inspectors to give algunos principales [some indigenous elites] the vara de justicia [staff of office] for the “protection of the rest of the residents.”23 In Lima, where there was no native aristocracy to draw upon, the Real Audiencia (high court) in 1550 extended the jurisdictions of the caciques of nearby Huarochirí and Magdalena over the city’s Indians, with powers to arrest drunks, drag them to church, and carry out other acts of moral policing, though there is no evidence that they were effective.24 When they did not serve in it, caciques worked jointly with their cabildo rather than against or in isolation from it. A 1566 letter to King Philip II from the cabildo of Ananguanca in Jauja was signed by the cacique ex officio among twenty-two other cabildo officers. And the move to alienate caciques did not stretch to other members of the indigenous elite: all but two of the twenty-three signing officers from Ananguanca claimed the title “Don” before their name, indicating membership in the hereditary elite.25 Cabildos brought some commoners to the political table, but not necessarily at the expense of local nobles.

But all indigenous political leaders were subject to interference from Spanish officials, who had strong opinions about appropriate candidates for office. Most famously, encomenderos, holders of indigenous labor grants, illegally attempted to remove or replace caciques whom they deemed uncooperative. The appointment process that Toledo crafted for naming successors of caciques certainly allowed him input into succession, limiting candidates to Hispanized Christians, for example.26 The Crown did fear Spaniards’ interventions into indigenous politics, and seated a corregidor de los naturales in Lima in 1565 to separate indigenous communities from that cabildo. Such protection was coupled with the inevitability of royal meddling.27

The corregidor was required to be present during the January elections of cabildo officers in all five pueblos de indios in the valley as well as in the urban Cercado; if he did not attend, he likely sent a surrogate. His presence was not necessarily intended to change the outcome of the vote, but he and the viceroy reserved the right to intervene. There are no records from these proceedings in Lima, but the Tlaxcalan cabildo minutes reveal how royal officials might meddle in local politics. In 1556, the viceroy of New Spain requested that Tlaxcala’s Indian cabildo remove a sitting governor and elect a new one, following a denunciation of the governor by an anonymous cabildo officer. Minutes from the cabildo’s debate over accommodating the viceroy’s request reveal that they feared that acquiescence might make the community look weak, leading to further interference. They likewise worried that publicity about their own internal conflict might damage their standing, and decreed that no one could talk about cabildo proceedings until they had been concluded.28 Tlaxcala, with a cabildo used to successful self-advocacy, was in a position to confront its corregidor and even the viceroy. The small cabildos of the Lima valley were not, and thus were more likely to act so as to avoid conflict, or to accede to the will of those authorities. In the absence of documentation disputing cabildo elections in this period, it can be assumed that they took care not to raise hackles.

But this does not require that they simply replicated the structures of Spanish governance. Instead, they modified the offices to serve their own needs. Tlaxcala, for one, explicitly adapted the notion of cabildo to reinforce its Pre-Hispanic structure. The region’s four altepetl (in negotiation with a royal official) designed a power-sharing arrangement that allowed its confederation structure to guide its transformation into a republic. Its 220 nobles participated in voting for twelve regidores, and the highest office of governor was rotated among the four tlatoani (hereditary leaders, like caciques) of the altepetls. Each tlatoani also served as a permanent regidor, maintaining not only the traditional ruling class but also the kin and geographic representation of the Pre-Hispanic polity. While the cabildo created space for a wide spectrum of elite participants, it simultaneously served to articulate an older political structure.29

The example of Tlaxcala offers a way to read the changing political structure of the coastal polities around Lima, which appeared to be losing their ability to maintain Pre-Hispanic practices. Before the Spanish conquest, coastal polities apparently considered slates of potential candidates when choosing new caciques, rather than using a set formula.30 There is some evidence that this tradition continued in the Lima valley through the middle of the 16th century. Don Gonzalo of Magdalena apparently groomed two nephews to be his successor as cacique but was succeeded instead by Don Cristóbal Huacay, perhaps because other members of the community deemed the latter more able.31

By the late 16th century, though, Spanish viceroys were formalizing cacical succession practices along the model of primogeniture, favoring the eldest male child of the outgoing cacique: in 1589 Don Pedro Pulax de la Serna, cacique of Guanchoguaylas (Late), presented himself as successor and “legitimate son of Don Martín Pulax, deceased cacique.”32 Multiple candidates often presented themselves, but viceroys tended to invest the office in the one who could prove most direct descent from the deceased office-holder, radically changing succession practices. In contrast, the Spanish cabildo model offered a limited electoral process among a wider field. The adoption of the cabildo model alongside the cacique allowed indigenous communities to continue to assess and groom multiple political leaders, even while the cacicazgo was made less flexible.

The city of Lima, whose native population had been displaced to Magdalena in 1535, faced different challenges in creating indigenous political leadership. The Spanish cabildo claimed that indigenous residents were dependents within their commonwealth, and particularly sought control over their labor. In contrast, the Crown recognized the city’s indigenous permanent residents as a theoretical republic of its own, and began an ad hoc process of manufacturing its political system. Royal officials first tried to generate that governance structure in 1550, as noted, by making the caciques of Magdalena and highland Huarochirí regidores of the city. These were succeeded by a pair of local alcaldes de naturales, named by the viceroy, who were accused in 1568 by a regidor of the Spanish cabildo of stirring up trouble for the city’s Indians: “having learned to communicate and negotiate before the corregidor and [alcaldes] ordinarios, the said Indian alcaldes search out and invent lawsuits in order to harrass and mistreat [the Indians].”33 The regidor insinuated that the alcaldes encouraged litigation to make themselves more powerful and irreplaceable.

Even after Toledo’s ordinances, Lima’s regional caciques continued to hold the office of alcalde in the city for some time, as did the cacique of Pachacamac, Don Martín Camchomacan, in 1575. 34 But the growth of the city and the creation of an artisan class with political skills, unattached to hereditary aristocracy, changed the character of politics. According to the 1613 census of the Indians of Lima, none of the city’s major office holders were members of that hereditary elite: a tailor and a slave-holding agricultor were the city’s two alcaldes ordinarios, and a butcher served as alguacil mayor, an auxiliary to the corregidor’s office.35

In 1570, royal authorities created Santiago del Cercado, a neighborhood overseen by the Jesuits. It was intended to house groups of indigenous mita workers in temporary residence in the city, governed by an official from their town of origin and overseen by the Jesuit fathers.36 But as it rapidly became a permanent neighborhood in the next two decades, the Cercado also acquired its own indigenous leadership, of whom relatively little in this period is known.37 The first evidence of its political structure is a document naming its alcalde in 1583, Don Cristóbal. By the 1590s it hosted a full cabildo.38 But while some caciques resided permanently in the Cercado, they did not hold office there. All of its leaders listed in the 1613 census were indigenous commoners, none carrying the honorific “Don” before their name. Given that the Cercado was a reducción carried out under the oversight of the Jesuits rather than forming more organically from an already-existing community, it is not surprising that, in structure, it most closely resembled the Toledan ideal: an elected political space largely excluding caciques and other hereditary elites.

This was not a place of political autonomy. Indeed, indigenous labor and resources, theoretically under the jurisdiction of the cacique and cabildo, were the topic of many conflicts between the Spanish cabildo and the Crown. Nonetheless, Indian cabildos and caciques exercised authority over their communities, and transformed to respond to external challenges and internal demands.

Laboring for the Común

Indigenous leaders exercised explicit jurisdiction over their subjects’ labor. Toledo’s instructions literally left only labor-provision to cacical oversight, requiring them to staff the mita, which took a percentage of the adult male population out of the community for a period of work in a place like Lima or Potosí every year. He placed responsibility for tribute collection, an outcome of group or communal labor, with the governador, a cabildo office often held by the cacique. The main obligation of indigenous communities, from the royal perspective, was to pay tribute, a head tax that derived from the legal status of indigenous individuals as members of the corporate communities of the repúblicas de indios. Tribute was foundational in creating a racialized hierarchy in the Spanish colonies.39 That tax was assessed, in a tasa or taxation schedule, according to the number of tributaries in a political unit, usually assumed to be adult married males minus the salaried leaders of the unit. For example, the 1573 tasa of the Aymara and Uro people of Capachica registered 1,303 men and women between the ages of 18 and 50, eight of whom were exempted as caciques of some kind. The two communities were calculated to pay 5280.5 pesos per year, plus certain amounts of woven cloth, chuño (freeze-dried potato), and dried fish.40 Complaints from communities about excessive tribute demands could be resolved via the revisita, a population recount. From the viceroy’s perspective, tribute was produced by male subjects, more or less equally, other than a few grudgingly set aside for exemptions.41

In both Meso-America and the Andes, tribute payments had been central to imperial organization prior to the Spanish conquest, and Spaniards eagerly investigated and adapted the practices of their predecessors, receiving sustenance, artisan goods, and mineral wealth from those economic and political networks. In the late 16th century, that tribute would be converted into silver, forcing communities across the Americas to turn their attention to mining, wage labor, production for market, and land sales. But prior to that conversion, communities in Mexico and the Andes faced different challenges. Meso-Americans had long been required to meet targeted quantities of goods as tribute to Mexica lords.42 In their case, the Spanish tasa took a familiar form, though indigenous communities might not have conceived the labor distribution as a head tax on non-elite males. Here the Tlaxcalan case gives an important insight: in January 1548 the cabildo drew up a document designating a progressive schedule of taxation within its community. The wealthiest, including the rulers and other nobility, were assessed at the highest rates, up to seven fanegas of corn per year, and the poorest at the lowest rates, only a quarter fanega annually.43 Of course, nobility did not do the work themselves, having macehuales (non-noble indigenous laborers) to carry out the labor, but they supplied the land, paid the laborers’ wages, and provided other services to them. The Tlaxcalan division of tribute reinforced a local understanding of hierarchy, supporting a broader notion of nobility than allowed by royal assessments, and produced commoners whose well-being was linked to this elite. Thus Tlaxcalan self-governance distributed the economic burden of colonial rule according to an internal notion of justice and hierarchy.

Distinct from the Meso-American case, in the Andes tribute to the Inca had been assessed by periods of labor on lands assigned for that purpose. Communities were required not to produce a certain amount of a crop but to divide their time in some way between fields for their own sustenance, for that of their kuraka, and for those of the Inca and its religious rites. In a landscape often threatened by drought, floods, and earthquakes, this form of assessment had equalized the burden.44 Thus the new approach to Andean tribute—the requirement to meet a set schedule, correlated with a one-time population count that did not respond to the higher mortality rate or tendency to immigrate of the early colonial period—required local decisions. According to ethnographic evidence, caciques, along with other stewards and accountants of the community, divided up the burden by ayllu or kin group: the Spanish jurist Polo commented, “each province allocates for itself what its encomendero orders that they provide, and in that distribution they always respect the old norms, keeping in mind what the people can produce and the wealth of the province itself.”45 The mechanism for determining that distribution would have been crafted by indigenous community leaders.

There is no evidence for how this allocation took place in the Lima valley, but initially, it seems that communities did not assess a simple head tax or even a complex schedule as in the Tlaxcalan case, but instead sought some collective solutions. Caciques drew ambivalent lines between personal wealth and enterprises that served the community. Don Gonzalo Taulichusco, the cacique of Lima, used his will in 1562 to leave his mares, cows, oxen, and pigs to his Indian subjects, essentially creating a community herd “to help them pay their tribute with their issue.”46 Don Bartolomé Guaman Chumbi, cacique of Guancha Guaylas (Lati), ran a side business selling wheat in Lima.47 Some of this profited him personally, but in his 1577 will he grouped debts owed to him for wheat purchases alongside his own obligations to his encomendero, suggesting that his estate and the community’s treasury were fairly porous: at the least, his personal wealth could be used to make up community shortfalls.

On the other hand, by the late 16th century, the conversion of tribute to silver appears to have undermined that collective response. The best evidence for this comes from a massive individualized push to rent underused lands to Spanish tenants as part of a larger wave of Spanish appropriation of agricultural properties in the valley. Spaniards living in Lima increasingly sought land in the nearby valleys, in order to plant crops for market, develop early haciendas, and pasture European animals. While the indigenous population decline meant that communities could place less land in use, the Crown saw the rapid Spanish agricultural expansion as a threat to indigenous tribute and its own control over land.48 Beginning in 1591, royal inspections called composiciones reorganized land tenure and holdings in the Lima valley, as they did across the Americas and even on the peninsula. Communities were assessed collective properties, individuals had the ability to purchase title to lands for which they demonstrated ownership, and land the inspectors deemed “excess” was sold to private buyers, usually Spaniards.49 With titles in hand, indigenous individuals and community leaders could approach the corregidor to rent unused farms to interested parties. While community holdings might occasionally be rented, as when the leaders of Late in 1602 rented the town’s lands to a Spanish tenant, the vast majority of these contracts were between individual Indians and Spaniards.50 With falling populations and a growing need for cash to pay tribute and other expenses, rentals were seen as a quick fix. Indeed in an eighteen-month run of documents (1612–1613) created by the corregidor for indigenous clients in the Lima region, 52 of 107 contracts concerned land rentals, nearly always to Spaniards.51 All but one of these was contracted between a private indigenous party and a Spanish party.52 The brisk turn to land rentals suggests that burdens, now in the form of demands for money, were being assessed upon individuals or families rather than collectively, though it does not necessarily follow that the assessments were equal across the social structure.

Tribute, then, was allocated by and within the indigenous community, but that burden was increasingly privatized by the early 17th century, suggesting the strong influence of outside factors. The shift from collective agricultural labor toward a cash assessment on families or individuals also brought Spaniards physically within indigenous jurisdiction as renters and owners of land. This proximity also meant that resources previously under indigenous community control might be challenged.

Collectives and Resources: Acequias

One of the key conflicts between the común of the Spanish and indigenous communities was over increasingly shared natural resources. In the case of the Rímac River valley, where the desert environment was only forced into fertility through the coaxing of water down from the Andes to distant agricultural plots, management of the acequia or irrigation system was undoubtedly central to the common good of all.

The acequias of the valleys dated from Pre-Hispanic cultures, which built canals to channel water from the Rímac River to both private and collective holdings, making some of the region reliably fertile. Pre-conquest polities had had a political relationship with the water system, wherein they shared or established rights to water and took responsibility for maintaining their own acequias.53 As communities were relocated under the colonial reducciones, those responsibilities necessarily shifted but, at least outside Lima, they remained with the indigenous rather than Spanish polity.54

Sixteenth-century sources demonstrate that caciques continued to organize their own laborers to maintain and repair the acequias, while Lima’s Spanish cabildo mostly concerned itself with making certain that water reached its vecinos.55 Indigenous communities explicitly linked access to land to management of water. Don Gonzalo, the Lima cacique reduced to Magdalena, assigned lands to Pizarro’s yanaconas (indigenous Cañar soldiers who acted as military auxiliaries in the conquest) in exchange for their assistance with maintaining the canals under his jurisdiction.56 In 1566, the cacique of Mala offered the nearby community of Coayllo land in exchange for similar assistance.57 More generally, communities continued to protect and maintain the local water system because it allowed them to grow crops for tribute, sustenance, and the market.

This autonomy ended in the middle of the 16th century, when the Spanish acquisition of choice farmlands along the channels made them rabid competitors for local water. The Spanish cabildo came to understand acequia control as subject to its own jurisdiction, creating the position of juez de aguas or water inspector in 1556 to adjudicate claims and set regulations for all.58 In response, the Crown charged the protector and corregidor de los naturales with assuring indigenous access to water. In 1574, the cabildo of Lima heard reports that the Surco and Magdalena acequias were not irrigating the crops of Spanish vecinos in the valleys, and dispensed their officials to resolve the situation. Caciques likely continued to organize labor to keep the canals operating, but they were now treading into a Spanish jurisdiction as they allocated water to valley tenants and owners.

As Spaniards acquired more control over indigenous agricultural lands in the 17th century, the competition only became more intense. In 1630, the protector de los naturales registered a complaint on behalf of the pueblo de indios of Surco, claiming that indigenous jurisdiction over water was being ignored. He noted that “the Indians are lords over all the water of the large acequia of that town” but that “interested” parties—Spanish farmers and the convent of La Merced—were appropriating the water that was intended to benefit the Indians. The water judge had previously ordered that the irrigation system serve each party according to a clock: the water was to be directed to indigenous communities each night, all weekend, and on holidays, by blocking the intakes to Spanish properties. When the Spaniards failed to block the intakes, the community of Surco had sent a dozen young men to swim up the canal at night and redirect the water toward the town and fields; they were met by Spaniards who reopened the hatches. The protector reported that the town periodically went dry for ten or twenty days at a time, and the community fields were in particular danger. The case was ultimately resolved when the Jesuits rented Surco’s community lands, giving them control over the canal, which they widened and guarded with armed men, allowing their hacienda as well as the town of Surco to receive regular irrigation.59

Water was arguably the most important resource for residents of the coastal valleys. It originated in the mountains and had to be coaxed to coastal soils by canals created and maintained by indigenous labor. Although water was theoretically the property of the king, its management fell to the jurisdiction of those who controlled the land where the canals were built: the cabildos de indios for acequias in pueblos de indios, and the Spanish cabildo for the system that brought water through the inhabited center of the city of Lima. Nevertheless, the Spanish accumulation of agricultural properties convinced the Spanish cabildo to redefine distant acequias as part of the Spanish commonwealth. It is ironic that it was partnership with another republic altogether—the jurisdiction of the church—and the reallocation of their collective land that facilitated a just outcome for the community of Surco.

Collective Labor: Tambos and Mita

Another case of overlapping jurisdictions arose over tambos, inns for travelers, which were a hybrid between the Pre-Hispanic way stations and storage facilities (tampu) that punctuated the Inca road system, and the medieval European fondaco or hostel/storage/trading post.60 Colonial officials ordered indigenous communities to maintain existing Inca and pre-Inca tambos, and to build many structures to service the new routes connecting the region. Officials also required indigenous communities to staff and supply these to accommodate travelers, merchants, priests, bureaucrats, and the like. Caciques were required to provide mitayo laborers to run them and care for visitors and their animals, and also to supply food and bedding for both. Colonial inspections reported that the management of tambos was considered one of the most exploitative requirements of encomienda.61

The indigenous communities of the Rímac valley were hard hit by the tambo requirement, as Lima-Callao was the main port for Pacific South America and thus a node for nearly continent-wide distribution of commodities. Lima also became the most important political space in Spanish South America, as the seat of the Peruvian viceroyalty and courts. Traffic through the valleys would have been constant, with spikes when the Spanish fleet was expected in port, or when viceroys and archbishops called for inspections and censuses.

But communities also saw this jurisdiction as a potential source of revenue to offset tribute and other payments. They regularly subcontracted management of their tambos to Spaniards for an annual fee. The communities of Surco, Late, Carabayllo, and Pachacamac continued to supply mitayo labor to staff the inns but Spaniards paid to manage them. In 1612–1613, the corregidor auctioned off management of all four communities’ tambos, each receiving about 300 pesos for a three-year contract.62 In this case, ultimate control over mitayos was shifted from the cacique to the corregidor (who would field complaints from Spanish contractors about their indigenous laborers) in exchange for a cash payment to assist with tribute and other community expenses. A 1688 document notes that that year’s rental income went to pay salaries of the cacique and the local priest, and to underwrite religious festivals.63

Unusual language crops up in a few wills, leading to speculation that communities were developing other enterprises in order to meet their financial obligations. In the late 1590s, some indigenous women in Surco noted extraordinary investments in chicha-making equipment. That indigenous women from the valley communities were individually making and selling chicha, or corn beer, for the urban market is well-documented. But the community of Surco, the largest indigenous pueblo in the region, also appears to have supported a town tavern, possibly associated with its tambo. It may have been managed and staffed as a community project, whose profits supported community functions, given the unusual scale of the operation, that it was referred to as the pueblo’s tavern, and that its clients included Spaniards.64

Finally, mita, the requirement that indigenous communities supply certain numbers of laborers to Spaniards on an annual basis, was almost by definition a conflict between jurisdictions. The use of indigenous labor to carry out projects beneficial to the Spanish municipality and its members brought commonwealth expressly into question. The conflict is made clear by the counterexample of Tlaxcala, where the annual labor requirement was largely redirected toward the community’s and its elite’s needs. There the leadership organized labor drafts to do agricultural and public works for the region, and only occasionally for the Spanish cabildo.65 In the Lima valley, however, the mita largely sent indigenous laborers to Lima and its surroundings to work for Spaniards. The process of choosing those laborers and matching them to projects rested with the community, and caciques or their agents managed them while away from their homes, but the object of their labor was designated by the corregidor or Spanish cabildo.

The ability of indigenous officers to direct work on behalf of Spanish Lima was contested. When the municipality of Lima found itself helpless to keep the city’s streets clean in what was becoming a public health crisis in 1567, the cabildo called upon an Indian alguazil or constable to roust mitayos to remove the trash, dung, and other miasma-producing filth. While his post was originally called the “alguazil para negocios de yndios,” a paid mediator for disputes between indigenous and non-indigenous residents, he was largely viewed by the cabildo as someone who could arrange work crews, offering them food and a small fee for their labor. The alguazil was eventually deemed inadequate even to that job, and was replaced by a Spanish almotacén who oversaw indigenous crews beginning in 1580.66 By 1602, when Pablo Cusqui Giton held the still-existing office of Indian alguazil, it largely consisted of “clearing the tables of the Tribunal of the (Spanish) alcaldes and sweeping the floor.”67 Caciques had leeway in deciding which community members left to carry out mita service, and regularly refused to send the numbers requested, but control over their labor was increasingly ceded to Spanish officials and individuals.


Recent legal historiography has favored the analysis of multiple and overlapping jurisdictions as central to understanding how colonial society worked.68 But Spanish law tended to present Spanish and indigenous local governance as parallel ideals, with cabildos representing the commonwealth of the many republics organized throughout colonial space. From the perspective of the viceroy, only the Crown and its appointees could exercise final jurisdiction over these separate republics. In practice, though, what Spanish cabildos understood to be their common good often extended into the resources and physical spaces of indigenous pueblos. Thus local (municipal and town) jurisdiction could come to tense intersections. As Spaniards gained control over indigenous lands and pushed the boundaries of the city farther afield, these inevitable conflicts did not erase the Crown’s position that indigenous communities were entitled to manage their commonwealth.

Local jurisdiction was meaningful and contentious in early colonial Lima. Because of the lack of documentation, that meaning can only be teased out at those common points of conflict, where supposedly parallel jurisdictions intersected. The contention over jurisdiction involved not simply Spanish against indigenous parties, but a variety of levels of authority: Spanish cabildos refused to obey royal officials; royal officials as well as municipal ones sought control over indigenous resources; indigenous cabildos and caciques strove against one another to imprint their notion of justice on their communities. These contentious moments also mask long periods of what medieval Spanish historians have called convivencia, or a tense toleration of each other’s presence and self-governance.69 Those periods of relative peace or ignorance were where indigenous communities likely lived with less interference, and parallel play could be observed.

To reconstruct the indigenous side of this, an attempt has been made to tease out that indigenous jurisdiction from a parsimonious record, to ventriloquize indigenous political agency from a wide variety of records: litigation, wills, contracts, censuses, and ordinances. Treating the indigenous cabildos as institutions truly parallel to the Spanish cabildo of Lima, has enabled the outlines of possible indigenous actions to be inferred from a wider framework. Thus, the minutes of the Tlaxcalan cabildo, another parallel indigenous institution, have been examined for evidence of their ability to enforce their own norms with respect to distributing property, tax burdens, and labor. The indigenous cabildos of the Lima valley would likely have had their own norms for these key processes and would have drawn upon them when meeting the challenges posed by Lima. By recognizing that the indigenous cabildos had a común, which transformed over time and in conversation with Spanish republics and offices, an attempt has been made to locate those moments when jurisdictions were not parallel but intersected. The tensions over control of labor as well as land and other resources pinpoint those moments of entanglement.

Historians of the later colonial Andes, with many more documents from indigenous cabildos, have drawn attention to those political conflicts, and have also noted the use of the rhetoric of the común to represent the indigenous republic or commonwealth (also identified as the Quechua or Aymara sapsi or collective). During the 18th and 19th centuries, in the context of Andean insurgencies and Creole revolts against the Crown, these tensions were heightened, and produced political philosophy as well as bloodshed. Indeed, in that period the Toledan desire for non-elite officials to marginalize caciques finally manifested in many regions. These conflicts emerged from the political economy of the period, but also as a continuation of the expression of the (contested) common good as (contested) jurisdiction of the pueblo.70

Indigenous jurisdiction was always a moving target in the colonial world. The first hundred years of colonization were especially complex: indigenous and Spanish parties utilized different vocabularies, had different customary law, and misread one another (sometimes purposefully). The tense competition between jurisdictions, which manifested as extensions of each republic’s common good into the space of the other, diminished but did not extinguish indigenous governance. The tense toleration of the 16th century can be read, if only with creative aids, as a foundation for later indigenous political action and advocacy.

Discussion of the Literature

The topic of indigenous political jurisdiction is better developed in the literature on New Spain (Mexico), because of the presence of documents, often in indigenous languages, which historians have sometimes conflated with greater autonomy. The work of James Lockhart and his students (most of whom studied indigenous languages) created a cottage industry in examining local communities under colonial rule.71 In the Andes, where no such documentation exists, historians have had to read against the grain. While historians are not entirely dismissive of local rule, it has often been seen as intentionally corrupt or unintentionally self-destructive (Stern).72 An important exception is Abercrombie, who takes indigenous governance seriously despite the lack of documentation.73 Graubart proposes a method for finding evidence, expanded in the present article.74

Recent scholarship has focused upon indigenous elites as intellectuals, as in the essays in Ramos and Yannakakis or Penry’s study of political discourse during the Age of Andean Rebellion.75 Most of these find their material in the 18th century, when Andean elites were active litigants as well as sometimes rebels. A few scholars, like de la Puente Luna and Graubart have either located underused materials or critically read better-known documents to make the case for the earlier period.76

The history of the valley of Lima at conquest is told most strikingly by Rostworowski, whose exhaustive reading of colonial archives has unearthed a trove of information about the Pre-Hispanic and early colonial coast.77 The early development of the city of Lima is described brilliantly in two unpublished PhD theses, Morgado Maúrtua and Lowry.78 Coello de la Rosa takes up the foundation of the Cercado, though mostly from the perspective of the authorities who fought over its control.79 Flores-Zúñiga has published a set of books on the haciendas and towns surrounding Lima which gathers important environmental and archival information on the early period.80

Primary Sources

Lockhart, James, Frances Berdan, and Arthur J. O. Anderson. The Tlaxcalan Actas. A Compendium of the Records of the Cabildo of Tlaxcala (1545–1627). Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1986.

Concejo Provincial de Lima. Libros de Cabildos de Lima. Lima: Sanmartí y Cia., 1935.

Also online at Biblioteca Virtual, Municipalidad de Lima (1534–1839, missing 1540–1543).

Viceroy Francisco de Toledo. “Ordenanzas para los indios de todos los departamentos y pueblos de este reino.” In Relaciones de los Vireyes y Audiencias que han gobernado el Perú. Tomo I. Edited by Sebastián Lorente, 155–266. Lima: Imprenta del estado por J.E. del Campo, 1867.

Further Reading

Abercrombie, Thomas. Pathways of Memory and Power: Ethnography and History among an Andean People. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Benton, Lauren. Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Charney, Paul. Indian Society in the Valley of Lima, Peru, 1532–1824. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001.Find this resource:

Cline, Sarah. Colonial Culhuacán, 1580–1600. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986.Find this resource:

Coello de la Rosa, Alexandre. Espacios de exclusión, espacios de poder: El Cercado de Lima colonial (1568–1606). Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú/Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2006.Find this resource:

de la Puente Luna, José Carlos. “That Which Belongs to All: Khipus, Community, and Indigenous Legal Activism in the Early Colonial Andes.” Americas 72.1 (January 2015): 19–54.Find this resource:

de la Puente Luna, José Carlos. “‘En lengua de indios y lengua española’: Cabildos de naturales y escritura alfabética en el Perú colonial.” Unpublished manuscript, May 2015.Find this resource:

Espinoza Soriano, Waldemar. “El alcalde mayor indígena en el virreinato del Perú.” Anuario de Estudios Americanos (1960): 183–300.Find this resource:

Flores-Zúñiga, Fernando. Haciendas y pueblos de Lima. 3 Tomos. Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú/Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima, 2008.Find this resource:

Graubart, Karen B. “Learning from the Qadi: The Jurisdiction of Local Rule in the Early Colonial Andes.” Hispanic American Historical Review 95.2 (2015): 195–228.Find this resource:

Herzog, Tamar. Defining Nations. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Herzog, Tamar. “Colonial Law and ‘Native Customs’: Indigenous Land Rights in Colonial Spanish America.” Americas 69.3 (2013): 303–321.Find this resource:

Lockhart, James. The Nahuas after the Conquest. A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Lowry, Lyn Brandon. “Forging an Indian Nation: Urban Indians under Spanish Colonial Control (Lima, Peru, 1535–1765).” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1991.Find this resource:

Moore, John Preston. The Cabildo in Peru under the Hapsburgs. A Study in the Origins and Powers of the Town Council in the Viceroyalty of Peru 1530–1700. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1954.Find this resource:

Morgado Maúrtua, Patricia. “Un palimpsesto urbano: Del asiento indígena de Lima a la ciudad española de Los Reyes.” PhD diss., Universidad de Sevilla, 2007.Find this resource:

Owensby, Brian. Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Penry, S. Elizabeth. “The Rey Común: Indigenous Political Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Alto Perú.” In The Collective and the Public in Latin America: Cultural Identities and Political Order. Edited by Luis Roniger and Tamar Herzog, 219–237. Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2000.Find this resource:

Ramos, Gabriela, and Yanna Yannakakis, eds. Indigenous Intellectuals. Knowledge, Power, and Colonial Culture in Mexico and the Andes. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Rostworowski de Diez Canseco, María. Señoríos indígenas de Lima y Canta. Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1978.Find this resource:

Vergara Ormeño, Teresa. Hombres, tierras y productos: Los valles comarcanos de Lima, 1532–1650. Cuadernos de Investigación. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Instituto Riva-Agüero, 1995.Find this resource:

Yannakakis, Yanna. “Indigenous People and Legal Culture in Spanish America.” History Compass 11 (2013): 931–947.Find this resource:


(1.) Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, “Ordenanzas para los indios de todos los departamentos y pueblos de este reino,” in Relaciones de los Vireyes y Audiencias que han gobernado el Perú, ed. Sebastián Lorente(Lima, Imprenta del estado por J.E. del Campo, 1867), Tomo I, 162. “[L]es doy en nombre de SM poder para que puedan conocer, y conozcan de todos los pleitos civiles, que tuvieren unos indios con otros, como no suban de cantidad de treinta pesos de plata corriente, porque de los tales ha de conocer de ellos el corregidor. Y ordeno y mando, que no conozcan los dichos alcaldes de pleitos que tuvieren Cacique con Cacique, ni indios particulares con los caciques principales, ni del pleito sobre cacicazgo ni de tierras que litigue un pueblo con otro, ni sobre indios a quien deban pertenecer, porque de todo esto ha de conocer el corregidor. Y permito que los dichos alcaldes conozcan de pleitos de chacras que usurpan unos indios con otros de los de su distrito; en todo lo cual no han de escribir, porque lo han de hacer sumariamente.”

(2.) Toledo built upon earlier legislation (particular instructions issued by Audiencia President La Gasca for reorganizing indigenous towns in 1549) as well as the advice of jurist Juan de Matienzo. See Thomas Abercrombie, Pathways of Memory and Power. Ethnography and History among an Andean People (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 237–258; and Waldemar Espinoza Soriano, “El Alcalde Mayor Indígena en el Virreinato del Perú,” Anuario de Estudios Americanos 17 (1960): 200–202.

(3.) Little is still known about indigenous scribes in cabildos. See Kathryn Burns, “Making Indigenous Archives: The Quilcacamayoc of Colonial Cuzco,” in Indigenous Intellectuals. Knowledge, Power, and Colonial Culture in Mexico and the Andes, ed. Gabriela Ramos and Yanna Yannakakis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 237–260; and Jose Carlos de la Puente Luna, “‘En lengua de indios y lengua española’: Cabildos de naturales y escritura alfabética en el Perú colonial,” unpublished manuscript, May 2015.

(4.) Deborah Kirschberg Schenck y Marcos Fernández Gómez, El concejo de Sevilla en la Edad Media (1248–1454) II Tomos (Sevilla: Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, 2002).

(5.) See Karen B. Graubart, “Learning from the Qadi: The Jurisdiction of Local Rule in the Early Colonial Andes,” Hispanic American Historical Review 95.2 (2015): 195–228.

(6.) Quoted in Guillermo Lohmann Villena, Los regidores perpetuos del cabildo de Lima (1535–1821): Crónica y estudio de un grupo de gestión (Sevilla: Excma. Diputación Provincial de Sevilla, 1983), 15.

(7.) John Preston Moore, The Cabildo in Peru under the Hapsburgs. A Study in the Origins and Powers of the Town Council in the Viceroyalty of Peru 1530–1700 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1954), chap. 2; see also Helen Nader, Liberty in Absolutist Spain: The Habsburg Sale of Towns, 1516–1700 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990); and Guillermo Lohmann Villena, El Corregidor de indios en el Perú bajo los Austrias (Lima: PUCP, 2001).

(8.) Moore, The Cabildo in Peru, chap. 5, especially 80–81; and Alejandra B. Osorio, Inventing Lima: Baroque Modernity in Peru’s South Sea Metropolis (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 49.

(9.) Lohmann Villena, El Corregidor de indios, chap. 3. For the Mexican case, which differed in important ways, see Brian Owensby, Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008).

(10.) Graubart, “Learning from the Qadi,” and “Ynuvaciones malas e rreprovadas: Justice and Jurisdiction in the Early Colonial Lima Valley,” unpublished manuscript, 2015.

(11.) The fragmentary minutes are published as James Lockhart, Frances Berdan, and Arthur J. O. Anderson, The Tlaxcalan Actas: A Compendium of the Records of the Cabildo of Tlaxcala (1545–1627) (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1986). Other extant indigenous cabildo records are discussed in Yanna Yannakakis, “Indigenous People and Legal Culture in Spanish America,” History Compass 11 (2013): 931–947; most of these are 18th century.

(12.) R. Jovita Baber, “Empire, Indians, and the Negotiation for the Status of City in Tlaxcala, 1521–1550,” in Negotiation within Domination, eds. Ethelia Ruiz Medrano and Susan Kellogg (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2010): 19–44. The language calling Tlaxcala a republic comes from ordinances of 1563, gathered in Spain, Recopilación de Leyes de Indias (Madrid: Anton Perez de Soto, 1774), Book VI. title I, laws 39 y 40.

(13.) Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla (hereafter AGI), Indiferente 532 (1549), f. 27v–28r, transcribed in Abercrombie, Pathways of Memory and Power, 428–429.

(14.) María Rostworowski, Señoríos indígenas de Lima y Canta (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1978).

(15.) Absolute numbers are not known for the conquest period. I take the low estimates from Cárdenas Ayaipoma, La población aborígen en Lima colonial (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2014), table 2.

(16.) On the flexible meaning of citizenship (vecindad) in Lima during this period, see Tamar Herzog, Defining Nations (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 50–52.

(17.) Moore, The Cabildo in Peru, 78. In some locations, the governor or viceroy selected officers from a slate of candidates proposed by the cabildo.

(18.) Moore, The Cabildo in Peru, 82–83. On merchants in Lima and the power they wielded through the Consulado, see Margarita Suárez, Desafíos transatlánticos: Mercaderes, banqeros y el estado en el Perú, 1600–1700 (Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2001).

(19.) Teresa Vergara Ormeño, “Hombres, tierras y productos: Los valles comarcanos de Lima (1532–1650),” (Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 1995), 7.

(20.) Toledo, Ordenanzas, 158–159.

(21.) E.g., Don Cristobal Xuto Chumbi, cacique of Lati, noted that his governador was his uncle Don Francisco Yuyamaxi. Archivo General de la Nación (Lima), (hereafter AGN) Protocolos Notariales (PN) 29 de la Cueva 1579–1580 f. 326v (July 4, 1580). When a woman inherited the office of cacica, her husband might be appointed governador: Karen B. Graubart, With Our Labor and Sweat: Indigenous Women and the Formation of Colonial Society in Peru, 1550–1700 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007), 180–181.

(22.) Spain, Recopilación de Leyes de Indias, Book 6, title 3, law 16. “Tendran jurisdicion los Indios Alcaldes solamente para inquirir, prender, y traer a los delinquentes a la Carcel del Pueblo de Españoles de aquel distrito; pero podrán castigar con un dia de prision, seis u ocho azotes al Indio que faltare a la Missa el dia de Fiesta, o se embriagare, o hiciere otra falta semejante . . . dexando a los Caciques lo que fuere repartimiento de las mitas de sus Indios, estará al govierno de los Pueblos a cargo de los dichos Alcaldes, y Regidores en quanto a lo universal.”

(23.) “Carta del marqués de Cañete, Virrey del Perú, a S.M.,” September 15, 1556, in Roberto Levillier, Gobernantes del Perú (Madrid: Rivadeneyra, 1921), I, 290.

(24.) AGI Patronato 187, ramo 14 (1550).

(25.) de la Puente Luna, “‘En lengua de yndios,” appendix.

(26.) Susan Ramírez, The World Upside Down: Cross-Cultural Contact and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Peru (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996), 33–34; Steve Stern, Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 132–137; and Graubart, With Our Labor and Sweat, chap. 5.

(27.) Graubart, “Learning from the Qadi,” 213–216.

(28.) Lockhart, et al., The Tlaxcalan Actas, 49.

(29.) Ibid., 3.

(30.) On coastal forms of succession, see María Rostworowski, Curacas y sucesiones, costa norte (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1961); and Graubart, With Our Labor and Sweat, chap. 5.

(31.) Paul Charney, Indian Society in the Valley of Lima, Peru, 1532–1824 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001), 81.

(32.) AGN PN 136 Estéban Pérez, f. 1083 (October 17, 1589).

(33.) “[P]orque habiendo comenzado a entender y negociar los dichos naturales ante el corregidor y ordinarios, los dichos alcaldes de los dichos naturales buscan causas y las inventan para los apremiar y maltratar . . . ” Richard Konetzke, Colección de documentos para la historia de la formación social de Hispanoamérica 1493–1810 (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1953), I, 431–432.

(34.) Don Martín was resident in Lima at the time. AGN PN 33 Esquivel (1569–1577), f. 529, 536.

(35.) Miguel de Contreras, Padrón de los indios de Lima en 1613 (Lima: Universidad Nacional de San Marcos, 1968), see 5–6 especially. On the roles of auxiliaries to the corregidor, see Lohmann Villena, El corregidor, 453.

(36.) The history of the founding of the Cercado is told in Alexandre Coello de la Rosa, Espacios de exclusión, espacios de poder: El Cercado de Lima colonial (1568–1606) (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos/Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú Fondo Editorial, 2006).

(37.) More is known about its 18th-century leadership; see Alcira Dueñas, “The Lima Indian Letrados: Remaking the República de Indios in the Bourbon Andes,” Americas 72.1 (January 2015): 55–75.

(38.) Lyn Brandon Lowry, “Forging an Indian Nation: Urban Indians under Spanish Colonial Control (Lima, Peru, 1535–1765),” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1991, 131–132.

(39.) Unlike Spain, where the vast majority of the population was classified as pecheros or tax payers, taxation in the New World came to mark explicit (and eventually racial) difference. It was assessed along the lines of the tax placed upon members of religious minorities in Iberia before 1502. The close association of Indians (as well as free Africans and those descended from them) and tribute supported a racialized whiteness and related hierarchical privileges in the colonies. Cynthia Milton and Ben Vinson III, “Counting Heads: Race and Non-Native Tribute Policy in Colonial Spanish America,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 3.3 (2002). See also Sherwin Bryant, Rivers of Gold, Lives of Bondage: Governing through Slavery in Colonial Quito (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), chap. 1.

(40.) María Rostworowski, “La tasa toledana de Capachica,” in Ensayos de Historia Andina (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1993), 399–401.

(41.) Who was exempt was a contentious point: caciques, segunda personas (often caciques of a subordinate ayllu) and their primary heirs were always exempt, as were non-elites serving on cabildos and those serving local priests. Toledo narrowed exemptions explicitly to undercut indigenous claims to a Spanish-style nobility.

(42.) Viceroy Mendoza investigated Meso-American tribute practices and had a pictorial and alphabetic manuscript, now known as the Codez Mendoza, produced by indigenous scribes as part of his assessment of what he might demand of communities. Frances Berdan and Patricia Reiff Anawalt, The Essential Codex Mendoza (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

(43.) Lockhart, et al., The Tlaxcalan Actas, 37. A fanega is a unit of dry measure roughly equivalent to 1.5 bushels.

(44.) Juan Polo de Ondegardo, “Relación de los fundamentos acerca del notable daño que resulta de no guardar a los indios sus fueros,” Informaciones acerca de la Religión y Gobierno de los Incas (Lima: Sanmartí, 1916): 127.

(45.) Polo, “Relación de los fundamentos,” 136; see José Carlos de la Puente Luna, “That Which Belongs to All: Khipus, Community, and Indigenous Legal Activism in the Colonial Andes,” Americas 72.1 (2015): 30.

(46.) Guillermo Lohmann Villena, “El Testamento del curaca de Lima Don Gonzalo Taulichusco (1562),” Revista del Archivo General de la Nación 7 (1984): 271.

(47.) AGN PN 33 Esquivel (1569–1577): f. 730–734v (March 1577).

(48.) On the ways that changing land use, particularly for pasturage, led to economic and social transformation in the Mexican case, see Elinor Melville, A Plague of Sheep. Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1997). The development of haciendas is detailed in Nicholas P. Cushner, Lords of the Land. Sugar, Wine, and Jesuit Estates of Coastal Peru, 1600–1767 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980).

(49.) Vergara Ormeño, “Hombres, tierras y productos,” 16–19. On the Spanish reorganization of land, see Nader, Liberty in Absolutist Spain. On the theoretical implications of the redefinition of underused property as grounds for its expropriation, particular as a foreshadowing of Lockean property law, see Tamar Herzog, “Colonial Law and ‘Native Customs’: Indigenous Land Rights in Colonial Spanish America.” Americas 69.3 (2013): 303–321.

(50.) AGN PN 22 Castillejo, f. 1236 (April 4, 1602).

(51.) For an analysis of these documents, see Graubart, “Ynuvaciones malas e rreprovadas.”

(52.) Late was again the sole community renting out its lands collectively. AGN PN 1533 Piñeda (1612–1613), f. 43.

(53.) Patricia Netherly, “The Management of Late Andean Irrigation Systems on the North Coast of Peru,” Society for American Archaeology 49.2 (1984): 225–254; and Rostworowski, Señoríos indígenas de Lima y Canta, 52–53.

(54.) Taulichusco apparently believed that, when he turned Lima over to Pizarro, he also gave the responsibility for maintaining the area’s canals. AGI, Lima, 204, N. 22, f. 3v. “Informaciones: Gonzalo, cacique” (December 6,1555).

(55.) See Kathleen Kole de Peralta, “The Nature of Colonial Bodies: Public Health in Lima, Peru, 1535–1635,” PhD diss., University of Notre Dame, 2015, chap. 2.

(56.) “Probanza de los yanaconas de marqués don Francisco Pizarro,” Biblioteca Nacional del Perú (BNP), A15 (1550); and Paul Charney, Indian Society, 14.

(57.) Rostworowski, Señorios indígenas de Lima y Canta, 191.

(58.) Concejo Provincial de Lima, Libros de Cabildos de Lima (Lima: Sanmartí y Cia., 1935), vol. 7, p. 619 (July 12, 1574).

(59.) AGN Aguas l. 1 c., (1630); see also Cushner, Lords of the Land, 49–52.

(60.) On the Inca tampu, see John Hyslop, The Inka Road System (Orlando, FL: Academic Press, 1984), chap. 19; on the Iberian variant of the fondaco, see Olivia Remie Constable, Housing the Stranger in the Mediterranean World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

(61.) For example, Garci Díez de San Miguel, Visita hecha a la provincia de Chucuito en el año 1567 (Lima: Casa de Cultura, 1964), 213.

(62.) For example, AGN PN 1533 Piñeda, September 24, 1612, f. 259 and May 7, 1612, f. 132v.

(63.) Charney, Indian Society, 93. “Autos que a nombre de su comun siguió don Juan Tantachumbi . . . ” AGN Derecho Indígena c. 635 5ff. (1688).

(64.) Testamento de Costança Ticlla, AGN Testamentos de Indios (TI) leg 1, 1596; and Testamento de María Capan, AGN TI leg 1, 1596. See Graubart, “’Ynuvaciones malas,” 29–31.

(65.) Lockhart, et al., The Tlaxcalan Actas, 44–45. The corregidor and Spanish cabildo asserted jurisdiction over ascribing punishment for idle potential laborers, though the Tlaxcalan cabildo carried it out.

(66.) Concejo de Lima, Libros de Cabildos, 10:147 and 12:45. Also see Kole, “The Nature of Colonial Bodies,” 144–148.

(67.) Concejo de Lima, Libros de Cabildos 6: 486–487; 13: 521; 14: 199.

(68.) Lauren Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Graubart, “Learning From the Qadi”; Owensby, Empire of Law and Indian Justice; and Lauren Benton and Richard Ross, Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500–1850 (New York: New York University Press, 2013).

(69.) The term convivencia itself is contentious; I use it here to mark the fact that real violence and conflict could punctuate a longer field of lower tension, and to draw the connection to an earlier moment of Iberian history. For an important statement of critique see Maya Soifer, “Beyond convivencia: Critical Reflections on the Historiography of Interfaith Relations in Christian Spain,” Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 1.1 (2009): 19–35.

(70.) See S. Elizabeth Penry, “The Rey Común: Indigenous Political Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Alto Perú,” in The Collective and the Public in Latin America. Cultural Identities and Political Order, eds. Luis Roniger and Tamar Herzog (Brighton, U.K.: Sussex Academic Press, 2000): 219–237. On sapsi, also see José Carlos de la Puente Luna, “That Which Belongs to All: Khipus, Community, and Indigenous Legal Activism in the Early Colonial Andes,” Americas 72.1 (January 2015): 19–54.

(71.) James Lockhart, The Nahuas after the Conquest. A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992). An important study of Mexican indigenous cabildos is Sarah Cline, Colonial Culhuacán, 1580–160 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986).

(72.) The ambivalent role of caciques in the colonization of the Andes is laid out in Karen Spalding, “Social Climbers: Changing Patterns of Mobility among the Indians of Colonial Peru,” Hispanic American Historical Review 50.4 (November 1970): 645–664; and Steve J. Stern, Peru’s Indians Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982).

(73.) Abercrombie, Pathways of Memory and Power.

(74.) Graubart, “Learning from the Qadi.”

(75.) Gabriela Ramos and Yanna Yannakakis, eds., Indigenous Intellectuals. Knowledge, Power, and Colonial Culture in Mexico and the Andes ((Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); and Penry, “The Rey Común.”

(76.) de la Puente Luna, “En lengua de indios y lengua española”; and Graubart, “Learning from the Qadi,” and “Ynuvaciones malas.”

(77.) Rostworowski, Señoríos indígenas de Lima y Canta.

(78.) Patricia Morgado Maúrtua, “Un palimpsesto urbano: Del asiento indígena de Lima a la ciudad española de Los Reyes,” PhD diss., Universidad de Sevilla, 2007; and Lowry, “Forging an Indian Nation.”

(79.) Coello de la Rosa, Espacios de exclusión, espacios de poder.

(80.) Fernando Flores-Zúñiga, Haciendas y pueblos de Lima. 3 Tomos (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2008).