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Colonial society was far more complex internally than the Spaniards’ abstract juridical notion of two “republics”—one Spanish and one Indian—would suggest. Within indigenous society itself, there were hierarchical gradations, with the stratum of In-dian nobility and caciques or mallkus at the top. As community representatives, the caciques served as crucial cultural intermediaries with Spanish society and as the indispensable linchpin in the system of indirect colonial rule. Under the institutional regime established by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, they collected tribute, organized mita labor, and preserved local order for the Crown.

In 1638, a century after the defeat of the Charka...

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