On July 4, 1670, the Viceroy Conde de Lemos wrote to his sovereign, Queen Mariana, to propose nothing less than the abolition of the Potosí mita.1 His decision to destroy the institution that many of his contemporaries considered the very foundation of the royal treasury in Peru came after three exhausting years of effort on his part to reform the system. The origins of Lemos’s proposal and its fate once it had been dispatched to Madrid reflect the changes that had taken place in the mita since its inception, the power and influence of the miners’ guild at Potosí, and the difficulties that plagued the Hapsburg administration of Upper Peru.

When he arrived in Lima in November 1667, the Conde de Lemos inherited the responsibility for administering a mita that barely resembled the draft labor regimen inaugurated by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo nearly a century earlier. Toledo had required that one-seventh of the adult male Indian population of sixteen altiplano provinces serve as common laborers in the mines and silver mills of Potosí each year, on a rotating basis. Of the nearly 90,000 male Indians between the ages of 18 and 50 found by his population count, Toledo required that 13,500 travel to Potosí from their “home” villages (in which they had been placed under an extensive resettlement program conducted by the same viceroy) and once there to work in three shifts of 4,500 each. An Indian was thus to work one week and have the following two to rest, to serve as a minga (“voluntary laborer”), or to engage in personal enterprise. Natives who lived in provinces on the frontier with unconquered Indians or in cities (which needed their labor for other purposes) were spared. Toledo held the corregidors of the sixteen obligated provinces responsible for sending the required number of mitayos (“Indians serving in the mita”) to Potosí. A kuraka (“Indian noble”) was to be chosen by each corregidor to escort the mitayos to the mining center, to oversee their tenure there, and to lead them home at the end of the year.2

In concert with the introduction of amalgamation technology in 1572, the exploitation of desmontes (“slag heaps”) of theretofore unrefinable ore mined since work began at Potosí in 1545, and a large capital investment by the miners, the mita’s foundation spurred a silver production boom that lasted into the 1580s.3 The exhaustion of the desmontes by 1577, however, caused a serious dislocation in the boom production formula.4 As the mine and mill owners’ (now called azogueros) profits began to fall, albeit from exceedingly high levels, they became increasingly demanding of the mitayos. The Indians’ privilege of working in the mines on weekends for their own profit (kapcha) was attacked by the azogueros’ guild, and the mitayos were kept from leaving the mountain during the week, so that they might work more and not have an opportunity to steal valuable nuggets under cover of darkness.5 Illegal quotas were required of the mitayos as well, by which they had to carry out some nineteen loads of ore per day.6

The crackdown on the mitayos by the azogueros is indicative of the increased importance of the former to the production of silver at Potosí. With the desmontes exhausted, the mitayos were left as the only means of obtaining ore for the silver mills. Mingas refused to toil in the mines carrying ore unless they were paid nine pesos per week—a mitayo received only two and one-half—and they generally were employed in the mills rather than in the mines.7

As the pressure on the mitayos increased, and their own share of the mountain’s silver decreased, the Indians who were obligated to serve in the mita began to flee from their homes, and to move into the exempted provinces and cities (including Potosí itself).8 Even within the sixteen mita provinces, once the Indians were away from their “home” villages, they became forasteros (“outsiders”), and were exempted from mita service by Toledo’s mita ordinances.9 The slow but steady fall in silver production at Potosí in the seventeenth century was accompanied, therefore, by a decline in the available population in those areas that were subject to the mita. Indeed, the two phenomena contributed to one another.

By the mid-1600s, the mita had evolved, in response to Indian migration and falling silver production at Potosí, into part draft labor system and part cash subsidy for the azogueros. The metamorphosis began around the turn of the century, as it became more and more difficult to find enough eligible Indians to send to Potosí.10 The provincial corregidors left the kurakas to answer to the angry azogueros when they arrived in the mining center with only a fraction of the required Indians.11 The azogueros, backed by the corregidor of Potosí, demanded that the kurakas pay them nine (later, seven and one-half) pesos for every Indian that they failed to deliver, ostensibly so that a minga might be hired in his place. The payments did little to induce the kurakas to deliver more mitayos, as they had already exhausted all the effective recruitment techniques at their disposal (e.g., forcing individual Indians to serve longer periods at Potosí than were officially permitted). The payments therefore evolved into an integral part of the de facto mita, with the money collected from the kurakas coming to be known as “Indians in silver” (indios en plata) and the practice as “service in silver” (servicio en plata).12

To raise the money to meet the azogueros demands, the kurahas resorted to the sale and rental of communal lands (and those left by long-absent refugees), forced donations among exempted Indians (women, old men, forasteros, and yanaconas), and other devices.13 Even with the changing character of the de facto mita, however, the total number of mitayos at Potosí declined. By 1665, the roughly 4,000 Indians per week required by every repartimiento de la mita since Toledo’s second assignment of mitayos in 1575 fell to an effective 2,500, with one-third to one-half of those in silver.14 The pressure on the kurakas to deliver more Indians and money increased, moreover, as the total delivery fell ever lower.

The azogueros of Potosí encouraged the development of mita service in silver. Faced with declining quality in the ore extracted from the mines, rising mercury expenses, water shortages, and costly minga labor, the azogueros found a welcome new source of operating funds in the payments the kurakas made in lieu of Indians. They used some of the money to pay their nonlabor production expenses rather than to hire mingas.15 The total work force was constricted as a result, and the overall level of silver production was curtailed, but the azogueros thereby assured themselves of continued profits. Without the payments in silver, many of them would have been forced to close down their operations.

The transformation of the mita into a cash subsidy was patently illegal. Francisco de Toledo’s ordinances for the mita and subsequent royal and viceregal decrees on the system banned such conversion of the mita into cash payments to the azogueros. Thus, when the miners failed to use the silver they received from the kurakas to hire mingas, the viceregal administration in Lima charged the azogueros with fraud; this gave rise to the term “pocket Indian” (indio de faltriquera), as the “Indians in silver” were said to remain in the miners’ pockets.

The viceroys of Peru were responsible for administering the mita, and they led the government’s opposition to the practice of “pocket Indians,” also known as misuse (mal uso) of the mita.16 The effectiveness of the viceroys was hampered by their isolation, physical and bureaucratic, from events in Upper Peru. During the sixteenth century, the crown exhorted its viceroys to tour the entire realm upon their arrival in Peru, but the practice was halted after Luis de Velasco’s administration (1596-1604), as the tours proved too expensive for the royal treasury to support.17 Travel between Lima and Potosí took a month and a half in either direction; and correspondence was a prolonged and tedious exercise. Seventeenth-century viceroys therefore had to rely upon local government officials to provide them with information, to execute their decrees, and to make interim decisions in emergency situations. Corregidors of Potosí were responsible for overseeing the mita on a daily basis, and for the level of silver production in general. Presidents of the Audiencia of La Plata were charged with monitoring the distribution of mercury (a royal monopoly) from the crown’s warehouses and the dispatch of refined silver to Lima in armed convoys; and they were often called upon to draft a new repartimiento de la mita.18 The corregidors of Potosí and the presidents of La Plata were expected to balance viceregal orders with the Potosinos ability to comply, but under intense pressure from the azogueros—including bribes and threats of physical violence—these officials usually diluted viceregal edicts to such an extent that the status quo at Potosí was not seriously threatened.19

The status quo, it should be remembered, was not entirely satisfactory for the azogueros either. Pinched by lowering levels of silver production and rising costs, they petitioned the crown to grant them new concessions that would legally lower their expenses: (a) a reduction of the royal share of production from one-fifth to one-tenth; (b) a lower price for mercury; and (c) the incorporation of more provinces than the original sixteen, as well as yanaconas and forasteros, in the mita, to bring the effective number of mitayos to 4,000 per week. Had the crown granted their requests, the azogueros’ misuse of mita service in silver might not have been so extensive, but the crown refused to honor the azogueros’ petitions.20

The viceroys in Lima were responsible in large part for the failure of the azogueros to secure further aid from the crown. The miners guild submitted petition after petition, replete with documentation, to prove that the silver industry would soon collapse without further concessions. The azogueros never admitted that they were indulging in misuse of the mita to do so would have been to prove themselves unworthy of royal assistance—and instead claimed that they were spending their personal fortunes to keep the Potosí silver industry afloat. The viceroys countered that the azogueros were simply defrauding their sovereign through their misuse of the mita, and that they would similarly abuse any further concessions. The proof that the viceroys offered to support their assertion was the azogueros continuing survival despite their failure to win new concessions.21 The arguments advanced by the two sides in this controversy were so divergent that the Council of the Indies in Madrid was unable to make a clear judgment on the matter, and so postponed a decision from year to year.22

As long as the local officials in Upper Peru were “persuaded” by the azogueros not to tamper with the de facto mita, the miners could survive without the new concessions. On those few occasions when the viceroys circumvented the local officials, however, the azogueros’ struggle against the authorities in Lima assumed a more desperate character. In 1633, for example, the Viceroy Conde de Chinchón (1629-38) broke with tradition to send an outsider—Visitador Juan de Carvajal y Sande—to Potosí to draft a new repartimiento de la mita. This action was taken because the government had proven unable to return the widely scattered Indians to their home villages, and thus to rebuild the population pool that supported the mita. By instructing Carvajal to exclude from the new repartimiento every azoguero who had misused mita service in silver, the viceroy hoped to lower the number of mitayos assigned to Potosí to a level more proportionate to the current available population of the obligated provinces.23

Carvajal did not comply with his orders to reduce the total number of mitayos assigned to Potosí, but he did strip Indians from many of the azogueros for the past misuse of the mita. His actions precipitated a counterassault, led by President Juan de Lizarazu of La Plata. He and the azogueros warned the Council of the Indies that Carvajal’s actions would destroy the Potosí silver industry. Fearful of losing the silver produced by Potosí each year, the council responded to the Potosinos threats by ordering the Viceroy Conde de Chinchón to rectify the situation in the mining center to the azogueros’ satisfaction.24

After the Viceroy Marqués de Mancera (1638-48) equivocated in his attempt to replace the Carvajal repartimiento—because of his growing doubts that the azogueros deserved such an effort on their behalf the Council of the Indies decided to intervene directly. During the early 1650s, it ordered a two-part program, which called for a new repartimiento de la mita that would incorporate some previously exempted areas, and the elimination of all misuse of the mita. The first measure, the councillors surmised, would make the azogueros misuse of the mita unnecessary. They turned down the miners’ requests for a lower mercury price and a reduction of the royal share of silver production; those measures would have meant an immediate loss of crown revenue, with only the azogueros promises that production would rise in return.25

Because the Viceroys Conde de Salvatierra (1648-55) and Conde de Alba (1656-61) considered the completion of the expanded repartimiento impossible, owing to the need for a prerequisite census, and because they feared that the antimisuse campaign might lower the already falling levels of silver production at Potosí, they did their best to pass on to their successors the responsibility for compliance with the council’s orders. Each viceroy understood that his record in office would depend in large part on the production of crown revenue during his tenure. By 1659, however, the Conde de Alba could no longer postpone the issue, and he sent a representative to Potosí to prepare for the implementation of the council’s program. This action precipitated the second circumvention of the local officials at Potosí. To preclude the probable local interference, Alba gave his representative powers superior to those of either the president of La Plata or the corregidor of Potosí. He named Friar Francisco de la Cruz (bishop-elect of Santa Marta, in Nueva Granada) superintendent of the mita, with full authority to act as he deemed necessary. Cruz, nevertheless, was ordered in secret to consult with the viceroy before taking any action of major consequence.26

Once in Potosí, however, the superintendent broke with his secret orders and moved quickly to implement the antiabuse component of the council’s program, even though the new repartimiento was still unfinished. He was moved to act by two particularly repugnant characteristics of the de facto mita: the torture of kurakas by the azogueros to extract optimal levels of mita service in silver; and rezagos de mita—the demand that past failures to remit sufficient mitayos be satisfied with “Indians in silver” during the current year. Cruz ordered an end to all service in silver, and he decreed that the kurakas were not to be held responsible for deliveries of mitayos over the number provided to them by the corregidors of their provinces. Because the superintendent’s orders were not subject to revision by the corregidor of Potosí, and because President Nestares Marín of La Plata was sympathetic to Cruz’s demands (he was also a visitador who had suffered his own troubles with the miners), Cruz’s orders threatened to disrupt the de facto mita. The azogueros responded accordingly; on an April evening in 1660 they murdered Francisco de la Cruz by poisoning his chocolate.27

Cruz was followed by two other, more prudent superintendents of the mita: first, Bartolomé de Salazar; and then, Pedro Vázquez de Velasco. As Nestares Marín had been killed the same night as Cruz, Salazar and Vázquez also assumed the duties of the presidency of La Plata. They entered that joint post supremely confident that they would overcome the difficulties that had defeated their predecessor. They, however, grew frustrated in the face of opposition from the azogueros, the corregidor of Potosí, and often the viceroys themselves, and thus in sum by their inability to reform the situation at Potosí.28

Finally, on January 20, 1665, after years of diligent but futile effort, Pedro Vázquez de Velasco proposed to the Viceroy Conde de Santisteban (1661-66) that the mita be abolished altogether. That was the only way, he argued, to end the abuses that permeated the system. Vázquez reiterated his call for the abolition of the mita in January 1666, after Santisteban had proposed various means of implementing an expanded repartimiento without first conducting a census. Vázquez’s proposal had not been acted upon before Viceroy Santisteban’s death in early 1666 or thereafter by the Audiencia of Lima, and thus awaited viceregal review when the Conde de Lemos arrived in Lima.29

Such was the situation when the Conde de Lemos assumed the duties of viceroy of Peru in 1667. The azogueros had successfully protected the de facto mita from outside interference, with the assistance of the corregidor of Potosí, but they had been unable to win the replacement of the 1633 repartimiento de la mita. Three superintendents of the mita had been thoroughly frustrated in their efforts to alter the status quo in the mining center. And viceregal influence at Potosí had been limited to undercutting the efforts of the azogueros to win new concessions and postponing the execution of the new, expanded repartimiento ordered by the Council of the Indies in the 1650s.

The Conde de Lemos brought with him to Lima secret orders from the Conde de Peñaranda, president of the Council of the Indies, and Queen Mariana. Peñaranda instructed Lemos to carry out the decisions reached by the council vis-à-vis Potosí in the 1650s, and to reverse the pattern of deficit spending that his predecessors had set.30 Queen Mariana entrusted her conscience to Lemos. She ordered him to strive to free the Indians from the oppressive demands of the colonists. Thus, to comply with all of his secret orders, the new viceroy would have to find some way to boost silver production while lessening the pressure on the Indians.31 Both Peñaranda and the queen exhorted Lemos to be more effective than had his predecessors; and indeed he would prove to take their instructions more seriously than had other viceroys.

The Conde de Lemos wrote to the crown on March 4, 1668, to report that the solution of the problems plaguing the Potosí mita would require three steps:

The first is an inspection of the mills, mines, and other holdings, and this can be completed by the president of Chuquisaca [La Plata] in two months. The second is the distribution of the Indians to the miners, according to the mines, mills, and workings that they own. This I can do without leaving Lima. The third is the determination of the Indians in the provinces subject to the Potosí mita. This can only be accomplished by the archbishop of Charcas, because the miners, the Indians, and the government all lack the means to pay for a census. If Your Majesty, accepting this assessment of the situation, should name to that post an individual of sufficient age and intelligence, then I could adjust the mita to everyone’s satisfaction within six months.32

The viceroy relied heavily upon the advice of Juan de Ibarra, visitador to the Audiencia of Lima, in the formation of this plan. Ibarra dismissed as impractical the proposals that more provinces be included in the mita or that a resettlement program be conducted in the sixteen obligated provinces. A census to determine the native population of the sixteen mita provinces was needed, he argued, and could only be accomplished through ecclesiastical channels. The government would thereby save the 200,000 pesos in salaries that an enumeration would otherwise cost. In the event that the results showed an insufficient number of Indians, Ibarra suggested the inclusion in the mita of all the Indians living in Potosí and the yanaconas residing in La Plata and La Paz.33

The Conde de Lemos sent the complete version of Ibarra’s plan to Madrid with a letter dated January 26, 1669. He argued that no other means were available if the new repartimiento was to be accomplished. Because the visitador’s suggestions were novel and had not been provided for by any previous royal order, Lemos said that he would not proceed with the ecclesiastical census until Queen Mariana had given her consent.34

While the viceroy and Ibarra concerned themselves with the logistics of a census, the need for a new repartimiento was underscored by Corregidor of Potosí Luis Antonio de Oviedo. Oviedo reported that a mere 2.124.5 mitayos made up the current weekly total: 1,424 in person and 700.5 in silver. He assured the viceroy and the crown that silver production at Potosí would improve dramatically if the number of Indians assigned to the mining zone were increased. The corregidor argued, moreover, that mita service in silver was a necessary, if questionable, practice—if only until the new repartimiento was completed.35

If Oviedo and Lemos agreed that a new repartimiento was necessary, they disagreed vehemently about the everyday administration of the mita. The corregidor was confronted with the practical limitations of governing Potosí, and he was ever mindful of the fate of Francisco de la Cruz. The viceroy’s approach, meanwhile, was largely based on legal considerations and his instructions from the crown. He was also influenced by his experience at Puno in 1668. Lemos visited that mining zone after it had been wracked by revolt, and he was dismayed by the miserable condition of the Indians working there.36 Lemos was motivated by what he believed should be done at Potosí; Oviedo was confined by what he thought could be done.37

On November 4, 1669, Lemos decreed that the kurakas were not to be held responsible for more mitayos than those with whom they had left their home provinces.38 On December 3, he ordered that the mitayos were not to work in the mountain both day and night and that quotas were not to be demanded of them; furthermore, he said that the corregidor should no longer dispatch judges to prosecute the kurakas who failed to send funds to satisfy their rezagos de mita.39 Each of the practices identified by Lemos, though clearly in violation of the ordinances of Viceroys Francisco de Toledo and Luis de Velasco, was commonly found. Lemos told Oviedo that the illegal practices could not be defended on the pretense that they were required to boost silver production. The conservation of the Indians was more important to the realm’s survival, he said, than Potosí silver.40

Clearly, the viceroy had chosen to place his instructions from the queen before those from President Peñaranda. He explained that choice in a letter to the crown on December 16, 1669. In that communication Lemos told the queen that the Indians of Peru were more oppressed than any people on earth, and that for him to relieve the royal conscience it would be necessary to sacrifice the current levels of silver production at Potosí. Less government revenue justly earned, he assured her, would be better than more silver unjustly gained.41

Lemos’s reforms did not spring from his secret instructions alone. They also were responses to a royal cédula of 1668, and, ultimately, to the complaints of a kuraka, Gabriel Fernández Guarache of the province of Pacajes. Fernández Guarache had been responsible on many occasions for delivering the mitayos from Pacajes, usually to his own financial detriment. He and other kurakas had often petitioned the government in Lima to lower the number of Indians required from their particular province and to end the practice of holding one of them responsible for all of the province’s mitayos.42 Some time in the early 1660s, Fernández Guarache asked the viceregal government to order a number of reforms of the de facto mita. In addition to repeating his earlier complaints, he asked that the mitayos receive two weeks’ rest for every one worked, as Toledo had ordered, and that they not be compelled to work both day and night.43

The kuraka’s petition was reviewed by the Audiencia of Lima in its capacity as interim head of government and was then sent to the Council of the Indies. Fernández Guarache’s requests were discussed by the council on June 19, 1668. Royal orders were then sent to the Conde de Lemos and President Vázquez de Velasco to counter the illegal practices that Fernández Guarache had described.44

The viceroy’s reforms were also a product of his growing belief that a census, and thus the new repartimiento based on it, would be impossible to complete. He wrote to the Council of the Indies that his three reform directives were meant to relieve the intense pressure on the kurakas— whom he identified as the key to the mita—and the mitayos, and therefore to allow the system to continue without the new distribution.45

An order promulgated in Lima still had to be enforced in Potosí to be effective. Lemos’s three reforms were Francisco de la Cruz’s directives reincarnate, but the viceroy was not in Potosí to implement them or to answer for their execution. Corregidor Oviedo was there, and fearing the worst consequences, he refused to execute the viceroy’s orders. Oviedo told Lemos that the measures would bring silver production at Potosí to a complete and sudden halt. In defending his inaction to the crown, Oviedo argued that Potosí supported the entire realm; and that if Peru were to survive, a census and a new repartimiento were crucial. The corregidor complained that the viceroy was too heavily swayed by legalisms and that he lacked the experience and understanding of mining required to govern Potosí. Oviedo refused to carry out the Conde de Lemos’s orders, he said, because it was in the crown’s interest that he do so. Perhaps more telling, he also reminded the queen that Francisco de la Cruz had been murdered for attempting similar reforms.46

Lemos was incensed by Corregidor Oviedo’s disobedience and ordered him either to implement the 1669 directives or to resign as corregidor.47 He then instructed President Vázquez de Velasco to travel to Potosí and once there to implement the three orders. Should Corregidor Oviedo try to block their execution, then Vázquez was to suspend, arrest, and ship him to Lima to be dealt with by Lemos.48

Despite this apparent decisiveness, the viceroy could not keep from worrying about the financial repercussions of his orders. He wrote to the crown on February 7, 1670, about an azoguero petition charging that his measures would destroy Potosí. Lemos asked the queen to determine whether his reforms complied with his orders to guard her conscience:

In the secret instructions and in other dispatches that I have received from Your Majesty, I am told to unburden the royal conscience by following my own, and to aid this unfortunate people. Accordingly, I am proceeding to remedy the many offenses that they suffer. If these reforms that I propose are not appropriate, please tell me what I must do, so that the tyranny suffered by these Indians does not weigh upon my conscience.49

Having requested that the queen lift the burden of the responsibility for the mita from his shoulders, the Conde de Lemos continued to grope for some means to reconcile his diverse instructions. By April 1670 he was again pondering the possibility of conducting a prerepartimiento census through ecclesiastical channels. The time appeared fortuitous for such a program since the nominee for the position of archbishop of Charcas had died. Lemos asked the crown to appoint in his stead Visitador Juan de Ibarra, who would thereby be placed at the head of the church hierarchy, and thus in a position to administer the enumeration. Local priests would not be told why they were reporting on their Indian charges, Lemos said, and only he and Ibarra would know their ultimate purpose. The viceroy also asked that Ibarra be named president of La Plata, and that he be empowered to appoint corregidors of Potosí for as long as the regeneration of the mita required. The principal danger associated with the plan, the conde noted, was that the azogueros might try to murder Ibarra as they had Cruz.50

Lemos may well have returned to the Ibarra plan because of the problems that he was having with the corregidor of Potosí. In March 1670, Oviedo finally published the orders that the Indians were not to work both day and night, and that judges were not to be sent to collect payments for rezagos from the kurakas. Vázquez de Velasco’s insistence that Lemos’s directives be implemented had forced the corregidor to act, but he still was not beaten. Oviedo ordered that all work in the mines stop at sundown, and he informed the viceroy that he would send no judges into the provinces since the corregidors had no means to compel the Indians to travel to Potosí. Oviedo then complained to the crown that the execution of Lemos’s orders would cause the irreversible collapse of Potosí. His letter to Madrid was reinforced by similar warnings from the azogueros and the Cabildo of Potosí.51

Lemos correctly accused Oviedo of misrepresenting his orders. The viceroy had decreed that no Indian should work both day and night, not that all work should end at sundown. He insisted, furthermore, that the corregidor send judges to prosecute those corregidors who failed to dispatch mitayos to Potosí. The conde’s legal arguments were as correct as they were ineffective. After months of debate, he and Oviedo agreed that an Indian could work five hours during the day and another five at night. By then, Lemos had come to realize that he would be unable to enact any significant changes in the de facto mita while Oviedo was corregidor.52

The problems surrounding a census and the frustrations that Lemos suffered in his efforts to reform the mita led the viceroy to conclude that only by abolishing the system could he end the abuses that pervaded it. Lemos followed the same route to that conclusion that Vázquez de Velasco had traversed five years earlier. He had first tried to reform the mita; then, realizing that he could not control the situation at Potosí, he had called for the system’s eradication.

Lemos proposed the abolition of the Potosí mita to the crown in a letter of July 4, 1670. His arguments in favor of the measure formed a separate twenty-one-folio discourse on the problems that had overwhelmed Francisco de Toledo’s original design. The conde said that the provinces were no longer able to support the system because they had been deserted by the descendants of the Indians that Toledo had settled in new villages during the 1570s. The decline in the number of obligated Indians in the sixteen mita provinces had led to such abuses as constant service and misuse of the mita. All previous efforts to reform the system had failed, the conde argued, because viceregal orders were ignored by the azogueros and undermined by the corregidors of Potosí.53

The viceroy did not question the legality of the mita as it had been designed to perform; he said that it was unjust in its current form. The system was also expendable, he argued, because those azogueros who had viable mining operations at Potosí would survive the abolition of the mita. Only those who depended upon misuse would be hurt, and rightfully so. The royal share of production at Potosí had fallen, moreover, to fewer than 400,000 pesos per year, and no longer represented the significant sum that it once had. Nevertheless, Lemos assured the queen that God would reward her decision to abolish the mita with discoveries of greater wealth elsewhere in the empire. Indeed, the Indians who were freed from mita service at Potosí would be available to work at San Antonio de Esquilache, Carangas, Cailloma, Puno, and other Peruvian mining centers, some of which were just coming into their prime. The Potosí silver industry would continue to function, though producing less silver than it had with mitayos.54

Lemos proposed that the queen abolish the mita; he did not disband it himself. The responsibility for such a move was more than the viceroy was prepared to assume.55 Indeed, he went to great lengths to show that his proposal had widespread support in Peru. The conde sent the minutes of a junta held in Lima the previous day, in which the abolition of the mita had received the unanimous endorsement of government officials and religious figures alike.56 He also sent the queen the essays that he had asked the religious communities of Lima to draft in anticipation of the July 3 meeting. An example is the contribution of the bishop-elect of Concepción. He claimed that the Indians who were forced to serve in the mita were stripped of their liberty; that their assignment to the mines at Potosí was tantamount to their enslavement; and that their treatment was abominable. Mita service in silver, moreover, was equivalent to the payments that slaves made to their masters in lieu of personal service. In his summation, the bishop-elect argued that the Indians were subjected to a bondage worse than the Hebrews had endured in Egypt—the clear implication being that they would soon be delivered from their unjust condition by God, if not by the queen.57

From Potosí itself, on July 7 and August 9, 1670, President Vázquez de Velasco wrote to the crown in favor of the abolition of the mita. He reiterated his arguments of five years earlier, which Lemos had echoed in the July 4 discourse. Vázquez also requested that he be permitted to leave Potosí; his position in favor of abolition was currently a secret, and if it became public knowledge he would certainly never leave the mining center alive.58

By the end of August 1670, the Conde de Lemos had sent the crown a mound of material in favor of the abolition of the mita. The arguments set forth were both logistical and moral. The underlying cause for the proposal was logistical: the viceroy’s inability to reform the de facto mita. The moral arguments (e.g., the religious communities’ arguments about lost Indian liberty) supported the measure, but they were not the source of it.

While the Conde de Lemos awaited the queen’s response to his proposal, he soothed his anger and frustration by suspending Corregidor Oviedo. Following Ibarra’s counsel that the corregidor was responsible for all of the viceroy’s problems at Potosí—from the declining levels of silver production to the failure to implement the reform orders of 1669—he replaced Oviedo with Diego de Ulloa. The new corregidor arrived in Potosí on January 29, 1671. Lemos informed the crown that the change had been necessary to clear up the misconceptions that Oviedo fomented. Ulloa had explained the true nature of the 1669 directives to the azogueros, and they were now content. The viceroy said that he had also sent explanatory orders to the provincial corregidors.59

While the viceroy vented his spleen on Corregidor Oviedo, however, his proposal for the abolition of the mita was slowly being frustrated by the time consumed in transoceanic correspondence and the continued inability of the Council of the Indies to determine the true condition of the silver industry at Potosí. Three months after Lemos sent his July 4 proposal to the crown, the Council of the Indies was only just responding to his early 1669 letters on the problems facing a census. The council weighed Juan de Ibarra’s plan for an ecclesiastical census against Oviedo’s demand that a traditional enumeration be undertaken by corregidors and priests within their respective provinces. The councillors preferred Ibarra’s plan, but they left the ultimate decision to Lemos. He had the matter at hand, they argued, and could decide better than they. Thus, in a cédula of November 7, 1670, the crown instructed the viceroy to act as he deemed fit, after conferring with the Audiencia of Lima.60

By the time the Conde de Lemos answered the November 7, 1670, edict, it was September 18, 1671. He had sent his discourse on abolition more than a year earlier. The viceroy stood by his call for the abolition of the mita, but should the council decide not to follow his suggestion, his alternate choice was Ibarra’s ecclesiastical census. Lemos returned the matter to Madrid for a decision, and he was still awaiting a reply when he died on December 6, 1671.61 On December 31, 1672, the Conde de Lemos’s three reform directives of 1669 finally received the council’s endorsement—fully two years after they had been issued.62

The Council of the Indies began its deliberations on Lemos’s abolition proposal in April of 1673. On the twelfth it decided to hold a formal hearing on the question, and on the nineteenth it ordered Relator Andrés de Angulo to prepare a summary of the viceroy’s July 4, 1670, discourse and all previous correspondence on the mita. After the council considered that material in May, it voted that abolition was a matter that the queen alone could decide. In other words, the council did not want to assume the responsibility for the inevitable financial consequences of abolition any more than had the viceroy.63

The dilemma of royal conscience versus crown revenue had been passed, therefore, from the queen and Peñaranda to Lemos in 1667, then from the viceroy to the council in 1670, and finally from the council to the queen in 1673. On June 8, 1673, the council suggested to Queen Mariana that a junta be formed, with some of the councillors to be joined by prominent theologians so that all sides of the question might be debated. The council gave some indication of its feelings on the matter, however, when it noted that the mita appeared to have outlived its usefulness.64

On October 9, 1673, however, the council abruptly halted the junta’s inquiry. It then ordered the Conde de Castellar (a member of the council) to investigate the situation in Peru in his capacity as Lemos’s successor. Castellar was provided with the Angulo summary for his information and he was instructed to determine once in Peru what course of action would be best, and then to report to the council.65

The reason for the council’s decision was not included in its order to Castellar. The suspension of the junta’s inquiry may have come in response to the news of Lemos’s death, but it probably was caused primarily by the council’s fear of the economic ramifications of the abolition of the mita and the group’s inability to judge the rationale for abolition. Vázquez de Velasco and Lemos had both prefaced their calls for the abolition of the mita with the impossibility of reform and the relatively low levels of silver production currently generated by the once-rich mines of Potosí. The validity of those arguments had been challenged by a promita treatise and by the viceroy’s own official reports.

The lawyer Nicolás Matías del Campo y de la Rynaga published an essay in Lima in 1672 entitled Memorial apologético, histórico, jurídico y político. He said that he was responding to an antimita memorial written by a friar, but the structure of Campo’s work and the issues it considered suggest that it was written to counter the Conde de Lemos’s discourse of July 4, 1670. Indeed, the Memorial was written by order of Dr. Diego Hernández de Cardona y Córdova, Marqués de Santillán—a member of the Council of the Indies. The unidentified friar may well have been an invention to protect Campo from viceregal retribution, as he was a resident of Lima.66

The most important message carried by Campo’s Memorial was that the mita could indeed be reformed; that any abuses could be purged from the system without destroying it altogether. The second most important point that it had to make was that Potosí would collapse without mita labor, and thus that the crown would lose everything that it had invested in the city: the mint, garrison, and so forth. Those arguments were echoed, quite naturally, by the azogueros in their own complaints about Lemos’s proposal.67 The strongest evidence supporting Campo’s claims, however, came from the Conde de Lemos himself.

The viceroy’s efforts to demonstrate that he was an able administrator were at the bottom of this ironic circumstance. Early in 1669, Corregidor Oviedo reported to Lemos that he had managed to increase the effective Indian work force at Potosí—mitayos and mingas—to 3,424 per week. Lemos relayed the news to the Council of the Indies, with one modification: he claimed that the number of mitayos alone had reached 3,424—an apparent improvement of some 50 percent.68

In 1672, after Lemos had installed Ulloa as corregidor of Potosí, the latter reported that he had increased silver output significantly, and that he had curbed the azogueros’ misuse of the mita. Ulloa attributed his success to the implementation of Lemos’s three reforms of 1669.69 Pleased with Ulloa’s progress, the viceroy sent the good news on to the crown on April 26, 1672.70

The Conde de Lemos’s reports countered what he had argued in his July 4, 1670, proposal: (a) that reform of the mita was impossible and that abolition was necessary to end abuses; and (b) that silver production at Potosí could not be improved and the mining center was in an irreversible decline. The queen clearly appreciated the news of higher levels of silver production, for on June 10, 1673, she ordered Oviedo—whom she had returned to his post as corregidor—to maintain the level of silver production that Ulloa had reported.71 The queen’s directive to the corregidor was sent just two days after the council had presented her the case for the abolition of the mita; she therefore considered the two issues concurrently.72

It is even more ironic that Oviedo would later refute Lemos’s claims. Upon his return to Potosí in April 1673, the corregidor charged that Ulloa had manipulated the production data. Oviedo said that the apparent rise in the royal fifth had been derived from Ulloa’s use of 1670 as the base year for his comparison. Production had been curtailed that year by a severe drought, and ore that had been stockpiled during 1670 was later milled in 1671 and 1672—the two years for which Ulloa claimed credit. The shipment of silver for 1671 had included, moreover, thirteen months of production, and that for 1672 had contained fifteen months’ worth. The total work force had actually fallen, Oviedo charged, to 2,644 Indians: 1,427 mitayos and 1,217 mingas.73 The Condesa de Lemos and Diego de Ulloa defended the integrity of the late viceroy’s reports in May of 1673, but their arguments arrived in Madrid too late to have the intended effect; the issue of abolition had by then been placed in the hands of the Conde de Castellar.74

Campo’s Memorial, the azogueros warnings that Potosí would be destroyed, the reports of reform and higher silver production at Potosí, and the Conde de Lemos’s death combined to derail the abolition movement. Discussion of the matter in Madrid was not ended completely, but the element of doubt and confusion that they injected into the deliberations of the Council of the Indies was sufficient to postpone a decision on abolition until the Conde de Castellar could report from Peru.

Castellar assumed office in Lima on August 15, 1674, and moved quickly to comply with his instructions from the council. He reported on February 2, 1675, however, that although he was inclined upon arrival to abolish the mita, he had been forced to suspend his efforts in that direction when he was unable to find anyone who would advocate abolition; all of the officials who had served on the July 3, 1670, junta now claimed that they had been coerced by the Conde de Lemos. Given the circumstances, Castellar said that he had decided not to risk anything novel, and thus to keep the Potosí silver industry going with the traditional, if imperfect, means: the mita.75

In September 1675, the crown and the Council of the Indies anticipated Castellar’s report on the situation in Peru and ordered that the mita be preserved. The crown’s first priority was now clear: to raise royal revenue through increased mineral production, and to raise silver production at Potosí through the revitalization of the mita. The regimen had escaped abolition, and it would survive for another century and a third, until abolished by the Cortes of Cádiz in 1812.76

In retrospect, the abolition proposal seems to have been doomed from the very beginning. The Conde de Lemos called for the eradication of the mita not because he felt that it was immoral, but because he was frustrated by his inability to control Corregidor Oviedo, upon whom his reforms of the system depended. That the viceroy later reported improvements in the situation at Potosí under Corregidor Ulloa confirms that his motivation was frustration. Lemos’s later reports of improvement also were instrumental in preventing the adoption of the abolition proposal.

Corregidor Oviedo’s obstructionism derived from two sources: (a) the pressure exerted on him by the azogueros not to tamper with the de facto mita (and the ever-present example of Francisco de la Cruz); and (b) his responsibility for maintaining high levels of silver production at Potosí. The Conde de Lemos’s three reforms of 1669, if implemented, would have threatened Oviedo both professionally and mortally. His ability to frustrate the ordered reforms, even in the presence of President Vázquez de Velasco, is testimony to the structural weaknesses in the Hapsburg administration of Upper Peru, as well as the power of the azogueros of Potosí.

If the abolition proposal was caused by viceregal powerlessness to affect the status quo at Potosí, it was undercut by similar weaknesses in the Lima-Madrid link in the administrative machinery. The delays in transatlantic correspondence were important because they had prevented the Council of the Indies from considering the proposal until after Lemos had died. More fundamental, however, were the council’s reluctance to threaten the Potosí silver industry and the Viceroy Conde de Lemos’s continuing concern for his reputation as an administrator. The threats from Corregidor Oviedo, the Cabildo of Potosí, and the azogueros’ guild that the mining zone would collapse without the mita worried the councillors sufficiently to keep them from acting on the viceroy’s proposal. When Lemos’s reports of reform under (interim) Corregidor Ulloa reinforced the argument of Nicolás Matías del Campo and the azogueros that the mita could be reformed, the council chose to conserve it.

The extent to which the patterns discernible in Lemos’s attempt to abolish the mita reflect those of Hapsburg administration elsewhere are as yet unclear. Certainly, the power of a key economic interest group, located outside the immediate reach of viceregal government, is reminiscent of the sixteenth-century encomenderos’. And other remote areas in Spanish America must have had influential local elites as well. What is clear is that the “flexibility” that John Leddy Phelan described in the Hapsburg administration existed not only in the metropolis-America connection, but also in the administration of a remote region by a viceregal center. The flexibility of the two linkages combined, moreover, was more than the authority of the crown could overcome, leaving the ruled more powerful than the ruler.77 Indeed, the transformation of the mita from a draft labor regimen to a cash subsidy for the azogueros demonstrates that the center of gravity, in terms of the relative power of the crown and its colonists, was closer to Potosí than to Madrid.


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, July 4, 1670, Archivo General de Indias, Seville (hereinafter cited as AGI), Charcas, leg. 268, no. 16. All AGI materials employed for this article are on microfilm, and were consulted in the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Library.


This summary of the Toledan mita is drawn primarily from: (a) the “Testimo De los Indios qe Repartio el Sor Don frco de Toledo = num.° 10—Y testimo de los excessos que reconocio en su execucion N.° 11,” prepared by an escribano, Luis Maldonado, for Superintendent of the mita Francisco de la Cruz, ca. 1660, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 45J; (b) a brief history of the Potosí mita written by Contador Pedro Antonio del Castillo in 1690 to serve as the preface to the “Libro y Relación Sumaria” of the enumeration of Indians conducted in the 1680s and the reforms for the mita and tribute that were based on that census, AGI, Charcas, leg. 270, no. 33C; and (c) the detailed discussion of the Toledan system in Silvio Zavala, El servicio personal de los indios en el Perú. Voi. I: Extractos del siglo xvi (Mexico City, 1978), pp. 118-122. For a more in-depth examination of the Potosí mita from the 1570s to 1700, see Jeffrey A, Cole, “The Potosí Mita under Hapsburg Administration. The Seventeenth Century” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1981).


Peter J. Bakewell, “Technological Change in Potosí: The Silver Boom of the 1570’s,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas, 14 (1977) 57-77.


Oidor Juan de Matienzo to the crown, Potosí, Dec. 23, 1577, in Roberto Levillier, ed., La audiencia de Charcas. Correspondencia de presidentes y oidores, 3 vois. (Madrid 1918— 22), I, 455-465.


Josep M. Barnadas, “Una polémica colonial: Potosí, 1579-1584,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas, 10 (1973), 16-70.


“Competencia de jurisdicción suscitada entre don Francisco Sarmiento de Mendoza y el capitán Pedro de Montalvo, corregidor y alcalde mayor de minas de Potosí, respectivamente, sobre los autos del hundimiento y la muerte de unos indios en el socavón del veinticuatro Juan Bautista de Jauregui,” 1652-1656, Archivo Nacional de Bolivia, Sucre (hereinafter cited as ANB), Minas, leg. 125, no. 13. In arguing their respective positions in this dispute before the Audiencia of La Plata and the viceroy of Peru, the corregidor and alcalde mayor both cited precedents. Fols. 217-226 of the legajo’s pagination contain twenty-two criminal cases from 1590 to 1628. See also: (a) Vicente Cañete y Domínguez, Descripción geográfica, histórica, física y natural de la Villa Imperial y cerro rico de Potosí [1789] (Potosí, 1952), pp. 111-112; and (b) Oidor Arias de Ugarte to the crown, Potosí, Feb. 28, 1599, in Levillier, ed., Audiencia de Charcas, III, 356-362.


“Información hecha ante esta Real Audiencia [de La Plata] con motivo de la solicitud presentada por don Juan de Ayala y Figueroa, procurador de Potosí, pidiendo que en mérito a los servicios prestados por dicha villa al rey y a estar ahora sus vecinos pobres y las labores de minas descaecidas, los quintos reales se reduzcan al diezmo, el azogue se venda al precio de costo y los vecinos sean relevados perpetuamente de pagar alcabalas,” 1609-1610, ANB, Minas, leg. 3, no. 17; “Descripción de la villa y minas de Potosí. Año de 1603” in Marcos Jiménez de la Espada, ed., Relaciones geográficas de Indias.—Perú, Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, no. 183 (Madrid, 1965), pp. 377-378; and the “Instrucción al virrey del Perú don Luis de Velasco sobre hacienda, Aug. 11, 1596, in Lewis Hanke and Celso Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes españoles en América durante el gobierno de la Casa de Austria, 12 vois., Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, nos. 273-277 and 280-286 (Madrid, 1976-80), Perú, II, 32-37.


Luis Capoche, in Lewis Hanke, ed. Relación general de la Villa Imperial de Potosí [1585], Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, no. 122 (Madrid, 1959), p. 158; John Howland Rowe, “The Incas under Spanish Colonial Institutions,” HAHR, 37 (May 1957), 175; Guillermo Lohmann Villena, “La minería en el marco del virreinato peruano. Invenciones, sistemas, técnicas y organización industrial,” Ponencias del VI Congreso Internacional de Minería. Vol. I: La minería hispana e iberoamericana (León, 1970), pp. 654-655; and Fiscal Jerónimo Tovar y Montalvo to the crown, La Plata, Feb. 20, 1595, in Levillier, ed., Audiencia de Charcas, III, 247-258.


Rowe, “The Incas,” p. 175.


Another factor contributing to the depopulation of the provinces subject to the Potosí mita was epidemic disease; for an overview, see Henry F. Dobyns, “An Outline of Andean Epidemic History to 1720,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 37 (Nov.-Dee. 1963), 493-515. The records of the Cabildo of Potosí also contain many references to epidemics; an example is the “Capítulo de acuerdo del cabildo de Potosí: Nómbranse diputados para que distribuyan azúcar, carnero, pasas, pan, chuño y papas a los indios enfermos de viruela que hay en las parroquias de esta villa,” Potosí, Apr. 4, 1628, Biblioteca Nacional de Bolivia, Sucre (hereinafter cited as BNB), Cabildo de Potosí, Libro de Acuerdos (hereinafter cited as CPLA), no. 18, fols. 279V-280.


Examples: (a) “Recurso ante la audiencia de La Plata. Don Francisco de Michaca, cacique de Puna, provincia de Porco, sobre unos indios de dicho pueblo a quienes retiene injustamente en su chacra don Pedro Andrada Sotomayor y pretende mingarlos para las minas del cerro de Potosí,” Feb. 12-Nov. 14, 1608, ANB, Minas, leg. 131, no. 1; (b) “Don Gabriel Fernández Guarachi, indio, capitán general para el entero de la mita de Potosí en 1634, sobre los impedimentos que don Antonio Mogollón de Ribera, corregidor de La Paz, le opuso por sus particulares intereses al cumplimiento de dicha comisión en la provincia de Pacajes,” La Paz, La Plata, and Caquiaviri, Aug. 2-Dec. 24, 1633, ANB, Minas, leg. 123, no. 11; (c) “Recurso a la audiencia de Charcas: El padre Fernando Doncel, de la Compañía de Jesús de la Plata, y a nombre de los colegios de Arequipa y Juli, sobre que se les ampare en la pocesión de indios yanaconas exentos de la mita de Potosí que gozan por provisiones vicerreales, para sus haciendas del Collao,” 1589-1696, ANB, Audiencia de Charcas, Exp. 1762-16; and (d) “Don Pedro Uychu, cacique del pueblo de Tinguipaya, provincia de Porco, sobre que no se le compela a dar más de los veintecinco indios de mita para el cerro de Potosí que señaló a dicho pueblo el virrey [Velasco],” Porco, Aug. 31-Sept. 24, 1610, ANB, Minas, leg. 123, no. 5.


For the origins of mita service in silver, see Silvio Zavala, El servicio personal de los indios en el Perú. Vol. II: Extractos del siglo xvii (Mexico City, 1979), p. 69. See also, President Alonso Maldonado de Torres to the Audiencia of La Plata, Potosí, Dec. 12, 1606, ANB, Minas, leg. 123, no. 2 (Maldonado noted that the azogueros were accustomed to receiving “mitayos” in the form of silver); Pedro Ramírez del Aguila, Noticias políticas de Indias [1639], transcribed by Jaime Urioste Arana (Sucre, 1978), pp. 118-120; and the “Cédula real a la audiencia de Charcas: Informe al virrey sobre lo que el visitador Alonso Martínez de Pastrana propone que para remediar la pobreza de los metales y la falta de mitayos, respectivamente, se hagan seis socavones que atraviesen el Cerro de parte a parte, y se quiten los mitayos y se encarcele a los señores de minas e ingenios que reciben de los indios siete pesos semanales para no trabajar en las minas .…,” Madrid, July 15, 1620, BNB, leg. Mss. 5, fols. 251V-253.


Alcalde Juan de Padilla to the crown, Lima, July 20, 1657, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 37; and the accompanying “Papel de apuntamientos que remite el Alcalde, .… sobre los Travajos qe padecen los Inos = asi en lo espiritual como en lo temporal,” AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 37A (the latter is published in Rubén Vargas Ügarte, Historia general del Perú, 10 vols’. [Lima, 1966], III, 391-420). For the means used by Gabriel Fernández Guarache, see Teresa Cañedo-Fabrega Argüelles, “Efectos de Potosí en la estructura de una provincia mitaya: Pacajes a mediados del siglo xvii” (Tesis de licenciatura, Universidad de Sevilla, 1976), pp. 93-96. Also: (a) “Paucarcolla. Autos sobre el despacho de la mita de Potosí e información de los caciques para su gran disipación. Villa de Concepción, Octubre 24 de 1669, Biblioteca Nacional del Perú, Lima (hereinafter cited as BN), item B575; (b) Carta de don Antonio Ordóñez del Aguila, corregidor de esta provincia, a la audiencia de Charcas: Que tiene preso a don Gerónimo Cajamarca, cacique gobernador del pueblo de Macari en esta provincia por diversos excesos … Entre los excesos la falta de cumplimiento en el entero de la mita de dicho pueblo para Potosí,” Lampa, Apr. 8, 1673, ANB, Audiencia de Charcas, correspondencia 1899a; and (c) “Despacho de la mita de Potosí. Puno, Noviembre de 1673,” BN, item B585. A yanacona was an Indian who was spared mita obligation by Toledo, and assigned to other duties, usually agricultural work; the descendants of the Indians so designated by Toledo were also called yanaconas, and exempted from mita service.


See the figures reported by Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo in n. 35 infra-, and Table 2: Estimated Mita Service, 1651-1665, in Cole, “The Potosí Mita,” p. 274.


The number of sources for the unauthorized use of mita service in silver are too many to reproduce here. An example is the “Acuerdo de la audiencia de Charcas: Se vió una proposición del doctor don Dionisio Pérez Manrique, gobernador-presidente de esta audiencia, en orden a la dejación que los azogueros han ofrecido hacer de los indios mitayos agraviándose del castigo que dicho gobernador había impuesto en algunos de ese gremio por el mal uso de los indios llamados de faltriquera,” La Plata, Dec. 2, 1642, ANB, Audiencia de Charcas, Libro de Acuerdos 7, no. 42. On that occasion, the removal of Indians from just a few miners by the president resulted in a virtual shutdown of the silver industry; the president relented. Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz, Indios y tributos en el Alto Perú (Lima, 1978), p. 71, notes the transformation of the mita in this way:

Los titulares de las minas no siempre vieron con malos ojos la sustitución de trabajadores manuales por dinero, de las mitas personales por los indios de plata o de faltriquera. Disfrutaban así de una renta segura sin los inconvenientes de la miner-ación, o por lo menos les entraba numerario para reclutar indios de minga—más efectivos—quienes se contrataban a cambio de un salario. La mita comenzaba, pues, a tornarse un tributo pecuniario en favor de un grupo económico privilegiado o una contribución de las comunidades indígenas al abaratamiento de los costos de producción del cerro de Potosí. De esta manera se cubría parte de los salarios insumidos por la explotación.

He refers, however, to the period of the 1660s, and the transformation began much earlier than he suggests.


There were other forms of misuse of the mita as well. One of the more common was the rental of Indians assigned to one’s mines or mills. The Audiencia of La Plata claimed, in 1608, that the going rate for a mitayo at Potosí was 150 pesos per year (the Audiencia of Charcas to the Council of the Indies, La Plata, Mar. 13, 1608, ANB, Minas, Leg. 123, no. 3; a copy). One azoguero, Juan de Ayala, was prosecuted in 1621 for renting his Indians for 112 pesos each (Cédula real a don Diego de Portugal, presidente de la audiencia de La Plata: Que informe sobre el estado de la causa seguida contra don Juan Ayala por arriendo de indios de mita … ,” Madrid, Sept. 14, 1621, BNB, leg. Mss. 3, fols. 59v-60.)


Noted by Zavala, Servicio personal, II, 55.


President Luis Antonio de Maldonado drafted the 1610 repartimiento de la mita for the Viceroy Marqués de Montesclaros (≪ Repartimiento. ≫ Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Mss. Espagnols 175, fols. 257-301); and President Diego de Portugal composed the 1624 repartimiento for the Viceroy Marqués de Guadalcázar (a copy of which may be found in the Archivo Histórico de Potosí, Cajas Reales, leg. 201, last item; it is incomplete).


The clearest indication of the viceroys’ inability to win implementation of their orders is the continual stream of edicts that merely reiterated earlier demands. An example is the “Carta del marqués de Guadalcázar, virrey del Perú, a la Audiencia de La Plata: Con copia, inclusa, del real cédula de Madrid [Jan. 13, 1627], a dicho virrey ordenandole que haga pagar … a los mitayos de Potosí los leguajes de ida y vuelta,” Lima, Nov. 13, 1627, ANB, Reales Cédulas, no. 325.


The most famous, and complete, of the azogueros’ petitions was that written by Procurador Sebastián Sandoval y Guzmán, Pretensiones de la Villa Imperial de Potosí (Madrid, 1634), but their requests for more concessions began in the early 1600s (the 1610 petition is described in note 7 supra) and continued after Sandoval y Guzmán argued their case before the Council of the Indies: Archivo General de la Nación, Buenos Aires (hereinafter cited as AGN), Sala ix, leg. 6-2-5, includes a lengthy información by the miners from 1642 and 1643.


The viceroys’ approach is clear from the actions of the Viceroys Conde de Chinchón and Marqués de Mancera, described in the text. See also their relaciones in Hanke and Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes: (a) “Relación del Estado en que el Conde de Chinchón deja el gobierno del Perú al Marqués de Mancera,” Jan. 26, 1640, Perú III, 48-49, 56-57, 60-61, and 64; and (b) “Relación del estado del gobierno del Perú que hace el Marqués de Mancera al Virrey Conde de Salvatierra,” Oct. 8, 1648, Perú III, 140, 148-150, and 160-161.


The Council of the Indies’s confusion is evident in its attempts to use the Audiencia of La Plata as a relatively unbiased source. While it was usual custom to ask the audiencia to comment on important policy issues, the questions that the court was asked in the wake of the 1633 repartimiento show that the council was uncertain. For example: “Copia simple de real cédula dirigida a esta audiencia: Informe con su parecer sobre la petición que Gerónimo Garavito, procurador general del gremio de azogueros de Potosí, hace para que cualquiera pueda fabricar ingenios en dicha villa por la utilidad que se sigue a la real hacienda, teniéndose presente que el licenciado don Juan de Carvajal y Sandi, visitador que fue de esta audiencia, hizo despoblar algunos ingenios con pretexto de no ser necesarios,” Madrid, Apr. 16, 1639, ANB, Reales Cédulas, Copiador, no. 389.


“Sobrecarta de la comisión despachada por el conde de Chinchón, virrey del Perú, en Lima [Oct. 3, 1635] a don Juan de Carvajal y Sandi, visitador de la audiencia de La Plata, para que habiendo hecho con toda integridad y conocimiento el repartimiento general de los indios de mita de Potosí según comisión que se le despachó en [Oct. 1, 1632] ahora, con la inteligencia que tiene de la materia de los indios vacos a los señores de minas e ingenios que mejor los merezcan, y quite y modere a los que crea conveniente, con calidad de confirmación por el virrey y con inhibición total de la audiencia de La Plata,” Lima, Oct. 3, 1635 BNB CPLA 20, fols. 359v-360v (a copy).


The terms of Carvajal’s repartimiento are included in the “Relación del estado en que deja el gobierno de estos reinos del Perú el Conde de Salvatierra al Virrey Conde de Alba de Aliste,” Mar. 22, 1665, in Hanke and Rodríguez, eds. Los virreyes, Perú IV, 37-40. The counterassault by the miners and President Lizarazu is most clearly defined in: (a) the “Consulta en que Se Proponen Las Raçones que ay Para que al Pressidente de La Plata se le encargue y Cometa Todo Lo que mira al entero de la Mita de Potossi vsso de los yndios Conserbacion de los yngenios y distribucion de los Azogues, Prenobando con el especial Cedula Lo que en esta Parte esta mandado en otras,” sent to the crown and dated Mar. 1, 1636, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 7; and (b) “Potossi supp“ a VM se serba de mandar a algun ministro de las provy.as satisfaga a los agraviados en el Ultimo Repartimy.to que por no averlo hecho el Virey aunque VM se lo tiene mandado, y recusamos a don Jun de carbajal suplicando a VM le mude a otro consejo o le ocupe en otras cosas,” Potosí, Mar. 17, 1638, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 11. The order from the crown to Chinchón to set things right is dated Apr. 6, 1636, and is AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 39A (a copy; another copy of the Apr. 6, 1636, letter is AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. IB).


The papers produced by the Marqués de Mancera’s effort to replace the Carvajal repartimiento of 1633 (he was ordered on Dec. 7, 1639, to implement the Apr. 6, 1636, cédula-the crown to the Marqués de Mancera, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, nos. 16B and 39B, the latter being the original) are in AGN, Sala IX, leg. 6-2-5; the manuscripts are not numbered or organized; included in the legajo is a draft of the repartimiento that Mancera meant to implement. The Council of the Indies’s orders are: (a) “Cedula qe se cometio al Conde de Salv* Virey pa la reduccion de los Indios, Apr. 28, 1650, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 19C, and (b) President Francisco Nestares Marín to the crown, Potosí, May 30, 1652, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 15 (the letter repeats significant portions of the council’s order of May 6, 1651). See also the sources in n, 26 infra.


Salvatierra’s response to the Apr. 28, 1650, cédula is his letter to the crown from Los Reyes, Sept. 2, 1651, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 30D. His later delaying of the council’s program is described in his Relación (see n. 24 supra), p. 41. An overview for the period preceding the arrival of the Conde de Lemos is the Relación que hizo la real audiencia y la cancillería de los reyes de su gobierno vacante por la muerte del Virrey Conde de Santisteban al Conde de Lemos, su sucesor,” Nov. 15, 1667, in Hanke and Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes Perú IV, 205-209 (chap. 38 of the “Relación”; another copy of that chapter is in AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 56A). For the Conde de Alba’s delay of the ordered repartimiento, see: (a) the “Tanto de la carta que escrivio el Sr Virrey Conde de Alva al Sr D.or franco Sarmiento de Mendoca Sobre el Repartimiento de los Yndios de Potossi que su Magd le avia cometido,” Lima, May 31, 1655, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 17A; (b) Oidor Francisco Sarmiento de Mendoza to the crown, Lima, Jan. 10, 1662, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 19 (a retrospective); and (c) the order from the Council of the Indies Al Virrey del Peru, encargandole el cumplimiento de las cedulas arriva insertas que tratan de la Justificacion con que se deve hacer el repartimto de los Indios de mita de Potossi y el rem.° de los excessos q.e se cometen con el abusso de los que llaman de faltriquera,” Apr. 18, 1657, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 39C. The decision to send Francisco de la Cruz to Potosí, and the commission presented to him, are: (a) “Testim.o de las clausulas contenidas en el Acuerdo consultibo que tuvo el Virrey Conde de Alva en 26 de Agosto de 1658 en orden a los preparatorios del repartimiento general que cometió al Reverendo pe Mro fr. Francisco de la Cruz Obpo electo de Santa Marta,” AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 64A; and (b) Testimonio de las Ynstrucciones Publicas y secretas qe dio el Conde de Alva a D frai franco de la cruz y Don Bar.me de Salazar sobre el Repartimiento general de la Mita de Potossi y lo resuelto por el Conde de Santisteban con consulta del Acuerdo de la Audiencia de Lima para la suspencion de esta comission hasta que llegue D.n Pedro Vazquez de Velasco Presste de la de los charcas,” sent with a letter from the Conde de Santisteban to the crown, Lima, Dec. 5, 1661, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, nos. 15A and 15, respectively. The “Relación que el Conde de Alba hace del estado del Perú al Excmo. Sr’ Conde de Santisteban, su sucesor en los cargos de Virrey de estos reinos,” Jan. 6, 1662, in Hanke and Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes, Peru IV, 119, also relates these events; and the Conde de Alba’s letter to the crown, Lima, July 3, 1660, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 9B, describes all of Cruz’s orders—public and private.


The spate of orders that Cruz issued, which are included in AGI, Charcas, legs. 266 and 267, are summarized in his retrospective letter to the crown, Potosí, Feb. 17, 1660, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 46. Perhaps his final written words on his role at Potosí are those of his letter to the crown, Potosí, Apr. 1, 1660, AGI, Charcas, leg. 266, no. 49. For the assassination of Francisco de la Cruz: (a) the Conde de Alba to the crown, Lima, July 3, 1660, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 9B; (b) Gaspar González Pavón to the crown, Potosí, Apr. 30 and May 10, 1660, AGN, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 3; and (c) an opinion by a Dominican on the Conde de Lemos’s abolition proposal in 1670, with comments by the Dominican that he was in Potosí at the time that Cruz was killed, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 15E. Bartolomé Arzáns de Orsúa y Vela, Historia de la Villa Imperial de Potosí, ed. by Lewis Hanke and Gunnar Mendoza L., 4 vols. (Providence, 1965), II, 128-133, discusses an earlier attempt (in 1651) to poison Nestares Marín; and on pp. 187-194, Arzáns notes the deaths of Nestares Marín and Cruz.


Because of lack of space to include all of Salazar’s and Vázquez’s orders, see: (a) President Bartolomé de Salazar to the crown, Potosí, Apr. 1, 1662, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 24; (b) a copy of President Vázquez de Velasco to the Conde de Santisteban, Potosí, Jan. 20, 1665, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 43; (c) President Vázquez de Velasco to the crown, Potosí, Jan. 30, 1665, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 42; and (d) the Audiencia de Lima’s “Relación” for the Conde de Lemos (see. n. 26 supra).


President Vázquez de Velasco to the Conde de Santisteban, Potosí, Jan. 20, 1665, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 43; and the follow-up suggestion, President Vázquez de Velasco to the Conde de Santisteban, La Plata, Jan. 31, 1666, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 50A.


“Instrucciones secretas del Conde de Peñaranda, Presidente del Consejo de Indias, al Conde de Lemos,” undated (ca, 1667), in Hanke and Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes, Perú IV, 246.


The Conde de Lemos refers to the queen’s instructions in his letter to the crown, Lima, Feb. 7, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 11, and in his “Discurso y Informe del Virrey conde de Lemos sobre que se escusen las Mitas forzadas de los Inos que remite con su carta de 4 de Jullio de 670” sent to the queen, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 15. The letter of July 4, 1670, is in AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 16. The discourse has been published in Rubén Vargas Ugarte, ed., Pareceres jurídicos en asuntos de Indias, (Lima, 1951), pp. 155-165; and in Hanke and Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes, Perú IV, 276-289.


“El Conde de Lemos da cuenta a S.M. del estado en que halló el reino del Perú cuando entró a gobernarle y el remedio que ha comenzado a poner en las materias más principales de su gobierno,” Mar. 4, 1668, Hanke and Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes, Perú IV, 272 (author’s translation).


“Copia del Cap.” 38 de las adbertencias que hico el Virrey Conde de Lemos a la R.on del estado de las Prov.as del Peru que le entrego la Au.a de lima del Tpo. que las avia governado por falta de virrey,” undated, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 54B. The complete response to the audiencia’s “Relación” (see n. 26 supra) is in Hanke and Rodríguez, eds., Los virreyes, Perú IV, 251-271. Ibarra’s informe is also discussed by Zavala, Servicio personal, II, 148-149.


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Jan. 26, 1669, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 56.


Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo to the crown, Potosí, Oct. 8, 1668, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, nos. 56C and 56D (the latter is the envelope).


For information on the altercations at Puno, see President Pedro Vázquez de Velasco to the crown, La Plata, Dec. 29, 1668, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 55; and the Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Dec. 6, 1669, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 4.


Oviedo’s opposition is noted by Zavala, Servicio personal, II, 149. The best single source for the competition between the corregidor and the viceroy is the “Ron de las cartas que a escripto Luis Ant.° de obiedo Corregor de Potosí tocantes a la mita y ordenes qe se le an embiado” (by the Conde de Lemos), Aug. 13, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 21A.


The order itself is in AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 5A, dated Los Reyes, Nov. 4, 1669. It is mentioned in a letter from the Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Jan. 12, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 5. The letter is discussed by Ronald Escobedo Mansilla, El tributo indígena en el Perú (siglos xvi-xvii) (Pamplona, 1979), pp. 88-89 (from AGI, Lima, leg. 71— apparently another copy, or the original). See also the Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Feb. 3, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 10; a follow-up explanation of the viceroy’s actions. In his letter to the crown of July 4, 1670 (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 16), the Conde de Lemos says that he reached his decision in conference with Ibarra; he expressed that sentiment in his Jan. 12, 1670, letter as well.


The Conde de Lemos to Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo, Lima, Dec. 3, 1669, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 6A; and the Conde de Lemos to Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo, Lima, Dec. 3, 1669, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 7A, respectively (both are copies). See also the Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Jan. 12, 1670, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 6; and the Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Jan. 12, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 7—both requesting that the crown confirm his orders with royal cédulas. In the Conde ’s other letter of Jan. 12, 1670 (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 5), he says that Ibarra was a party to these decisions as well.


The Conde de Lemos to Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo, Lima, Dec. 3, 1669, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 6A.


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Dec. 6, 1669, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 4.


For Fernández Guarache’s early experiences, see ANB, Minas, leg. 131, no. 11 (described in n. 11 supra). For an overview of his involvement with the mita, see Cañedo-Fabrega, “Efectos de Potosí,” pp. 57-60, and 71-78.


Petition by Gabriel Fernández Guarache, undated, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 53A. On the envelope is a note: “En Md a 19 de Junio de 1668.


Royal cédula to the Viceroy of Peru “ … s.re la ex.on del despacho arriva, inserto cerca del repartimiento Gen.l de la mita, de Potosí, y desagravio de los In.os remitiendole Juntam.te las Pretensiones de Don Gabriel frz Guarache,” Madrid, Nov. 12, 1668, AGI, Charcas, leg. 420, libro 8, fols. 20-22 (a copy). The routing of Fernández Guarache’s petition is explained in the “Relacion de lo que contiene el memorial … de D. Gabriel fernandez Guarache … ,” that is attached to the petition itself, AGI, Charcas, leg, 267, nos. 53 and 53A, respectively.


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Jan. 13, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 8.


Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo to the Conde de Lemos, Jan. 6, 1670; included in the “Ron de las cartas” (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 21 A; see n. 37 supra). Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo to the crown, Potosí, Mar. 12, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, nos. 58 and 58A (the latter is the envelope).


Copy of a letter from the Conde de Lemos to Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo, Lima, Feb. 3, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 10A.


Copy of a letter from the Conde de Lemos to President Pedro Vázquez de Velasco, Lima, Feb. 3, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 10B.


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Feb. 7, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 11 (author’s translation).


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Apr. 4, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 14.


Corregidor Oviedo’s note that he had implemented the three orders was dated Mar. 10, 1670, and is included in the “Ron de las cartas” (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 21A; see n. 37 supra). Zavala, Servicio personal, II, 149, says that the orders were promulgated on Mar. 9, 1670. The supporting letters are: (a) the Gremio de azogueros to the crown, Potosí, Mar. 19, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 13; and (b) the Villa de Potosí to the crown, Potosí, Mar. 15, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 12.


The corregidor’s proposal came in a letter of May 6, 1670, and the viceroy’s response on July 8, 1670. Both are included in the “Ron de las cartas” (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 21A; see n. 37 supra).


The letter is that from the Conde de Lemos to the crown, July 4, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 16. The discourse is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 15 (described in n. 31 supra).


AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 15 (see n. 31 supra).


President Vázquez de Velasco, in his letter to the crown, said that the Conde de Lemos lacked the authority to disband the mita on his own; Potosí, Aug. 9, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 20.


“Parecer de la Junta de desagravios en que concurrio el sr Arzobpo D. P° de Villagomez en conform.d de cédula de su Magd, undated, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 15C. The date of the junta is noted in the viceroy’s letter to the crown, Lima, July 4, 1670 (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 16). Also see Zavala, Servicio personal, II, 149-150.


The first page of the July 4 discourse (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 15) is an index of the accompanying documents. The opinions of the religious communities are included as AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, nos. 15E through 15J. That of the bishop-elect of Concepción (he is not identified by name) is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 15D.


President Pedro Vázquez de Velasco to the crown, July 7, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 17; and President Pedro Vázquez de Velasco to the crown, Potosí, Aug. 9, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 20. Actually, the first letter asked the crown either to conduct a repartimiento or to abolish the mita; the second letter dismissed the former possibility.


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Los Reyes, Aug. 14, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 21. Ibarra’s proposal that the Conde de Lemos replace Oviedo is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 21B. In the margin is a note that reads: “Hagase como parece al sr Visitador D Alvaro de Ybarra para cuio efecto se despachen los ordenes necesarios. Lima 15 de Agosto de 1670 it is rubricated by the Conde de Lemos.


Queen Mariana to the Conde de Lemos, “Respuesta al Virrey del Peru S,re lo tocante al Repartirn.to general de la Mita de Potasi,” Madrid, Nov. 7, 1670, AGI Charcas, leg. 416, libro 6, fols. 95v-97v; and a draft: “Respuesta al Virrey del Peru sre lo tocante al repartimto Gen.l de la mita de Potassi,” by the Council of the Indies, Madrid, Nov. 7, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 23.


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Sept. 18, 1671, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 24. A draft of the letter that the Council of the Indies sent to Queen Mariana relating the contents of the Nov. 7, 1670, cédula and Lemos’s response of Sept. 18, 1671, is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 26 (incomplete); AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 35 is another draft; and the final form of the council’s note is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 37, dated Madrid, June 8, 1673.


Queen Mariana to the Conde de Lemos, “… que de Las ordenes necess“ para que a los Indios de la Mita de Potosí, qe travajaren de dia, no se les obligue ni admita a que lo hagan de noche,” Madrid, Dec. 31, 1671, AGI, Charcas, leg. 416, libro 6, fols. 151-152; and Queen Mariana to the Conde de Lemos … sobre diferentes Puntos tocantes al buentratam.to y Conseruazion de los Indios de la Mita de Potosí, Madrid, Dec. 31, 1674 [sic?], AGI, Charcas, leg 416, libro 6, fols. 152v-155v; both are copies. Corregidor Diego de Ulloa Pereyra to the crown, Potosí, May 20, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, nos. 31 and 32 (the former is the envelope); the corregidor notes that the Council of the Indies confirmed the three 1669 orders on the last day of 1671.


Decreto de la Conss.ta que se a de hazer tocante a la mita de Potossi El mismo dia se puso otro pa qe D Andres de Ang.lo haga r.on de todos los pap.s pa formar esta consta que esta de ntro,” Apr. 12, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, nos. 33A and 33B (the latter is the envelope). A note of Apr. 19 orders all relevant materials sent to Angulo, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 33. The Angulo relación is dated May 3, 1673, and is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 36. The Council of the Indies reported to Queen Mariana in a letter of Madrid, June 8, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 37.


The Council of the Indies to the queen, Madrid, June 8, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 37.


Decision of the Council of the Indies, Oct. 9, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 41. For the council’s orders to the Conde de Castellar of Madrid, Oct. 9, 1673, see AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, nos. 42 and 43, two copies of the letter (the latter is the final draft).


Nicolás Matías del Campo y de la Rynaga, Memorial apologético, histórico, jurídico y político (Lima, 1672). I used the copy housed in the library of the Sociedad Geográfica “Sucre,” Sucre, Bolivia.


The deputies of the Gremio de azogueros to the crown, Potosí, Aug. 8, 1670, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 19.


Corregidor Oviedo described the work force at Potosí in his letter to the crown of Potosí, Oct. 8, 1668, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, nos. 56C and 56D (the latter is the envelope). He reported 1,424 mitayos in person and 700.5 in silver on that occasion (see n. 35 supra). The testimonio that the Conde de Lemos sent to support his claim (AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 57A) shows an increase from 3,077 “Yndios” in 1668 to 3,424 “Yndios” in 1669, for an increase of 347. The letter is that from the Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Mar. 18, 1669, AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 57. Zavala, Servicio personal, II, 149, follows the lead of Guillermo Lohmann Villena (El Conde de Lemos, virrey del Peru, [Madrid, 1946]) and states that the number of mitayos in 1669 was 3,424.


Corregidor Diego de Ulloa Pereyra to the crown, Potosí, Feb. 4, 1672, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 28. His testimonio showing an increase in the royal fifth is in AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 28A. A cover sheet for both is in AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 29. Ulloa’s claims were repeated two years later, in his letter to the crown of Potosi, May 20, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, nos. 31 and 32 (the former is the envelope).


The Conde de Lemos to the crown, Lima, Apr. 26, 1672, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 30. He included a certification (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 30A) that is identical to that sent by Corregidor Ulloa (AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 28A; see n. 69 supra).


Royal cédula from Queen Mariana to Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo, Madrid, June 10, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 45A. The order restoring Oviedo to his post is the cédula sent by the queen to the Conde de Lemos, “… ordenandole restituia a Dn luis Antto de oviedo Correjidor de Potossi a el exercicio de su oficio y le desemvargue sus Vienes y restituia las multas que se le hubieren sacado y emvie los autos al Consejo,” Madrid, Jan. 21, 1672, AGI, Charcas, leg. 420, libro 8, fols. 152-154 (a copy). Luis Oviedo may have benefited in this instance from his friendship with Gabriel de Quirós, a secretary to the Council of the Indies: Oviedo sent Quirós a letter from Potosí on Mar. 12, 1670, asking him to see that the corregidor’s side of the Oviedo-Lemos dispute received a fair hearing in the council; AGI, Charcas, leg. 267, no. 59.


The Council of the Indies to Queen Mariana, Madrid, June 8, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 37.


The Audiencia of Lima to the crown, Lima, June 17, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 38; sending the letter it had received from Corregidor Oviedo. A copy of that letter is dated Potosí, Apr. 26, 1673, and it is in AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 38A. The statistical results of Oviedo’s inspection of Potosí are dated Apr. 22, 1673, and are in AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 38B. See also: (a) Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo to the crown, Potosí, Sept. 6, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 40; (b) Corregidor Luis Antonio de Oviedo to the crown, Potosí, Nov. 22, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 44; and (c) a testimonio accompanying the latter, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 44A.


Former Corregidor Diego de Ulloa to the crown, Potosí, May 20, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, nos. 31 and 32 (the former is the envelope). A fifty-eight-folio testimonio that accompanied that letter is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 32A. The Condesa de Lemos’s defense of her husband is included in her letter to the crown, Lima, May 2, 1673, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 34; an attached financial statement on the royal fifth is AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 34A.


The crown’s response to Castellar’s report includes the viceroy’s observations: “Copia de despacho de 16 de Novre de 1676 al Virrey del Peru en respta de lo que escrivio s.e el estado en que se hallava el cerro de Potosi y repartimto Genl de los In.os de mita del,” AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 51.


Queen Mariana to the Conde de Castellar, “.… encargandole ponga muy particular cuydado en la Labor y beneficio de los minerales de Potossi y que se les asista. Con la mita de Inos para que se aumente el Ualor de los quintos,” Madrid, Sept. 12, 1675, AGI, Charcas, leg. 416, libro 6, fols. 160v-161 (a copy). For the Council of the Indies’s decision to send this order, see its decision of July 31, 1675, AGI, Charcas, leg. 268, no. 48.


The Phelan thesis is best synthesized in John Leddy Phelan, “Authority and Flexibility in the Spanish Imperial Bureaucracy,” Administrative Science Quarterly (Ithaca), 5 (June, 1960), 7-65. It is further elaborated and applied to a specific case in his The Kingdom of Quito in the Seventeenth Century: Bureaucratic Politics in the Spanish Empire (Madison, 1967).

Author notes


The author is Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with the Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University.