¿Quién contará el oro que destos lugares entró en España?

Pedro de Cieza de León

The enterprises of discovery and conquest of Spanish America were motivated to a large extent by the entrepreneurial spirit of men who were seeking a return on their investments in the new territories. While the military and religious aspects of the conquering expeditions have caught the attention of historians throughout the centuries, the economic side has remained almost unexplored. In the case of the conquest of Peru, there have been only a few exceptions, concentrating for the most part on the financing stage before the actual expedition led by Francisco Pizarro.1 The extraction of the resources available in the conquered country and what became of the fortune accumulated by the first conquerors are two issues that have remained unsolved. This article will attempt to show both the process of formation of the patrimony of the Pizarro family in Peru and how those Peruvian earnings were invested in Spain, from the beginning of the conquest until the 1570s. The Pizarros, acting as a unified group, directed much of their earnings to their homeland in Trujillo and neighboring areas, buying urban property, agricultural fields, and pasture lands, as well as lending money to peasants and urban dwellers. As a result of the Pizarros’ permanent link to their homeland, much of the money generated in the conquest and initial exploitation of Peru was introduced into the Spanish economy and society.

I wish to add my own particular thanks to John Lynch, for his remarks on the original Spanish text, as well as to acknowledge a grant of the Dutch-Spanish Cultural Exchange Treaty and of the Unger van Braro Foundation that financed my stays in Seville in 1985 and 1987. (A.P.J.)

Pizarro, in addition to carrying out military operations in Peru, accumulated wealth and properties for himself and his relatives. It is very difficult at this point to evaluate accurately the fortune of the Pizarros in Peru. The diversity of transactions carried out via a complex web of administrators awaits further research, while most of the documents published on this subject are fragmentary and without archival references. In addition to these problems, one has to consider the loss and destruction of documents by the affected parties at the time of the Gonzalo Pizarro uprising and the later dispersion and looting of archives, especially those of the early sixteenth century.2

However, several indications provide an initial impression of the extent of the Pizarros’ fortune in Peru. During the first stages of the conquest the Europeans, and the Pizarros in particular, were as busy in lending money as they were in military affairs, selling various products and performing a wide variety of mercantile activities within their expedition. As early as May 8, 1533, a few days after Hernando Pizarro’s return from Pachacámac to Cajamarca, and more than two months before the execution of Inca Atahuallpa, he was engaged in planning the organization of his encomiendas. On that date he issued before a notary a poder to his mayordomo Crisóstomo de Hontiveros, entrusting Indians and properties into his care, and authorizing him to buy and sell on his behalf as well as to represent him legally whenever necessary.3 A few months later, the then Comendador, Adelantado and Capitán General Francisco Pizarro was getting ready to receive merchandise from abroad. In Jauja, on October 26, 1533, in the middle of the war with the Inca state, Pizarro issued a poder to Juan de Valdivieso and Pedro Navarro to receive merchandise from Panama, collect debts, and settle accounts.4 These initial activities soon gave way to others which were both more profitable and more deeply rooted in the new lands.

Encomiendas, Mines, and Coca

The highest reward for the personal and financial risks taken by the first conquerors was, without a doubt, the possession of an encomienda of Indians. An encomienda gave the possibility of fulfilling the seigneurial expectations which few Spaniards could achieve, and it gave access to Indian tribute, labor, and even land.3 Moreover, the encomienda gave political power through military force, since the encomenderos could and did use Indian men and women extensively in the wars of conquest as well as in the bloody civil wars among Spaniards that followed. Given that it was Francisco Pizarro who granted most of the first encomiendas in Peru, it is not surprising that he and his family took the best and richest ones for themselves. This practice not only justified the complaints of their contemporaries but also leads to our understanding of the relationship between the Pizarros and Peru.6

Francisco had been the captain of the enterprise, had received the royal grants necessary to ensure a leading position, and was understandably eager to collect the returns on his large investments. Moreover, by arranging the presence of four of his brothers in the invasion of Peru, Francisco had managed to consolidate the Pizarro leadership. The larger Extremaduran group came next in the pyramid of power, and its members were accordingly widely rewarded when the country’s population was divided into encomiendas. For example, out of 168 Europeans present in Cajamarca, 36 came from Extremadura, the native province of the Pizarros. Of those, 17 came from Trujillo and its surroundings and 4 from nearby Cáceres.7 The Extremadurans were the largest regional contingent, and it is not surprising that their closeness to the leaders resulted in their permanent settlement in the conquered country. Conversely, those who were from other regions were more inclined either to return to Spain with the initial booty or to embark on more promising expeditions of “discovery and conquest,” thus furthering the borders of the Spanish presence in America.8 No one illustrates this situation better than Diego de Almagro who, in his expedition to Chile, was seeking the space for himself that had been seized by the Pizarros in Peru. As may be expected, the fate of the leaders determined to a large extent that of their committed followers.

The Pizarros had planned a long-term enterprise for Peru. The looting of temples, cemeteries, and treasures of the Andean people was a first stage of the Pizarros’ accumulation of wealth, obviously not to be undervalued but soon to give way to a more thorough exploitation of the indigenous population and the country’s resources. This second stage, though brief in the time span of the Pizarros, was the real origin of the family’s wealth. Given its scope and intensity, it seems strange that a few decades later the Pizarros and their wealth were almost forgotten in Peru. With regard to the supposed poverty that Francisco Pizarro suffered at the time of his death, Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, a most capable colonial official, said that “it was not known that he left anything else than an old cloth on top of his grave in the city of Lima.”9 As will be seen, that assessment lacked all traces of truth.

In the radiant years of the Pizarros—i.e., until 1541 when the Marquis Francisco Pizarro was killed, and possibly even until 1548 when Gonzalo’s rebellion and life ended—the encomiendas of Francisco Pizarro were located all over Peru in the districts of Los Reyes (Lima), Cuzco, Huánuco, La Plata, and Guayaquil. Many of those encomiendas included within their boundaries gold and silver mines which had been worked in pre-Hispanic times for the benefit of the Inca state. Pizarro also owned houses and solares in Lima, Cuzco, and Quito and at least four chacras that had previously produced coca leaves for the Cuzco elite, that is, the best quality coca in Peru. These chacras were located in the vicinity of Yucay, whose main valley had been taken over as an encomienda by the Pizarro brothers Francisco, Hernando, and Gonzalo.

The case of the valley of Yucay is especially interesting, for it had been one of the most productive in the Andes and reserved for the personal use of the Inca rulers.10 Not long before the arrival of the Spaniards, Huayna Cápac had turned Yucay into his private estate. Buildings, or agricultural terraces, and irrigation canals were constructed using some 3,500 mitimaes, colonists transplanted from other parts of the state. Additionally, yanaconas and camáyoc (“servants of the Inca”) were made to settle there. According to some versions, when this ruler died, his mummified body was taken to Yucay and worshipped by his panaca until the late sixteenth century.11 At the time of the distribution of encomiendas, Pizarro took a large portion of the valley for his family. This encomienda was so rich and significant that Viceroy Marquis of Cañete granted it some years later in perpetuity and mayorazgo to Sairi Túpac Inca as a reward and compensation for leaving his refuge in Vilcabamba and going to live in Cuzco.12

Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro held some of their encomiendas in the nearby valley of Tampu (or Tambo), and Gonzalo’s were precisely on the “lands named Colcabamba … , ancient patrimony of the Inca.”13 Finally, lands in the area had been allocated to doña Angelina Yupanqui, Pizarro’s second woman and mother of his two younger children; she was later given in marriage to the well-known Quechuist Juan de Betanzos by Gonzalo Pizarro.14 Doña Angelina was a member of the Cuzco nobility and probably the daughter of Huayna Cápac. As such she belonged to the ethnic group that ruled the Andes until the arrival of the Europeans. Some time after the Spanish invasion, during the time spent with Pizarro, she was again close to the rulers of the country. Finally, when she married Betanzos, she became involved personally and through her husband in the negotiations to end the state of war between the colonial government and the last remains of Inca resistance in Vilcabamba.

The nature of the available information does not now permit a reliable estimate of the value of the Pizarro family’s properties during their years of glory. However, it would be difficult to imagine any other encomendero who could even approach, in income, any of the Pizarros. For example, just one of Gonzalo’s repartimientos, located in Charcas, was valued at about 100,000 pesos per year, which included the production of the mines, clothing, and tributes paid by the Indians. Hernando, on his part, obtained at least 130,000 pesos per year from his mines in Porco; and Francisco received about 140,000 pesos per year from his repartimientos in Collao alone. Even if these figures were falsely increased to suit the crown’s needs during its lawsuits against the Pizarros, the actual quantities must have been high. It is certainly accurate to assert that the Pizarros had taken over the most valuable encomiendas, lands, mines, and urban solares in Peru for themselves. Furthermore, a large portion of these properties had belonged to the panacas or royal lineages of pre-Hispanic Cuzco, as in the case of the valley of Yucay. There was, in this valley, a recurrent parallelism with regard to invading forces. In the same way that the Inca ethnic group had expelled the local population, expropriating their lands, the Pizarros had evicted a large number of the Incas that were occupying it. Those that remained achieved a sort of coexistence under the patronage of the European conquerors.

Hernando Pizarro was characterized by an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit and perhaps had more initiative than his brothers. Like them, he held several encomiendas in many provinces, but he also had a very special interest in mining his deposits in Porco and Arequipa. For a long time Hernando took care to send tools and slaves from Spain to work these mines. On October 16, 1534, for example, Hernando gave a carta de poder in Sanlúcar de Barrameda to his loyal agent Francisco de Zavala to send to Peru the black slaves remaining from a license of 100 that the emperor had granted on May 21 of that same year. Zavala executed the order by shipping 35 blacks in 1536, 1537, and 1540.15 In his first years on Peruvian soil, Hernando had devoted himself to giving out a number of loans in cash and to selling clothes and horses, according to the notarial registers.16 Yet even Gonzalo, despite his youth, could boast comparable wealth. He held repartimientos in Charcas, Arequipa, Quito, and Cuzco, in addition to mines and houses, all of which were seized for the crown after his rebellion was defeated. Francisco Martín de Alcántara, Francisco’s half brother on his mother’s side, was the humblest of them all. Nevertheless, his encomiendas of Jauja, Los Llanos, and Huánuco enabled him to collect the tribute of 3,800 Indians.17

Although the possessions of the Pizarros could be considered separately for each brother—as in fact the Spanish courts would eventually do—it is more fitting to think of them as different branches of the same enterprise. The family operated as a single unit from the time Francisco brought his brothers from Spain. By the marriage of Hernando to his niece doña Francisca—who would soon become the sole heiress of the estate of her father, the Marquis—the family’s patrimony was unified, the global administration falling to Hernando. However, by that time the nepotist government of Peru by the Pizarros had come to an end, many of their properties having been seized by the crown for a variety of reasons, and the Pizarros’ enterprise entered a new stage. Peru still continued to be a source of income for them, although nothing out of the ordinary for major conquistadors. A large amount of the money forwarded to Spain by the family during the earlier years was now under the management of Hernando. The uses given to that money will be discussed below.

The First Treasure from Peru

After the distributions of Cajamarca (June 17 and July 16, 1533), Pizarro decided to entrust his brother Hernando with the delicate mission of going to Spain. The aim of this trip was twofold: On the one hand he had to “give notice and report on the great land he [Francisco] had discovered and the large treasure they had found and were hoping still to find, because with such happy news, His Majesty would feel he had been well served…. ”18 As a sample of that treasure Hernando took the emperor the royal fifth that had been collected until the time of his departure, which probably included Atahuallpa’s throne of solid gold and pieces of jewelry that the royal officials had given him in Peru.19 A contemporary report recorded that in 1534 “Hernando Pizarro brought 5,048 marks of silver as well as 150,069 pesos of gold of various carats for the king. Five ships were [then] loaded for Peru [and in them] went more than 500 passengers.”20 Although brief, these few lines suggest a relationship of causality between the arrival of precious metals and the departure of the new contingent of reinforcements so much needed by the invading forces in Peru at that time.

Hernando had a spectacular reception, in contrast to the one given to his brother Francisco when he came to seek royal grants and people a few years earlier. The then visionary prophesies had now turned into very convincing metal. For this reason, the requests of the Pizarros to the crown concerning jurisdiction and prerogatives, the second motive for Hernando’s voyage, became more feasible. In return for his gifts, Hernando asked in the audience he had with Charles V that His Majesty grant his brother Francisco an increase in territory and award Almagro and himself other mercedes, all of which he received without much difficulty.21

Between the end of 1533 and the middle of 1534, four ships arrived successively in Seville loaded with returning conquerors. These four ships brought to Seville 708,580 pesos in gold and 49,008 marks in silver belonging to private individuals and the crown.22 Besides the legally declared gold and silver, there is little doubt that a very large amount of unregistered metal was smuggled in by passengers. Transport from the river to the city must have attracted the attention of many people, as cases were unloaded at the pier and taken to the Casa de la Contratación.23 The ship on which Hernando Pizarro arrived, the Santa María del Campo, had reached the “river of Seville,” i.e., the mouth of the Guadalquivir, on January 9, 1534, carrying gold and silver for the king, as mentioned above, along with 310,000 pesos in gold and 13,500 marks in silver brought by individual passengers. Francisco Pizarra’s secretary in Peru, Francisco de Jerez, who was to arrive in Seville six months later, took note of the above-mentioned quantities, emphasizing that most of the crown’s treasure had been sent without smelting in the form of gold and silver containers as well as a silver eagle, two sacks of gold, “and one gold idol the size of a four-year-old child….”24

Hernando was allowed by the royal officials to take some of the pieces he had brought for the king as a sample for Charles V to see. The latter soon ordered the smelting of the treasure. There was no time for delay, because there was “the need for money.” In January 1535 the emperor ordered that the process should not take over two months. Whatever could not be smelted in Seville during that term was to be sent immediately to the mints of Toledo and Segovia with “all the [necessary] advice and clarity … for the instruction of officials here, who are not so skillful in the labor of gold from the Indies as those of the mint of that city [Seville].”25 In this way the first shipment of gold and silver from Peru was incorporated into the European economy as currency, while many of the most elaborate pieces of gold and silver work, a legacy of Andean culture, were being destroyed.

Of the treasures brought by individual passengers, the highest valued was surely that of the Pizarro family, entrusted to Hernando. The amount was probably impressive and in itself justified the long trip undertaken by the best educated and most sagacious of the Pizarro brothers, in the company of two faithful servants, Juan Cortés and Martín Alonso. Cortés and Alonso would administer the estate of the Pizarros in Peru and in Spain for many years to come, even acting as figureheads when necessary.26 It is difficult to assess the value of the jewels and precious metals that Hernando took home with him as his first booty from Peru. Cieza de León, the soldier-chronicler, stated that “Hernando Pizarro took out of this kingdom [Peru] a quantity of his gold and that of his brothers.”27

Another contemporary writer asserted that the conquerors remaining in Peru had made a particular effort to give many riches to Hernando, whom they considered an active element of discord, so that he would remain in Spain.28 Hernando invested the wealth that he and his brothers had obtained in their conquest in the least risky way, attempting at the same time to obtain the highest possible returns, and was possibly thinking even at this stage of a long-term consolidation of the family estate. Before examining the strategy adopted by Hernando, it should be noted that the three principal spheres in which he invested his new fortune were merchandise and capital goods to be sent to Peru, land and local investments, and juros. We have already seen an example of the first category, with the sending of slaves and tools for the mines. This activity was maintained for many years as it was cheaper to buy European products in Spain than in Peru. However, when royal confiscation of private money shipments became unbearable, Hernando decided to supply his enterprises in Peru, even at higher prices, investing the limited money that reached him in Spain in other ways.

The second category was that of land and local investments. During the sixteenth century there was a marked increase in the purchase of agricultural land by urban investors in Castile as in the rest of Europe. Not only was there the firm belief that land was the only source of wealth that offered long-term security, but there also was the extraordinary demographic increase which by increasing demand caused the price of agricultural products to rise. Even though commerce may have yielded higher profits, investment in land was less risky, and in addition land ownership was an important element for promotion within the ranks of the aristocracy, something that undoubtedly appealed to the enriched conqueror.29 In the case of Hernando Pizarro, the Peruvian enterprises continued to be his main source of income—even though they were unstable due to the conflicts that affected the country and the Pizarros—while the investments in Spain represented his settling down and establishment of a solid estate for long-term security and the achievement of a higher place within the Spanish aristocracy.

A large sum of Hernando’s money was turned into juros or royal treasury bonds, usually in a compulsory manner following the seizure of registered metals that arrived in Seville. The owner of a juro received the promise of a periodic payment at a fixed rate of interest, for which responsibility was assigned to specific sources of the crown’s ordinary income.30 Hernando received payments for many years through his agents and bankers, for example from the almojarifazgo of Seville. Thus, on May 22, 1539, Francisco de Zavala, on behalf of Hernando Pizarro, received 200,000 maravedís from the almojarifes Alonso de Illescas and Baltasar de Alcocer, paid through the bank of Cristóbal Francisquín and Diego Martínez. This payment corresponded to the interest on two juros for the first third of that year, which had expired in April.31 At least until 1551 there are notarial records according to which agents and bankers in Seville collected interest payable on juros on behalf of Hernando Pizarro.32 Other juros, as will be seen, were located in Trujillo and neighboring towns.

The Spanish crown had rapidly acquired the habit of seizing the precious metals belonging to private individuals as a means of financing its increasing needs.33 As early as 1523, in a state of emergency, the crown temporarily seized private metals. The Spanish involvement in Europe with the imperial, and perhaps religious, interests of Charles V placed increasing pressure on the royal treasury. The arrival of Peruvian treasure had given the emperor hope of improving his financial position by paying off the treasury’s debts, but the increase in crown expenses was always greater than its income, including of course that of the Indies. An interesting example of the seizing of treasure took place in 1535. Four ships coming from Nombre de Dios arrived in Seville with a large amount of private gold and silver from Peru, in addition to that of the crown. A real cédula dated February 13 ordered royal officials in Seville to seize the metal and pay their owners in juros perpetuos at a rate of “30,000 a thousand,” i.e., 3 1/3 percent, “which we will pay off within the next six years …; not paying it off within that time, it will remain perpetual forever.” While the Welser bankers lent money to the crown at an interest rate of 9 percent and the Fuggers later accepted juros at a rate of 6.25 percent, the forced loans taken from private citizens cost only about 3 percent. The total amount of private gold that was transported on the four ships and subject to confiscation—that is, shipments of at least 400 pesos in value—was slightly more than 700,000 pesos, while the silver amounted to almost 95,000 marks. This shipment included in its registers money belonging to all the Pizarros, with the exception of Hernando.34 Francisco, Juan, and Gonzalo registered 47,403 pesos of gold and no silver. In all probability this shipment saw the beginning of the first forced juros obtained by the Pizarros in Spain after the conquest of Peru, setting a pattern that would be repeated often in the future.

But not all the money reaching Spain legally was turned into juros. Unfortunately we do not have a complete series for several years, but a few examples will give an idea of the constant flow of money Hernando Pizarra received from his interests in Peru and the encomienda pensiones granted to his wife and nephews. Table I shows some shipments that arrived in Seville for the Pizarros in 1550, 1556, and 1557. Even though there is some uncertainty that the registers for these years are complete, it can be seen that at least four members of the Pizarra family still had strong economic links with Peru. On the one hand, Hernando and doña Francisca, his wife, owned businesses that continued to be profitable and that required the presence of several mayordomos—more than those appearing in these lists. On the other hand, don Francisco Pizarra and his cousin by the same name, sons of Gonzalo Pizarra and Francisco Pizarra respectively, received the pensions granted to them by the crown for their maintenance in Spain when they were expelled from Peru.35 However, much of the money Hernando Pizarra received from Peru probably went to Spain through illegal channels. These took many forms and became more attractive as the crown imposed more restrictions on the legal means of entry.

Even during his first return trip to Spain, Hernando had addressed the emperor requesting that the royal officials of the Casa de la Contratación in Seville allow him to land His Majesty’s treasure without obstacles.36 Direct evidence has not been found that Hernando avoided import duties on his own money, but considering the number of acquisitions he made through his agents soon after his return, as can be seen from the notarial records studied below, few doubts remain. In any case, at the time of Hernando’s second and final trip to Spain, when the initial splendor of the Peruvian treasure had become the everyday need of the royal treasury, Fiscal Villalobos of the Council of the Indies formally accused Hernando Pizarro of having taken unregistered gold, silver, and emeralds valued at 500,000 ducats, and without paying the royal fifth.37 The amount was high, and, if true, it was a daring act, befitting a character such as Hernando.

The method of personally transporting money from Peru to Spain, however, was not carried out frequently, for Hernando was the only one of the Pizarro brothers who returned to Spain after the conquest and then only twice. It was more convenient and safer, even though more expensive, to trust the business to professionals: that is, the merchants and the ships’ masters. Since it was an illegal business, it was noted in the documents only in exceptional cases. In a letter dated from prison in Medina del Campo on December 23, 1543, Hernando addressed his agent and banker in Panama, Juan de Zavala, instructing him on the procedure of dispatching money and documents.

[A]ll that might come for me or anyone else without register should be entrusted to the ship’s master, who is an honest man. A receipt should remain there and a duplicate should come within the dispatches of Francisco de Zavala, and even my letters should come inside his dispatches. … If you receive an order from me to give something to someone, do not do so unless it is in my handwriting and carries my signature, and … for additional safety it [my message] will be signed and marked by a notary public and sealed by my seal.38

There can be little doubt that the illegal shipments of precious metals belonging to the Pizarros and other individuals continued throughout the following decades. This flow of illegal money proved to be of significant value even after the Gonzalo Pizarro administration, in spite of the fact that his execution strengthened the crown while it impaired the power of the first conquerors.

Hernando Pizarro: Head of the Family Enterprise

The pattern followed by many of the returning conquerors had been to invest their newly acquired riches in lands surrounding their places of origin in Spain.39 Hernando had faithfully bought land in Trujillo and surrounding areas, and other places in Extremadura. In 1561, Hernando Pizarro was the largest landowner in La Zarza, a small place in the jurisdiction of Trujillo, now called La Conquista de la Sierra.40 Hernando had no doubts that his social promotion and definitive settlement should come true in his patria chica, in the environment he knew and perhaps even longed for.

After his first return trip to Spain, Hernando went back to Peru having begun his program of investment in the metropolis. His mission had been successful and he carried many royal mercedes for the family. But even as early as this, the influential licenciado Gaspar de Espinosa had tried to tarnish Hernando’s golden halo in court by writing to the emperor, “Your Majesty already has had news about the hostility between Captain don Diego de Almagro and him [Hernando Pizarro]; it is not convenient to have them both together in the same gobernación….,”41 The worst fears of Espinosa would come true a few years later as Almagro was executed by order of Hernando in Cuzco on July 8, 1538. As a result Hernando decided to take the transoceanic trip once again, to justify his actions before the emperor. Fearing the Almagrístas and a certain judge who had threatened to cut off Hernando’s head if he went through Panama, he journeyed through New Spain.42 After crossing the Isthmus of Tehuantepec he was arrested at Coatzacoalcos and brought to the viceroy in Mexico City, but an agreement must have been reached, as Hernando was soon released and allowed to board in Veracruz.43

Luck was not with him in Spain this time, as Hernando was soon jailed in Madrid. His misfortune began on April 17, 1540, when the solicitor Íñigo López de Mondragón presented two criminal cases on behalf of Diego de Alvarado, don Diego de Almagro el mozo, and others for the death of Diego de Almagro. The first one was against the Pizarro brothers and their accomplices, and the second case “particularly” against Hernando Pizarro. The charges were brought before the Council of the Indies, which was then staying with the court in Madrid. Hernando was not caught by surprise. He was ready for his defense not only with the many probanzas he had brought from Peru, but also with the fruits of his conquest that were still arriving in Spain. In spite of his preparations, Hernando could not prevent the decree to imprison him, issued by the Council of the Indies a month later, on May 14, 1540, and carried out “on the day before the eve of Pentecost” in the royal alcázar of Madrid.44

As a prisoner Hernando had to follow the royal court along its route. The judicial proceedings developed slowly and became increasingly complex, until he was finally placed in the castle of La Mota in Medina del Campo, which became his permanent prison for almost 18 years. Hernando was freed on May 17, 1561, after Philip II commuted his sentence of exile in Africa to banishment from the court and a bail of 48,000 ducats while awaiting the definitive sentence from the Council of the Indies. (This definitive sentence did not come until March 17, 1572, when a symbolic fine was imposed as well as permanent banishment from the Indies. 45) When Hernando Pizarro left prison many things had changed, for him and for Spain. All of his original accusers had long been dead, most of the judges on his tribunal were also dead as were all his brothers, who had suffered violent deaths in Peru.

The long years in prison were probably not too pleasant for Hernando Pizarro, even though his wealth, energy, and prestige allowed him to enjoy some comfort and to maintain a rather inconspicuous link with the outside world. At least until 1548 he lived with two female servants, one black the other white. The latter, called Isabel de Mercado, had been found hidden in the prisoner’s bed by a royal official making an enquiry. She declared that she had given birth three times during the time they had been living together. In a turret facing the exterior the prisoner had three rooms, one of them completely independent and assigned to the black servant. A despensero or storekeeper who lived in town took care of buying food and supplying all the needs of the prisoner. Although forbidden, Hernando had access to paper and ink, and thus was able to write long letters which reached Peru through secret channels. Moreover, the prison bars were not an obstacle for his servants and mayordomos; nor for merchants and lawyers to come see him to receive instructions on the running of his American and European enterprises during those years; nor for his female companions to leave for town when the need arose.46

The Family Estate in Peru

The children of Francisco Pizarro, doña Francisca and don Francisco, arrived in Spain in 1551. A few months later Hernando married his niece doña Francisca, thus unifying the Pizarros’ estate. The descent started by their children would soon die out, as would that of the Marquis Francisco Pizarro. The titles and property of the Pizarros would go to the descendants of another doña Francisca Pizarro, a daughter of Hernando and Isabel de Mercado.47

During the years he spent in prison, Hernando devoted himself to the management of his properties in Spain and Peru with energy and diligence, in addition to attending to the unending litigation he had to face before the slow and meticulous Spanish courts. The long distances, difficult communications, and the zeal of the royal officials toward the Pizarros—which allow us access to part of their private and business documents—increased the difficulties of the absentee owner. Everyone was aware that ordinary writings could be read by uninvited officials, including of course personal letters, so they were written so as to be difficult to interpret. Some, however, include very precise information, having been sent secretly, following Hernando’s careful instructions.

A long letter written by Hernando to Diego Martín was discovered by the royal officials, dated December 3, 1544, several months after the uprising of Gonzalo Pizarro in Peru. The letter touched on political as well as purely administrative topics.

I would like to know about the health of señor Gonzalo Pizarro and about your trip [to Panama] and about my possessions and about the [movements of the] señor viceroy with our things and those of my nephews…. What you say about the properties in Cuzco being lost does not surprise me, with all the disturbances that have occurred in the land.

In a more reflective tone, Hernando was possibly giving coded advice on the convenience of continuing with the rebel movement, but with a view to a seigneurial retirement to his properties in La Zarza, as he said

If I am freed, which God willing will be soon, I do not think that señor Gonzalo Pizarra will want me to turn back, rather than honor go forth. Once we retire to La Zarza, you will fish and the pages will collect branches and asparagus and I will spend my time with the crossbow and with the dovecote that is being built.

He closed the letter with another cryptic paragraph, in which the Peruvian situation was combined with international politics, his trial, and once again La Zarza’s utopia.

There is now permanent peace with France. My sentence was about to be issued but it was not. It is believed that it was sent for consultation [to the king], but some say it is a game of maña and that they will delay it until they are sure that the land [Peru] is peaceful; they are not interested that I am more concerned about La Zarza.48

Father Diego Martín, the addressee of this letter, was Hernando’s principal and most trustworthy manager, second in command only to Gonzalo Pizarra. Through this loyal priest Hernando directed the web of mayordomos, who in turn managed specific properties and followed his legal cases. Father Martín also had Hernando’s authority to hire or dismiss agents, to go through accounts, and to solve all kinds of problems about his estate in Peru.

Among all of Hernando’s enterprises it was probably the mines of Porco that brought the highest returns, through his large investments in tools and slaves there. In another letter to Diego Martín, Hernando said, “I have had made a very good tool for the silver mines, and I am sending to Lisbon for black craftsmen. … I will also send stallions and jennies. … Be diligent in the mines, because what could be extracted this year should not wait until the next….49 Just how much diligence was applied is difficult to know, but Hernando continued to receive silver from Peru, evading all the controls and continuous seizures of the crown.

According to Pedro de Soria, Hernando’s administrator in the Porco mines, the enterprise was doing fairly well in 1547, a year before the end of Gonzalo Pizarra’s rebellion. But Soria was having trouble with Father Diego Martín, his immediate superior, and may have simply been trying to please the master. In a letter addressed to Inés Rodríguez, but obviously intended to be delivered to her brother Hernando Pizarra, Soria sharply said

I only want to say that had it not been for the property under my care, memory of the Pizarros would no longer remain…. The properties of Hernando Pizarra, my master … are now worth four times as much as before, because this year I will produce 100,000 castellanos of maize and coca and chuño to help the governor [Gonzalo Pizarra] my lord in his expenses. I let your grace know all this so you will know that with the mines and properties that the governor, my lord, has, he can serve His Majesty more than any of his other vassals in the world, and if Hernando Pizarra, my lord, comes, he can go settle other lands rather than this one which is already discovered….50

There was a message between the lines from Soria to Hernando, suggesting that Governor Gonzalo Pizarro was taking advantage of the good mining production to Hernando’s disadvantage. In a previous paragraph Soria had already complained about the difficulties given him by Father Martín when he sought to send silver directly from Porco to Spain, subtly accusing the priest of disloyalty or complicity with Gonzalo, but it is more interesting to learn of the feasibility of sending silver from the Porco mines to Spain, along an unknown route, during the time Gonzalo Pizarro governed Peru. Hernando, however, trusted Father Martín and Gonzalo above anyone else, and they inevitably favored the Pizarro enterprise during Gonzalo’s administration between 1544 and 1548. The information available for this period confirms, once again, the soundness of the Pizarros’ family ties, that expressed themselves in the economic field in a marked idea of a common patrimony. In a letter written by Hernando from prison on December 2, 1544, he answered Gonzalo’s letter written in Chincha on July 17 the previous year: “Diego Martín is taking my poder to your grace to do and undo in my enterprises as you would in your own….” Later, he added

Do not feel sorrow, your grace, for what was spent or lost [in the expedition to La Canela, royal confiscations, etc.], our father left us nothing. We will go on with what we may have, please God, and as good brothers the wealthier one will help the other….

Do not think, your grace, of coming here any more than of pulling out your eyes, because that would mean to destroy your property and mine. When the time comes, your grace should write to me [informing me] how the enterprises there are doing and I will write asking you to come.51

Gonzalo invested a large amount of the family’s patrimony in the upkeep of his government, especially due to the high military expenses he had to face. It is true that part of those expenses were paid for with money looted from his enemies and from the royal treasury, but the rest was defrayed from the production of his own silver mines and encomiendas, those of his niece and nephews, and with the possessions of his brother Hernando, who continued to believe that Peru was his main enterprise. It is also true that Gonzalo levied taxes, gathered donations, and granted encomiendas to his supporters; but once defeated, the net result on the family’s estate was negative. Perhaps for this reason, as soon as he heard of the downfall and execution of his brother, Hernando attempted to distance himself from the rebel Pizarro. On June 8, 1549 Hernando, still in prison, accused Gonzalo of having “usurped” his properties in Peru, and produced a list of justifying documents, supposedly written four years earlier. Suffice it to say that the accusation was false and the deception was promptly discovered by Hernando’s judges, incorporating the relevant documents into his already voluminous expediente.52

Despite his efforts, Hernando could not maintain intact the Pizarro family’s estate in Peru, but neither did they lose all their property, for which he fought in the courts until the end of his days. Already in 1550 President Pedro de la Gasea, the able priest who cunningly defeated and eradicated the Pizarros from Peru, had received a royal order to deposit all the possessions, gold, and silver that belonged to Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro in the royal treasury.53 However, two decades later the matter was not completely settled, as Viceroy Toledo was still making efforts, in the midst of a tangle of complications, to regain for the crown the encomiendas of Indians that the Pizarros had taken for themselves, and also attempted to collect from them the expenses incurred by the royal treasury during Gonzalo’s uprising.54 By that time, the estate of the Pizarros in Peru had greatly diminished after having been for some 15 years the largest entrepreneurial complex in the country. But a large part of the profits went to the European metropolis where “the last Pizarro of the conquest,”55 Hernando, managed them with perseverance and ability with the final aim of perpetuating his name and fame.

The Investments in Spain

The large amount of precious metal that the Pizarros took to Spain, beginning with Hernando’s arrival in January 1534, was soon invested. Part of the money arriving from Peru was delivered to the Pizarros’ agents in Seville, once the royal officials had finished with the slow paperwork. Another part was kept by the crown and exchanged for royal juros. The interest on these juros was usually payable from the regular income of the Casa de la Contratación or the alcabalas of Seville, even though the transfer to other sources of royal income in a different place was frequently accepted.

It becomes clear in the case of the Pizarros that they tried to concentrate their property in Extremadura and particularly in Trujillo and its environs. They acquired land and rents mainly in Trujillo, Medellín, and other places within their jurisdiction (see map). Similarly, a large number of the juros they received were made payable from the royal alcabalas of Trujillo or turned into a local rent that could also bring prestige and power, such as the tenure of Trujillo’s fortress or the city’s alferazgo mayor, which gave the Pizarros one vote in the city council.56 These acquisitions of the Pizarros, or more precisely of Hernando and doña Francisca, can be seen through the information available in the two main judicial proceedings that the crown filed against them. The first one, against Hernando, was caused by Almagro’s execution, while the other, against doña Francisca as her father’s only surviving heir, resulted from Francisco Pizarro’s supposed debts to the royal treasury in Peru.

Licenciado Cisneros, the judge in doña Francisca’s lawsuit, had requested the royal collector of rents and alcabalas of Jaraicejo, Cañamero, La Cumbre, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Logrosán, and Garciaz to obtain from the local notaries a list of the juros and estates that Hernando and doña Francisca had in those places, and then to put an embargo on them to cover doña Francisca’s inherited debts to the crown. The alcabala collector obliged and prepared the required list which was signed by Hernando and doña Francisca in April 1566. This list was divided in two sections. The first detailed doña Franciscas personal property, which had originated from her Peruvian income and her father’s and brother’s inheritances, and included some properties in Lima, censos in Trujillo, Medellín, and their jurisdictions, and juros payable from royal income in Seville and Trujillo. The other section of the list gave an itemized account of all those properties that she held as common property with her husband Hernando and included land and houses that had been acquired in Trujillo, Medellín, and their jurisdictions, and in La Zarza, in addition to juros and censos payable in Trujillo. Hernando had already left prison at the time of signing this document and was staying in his mansion of La Zarza, enjoying the company of his wife and some of the servants that had been with them since the Peruvian days.57

The especially interesting characteristic of these lists is that they included copies of all the notarial records issued at the time of buying the properties and a large proportion of the censos. Most of the acquisitions had originally been made by Hernando’s agents—such as Luis de Camargo, who had been acting on behalf of the Pizarros in Spain at least since 1534. As Hernando did not want to risk losing his properties in case of unfavorable sentences in his lawsuits, they remained for many years under the name of those agents. However, when Hernando was allowed out of prison in 1561, many of his properties were transferred, always through a notary public, to his own name as the true owner, with a note specifying that they had been bought for him, from the beginning, with his money and following his instructions. As an additional guarantee, the original purchase contract was also copied with each transference document. By 1566, Hernando’s lawsuit was not finished, but it was clear that it would not bring about any surprises. Another case in which a transfer of ownership was made had occurred previously, soon after the Pizarros’ wedding, when doña Francisca’s lawsuit had reached a stage where confiscations were threatened both in Spain and in Peru. On January 18, 1554 and August 14, 1555, several of the properties that she acquired before marrying were transferred to her husband’s name.

In the long run, more important than the immediate risk faced in court was the Pizarros’ wish to establish a long-lasting estate, as was the way of the nobility, and to strengthen it through a mayorazgo.58 It is indeed difficult to imagine the Castilian nobility receiving Hernando Pizarra as one of their peers, given that it was an accepted principle that the riches of the nobles had to be inherited and, therefore, free from the memory of greed present at the time of obtaining them.59 Yet, it was still possible to leave the foundations ready for the Pizarros’ heirs to enjoy the corresponding privileges, as in fact occurred.

A mayorazgo could incorporate all the properties of the grantee, making them indivisible, but Hernando and doña Francisca opted for incorporating “the third part plus the fifth part” of their properties, all of which would be taken up by a previously named heir on their death. Doña Francisca received royal sanction for establishing a mayorazgo on November 26, 1571, while Hernando received his on May 27, 1577. Together, on June 6, 1578, they had the documents that formalized this mayorazgo issued in the name of their second son, don Juan Pizarro, and included a long list of the entailed properties.60 Moreover, between July and August 1578 facing Hernando’s imminent death—he was then blind and so weak that he could not get up from bed or even sign his name—they issued several documents. These documents, which included his last will, codicils, and additions to the original mayorazgo, are especially relevant because of the information they provide not only about the entailed properties but also about properties that remained free and bound for other ends.61

It may seem surprising that there are many more properties mentioned in the mayorazgo documents than in those of 1566, but that was to be expected. Between 1566 and 1578, the Pizarros must have bought lands with their Spanish and Peruvian income; these times were better and more peaceful for them, and despite his years Hernando could act personally in his business deals. In 1566, Hernando and doña Francisca had lacked all motivation to ease the judge’s job of finding out what their properties were in order to place an embargo on them. In 1578, however, it was definitely necessary to include all the properties of the dying Pizarro in the documents in order to assure succession, strength of the mayorazgo, and the preservation of the family’s patrimony.

If the list of urban and rural estates, censos, juros, and other wealth such as jewelry, clothes, and silverware is more complete in the mayorazgo, last will, and related documents, what interest may the 1566 list have? It proves crucial for two reasons: First, even though it is incomplete as a list of the Pizarros’ properties in Spain, it appears to be complete as a list of those properties recorded in their names before the Extremaduran notaries between 1552 and 1562, and also of those acquired in previous years but legally transferred to the Pizarros’ name during that period.62 Second, the information given for each transaction is abundant. A copy of the purchasing contract is furnished, and, when applicable, it is complemented by the transfer document made out to the Pizarros by their agent. Thus a somewhat deeper understanding of the dynamics of the purchases and their local effect is gained. However, a quantitative analysis of these investments would not be adequate, because even though the recorded investments seem to cover the whole spectrum of the Pizarros’ purchases, additional information shows that their properties were far more extensive.63

Chronology and Categories of Purchases

The dates of the investments in Spain were directly related to the events in the Pizarros’ lives. Table II shows a chronological list of the original dates of purchase. One must remember, once again, that the list is not complete and does not include all the investments of the Pizarros between 1536 and 1562. At first glance, the amount that draws attention by its magnitude is that of the juros of the royal crown (shown in more detail in Table III), but unfortunately the date of issue has not been located and they appear undated in the table. Many of the juros were issued in exchange for confiscated precious metal from Peru, while others, probably excluded from this table, had been bought voluntarily, especially during the first years.64

In Table II one sees a concentration of purchases in the initial years, until 1539, followed by a gap which coincided with Francisco Pizarro’s assassination in Lima in 1541 and Gonzalo’s uprising from 1544 to 1548. It was not until 1552—the year in which Hernando married doña Francisca, and the Pizarros’ political power definitely ended in Peru—that investments began to flow once again into Spain, simultaneously in Trujillo, Medellín, and La Zarza, remaining relatively steady until the end of the period, with the exception of 1559 and 1560.65

The most interesting investments of the Pizarros fall under the two categories of land and censos. The geographical location of the investments may be explained by the natural security the Pizarra family felt in their ancestral territory. Their purchases were mainly houses, cereal lands or panlleυar, vineyards, pasture rents or rentas de hierba, and censos, each in a different proportion according to the location. Thus, in Trujillo most of the money went to buy land and houses, even though the censos also had an important place. In Medellín, all the purchases were directed toward the acquisition of rent, in pasture and censos. Finally, in La Zarza, only land and houses were bought (see Table IV).


The Pizarros’ presence had remained visible in urban Trujillo since 1529, when Francisco returned from the Indies to collect his brothers. It is doubtful that he had any money to invest at that time, but Peruvian metals would soon start arriving. Thus, on June 17, 1536, Hernando bought from Alonso Hernández, notary public, some houses adjoining that inherited from his father in the plaza, for 1,600 gold ducats. Not long after, on October 16, he bought from doña Juana de Guzmán, widow of Francisco de Tapia, some “half houses” valued at 272,500 maravedís, whose remaining half he would later buy from García de Orellana. Using these houses and that of his father, Hernando built his Palacio de la Conquista, still the largest and most imposing building in Trujillo, with the exception of the Arab fortress.66

In the rural jurisdiction of Trujillo there was a continuous stream of land purchases, most of them cereal lands, with the apparent intention of combining small estates that were previously scattered among many owners. Thus, on March 20, 1537 Hernando paid 750,000 maravedís to Gonzalo Casco for one half of the dehesa or pasture-ground called Mingoabril; he bought the other half on September 29, 1545 for 250,000 maravedís and half the alcabala from the children of Alonso de Loaysa and María Calderón, both deceased. On this second half of the dehesa, the monastery of Santa María of Trujillo had 1,200 maravedís “muertos” or fixed annual rent that the new owner had to continue paying.67 In another instance, Hernando bought “two-fifths of a fifth” of the heredad named María Alonso, later adding to his property in the same estate “a tenth and an eleventh of two-fifths,” which were bought for 65,500 maravedís from Francisco Solano and his wife, María Pérez, on November 16, 1541.68 These examples are representative of the vast majority of transactions found in the jurisdiction of Trujillo. In general terms, the situation is similar to that found in Cáceres, and perhaps in other areas of Extremadura, when returning conquerors began to buy censos and accumulate land previously divided among many owners.69

The fragmented ownership of productive land in Trujillo on the one hand eased Hernando’s purchases by confronting him with small owners. On the other hand, this same fragmentation made it necessary for him to amass land as in a giant puzzle, by joining together small and sometimes minuscule plots. Hernando slowly managed to obtain the land that formed the dehesas; for over four decades he appears to have been consistently willing to buy, and almost never to sell. During that time, when heirs of a deceased person needed money, Hernando or his agents were ready to buy their lands. When a woman abandoned by her husband was faced with economic pressure, she also could count on Hernando Pizarro’s willingness to buy her lands. This is what happened, for example, with Inés de Torres, abandoned by her husband Juan de Orellana. When she sold a fourth of the heredad of La Casilla on March 11, 1536, she explained that she needed the money to pay for the expenses of her son, Cristóbal Pizarro, to go to the Indies.70 She received 68,000 maravedís from Diego de Trujillo, a loyal associate of Hernando, and five days later Cristóbal Pizarro was granted permission to sail to the Indies, declaring his destination Santa Marta.71 It is interesting to point out the presence of women in the registered purchases of houses and land in Trujillo. Of eight sellers, five were women. Besides Inés de Torres, three others were identified as widows and one as a beata or pious woman. The absence of the male in the family, so common in those days of migration and wars, may have forced women to sell their properties as a means of subsistence. Most of the sellers are identified as vecinos of Trujillo. This coincides with the generalization made for Spain at the end of the sixteenth century, that the owners of rural lands were mostly urban. However, any conclusions must be tentative in this case, given the small sample and possibility that the sellers might not have been representative of the group of owners.

It can be seen that much of the investment in Trujillo went into censos (see Table V). Consequently, the Pizarros participated in the return of this credit option, a form of loan similar to a mortgage, which usually allowed agricultural land, and in lesser measure houses, to be used as a guarantee for loans in cash. The variety used in most of the cases studied was called censos al quitar, which provided for an end of the periodic payment when the principal was paid off by the borrower, as opposed to a perpetual censo. In practice, however, the principal was never paid and interest on the loan continued to be collected for centuries. The demographic pressure of the early sixteenth century, as well as the increase in overall economic activity, had generated a higher demand for agricultural products. This, in turn, encouraged bringing back into cultivation long-abandoned fields, that became once again profitable.72 It can be assumed that at least part of the Pizarros’ censos went to agriculture, as in the case of the village of La Haba in Medellín, although specific mention of the purpose of the loan was not made. Some other censos were granted in Trujillo over the guarantee of urban property, as in the case of some shoemakers, the most important guild in Trujillo around the middle of the century. In any case, the Pizarros, and with them Peruvian treasure, acted as a source of credit in Trujillo, both in the urban and rural areas.


The Pizarros had a special interest in investing in Medellín and above all in the rural areas of the city’s jurisdiction. The first issue that draws attention is that all the investments were directed toward pasture rents and censos, completely excluding land purchases, whether in urban or rural areas. There were investments here from the very first years, at least since 1536, in addition to a very substantial investment in censos valued at 500,000 maravedís, granted to the village and vecinos of La Haba, that doña Francisca had inherited from her brother don Francisco, and which he must have bought between 1552 and 1557.73 The Pizarros were not the only New World conquerors that invested in the local economy. Hernando Cortés had sent Mexican money for the construction of a chapel under the advocation of San Antonio, in a convent of Franciscan friars in Medellín. Even though more information on this topic has not been found, it would not be surprising if he had become involved in purchasing Spanish properties in the first years of the conquest of Mexico.74

According to Hernando’s and doña Francisca’s mayorazgo documents, the total investment that the couple had in Medellin was 698.1 “vacas” of pasture rent.75 The set of notarial records, however, only registered 138.6 “vacas,” that were bought for a total of almost 1.7 million maravedís between 1536 and 1556, and of this, 807,950 maravedís correspond to the period 1552-1562. Taking these amounts as approximate indicators to obtain an average price, the investment of the Pizarros in pasture rents in Medellín by 1578 may be calculated at 8.5 million maravedís, even though these documents do not include all the family properties. As in the preceding cases, the pasture rents were acquired in small fractions and from a wide variety of owners. Often several fragments of the same property were bought, with the apparent intention of eventually gaining the entire ownership.

In this manner Hernando bought on September 9, 1536, 13.3 “vacas” in the dehesa of La Caballería, for 175,000 maravedís that yielded an annual rent of 5,000 maravedís. The seller was the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Concepción of Trujillo, that had moved temporarily to the town of Cabeza del Buey and was now returning to Trujillo. The money it received would be used to continue the construction of the new convent, near the church of San Clemente. The convent had been endowed with the property of this rent on December 1, 1534, as a dowry for the entrance of doña Blanca de Sotomayor and doña Catalina de Ocampo, both daughters of doña Catalina de Ocampo and the late Gutierre de Mendoza, who had owned 39.5 “vacas” in this dehesa.76 A year later, in two transactions dated February 18 and October 24, Hernando bought 9.5 “vacas” in the same dehesa of La Caballería from Inés de Chávez, widow of Hernando Carrillo. Of the 600 “vacas” that made up this dehesa, Hernando could buy 23 through many small transactions.77

The Pizarros’ purchases in Medellín were interrupted at about the same time as their purchases in other places, and then continued in 1552 with a significant investment of 400,000 maravedís. Among the purchases of the following years, a number indicated Hernando’s interest in trying to consolidate his possessions. He bought from doña Aldonsa de Orellana, widow of Hernando Alonso de Orellana, a total of 15.5 “vacas” in three transactions, one in 1554 and the rest in 1556, for a total price of 201,000 maravedís, in the dehesa of Torviscal. Hernando had accumulated at least 40 “vacas” in this dehesa, 25.5 bought from doña Aldonsa and 14.5 from Francisco de Contreras, vecino of Don Benito.78 Another interesting purchase was the one made from the sons of the Duke of Albuquerque, don Rodrigo and don Fernando Puertocarrero, who sold Hernando Pizarro slightly more than 58 “vacas” for 692,950 maravedís.79 This case shows that Hernando bought not only from impoverished widows but also, and in larger quantities, from the high nobility. However, again, widows stand out among the sellers of the period between 1536 and 1562, numbering three in a group that also included a clergyman and the already mentioned sons of the Duke of Albuquerque. As to the place of residence of the sellers, two said they were vecinos of Mérida, three of Medellín, and five of Trujillo; the convent also was located in Trujillo. It can be seen in the jurisdiction of Medellín, once more, that a vecino of Trujillo, an urban dweller, had made important investments in rural areas.

La Zarza

This was a small Extremaduran settlement classified in the middle of the sixteenth century under the category of lugar, that is, far smaller than a villa. However, the effect of the conquest of Peru was felt by all its 103 vecinos, from the richest to the poorest, because of the presence of the Pizarro family and Hernando’s intention to turn La Zarza into his own señorío. Captain Gonzalo Pizarro had left in this lugar a small estate that consisted of a “mill, a fence, a sown field, a house, and land” as inheritance to his children,80 but it was Hernando who began to build on that foundation the postconquest family estate, buying anything available within the jurisdiction of La Zarza.

There are two characteristics of the investments in La Zarza that contrast with those in Trujillo and Medellín. First, the list of notarial records does not include any purchases in La Zarza before 1552. But, as shown above, it is almost certain that at least since the 1540s Hernando had every intention of spending the rest of his life here. Moreover, the 36 transactions for properties in La Zarza that are available from the notarial records for the period 1552-62 do not reflect the totality of the purchases. Other documents show that the Pizarros bought more properties here, but probably before and after those years. Unfortunately, the situation in this case becomes more difficult to investigate than in the previous ones, considering that the mayorazgo documents do not detail individual properties in La Zarza but include them as one unit, except “the large vineyard … , the house in the woods, and the house of the oxen works,” all of which Hernando shortly before dying assigned to his eldest son, don Francisco Pizarra.81 In any case, the explanation for this contrast between La Zarza and the other places may be that the purchases made by the Pizarros’ agents during the first few years (1536-52) were not copied by the scribe of 1566, or perhaps the properties in La Zarza were bought directly in the name of the Pizarros from the very beginning, and it was unnecessary to copy those documents at the time of Licenciado Cisneros’s request.

The second contrasting characteristic is that Hernando did not invest in censos in La Zarza. This is an important difference, considering that in other places a high proportion of his investments went to this category. Hernando’s strategy appears to have been an eminently lucid one. While in Trujillo and Medellín he received a good income from censos, in La Zarza he was in practice forcing the small land owners to sell their lands by not giving loans to normally credit-thirsty peasants. The scarcity of money in the rural areas directly corresponded to the agricultural cycle, and this situation was reflected in Hernando’s land-purchasing cycle. Thus, all the purchases of cereal lands, except one, were made between May and September, while the vineyards, again with one exception, were purchased between November and April.82

The investments of the Pizarros in La Zarza between 1552 and 1562 were only 154,610 maravedís, according to the notarial records (see Table IV). Clearly, this amount is not tremendously high, but La Zarza was a small place where this money, however little, would be noticed, and for that reason the effect of the Pizarrist presence was stronger than in Trujillo or Medellín.83 The highest share of investments went to cereal lands, reaching a total of 125 fanegadas, which were acquired in 13 transactions that totalled 76,324 maravedís. Vineyards occupied second place, costing 30,695.5 maravedís, again purchased in 13 transactions. Next came barley fields or alcaceres and four houses located in privileged positions, mostly along the royal road. The family house was expanded and turned into a mansion, surrounded by gardens and a small lake, displaying the Pizarros’ coat of arms on the facade. But the properties of Hernando Pizarro in La Zarza were much larger than it seems at first sight. According to a detailed description of La Zarza’s inhabitants and their possessions dated in 1561, Hernando was the outstanding owner of land and livestock, far ahead of any others. This description, prepared for fiscal purposes, states that Hernando Pizarro owned 500 fanegadas of cereal lands. The next three owners of cereal lands had, altogether, 97 fanegadas, while the following ten, the remaining owners in this category, had only 16 fanegadas. The largest group was formed by the 89 peasants without land, that is 86.4 percent of the vecinos, while Hernando Pizarro concentrated 81.6 percent of all the cereal lands of La Zarza.84

A high degree of concentration is also noted in the vineyards, though not as marked as in the previous case. Hernando owned 26.3 percent of all vineyards in La Zarza. He was again the largest owner with 100 peonadas, while the remaining 280 peonadas were owned by 72 vecinos. Twentynine vecinos did not own any vineyards.85 Hernando appears as the largest livestock owner, with at least 150 goats, 50 sheep, and 30 oxen, while pigs are surprisingly absent.86 Finally, according to the same description, Hernando owned four alcaceres, an enclosure with a dovecote, an olive grove, fruit gardens, a “large house” where he lived, and 13 other houses. The alcabala he paid for all his properties in La Zarza for the year 1561 was one ducat “as usual.” Competition for buying land in La Zarza does not seem to have been excessive. After Hernando Pizarro, the next important landowners were two Hinojosa families. When these Hinojosas sold their belongings in a place perceived by its own inhabitants as small and poor, Hernando Pizarro was ever willing to buy, concentrating in his hands the largest share of land in La Zarza.87 Unfortunately, there is no more information available about the land market in this area, but it would have been most unlikely to find any other buyer as willing as Hernando, apparently always paying in cash and whenever the need arose for the local population. Even though Hernando Pizarro bought for himself a very large part of private lands in La Zarza, probably only a fraction was directly exploited by him, while much of it must have been given to local tenants, perhaps the former owners.88


Many Spanish conquerors, greater and lesser, envisioned a career including two main stages: collection of riches in America and a peaceful retirement in their birthplaces. The Pizarro brothers followed this pattern, but only Hernando could fulfill his expectations.89 He was able to ennoble his name and lineage by establishing a family estate solid enough to survive until the present day, despite the uncertainties to be expected through the passage of four centuries. The Pizarros were engaged in different business activities from the very initial stages of the conquest of Peru. These activities ranged from a simple money loan to a horse sold on credit, in addition to the more serious affairs dealing directly with the conquest itself. At some point, however, it was impossible to distinguish their private business from their governing of Peru. Because the Pizarros were in control, they appropriated the best resources of the newly conquered country and distributed the rest among their followers. Not long after the capture of Atahuallpa, they began organizing a wide range of enterprises that would soon include encomiendas, mines, and urban and rural properties.

Also from the very beginning, the Pizarros began shipping their own gold and silver to Spain, and investing in safe and stable properties. Hernando Pizarro’s exceptional business ability played a major role in the shaping of the Pizarro estate in Spain, and his imprisonment could only provide the family with a permanent manager, who along with his wife in the end would inherit all of his brothers’ riches. Much of the money invested went to buy juros, either voluntarily or by force. But a very large portion was directly invested in the Pizarros’ homeland of Trujillo and other nearby places such as Medellín and the small La Zarza, later to become La Conquista de la Sierra. The circulation of money from the colony to metropolitan Spain, through the private enterprise of a family of conquerors, became especially significant as an investment that in large proportion was directed to the productive sectors of the economy, even if the most traditional ones. Peasants used the credit made available locally by the Pizarros in their small agricultural operations, while pasture fields had a definitive role in the economy of sixteenth-century Extremadura. In addition, the loans given to the urban sector of Trujillo as well as the presence of a now wealthy and entrepreneurial family of investors had to be determinant in the economic development of a peninsular city. As for that family itself, once the surviving Pizarros were all in Trujillo and the Peruvian enterprises gave way to a symbolic crown rent, the investments in Extremadura, secure and long lasting as intended, provided for the needs of the generations that descended from the conquerors of Peru.


Guillermo Lohmann Villena, Les Espinosa: Une famille d’hommes d’affaires en Espagne et aux Indes à l’époque de la colonisation (Paris, 1968). Some relevant articles have been published by Enrique Otte, “Mercaderes vascos en tierra firme a raíz del descubrimiento del Perú,” Mercurio Peruano, III:443-444 (Mar.-Apr. 1964), 81-89 and “Los mercaderes vascos y los Pizarro. Cartas inéditas de Gonzalo y Hernando Pizarro y su mayordomo Diego Martín,” Bulletin de la Faculté des Lettres de Strasbourg, 44 (May-June 1966), 777-794. Luis Vázquez, “Los Pizarros, la Merced, el convento de Trujillo (Cáceres) y Tirso,” in Homenaje a Guillermo Vázquez Núñez (1884-1984) (Madrid, 1984), 202-427 provides some interesting information on the Pizarros’ religious donations in Trujillo.


Licenciado Ramírez de Cartagena is very clear when he writes to the king from Los Reyes on Nov. 20, 1572: “Anse hurtado unas cuentas que son de donde pendía toda la claridad … [del pleito] que agora tratan ante V. M. Fernando Pizarro y su mujer…. Entiendo que el daño de esto debió hacerlo Gonzalo Pizarro en su tiempo … y parece que el que las hurtó debió saber el daño que hacía … pues había otros papeles allí más antiguos y no faltaron….” This appears in Roberto Levillier, ed., Gobernantes del Perú. Cartas y papeles. Siglo XVI. Documentos del Archivo de Indias, 14 vols. (Madrid, 1921-26), VII, 133–134. No comments are needed about more recent looting of archives.


U.S. Library of Congress, The Harkness Collection in the Library of Congress. Documents from Early Peru, 2 vols. (Washington, 1932-36), I, 7.


Ibid., 10.


See, for example, James Lockhart, Spanish Peru, 1532-1560. A Colonial Society (Madison, 1968), 11 and Juan A. and Judith E. Villamarín, Indian Labor in Mainland Colonial Spanish America (Newark, DE, 1975), 6-21.


William H. Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru, 5th ed., 3 vols. (London, 1854), II, 296, summarizes the generalized contemporary opinion when he says, “For his own brothers he [Francisco Pizarro] provided by such ample repartimientos, as excited the murmurs of his adherents….”


Lockhart, The Men of Cajamarca. A Social and Biographical Study of the First Conquerors of Peru (Austin, 1972), 28-29 (tables 3-4). This is the most complete and useful book on the Europeans who were present at the capture of Inca Atahuallpa. The information it contains was used extensively in this article as a starting point to identify and follow the careers of the Pizarros, their friends, and their enemies.


Ibid., 86 (table 23) and passim.


Viceroy Francisco de Toledo to His Majesty, Cuzco, Mar. 1, 1572, in Levillier, Gobernantes del Perú, IV, 328.


Garcilaso de la Vega explained that Viracocha Inca “mandó hacer grandes y suntuosos edificios por todo su Imperio, particularmente en el valle de Yucay, y más abajo en Tampu. Aquel valle se aventaja en excelencias a todos los que hay en el Perú, por lo cual todos los reyes Incas, desde Manco Cápac, que fue el primero, hasta el último, lo tuvieron por jardín y lugar de sus deleites y recreación… .” (Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Comentarios reales de los incas, 2 vols. [Buenos Aires, 1943], I, 283)


Horacio Villanueva Urteaga, “Documentos sobre Yucay en el siglo XVI,” Revista del Archivo Histórico del Cuzco, 13 (1970), 2-4, 94.


Ibid., 94-95.


“Índice de la sección Derecho Indígena y Encomiendas del Archivo Nacional del Perú. Legajo XXIII, Cuaderno 614,” Revista del Archivo Nacional del Perú, 12:1 (1939), 112.


An official survey of the valley of Yucay stated that “[p]or bajo esta arboleda que se dice Cozca está una chácara que se llama Moyobamba, que era de Hachadle, un sobrino de Túpac Inca Yupanqui. Dicen que tiene ocho topos de sembradura y que la siembra doña Angelina, mujer de Juan de Betanzos… .” (Villanueva, “Documentos sobre Yucay,” 52-53.)


Archivo Genera] de Indias, Seville (hereafter AGI), Contratación, leg. 5760, lib. 2, ff. 9-10, quoted by Otte, “Los mercaderes vascos y los Pizarro,” 780.


Guillermo Lohmann Villena, “Índice del cartulario de Pedro de Castañeda,” Revista del Archivo Nacional del Perú, 27:1 (1963), 27-87 and 28:1, 2(1964), 59-132. See also U.S. Library of Congress, The Harkness Collection, II, 48-50 and 54-56.


José Varallanos, Historia de Huánuco. Introducción para el estudio de la vida social de una región del Perú. Desde la época prehistórica a nuestros días (Buenos Aires, 1959), 218 (n. 9). Also Juan Pizarro, the remaining brother, enjoyed similar privileges, but his early death and lack of male descendants channeled his possessions initially to Gonzalo and later to Hernando Pizarro. His biography is in Lockhart, The Men of Cajamarca, 168-175.


Pedro de Cieza de León, Descubrimiento y conquista del Perú [third part of the Crónica del Perú], in Pedro de Cieza de León e il “descubrimiento y conquista del Perú,” Francesca Cantù, ed. (Rome, 1979), 280.


Ibid., 281. Agustín de Zárate says that when Hernando left Peru the smelting and assaying had not yet been made, and it was not known for sure “what could belong to His Majesty from the pile,” as quoted by Luis J. Ramos Gómez, “El primer gran secuestro de metales, procedentes del Perú, a cambio de juros, para costear la empresa de Túnez,” Anuario de Estudios Americanos, 32 (1975), 220.


Colección de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las antiguas posesiones españolas de Ultramar, segunda serie, 25 vols. (Madrid, 1885–1932), XIV, 221. Figures vary slightly in other versions.


Cieza de León, Descubrimiento y conquista del Perú, 281 and Antonio de Herrera, Historia general de los hechos de los castellanos en las islas y tierrafirme del mar océano, 17 vols. (Madrid, 1934-57), XI, 80.


Francisco de Jerez, Verdadera relación de la conquista del Perú y provincia del Cuzco (Madrid, 1906), 346. As converted by the chronicler himself this resulted in a total of 318,861,000 maravedís in gold and 108,307,680 maravedís in silver. Herrera gives very similar figures, as pointed out by Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru, II, 190.


Jerez, Verdadera relación de la conquista, 345-346.


Ibid., as pointed out by Ramos Gómez, “El primer gran secuestro de metales,” 223. The official list drawn up by the authorities of the Casa de la Contratación gave a total value of 150,070 pesos, 2 tomines, and 3 grains for the gold and 5,036 marks, 7 ounces for the silver. “Relación del oro del Perú que recibimos de Hernando Pizarro … para Su Majestad [en febrero de 1534] …” and “Relación de la plata del Perú … ,” AGI, Contratación, leg. 4675, as published by José Toribio Medina, La imprenta en Lima 1584-1824, facsimile ed. in 4 vols. (Amsterdam, 1965), I, 163-170. Hernando Pizarro himself gave a similar value for the royal treasure in a letter he wrote to Charles V announcing his arrival. AGI, Patronato 192, no. 1, ramo 2. Published with transcription errors in Colección de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las posesiones españolas de América y Oceanía, 42 vols. (Madrid, 1864-84), XLII, 96-97.


Charles V to the Royal Officials in Seville, Madrid, Jan. 30, 1535, as published by Medina, La imprenta en Lima, I, 170.


The biography of Juan Cortés is in Lockhart, The Men of Cajamarca, 295-296, that of Martín Alonso, ibid., 288-289 and in José Antonio del Busto Duthurburu, Diccionario histórico biográfico de los conquistadores del Perú. Tomo I. (Letra A) (Lima, 1973), 131.


Cieza de León, Descubrimiento y conquista, 281.


Fernández de Oviedo said that the conquerors remaining in Peru “trabajaron de le embiar rico [a Hernando Pizarro] por quitarle de entre ellos, y porque yendo muy rico como fue no tuviese voluntad de tornar a aquellas partes.’’ (Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, as quoted by Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru, II, 182.)


John Lynch, Spain under the Habsburgs, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1981), I, 119. See also David E. Vassberg, Land and Society in Golden Age Castile (Cambridge, 1984), 147.


Lynch, Spain under the Habsburgs, I, 60-61.


Letter of receipt of Francisco de Zavala on behalf of Hernando Pizarro, Seville, May 22, 1539, published in Catálogo de los fondos americanos del Archivo de Protocolos de Sevilla, 3 vols. (Madrid, 1930-32), II, 477 (corresponds to vol. XI of the Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de hispanoamérica, 14 vols. [Madrid, 1927-32]).


Ibid., III, passim. Also in Documentos americanos del Archivo de Protocolos de Sevilla. Siglo XVI (Madrid, 1935), passim.


The information in this paragraph was taken from Ramos Gómez, “El primer gran secuestro de metales,” 217, 225-228, and his Cuadro 1.


As usual, the register is not extremely trustworthy, both because of the high level of contraband and the “disappearance” of cargo and passengers before reaching their destination.


Doña Francisca arrived in Spain in 1551 with her brother don Francisco Pizarro. Juan Pizarro’s daughter, doña Isabel, and Gonzalo’s children, doña Inés and don Francisco, were sent to Trujillo in Spain in 1549. Levillier, Gobernantes del Perú, I, 162–164.


See letter cited in n. 24.


AGI, Justicia, leg. 1066, no. 4. This expediente is unfortunately incomplete, but it includes Hernando’s rejection of charges and the Council of the Indies acceptance to hear the case.


AGI, Justicia, leg. 833, no. 5, pieza 3. Published by Otte, “Los mercaderes vascos y los Pizarro,” 784-785.


Vassberg, Land and Society, 51 and 56.


Averiguación de La Zarza, 1561, Archivo General de Simancas, Expedientes de Hacienda, leg. 189-56 (hereafter Averiguación de La Zarza). Reference to this document was taken from Vassberg, Land and Society, 108, but the evidence used comes from a direct reading of the document’s microfilm. The Pizarro Vassberg found as the largest landholder in La Zarza is Hernando. He misplaces the old La Zarza in present-day Zarza de Montánchez, whereas it corresponds to La Conquista de la Sierra as asserted by Miguel Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones del ultimo Pizarro de la Conquista,” part I, Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia (hereafter BRAH), 126 (Apr.-June 1950), 396; also by Pascual Madoz, Diccionario geográfico-estadístico-histórico de España y sus posesiones de ultramar, 16 vols. (Madrid, 1845-50), VI, 567; and, finally, by a personal visit to Trujillo and La Conquista de la Sierra which helped us to shape this and many other views held in this article.


Licenciado Gaspar de Espinosa to His Majesty, Panama, Aug. 1, 1533, in Levillier, Gobernantes del Perú, II, 29-30.


Hernando Pizarro to His Majesty, Puerto Viejo, July 5, 1539, AGI, Patronato, leg. 90-B, no. 2, ramo 9. He decided to use the New Spain route despite an order of the queen instructing authorities to free Hernando Pizarro if he was taken to Panama or any other place under arrest. Cédula issued in Barcelona, on Apr. 22, 1538. AGI, Lima, leg. 565, published in Raúl Porras Barrenechea, Cedulario del Perú. Siglos XVI, XVII y XVIII, 2 vols. (Lima, 1944-48), II, 414-415.


Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru, II, 298; also Woodrow W. Borah, Early Colonial Trade and Navigation between Mexico and Peru (Berkeley, 1954), 19.


The rollo of the legal process is in AGI, Escribanía de Cámara, leg. 1007, no. 17. An accurate summary, from which this information was taken, may be found in Ernst Schaefer, “El proceso de Hernando Pizarro por la muerte del Adelantado Almagro,” Investigación y Progreso, 5 (1931). 43-46.




Autos of the juez de comisión in Hernando Pizarro’s prison, La Mota of Medina del Campo, July 28, 1548, AGI, Justicia, leg. 833, no. 5, pieza 1. The social status of Isabel de Mercado is not clear; in some documents she was named “doña” while in others she was not. After Hernando’s marriage she entered a convent in Trujillo according to Vázquez, “Los Pizarros,” 221.


Don Francisco died in 1557, after a brief and childless marriage with his cousin doña Inés, a daughter of Gonzalo Pizarro. Miguel Muñoz de San Pedro, “La total extinguida descendencia de Francisco Pizarro,” Revista de Estudios Extremeños, 20 (1964), 469 and 472; also Lockhart, The Men of Cajamarca, 154.


Autos of the juez de comisión, Medina del Campo, July 28, 1548, AGI, Justicia, leg. 833, no. 5, pieza 1. In the same document the fiscal accused Hernando of sending messages between the lines, i.e., that the end of the war with France meant availability of soldiers.


Hernando Pizarra to Diego Martín, La Mota of Medina del Campo, Mar. 8, 1545, AGI, Justicia, leg. 833, no. 5, pieza 3, in Otte, “Los mercaderes vascos v los Pizarra,” 786-788.


Pedro de Soria to Inés Rodríguez, Porco, Apr. 23, 1547, in Juan Pérez de Tudela Bueso, ed., Documentos relativos a don Pedro de la Gasea y a Gonzalo Pizarro, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1964), I, 209-212.


Hernando Pizarro to Gonzalo Pizarro, La Mota of Medina del Campo, Dec. 2, 1544, ibid., I, 166-170.


AGI, Justicia, leg. 833, no. 5, pieza 3, in Otte, “Los mercaderes vascos y los Pizarro,” 791-794.


Pedro de la Gasea to the officials of the Casa de la Contratación, Los Reyes, Jan. 5, 1550, in Levillier, Gobernantes del Perú, I, 245.


Viceroy Francisco de Toledo to His Majesty, Cuzco, Mar. 1, 1572, ibid., IV, 184.


Adequately named “el último Pizarro de la Conquista” by Muñoz de San Pedro.


Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part II, BRAH, 127 (July-Sept. 1950), 224.


Judge to royal collector of rents and alcabala. Order to embargo doña Francisca Pizarro’s juros, Trujillo, Apr. 9, 1566, followed by list of juros and other properties. Several copies, some incomplete and in poor condition, in AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-A, ff. 592-604v, 732-798, 830-952v, 953-998v (this copy bears the original signatures of Hernando and doña Francisca), and leg. 496-B, ff. 150-526 and 925–931.


An example may be found in Helen Nader, “Noble Income in Sixteenth-Century Castile: The Case of the Marquises of Mondéjar, 1480-1580,” Economic History Review, Second Series, 30:3 (Aug. 1977), 411-428. See also Charles Jago, “The Influence of Debt on the Relations between Crown and Aristocracy in Seventeenth-Century Castile,” Economic History Review, Second Series, 26:2 (May 1973), 218-236 and “The ‘Crisis of the Aristocracy’ in Seventeenth-Century Castile,” Past and Present, 84 (Aug. 1979), 60-90.


Pierre Chaunu, La España de Carlos V, 2 vols. (Barcelona, 1976), I, Las estructuras de una crisis, 242-245.


This don Juan Pizarro died childless soon after, therefore unable to enjoy the mayorazgo. Following Hernando’s detailed instructions, the mayorazgo was granted to his eldest son, don Francisco Pizarro, who for unknown reasons had initially been substituted by the second son. Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part I, 392-393, based on Hernando’s last will, points out that the eldest son apparently did not submit to his father’s wishes. The mayorazgo of the conqueror Juan Pizarro had initially been given to don Francisco, a legacy of his uncle killed in the attack on Cuzco in 1536 by the Inca forces. He additionally received several unentailed properties.


These documents are published at large in Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part II, 203-252, and Part III, BRAH, 127 (Oct.-Dec. 1950), 527-560. Some of them are also published in Luisa Cuesta, “Una documentación interesante sobre la familia del conquistador del Perú,” Revista de Indias (hereafter RI), 8 (Oct.-Dec. 1947), 865-892.


As discussed above, many documents account for the transference of properties bought for Hernando or his nephew don Francisco since 1536. Tables were assembled according to the original date of purchase.


For example, the mayorazgo of the conqueror Juan Pizarro ended up in Hernando’s hands but was kept as a separate estate. The properties comprising this estate, and their management, could be studied from documents available in the Archivo de la Casa y Estados de los Duques de Abrantes (Jerez de la Frontera), especially legs. 43, 72, 83, and 84. (I thank Teodoro Hampe Martínez for referring me to this archive and to the Excelentísimo señor Duque de Abrantes who kindly allowed me to use it. [R.V.G.])


In his last will, dated in 1536, Juan Pizarro mentions juros he had in Spain. Cuesta, “Una documentación interesante,” 878.


These investments must be searched for in notarial and other archives.


AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-A, ff. 781-784 and 785-794; Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las ultimas disposiciones, Part II, 224. The purchase price of 1,600 gold ducats is equivalent to 600,000 maravedís. A documented monograph of the building may be found in Pilar Mogollón Caño Cortés and Antonio Navarreño Mateos, “Palacio del Marqués de la Conquista, en Trujillo,” Memorias de la Real Academia de Extremadura de las Letras y las Artes (Trujillo), 1 (1983), 259-291.


AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-B, ff. 357v-361.


Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part II, 220 and AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-B, ff. 353-354v.


See for example Ida L. Altman, “Emigrants, Returnees and Society in Sixteenth-Century Cáceres” (Ph.D. diss., The Johns Hopkins University, 1981), 325-381.


Don Diego de Almagro included one Cristóbal Pizarro as an ally of the Pizarros in the charges relating to his father’s assassination in 1540. Later, there was a Cristóbal Pizarro de Orellana, from Trujillo, who took part in Gonzalo Pizarro’s rebellion and was sentenced to “perpetual banishment to Spain and loss of his property,” but ran away with other prisoners before leaving Peru. Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de España, 113 vols. (Madrid, 1842-1895), XX, 268-269 and 521, and Levillier, Gobernantes del Perú, I, 123. Ernesto Schäfer, Índice de la Colección de documentos inéditos de Indias, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1946), I, 403, points out that both names refer to the same person.


Diego de Trujillo, in turn, sold the same piece of land two years later to Juan Cortés, Hernando’s servant. AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-B, ff. 414-429v and Cristóbal Ramírez Plata, ed., Catálogo de pasajeros a Indias durante los siglos XVI, XVII y XVIII, 3 vols. (Seville, 1940-46), II, 141. As to Diego de Trujillo, he had sailed to Peru with the Pizarros in 1529, always remaining loyal to Hernando. He left Peru in 1534, and soon settled in Trujillo, but later returned to Peru during Gonzalo’s rebel administration, receiving an encomienda in Cuzco and slowly working his way up from his popular origins. His biography is in Lockhart, The Men of Cajamarca, 362-365. He may have acted as Hernando’s agent for some time, but there is not any additional evidence.


Bartolomé Bennassar, “En Vieille-Castille: Les ventes de rentes perpétuelles. Première moitié du XVIe siècle, ” Annales, 15:5 (Sept.-Oct. 1960), 1115-1126.


According to Table I, don Francisco received in that same period about 5.2 million maravedís from Peru, so the 500,000 maravedís given as a censo does not seem excessive.


Madoz, Diccionario, XI, 331. Moreover, the mayorazgo documents include the heredad of La Jarilla in the jurisdiction of Medellín, whose tercio or portion called La Ranchal of an extension of 29.25 “vacas” had belonged to doña Catalina Pizarra, mother of Hernando Cortés. Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part II, 219.


Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part II, 214-219. The “vaca” of pasture rent, hereafter to be referred to as “vaca,” is an area unit which is related to the livestock’s consumption of pasture, in particular those travelling to winter in the region. A nineteenth-century copy of the Pizarra mayorazgo documents equalled the area of a “vaca” to that of a fanega. Archivo de la Casa y Estados de los Duques de Abrantes, leg. 43.


AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-A, ff. 777-780v and leg. 496-B, ff. 453-459v. This dehesa is still known by the same name, and is now in the jurisdiction of Guareña (Badajoz), according to Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part I, 395.


AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-B, ff. 361-362v and 462-465, and Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las ultimas disposiciones,” Part II, 215.


AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-B, ff. 329-337v and Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part II, 218. This dehesa has also kept its name and is located in the jurisdiction of Villar de Rena (Badajoz), according to Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part I, 395.


AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-B, ff. 339-341, 400-402, and 475–485. The Duke of Albuquerque held one of the Spanish señoríos in the sixteenth century, having an income of 25,000 ducats in 1530, 46,000 ducats in 1577, and 50,000 ducats in 1595. Nader, “Noble Income,” 426.


Captain Gonzalo Pizarro’s last will, Pamplona, Sept. 14, 1522. Published by Luisa Cuesta, “Una documentación interesante,” 869.


Codicil, Trujillo, Aug. 8, 1578. Published by Muñoz de San Pedro, “Las últimas disposiciones,” Part III, 555.


A similar situation was found in sixteenth-century Cáceres, where slightly over 40 percent of vineyards were purchased between December and March, that is in the winter months, after the harvest and vintage, according to José L. Pereira Iglesias, “La explotación del viñedo en la tierra de Cáceres durante el siglo XVI,” Alcántara (Revista del Seminario de Estudios Cacereños), Tercera época, 4 (Jan.-Apr. 1985), 17-26, quote from p. 24.


An idea of the going prices in the region may be given by those in El Casar, jurisdiction of Cáceres. In 1567, the fanega of wheat for plowing was sold for 310 maravedís, barley for 187 maravedís, and rye for 200 maravedís. In the following decade, a cow was bought for 5,113 maravedís, a donkey for 2,250 maravedís, and a pig for 1,500 maravedís. José L. Pereira Iglesias and Miguel Rodríguez Cancho, La ‘riqueza campesina’ en la Extremadura del antiguo régimen (Cáceres, 1984), 85 and 96.


Averiguación de La Zarza.




The Averiguación de La Zarza does not include livestock, which was taken from Hernando’s and doña Franciscas list of common properties of 1566. As discussed above, this list tended to lower their properties. AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-B, ff. 193-214.


Averiguación de La Zarza.


When Hernando was ordered to produce the books where he kept the accounts of rental lands, he answered by saying that he kept the accounts by heart. AGI, Escribanía, leg. 496-A, f. 971.


Juan Pizarro, for example, assigned to each inhabitant of La Zarza “two gold ducats and for the hijosdalgos, to each one two thousand maravedís,” according to his last will, published by Luisa Cuesta, “Una documentación interesante,” 873.

Author notes


This article started as a joint venture. Auke Pieter Jacobs joined me and wrote a first draft of the second part of the paper and its tables. Both text and tables were revised for the final version, for which I accept full responsibility. María Rostworowski de Diez Canseco pointed out the existence of the Pizarro legajos in the Archivo General de Indias; John Lynch, Franklin Pease, Luis Millones, Juan and Judith Villamarín, and fellow researchers in Seville provided help and encouragement at various stages of the work. Hazel Aitken aided in translation of the article. The University of London Central Research Fund and the British Council financed part of my stays in Seville and London, respectively. Finally, Margarita Suárez shared my historical and other problems. To all of them my sincerest thanks. (R. V.G.)