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4 - Southern South America in the middle of the sixteenth century

from I - THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF MIDDLE AND SOUTH AMERICA ON THE EVE OF THE CONQUEST

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

Leslie Bethell
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

The quantity and the quality of early material on the southern cone of South America varies from area to area according to the period. First observers rarely confined their writings to a single ethnic group, but chroniclers, military poets and priests were attracted at once by Mapuche resistance to the conquest. However, similarly worthwhile accounts about other places on either side of the Andes are scarce, and our knowledge of some sixteenth- and seventeenth-century documents is based entirely on references to them in eighteenth-century chronicles.

There is useful information on the northern section of the southern Andes in the region’s earliest chronicle, Crónica y relación copiosa y verdadera de los reinos de Chile, completed in 1558 by Gerónimo de Bibar. Bibar not only accompanied Pedro de Valdivia on his conquest of Chile but also ventured from the northern deserts to the southern archipelago, besides further travels east of the Andes. His account, which has chapters on the geography and ethnography of the provinces he visited, has been widely used by ethnohistorians since its rediscovery and publication in Santiago in 1966. Other interesting works on the northern section include the Relación del descubrimiento y conquista de los reinos del Perú (1571) by Pedro Pizarro, an encomendero of Tarapacá; and the collection of chronicles which document Diego de Almagro’s 1535 expedition to Chile, including Fernández de Oviedo’s Historia general y natural de las Indias, an anonymous Relación attributed to the ‘Almagrist’ Cristóbal de Molina, and Mariño de Lovera’s Crónica del Reino de Chile (1595).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1995

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