The Chankas and the priest: a tale of murder and exile in highland Peru

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This work presents the story of the Chanka people of Peru, from the 15th to the 18th century, told through a narrative of the crimes committed by a monstrous priest, Juan Bautista de Albadán, in the early 1600s.

Part One explores how the biography of this priest – his atrocities, lifestyle, and ability to evade justice -- illuminates daily life in rural Peru in the 17th century. This tale about an evil cleric and his victims serves as a window through which we can view life in a Chanka village in colonial Peru. Unpublished documents from archives in Spain and Peru, including a cache of personal letters to Albadán from his family, reveal the priest’s innermost thoughts about his crimes and his ties to powerful members of Spanish and Peruvian society; these documents also provide descriptions of daily life in the countryside, from hospitality to books to funerals.

In Part Two, the narrative turns to focus on the Chankas and their history from the Inka conquest to the mid-18th century. This half of the book analyses the world of the Chanka leaders who tried to stop Albadán. Who were these native Chanka lords, men such as Don León Apo Guasco, and how were they destroyed in their attempts to bring Albadán to justice? How did Albadán’s counterattack against Don León Apo Guasco disrupt Chanka political and social history for the next 125 years? Most importantly, this history will be analysed through the Chanka’s own concepts of kinship – the ayllu – and of the Andean binary political structure – the saya (moieties) of hanan (upper) and urin (lower). Focusing on these Chanka ethnocategories, rather than solely on the more familiar Eurocentric concepts of class and economy, reveals new insights about change in Andean society throughout the Spanish colonial era. Until now, virtually nothing has been known about the political intrigues among Chanka elites in the Spanish colonial period. Part Two demonstrates that, contrary to previous assumptions, ayllu and moiety rivalries continued to dominate the politics of indigenous Chanka elites well into the 18th century, drawing creole landowners, with whom the Chankas had intermarried, into these native feuds on the eve of the “Age of Andean Insurrection”.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUniversity Park, Pennsylvania
PublisherPennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages224
ISBN (Print)9780271071220, 9780271071237
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2016


  • Andes
  • Ethnohistory
  • Peru
  • Murder
  • Colonialism
  • Catholic church
  • Chankas
  • Inkas


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