"Tras las huellas del silencio: Potosí, los Inkas y el virrey Toledo"

Translated title of the contribution: "On the tracks of silence: Potosí, the Inkas and Viceroy Toledo"

Tristan Platt, P Quisbert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Why did the Aymara lords of Charcas and Inca Paullo, after discovering the silver-mines of Porco in 1538 to Hernando Pizarro, remain silent about Potosí (just a few leagues distant) which was not discovered to the Spanish until April 1545? Constructing a mosaic from apparently disconnected data, this article reviews current versions and interrogates a curious silence present in the sources. Reconstructing a hitherto undetected network of Incas and Spaniards, we show that, rather than the providential find of a lone yanacona (the received version), the discovery of Potosí may be seen as confirmation of the policy of “obedience” underlying the gift of Porco, but now orchestrated from Vilcabamba by Inca Manco, Paullo’s brother and rival, until his death at the end of 1544. And the policy now offered support for the King and the New Laws (1542) against the greater threat represented by Gonzalo Pizarro and the encomenderos. We note Viceroy Toledo’s promotion of the “providential legend”, and the alternative version by Guaman Poma of the “discovery” of Potosí as, indeed, an Inca initiative, even asserting that the town had been founded by Túpac Yupanqui. This version converges with recent geological and archaeological research, and Guaman Poma may have been briefed by Blas Valera, who was present in Potosí from 1579 till 1583 and no doubt knew the Incas of the city.
Translated title of the contribution"On the tracks of silence: Potosí, the Inkas and Viceroy Toledo"
Original languageSpanish
Title of host publicationMina y metalurgia en los Andes del Sur, desde la época prehispánica al siglo XVII
EditorsPablo Cruz, Jean-Joinville Vacher
Place of PublicationSucre-Lima-Paris
PublisherInstitut Français d'Études Andines
ISBN (Print)ISBN: 1816-1278
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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