Tras las huellas del silencio: Potosí, los Incas y Toledo

Translated title of the contribution: On the tracks of silence: Potosí, the Incas and Toledo

Tristan Platt, Pablo Quisbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Why did the Aymara lords of Charcas and Inca Paullo, after dis-covering 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 dis-covery 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.
Translated title of the contributionOn the tracks of silence: Potosí, the Incas and Toledo
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)115-152
Number of pages38
JournalRuna. Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Incas, Spaniards, Potosí (siglo XVI), Concealment of Mines, Historical Silences, History of Myths


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