Biography of Pedro de Cieza de León (ca.1518-1554)

Chronicler and Spanish historian born in Llerena (Badajoz) to 1520 and died in Seville in 1554. Belongs, for your attention to nature, a group of "chroniclers of the Indies" intermediate between authentic naturalists such as Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo or José de Acosta and authors who were limited to recounting events or describe customs. The same as Francisco López de Gómara and other chroniclers of the minor, his work is devoted basically to the historical narrative, but with considerable interest for natural things.

Born into a family of tradesmen and clerks, it was as a military in America from 1535 until 1550. He/She sailed to the new world under the command of Jorge Robledo and participated in the founding of Santa Ana de los Caballeros. In 1547 he/she arrived in Peru and was witness to the civil war that broke out among the conquerors. His first attempt of ethnological study takes place in Peru, where he/she spent three years studying and writing about the geography and the indigenous population. Returning to Spain he/she published first of the Chronicle of Peru (1553), the only part that came to be printed in the life of the author, is a kind of wide introduction in the form of route which deals with "the demarcation of their provinces and the description of them, the foundations of the new cities, the rites and customs of the Indians". It is, in short, an exhibition of geography, natural history and ethnography of the vast territory between Cartagena de Indias and the area north of the current Chile. Its main value lies in that it comes, for the most part, direct observation: "Much of what I write I saw in my eyes, being present". The second part of the Chronicle of the Peru appeared after his death. The third part of his Chronicle was lost until it was rediscovered by Rafael Loredo, who published some fragments in the Peruvian mercury (1956). The fourth part was published with the title of civil wars in Peru (1877). It was a book of remarkable broadcasting, which arrived in Europe some of the first news about animals such as possums or vegetables such as the potato.Cieza was an admirable chronicler, the first which began the history of the Incas and which encompassed all picture of peruana, indigenous and Spanish history. According to Raúl Porras "drew the complete picture of the Peruvian scenario, describing carefully, with deep love, the Peru: the territory, its plains and mountains, rivers, valleys and mountains, cities, man of each region and its customs, beliefs, rooms and dresses".

Cieza book had a great diffusion through eleven editions, four in Spanish, seven in Italian and one in English, being frequently quoted and sometimes plagiarized by naturalists from all over Europe.

The second and third parts of the Chronica of Peru were completed by Cieza, who instructed his executors to be printed. However, the latter was not published until 1880, and the third after several partial editions, until 1978.



CIEZA DE LEÓN, Pedro de: first part of the Chronicle of Peru... Seville: M. Clement, 1553. It was reprinted twice in Antwerp in 1554 and translated into Italian (Rome, 1555) and English (London, 1704). He/She has several recent editions, including one in the library of Spanish authors (vol. 26).About the reprints, translations and manuscripts of Cieza, cf. complete works. Critical edition. Notes, comments and ratings. Studies and additional documents by Carmelo Sáenz of Santa María, 3 vols., Madrid, C. S. I. C., 1984-1985.


ESTEVE beard, Francisco: Indiana historiography. Madrid: Gredos, 1964. pp. 413-420.LEON, P. L. Some remarks about Pedro Cieza de León and the Chronicle of the Peru, Madrid, 1973.CANTU, F. Pedro Cieza de León and "Discovery and conquest of the Peru", il Roma, 1979.saenz of SANTAMARIA, C. introductory studies to the critical edition of the works of abovementioned Cieza. BROWN THOMAS, J. LOPEZ TERRADA, M. L.. The first news about the American plants in relations of travel and Chronicles of the Indies (1493-1553), Valencia, Institute of documentary studies and historical science, 1993.