When James was not in the center of Chile. A note about the SIXTEENTH century

During the years of the Conquest, the nucleus of the activity hispanic was to the south of the Bío-Bío. Here is where they founded the cities and where is concentrated the activity of the governors.

There will be more to remember that the Real Audience was founded in Concepción in 1565, and its president, Melchor of Saravia was the governor (in 1573 the Hearing was suppressed), and only in 1609, and was re-established in Santiago. Although it is an extreme case, no longer symptomatic, that García Hurtado de Mendoza is only in Santiago at the last moment of his governorship, pass centrally in the lands of the south, “being peace throughout the province that so many years had been at war, don Garcia, as a man who in his breast had conceived to leave the kingdom, he wanted to go to the city of Santiago” (Góngora Marmolejo 1990: 175). Ercilla tells us, referring to The Imperial which is in the valley of the soldering iron “the Spanish founded the prosperous city that has been in those parts” (La Araucana, declaration of some things of this work).

A quick exercise, although somewhat crude, is to review the major chronicles of the Conquest (of Jerónimo de Vivar, the de Góngora Marmolejo and Mariño of Povera) and simply count the mentions of the cities, is an important presence in the cities of the South (and here one must take into account that in all the chronicles, the early years are concentrated in Santiago, the first city founded). In fact, in Mariño of Povera references to Conception become more common than those of Santiago.

Mentions of Cities in the Chronicles of the Conquest.

Relationship (year of last event narrated in it) Santiago Conception Angol The Imperial Cañete City of Valdivia
Jerónimo de Vivar (1558) 151 96 8 27 11 24
Góngora Marmolejo (1575) 257 167 52 25 33 17
Mariño of arte Povera (1595) 62 81 12 28 30 19
Total 470 344 72 80 74 60

NOTE: In the case of Santiago are excluded phrases related to the Apostle Santiago. In the case of Valdivia were only references to the City of Valdivia to remove references to the conqueror. We used the texts available in the site Memory of the Chilean (http://www.memoriachilena.cl/602/w3-article-576.html)

The analysis above forgets perhaps something more relevant, that the activity of the governors was focused on the south of the territory. In many cases, the references to James are in terms of what happens in the south: as a source of reinforcement and support of the war in the South, which is where act the governors.

Everything closes with one of the most important facts of the history of Chile, to which we have already made mention on the blog: The rebellion of 1598. After Curalaba, the mapuche expel the settlers from the cities to the south of the Bío-Bío: Holy Cross, Angol, Imperial, Villarica, Valdivia, Osorno. The Spanish presence south of the river is reduced to the fort of Arauco, and Chiloé island (from that time clearly separated from the rest of the Spanish territory). We will not go to narrate the vicissitudes of the war of Arauco until the peace of Quilín in 1641, but after this rebellion, the territory effectively governed from Santiago, has a boundary that will be maintained basically until the mid-NINETEENTH century: The territory that goes from Copiapo up to the Bío-Bío.

This situation not only changes the center of the colony, but that changes the structure of settlement. The spaniards fleeing from the destroyed cities were located along the territory remaining, but not founded new cities to receive them. In other words, a space organized around the various cities you will pass one more well-dispersed (the number of cities destroyed in the rebellion of 1598 in the territory between the Bío-Bio and the Chacao channel is greater than the number of cities in all the Kingdom of Chile after the rebellion). The policy of distribution of land, creating private ownership of the land by the colonists, initiated by the governor Alonso de Ribera (Bengoa 2015: Vol I, 57-59), in a land with few concentrations of population and activity. And this will mark the future development of the country.

Insist that the Chile of the SIXTEENTH century was a centre other than the one that has been its permanent center from 1598, which was not always the center of Santiago; the effect of this is to realize the magnitude of what that meant victory mapuche in the rebellion. Many times we say that, in contrast with all the other people of America, the mapuche were the only ones who resisted for a long time. But this is no exaggeration. The past lordships maya fell in 1697 (Tayasal), and in various borders (for example, in the north of mexico) the spaniards found the indigenous resistance during virtually the entire period. What we do seem to have achieved the mapuche, in distinction from other nations was to expel permanently to the spaniards of what these latter had been thought of as the center of a colony. The central Chile with the which were not it was the place that initially most interested in owning.


Bengoa, José (2015) History of rural central Chile. Santiago: LOM

Góngora Marmolejo, Alonso (1990) History of all the things that have happened in the Kingdom of Chile and of those who have ruled. Santiago: Ediciones de la Universidad de Chile. Edition of Alamiro de Avila Martel and Lucía Invernizzi Santa Cruz.

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