Power and Property in Inca Peru

Power and Property in Inca Peru

Power and Property in Inca Peru

Power and Property in Inca Peru

Excerpt

The Inca were a Quechua speaking people of the Cuzco region of Peru. In less than a century before the Spaniards arrival in 1532 the Inca had subjugated the area between Ecuador and Chile. Illiterate, but highly organized, they incorporated conquered tribes and valley-states into their governmental system, imposing their emperor, their governors, their national religion, language, and taxes on the diverse defeated peoples. Much of the information left to us refers to the Inca culture alone. This gives an appearance of unity and uniformity to an empire which had much regional variation. The population of the area in 1532 has been estimated as anywhere from 4,500,000 to 7,500,000.

How was it possible for five million or more relatively primitive people to be organized under one ruler? How were they taxed, how were they governed? These are questions which have been asked since the 16th century and have more often than not, been answered with extreme naïveté. From descriptions which attribute the nature of the Inca empire solely to the wise legislation of the Inca emperors, to those which attribute it to the vigorous traditions of the communally-owned peasant villages, there has been much left out.

The questions about Inca government are worth asking again. The study of political organization has unfortunately urgent reasons. A knowledge of the law and government of primitive peoples may add usefully to what is known of the range and dynamics of man's political behavior. The Inca empire as an early form of the state, suggests many things about its gigantic relative, the modern state. The same focal points can be used for the political study of a primitive as a complex . . .

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