The First New Chronicle and Good Government: On the History of the World and the Incas Up to 1615

The First New Chronicle and Good Government: On the History of the World and the Incas Up to 1615

The First New Chronicle and Good Government: On the History of the World and the Incas Up to 1615

The First New Chronicle and Good Government: On the History of the World and the Incas Up to 1615


One of the most fascinating books on pre-Columbian and early colonial Peru was written by a Peruvian Indian named Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala. This book,The First New Chronicle and Good Government, covers pre-Inca times, various aspects of Inca culture, the Spanish conquest, and colonial times up to around 1615 when the manuscript was finished. Now housed in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark, and viewable online at, the original manuscript has 1,189 pages accompanied by 398 full-page drawings that constitute the most accurate graphic depiction of Inca and colonial Peruvian material culture ever done.

Working from the original manuscript and consulting with fellow Quechua- and Spanish-language experts, Roland Hamilton here provides the most complete and authoritative English translation of approximately the first third of The First New Chronicle and Good Government. The sections included in this volume (pages 1-369 of the manuscript) cover the history of Peru from the earliest times and the lives of each of the Inca rulers and their wives, as well as a wealth of information about ordinances, age grades, the calendar, idols, sorcerers, burials, punishments, jails, songs, palaces, roads, storage houses, and government officials. One hundred forty-six of Guaman Poma's detailed illustrations amplify the text.


Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala was born sometime after 1536 and died in 1616 in Huamanga, Ayacucho, only a year after completing his monumental and classic work, El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (The First New Chronicle and Good Government [On the History of the World and the Incas up to the Present]). Guaman Poma was the son of “Mr. Martín Guamán Malqui and Mrs. Juana Curi Ocllo Coya, descendant of Capac Apoyarovilca, granddaughter of the tenth emperor from Cuzco, Tupac Inca Yupanqui” (Francisco Izquierdo [2006]: available online; translation mine). As such, he himself was the descendant of Inca nobility, not to say royalty. According to historical documents, he was a native speaker of Quechua and Aymara, and subsequently he learned Spanish and became fully literate in this language. In the 1570s, since he had already adopted Christian beliefs to a certain degree, Guaman Poma worked as a Quechua interpreter for the Spanish priests during the campaign to “extirpate idolatry” from the social fabric of the Peruvian Andes.

Guaman Poma became disappointed with the treatment of the native peoples of the Andes by the Spanish Conquistadors and the colonial government. This disillusionment ultimately inspired him to write his Nueva corónica to the Spanish king, Philip III. His intention was to explain the history and cultural achievements of the Andeans prior to the arrival of the Conquistadors and colonists and to describe the unnecessarily brutal treatment the newcomers showed the Andeans in the years and decades following the Conquest. He depicted in detail the injustice, exploitation, and abuse of power of colonial rule and also offered suggestions for social and governmental reform in Spain’s new colonies.

Many researchers view Guaman Poma’s text as having political intent. His status as an indigenous subject of Spain’s Andean colony, his descriptions of the abuses suffered by the indigenous peoples, and his recommendations to the Spanish king for political and social reforms illustrate the political acts and . . .

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