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Pedro Cieza de Leon


Pedro Cieza de Leon was a Spanish conquistador and chronicler of Peru. He is known primarily for his history and description of Peru, Cronicas del Peru. He wrote this book in four parts, but only the first was published during his lifetime; the remaining sections were not published until the 19th and 20th centuries.

Cieza de Leon was likely born in 1520 in Llerena, a town in southeastern Extremadura. Little is known of his early life; given the fact that he left home at age thirteen, it is doubtful that Cieza de Leon received more than a rudimentary education at a local parish school. His father, Lope de Leon, was a shopkeeper in the town, and his mother, Leonor de Cazalla, was a native of Llerena, and there is scant documentary evidence of the young Cieza de Leons childhood.Cook, Noble David. Introduction to 1998 translation of The Discovery and Conquest of Peru: Chronicles of the New World Encounter, edited and translated by Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998, p. 5.

Cieza participated in various expeditions and helped found a number of cities. These activities include the following:

1536 and 1537: Expedition to San Sebastian de Buenavista and to Urute with Alonso de Caceres.

1539: Foundation of San Ana de los Caballeros (Colombia), with Jorge Robledo.

1540: Foundation of Cartago (Colombia).

1541: Foundation of Antioquia (Colombia).

He took possession of an encomienda in Cartagena of Indies, which he granted to Sebastian de Belalcazar.

1547: Cieza de Leon participated in missions headed by Pedro de la Gasca in support of the royalist campaign against Gonzalo Pizarro's rebellion.

1548: He reached the "City of Kings" (present-day Lima), where he started his career as a writer and official chronicler of the New World. During the following two years he traveled across the Peruvian territory, collecting interesting information he would later use to develop his works.

Cieza returned to Seville, Spain, in 1551 and married a woman named Isabel Lopez de Abreu.Cook, Noble David. Introduction to 1998 translation of The Discovery and Conquest of Peru: Chronicles of the New World Encounter, edited and translated by Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998, p. 16-18. In this city he published, in 1553, the first part of the chronicles of Peru (Primera Parte). He died the following year, leaving the rest of his work unpublished. His Second Part of Chronicles of Peru, describing the Incas, was translated by Clements Markham and published in 1871. In 1909, the fourth part of his chronicle, focusing on the civil wars among the Spanish conquerors was published under the title Third Book of the Peruvian Civil Wars. The third part of Cieza de Leon's Cronicas del Peru, which examined the discovery and conquest of Peru by the Spaniards, was considered by historians to be lost. The document eventually turned up in a Vatican library, and historian Francesca Cantu published a Spanish version of the text in 1979.Cook, Noble David. Introduction to 1998 translation of The Discovery and Conquest of Peru: Chronicles of the New World Encounter, edited and translated by Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998, p. 25-26.

Though his works are historical and narrate the events of the Spanish conquest of Peru and the civil wars among the Spaniards, much of their importance lies in his detailed descriptions of geography, ethnography, flora and fauna. He was the first European to describe some native Peruvian animal species and vegetables.

Bibliography

Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. The Second Part of the Chronicle of Peru, translated by Clements R. Markham. London: Hakluyt Society, 1883.

Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. The Travels of Pedro de Cieza de Leon, AD 1532-50, Contained in the First Part of His Chronicle of Peru, translated by Clements R. Markham. London: Hakluyt Society, 1883.

Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. The War of Las Salinas, translated by Clements R. Markham. London: Hakluyt Society, 1923 (1883).

Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. The War of Quito, translated by Clements R. Markham. London: Hakluyt Society, 1913 (1883).

Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. The War of Chupas, translated by Clements R. Markham. London: Hakluyt Society, 1917 (1883).

Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. The Incas of Pedro de Cieza de Leon, translated by Harriet de Onis. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959.

Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. The Discovery and Conquest of Peru: Chronicles of the New World Encounter, edited and translated by Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998.

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