Manuel Lucena Giraldo is Senior Researcher at the History Institute of the Madrid-based Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), within the research group of Compared Studies of the Caribbean and Atlantic World. His recent publications include: Historia de un cosmopolita. José María de Lanz y la Fundación de la Ingeniería de Caminos en España y América (Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos, 2005); A los cuatro vientos. Las ciudades de la América Hispánica (Marcial Pons Ediciones de Historia, S. A., 2006); Naciones de rebeldes. Las revoluciones de independencia latinoamericanas (Taurus, 2010), selected the The Times Literary Supplement as one of the best essays for the year 2010; Francisco de Miranda: la aventura de la política (Editorial Edaf, S. L., 2011); Ruptura y reconciliación: España y el reconocimiento de las independencias latinoamericanas (Taurus, 2012); Las independencias iberoamericanas. Libertad para todos (Bonalletra-El País, 2017).
Killing the image of an evil king. Lope de Aguirre, Philip II and the last
conquerors of the Americas
What to do with violent people? After the so-called civil wars between Spanish conquistadors in Peru, ended by 1550, peace of spirits and fair compensation was announced. But not for everyone. A group of old and sick conquistadors, who arrived to the Americas decades before, young and full of hope, realized that after serving with devotion the emperor Charles V, his son Philip II was not going to offer them a fair and much-deserved – according to them – reward. On the contrary, the consolidation of the new viceroyalty in Peru in 1569 would divide conquest from colonization, setting apart conquistadores as a relic of the past. So they took the “last train” to El Dorado and, undoubtedly with the support of local Spanish authorities, prolonged their agony in unprepared and dangerous explorations of the Amazon.
Lope de Aguirre, the madman, el loco, sent a famous letter to Philip II in 1561, proclaiming that his loyalty was over and that he was not the king’s vassal any longer. In this paper, I will try to analize images and texts related to this «first rebel» of the newly-founded Americas. In the foundation of the kingdoms of the Indies, the image of a king-warrior with his sword, was destroyed to establish a new one: that of a king-bureaucrat behind his desk.
Key words: conquistadors, Lope de Aguirre, rebellion, regalism