Francisco de Toledo

Francisco Álvarez de Toledo
Francisco de Toledo Virrey.jpg
Viceroy of Peru
In office
November 30, 1569 – May 1, 1581
Monarch Philip II of Spain
Preceded by Lope García de Castro
Succeeded by Martín Enríquez de Almanza
Personal details
Born 10 July 1515
Oropesa, Spain
Died 21 April 1582(1582-04-21) (aged 66)
Escalona, Spain
Profession politician and soldier
Military service

Francisco Álvarez de Toledo (Oropesa, 10 July 1515 – Escalona, 21 April 1582), also known as The Viceroyal Solon,[1] was an aristocrat and soldier of the Kingdom of Spain and the fifth Viceroy of Peru. Often considered the "best of Peru's viceroys," [2] he brought stability to a tumultuous viceroyalty of Spain and enacted administrative reforms which changed the character of Spanish rule and the relationship between the indigenous Native Americans of the Andes and their Spanish overlords.[3] With a policy called reductions, Toledo forcibly relocated much of the Indian population of Peru and Bolivia into new settlements to facilitate Christianization, to collect tribute and taxes, and to gather Inca labor to work in mines and other Spanish enterprises.

He held the position of viceroy from November 30, 1569, until 1 May 1581, a total of eleven years and five months. He has been praised as the "supreme organizer" of the immense viceroyalty, giving it an adequate legal structure and strengthening important institutions under which the Spanish colony functioned for more than two hundred years. [4] He is criticized for the reductions of the Indian population, expanding the forced labor demanded of the Indians under the mita of the Inca Empire, and executing Túpac Amaru, the last Inca of the Neo-Inca State in Vilcabamba.[5]


Birth and early years

Francisco de Toledo was born on 15 July 1515[6] in Oropesa, Castile belonging to the noble family Álvarez de Toledo, while his mother died, which would influence his mood serious and taciturn. Her aunts Mary and Elizabeth were responsible for their upbringing. It was the fourth and last child of II Count of Oropesa, Francisco Álvarez de Toledo y Pacheco and María Figueroa y Toledo, eldest of Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, II Count of Feria and María Álvarez de Toledo, daughter of the I Duke of Alba de Tormes.

At the age of eight he moved to the court of King Charles I of Spain, to serve as a page to the queen Leonor and Isabel. He learned Latin, history, rhetoric and theology, fencing, music, dancing and courtly manners.

Serving the Emperor Charles V

The king Charles I of Spain and emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire

Francisco de Toledo was fifteen years old when in 1530 King Charles I accepted him at home, accompanying that emperor until his last days in the most varied circumstances of both peace and war. This personal contact with the monarch, who adopted the prudent policy, "Machiavellianism" and the tendency to seek balances between his partners, would serve as a useful experience for further governmental work.

In 1535, when he was twenty, he was invested with the habit of a knight of the Order of Alcántara, a religious-military order, and years later was given to this corporation the task of Acebuchar in 1551.

The first military action in which intervened was the Conquest of Tunis (1535), a great triumph of the imperial troops over the Ottoman Turks who snatched the plaza in North Africa. Following the emperor on his tour of Europe, the young Álvarez de Toledo passed through Rome, where king Carlos I defied Francis I of France, which triggered another war with that country (the third of the reign of the emperor), between the years 1536-1538. Following the signing of peace, Álvarez de Toledo returned to Spain and later went to Ghent, in Flanders. Once participated in the expedition to Algiers, important Turkish square[clarification needed] in North Africa, campaign which ended in failure due to bad weather (1541).

In the following years he continued to serve the imperial arms, but also participated in the diets, boards and councils. It was a very turbulent time, as well as the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks occurred progress of Protestantism in Germany, region under imperial orbit. In all this time Álvarez de Toledo was near the emperor Charles V.

He met the Spanish negotiations with England to start a new war against France.

He dealt with the issues of Hispanic America interested about the legal status that should have the Indians. He was in Valladolid when Friar Bartolomé de las Casas appeared before a board of theologians the text of A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and knew of the writing of the New Laws of the Indies that caused such a stir in Peru.

He left Barcelona in 1543 with the emperor, for Italy and Germany during the fourth war against France. He participated in the battles of Gelderland and Düren.

In 1556 took place the abdication of Charles I and his consequent trip to Spain, and on November 12, on the way to Monastery of Yuste, entered the castle of Jarandilla de la Vera, which was hosted by its owner, 4th Count of Oropesa, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Figueroa, who was the nephew of Francis and who also received the old ex monarch. The stay lasted until February 3, 1557 when the works in Yuste were finished, final resting place of Charles I. They both served him until his death in 1558.

The following years were spent by Álvarez de Toledo in activities related to the Order of Alcántara. Between 1558 and 1565 he remained in Rome, where he participated in the discussion and definition of the Statutes of the Order, as attorney general.

Viceroy of Peru

Toledo became the fifth viceroy of Peru in 1569. He was appointed viceroy by Philip II after serving as a steward in the royal court. He inherited a chaotic situation in Peru, but he conceived and implemented an ambitious program to "put down neo-Inca insurrection, strengthen colonial government and legal institutions, indoctrinate the native populace in Catholicism, and shore up faltering revenue streams" from mining.[7]

During his rule, Toledo took charge of the government and implemented many reforms. He centralized colonial governmental functions and laid the foundation for the future administration of the viceroyalty. He established royal authority and Spanish dominance in the colony. He broke the power of the encomenderos, reducing them to obedient servants of the crown. He has been called "one of the great administrators of human times."[8]

He worked hard to convert the Indigenous and provide them with religious training. Toledo added new laws and royal decrees regarding the Indians and their lands, and he gathered the natives into villages, or reducciones. He promulgated laws that applied to both Indians and Spanish alike. He tried to adapt the political and social structures of the Incas to life in the viceroyalty. He also used the old system of mita, which had been a form of corvee labour under the Incas, as a form of forced native labor. Under his reforms of the mita, no more than one seventh of the male population of a village could be conscripted, they could not be forced to work far from their native villages, and they were entitled to compensation for their labor. These reforms later were called the Toledo Reforms.

Toledo assigned Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa the task of writing a chronicle of prehispanic times in Peru by compiling information given by some of the older survivors from that time. Sarmiento's work is considered an invaluable source of information for that period. Toledo sent the account to the King, in hopes that a museum would be founded.

He established the Inquisition in Peru in 1570. Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera founded the city of Córdoba (in modern-day Argentina) on July 6, 1573. Tarija and Cochabamba (both in modern Bolivia) were founded in 1574.

In 1574, Toledo accompanied a military expedition to the Chaco region in what is now southeastern Bolivia to repress the Eastern Bolivian Guaraní people who the Inca and Spanish called Chiriguanos (a pejorative name). The Guaraní were raiding Spanish and Indian settlements in the Andes. The expedition was a failure and Toledo nearly died of an illness, probably malaria.[9]

A detailed census was taken describing the different ethnic groups and their economic status. Toledo made an extensive inspection tour of the colony, traveling over 8,000 km in more than five years. He was the only viceroy of Peru to undertake such a fact-finding mission. "His tour of inspection had convinced him that there were many abuses of power which needed correction and many flaws in the governmental machinery which needed repair."[10]

He built fortifications on the coast for protection against pirates and also established la Armada del Mar del Sur (the Southern Fleet) in the port of El Callao. (Sir Francis Drake was ravaging the coast of Peru in 1579.)

He built bridges and improved the safety of travel in the viceroyalty. The first coins minted for Peru (and indeed for South America) appeared between 1568 and 1570. The silver from mines at Potosí circulated around the world.

Execution of Tupac Amaru

The claim has been made that the execution of the Inca Túpac Amaru in 1571 for rebellion is a great stain on the record of Viceroy Toledo. There are eyewitness accounts claiming that many clerics, convinced of Tupac Amaru's innocence, begged the viceroy that he be sent to Spain for trial. However, other claims have been made to the contrary — that Tupac Amaru was indeed in rebellion, that Toledo had tried peaceful means to settle differences, that three of his ambassadors to the Inca were murdered, and that Tupac Amaru subsequently raised an army to resist the colonial army.[citation needed]

Philip II, however, disapproved of the execution. Toledo also made enemies through his reforms. The previous (interim) viceroy, Lope García de Castro, was one of them. García de Castro was now a member of the Council of the Indies, from which position he opposed most of Toledo's reforms. Some of the Spanish in Peru opposed the viceroy because of the loss of some of their privileges. Nevertheless, the royal revenue from Peru sent to Spain increased. The books were balanced for the first time in fifteen years, tax collection was regularized and enforced, and revenues from the silver mines increased.

Recall, return to Spain, imprisonment and death

In spite of this, Toledo was blamed for the viceregal books not being balanced and taxes not being sent back to Spain. He was recalled to Spain in 1581. There he was jailed until 1582, where he died of natural causes.

See also

Further reading

  • Levillier, Roberto. Don Francisco de Toledo, supremo organizador del Perú. Su vida, su obra (1515-1582). 1935
  • Lohman Villena, Guillermo and Maria Justina Sarabia Viejo, eds. Francisco de Toledo, Disposiciones, gubernativas para el virreinato del Perú, 1569-1574. 2 vols. 1986, 1989.
  • Zimmerman, Arthur Franklin. Francisco de Toledo, Fifth Viceroy of Peru, 1569-1581. 1938.


  1. ^ This was the name given by Antonio de León Pinelo: "Solón del Perú".
  2. ^ Tantaleán Arbulú, Javier. El Virrey Francisco de Toledo y su tiempo. 2 T. Universidad de San Martín de Porres. Lima. 2011.
  3. ^ Viceroyalty of Peru|historical area, South America,", accessed 6 July 2016
  4. ^ Roberto Levillier: Don Francisco de Toledo, Peru supreme organizer. His life, his work [1515-1582]. Buenos Aires, Espasa-Calpe, 1935 to 1942
  5. ^ Luis E. Valcárcel: The viceroy Toledo, great tyrant of Peru: a historical review. Lima, National Museum Press, 1940. However, this point of view should not be interpreted Peruvian historian as opposed to the Argentine Levillier, but as complementary.
  6. ^ Francisco de Toledo, Viceroy of Peru by Debbie Wells. Archived 2013-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Wernke, Steven A. (2007), "Negotiating Community and Landscape in the Peruvian Andes: A Transconquest View," American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 109, No. 1, p. 132. Downloaded from JSTOR.
  8. ^ Mabry, Donald J., Colonial Latin America. Coral Springs, Fla.: Llumina Press, 2002.
  9. ^ Mumford, Jeremy Ravi (2012), Vertical Empire: The General Resettlement of Indians in the Colonial Andes, Durham: Duke University Press, p. 135
  10. ^ Zimmerman, Arthur Franklin, Francisco de Toledo: Fifth Viceroy of Peru 1566-1881. Caldwell, Ida.: The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1938.

External links

  • (in Spanish) Fairly long biography
  • Short biography
Government offices
Preceded by
Lope García de Castro
Viceroy of Peru
Succeeded by
Martín Enríquez de Almanza