Inca: Plundered Treasure

The account that follows of the smelting of the silver idols into raw gold and silver is found in An Account of the Conquest of Peru written by Pedro Sancho, secretary to Pizarro and Scrivener to this Army. Translated into English by Philip Ainsworth Means.
— Orly

Of the great quantity of gold and silver which they caused to be smelted from the figures of gold which the Indians adored. Of the foundation of the city of Cuzco where a settlement of Spaniards was established, and of the order which was set up there.

When this good news was learned by the Governor, he had it published at once, and because of it the Spaniards were filled with content and gave infinite thanks to God for having shown himself favorable in everything to this enterprise. Then the Governor wrote and sent couriers to the city of Xauxa, giving to all his congratulations and thanking them for the valor they had shown, and especially his lieutenant, asking him to give him information of all that took place in the future. And in the meanwhile, the Governor hastened matters for setting out thence, leaving affairs provided for in the city, founding a colony, and peopling plentifully the said city. He caused all the gold which had been collected to be melted, which was in small pieces, an operation quickly performed by Indians skilled in the process. And when the sum total was weighed, it was found to contain five hundred and eighty thousand, two hundred-odd pesos of good gold. The fifth for H[is] M[ajesty] was taken out, and it was one hundred and sixteen thousand, and seventy-odd pesos of good gold. And the same smelting was performed for the silver, which was found to contain two hundred and fifteen thousand marks, a little more or less, and of them one hundred and seventy thousand or so were fine silver in vessels and plates, pure and good, and the rest was not so because it was in plates and pieces mixed with other metals from which, according, the silver was extracted. And from all this, likewise, was taken the fifth of H[is] M[ajesty]. Truly it was a thing worthy to be seen, this house where the melting took place, all full of so much gold in plates of eight and ten pounds each, and in vessels, and vases and pieces of various forms with which the lords of that land were served, and among other very sightly things were four sheep in fine gold and very large, and ten or twelve figures of women of the size of the women of that land, all of fine gold and as beautiful and well-made as if they were alive. These they held in as much veneration as if they had been the rulers of all the world, and alive [as well], and they dressed them in beautiful and very fine clothing, and they adored them as Goddesses, and gave them food and talked with them as if they were women of flesh. These went to form a part of the fifth of H[is] M[ajesty]. There were, besides, other odd silver objects of like form. The seeing of great vases and pieces of burnished silver was certainly a matter for great satisfaction. The Governor divided and distributed all this treasure among all the Spaniards who were at Cuzco and those who remained in the city of Xauxa, giving to each one as much good silver, and as much impure, together with as much gold [as he deserved], and to each man who had a horse he gave according to the man's merit and that of the horse and in accordance with the services he had done; and to the peons he did the same according to what was posted up to his credit in the book of distributions, which was kept [for this purpose]. All this was completed within eight days, and at the end of as many more, the Governor set out from here, leaving the city settled in the manner which has been told. In the month of March, 1534, the Governor ordered that the greater part of the Spaniards he had with him should be assembled in this city, and he made an act of foundation and settlement of the town, saying that he placed it and founded it in his own authority and he took possession of it in the middle of the plaza. And as a sign of the foundation and of the commencement of building and founding the colony, he held certain ceremonies in accordance with the act which was drawn up, which I, the scrivener, read in a loud voice in the presence of all. And the name of the city was agreed upon, "the very noble and great city of Cuzco." And, continuing the settlement, he appointed the site for the church which was to be built, its boundaries, limits, and jurisdiction, and immediately afterward he proclaimed that all who might come to settle here would be received as citizens, and many came in the next three years. From among them all they chose the persons most fitted for undertaking the charge of governing public affairs, and he [the Governor] appointed his lieutenant, alcaldes and ordinary regidores and other public officials, all of whom he chose in the name of H[is] M[ajesty] and he gave them the powers to exercise their offices. This done, the Governor, with the consent and advice of the religious whom he had with him and of H[is] M[ajesty]'s paymaster who was then with him, with whose assistance he looked over and considered the circumstances of the citizens until as many [had been chosen] as H. M. had arranged should take part in the repartimiento of the natives; in the meanwhile a certain number of them [Indians] was assigned to all the Spaniards who were to remain, in order that they might instruct them in the things of our holy catholic faith. And there set aside and given to the service of H. M. twelve thousand-odd married Indians in the province of the Collao in the middle thereof, near the mines, in order that they might take out gold for H. M. from which, it is understood, there will be great profits, considering the great wealth of the mines which are there, of which matters lengthy mention is made in the book of the foundation of this colony and in the register of the deposit which was made by the neighbouring Indians. And the approving, confirming or amending of these arrangements was left to the will of H. M. according as should seem best to suit his royal service.


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