Peru, early XVI century.
“Mestiza” is a mixed-blood woman stuck between two worlds and usually forced to choose one. The main character of our story is known as the first mestiza of Peru, her name was Francisca Pizarro. She is known as the first one of her kind probably because the other many children born before her were products of illegitimate unions with indigenous women of inferior rank or even products of rapes committed by the Spanish soldiers during the invasion.
Daughter of the conquistador of the New Castile, a territory known as the “Tawantinsuyu” during the Inca empire, Francisco Pizarro, and the Inca princess Quispe Sisa, or Ines Huaylas, a name given after her Christian baptize. She was 15, and he 55.
Was there any love between the mature soldier and the adolescent princess? Impossible to know it for sure, this union was born from a political move made by an imprisoned Inca Atahualpa, offering one of his sisters to the conquistador was his last try to create bonds with him, please him, and possibly save his title and life, something that didn’t happen at the end, as Atahualpa was executed months later in Cajamarca.
Back to our topic, there are no existing love letters between them (Ines was probably illiterate) or mentions about their relationship in chronicles, we only know that Pizarro called her affectionately “Pispita” which means in Spanish vivacious. Most likely this was just one more business for Pizarro, using this advantageous wedding to reaffirm its new title of nobleman before the Incan People and the Spanish nobility escalating to the very top of society, something that otherwise would never happen to a man of his kind and circumstances. For Ines it was just their destiny, not much is known of the Inca female nobility, we know that ladies like her we’re raced to marry the man their Inca would choose for them, in this case at least she was preserving her high status and above all, her own life. In this difficult situation, love was not part of neither his or her aspirations.
In the Europe of that time, the destiny of women was always uncertain, her desires, dreams, or wishes were out of the discussion when a husband had to be found, they were a piece of property, passed from their fathers to their husbands, like a mere object
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Incan women, on the other hand, were much freer in many senses than European women, sexually, for example, many chronicles described the early initiation into sexual life of Young women even before officially being married, this ancient custom persist until the present days and is called CERVINACUY, or free union between lovers before marriage which can se seen as a test time, this practice is encouraged as an important part of the natural development of a healthy relationship and long lasting Union. We know that Conquistadors considered indigenous women to be free-spirited, but at the same time many took advantage of this sinful behavior, engaging in illicit relationships and producing MESTIZO children everywhere in this part of the world even though most of these men where married in Spain, those mix-blood children are the true ancestors of Latin American people and fathers of our culture.
The subject of this article, Francisca Pizarro Yupanqui, was born in the most advantageous scenario for any girl of her time in her conditions, she was the product of a rich conquistador, owner of status, respect, and lands, old enough to desire a descendancy and maybe even love his children, and an Incan princess, owner of status, wealth, lands and the respect of many indigenous.
Little Francisca was lucky, even in her misfortunes she was able to live a better life than most of the children of the conquistadors in America which were considered bastards, and as natural children denied of their inheritances.
The early days of this lady are quite a mystery, from the official accounts we know that since an early age she was given the treatment of the legitimate daughter of a HIDALGO (nobleman). Educated in the European standard of refinement from the early 16 century in European manners, art, music, and letter. She lived initially with both her parents in Lima, but the first tragedy of her life took place in 1538 when her parents separated. Later Pizarro united to another Incan princess Cuxirimay Oclla, and married Ines with a “Paje” or one of his page-boys Francisco de Ampuero, her family was broken and her life changed forever as she was taken out of the protection of her mother and given in custody to a married couple close to circule of the conquistador, she was educated in the strict Spanish rules and traditions, she spoked only Spanish, dressed up as Spanish, was catholic and had no contact with her indigenous routes.
The next tragic chapter of her life was the murder of her father, Francisco Pizarro was murdered by his enemy party, the Almagristas, in 1541 on his palace, and Francisca of 7 years old and her little siblings were in great danger. She was rapidly taken out of Lima, spend some time in the north of Perú, returned to Lima. Years after some indigenous revolts and the a possible marriage with an indigenous noble descendant and the return of the Inca resistance made the king of Spain to recommend her transfer to Europe, first to Seville, and then to Medina del Campo, this time by request of her uncle, the brother of her father, Hernando Pizarro, to live with him in his castle in 1551.
Hernando was a very rich man, imprisoned in his luxurious jail-castle accused of plotting against the crown in association with his brother and for the murder of Diego de Almagro. He was sentenced to 30 years. Before the visit of his niece, he was united to the Spanish woman Isabel Mercado, a poor noblewoman, and even had children together who died at an early age. When Hernando saw Francisca for the first time possibly he was immediately attracted to that refined young woman and did not see her as a niece, but as a great catch, that is why he sent Isabel Mercado to a nunnery, and time after married Ines. Maybe it was her beauty or her immense fortune which was so attractive to a man 30 older than her, we will never know.
At 44 years old Francisca was finally free when her husband-uncle died at age 74 years old, he asked Ines in his testament “not to marry again”, something she didn’t care about. She remarried 2 years later to a 28-year-old who belong to a family of conquistadors and old enemies of the Pizarro family. Pedro Arias Dávila Portocarrero was the brother of the wife of Francisca’s son, so, in fact, the mother-in-law was also the sister-in-law with this union. This Union was not just legitimate, also very much enjoyed by the couple, as they spent lots of money on parties, trips, jewelry, palaces, clothing, and charities. They spend fast all the money that took the Pizarros years to build and even costed their own lives. She never returned to Perù, dying in Spain in 1598 At age 63.
Analyzing her life and story one thing is true, although genetically Francisca was a mestiza, culturally she was Spanish, as she was taken away from her mother’s influence too early in her life, with no possibility of absorbing that part of her culture, accomplishing her acculturation and her inversion into western society , something considered the ideal of those days for mixed-blood children, something that happened in most cases, but not in all, that is the case of another illustrious character: Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, which I will talk about soon in another post.
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