This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Jorge Paredes Laos has just published an interesting article in the Peruvian daily El Comercio about the life and work of Martín de Murua, a man from Gipuzkoa who, as a Mercedarian friar, spent many years in the New World colonies of the king of Castile, especially in the Kingdom of Peru, working as a parish priest among the natives.
During his stay in those lands, he learned the local languages, which was absolutely necessary for him to be able to complete his mission to evangelize, he did some work that was rather unbecoming of a friar, and he wrote the “General history of Peru: Origin and descent of the Incas, which also deals with both the Inca civil wars and the arrival of the Spanish”. That was the title of the chronicle which, finally, after going through several revisions, was sent to the printer in Madrid in 1616 but never actually published. The work, finally made up of three books with 122 illustrations, underwent an intense transformation after its first known version, from the end of the 16th century to its final version. As Annalyda Álvarez-Calderón tells us in her 2007 article in La Revista Andina: “The chronicle of Friar Martín de Murúa: lies and legacies of a Basque Mercedarian in the Andes”.
The author of the article we’re talking about today, Jorge Paredes Laos, cites the book of another Basque in order to get to know the life of Martín de Murúa: historian Francisco Borja de Aguinagalde, published in 2017 with a 16th-century style title: “A Mystery Resolved: The author of ‘The General History of Peru’, Friar Martín de Murúa (1566?-1615), from Eskoriatza”.
We have to say, we’re always surprised by how today, a 30-year-old would be called “young”, but how back then, in the 16-17th centuries, a person could do so much before dying before his 50th birthday.
We also didn’t fail to notice the constant “Basque” presence in the story of Peru, from the beginning of the Conquest and, therefore, from the first steps on the road to building the Republic of Peru that we know today. It’s a presence that is perfectly discussed in the creation of the Illustrious Basque Fraternity of Our Lady of Aranzazu in Lima in 1612, that is, 80 years after the founding of Lima. The Fraternity was created by “the noble knights who reside in this City of the Kings of Peru, born in the Lordship of Biscay and the Province of Gipuzkoa and their descendents, and of those born in the Province of Alava, the Kingdom of Navarre, and the four Towns on the Mountain Coast…in the Convent of St. Francis of this City, in the Chapel dedicated to Holy Christ and Our Lady of Aranzazu”.
We’ll leave you with the reference to the El Comercio article, and a link to a PDF file of the book by Francisco Borja de Aguinagalde.
El Comercio – 2/1/2018 – Perú
Un misterio llamado Martín de Murúa
Su vida estaba cubierta por un velo de misterio. Se sabía que había nacido en algún lugar del País Vasco, y que un día de 1580 apareció en el Cusco convertido en mercedario. Ya entonces había conocido al cronista indígena Guamán Poma de Ayala, a quien había contratado como ayudante para emprender juntos la tarea de contar la verdadera historia de los incas.
Francisco Borja de Aguinagalde Book PDF version: www.academia.edu/35366611.