In the latest in our series on the bicentennial of the independence of the New World Republics, we bring you a double article from one of the greatest historians and educators in Peru in the 20th century, who left us far too soon: Teodoro Hampe Martínez.

In his 55 years, this scholar of the colonial age achieved great prestige both in Peru and internationally.  His work not only focused on the scientific and academic research, but he also did great work sharing that knowledge, as explained in this article of rememborance by Juan Carlos Adriazloa Silva for the Mercurio Peruano, a journal published by the University of Pirua which was founded in 1918 by Víctor Andrés Belaunde (who we’ve referenced before on the blog in one of our articles about the Basque Passionists).

“His fruitful intellectual life in the field of history is worthy of admiration, not only for the quality of his writings, but also for the quantity of articles, essays, reviews, compilations, and books that he left behind in Spanish, and also in German, French, and English in several specialized journals… My curiosity for humanistic and especially historical topics led me to follow Professor Hampe through several articles he periodically published in the ‘El Comercio de Lima’ newspaper.  The elegance of his pen, the conceptual precision when explaining his ideals, and the agile and concise style he regularly used to discuss several events and people in his nation’s history, especially the period of the viceroyalty in which he was an expert, would soon get me “hooked” on this intellectual’s discourse…”

A curiosity about Mercurio Peruano.  This publication, the one founded by Víctor Andrés Belaunde, is the third one to carry that name in Peru.  The first, published between 1791 and 1795, was edited by a group of young intellectuals who belonged to the Academic Society of Lovers of the Country, including Hipólito Unanue, doctor, naturalist, meteorologist, university profesor, politician, precursor to Peruvian independence, and a key figure in his times.  This Basque was born in Peru to a Gipuzkoan father and maintained a close friendship with the Landaburu family, one of the protagonists of this article, and who sheltered him in his first years in Lima.

We’re including this historian along with the two articles about the Basque families in Peru who lived through the change from a colony to a republic, with everything that meant.  Actually, this is a complete, published article and an outline of another research project that was commissioned by the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aranzazu of Lima, which he was unable to finish before his untimely passing.

In the complete article, which was published in the Yearbook of New World Studies (Volume LVIII, 1, 2001), there is a study of the life of “Don Martín de Osambela, Navarrese merchant of the 18th- and 19th centuries, and his descendants in Peru”, part of the Basque-Navarrese lineage of the Osambela family, linked by blood and business to several well-known families from the same origins.  We brought it to you when it was published.

In the second, which is the one that’s an outline, titled “Landaburu: a Basque-Peruvian family in business, politics, and society”, research was focused on the life experience and material legacy of the Landaburu family from Álava, who were hugely important in the economic and social history of the Peruvian viceroyalty in the 18th century, and who became even more important up to the wars of Independence.

Therefore, we have two research projects which deal squarely with one of the centerpieces of this series of articles: the presence and role of the Basques in this historical process that led to the birth of the republics of the New World.  What’s more, the two articles are written by a person closely linked to the Basque in Peru thanks to his connection with the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aranzazu of Lima, which is one of the bodies promoting this series of articles on the bicentennial of the new world republics’ independence.

For this author’s biography, we’ve chosen the one found on the ECWiki website, which does not mention his death, but covers this Peruvian’s work as a historian and educator extremely well.


Landaburu: a Basque-Peruvian family in business, politics, and society

Teodoro Hampe Martínez

Teodoro Hampe Martínez
Teodoro Hampe Martínez

Teodoro Hampe Martínez (1960-2016) Doctor in History from the Complutense University of Madrid.  Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, the Greater National University of San Marcos, and the Technological University of Peru, he has also worked in teaching at several other universities in Peru and abroad.  He is currently on the board of the Bolivarian Society of Peru, the Center for Historical-Military Studies of Peru, the Peruvian Association of the History of Medicine, and the Bernardo O’Higgins Cultural Institute. (follow Spanish) (Automatic translation)

This research project aims to study the life experiences and material legacy of a lineage from Álava, the Landaburu family, who were hugely important in the economic and social history of the viceroyalty of Peru in the 18th century, and who increased in importance up to the wars of Independence.  Due to their small number of descendants, the Landaburu family did not last more than three or four generations, but the weight of their endeavors has left its mark in several places, monuments, and notable people up to the present day.

Agustín Hipólito de Landaburu, the businessman

Don Agustín Hipólito de Landaburu y Pérez de Ribera (1715-1777) was a Creole landowner and colonial civil servant in the Viceroyalty of Peru.  The son of Basque captain Agustín de Landaburu y Aldeguren and Creole Lady María Pérez de Ribera, he was at an early age recognized as captain of the militias of the town of Cañete (1730); he would go on to become the chief justice of that town (1740), and promoted to colonel of the cavalry regiment of the militias of Mala (1763), and finally to maestre de campo.  He was the owner of the famous Gómez Hacienda in Cañete, which would become known as the Unanue Hacienda years later.  There he raised fighting bulls, which increased the value of his cattle.  This is where the running bulls for the January 30, 1766 inauguration of the Lima Plaza de Toros came from.

There are documents where it is shown that Landaburu y Ribera had to pay the sum of 107,600 pesos to acquire the Plaza de Acho by convincing the Viceroy, Manuel Amat y Junient, with whom he was a close friend.  Thanks to his extensive agricultural lands in the Cañete Valley, he had a considerable fortune, which was enough to get him elected ordinary mayor of the city of Lima on two occasions, in 1755 and 1766.  He was married to Mariana de Belzunce y Salazar, widowed countess of the House of Dávalos, with whom he had one sone, Agustín Leocadio de Landaburu y Belzunce.

This history of Plaza de Acho has its origins in the attempt to establish a place to hold the running of the bulls in Lima.  In February 1762, with the arrival of Viceroy Amat, a run was held on the lands called “del Acho”, a Quechua word that means “upper part”, because that is the point from which all the ships in Callao port could be seen.  Agustín Hipólito de Landaburu decided to invest more than 100,000 pesos in a hard-surface ring for that land, and in June 1765, he obtained the viceroy’s authorization to build it, as well as permission to organize eight bull runs per year.  Of the projected profits, part—1,500 pesos a year—would be donated to the almshouse run by the Royal Charity Council of Lima.

The new contractor finished the construction of the plaza with Moorish sculptures and finishes, which finished off the columns and buttresses with adobe and quincha which were specially prepared to support the wooden seats brought in from Central America.  Thus, the first run at the old Plaza de Acho in Lima was held on January 30, 1766, with the vice-sovereign himself in attendance.  Matadors Pizi, Gallipavo, and Maestro de España took part, fighting twelve bulls from the aforementioned Gómez Hacienda in Cañete.  This date was made known in a commemorative conference held to celebrate the plaza’s bicentennial (1766-1966) by academic and researcher Aurelio Miró Quesada.

The bullfights at the Acho Arena were officially authorized by a royal decree by King Charles III at the San Ildefonso farm on August 9, 1766, licensing Landaburu y Ribera to build and run a plaza.  The bullfighting season continued for a few years, until they had to be stopped due to some unfavorable clauses in the contract designed by the viceroy in detriment to the owner, builder, and businessman.  When he died, his widow, Mariana de Belzunce y Salazar (immortalized in the “El divorcio de la condesita” tradition by Ricardo Palma) continued running the plaza, under consultation with her brother, Juan José Belzunce.

Agustín Leocadio de Landaburu, the politician

The only descendant of that couple, Agustín Leocadio de Landaburu y Belzunce (1773-1814), inherited quite a fortune from his family, including the old Plaza de Toros de Acho, but he did not continue in his parents’ footsteps, as he decided to go to Spain and France.  His executor, Hipólito Unanue, took over the bullring, and in 1832, he left the ownership of the Acho bullring to the Almshouse run by the Royal Charity Council of Lima in his will.  Over time, the arena would be modified on three occasions: the repairs of 1865, to celebrate its centennial, the remodel of 1844, led by the Sociedad Explotadora de Acho (in agreement with the Public Charity Society of Lima), and the enlargement of 1961, which created atria, pergolas, and esplanades, a restaurant, two bars, and the Bullfighting Museum.

In the middle of the 16th century, Lorenzo de Arona, who gave his name to the house and lands known as the San Juan de Arona Hacienda, had received lands in the Cañete Valley.  Via purchases and inheritances, they were later added to the estates of Cerro Blanco, Gómez, y Pepián, as well as the lands of Guayabal, which would later make up the Unanue Hacienda.  At the beginning of the 19th century, Agustín de Landaburu y Belzunce, an illustrious and liberal Creole, would leave these properties, where he had spent his childhood and youth, to his illustrious master, doctor and politician Hipólito Unanue (1755-1833).  These estates have been marked by the vicissitudes of time, in general, and the individual stories of the men and women who lived there; worldwide events such as the European Enlightenment, the independence of the Spanish colonies in the New World, the abolition of slavery, the immigration from eastern Asia to the other side of the Pacific, the war with Chile, the National Reconstruction, the world wars, and—of course—the 1969 Agrarian Reform of Peru.

It would not be until the independence of the United States and the French Revolution that Agustín Leocadio would decide to abandon the Viceroyalty of Peru to fight for the emancipation of the Spanish colonies in the New World.  Before departing overseas, on December 20 1799, he wrote a will leaving all his belongings to three people: his uncle, Juan José Belzunce; his former executor and professor from San Marcos, Hipólito Unanue; and his friend, Matías Larreta.  Clause XV of the will stated that the first would be the main heir, but if he died before testator, the second and third (in order) would inherit half of his assets.  Since Belzunce and Larreta died before Landaburu, the famous academic inherited half of his assets.

The other half was sold at public auction, in order to pay off debts and obligations that he had acquired.  The only bidder at the auction was José Saldívar, who declared that he acquired the assets in Unanue’s name.  That way, eventually all the assets ended up in the hands of the illustrious maestro.  In 1826, the doctor and national hero of our Independence moved to Cañete, though a few years later, he decided to abandon the town due to an illness that led him to Lima, where he entered eternal rest on July 15, 1833, at the age of 78.  His remains currently rest in the Pantheon of National Heroes.

Volume 7 of the Document Archive of the Independence of Peru contains the wills of Agustín de Landaburu y Belzunce and of Hipólito Unanue, discussing the Plaza de Acho.  Landaburu’s says “This page contains my last will and testament, which I leave to my uncle, Juan José Belzunce.  In Lima, on December 20, 1799”.  He lists his assets in the first few items.  In Item 11, he lists his own assets and stock in the San Juan de Arona Hacienda, with all its slaves and cattle, as the Acho bullring, “with the exclusive privilege to hold eight bullruns per year.”  Item 13 states that his uncle, Juan José Belzunce, is the heir to everything.  And he entrusts the care of his assets first to his uncle, and then to Unanue.

In 1809, a royal order demanded Landaburu’s assets be seized because he had joined the cause of independence.  The National Hero from Lima lived through a series of misfortunes in Europe, and it is known that he died in London on July 4, 1814.

The Legacy of the Landaburu Family: culture and society

As a deputy for the City of Arequipa, Hipólito Unanue was elected to Parliament at the end of 1814, and at the Royal Court, he managed to assets of that Basque-Peruvian fortune were passed on to him.  On August 16, 1816, pursuant to the original power granted by Landaburu, and with the first trustee, Juan José Belzunce having passed away, Unanue rendered account of that will before Limeño scribe Gerónimo de Villafuerte.

Then, on November 14, when taking inventory of and assessing the assets of the late Agustín Leocadio de Landaburu, reference is made to the “privilege of holding eight bull runs a year at the Plaza de Acho for a certain number of years, with part of the profits going to the Almshouse in that city.”  Before dying, Unanue asked his executors to state that, when entering into the administration of his assets in 1801, the Haciendas had 200,000 pesos due in taxes, censuses, and debts.  The Plaza de Acho, which was his greatest asset, was sold off by royal decree on November 6, 1798.  But, in the end, it was resolved to give Landaburu was he was owed, and the Almshouse in our city was given ownership.  That means that Unanue applied his skills to contain the plundering of the bullring, because the handsome profits it provided were an excellent way to finance its owner.

Then, after the establishment of the republic, several different organizations wanted to take over the bullring, but on October 12, 1831, the decision was made to grant its ownership to the Almshouse, which soon after became part of the Charity Society of Lima, instituted by decree on June 12, 1834.  Thus, the two-centuries-old Acho bull ring from then on has been in the hands of such an emblematic institution as the Lima Metropolitan Charity Society.  With over 200 years of history, the Plaza de Acho bears the title of a National Historical Monument, and is the third oldest in the world, after the Royal Cavalry School of Seville (1761) and the Misericordia arena in Zaragoza (1764).  As we’ve seen, its creation was thanks to the Landaburu family, nobles from the area of Ayala, in Álava, and linked by blood and deed to the history and culture of Peru.

Lima, December 2014.


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Don Martín de Osambela, Navarrese merchant from the 18th and 19th centuries, and his descendants in Peru

This article can be found in this blog entry

Basque Chronicles: Merchants and Administrators: the role of the Basques in the Colonial New World

Header photo: Lima in the 18th century


The Bicentennial of the Independence of the New World Republics series is a project of the Euskadi Munduan Assocaition, the Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea, the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aránzazu of Lima, and the Editorial Archives of Oiga Magazine.

Last Updated on Oct 1, 2021 by About Basque Country

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