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García de Castro, Lope (?–c.1576)

García de Castro, Lope (?–c.1576)

Lope García de Castro (d. 1576), governor and captain-general of Peru (1564–1569). Born in the district of Astorga, in northwest Spain, García de Castro studied at the University of Salamanca (1534). He received the licenciate in law and taught at Salamanca until his appointment as oidor (justice) of the Audiencia of Valladolid (1541). In 1558, Philip II transferred him to the Council of the Indies.

In response to complaints against Viceroy Diego López de Zúñiga, conde de Nieva, the king sent García de Castro to Peru to investigate and replace the errant official. When García de Castro reached American shores, he learned the viceroy had been assassinated (20 February 1564).

In October 1564 he arrived in Lima, where he began five years of honest, effective, and dedicated administration. In 1565 he established the Casa de Moneda (Mint Office) of Lima. (It was transferred to Potosí in 1572.) Ordered to increase royal revenues and cut expenses, he began the following year to collect the almojarifazgo (import duty) and undertook to organize effective exploitation of the mercury mines at Huancavelica. He divided Peru into provinces and established the corregimiento system for the local administration of Indians. In 1567 he founded an audiencia at Concepción, in Chile. (Suppressed in 1573, it was reestablished in 1609 at Santiago.)

García de Castro faced continued pressure from the Araucanians on the Chilean frontier and the Chiriguanos in lowland Bolivia, opposition from the neo-Inca state at Vilcabamba, northwest of Cuzco, and a bothersome uprising in the central Peruvian highlands associated with the Taki Onqoy movement. For more effective administration of Lima, he created El Cercado, an Indian town. During his rule the Tridentine reforms were announced in Lima (1565) and the Second Lima Church Council (1567–1568), which improved the administration of Indian doctrinas, was convened. At this time, also, the Jesuits began their work in Peru. García de Castro provided support for Captain Juan Álvarez Maldonado's exploration of the Mojos territory in the upper Amazon basin and, under his nephew Álvaro de Mendaña, also organized a voyage of exploration in the Pacific (1567–1568) that led to the discovery of the Solomon Islands. García de Castro returned to Spain in November 1569, shortly after welcoming the new viceroy, Francisco de Toledo y Figueroa.

See alsoPeru: From the Conquest Through Independence .


Manuel De Mendiburu, Diccionario histórico-biográfico del Perú, vol. 5 (1933), pp. 345-350.

Rubén Vargas Ugarte, Historia del Perú: Virreinato (1551–1600) (1949), pp. 151-211; Historia general del Perú, vol. 2 (1966–1984).

Additional Bibliography

Andrien, Kenneth J. Andean Worlds: Indigenous History, Culture, and Consciousness under Spanish Rule, 1532–1825. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

Lockhart, James. Spanish Peru, 1532–1560: A Social History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.

                                     Noble David Cook

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