Today in Europe particularly, the name Peru, despite the worldwide achievements of some of the country’s most notable figures in the spheres of literature or international diplomacy, often calls to mind the image of an economically poor, and socially and industrially backward, distant South American republic, forever incapable of creating internal sources of finance for development, hopelessly indebted to international creditors and unable to achieve stable political government. Only a part of this, the region’s remoteness, could be considered to have much relevance to European perceptions of Peru in the seventeenth century. At that time Spain’s empire in the New World was divided into a northern viceroyalty, New Spain or Mexico, and a southern counterpart from the Isthmus of Panama, generally referred to as Peru. This gave rise to the Spanish saying that ‘what is not Mexico is Peru’, conveniently overlooking Portuguese Brazil. In the present context we are concerned above all with the South Sea coast or Pacific coast of the southern viceroyalty, from the Isthmus of Panama to the Straits of Magellan. It is an area which never gained the same regular attention of Spain’s enemies as shores of the Spanish Main or islands of the West Indies, but which, nevertheless, continued to be a beguiling attraction to Europeans long after the conclusion of the ventures described in this study.
KeywordsTrade Fair Seventeenth Century Colonial Settlement International Creditor Southern Route
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