The Letter from Lope de Aguirre
America has encountered a number of battles, scandals, and conspiracies before they gained their independence. It is this struggle for the independence that they now have that bore fruit against all odds. They pressed on and got what they needed no matter the cost. Some people died while others were injured and others were discriminated and mistreated. Passion for freedom is a liberating motivator and when one has sight of it, they tend to hold on to it however much they may have to pay for it. Such birthed the reality of terms such as a rebel which was vastly used even to excommunicate a number of people. Such labels were given to Lope de Aguirre and his men when he wrote a “Rebellious” Letter to the king Philip of Spain in 1561.
He was a loyal man from the government of Spain; he served them, fought for them and even exercised rule for them until he saw the King’s ungratefulness. We see this in part of the letter he writes saying
“In 24 years I have done you great service in Peru, in conquests of the Indians, in founding towns, and especially in battles and encounters fought in your name, always to the best of my power and ability, without requesting of your officials pay nor assistance, as can be seen in your royal records.”
In those days, he was known as the “madman” because of his methods and the way he conducted his expeditions. He was a man with no fear and war was his life. His final task was to look for the Golden King El Dorado. This expedition saw him travel through adverse conditions without breaking. The travelled for long distances even going through deserted regions to fulfill their task. Such conditions can lead someone to rethink life again and one has time to plan and strategize. It was in 1561, that he sent his letter of rebellion to King Philip the second. He was from the Basque area and was the conquistador from there. Having lost part of his physical ability, he was the first to say that he was American yet it was the colonial time and he was Spanish American. His grievances were solid and held water and with these, he gathered up men to fight with him. The kind of rebellion that he carried out was not one of escape; it was on of engaging and making advancements towards his oppressor. He was clear of what he wanted and why.
Some things that made him mad and angry were the likes of what the priests in Peru did. Just before, I mention that, it is important to keep in mind that this was a staunch believer. He believed that God existed and that he was all powerful but most importantly there were some things man did but were not godly. He said that the priests engaged in practices considered unlawful but went away without punishment, such practices did not make a good impression on the locals, and as the story goes, these colonizers wanted to impose their religion on the natives. Seeing such behavior from their so-called leaders was already causing the natives to feel like this was a cruel and ethnocentric religion. It was thought to be so because the priests were at that time like businesspeople selling temporary goods and issuing the sacraments of the church at a price. The kind of gluttony expressed by these “holy” men pained Lope and so he was cruel even the more to the people. How could one succeed in winning the heart or mind of a man that they oppressed, it could only work in adverse conditions and with a new generation but to do so, it is important to think of the subject’s response.
Secondly and most importantly, this bold man’s rebellion was due to the king’s extreme treatment to his vassals and so his cruel advances were sort of justified by this (Thomas 60). According to him, the vassals gave the king all that he had or had acquired yet he treated them lowly. He argued that the men in the field maintained his kingdom, they fought battles for him, they disciplined the men that were hard headed and died for him, yet he treated them as if they were an insignificant part of his kingdom. One would think that they were his strong arm of power and that he would give them privileges unique to the rest but it was not so. The king was not diligent to give them their dues and he did not make effort to do so. They went out and bled while sweating for the kingdom but were not remunerated. If one depends on another for their successful reign, then they ought to keep them satisfied and comfortable in order to exercise their role. His long service together with the rest felt like slavery and the pain was too much.
While the king stayed in his home at peace, the soldiers were out fighting in cruel conditions, they were men of war with their minds made up and now the viciousness in their methods lead by Lope were dreaded. Those are just a number of the concerns that this man had not just for himself but also those that he commanded and were loyal to him. The way that he puts it shows us that a kingdom that is divided against itself cannot stand. Either it will crumble or have sagas and jeopardies clearly planned. With the projection that Lope gives us, we would expect that this rule would not last long because it would have to be sustained in the same way unless reforms were made and according to him, his plan was to get the king out of power even by death.
His other bothering issue was that of corrupt but highly paid judges. They were paid to keep things in order but they introduced imbalances that were severely felt. Lope swore along with his patriots that they would not stop until this government was flushed out. We can observe this in the following words:
“We pray to God our Lord that your fortune ever be increased against the Turk and the Frenchman, and all others who wish to make war on you in those parts. In these, God grant that we might obtain with our arms the reward by right due us, but which you have denied.”
They were willing to die for this cause and they did not mind having a pitiful dead. In fact, he in the letter advices the king not to send soldiers to capture him because they would not amount to much but whichever way he would choose to respond, he was making a statement of confidence and self-decisive plans to bring him down.
I personally think that this man was sober to make such a decision. Oppression is often taken without confrontation but the people suffer until one man or a couple of men decide to go against the flow of current. His declarations were cruel and harsh, his methods were brutal and inhumane while his decisions were firm and open. Such confidence is what leads the weak but oppressed to receive strength to fight and confront wicked rule. However, there are some extremes that ought not be explored. Every society has its viruses and the people are the ones that feel the direct impact of their actions with greatest intensity, however, change requires a shedding. It is not always peaceful and subtle. Lope de Aguirre was cruel and inhumane, he did things with a strong hand that lead to a lot of pain. Society requires a balance and at times even the weak can gather strength and fight. In life, a co-existence must be cohesively created and its creation is greatly dependent on how the residents off the society behave, if they create a conducive environment for the same, then it is easier to eradicate some black spots that may exist among them. However, if some think of themselves to be stronger than the rest, then problems that must be solved arise.
Thomas, Hugh. World Without End: Spain, Philip Ii, and the First Global Empire. , 2015. Print.