La esclavitud en Piura (Perú) durante el siglo XVIII

Supervised by:
  1. Manuel José de Lara Ródenas Director

Defence university: Universidad de Huelva

Fecha de defensa: 11 March 2021

  1. María Luisa Candau Chacón Chair
  2. Rosario Márquez Macías Secretary
  3. Francisco Quiroz Chueca Committee member

Type: Thesis


In Piura, a township and later parted from the intendancy of Trujillo (Peru), a slavery system was developed that was conditioned by geography and by the historical processes that occurred at the local, interregional and viceregal levels. The port of Paita played a fundamental and dynamic role, which was one of the entrance doors to Peru. For this study, we have mainly relied on archival sources: almojarifazgo (customs tax), customs and notarial protocols. The information obtained was complemented with official reports and traveler books. The thesis is divided into two parts. The first: “The arrival of slaves in Paita and their trade”, worked from a predominantly economic perspective and with a descriptive-quantitative approach. Firstly, it includes the analysis of the Panama-Paita maritime route, identifying the characteristics and difficulties it presented. Then, following the classic scheme formed by the four periods of the slave trade in Latin America for the XVIII century, the arrival of vessels of various types to the port of Paita from Panama was analyzed. We concluded that the 1930s and 1960s were the most fruitful in terms of the introduction of slaves. Once the "merchandise" arrived, the internal commerce that was generated in the nearby city of Piura was analyzed. It has been our interest to determine how many of these slaves who arrived in Piura were sold right here. Despite the difficulties that the sources presented, we conclude that this amounted to almost 12%, which does not mean that they all stayed in these places, since the most of them were transported -by land- to the farms located on the Piura-Lambayeque- Trujillo-Lima route. Likewise, we focus on the protagonists of this trade: buyers/sellers and slaves. Although it has not been easy, we try to define the hometown of one and another human group. An important aspect here has been the study of the costs and profits that, throughout the century, varied affected by local events (rains, droughts, earthquakes) and international events (mainly the conflicts in which the Hispanic monarchy was involved with the neighboring monarchies). In the second part entitled "Work and daily life of slaves in the Piurano space", we changed to a social perspective. We study the social dimension of slavery, the interaction of the slaves with themselves and with other social groups, especially with their masters and with the Indians, with whom they shared a series of activities, resulting in a close coexistence between both groups, being the large number of griffes the confirmation of this relationship. We enter deep to discover the work they did, the punishments they were subjected to, the illnesses they suffered and also, the freedom they wanted and that only some of them obtained. We have been able to reconstruct the role of these men and women as labor in ranch-estates (although uneven and scarce because indigenous labor was preferred), in soap factories, in domestic work and in day’s wages, reaching to the conclusion that the majority was devoted to these last two line of business. Thanks to this, the slaves enjoyed a certain “freedom of movement” in the city that, even, enable them to develop their “own economy”, which will allow them to save money to free themselves. We identify in this thesis, a double condition in the slave. On the one hand, the slave-object; and on the other, the slave-subject. In first group includes the slave bought, sold, given away, exchanged, pawned by their masters and mistreated, subjected to harsh punishments, a shortage or absence of food and clothing, and poor working conditions. On the other side, we find the subject slave, who adopted two opposite attitudes in response to his situation: one of docility and obedience because by adopting a good and productive behavior mainly from wages; keeping their masters happy receiving in exchange education, indoctrination, property and even freedom. The other attitude was one of rebellion, assumed by those who were not willing to live in subjection, so they fled, stole, falsified documents and even killed their masters. Once free, most of them continued to perform the same activities as slaves: agriculture, livestock, manufacturing, food sales, shippers, water carriers, and vendors. They were no longer slaves but as freedmen they continued to carry out the same activities as in their previous condition.