VEGA, Garcilaso Inca de la

Garcilaso Inca de la Vega was a Spanish-Incan historian of Incan culture and of Spain's colonization of Peru and Florida. Born Gomez Suarez de Figueroa, the son of Spanish conquistador and poet Sebastian Garcilaso de la Vega and Incan princess Chimpu Ocllo, Garcilaso Inca de la Vega lived in his father's household in Peru until 1560. He was educated by his mother's family in the Incan language (Quechua) and culture and by Spanish tutors in Latin and rhet­oric. At the age of fourteen, he began training in the military arts, in part as a result of Peruvian civil wars. In 1560 de la Vega traveled to Spain to complete his education. A catalog of his library indicates that he knew Quechua, Spanish, Latin, Italian, and probably Greek. He served as an officer in the Alpujarras wars (1570-71) before residing in Montilla, Spain, where his uncle, Alonso de Vargas, had an estate.
Garcilaso de la Vega is best known for his writing. His early works include La traduccioén del indio los tres dialogos de amor de Leon Hebreo (The trans­lation of three dialogues on love, 1590), a translation of Neoplatonic dialogues; Relacioén de la descendencia de Garci Peérez de Vargas (Account of the Descendants of Garci Perez de Vargas, 1596), a genealogy; and La Florida del Inca (Florida of the Inca, 1605), a history of Florida. His later works gained him the most renown, especially his history of the Incan people, Comentarios reales de los Incas (Royal Commentaries of the Inca, 1609). Its sequel, Historia general del Perué (General History of Peru, 1617), was published posthumously and continued the work of the Comentarios by describing the Spanish conquest and colonization of Peru from the Incan perspective. As a mestizo, de la Vega was particularly adroit at explaining the Incan culture in a way that European readers could understand. His histories were widely reprinted and translated, and he was recognized as the authoritative historian of Peru until the late eighteenth century. More recent scholars have examined his works' relationships to utopian literature, Christian world history, travelogues, historiography, and fiction, as well as to the humanist tradition and to anthropological studies of other Quechua narratives.
M. Zamora, Language, Authority, and Indigenous History in the "Comentarios reales de los Incas," 1988.
Lydia Bernstein

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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