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Blas Valera was born in Levanto, Chachapoyas, Peru, in 1545.
Valera is considered to be the son of Luis Valera, one of the men who accompanied Pizarro in the conquest of the Inca Empire. He established himself in this city since its foundation. The mother of this outstanding Chachapoyano writer was Francisca Pérez, a native who had taken this name after being baptized.
The circumstance that he was born in 1545, less than 20 years after the fall of the Inca Empire, allowed him to meet many of its prominent men and also old amautas, that transmitted and entrusted him the events that he later narrated in his works.
He did his first studies in Trujillo and then continued them in Lima. Considering his knowledge of Quechua, he took part in the missions that Jesuits had established in Huarochirí, an important pre-Hispanic center of worship that at the beginning of the 17th century was the location of the most intense eradication campaign of idolatry, carried out by Francisco de Ávila.
Among his works were:
- Vocabulario quechua (Quechua vocabulary)
The Vocabulario was one of Blas Valera's works which resembled an encyclopedia of Peru and the Incas. It references information on the history of the Incas. Citations from the document can be found in other writers’ works. For example, Giovanni Anello Oliva cited references from the Vocabulario of pre-Inca kings of Peru for his argument that there were Peruvian kings before the Incas. Anello Oliva also Valera's argument that Titu Atauchi, a full brother of Atahuallpa, led a force in the defeat over Spanish forces at the battle of Huamachuco. It also cites Atahuallpa which the Vocabulario gives high praise to and even argues he's a Christian saint in heaven, displaying Valera's stance of Andean Christianity. The sources which he used when writing the Vocabulario and other works, do not fully reveal the amount of knowledge he obtained about the native history. Much of the information he used Valera acquired through memories, quipus, and written texts of native elites in Peru, which also have been mostly lost except for information contained in his works. Much of the information contained in the Vocabulario has been lost, and the information which has not, has been used for citing other historians’ arguments about the history of the Incas and the Andean civilization.
- Historia de los Incas (History of the Incas)
- The author of the Comentarios Reales de los Incas believed Valera was born in Cajamarca, but it has been proven he was born in the city of Chachapoyas.
- Hyland, Sabine. The Jesuit & the Incas: The Extraordinary Life of Padre Blas Valera, S.J. (The University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan) 2003.