Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Andrés Prieto

Second Advisor

Núria Silleras-Fernández

Third Advisor

Leila Gómez

Fourth Advisor

Gerardo Gutiérrez

Fifth Advisor

Juan Dabove


Over the last two centuries, Books I and III of Ophir de España: Memorias historiales y políticas del Perú (1644) by Fernando de Montesinos have been generally overlooked. The cause of this inattention is associated with the mysterious and unique pre-Columbian historical account from Book II, which affords the most extensive version of Andean genealogy. Due to the excitement of Book II, colonial scholars have predominantly concentrated on thoroughly exploring the theoretical depths of the colonial manuscript selection. While all preceding studies are estimable and invaluable, this dissertation seeks to reunify Ophir de España by placing Book II back into its original context alongside Books I and III and by demonstrating that the text should be understood as a complementary component that supports Montesinos’s theses. As the entirety of Ophir de España and some of Montesinos’s other correlative works are evaluated, the true authorial design of the chronicle is revealed. Although the primary goal of Ophir de España is obvious, in that it centers on defending the legal rights of Spain in the New World, the major objective of this dissertation is to explain why Montesinos felt it was necessary to come to Spain’s defense during the seventeenth century when it had already ruled America for nearly one hundred years.

During the course of this study, Nathan J. Gordon establishes that Montesinos wrote Ophir de España because he was concerned with the financial demise of Spain, which was rooted in a number of social, political, and economic problems: the disarray of the American mining industry, the decline of proper precious metal exports and imports, enduring the various expensive international and domestic conflicts, the corruption of bankers and creditors, along with the civil unrest of Peruvian landowners, merchants, clergymen, and nobles. As a passionate metallurgist and mineralogist, Montesinos was actively searching for ways to resolve Spain’s economic dilemma while simultaneous profiting from his efforts. Almost all of his research and writings focused on this undertaking, from mining instructional manuals, mining codification, and amalgamation practices, to protecting the legal rights of the Spanish Empire in the New World, with Ophir de España serving as a culmination to his work.