Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Catherine Julien

Second Advisor

Dr. Irma Lopez

Third Advisor

Dr. Carolyn Podruchny

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This project examines the collecting activities of Cristobal Vaca de Castro through a comparative analysis of official and private letters, inventories of items he collected, trial records, his judicial review (an appraisal of his activities in office taken after his term ended, known as residencia), and secondary sources. Vaca de Castro was originally sent to Peru to act as a judge to ensure that Francisco Pizarro carried out the royal orders and instructions he had been sent and to establish peace in a Peru struggling with civil wars. The assassination of Francisco Pizarro on the eve of Vaca de Castro's arrival broadended Vaca de Castro's original mission, and he assumed the governorship of Peru, from July 1541 to May 1544.

During this time, he engaged in business transactions, secret shipments of goods that he would use to increase his social and economic status in Spain. The eclectic group of goods he collected and shipped are more than just evidence of the wealth Vaca de Castro was exporting. The pieces he collected and shipped are evidence that a two-way cultural transformation was taking place in Spanish Peru as early as the 1540s. Spaniards were adapting Inca artifacts, especially gold and silver objects and textiles, to meet their cultural needs. At the same time, some traditional European artifacts were also being produced with Inca representations. Vaca de Castro's shipping practices, ultimately, exemplify the Inca-Spanish cultural exchange.