INTRODUCTION
Biographical Sketch
The future Hprince of Peruvian chroniclers" was born in the Span-
ish town of IJerena sometime between
1518
and
1522,
most likely in
152 0.
He was the son of Lope de Leon, a minor merchant with past
connections at court, and Leonor de Cazalla, whose family included
merchants as well as notaries and clergymen. Pedro had an older sis-
ter, Beatriz de Cazalla, and a brother, Rodrigo, as well as two younger
sisters, Maria and Leonor.!
Llerena, a picturesque town in southeastern Extremadura, lies at
the center of excellent wheatlands, halfway between Cordova to the
east and Seville to the south. In the sixteenth century it was one ofthe
largest and IT10St important towns in Extremadura. Its strong econ-
omy, based on agricultural production as well as its weekly Tuesday
markets, contributed to its wealth and importance.2 The author Luis
Zapata de Chaves, a contemporary of Cieza, left a flowing account of
the town:
Llerena, a most noble place, head of the province of Le6n in Extrema-
dura, situated at the foot ofthe Sierra Morena, a happy site, with fertile
soil, healthy sky, proud houses, agreeable streets, abundant beauties
and filled with knights and learned men ofsuch rare ingenuity, that one
can hardly find a dunce there.3
Pedro de Cieza de Leon's early years and his education remain a
mystery. What we know is based mostly on his writings. Because he
left Spain when he was about thirteen years old, the age when most
people began their university training, it seems unlikely that he re-
ceived any formal higher education. But like other young men of
similar social status in Llerena, he must have learned the basics at the
local parish school or at the city's cathedral church. He therefore may
have acquired some rudimentary Latin and through its study at least
a familiarity vlith classical antiquity. In his work he makes occasional
allusions to classical times and authors, though these references are
comparatively few and may have been added later when he was revis-
ing his volumes.4 Because his natural writing style is simple and direct,
it leaves little space for erudite embellishments. He mentions Titus
Previous Page Next Page