History and Latin America

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Quito 1599: City and Colony in Transition

Kris Lane

Quito has always been one of the most enigmatic of colonial Spanish American cities. The history of its enormous hinterland, only a fraction of which forms the modern Republic of Ecuador, is even less known. This engaging book takes the watershed year 1599 as a starting point for a provocative reinterpretation of the history of Quito, city and colony. The result is a lively narrative that is also an original inquiry into the driving forces behind sixteenth-century Spanish colonialism. In six overlapping topical narratives Lane brings to life a place wracked by civil disturbances, shipwrecks, indigenous uprisings, pirate attacks, maroon intransigence, urban decadence, failed missionary endeavors, sharp economic reorientations, and wily and unpredictable subaltern adaptation and resistance.
Drawing from a wealth of recent research on the colonial north Andes and on more than seven years of study in the archives of Ecuador, Colombia, and Spain, Lane presents rich discoveries of interest to economic historians, including a previously unknown gold boom; however, his primary interest is people. He explores the ways both individuals and groups--shipwreck victims, slaves, laborers, merchants, traders--faced obstacles and seized (or missed) opportunities, showing readers not only the basic facts and major themes of colonial life but also the influence and outcome of individual hopes and fears among people from a multitude of races and ethnicities.


Kris Lane is Wakefield Distinguished Associate Professor of History, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Lyman L. Johnson is professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is also the general editor for UNM Press's Dialogos series.


"What a fascinating mosaic Lane has left for readers to ponder."



"Beautifully written and often thought provoking. It shows, as Lane concludes, the common incongruity between the complex paths of human lives and the major currents of history."


Colonial Latin American Historical Review

". . . an engaging study that will appeal to a wide-ranging audience interested in the Atlantic world and colonialism."


Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This book is much like Quito itself, complex and layered with meaning."


American Historical Review

"Lane brings together social and economic data and narratives to flesh out the experiences of people from various social backgrounds. More than a snapshot of one particular year, this book includes multiple images that, taken together, present the social and economic realities of late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century Quito."


Sixteenth Century Journal

6 x 9 in. 312 pages 42 halftones, 6 maps, 2 graphs, 5 tables