General history of Chile

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Illustrated rustic ISBN: 9788490075005
Typographic rustic ISBN: 9788498167337

Diego Barros Arana was a nineteenth-century Chilean historian and educator, whose most important legacy was the monumental work entitled Historia General de Chile, written in 16 volumes between 1884 and 1902. It covers from pre-Columbian times until 1833.
The work is based on documents from private and public archives, which Barros Arana knew and collected over decades, until he began writing his General History in 1881.
This first volume tells the origins of the ancient inhabitants of Chile and reaches the last campaigns and the death of Pedro de Valdivia.
The idea of writing a general history of the country was conceived early in Diego Barros Arana. Already in his introduction to Life and Travels of Magellan, published in 1864, he had confessed that he had been working on a general work for many years.
The author felt the need to tell the General History of Chile, due to the deficiencies of the historiography available at the time. Barros considered that Chilean history was to be built in almost all its periods and themes, and that the absence of narratives was not determined by the lack of materials, but by the lack of interest to undertake an extensive, complex and critical work.
In the author’s own words:

“This incessant work, which might seem excessively monotonous and overwhelming, has been to me the most pleasing of pastimes, the relief of great sorrows, and I could almost say the rest of many and very painful toils.”

The definitive text of the General History of Chile is organized in 16 volumes that dealt with great epochs: The Indians; Discovery and Conquest; Consolidation of the Independence and Organization of the Republic.
It was a question of practicing a historical investigation very different from how certain chroniclers had carried it out until now. In the presentation of the work, Barros Arana explains that he assumed the narrative method to write his work, following the recommendation of Andrés Bello.
The events are ordered and investigated with neatness and clarity, noting precisely their affiliation and content. This orderly and chronological exposition was a guarantee to clarify the facts in an objective and rigorous way.

Summary of the work

  • Chapter I. The question of origins
  • Chapter II. The Chilean territory. Its former inhabitants. The Fuegians
  • Chapter III. Ethnographic unity of the Chilean Indians; Conquests of the Incas in Chile
  • Chapter IV. Social status of the Chilean Indians: the family, the tribe, the war
  • Chapter V. Social State of the Chilean Indians: Industry, Moral and Intellectual Life
  • Part Two. Discovery and conquest. Hernando de Magallanes
  • Chapter I. Magellan, 1520
  • Chapter II. Expeditions of Loaisa, 1525, and of Alcazaba, 1534
  • Chapter III. Almagro 1535-1537
  • Chapter IV. Valdivia; its entry into Chile. Foundation of Santiago (1539-1541)
  • Chapter V. Valdivia; the first days of the Conquest; destruction and rebuilding of Santiago (1541-1543)
  • Chapter VI. Valdivia; exploration of the territory; The first repartimientos of Indians (1544-1546)
  • Chapter VII. Valdivia; his trip to Peru; interim government of Francisco de Villagrán (1546-1548)
  • Chapter VIII. Valdivia: his return to Chile with the title of Governor (1548-1549)
  • Chapter IX. Valdivia: administrative and social organization of the colony (1541-1553)
  • Chapter X. Valdivia: Arauco’s first campaign; Foundation of new cities (1550-1552)
  • Chapter XI. Valdivia: his last campaigns and his death (1552-1554)

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