Francisca Pizarro was a princess in spite of herself: after her birth in Jauja in 1534, she was raised as a Spaniard in the newly founded Lima, forbidden any intimacy with her mother. Slain by the conqueror by the hands of Almacristas, and defeated in a civil war, with the head of Gonzalo Pizarro at the stake, she was exiled to Spain at a very young age, as she was forced to share her life with the latter, whom she dreaded. uncle
In the manner of a memoir told in the first person, Cueto recounts the story of the first mestiza in Peru, supported by extensive historical research and a tour of historical sites associated with her remarkable role. It is a testament to the resistance of a woman who escapes the perils of her family history and is able to make a life for herself.
– Francisca is a knot of contradictions, a character at the center of a story of triumph. However, very little is known about her. Because?
In general, women have been largely forgotten in our history. Francisca Pizarro, on the other hand, left behind none of her work, letters, or personal papers. Probably, forced by circumstances, she refrained from writing what she felt and thought. She was forced to follow rules: where she had to live, who she had to marry, what life she had to lead. However, after her husband Hernando Pizarro dies, she tries to make a life for herself. Marries her niece’s brother, younger than her. He left Trujillo and lives in Madrid. She was one of the richest women of the time. In my opinion, she will never forget her native roots, as her mother must have sung to her as a child. She never stopped donating to churches in different parts of Peru. Although she never returned, I imagine those 16 years she spent in Lima marked her deeply.
– Although Pizarro recognizes her, there is a certain historical bastard in her. Perhaps the founders of our history avoided it out of prejudice…
Many women historians have written important works on her. Maria Rostworowski obviously, but also Liliana Perez San Miguel, Sara Beatriz Cordia and Pilar Ortiz de Zeballos. I find him a fascinating character. I’ve always been interested in ambiguous characters full of contradictions and contradictions. Having submitted to the authority of her family and uncle at a very young age, she had an element of submission; And as an element of rebellion, Hernando Pizarro asks her not to marry anyone else after his death, but she will marry one of his father-in-laws again. Francisca is submissive and rebellious, Spanish and Inca. Her life was very tragic, with her 5 children, she would see four of them die. I felt good with her. I have heard his voice and seen his face in all these years of writing. Your mysterious company is something I can appreciate.
“Francisca Pizarro left none of her work, letters, or personal papers. Perhaps, forced by circumstances, she refrained from writing what she felt and thought.”
– I wanted to know if you feel a certain identification with the character: they are both orphans.
Without a doubt. The theme of orphanhood, father loss and the emergence of a surrogate father. In addition another meaning: loss of places. When I was three, we lived in Paris with my parents, at five, we were in America, and at seven we settled in Lima. Like her, I have left a few places. In a way, we share those disturbing memories that remain. It’s not just culture, it’s a general situation that matters a lot. Our lives are interrupted by different cultures. It is something that is very common today and we can recognize it very much.
—As a writer, you decided that instead of writing a story starring Francisca, she would tell her own life. Because?
I’ve always thought that a writer’s job is to be a slave to his characters. He must change his experiences, but dissolve into his roles. The most important thing for a novel is that there are memorable characters, and they are there for both explainable and inexplicable reasons. That magical act of transferring flesh, blood, emotions, feelings, life into a vessel is fascinating. A writer is a servant of character, he is a servant of story. Even his style is in service of the story.
– We talked about the writer’s ability to get into the character’s head. How to enter a woman’s mind between medieval and renaissance thought?
I read Maggie O’Farrell’s novel “The Married Portrait,” which tells the story of Lucrezia de’ Medici, who lived in the 16th century and was murdered by her husband. One of the criticisms leveled at the novel is that it is very contemporary: she is particularly rebellious, and for critics, a woman of the time could not have been. But the important thing about the novel is to believe that it could have been. I believe that you have to think about the characteristics of that transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also about your characteristic individual, unique and unrepeatable person. Obviously, every historical novel creates fictional characters. They are not historical figures.
In a scenario you are building a recently installed Lima. Its Spanish people have invented a world of words to define their surroundings.
Before tubers, before fruits, the discovery of avocados, tomatoes, surprise, surprise. All this must have had a great impact, translated into words that were not easy for them. I like word stories.
– Lima is not presented as a white city, inhabited only by Spaniards. You show that there was also an indigenous power, an Inca nobility that maintained privileges in negotiations with power.
The war of conquest was, in fact, an Indian war. One of those forces consisted of elite Spanish officers, but the war was between tribes that had previously lived together and had deep resentments between them. I see it as an expression of the deep fragmentation in which we have always lived. Now you see more than ten parties fighting against each other in Congress. That division, that fragmentation, was something that defined us even before the arrival of the Spanish.
Your interest in humanizing Pizarro is very interesting. How to understand its purpose?
Pizarro is a man who wants to go down in history. He wants to be recognized. He wants to be a winner. And he is willing to do anything to achieve it. Neglected and humiliated by his father, he reacts with deep anger. It must be borne in mind that he was over 50 years old, very old for that time. He takes upon himself this holy and maddening task of suicide, and he manages to do it. Hernán Cortés, on the other hand, was more educated, more diplomatic. Pizarro was very old and he was very brave.
—For the past four years, you have been mentally established in this 16th-century Lima. How much do you think we’ve changed compared to that original Lima?
Today, despite all the problems, difficulties and risks, there have been significant improvements in recent decades. A fundamental issue is prejudice and racism. When I was a child, there was a lot of discrimination and racism was evident. Now, at least, both will be punished by law. This is some progress. Likewise, we now know more as a country. When Humboldt came here in the early 19th century, he said Lima was closer to London and Paris than Cusco. When I was young, there was really no awareness of provinces in Lima. Very little traveled. I think these are the most visible changes in recent years: an awareness of our diversity and a reduction (though still not suppressed) of racism. What is most important is that we mature as a society and realize that our immense diversity is a treasure we should embrace as a country. That is the mestizo dream we must achieve. This is Inca Carcilazo’s dream, Arguedas’ dream, Vallejo’s dream, and I believe, Francisca’s dream as well.