Chronicle of Guaman Poma

The manuscript is a unique source on the colonisation of the Americas and the first hundred years of the Spanish colony's history. It is exhibited in the Diamond and can be viewed digitally here.

Page from Guaman Poma's manuscript

Photo: Det Kgl. Bibliotek

"El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno" (Eng: The First New Chronicle and Good Government) was written and drawn by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (c. 1535- c. 1615). The work describes the dynastic history of the Inca Empire, the Spanish conquest, the following civil wars and the disastrous consequences of the colonial power's exploitation. It contains a number of proposals for reforms of the Spanish colonial government. In a final chapter, "The author goes over the mountains to Lima", Poma describes his reunion after twenty years with lands that are now deserted and worn out.

It is a unique source of the indigenous peoples' view of the conquest of America and of the first hundred years of the history of the Spanish colony.

The 1,200-page manuscript contains 400 full-page black-and-white pen drawings. The language is Spanish with several longer passages in Quechua, the language of the Incas, still spoken today in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. The book was probably sent from Lima to Madrid in 1616, addressed to the Spanish king Felipe III. It was possibly acquired in the Spanish capital by the Danish ambassador and book collector Cornelius Lerche (1615-81) and then given to King Frederik III.

The manuscript (which has the signature GKS 2232 quarter) has been digitised in its entirety and was one of the first manuscripts from the Royal Danish Library to be digitised. Since 2007, Poma's chronicle has featured on UNESCO's Memory of the World list, which is a list of inalienable documents of exceptional importance.