Children of the Father King

Youth, Authority, and Legal Minority in Colonial Lima

By Bianca Premo

368 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 illus., 9 figs., 2 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5619-2
    Published: September 2005
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7695-4
    Published: May 2006
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7928-8
    Published: May 2006

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Awards & distinctions

2007 Murdo MacLeod Prize, Latin American & Caribbean Section, Southern Historical Association

Honorable Mention, 2005 Silvio Zavala Award in Colonial History of America, Pan American Institute of Geography and History

2006 Thomas F. McGann Award, Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies

In a pioneering study of childhood in colonial Spanish America, Bianca Premo examines the lives of youths in the homes, schools, and institutions of the capital city of Lima, Peru. Situating these young lives within the framework of law and intellectual history from 1650 to 1820, Premo brings to light the colonial politics of childhood and challenges readers to view patriarchy as a system of power based on age, caste, and social class as much as gender.

Although Spanish laws endowed elite men with an authority over children that mirrored and reinforced the monarch's legitimacy as a colonial "Father King," Premo finds that, in practice, Lima's young often grew up in the care of adults--such as women and slaves--who were subject to the patriarchal authority of others. During the Bourbon Reforms, city inhabitants of all castes and classes began to practice a "new politics of the child," challenging men and masters by employing Enlightenment principles of childhood. Thus the social transformations and political dislocations of the late eighteenth century occurred not only in elite circles and royal palaces, Premo concludes, but also in the humble households of a colonial city.

About the Author

Bianca Premo is associate professor of history at Florida International University.
For more information about Bianca Premo, visit the Author Page.


"[An] engaging and important study. . . . An original interpretation of colonialism and its social and political dynamics."--Hispanic American Historical Review

"A welcome addition to the study of childhood, gender, and the state in Latin America. . . . Fascinating and persuasive. . . . Helps admirably to advance the scholarship about gender and politics of the colonial state."--Itinerario

"Shows that child-rearing practices and child-adult relations in Lima were intimately connected to colonial policy. Her numerous and insightful comparisons with other early modern societies and colonial situations will be of great interest to scholars of other periods and regions"--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"A new, challenging view of youth, legal authority, and childhood in colonial Lima. . . . This is a complex and richly documented story. . . . An important book, well written, clearly argued, and persuasive."--Journal of Social History

"Premo's rich and engaging study makes an important advance in our understanding of colonial rule by placing children at the heart of colonialism."--Americas

"Premo has written a well-documented, engrossing, and engagingly written book. . . . An invaluable source for anyone studying the subject of 'Youth, Authority, and Legal Minority in Colonial Latin America'. . . . Premo has broken ground for the study of the histories of youth in the Spanish colonial period."--Colonial Latin American Historical Review