What was the Aristocratic Republic of Peru?

The Aristocratic Republic is the historical name that receives a political period of the Republic of Peru between the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, specifically between the years 1895 and 1919. It is known to have been the republican entry of Peru in the twentieth century.

This period is known as the Aristocratic Republic due to the form of government that was imposed during those years: the oligarchy (which in antiquity was taken as the negative form of the aristocracy).

What was the Aristocratic Republic of Peru? President Nicolás de Piérola

The term Aristocratic Republic was coined by the Peruvian researcher and historian Jorge Basadre.

These years were considered as an example of progress and development in the Republic of Peru, through a democratic succession of presidents for more than two decades.

The Aristocratic Republic ends in 1919 with a coup d'état exercised by Augusto Leguía, who had already ruled for the first time between 1908 and 1912.

For the Peruvians themselves, it was a period of history governed by the elite of the country, which did not allow another form of thought and action that did not emerge from the consensus of interests among its limited members.

Antecedents of the Aristocratic Republic

Once independence was achieved, Peru still maintained strong structural and economic dependencies that Spain supplied.

When separating, the South American nation had to direct its attention and its orders towards some other power that helped him. The capital of the United States and England begins to be the new support of the newly independent Peru.

Previously to the beginning of the Aristocratic Republic, two political groups existed that contained the greater national force by then: democrats and civilistas, which were united to overthrow to the then Peruvian governor.

This union was represented by the main men of the Peruvian economy (large landowners, landowners, merchants and industrialists).

Internal conflicts were not the only phenomena that gave rise to the beginning of the Aristocratic Republic.

The crisis that Europe experienced in the last decade of the 19th century reduced its investments in a large part of the new American nations. Peru did not let itself falter, and began to impel the national investment, mainly in the agricultural aspect.

Thanks to this, when Europe it recovers and needs to import basic products to its nations, Peru was already prepared to export items such as cotton, wool, coffee, lead, zinc, etc.

Domestic investment expanded into practices that still had an artisanal or manufacturing character, developing the machinery for industrialization.

The Aristocratic Republic would take its first steps as such with the arrival in power of the leader of the coalition between democrats and civilians: Nicolás de Piérola.

It would be this who would initiate the main reforms and make decisions that would be perpetuated in Peru for more than two decades.

Economic characteristics

In general, the achievements of the Aristocratic Republic focused on the economic, with the promotion and development of new activities designed for export, such as the production of sugar and cotton, and the incursion into new domestic production fields, such as extraction. oil and rubber.

In spite of this, the Aristocratic Republic proved to maintain a model dependent on foreign capital during all its years, specifically English capital, which allowed the Peruvians a greater advance in infrastructure at an industrial level.

Mining was another activity that revived during these years, and its exploitation was similar to that of rubber and oil, the latter becoming an opportunity for foreign nations to anchor in the Peruvian territory for their own benefit.

The internal taxes were modified for the benefit of the current ruler, but never ceased to exist, especially in the case of the Indians, who were in the worst possible scenario in the face of the impositions of an elite government.

Political characteristics

Due to its elitist and excluding base, the ideas and political actions that the rulers took during the decades of the Aristocratic Republic may not have been as beneficial internally as the economic ones.

With time, the two main forces, democrats and civilians, began to dismember. The democrats constituted opposition to the civilistas in power, to eventually disappear. The civilistas, on the other hand, would end up dividing internally in classic civilism and leguíismo.

The rulers of the Aristocratic Republic had no qualms about demonstrating their disdain and disinterest in the popular classes of the national territory.

In the agricultural aspect, the landlords, in order to expand their territories, appropriated the portions belonging to the peasants, displacing them without consideration.

Several of the governments were considered repressive and undemocratic, acting with deadly force against the uprisings and demands of the popular classes. Popular participation through voting was strongly conditioned during these years.

In spite of the fact that by then a law existed that allowed those who did not know how to read and write to vote, rulers such as Pierola strongly opposed this possibility.

They also opposed the vote of the popular classes in general, allowing only the wealthy and conservative classes to vote, thus guaranteeing the continuity of an exclusive government and of minorities.

Those in power during these years proved to have a vision of the nation far removed from the qualities of its territory and people.

It was a European look that prevailed, and that was sought to impose in all fields of Lima society: justice, education, and lifestyle within the capital.

Lima was the only contact of Peru with itself and with the rest of the world; the rest of the regions saw themselves relegated and unknown.

Under the exclusive gaze of its rulers, in the regions of Peru the first trade union movements began to appear against the impositions of the central government.

In this way, the workers sought to make visible the apathy through which the rulers of the Aristocratic Republic acted.


  1. Burga, M., & Flores Galindo, A. (1981). Apogee and crisis of the aristocratic republic. Rikchay
  2. Cotler, J. (1969). Political crisis and military populism in Peru. In International Studies (pp. 439-488). Lime.
  3. History of Peru. (s.f.). The Aristocratic Republic . Obtained from History of Peru: historiaperuana.pe
  5. Mendez, C. (1996). Incas yes, no Indians: Notes for the study of Creole nationalism in Peru. Lima: IEP.

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