Pío de Tristán

Pío de Tristán, the last Spanish Viceroy of Peru

Juan Pío de Tristán y Moscoso (in full, Juan Pío de Tristán y Moscoso) (July 11, 1773, Arequipa Peru August 24, 1860, Lima) was a Peruvian general and politician. He was nominally the last Spanish viceroy of Peru, serving in that capacity from December 1824 to January 23, 1826, but not exercising power.


Born in Peru, Tristán y Moscoso went to Spain, where he fought the French in the War of the Convention (1793–1795). On his return to Peru he was elected alcalde (mayor) of Arequipa (1808). He was a general in the Royalist army in Peru. In June 1811 he fought as part of the victorious Royalist forces in the Battle of Guaqui.

He led a Royalist force into the territory of present-day Argentina after the Battle of Guaqui. He was defeated at Tucumán and Salta, by one of his classmates at Salamanca, rebel General Manuel Belgrano. The Battle of Salta took place on February 20, 1813. Belgrano had been sent by the Second Triumvirate (of insurgents in Buenos Aires) to attack the city, at the northern extremity of the old Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata. This he did, completely defeating the troops of Tristán. It was the first military victory achieved under the flag of Argentina.

The Battle of Salta, 1813

After his defeat, Tristán signed a 40-day truce and returned to Peru. The defeat of the Royalists at Salta gave the insurgents domination over the northern part of the old viceroyalty and also led to revolts against the Spanish in Charcas, Potosí and later Cochabamba, Alto Perú (now Bolivia). At the expiration of the truce, General Belgrano followed Tristán into Alto Perú, entering the territory of Charcas on May 7, 1813. However, Belgrano was defeated at Vilcapugio on November 1, and again at Ayohuma on November 14.

The December 1824 defeat of Viceroy José de la Serna in the Battle of Ayacucho effectively ended Spanish power in Peru. Tristán was the most senior Spanish military officer in the colony, and as such he assumed the office of provisional viceroy, solely for the purpose of transferring power to the nationalists.

After this, he chose to stay in Peru, and was active in Peruvian politics. He exercised the functions of prefect and commander in Arequipa. Then he was Peruvian minister of war and marine. He participated in the creation of the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation and served as its foreign minister. From October 12, 1838 to February 23, 1839 he was president of the state of South Peru within the Confederation. He died in Lima in 1860.

He is described by his niece, Flora Célestine Tristán, in her travel book Pérégrinations d'une paria (Peregrinations of a Pariah, 1838). Flora Tristán was a feminist and socialist writer, and incidentally the grandmother of French painter Paul Gauguin.

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Government offices
Preceded by
José de la Serna
Viceroy of Peru
1824 - 1826
Succeeded by
(post abolished)
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