The 'Battle' of Cajamarca was the unexpected ambush and seizure of the Inca ruler Atahualpa by a small Spanish force led by Francisco Pizarro, on November 16, 1532. The Spanish killed thousands of Atahualpa's counselors, commanders, and unarmed attendants in the great plaza of Cajamarca, and caused his armed host outside the town to flee. The capture of Atahualpa marked the opening stage of the conquest of the pre-Columbian Inca civilization of Peru.
|Battle of Cajamarca|
|Part of the Spanish conquest of Peru|
Contemporary engraving of the Battle of Cajamarca, showing Emperor Atahualpa surrounded on his palanquin.
|Nueva Castilla||Inca Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
Hernando de Soto
12 harquebuses and thousands of indians
|3,000–8,000 unarmed personal attendants/lightly armed guards |
|Casualties and losses|
5,000 taken prisoner
The confrontation at Cajamarca was the culmination of a months-long struggle involving espionage, subterfuge, and diplomacy between Pizarro and the Inca via their respective envoys. Atahualpa had received the invaders from a position of immense strength. Encamped along the heights of Cajamarca with a large force of nearly 80,000 battle-tested troops fresh from their victories in the civil war against his half-brother Huáscar, the Inca felt they had little to fear from Pizarro's tiny army, however exotic its dress and weaponry. In a calculated show of goodwill, Atahualpa had lured the adventurers deep into the heart of his mountain empire where any potential threat could be isolated and responded to with massive force. Pizarro and his men arrived on Friday November 15, 1532. The town itself had been largely emptied of its two thousand inhabitants, upon the approach of the Spanish force of 180 men, guided by an Inca noble sent by Atahualpa as an envoy. Atahualpa himself was encamped outside Cajamarca, preparing for his march on Cuzco, where his commanders had just captured Huáscar and defeated his army.
The book History Of The Conquest Of Peru, written by 19th century author William H. Prescott, recounts the dilemma in which the Spanish force found itself. Any assault on the Inca armies overlooking the valley would have been suicidal. Retreat was equally out of the question, because any show of weakness might have undermined their air of invincibility, and would invite pursuit and closure of the mountain passes. Once the great stone fortresses dotting their route of escape were garrisoned, argued Pizarro, they would prove impregnable. But to do nothing, he added, was no better since prolonged contact with the natives would erode the fears of Spanish supernatural ways that kept them at bay.:171–172
Pizarro gathered his officers on the evening of November 15 and outlined a scheme that recalled memories of Cortés' exploits in Mexico in its audacity: he would capture the emperor from within the midst of his own armies. Since this could not realistically be accomplished in an open field, Pizarro had invited the Inca to Cajamarca.:172–173
The next afternoon, Atahualpa led a procession of "a greater part of the Inca's forces", but Pizarro's fortunes changed dramatically when Atahualpa announced that most of his host would set up camp outside the walls of the city. He requested that accommodations be provided only for himself and his retinue, which would forsake its weapons in a sign of amity and absolute confidence.:174–175
Shortly before sunset Atahualpa left the armed warriors who had accompanied him on an open meadow about half a mile outside Cajamarca. His immediate party still numbered over seven thousand but were unarmed except for small battle axes intended for show. Atahualpa's attendants were richly dressed in what were apparently ceremonial garments. Many wore gold or silver discs on their heads and the main party was preceded by a group wearing livery of chequered colors, who sang while sweeping the roadway in front of Atahualpa. The Inca himself was carried in a litter lined with parrot feathers and partly covered in silver, carried by eighty Inca courtiers of high rank in vivid blue clothing. Atahualpa's intention appears to have been to impress the small Spanish force with this display of splendor and he had no anticipation of an ambush.
The Spaniards had concealed themselves within the buildings surrounding the empty plaza at the centre of the town. Infantry and horsemen were concealed in the alleyways which opened onto this open square. Spanish infantry were deployed to guard the entrances to a stone building in the centre of the square while men armed with arquebuses and four small cannon took up places within it. Pizarro ordered his men to remain silent and hidden until the guns were fired. During the hours of waiting tension rose amongst the greatly outnumbered Spanish and Pedro Pizarro recalls that many of his fellows urinated "out of pure terror".
Upon entering the square the leading Incans in attendance on Atahualpa divided their ranks to enable his litter to be carried to the centre, where all stopped. An Incan courtier carrying a banner approached the building where the artillery was concealed, while Atahualpa, surprised at seeing no Spanish called out an enquiry.
After a brief pause Friar Vincente de Valverde, accompanied by an interpreter, emerged from the building where Pizarro was lodged. Carrying a cross and a missal the friar passed through the rows of attendants who had spread out to allow the Inca's litter to reach the centre of the square. Valverde approached the Inca, announced himself as the emissary of God and the Spanish throne, and demanded that he accept Catholicism as his faith and Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor as his sovereign ruler. Atahualpa was equally insulted and confused by Valverde's words. Although Atahualpa had already determined that he had no intention of conceding to the dictates of the Spanish, according to chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega he did attempt a brusque, bemused inquiry into the details of the Spaniards' faith and their king, which quickly bogged down in poorly-translated semantics and increased the tension of all the participants. Spanish sources differ as to the specific event which initiated combat, but all agree it was a spontaneous decision following the breakdown of negotiations (such as they were) with Atahualpa.
Titu Cusi Yupanqui (1529–1571), son of Manco II and a nephew of Atahualpa, dictated the only Inca account of the events leading up to the battle. According to Titu Cusi, Atahualpa had received "two Viracochas", Pizarro and de Soto, at a date not specified "many days" before the battle, offering them a golden cup containing ceremonial chicha. "The Spaniard poured it out." The Spaniards then gave Atahualpa a letter (or book) which they said was quillca (writing) of God and of the Spanish king. Offended by the wasting of the chicha, Atahualpa threw the "letter or whatever it was" on the ground, telling them to leave.:4,60–61
On November 16, Atahualpa arrived at Cajamarca with "no weapons for battle or harnesses for defense," although they did carry tomes (knives) and lassos for hunting llamas. The Spanish approached and told Atahualpa that Virococha had ordered them to tell the Inca who they were. Atahualpa listened then gave one a gold cup of chicha which was not drunk and given no attention at all. Furious, Atahualpa stood and yelled "If you disrespect me, I will also disrespect you", and said he would kill them, at which the Spanish attacked.:61–62
Titu Cusi's only mention of a Bible being presented and then tossed to the ground is restricted to the encounter which took place before the battle, an omission that has been explained as due either to its relative insignificance to the Inca or to confusion between the events of the two days.
At the signal to attack, the Spaniards unleashed gunfire at the vulnerable mass of Incans and surged forward in a concerted action. The effect was devastating and the shocked and unarmed Incans offered little resistance. The Spanish forces used a cavalry charge against the Incan forces, in combination with gunfire from cover (the Incan forces also had never encountered firearms before) combined with the ringing bells on the horses to frighten the Inca.:176–180
The first target of the Spanish attack was Atahualpa and his top commanders. Pizarro rushed at Atahualpa on horseback, but the Inca remained motionless. The Spanish severed the hands or arms of the attendants carrying Atahualpa's litter to force them to drop it so they could reach him. The Spanish were astounded that the attendants ignored their wounds and used their stumps or remaining hands to hold it up until several were killed and the litter slumped. Atahualpa remained sitting on the litter while a large number of his attendants rushed to place themselves between the litter and the Spanish, deliberately allowing themselves to be killed. While his men were cutting down Atahualpa's attendants, Pizarro rode through them to where a Spanish soldier had pulled the Inca from his litter. While he was doing so, other soldiers also reached the litter and one attempted to kill Atahualpa. Recognizing the value of the Emperor as a hostage, Pizarro blocked the attack and received a sword wound to his hand in consequence.
The main Inca force, which had retained their weapons but remained "about quarter of a league" outside Cajamarca, scattered in confusion as the survivors of those who had accompanied Atahualpa fled from the square, breaking down a fifteen-foot length of wall in the process. Atahualpa's warriors were veterans of his recent northern campaigns and constituted the professional core of the Inca army, seasoned warriors who outnumbered the Spaniards more than 45 to 1 (8,000 to 168). However, the shock of the Spanish attack—coupled with the spiritual significance of losing the Sapa Inca and most of his commanders in one fell swoop—apparently shattered the army's morale, throwing their ranks into terror and initiating a massive rout. There is no evidence that any of the main Inca force attempted to engage the Spaniards in Cajamarca after the success of the initial ambush.
Atahualpa's wife, 10-year-old Cuxirimay Ocllo, was with the army and stayed with him while he was imprisoned. Following his execution she was taken to Cuzco and took the name Dona Angelina. By 1538 she was Pizarro's mistress, bearing him two sons, Juan and Francisco. Following his assassination in 1541 she married the interpreter Juan de Betanzos who later wrote Narratives of the Incas, part one covering Inca history up to the arrival of the Spanish and part two covering the conquest to 1557, mainly from the Inca viewpoint and including mentions of interviews with Inca guards who were near Atahualpa's litter when he was captured. Only the first 18 unpublished chapters of part one were known until the complete manuscript was found and published in 1987.
The battles of the Spanish conquest were not solely undertaken by soldiers with European ancestry. The Spanish frequently used natives, black soldiers, and enslaved men in their offensives. In fact, the number of black and native men sometimes outnumbered the Spanish soldiers in later conquests. For example, the Spanish Conquistadors relied heavily on their Tlaxcalan allies in their 1519 campaign against the Mexicas. The Spanish were able to capitalize on civil conflicts and align themselves with the Tlaxcalan soldiers, who vastly outnumbered them and provided considerable manpower. In regards to black men during the conquest, freed black soldiers were quite successful, while black slave go virtually unnamed and unrecognized. Black men like Juan Garrido, who was a native of the Kingdom of Kongo, gained wealth and recognition from his conquests in Mexico.
The Spanish employed several black conquistadors in the Battle of Cajamarca. Records indicate that two black soldiers were present in Pizarro’s Peruvian conquest.
The first, was a horseman by the name of Miguel Ruiz. Originating from Seville, Spain, Ruiz was warmly referred to by his fellow soldiers as “Miguel Ruiz de Loro,” in reference to his lighter skin color. Ruiz, the son of a slave, was illiterate. Despite this, he was an integral part of the expedition, as he received a double share of gold and silver. Ruiz was killed by natives in a later expedition in Cuzco, Peru, and received another full share of gold and silver posthumously. Ruiz left behind a son he had with a Nicaraguan Indian woman. Miguel Ruiz was notably held in higher regard by his peers when compared to another black soldier, Juan Garcia Pregonero, most likely because of his status.
A second black soldier was a crier and piper, Juan Garcia Pregonero. He is referred to as Juan Garcia Pregonero or Juan Garcia Gaitero because of his respective jobs. According to records, Juan Garcia Pregonero is referred to multiple times as "negro", but did most likely not have full African ancestry. Pregonero was illiterate, and was notably viewed as a lower plebeian. He received ⅝ share of gold and 5/9 share of silver at Cajamarca, and would continue to fight in Cuzco where he received more shares of the wealth. Despite his position as a crier and piper, one of Pregonero’s main expectations was to help divide the gold into shares, a considerable undertaking. He returned to Spain in the 1540’s, presumably with his Peruvian wife and children.
There were an unknown amount of black slaves in the Battle of Cajamarca. Unlike the scripts that allow the stories of the two black conquistadors to be established, there is very little documentation for slaves on Pizarro's expedition. Despite this, multiple mentions of slaves make themselves apparent. One is the fact that the Spanish only sustained one casualty in the battle to capture Atahualpa, which was the death of a black, unnamed slave. Other instances include a black slave who had a finger cut off by Atahualpa’s successor, Manco Inca, or a black slave that discovered fresh water, likely saving his company from dehydration. Lastly, records indicate that a footman, Hernando de Montalbo, brought with him a black slave, among other belongings. Some of these men, because of their slave status, would not be listed as official soldiers or footment, and would not receive any share of the wealth. But, as derived from records, these men seem to have acted in a soldier’s role by necessity.
Records of black soldiers in the Battle of Cajamarca indirectly provide information on racial norms and social identity during the time of Spanish Conquest. From the records of Juan García Pregonero in the Battle of Cajamarca, it can be inferred that Conquistador leaders had an interest in employing a crier that was black. In addition, the story of Miguel Ruiz demonstrates the idea that the term, “Loro” was used to cordially describe someone of mixed race or a yellowish cast of skin. This is in contrast to the term, “Mulatto”, which could indicate a cold or hostile relationship to the person being referred to.
Year 1532 (MDXXXII) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.Battle of Vilcaconga
After emerging as victors in the battle of Cajamarca, some 180 Spaniards under Francisco Pizarro were in control of major parts of the vast Inca Empire and of its emperor, Atahualpa. After recovering a vast ransom for his release, Pizarro had the Inca executed on July 26 once his army disbanded and crossed the mountains to the south after rejoining Diego de Almagro, commanding some 100 Spaniards. The Incas under Atahualpas commander Quizquiz possessed, after the previous victory in the Inca Civil War tens of thousand Inca warriors around the area of Inca capital Cuzco, the main target of the Spanish conquistadors.
The Inca general commanded to fortified the mountain pass at Vilcaconga where the Spaniards would have to pass, and managed to ambush them, when a group of forty horsemen led by Hernando de Soto arrived. Several Spaniards were killed, and the rest was in deadly peril. The next day, however, another forty horsemen led by Almagro arrived. This combined force, though numerically outnumbered, managed to rout Quizquiz's forces and press further towards Cuzco. The Inca capital was captured by 15 November 1533.Cajamarca
Cajamarca (Spanish pronunciation: [kaxaˈmaɾka]), also known by the Cajamarca Quechua name, Kashamarka, is the capital and largest city of the Cajamarca Region as well as an important cultural and commercial center in the northern Andes. It is located in the northern highlands of Peru at approximately 2,750 m (8,900 ft) above sea level in the valley of the Mashcon river. Cajamarca had an estimated population of about 226,031 inhabitants in 2015, making it the 13th largest city in Peru.Cajamarca has a mild highland climate, and the area has a very fertile soil. The city is well known for its dairy products and mining activity in the surroundings.Among its tourist attractions, Cajamarca has numerous examples of Spanish colonial religious architecture, beautiful landscapes, pre-Hispanic archeological sites and hot springs at the nearby town of Baños del Inca (Baths of the Inca). The history of the city is highlighted by the Battle of Cajamarca, which marked the defeat of the Inca Empire by Spanish invaders as the Incan emperor Atahualpa was captured and murdered here.Chalcuchimac
Chalcuchimac (also called Challcochima, Chalkuchimac, Challcuchima, Chalicuchima or Chialiquichiama; born in the latter part of the 15th century; died Cajamarca, Peru, 1533) was, along with Quizquiz and Rumiñawi one of the leading Inca generals of the north and a supporter of Atahualpa, for whom he had won five battles against the Spaniards.
He was born in Quito in the north end of the Empire, and therefore swore his allegiance to Atahualpa in the division of the empire after the 1527 death of Huayna Capac and predicted heir Ninan Cuyochi died in smallpox in the north.In the civil war that followed in 1529, he fought alongside Atahualpa and participated in defeating the Huáscaran forces in the battle of Chimborazo and having Huáscar's general and brother Atoc captured and killed. In April 1532, he and his companion defeated and captured Huáscar in the battle of Quipaipan.Hernando Pizarro convinced Chalcuchimac, camped with an army of 35,000 in the Jauja Valley, that he was called to Cajamarca by Atahualpa after the Battle of Cajamarca. Chalcuchimac was also arrested by the Spaniards, who feared he might resume hostilities. Once Atahualpa had been executed on 29 August 29, 1533, Pizarro advanced with his army of five hundred Spaniards toward Cuzco, accompanied by Chalcuchimac and then Manco Inca Yupanqui, after the death of Túpac Huallpa.The natives attacked these troops several times with such spirit and discipline that they suspected Chialiquichiama was in secret communication with the Indians and directing their operations. There was a rumor that Quizquiz, the leader of the natives, had received communications from his imprisoned colleague Chialiquichiama letting him know the Spanish force was divided and how best to profit by that occasion. The suspicions, though not sufficiently proved to justify his fate, were enough to decide it, and Pizarro sentenced him to be burned alive. He was offered a less painful death if he would become a Christian, but he refused to be baptized, and died according to the sentence, remonstrating to the last moment against the injustice of his condemnation.The Spaniards later routed the forces of Quizquiz and captured Cuzco in late 1533.Diego García de Paredes (conquistador)
Diego García de Paredes y Vargas (1506, Trujillo, Spain – 1563, Catia, Province of Venezuela, Spanish Empire) was a maestre de campo and a Spanish conquistador who participated in, among other things, the Battle of Cajamarca. He also founded Trujillo, Venezuela in 1557.Diego de Almagro
Diego de Almagro (Spanish: [ˈdjeɣo ðe alˈmaɣɾo]; c. 1475 – July 8, 1538), also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo, was a Spanish conquistador known for his exploits in western South America. He participated with Francisco Pizarro in the Spanish conquest of Peru. From Peru Almagro led an expedition that made him the second European to set foot in central Chile (after Gonzalo Calvo de Barrientos). Back in Peru a longstanding conflict with Pizarro over the control of the former Inca capital of Cuzco erupted into a civil war between the two bands of conquistadores. In the battle of Las Salinas in 1538 Almagro was defeated by the Pizarro brothers and months later he was executed.Felipillo
Felipillo (or Felipe) was a native Amerindian translator who accompanied Spanish conquistadors Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro on their various expeditions to Peru during their conquest of the Inca Empire. His real name is not known.Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González (; Spanish: [fɾanˈθisko piˈθaro]; c. 1471 – 26 June 1541) was a Spanish conquistador who led the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. He captured and killed Incan emperor Atahualpa, and claimed the lands for Spain.Francisco Xerez
Francisco Xerez or Francisco de Jerez (1495 in Seville, Spain – 1565?) was a Spanish explorer-turned-historian, the personal secretary of conquistador Francisco Pizarro. He participated in the conquest of Peru during the first two unsuccessful expeditions led by Pizarro, Diego de Almagro and Hernando de Luque in 1524.
Xerez did not stay and join The thirteen of the fame in the Isle of Gallo (1526).
Francisco Xerez arrived in the New World in 1514 under the expedition that Ferdinand II of Aragon had sent under the guidance of Pedrarias Dávila. The expedition had landed in the city of Santa María la Antigua del Darién, Panama. During the next decade, he remained in Castilla de Oro. Xerez explored the Isthmus of Panama along with Vasco Nuñez de Balboa and Gaspar de Espinosa. As one of the first settlers in Acla, Panama, he became the actuary of the local Spanish administrators.
Between 1528 and 1530, Xerez lived in Natá of the Coclé Province as the actuary of governor Pedro de los Ríos. During this last year, when Francisco Pizarro had returned from his interview with King Charles V in Toledo, Spain, Xerez once again joined Pizarro and his followers on their voyage to conquer the Inca Empire.
Following the successful campaign of the Battle of Cajamarca in 1532, Francisco Pizarro designated Xerez as his personal secretary and offered him a significant amount of gold the Inca Emperor Atahualpa had paid as a ransom. Xerez wrote with all detail about the events that preceded the Spanish conquest and the first encounter Pizarro had with Atahualpa in Cajamarca. During this time Xerez fractured one of his legs and returned to Seville, where his narrations about the conquest of Peru were published as the "Verdadera Relación de la conquista del Perú" in June 1534.
Xerez did not have the same luck back in his native Seville, and soon became broke after various unsuccessful businesses. Towards the end of the 1540s his situation aggravated, prompting him to change his name to Francisco López de Xerez. No details of Xerez are known following these years, although some authors claim he went bankrupt and eventually returned with his family to Peru until he died.History of the Incas
The Incas were most notable for establishing the Inca Empire in pre-Columbian America, which was centered in what is now Peru from 1438 to 1533, and represented the height of the Inca civilization. The Inca state was known as the Kingdom of Cuzco before 1438. Over the course of the Inca Empire, the Inca used conquest and peaceful assimilation to incorporate the territory of modern-day Peru, followed by a large portion of western South America, into their empire, centered on the Andean mountain range. However, shortly after the Inca Civil War, the last Sapa Inca (emperor) of the Inca Empire was captured and killed on the orders of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, marking the beginning of Spanish rule. The remnants of the empire retreated to the remote jungles of Vilcabamba and established the small Neo-Inca State, which was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.
The Quechua name for the empire after the reforms under Pachacuti was Tawantin Suyu, which can be translated The Four Regions or The Four United Regions. Before the Quechua spelling reform it was written in Spanish as Tahuantinsuyo. Tawantin is a group of four things (tawa "four" with the suffix -ntin which names a group); suyu means "region" or "province".
The empire was divided into four suyus, whose corners met at the capital, Cuzco (Qosqo), in modern-day Peru.Jorge Griego
Jorge Griego (English: "George the Greek") (Greece, 1504 - after 1545), was a Greek conquistador who participated in the conquest of Peru. Jorge was born in 1504 possibly in Greece and followed his Greek friend Pedro De Candia to Panama and Peru. He was also appointed as an encomendero in Jauja, an authority which was granted mostly to Conquistadors.Jorge Robledo (conquistador)
Jorge Robledo (1500, Úbeda, Jaén, Spain – 5 October, 1546, La Merced, Caldas, New Kingdom of Granada) was a Spanish conquistador. He traveled in Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru and was executed by decapitation by order of Sebastián de Belalcázar.Juan de Betanzos
Juan Diez de Betanzos (b. Betanzos, Spain 1510 – d. Cusco, Peru March 1, 1576) wrote one of the most important sources on the conquest of the Incan civilization, Narrative of the Incas. He based this account of the Incas on the testimony of his wife, who had been previously married to Incan King Atahualpa as well as conducting interviews of Incans who had taken part in the Battle of Cajamarca or been in Atahualpa's camp.
The Narrative of the Incas is rare in coming from the Indian perspective. In the absence of written Incan sources, it is also relatively unique in providing us with an insight into Incan civilization before the conquest with early expansion, the development of the kingdom of Cuzco by Yupanqui and the great imperial policies of Huayna Capac. It also provides an insight into the civil war between Huáscar and Atahualpa that ravaged the Incan civilization immediately prior to the arrival of Francisco Pizarro. However, coming from Atahualpa's wife's point of view, the source is biased against Huáscar.List of conflicts in South America
This is a list of armed conflicts in South America.Peru–Spain relations
Peru–Spain relations are foreign relations between Peru and Spain. Both nations are members of the Organization of Ibero-American States and the United Nations.Ransom Room
The Ransom Room (El Cuarto del Rescate) is a small building located in Cajamarca, Peru. It is considered to be the place where the Inca Empire came to an end with the capture and eventual execution of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa.Sacsayhuamán
Saqsaywaman, Sacsayhuamán, Sacsayhuaman, Sacsahuaman, Saxahuaman, Saksaywaman, Sasawaman, Saksawaman, Sacsahuayman, Sasaywaman or Saksaq Waman (possibly from Quechua language, waman falcon or variable hawk) is a citadel on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, Peru, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Sections were first built by the Killke culture about 1100; they had occupied the area since 900. The complex was expanded and added to by the Inca from the 13th century; they built dry stone walls constructed of huge stones. The workers carefully cut the boulders to fit them together tightly without mortar. The site is at an altitude of 3,701 m (12,142 ft).
In 1983, Cusco and Sacsayhuamán together were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for recognition and protection.Spanish conquest of Peru
The Spanish conquest of Peru was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. After years of preliminary exploration and military skirmishes, 168 Spanish soldiers under conquistador Francisco Pizarro, his brothers, and their native allies captured the Sapa Inca Atahualpa in the 1532 Battle of Cajamarca. It was the first step in a long campaign that took decades of fighting but ended in Spanish victory in 1572 and colonization of the region as the Viceroyalty of Peru. The conquest of the Inca Empire (called "Tahuantinsuyu" or "Tawantinsuyu" in Quechua, meaning "Realm of the Four Parts"), led to spin-off campaigns into present-day Chile and Colombia, as well as expeditions towards the Amazon Basin.
When the Spanish arrived at the borders of the Inca Empire in 1528, it spanned a considerable area and was by far the largest of the four grand pre-Columbian civilizations. Extending southward from the Ancomayo, which is now known as the Patía River, in southern present-day Colombia to the Maule River in what would later be known as Chile, and eastward from the Pacific Ocean to the edge of the Amazonian jungles, the empire covered some of the most mountainous terrain on Earth. In less than a century, the Inca had expanded their empire from about 400,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi) in 1448 to 1,800,000 km2 (690,000 sq mi) in 1528, just before the arrival of the Spanish. This vast area of land varied greatly in cultures and in climate. Because of the diverse cultures and geography, the Inca allowed many areas of the empire to be governed under the control of local leaders, who were watched and monitored by Inca officials. However, under the administrative mechanisms established by the Inca, all parts of the empire answered to, and were ultimately under the direct control of, the Emperor. Scholars estimate that the population of the Inca Empire numbered more than 16,000,000.Some scholars, such as Jared Diamond, believe that while the Spanish conquest was undoubtedly the proximate cause of the collapse of the Inca Empire, it may very well have been past its peak and already in the process of decline. In 1528, Emperor Huayna Capac ruled the Inca Empire. He could trace his lineage back to a "stranger king" named Manco Cápac, the mythical founder of the Inca clan, who according to tradition emerged from a cave in a region called Paqariq Tampu.
Huayna Capac was the son of the previous ruler, Túpac Inca, and the grandson of Pachacuti, the Emperor who, by conquest, had commenced the dramatic expansion of the Inca Empire from its cultural and traditional base in the area around Cusco. On his accession to the throne, Huayna Capac had continued the policy of expansion by conquest, taking Inca armies north into what is today Ecuador. While he had to put down a number of rebellions during his reign, by the time of his death, his legitimacy was as unquestioned as was the primacy of Inca power.
However, expansion had resulted in its own problems. Many parts of the empire maintained distinctive cultures and these were at best resistive participants in the imperial project. The large extent of the empire, the extremely difficult terrain of much of it, and the fact that all communication and travel had to take place on foot or by boat, seems to have caused increasing difficulty in the Incas' effective administration of the empire.
Huayna Capac relied on his sons to support his reign. While he had many legitimate and illegitimate children (legitimate meaning born of his sister-wife, under the Inca system), two sons are historically important. Prince Túpac Cusi Hualpa, also known as Huáscar, was the son of Coya Mama Rahua Occllo of the royal line. The second was Atahualpa, an illegitimate son who was likely born of a daughter of the last independent King of Quitu, one of the states conquered by Huayna Capac during the expansion of the Inca Empire. These two sons would play pivotal roles in the final years of the Inca Empire.
The Spanish conquistador Pizarro and his men were greatly aided in their enterprise by invading when the Inca Empire was in the midst of a war of succession between the princes Huáscar and Atahualpa. Atahualpa seems to have spent more time with Huayna Capac during the years when he was in the north with the army conquering Ecuador. Atahualpa was thus closer to, and had better relations with the army and its leading generals. When both Huayna Capac and his eldest son and designated heir, Ninan Cuyochic, died suddenly in 1528 from what was probably smallpox, a disease introduced by the Spanish into the Americas, the question of who would succeed as emperor was thrown open. Huayna had died before he could nominate the new heir.
At the time of Huayna Capac's death, Huáscar was in the capital Cuzco, while Atahualpa was in Quitu with the main body of the Inca army. Huáscar had himself proclaimed Sapa Inca (i.e. "Only Emperor") in Cuzco, but the army declared loyalty to Atahualpa. The resulting dispute led to the Inca Civil War.Timeline of Peruvian history
This is a timeline of Peruvian history, comprising important legal & territorial changes and political events in Peru and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Peru. See also the list of presidents of Peru.