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"[2] or "Tawantinsuyu"[3] in Quechua, meaning "Realm of the Four Parts"),[4] 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.[5] Scholars estimate that the population of the Inca Empire numbered more than 16,000,000.[6]

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,[7]:144 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.[7]:98 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.[6] 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.[7]:143 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.[7]:146–149

Spanish conquest of Peru
Part of the Spanish colonization of the Americas
Montaje 2 conquista del Peru
Western South America
Result Spanish victory
Former Inca lands incorporated into the Spanish Empire

Spain Spanish Empire
Spain Spanish conquistadors
Spain Viceroyalty of Peru
Native allies

 Inca Empire
 Neo-Inca State
Commanders and leaders
Francisco Pizarro
Diego de Almagro
Gonzalo Pizarro
Hernando Pizarro
Juan Pizarro
Hernando de Soto
Sebastián de Benalcázar
Pedro de Alvarado
Francisco de Toledo
Atahualpa  (POW)
Manco Inca
Túpac Amaru I
168 soldiers (1532)
Unknown number of native auxiliaries
100,000 soldiers (1532)
Casualties and losses
7,700,000 died from disease. Deaths in military confrontation unknown.[1]
Spanish Conqueror
Illustration of a typical conquistador.

Chronology of the last years of the Inca Empire

  • 1526–1529 – Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro make first contact with Inca Empire at Tumbes, the northernmost Inca stronghold along the coast
  • c. 1528 – The Inca Emperor Huayna Capac dies from European-introduced smallpox. Death sets off a civil war between his sons: Atahualpa and Huáscar
  • 1528–1529 – Pizarro returns to Spain where he is granted by the Queen of Spain the license to conquer Peru
  • 1531–1532 – Pizarro's third voyage to Peru, Atahualpa captured by Spanish
  • 1533 – Atahualpa is executed; De Almagro arrives; Pizarro submits Cuzco and installs seventeen-year-old Manco Inca as new Inca Emperor
  • 1535 – Pizarro founds the city of Lima; De Almagro leaves for present-day Chile
  • 1536 – Gonzalo Pizarro steals Manco Inca's wife, Cura Olcollo. Manco rebels and surrounds Cuzco. Juan Pizarro is killed, and Inca general Quizo Yupanqui attacks Lima
  • 1537 – Almagro seizes Cuzco from Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro. Rodrigo Orgóñez sacks Vitcos and captures Manco Inca's son, Titu Cusi. Manco escapes and flees to Vilcabamba, which became the capital of the Neo-Inca State
  • 1538 – Hernando Pizarro executes Diego de Almagro
  • 1539 – Gonzalo Pizarro invades and sacks Vilcabamba; Manco Inca escapes but Francisco Pizarro executes Manco's wife, Cura Olcollo
  • 1541 – Francisco Pizarro is murdered by Diego de Almagro II and other supporters of De Almagro
  • 1544 – Manco Inca is murdered by supporters of Diego de Almagro. The Inca do not stop their revolt.
  • 1572 – Viceroy of Peru, Francisco Toledo, declares war on the Neo-Inca State; Vilcabamba is sacked and Túpac Amaru, the last Inca Emperor, is captured and executed in Cuzco. The Neo-Inca capital of Vilcabamba is abandoned; the Spanish remove inhabitants and relocate them to the newly established Christian town of San Francisco de la Victoria de Vilcabamba.[8]:xiii–xv

Beginning of the conflict

The civil war between Atahualpa and Huascar weakened the empire immediately prior to its struggle with the Spanish. Historians are unsure of whether a united Inca Empire could have defeated the Spanish in the long term due to factors such as the high mortality from disease and its related social disruption, and the superior military technology of the conquistadors, who possessed horses, dogs, metal armor, swords, cannons, and primitive, but effective, firearms.[9] Atahualpa appeared to be more popular with the people than his brother, and he was certainly more valued by the army, the core of which was based in the recently conquered northern province of Quitu.

At the outset of the conflict, each brother controlled his respective domains, with Atahualpa secure in the north, and Huáscar controlling the capital of Cuzco and the large territory to the south, including the area around Lake Titicaca. This region had supplied large numbers of troops for Huáscar's forces. After a period of diplomatic posturing and jockeying for position, open warfare broke out. Huáscar seemed poised to bring the war to a rapid conclusion, as troops loyal to him took Atahualpa prisoner, while he was attending a festival in the city of Tumibamba. However, Atahualpa quickly escaped and returned to Quitu. There, he was able to amass what is estimated to be at least 30,000 soldiers. While Huáscar managed to muster about the same number of soldiers, they were less experienced.

Atahualpa sent his forces south under the command of two of his leading generals, Challcuchima and Quisquis, who won an uninterrupted series of victories that soon brought them to the very gates of Cuzco. On the first day of the battle for Cuzco, the forces loyal to Huáscar gained an early advantage. However, on the second day, Huáscar personally led an ill-advised "surprise" attack, of which the generals Challcuchima and Quisquis had advance knowledge. In the ensuing battle, Huáscar was captured, and resistance completely collapsed. The victorious generals sent word north by chasqui messenger to Atahualpa, who had moved south from Quitu to the royal resort springs outside Cajamarca. The messenger arrived with news of the final victory on the same day that Pizarro and his small band of adventurers, together with some indigenous allies, descended from the Andes into the town of Cajamarca.

Arrival of Pizarro

Los 13 de la Isla del Gallo
The Famous Thirteen by Juan Lepiani

Francisco Pizarro and his brothers (Gonzalo, Juan, and Hernando) were attracted by the news of a rich and fabulous kingdom. They had left the then impoverished Extremadura, like many migrants after them.[7]:136

There lies Peru with its riches;
Here, Panama and its poverty.
Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian.
— Francisco Pizarro[7]:116

In 1529, Francisco Pizarro obtained permission from the Spanish Monarchy to conquer the land they called Peru.[7]:133

According to historian Raúl Porras Barrenechea, Peru is not a Quechuan nor Caribbean word, but Indo-Hispanic or hybrid. Unknown to Pizarro, as he was lobbying for permission to mount an expedition, his proposed enemy was being devastated by the diseases brought to the American continents during earlier Spanish contacts.

When Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532, he found it vastly different from when he had been there just five years before. Amid the ruins of the city of Tumbes, he tried to piece together the situation before him. From two young local boys whom he had taught how to speak Spanish in order to translate for him, Pizarro learned of the civil war and of the disease that was destroying the Inca Empire.[8]

After four long expeditions, Pizarro established the first Spanish settlement in northern Peru, calling it San Miguel de Piura.[7]:153–154

Atawallpa Pizarro tinkuy
Francisco Pizarro meets with Atahualpa, 1532

When first spotted by the natives, Pizarro and his men were thought to be viracocha cuna or "gods". The Natives described Pizarro's men to the Inca. They said that capito was tall with a full beard and was completely wrapped in clothing. The Natives described the men's swords and how they killed sheep with them. The men did not eat human flesh, but rather sheep, lamb, duck, pigeons, and deer, and cooked the meat. Atahualpa was fearful of what the white men were capable of. If they were runa quicachac or "destroyers of peoples," then he should flee. If they were viracocha cuna runa allichac or "gods who are benefactors of the people," then he should not flee, but welcome them. The messengers went back to Tangarala, and Atahualpa sent Cinquinchara, an Orejon warrior, to the Spanish to serve as an interpreter.

After traveling with the Spanish, Cinquinchara returned to Atahualpa; they discussed whether or not the Spanish men were gods. Cinquinchara decided they were men because he saw them eat, drink, dress, and have relations with women. He saw them produce no miracles. Cinquinchara informed Atahualpa that they were small in number, about 170–180 men, and had bound the Native captives with "iron ropes". When Atahualpa asked what to do about the strangers, Cinquinchara said that they should be killed because they were evil thieves who took whatever they wanted, and were supai cuna or "devils". He recommended trapping the men inside of their sleeping quarters and burning them to death.[10]

At this point, Pizarro had 168 men under his command: 106 on foot and 62 on horses. Pizarro sent his captain Hernando de Soto to invite Atahualpa to a meeting. Soto rode to meet Atahualpa on his horse, an animal that Atahualpa had never seen before. With one of his young interpreters, Soto read a prepared speech to Atahualpa telling him that they had come as servants of God to teach them the truth about God's word.[11] He said he was speaking to them so that they might

"lay the foundation of concord, brotherhood, and perpetual peace that should exist between us, so that you may receive us under your protection and hear the divine law from us and all your people may learn and receive it, for it will be the greatest honor, advantage, and salvation to them all."

Atahualpa responded only after Hernando Pizarro arrived. He replied with what he had heard from his scouts, saying that Pizarro and his men were killing and enslaving countless numbers on the coast. Pizarro denied the report and Atahualpa, with limited information, reluctantly let the matter go. At the end of their meeting, the men agreed to meet the next day at Cajamarca.[8]

Capture of Atahualpa

After his victory and the death of his brother Huáscar, Atahualpa was fasting in the Inca baths outside Cajamarca. Pizarro and his men reached that city on 15 November 1532.

Pizarro sent Hernando de Soto and Hernando Pizarro to the Inca leader's camp. Hernando Pizarro and De Soto explained they were emissaries of Emperor Charles I of Spain, to offer their services, and "impart to him the doctrines of the true faith." Additionally, they invited the Incan leader to visit Pizarro at his quarters along the Cajamarca plaza. Atahualpa replied that his fast would end the next day, when he would visit Pizarro. When De Soto noticed Atahualpa's interest in his horse, he put on a display of "excellent horsemanship" in close proximity. Atahualpa displayed hospitality by serving refreshments.[7]:166–170[12]

Inca-Spanish confrontation
The Inca–Spanish confrontation in the Battle of Cajamarca left thousands of natives dead

The next morning, Pizarro had arranged an ambuscade around the Cajamarca plaza, where they were to meet. When Atahualpa arrived with about 6,000 unarmed followers, Friar Vincente de Valverde and Felipillo met them and proceeded to "expound the doctrines of the true faith" and seek his tribute as a vassal of King Charles. The unskilled translator likely contributed to problems in communication. The friar offered Atahualpa the Bible as the authority of what he had just stated. Atahualpa stated, "I will be no man's tributary."[7]:173–177

The friar urged attack, starting the Battle of Cajamarca on 16 November 1532. Though the historical accounts relating to these circumstances vary, the true Spanish motives for the attack seemed to be a desire for loot and flat-out impatience. The Inca likely did not adequately understand the conquistadors' demands.[13]

At the signal to attack, the Spaniards unleashed volleys of gunfire at the vulnerable mass of Incas and surged forward in a concerted action. The effect was devastating, the shocked Incas offered such feeble resistance that the battle has often been labeled a massacre, with the Inca losing 2,000 dead. Pizarro also used cavalry charges against the Inca forces, which stunned them in combination with gunfire.[7]:177–179

The majority of Atahualpa's troops were in the Cuzco region along with Quisquis and Challcuchima, the two generals he trusted the most. This was a major disadvantage for the Inca. Their undoing also resulted from a lack of self-confidence, and a desire to make public demonstration of fearlessness and godlike command of situation.[12] The main view is that the Inca were eventually defeated due to inferior weapons, 'open battle' tactics, disease, internal unrest, the bold tactics of the Spanish, and the capture of their emperor. While Spanish armour was very effective against most of the Andean weapons, it was not impenetrable to maces, clubs, or slings.[14][15] However, ensuing hostilities such as the Mixtón Rebellion, Chichimeca War, and Arauco War would require that the conquistadors ally with friendly tribes in these later expeditions.

The battle began with a shot from a cannon and the battle cry "Santiago!"[12] Many of the guns used by the Spaniards were hard to use in the frequent close-combat situations. Most natives adapted in 'guerrilla fashion' by only shooting at the legs of the conquistadors if they happened to be unarmored.[16]

During Atahualpa's captivity, the Spanish, although greatly outnumbered, forced him to order his generals to back down by threatening to kill him if he did not. According to the Spanish envoy's demands, Atahualpa offered to fill a large room with gold and promised the Spanish twice that amount in silver. While Pizarro ostensibly accepted this offer and allowed the gold to pile up, he had no intention of releasing the Inca; he needed Atahualpa's influence over his generals and the people in order to maintain the peace.

When Atahualpa was captured at the massacre at Cajamarca, he was treated with respect, allowed his wives to join him, and the Spanish soldiers taught him the game of chess.[17]:215,234 Francisco Pizarro sent his brother Hernando to gather gold and silver from the temples in Pachacamac in January 1533, and on his return in March,[17]:237 captured Chalcuchimac in the Jauja Valley. Francisco Pizzaro sent a similar expedition to Cuzco, bringing back many gold plates from the Temple of the Sun. By February 1533, Almagro had joined Pizarro in Cajamarca with an additional 150 men with 50 horses.[7]:186–194

Pizarro held Atahualpa for a ransom of gold and silver; the treasure began to be delivered from Cuzco on 20 December 1532 and flowed steadily from then on. By 3 May 1533 Pizarro received all the treasure he had requested; it was melted, refined, and made into bars.[12]

Luis Montero - The Funerals of Inca Atahualpa - Google Art Project
One of the main events in the conquest of the Incan Empire was the death of Atahualpa, the last Sapa Inca on 29 August 1533

The question eventually came up of what to do with Atahualpa; both Pizarro and Soto were against killing him, but the other Spaniards were loud in their demands for death. False interpretations from the interpreter Felipillo made the Spaniards paranoid. They were told that Atahualpa had ordered secret attacks and his warriors were hidden in the surrounding area. Soto went with a small army to look for the hidden army, but a trial for Atahualpa was held in his absence. Among the charges were polygamy, incestuous marriage, and idolatry, all frowned upon in Catholicism but common in Inca culture and religion.

The men who were against Atahualpa's conviction and murder argued that he should be judged by King Charles since he was the sovereign prince. Atahualpa agreed to accept baptism to avoid being burned at the stake and in the hopes of one day rejoining his army and killing the Spanish; he was baptized as Francisco. On 29 August 1533 Atahualpa was garrotted and died a Christian. He was buried with Christian rites in the church of San Francisco at Cajamarca, but was soon disinterred. His body was taken, probably at his prior request, to its final resting place in Quito. Upon de Soto's return, he was furious; he had found no evidence of any secret gathering of Atahualpa's warriors.[12]

Pizarro advanced with his army of 500 Spaniards toward Cuzco, accompanied by Chalcuchimac. The latter was burned alive in the Jauja Valley, accused of secret communication with Quizquiz, and organizing resistance. Manco Inca Yupanqui joined Pizarro after the death of Túpac Huallpa. Pizarro's force entered the heart of the Tawantinsuyu on 15 November 1533.[7]:191,210,216

Benalcázar, Pizarro's lieutenant and fellow Extremaduran, had already departed from San Miguel with 140-foot soldiers and a few horses on his conquering mission to Ecuador. At the foot of Mount Chimborazo, near the modern city of Riobamba (Ecuador) he met and defeated the forces of the great Inca warrior Rumiñawi with the aid of Cañari tribesmen who served as guides and allies to the conquering Spaniards. Rumiñahui fell back to Quito, and, while in pursuit of the Inca army, Benalcázar was joined by five hundred men led by Guatemalan Governor Pedro de Alvarado. Greedy for gold, Alvarado had set sail for the south without the crown's authorization, landed on the Ecuadorian coast, and marched inland to the Sierra. Finding Quito empty of its treasures, Alvarado soon joined the combined Spanish force. Alvarado agreed to sell his fleet of twelve ships, his forces, plus arms and ammunition, and returned to Guatemala.[7]:224–227[17]:268–284

Rebellion and reconquest

After Atahualpa's execution, Pizarro installed Atahualpa's brother, Túpac Huallpa, as a puppet Inca ruler, but he soon died unexpectedly, leaving Manco Inca Yupanqui in power. He began his rule as an ally of the Spanish and was respected in the southern regions of the empire, but there was still much unrest in the north near Quito where Atahualpa's generals were amassing troops. Atahualpa's death meant that there was no hostage left to deter these northern armies from attacking the invaders. Led by Atahualpa's generals Rumiñahui, Zope-Zupahua and Quisquis, the native armies were finally defeated, effectively ending any organized rebellion in the north of the empire.[7]:221–223,226

Manco Inca initially had good relations with Francisco Pizarro and several other Spanish conquistadors. However, in 1535 he was left in Cuzco under the control of Pizarro's brothers, Juan and Gonzalo, who so mistreated Manco Inca that he ultimately rebelled. Under the pretense of recovering a statue of pure gold in the nearby Yucay valley, Manco was able to escape Cuzco.[7]:235–237

Tupaq amarup umanta kuchunku
Spaniards executing Túpac Amaru, the last Inca of Vilcabamba, in 1572

Manco Inca hoped to use the disagreement between Almagro and Pizarro to his advantage and attempted the recapture of Cuzco starting in April 1536. The siege of Cuzco was waged until the following spring, and during that time Manco's armies managed to wipe out four relief columns sent from Lima, but was ultimately unsuccessful in its goal of routing the Spaniards from the city. The Inca leadership did not have the full support of all its subject peoples and furthermore, the degrading state of Inca morale coupled with the superior Spanish siege weapons soon made Manco Inca realize his hope of recapturing Cuzco was failing. Manco Inca eventually withdrew to Tambo.[7]:239–247

Archaeological evidence of the rebellion incident exists. The remains of about 70 men, women, and adolescents were found in the path of a planned expressway near Lima in 2007. Forensic evidence suggests that the natives were killed by European weapons, probably during the uprising in 1536.[18]

After the Spanish regained control of Cuzco, Manco Inca and his armies retreated to the fortress at Ollantaytambo where he, for a time, successfully launched attacks against Pizarro based at Cuzco and even managed to defeat the Spanish in an open battle.[7]:247–249

When it became clear that defeat was imminent, Manco Inca retreated further to the mountainous region[7]:259 of Vilcabamba and established the small Neo-Inca State, where Manco Inca and his successors continued to hold some power for several more decades. His son, Túpac Amaru, was the last Inca. After deadly confrontations, he was murdered by the Spanish in 1572.

In total, the conquest took about forty years to complete. Many Inca attempts to regain the empire had occurred, but none had been successful. Thus the Spanish conquest was achieved through relentless force, and deception, aided by factors like smallpox and a great communication and cultural divide. The Spaniards destroyed much of the Incan culture and introduced the Spanish culture to the native population.


Pizarro in Lima
Pizarro and his followers founding Lima

A struggle for power resulted in a long civil war between Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro in which Almagro was killed. Almagro's loyal followers and his descendants later avenged his death by killing Pizarro in 1541. This was done inside the palace of Francisco Pizarro in a fight to the death by these assassins, most of which were former soldiers of Diego de Almagro who were stripped of title and belongings after his death.[19]

Despite the war, the Spaniards did not neglect the colonizing process. Spanish royal authority on these territories was consolidated by the creation of an Audiencia Real, a type of appellate court. In January 1535, Lima was founded, from which the political and administrative institutions were to be organized. In 1542, the Spanish created the Viceroyalty of New Castile, that shortly after would be called Viceroyalty of Peru. Nevertheless, the Viceroyalty of Peru was not organized until the arrival of a later Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572. Toledo ended the indigenous Neo-Inca State in Vilcabamba, executing the Inca Túpac Amaru. He promoted economic development using commercial monopoly and built up the extraction from the silver mines of Potosí, using slavery based on the Inca institution of forced labor for mandatory public service called mita.

The integration of Spanish culture into Peru was carried out not only by Pizarro and his other captains, but also by the many Spanish who also came to Peru to exploit its riches and inhabit its land. These included many different kinds of immigrants such as Spanish merchants, peasants, artisans, and Spanish women. Another element that the Spanish brought with them were African slaves to work alongside captive Incas for use in labor with things such as agriculture and mining for silver.[20] These people all brought with them their own pieces of Spanish culture to integrate into Peruvian society.

The arrival of the Spanish also had an unexpected impact on the land itself, recent research points out that Spanish conquest of the Inca altered Peru’s shoreline.[21] Before the Spaniards arrived, inhabitants of the arid northern Peruvian coast clad massive sand dune–like ridges with a -likely- accidental form of “armor”, millions of discarded mollusk shells, which protected the ridges from erosion for nearly 4700 years prior to the Spanish arrival, and produced a vast corrugated landscape that is visible from space. This incidental landscape protection came to a swift end, however, after diseases brought by Spanish colonists decimated the local population and after colonial officials resettled the survivors inland, without humans to create the protective covering, newly formed beach ridges simply eroded and vanished.[22] Acording to Archaeologist Torben Rick, parts of the northern coast of Peru may look completely natural and pristine, “but if you rewind the clock a couple of millennia, you see that people were actively shaping this land by creating beach ridge systems".[23]

Almost nothing was left of the Inca civilizations after the conquest by the Spanish, as culture was not as significant as gold to the new conquerors. The unique indigenous road and communications systems were essentially lost. The only things that persisted of the original culture are the very few artifacts that remained and the minute cultural aspects, such as language, that was left behind by the small percentage of Incas who persisted.

Effects of the conquest on the Incan people

The long-term effects of the arrival of the Spanish on the population of South America were simply catastrophic. While this is the case for every group of Native-Americans that encountered Europeans from the fifteenth century onwards, the Incan population suffered a dramatic and quick decline following contact. It is estimated that parts of the empire, notably the Central Andes, suffered a population decline ratio of 58:1 during the years of 1520–1571.[24]

The single greatest cause of the decimation of native populations was infectious disease. Old World Eurasian diseases, which had long been endemic on the Continent, were carried unknowingly by colonists and conquistadors. As these were new to the natives, they had no acquired immunity and suffered very high rates of death. More died of disease than any army or armed conflict.[25] As the Inca did not have as strong a writing tradition as the Aztec or Maya, it is difficult for historians to estimate population decline or any events after conquest. But, it is apparent that the Inca began to contract the diseases several years before the Spanish appeared in the region, as it was likely carried to their empire by traders and travelers. The outbreak, believed to be hemorrhagic smallpox, reached the Andes in 1524. While numbers are unavailable, Spanish records indicate that the population was so devastated by disease that they could hardly resist the foreign forces.

Historians differ as to whether the illness of the 1520s was smallpox; a minority of scholars claim that the epidemic was due to an indigenous illness called Carrion's disease. In any case, a 1981 study by N. D. Cook the shows that the Andes suffered from three separate population declines during colonization. The first was of 30–50 percent during the first outbreak of smallpox. When a measles outbreak occurred, there was another decline of 25–30 percent. Finally, when smallpox and measles epidemics occurred together, which occurred from 1585 to 1591, a decline of 30–60 percent occurred. Collectively these declines amounted to a decline of 93 percent from the pre-contact population in the Andes region.[26] Mortality was particularly high among children, ensuring that the impact of the epidemics would extend to the next generation.[4]

Beyond the devastation of the local populations by disease, they suffered considerable enslavement, pillaging and destruction from warfare. The Spanish took thousands of women from the local natives to use as servants and concubines. As Pizarro and his men took over portions of South America, they plundered and enslaved countless people. Some local populations entered into vassalage willingly, to defeat the Inca. Native groups such as the Huanca, Cañari and Chachapoya fought alongside the Spanish as they opposed Inca rule. The basic policy of the Spanish towards local populations was that voluntary vassalage would yield safety and coexistence, while continued resistance would result in more deaths and destruction.[27]

Another significant effect on the people in South America was the spread of Christianity. As Pizarro and the Spanish subdued the continent and brought it under their control, they forcefully converted many to Christianity, claiming to have educated them in the ways of the "one true religion." With the depopulation of the local populations along with the capitulation of the Inca Empire, the Spanish missionary work after colonization began was able to continue unimpeded. It took just a generation for the entire continent to be under Christian influence.[6]

In fiction

Peter Shaffer's play The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964) dramatizes the conquest of the Incas. In the play, Pizarro, Atahualpa, Valverde and other historical figures appear as characters.

Matthew Reilly's novel Temple, is set at the siege of Cuzco. Many historical figures are mentioned, and a (fictional) brother of Pizarro is noted to be in pursuit of the protagonist. The conquest is also used as a "starting point of the cat."

The Inca are featured in the third Campaign in Age of Empires 3, having a Lost City hidden in the Andes. They are also in the Multiplayer, found primarily in the areas making up Chile and Argentina.

The conquest is parodied in The Simpsons TV series, in the episode "Lost Verizon", written by John Frink.[28]

Pizarro and his fellow conquistadors feature as antagonists in the 1982 animated serial The Mysterious Cities of Gold.


I wish Your Majesty to understand the motive that moves me to make this statement is the peace of my conscience and because of the guilt I share. For we have destroyed by our evil behaviour such a government as was enjoyed by these natives. They were so free of crime and greed, both men and women, that they could leave gold or silver worth a hundred thousand pesos in their open house. So that when they discovered that we were thieves and men who sought to force their wives and daughters to commit sin with them, they despised us. But now things have come to such a pass in offence of God, owing to the bad example we have set them in all things, that these natives from doing no evil have turned into people who can do no good.. I beg God to pardon me, for I am moved to say this, seeing that I am the last to die of the Conquistadors."

— Mansio Serra Leguizamon[29]

When has it ever happened, either in ancient or modern times, that such amazing exploits have been achieved? Over so many climes, across so many seas, over such distances by land, to subdue the unseen and unknown? Whose deeds can be compared with those of Spain? Not even the ancient Greeks and Romans.

— Francisco Xeres, Report on the Discovery of Peru

When I set out to write for the people of today and of the future, about the conquest and discovery that our Spaniards made here in Peru, I could not but reflect that I was dealing with the greatest matters one could possibly write about in all of creation as far as secular history goes. Where have men ever seen the things they have seen here? And to think that God should have permitted something so great to remain hidden from the world for so long in history, unknown to men, and then let it be found, discovered and won all in our own time!

— Pedro Cieza de León, Chronicles of Peru

The houses are more than two hundred paces in length, and very well built, being surrounded by strong walls, three times the height of a man. The roofs are covered with straw and wood, resting on the walls. The interiors are divided into eight rooms, much better built than any we had seen before. Their walls are of very well cut stones and each lodging is surrounded by its masonry wall with doorways, and has its fountain of water in an open court, conveyed from a distance by pipes, for the supply of the house. In front of the plaza, towards the open country, a stone fortress is connected with it by a staircase leading from the square to the fort. Towards the open country there is another small door, with a narrow staircase, all within the outer wall of the plaza. Above the town, on the mountain side, where the houses commence, there is another fort on a hill, the greater part of which is hewn out of the rock. This is larger than the other, and surrounded by three walls, rising spirally.

— Francisco Xeres, Massacre, Gold and Civil War

See also


  1. ^ "Victimario Histórico Militar".
  2. ^ Gordon Brotherston (1995). "Indigenous Literatures and Cultures in Twentieth-Century Latin America". In Leslie Bethell (ed.). The Cambridge History of Latin America. X. Cambridge University Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-521-49594-3.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Rebecca Storey; Randolph J. Widmer (2006). "The Pre-Columbian Economy". In Victor Bulmer-Thomas, John Coatsworth, Roberto Cortes-Conde (eds.). The Cambridge Economic History of Latin America: Volume 1, The Colonial Era and the Short Nineteenth Century (I ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-521-81289-4.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Kenneth J. Andrien (2001). Andean Worlds: Indigenous History, Culture, and Consciousness Under Spanish Rule, 1532–1825. University of New Mexico Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-8263-2359-0. The largest of these great imperial states was the Inca Empire or Tawantinsuyu—the empire of the four parts—which extended from its capital in Cusco to include this entire Andean region of 984,000 square kilometers.
  5. ^ Covey (2000).
  6. ^ a b c Means (1932).
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Prescott, W.H., 2011, The History of the Conquest of Peru, Publishing, ISBN 978-1420941142
  8. ^ a b c MacQuarrie (2007).
  9. ^ Kubler (1945).
  10. ^ Betanzos et al. (1996).
  11. ^ Seed (1991).
  12. ^ a b c d e Innes (1969).
  13. ^ Jolas, Maria (1961). The Royal Commentaries of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Orion Press.
  14. ^ Jay O. Sanders. "The Great Inca Rebellion". Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  15. ^ Jane Penrose (2005). Slings in the Iron Age. ISBN 978-1-84176-932-5. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  16. ^ Lockhart, James (1993). "Introduction". We People Here: Náhuatl accounts of the Conquest of Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 7–8.
  17. ^ a b c Leon, P., 1998, The Discovery and Conquest of Peru, Chronicles of the New World Encounter, edited and translated by Cook and Cook, Durham: Duke University Press, ISBN 9780822321460
  18. ^ Carroll, Chris (July 2007). "Archaeology: Shot by a Conquistador". National Geographic. 212 (1): 18.
  19. ^ Koch, Peter O. “The Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire”, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, and London, 2008.
  20. ^ Lockhart, James. Spanish Peru, University of Wisconsin Press.
  21. ^ Freeman, David (22 May 2014). "Spanish Conquest Altered Peru's Shoreline, New Research Shows". Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  22. ^ Belknap, Daniel F. and Sandweiss, Daniel H. “Effects of the Spanish Conquest on coastal change in Northwestern Peru”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111: 7986-7989.
  23. ^ PringleMay. 19, Heather; 2014; Pm, 3:00 (19 May 2014). "Spanish Conquest May Have Altered Peru's Shoreline". Science | AAAS. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  24. ^ Newson (1985).
  25. ^ The Story Of... Smallpox – and other Deadly Eurasian Germs
  26. ^ Lovell (1992).
  27. ^ Gibson (1978).
  28. ^ "The Simpsons Archive, Season 20". Archived from the original on 24 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  29. ^ Woods, Michael (2001). Conquistadors. London: BBC Worldwide. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-563-55116-4.


  • Bauer, Brian S. (1991). "Pacariqtambo and the Mythical Origins of the Inca". Latin American Antiquity. 2 (1): 7–26. doi:10.2307/971893. JSTOR 971893.
  • Betanzos, Juan de; Hamilton, Roland; Buchanan, Dana (1996). Narrative of the Incas. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-75560-4.
  • Covey, R. Alan (2000). "Inka Administration of the Far South Coast of Peru". Latin American Antiquity. 11 (2): 119–38. doi:10.2307/971851. JSTOR 971851.
  • Gibson, Charles (1978). "Conquest, Capitulation, and Indian Treaties". The American Historical Review. 83 (1): 1–15. doi:10.2307/1865900. JSTOR 1865900.
  • Hemming, John (1970). Conquest of the Incas. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-15-122560-6.
  • Innes, Hammond (1969). Conquistadors. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Kubler, George (1945). "The Behavior of Atahualpa, 1531–1533". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 25 (4): 413–27. doi:10.2307/2508231. JSTOR 2508231.
  • Kubler, George (1947). "The Neo-Inca State (1537–1572)". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 27 (2): 189–203. doi:10.2307/2508415. JSTOR 2508415.
  • Lockhart, James (1994). Spanish Peru, 1532–1560 : a social history. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,
  • Lockhart, James (1972). The men of Cajamarca; a social and biographical study of the first conquerors of Peru, Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies by the University of Texas Press
  • Lovell, W. George (1992). "'Heavy Shadows and Black Night': Disease and Depopulation in Colonial Spanish America". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 82 (3): 426–43. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8306.1992.tb01968.x.
  • Macquarrie, Kim (2007). The Last Days of the Incas. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-6049-7.
  • Means, Philip A. (1932). Fall of the Inca Empire and the Spanish Rule in Peru, 1530–1780. New York: Scribner.
  • Newson, Linda A. (1985). "Indian Population Patterns in Colonial Spanish America". Latin American Research Review. 20 (3): 41–74. JSTOR 2503469.
  • Seed, Patricia (1991). "'Failing to Marvel': Atahualpa's Encounter with the Word". Latin American Research Review. 26 (1): 7–32.
  • Wachtel, Nathan (1977). The Vision of the Vanquished: The Spanish Conquest of Peru Through Indian Eyes, 1530–1570, translated by Ben and Sid Reynolds.

External links

Arequipa Province

Arequipa is a province in the Arequipa Region, Peru. Its capital, Arequipa, is Peru's third most populous province of Peru. It borders the provinces of Islay, Camaná, Caylloma, and the Cusco and Puno regions. According to INEI in the year 2014 it has a population of 958.351 people.

Battle of Abancay

The Battle of Abancay was a battle that took place during the Spanish conquest of Peru. Alonso de Alvarado, sent by Francisco Pizarro to relieve the siege of Cusco, was camped at Jauja with five hundred men. He guarded the bridge and a ford on the Rio de Abancay, awaiting Almagro's men. However, the soldier Alvarado placed in command of the ford, Pedro de Lerma, deserted, allowing Almagro to capture Alvarado's force almost intact.After emerging as the victor both in the siege of Cuzco and from initial disputes between the Pizarro brothers with allies and the Almagristas under Diego de Almagro, who had seized the former Inca capital upon rescuing Hernando Pizarro and Gonzalo Pizarro from emerging defeat, imprisoning them both.Unable to break the siege on his own, and having lost his youngest brother, Pizarro gathered a new army from Spanish settlers traveling to New Castile to find further wealth. The expedition force, commanded by Alonso de Alvarado, was completely defeated by Almagrist forces.

Alvarado was captured during the battle but managed to escape with Gonzalo Pizarro when Marshal Almagro left the main force with Hernando under his control. Hernando was later released as well with the condition that he would return to Spain within six weeks to ensure Francisco would not interfere in Almagro's future reign in Peru. This proved to be a mistake as the Pizarro brothers and Alvarado raised another army and faced Almagro yet again in a struggle for power at Las Salinas.

Battle of Chupas

After the assassination of Francisco Pizarro, in retaliation for his father's execution in 1538, Diego de Almagro II, El Mozo, continued to press claims as the rightful ruler of Peru and as leader of his father's supporters. His claims were largely unsuccessful, however, as Pizarro was succeeded as governor by Cristóbal Vaca de Castro, despite claims from his brother Gonzalo Pizarro, whose claims to join arms against the Almagristas and "El Mozo" largely remained unanswered.

Battle of Ollantaytambo

The Battle of Ollantaytambo (Spanish: Batalla de Ollantaytambo, IPA: [baˈtaʎa ðe oˈʎantaiˈtambo]) took place in January 1537, between the forces of Inca emperor Manco Inca and a Spanish expedition led by Hernando Pizarro during the Spanish conquest of Peru. A former ally of the Spaniards, Manco Inca rebelled in May 1536, and besieged a Spanish garrison in the city of Cusco. To end the stand-off, the besieged mounted a raid against the emperor's headquarters in the town of Ollantaytambo. The expedition, commanded by Hernando Pizarro, included 100 Spaniards and some 30,000 Indian auxiliaries against an Inca army more than 30,000 strong.

There is some controversy over the actual location of the battle; according to some, it took place in the town itself, while Jean-Pierre Protzen and John Hemming argue that the nearby plain of Mascabamba better matches the descriptions of the encounter. In any case, the Inca army managed to hold the Spanish forces from a set of high terraces and flood their position to hinder their cavalry. Severely pressed and unable to advance, the Spaniards withdrew by night to Cusco. Despite this victory, the arrival of Spanish reinforcements to Cusco forced Manco Inca to abandon Ollantaytambo and seek refuge in the heavily forested region of Vilcabamba, where he established the small independent Neo-Inca State which survived until 1572.

Chincha culture

The Chincha culture consisted of a Native American (Indian) people living near the Pacific Ocean in south west Peru. The Chincha Kingdom and their culture flourished in the Late Intermediate Period (900 CE - 1450 CE), also known as the regional states period of pre-Columbian Peru. They became part of the Inca Empire around 1480. They were prominent as sea-going traders and lived in a large and fertile oasis valley. La Centinela is an archaeological ruin associated with the Chincha. It is located near the present-day city of Chincha Alta.

The Chincha disappeared as a people a few decades after the Spanish conquest of Peru, which began in 1532. They died in large numbers from European diseases and the political chaos which accompanied and followed the Spanish invasion.

The Chincha gave their name to the Chinchaysuyo Region, the Chincha Islands, to the animal known as the chinchilla (literally "Little Chincha"), and the city of Chincha Alta. The word "Chinchay" or "Chincha", means "Ocelot" in Quechua.

Chincheros Province

Chincheros Province is the smallest of seven provinces of the Apurímac Region in Peru. The capital of the province is the city of Chincheros.

Chorrillos District

Chorrillos is a district of the Lima Province in Peru and part of the city of Lima. It gets its name from the Spanish word for "trickle of water". The district was founded as San Pedro de los Chorrillos and served as a deluxe beach resort until the late 19th century, when it was almost completely destroyed by Chilean forces during the War of the Pacific.

The current mayor of Chorrilos is Augusto Miyashiro Ushikobo.

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.

Famous Thirteen

The Famous Thirteen (Spanish Los trece de la fama, "the thirteen of the fame", or Los trece de Gallo, "the thirteen of [Isla del] Gallo") were a group of 16th century Spanish conquistadors that participated in the Spanish conquest of Peru (second expedition) along with their leader, Francisco Pizarro. In 1527 Pizarro and his men were waiting on the Isla del Gallo, in bad conditions, when the supply ship returned from Panama with orders from the Spanish governor to abandon the expedition. According to the traditional version of the story, Pizarro drew a line in the sand with his sword and said, "those on that side of the line can go back to Panama and be poor; those on this side can come to Peru and be rich. Let the good Castillian choose his path." In the traditional telling of the story, only thirteen men chose to stay with Pizarro.Historians have noted inconsistencies in reports of the identity of the Famous Thirteen, and have identified as many as nineteen candidates for the thirteen spots.One list of names is as follows:

Nicolás de Ribera "el Viejo", born in Olvera, Andalucía;

Cristóbal de Peralta, hidalgo of Baeza;

Antón de Carrión, born in Carrión de los Condes;

Pedro de Candia, a Greek born in Candia, Crete;

Domingo de Soraluce, or Soria Lucina, a Basque merchant from Vergara

Francisco de Cuéllar, from Cuellar;

Joan de la Torre y Díaz Chacón, born in Villagarcía de la Torre de Extremadura, near Llerena;

Pedro de Alcón, from Cazalla de la Sierra north of Seville;

García de Jeréz or Jaren, Utrera merchant

Alonso de Briceño, born about 1506 in Benavente;

Alonso de Molina, born in Úbeda;

Gonzalo Martín de Trujillo, born in Trujillo;

Martín de Paz.Also, the "brave pilot" Bartolomé Ruiz.

Homosexuality in ancient Peru

Some evidence for homosexual behavior in ancient Peru has survived since the Spanish conquest of Peru in the form of erotic ceramics (Spanish: huacos eróticos). Such pottery originated from several ancient civilizations of Peru, the most famous of these being the Moche and Chimu cultures.

Huaco (pottery)

Huaco or Guaco is the generic name given in Peru mostly to earthen vessels and other finely made pottery artworks by the indigenous peoples of the Americas found in pre-Columbian sites such as burial locations, sanctuaries, temples and other ancient ruins. Huacos are not mere earthenware but notable pottery specimens linked to ceremonial, religious, artistic or aesthetic uses in central Andean, pre-Columbian civilizations.

The Huari (Wari), along with the Nazca, the Moche and others, were among the major creators of figurines who passed down through history their unique skills in ceramics. The Incas, who absorbed all the cultures in the time of its expansion, also produced huacos.

Letters from a Peruvian Woman

Letters from a Peruvian Woman (French: Lettres d'une Péruvienne) is a 1747 epistolary novel by Françoise de Graffigny. It tells the story of Zilia, a young Incan princess, who is abducted from the Temple of the Sun by the Spanish during the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. In a series of letters to her fiancé Aza, who is also the Sapa Inca, Zilia tells the story of her capture, her rescue by French sailors, her befriending of the captain Déterville, and her introduction to French society.

Like Montesquieu's Lettres persanes, Lettres d'une Péruvienne presents a satirical view of French life, particularly the conditions of French women, through the eyes of an outsider. Zilia talks about language, literature, philosophy, education, and child rearing, among other subjects. To a much greater degree than Montesquieu, Françoise de Graffigny engages readers in a suspenseful story, turning on whether Zilia will be reunited with Aza or whether she will consent to marry Déterville. Many readers and critics were unsatisfied by the conclusion, but when the author revised and expanded the novel for a new edition in 1752, she refused to change the ending.

The inspiration for the novel came from seeing a performance of Alzire, Voltaire's play set during the Spanish conquest of Peru; immediately afterwards, in May 1743, she began to read the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's History of the Incas, which supplied most of the historical background for the story. Although only a small fragment of a manuscript exists, the process of composition can be followed in the author's correspondence.The novel was an immediate success with readers; by the end of 1748 there were fourteen editions, including three of an English translation. Over the next hundred years, more than 140 editions appeared, including the revised and expanded 1752 edition, several different English translations, two in Italian, and others in German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Contemporary critics, including Pierre Clément, Élie Catherine Fréron, Joseph de La Porte, and Guillaume Thomas François Raynal, wrote long and mostly favorable reviews. Several articles in Diderot's Encyclopédie quote the novel. A number of sequels were written, often to "improve" on the author's dénouement; the most famous was Lettres d'Aza, by Ignace Hugary de Lamarche-Courmont, published in 1748 and frequently reprinted with the original novel.The popularity of Lettres d'une Péruvienne faded after 1830, but it enjoyed a strong revival of interest in the last third of the twentieth century, thanks in part to new scholarship and in part to the new interest in women writers generated by the feminist movement.


Ollantaytambo (Quechua: Ullantaytampu) is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 72 km (45 mi) by road northwest of the city of Cusco. It is located at an altitude of 2,792 m (9,160 ft) above sea level in the district of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba, Cusco region. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region, and built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays, located in what is called the Sacred Valley of the Incas, it is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca ruins and its location en route to one of the most common starting points for the four-day, three-night hike known as the Inca Trail.

Pedro Pizarro

Pedro Pizarro (c. 1515 – c. 1602) was a Spanish chronicler and conquistador. He took part in most events of the Spanish conquest of Peru and wrote an extensive chronicle of them under the title Relación del descubrimiento y conquista de los reinos del Perú ("Relation of the discovery and conquest of the kingdoms of Peru"), which he finished in 1571.

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.

Siege of Cusco

The Siege of Cusco (May 6, 1536 – March 1537) was the siege of the city of Cusco by the army of Sapa Inca Manco Inca Yupanqui against a garrison of Spanish conquistadors and Indian auxiliaries led by Hernando Pizarro in the hope to restore the Inca Empire (1438–1533). The siege lasted ten months and was ultimately unsuccessful.

The Royal Hunt of the Sun (film)

The Royal Hunt of the Sun is a 1969 British-American epic historical Drama film based on the play of the same name by Peter Shaffer. It stars Robert Shaw as Francisco Pizarro and Christopher Plummer as the Inca leader Atahualpa. Plummer appeared in stage versions of the play before appearing in the film, which was shot in Latin America and Spain. The film and play are based on the Spanish conquest of Peru by Pizarro in 1530.

Titu Cusi

Don Diego de Castro Titu Cusi Yupanqui (1529–1571) was a son of Manco Inca Yupanqui, and became the Inca ruler of Vilcabamba, the penultimate leader of the Neo-Inca State. He was crowned in 1563, after the death of his half brother, Sayri Tupac. He ruled until his death in 1571, probably of pneumonia.During his rule at Vilcabamba, the provisional governor-general Lope Garcia de Castro wanted to negotiate with him. The negotiations were about Cusi leaving the Vilcabamba and accepting a Crown pension. After negotiations escalated, around 1568, Titi Cusi was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church, as Diego de Castro.Titu Cusi made Túpac Amaru a priest and custodian of Manco Inca's body in Vilcabamba.

Túpac Amaru became the Inca ruler after Titu Cusi's sudden death in 1571. Titu Cusi's close companion Martin de Pando, who had worked as a scribe for the Inca for over ten years and the Augustinian Friar Diego Ortiz were blamed for killing Titu Cusi by poisoning him. Both were killed.Titu Cusi is the "narrator" and source of An Inca Account of the Conquest of Peru, a firsthand account of the Spanish invasion, narrated by him in 1570 to a Spanish missionary, Fray Marcos Garcia and transcribed by a Martin Pando, his mestizo assistant.The resulting hybrid document offers a unique Inca perspective on the Spanish conquest of Peru. The confusion and misunderstandings of first contact are described in the account, including mistaken beliefs that the Spaniards were gods. The section which describes the moment when Manco Inca, the father of the author and the brother of Atahuallpa, receives the first news of the Spaniards' arrival from coastal tribesman is of particular note.

'When my father heard this, he was beside himself and said, "How dare those people intrude into my country without my authorisation and permission? Who are these people and what are their ways?" The messengers answered, "Lord, these people cannot but be gods, for they claim to have come by the wind. They are bearded people, very beautiful and white. They eat out of silver plates. Even their sheep, who carry them, are large and wear silver shoes. They throw thunder like the sky...Moreover, we have witnesses with our own eyes that they talk to white cloths by themselves and that they call some of us by our names without having been informed by anyone and only looking into the sheets, which they hold in front of them...Who could people of this manner and fortune be but gods?"' Titu Cusi Yapanqui (1570), 'An Inca Account of the Conquest of Peru'

Conquest of Peru
North America
South America

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