Peru History – The Spanish Conquest Part I

By | December 21, 2021

The country that the Spaniards called Peru was the heart of the Inca empire at the time of the discovery. Relatively recent political creation, which had paved the way a few centuries before the domination of the Pirhuas, organizers of the last pre-Inca empire, the Tahuantinsuyu (ie “The four cantons”) or Incap Runam (“Vassals of the Inca”), as it was called by the natives, had reached its apogee with the forty-year reign of Huayna Capac. After his death, which took place in 1325, a fierce struggle for the succession to the throne between his legitimate son Huáscar, proclaimed Inca in Cuzco, and his natural son Atabaliba (the Atahualpa of the Spaniards), who after four years managed to seize of the competitor, it shook and weakened the team. The Spaniards of Panama took advantage of this state of affairs to take possession of a country, of whose fabulous gold riches they had heard for years and whose coast, vaguely called “del Birú”, had already begun in 1522 the recognition (in his capacity as visitador general of the Indies) a spirited soldier of Pedrarias Dávila (the Spanish governor of Darien), Pascual de Andagoya, regidor of Panama. In the physical impossibility of continuing the enterprise due to an illness that had occurred to him, Andagoya consented – subject to the compliant notice of Governor Pedrarias – that others attempted it at his own expense: Francisco Pizarro (v.), And his indivisible companion and partner d ‘ business Diego d’Almagro. Link of union between the two newlyweds Damone and Pizia (“a man alone in two bodies” defined them as a contemporary) was the one who had pulled up and launched the Almagro, that is the Dominican Fernando de Luque, school teacher in Panamá: a man very welcome to the governor, he obtained from Pedrarias the permission to conquer the empire of the “Son of the Sun n. The three communicated with the same consecrated host, to symbolize the absolute equality between them, the first attempts and approaches along the South American Pacific coast to and beyond the equinoctial line began as early as 1524 from Panama and continued in the following three years; but the difficulties of the enterprise advised the three partners to go directly to the Spanish court to obtain, with an official assignment, wider consents and help. In charge of the need was Pizarro, who went to Spain and closed the capitulations of July 26, 1529 with the crown, thinking of his own position rather than of consecrated equality with the partners of Panamá; whence – immediately upon his return to Panama – the first discontent between Pizarro, appointed head of the company, and Almagro, financier and organizer of it: clashes and disagreements that would have led since then to the break between the two, without the conciliatory intervention of the third party, the Luque. Thus, amidst uncertainties and financial and moral difficulties, the astounding enterprise began definitively from the Pizarro in January 1531 with three vessels, three monks and 180 men (144 on foot and 36 on horseback). There was no well-defined military-political program; but there was certainly a general plan of action, which gradually matured in the mind of the audacious leader with the knowledge of the Spanish environment of Panama, with the lessons learned from the conversations in Seville with Fernando Cortés, with infinite information, above all drawn from the places, about the state of things in Peru. For Peru history, please check

Taking advantage of them and exploiting the Peruvians’ sense of mystical terror for these supernatural men, who came from the sea, rode unknown animals and brought lightning and thunder, the Pizarro, left on the coast for any eventuality about fifty men under the orders of Antonio Navarro, at the beginning of the autumn of 1532, resolutely climbed the Sierra (the Inca roads were more like stairs than roads), aiming for Caiamarca, in the vicinity of which the Inca Atahualpa was encamped with his army. Two months later, on November 15, 1532, he entered the deserted city of residents, he invites to its presence, nominally to make an act of submission, but really to capture him, the “Son of the Sun”. The latter, after some uncertainty, is led to a bed of solid gold, with a retinue of 5 or 6 thousand apparently unarmed men, to the Pizarro residence. He was welcomed by his father Vicente Valverde, almsgiver of the expedition, who – the cross in one hand and the breviary in the other – notifies him of the taking possession of his empire by the king of Spain in accordance with the papal investiture. The brief dialogue, reported in various ways by contemporaries, ended (it seems) with a gesture of Inca rebellion, which – according to some – would have thrown the breviary to the ground. Valverde then retires to take a bite with Pizarro; and, a few minutes later, a deadly discharge hits the fence: according to the Spaniards themselves, no less than 2000 (some say 2800) Peruvians fell electrocuted; of the Spaniards only one accidentally wounded, Pizarro himself, shot in the hand to protect Atahualpa according to some, to snatch the golden emblem he wore, according to others. The Inca was captured and the survivors fled in terror, spreading panic fear in the peruvian camp, which was dissolving, disorder and anarchy in the country. In a quarter of an hour the omnipotence of the “Son of the Sun” had collapsed and the resplendent empire of Tahuantinsuyu was prey to a handful of rapacious adventurers. A simple adventurer, rather than a politician, was indeed the conquistador, sacrificing the captured Inca to the hatred of his followers, instead of using them to organize the new domain. In vain had Atahualpa had a room 22 feet wide and 17 feet long filled with gold to the height of his person, a price morally if not formally agreed upon for his ransom and to be shared among the sad heroes of Cajamarca; because the discontent of the disappointed followers of Almagro, who arrived from San Miguel de Piura with 150 soldiers and 84 horses to claim his share of dominion and booty, demanded a scapegoat for the unequal division of the prey (1,326,539 pesos gold and 52,000 silver marks).

Peru History - The Spanish Conquest