• Beginning of the Conquest:

The Civil War between Huascar and Atahualpa would weaken (and perhaps more importantly, distract) the empire immediately prior to its struggle with the Spanish, although it is unclear how much of a difference a united Inca Empire would have made in the long term due to factors such as disease, and to the fact that the Inca military technology was vastly inferior to that of the Spaniards, who possessed horses, armor, swords, and primitive, but effective, firearms. It appears that of the two brothers, Atahualpa was probably more popular with the people, and certainly so with the army, the core of which was based in the recently conquered northern province of Quito. At the outset of the conflict each brother controlled his respective domains, with Atahualpa secure in the north, and Huascar controlling the capital of Cuzco, and the large area to the south, including the area around Lake Titicaca that supplied large numbers of troops for his forces. After a period of diplomatic posturing and jockeying for position open warfare, soon broke out. Huascar seemed poised to bring the war to a rapid conclusion, when troops loyal to him took Atahualpa prisoner while he was attending a festival in the city of Tumibamba. However, Atahualpa quickly escape and returned to Quito. There he was able to amass what is estimated to be at least thirty thousand soldiers. While Huascar managed to muster about the same number of soldiers, his soldiers were less experienced and poorer soldiers. Atahualpa sent his forces south under the command of two of his leading generals, Challcuchima and Quisquis. This last one 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 Huascar gained an early advantage. However, on the second day Huascar personally led an ill-advised "surprise" attack, knowledge of which had been obtained by Challcuchima and Quisquis. In the ensuing battle Huascar was captured, and resistance effectively collapsed. The victorious generals immediately sent word north by Chasqui messenger to Atahualpa, who had moved south from Quito to the royal resort springs outside Cajamarca. The messenger arrived with news of the final victory on the same day Pizarro and his small band of adventurers, together with some Indian allies, descended from the Andes into the town of Cajamarca.

  • Arrival of Francisco Pizarro:

Francisco Pizarro and his brothers (Gonzalo, Juan, and Hernando) were attracted by the news of a rich and fabulous kingdom, escaping like many migrants throughout the centuries from the even today impoverished Extremadura.
In 1529, Francisco Pizarro obtained permission from the Spanish Monarchy to conquer the land they called Peru. 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, his proposed enemy was being devastated by the diseases brought to the American continents by the earlier Spanish contacts. When Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532, he found it vastly different than 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 who 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.
After four long expeditions, Pizarro established the first Spanish settlement in northern Peru, calling it San Miguel de Piura.
When first spotted by the natives, Pizarro and his men were thought to be viracocha cuna or “gods.” The Indians described Pizarro's men to the Inca. They said that capito was tall with a full beard and was completely wrapped in clothing. The Indians described the men's swords and how they kill sheep with them. The men do not eat human flesh, but rather sheep, lamb, duck, pigeons, and deer, and cook 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 and 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 numbers, about 170-180 men, and have Indians bound with "iron ropes." Atahualpa asked what to do about the men, and Cinquinchara replied that they should be killed because they are evil thieves who take whatever they want and are supai cuna or "devils." He recommended trapping the men inside of their sleeping quarters and burning them to death.
At this point in time Pizarro had 168 men under his command: 106 on foot and 62 on horses. Then, 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. 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 responded with what he had heard from his scouts, 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.

  • Rebellion and Reconquest:

The situation went quickly downhill. As things began to fall apart, many parts of the Inca Empire revolted, some of them joining with the Spanish against their own rulers. Many kingdoms and tribes had been conquered or persuaded to join the Inca Empire. They thought that by joining the Spaniards, they could gain their own freedom. But these native people never foresaw the massive waves of Spaniard immigrants coming to their land and the tragedy that they would bring upon their people.
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. Atahulapa'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 inflicted considerable damage on the Spanish. In the end, however, the Spanish succeeded in re-capturing Quito, effectively ending any organized rebellion in the north of the empire.
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 performing religious ceremonies in the nearby Yucay valley, Manco was able to escape Cuzco.
Diego de Almagro, originally one of Francisco Pizarro's parties, returned from his exploration of Chile, disappointed in not finding any wealth similar to that of Peru. King Charles I of Spain (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) had awarded the city of Cuzco to Pizarro, but Almagro attempted to claim the city nonetheless. Manco Inca hoped to use the disagreement between Almagro and Pizarro to his advantage and attempted the recapture of Cuzco during the spring of 1537. The siege of Cuzco was waged until the following spring, and during that time Manco's armies managed to wipe three 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 Cuszo was failing. Manco Inca eventually withdrew to Vilcabamba after only 10 months of fighting, and therefore, the Spanish reinforcements from the Indies arriving under the command of Diego de Almagro eventually took the city once again without conflict.
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. However, when it became clear that defeat was imminent, they retreated further to the mountainous region of Vilcabamba, where the Manco Inca 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. The Spaniards destroyed almost every Inca building in Cuzco. Built a Spanish city over the old foundations, and proceeded to colonize and exploit the former empire.
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, legendary courage and remarkable cunning, aided by factors like smallpox and a great communication and cultural divide. The Spaniards destroyed most of the Incan culture and introduced the Spanish culture to the native population.

  • Effects on the conquest on the people of the Empire:

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.The single greatest cause of the demise of native populations was disease. Old World diseases brought over unknowingly by colonists and conquistadors. The fact that the Inca did not have as strong of a writing tradition as the Aztecs or Maya is one reason why it is more difficult to estimate population decline or any events after subjugation. However, it is apparent that illness from the Spaniards predated their actual presence in the region by several years. Spanish records indicate that the population was so devastated by disease that their forces could hardly be resisted. Beyond the devastation of the local populations by disease, there was also considerable enslavement, pillaging and destruction from warfare. Thousands of women were taken from the local populations by the Spanish and used by conquistadors as personal vassals. As Pizarro and his men took over portions of South America they plundered and enslaved countless people. There are some Spanish documents that suggest that the local populations entered into vassalage willingly, but these are likely cases of people being threatened with death after the destruction of their region. The basic policy of the Spanish towards local populations was that voluntary vassalage would yield safety and coexistence while continued resistance would lead to more death and destruction.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 destruction 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.

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