Inca Gold: Final Days of The Inca Empire

On November 16, Atahualpa arrived at the meeting place with an escort of several thousand men, all apparently unarmed. Pizarro sent out a priest to exhort the emperor to accept the sovereignty of Christianity and Emperor Charles V., and Atahuallpa refused, flinging a Bible handed to him to the ground in disgust. Pizarro immediately ordered an attack. Buckling under an assault by the terrifying Spanish artillery, guns, and cavalry (all of which were alien to the Incas), thousands of Incas were slaughtered, and the emperor was captured.

Atahuallpa offered to fill a room with treasure as ransom for his release, and Pizarro accepted. Eventually, some 24 tons of gold and silver were brought to the Spanish from throughout the Inca empire. Although Atahuallpa had provided the richest ransom in the history of the world, Pizarro treacherously put him on trial for plotting to overthrow the Spanish, for having his half-brother Huascar murdered, and for several other lesser charges. A Spanish tribunal convicted Atahuallpa and sentenced him to die. On August 29, 1533, the emperor was tied to a stake and offered the choice of being burned alive or strangled by garrote if he converted to Christianity. In the hope of preserving his body for mummification, Atahuallpa chose the latter, and an iron collar was tightened around his neck until he died.

With Spanish reinforcements that had arrived at Cajamarca earlier that year, Pizarro then marched on Cuzco, and the Inca capital fell without a struggle in November 1533. Huascar’s brother Manco Capac was installed as a puppet emperor, and the city of Quito was subdued. Pizarro established himself as Spanish governor of Inca territory and offered Diego Almagro the conquest of Chile as appeasement for claiming the riches of the Inca civilization for himself. In 1535, Pizarro established the city of Lima on the coast to facilitate communication with Panama. The next year, Manco Capac escaped from Spanish supervision and led an unsuccessful uprising that was quickly crushed. That marked the end of Inca resistance to Spanish rule.

Diego Almagro returned from Chile embittered by the poverty of that country and demanded his share of the spoils of the former Inca empire. Civil war soon broke out over the dispute, and Almagro seized Cuzco in 1538. Pizarro sent his half brother, Hernando, to reclaim the city, and Almagro was defeated and put to death. On June 26, 1541, allies of Diego el Monzo—Almagro’s son—penetrated Pizarro’s palace in Lima and assassinated the conquistador while he was eating dinner. Diego el Monzo proclaimed himself governor of Peru, but an agent of the Spanish crown refused to recognize him, and in 1542 Diego was captured and executed. Conflict and intrigue among the conquistadors of Peru persisted until Spanish Viceroy Andres Hurtado de Mendoza established order in the late 1550s.

Works cited:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/lost-inca-empire/

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