Francisco Pizarro Conquering the Inca Empire

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  2. April 1, 2013 3:50 pm

Francisco Pizarro Conquering the Inca Empire

Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro made his first journey to the New World in 1524, dreaming of riches. After fighting natives in Panama, he returned to Spain empty-handed. Pizarro made a second voyage in 1526 with a larger contingent and two ships. Pizarro’s pilot, Bartolomé Ruiz, split off from the force, taking half the men. Ruiz first encountered the Incas off the coast of Ecuador. He captured an Inca raft and his men boarded the vessel. They saw items made from gold, silver and precious stones. When questioned, the captured Inca crew told Ruiz that the riches came from a land of wonders far to the south.

Pizarro and Ruiz returned to the coast in 1528 when the captive Incas had been trained as interpreters. They landed at the interpreters’ hometown, Tumbe, and the Spaniards received a warm welcome from the indigenous people, but the head of the village quickly sent word via runner to the Inca king. Smallpox quickly spread throughout the Inca army and the king fell ill. A dispute about who would replace him precipitated a civil war among the Inca.

Pizarro returned to Spain to meet with his king and plot the conquest of Peru. The Spanish king responded with generous support. When Pizarro returned to Tumbe in 1532, he found it in ruins, ravaged by the civil war, and Pizarro’s men marched into the interior. The warring would-be heirs to the Inca throne received reports of the Spanish advance, but instead of uniting against the Spaniards, the Incas occupied themselves with the proper form of hospitality to show the conquistadors. Upon meeting one of the Inca hiers, the Spanish captured him and massacred townspeople. Decimated by smallpox and civil war, and facing superior Spanish arms, the Inca barely resisted when Pizarro marched into Cusco.

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