The End of the Inca: The Rise of Pizarro

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Pizzaro was a perfect example of the expression “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. ” After a lifetime of treachery and violence,even toward his own countrymen, he was surprised in Lima , Peru on June 26, 1541 when as he ate dinner in the governor’s palace in Peru a small group of heavily armed supporters of young conquistador, Diego Almagro, stormed Pizarro’s palace, assassinated him, and then forced the terrified city council to appoint Almagro as the new governor of Peru.

In 1533, a highly advanced civilization was spread across the Andes Mountains. The Incas commanded an empire that stretched three thousand miles and was about twice the size of Texas. It boasted paved roads, intricate fortifications as good as any in the world, and an army of

eighty thousand men. Over the centuries this empire had also accumulated a vast supply of gold.

That’s what attracted Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. After arriving on the scene, however, his band of soldiers became terrified by the numbers and might of the Incas, and feared for their lives.

Still, their thirst for riches knew no bounds and they were willing to risk everything to get their hands on all that gold.

So Pizzaro conceived a plan that was breath taking , both in its daring and in its ruthlessness. He and his men tricked the all-powerful emperor of the Incas, Atahualpa, into attending a meeting with them.

Then they staged a bloody ambush, killing thousands of Atahualpa’ s men so they could capture the emperor himself. Desperate to negotiate his release, Atahualpa offered the Spaniards a stupendous ransom: a room full of gold in return for his freedom. They took the gold, and then took his life. They were ready to bum him at the stake until he made a last-minute conversion to Christianity and then they showed a unique brand of mercy. They hanged him instead.

It proved to be a masterstroke that threw the Incas into disarray, and eventually enabled the Spaniards to subjugate the entire empire. The cities and fortifications of this once proud people were reduced to ruins.

The most amazing thing is that Pizarro even had the nerve to undertake this conquest, never mind succeed at it. True, the Spaniards had superior weapons-crossbows and guns-but only enough for a handful of their soldiers. It remains an astonishing fact that he toppled a well defended empire of 6 million warlike people-with just 150 men.

Rashmi Chakravorty

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