Conquest Of The Inca Empire Essay

Length: 5 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Literature - Latin-American Type: Essay Paper: #47307694 Related Topics: Glory Road, Roman Empire, Spain, South America
Excerpt from Essay :


Francisco Pizarro: The Conqueror of the Inca Empire

The Inca Empire was a vast tract of territories that stretched up and down the western seaboard of South America. It was connected by roads through the Andes Mountains to the capital of Cuzco in Peru. Pizarro and his men made friends with natives in these territories who were tired of the civil war between the ruling brothers of the Inca Empire. With their help and the help of the in-fighting of the Incas (as well as his own cunning and trickery) Pizzaro was able to gain control of the Emperor, capture him and execute him and his top general. In this manner Pizarro gained control of the capital of the Empire. But control of the vast fortune made his friend Almagro jealous and Almagro attempted to seize the fortune by laying siege to Cuzco after an exploration southward ended in disappointment. Almagro took over Cuzco while Pizarro's men were chasing after a third party. Pizarro and Almagro fought, the latter was captured and then executed. Pizarro retained position of the Empire.


Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire in South America. The Inca Empire was an amalgamation of territories along the western seaboard of South America from what is modern-day Colombia to the bottom of modern-day Chile. The Incan Empire consisted of several cultures with several different languages and was similar in its expansion to what the Roman Empire had been like in its glory day. However, with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, led by Pizarro, many natives were willing to cooperate with the Spaniards in the overthrow of Incan rule. This paper will describe the conquest, its process, difficulties, and the persons involved and what happened to them.

The Conquest

When Pizarro arrived in Peru, the Incan Empire was undergoing a transformation. The royal family was fighting amongst itself and the Empire was in a civil war. Many natives were fighting and there was not great unity. Pizarro had gone exploring down to Panama but when he received permission to conquer the Inca he set about doing this by returning to Peru where the capital of the Empire lay.

The Spanish had developed good military tactics from their battles with the Muslim warriors in the mountains of Spain, so they were at home in the mountains of western South America. So while the Spaniards were few, their military logistics and their new native allies allowed them a superior edge over the Inca. After taking hold in Ecuador at the Battle of Puna, Pizarro sent Hernando de Soto into the interior. De Soto was invited along with the other Spaniards to meet Atahualpa. Atahualpa was one of the rulers of the Empire, which had descended into civil war among the sons of Huayna Capac and new lands that the Incans had recently conquered themselves. Atahualpa was one of the sons involved in the war.

The Spaniards met peacefully with Atahualpa, but the two sides failed to understand one another and Atahualpa was imprisoned along with his general Chalcuchimac. Chalcuchimac had been important for the Atahualpa as a good leader against the enemies of Atahualpa and had actually helped defeat parts of the Incan army that otherwise might have been problematic for the Spaniards. So, in one sense, Chalcuchimac was unwittingly advancing the aims of the conquistadors by fighting in the Incan civil war against parts of the native population. After the Spaniards executed Atahualpa, Chalcuchimac remained in the company of the Spaniards as they moved to take Cuzco. The Spaniards suspected that Chalcuchimac was secretly coordinating with the native attackers in these parts in order to halt the progress of the conquistadors. Pizarro ordered Chalcuchimac to be burned to death, though a less gruesome death would be offered him if he would convert to Christianity. Chalcuchimac refused to convert (Qintana 223).

The main road that united the Incan territories was known as the Qhapaq Nan, which ran north-south over 3500 miles through the Andes mountains. It was this road that made it possible for the Inca to move soldiers from location to location and maintain control over the diverse peoples of the Empire. The Camino Real was also important to Pizarro as it was another road which like the Qhapaq Nan led men over the tall mountains of western South America. Pizarro used...


The Qhapaq Nan was the main road out of the capital of the Empire, Cuzco. It was this road that enabled Pizarro and his forces to move to the capital with little impediment.

Diego de Almagro was another conquistador like Pizarro. The two men were actually friends and worked together in conquering the different territories. After Pizarro defeated Atahualpa and gained Cuzco, he dispatched his friend Almagro to the interior to establish new positions. Almagro established Trujillo, which was Pizarro's place of birth in Spain. This was an act of friendship on Almagro's part, honoring his friend in the naming of the new city.

But their friendship was not to last as they became rivals of one another. The origins of this rivalry were found in the divvying up of the spoils of war. Pizarro kept a greater portion for himself than was given to the other conquistadors (Leon 201). Almagro left Cuzco and set out settle new territories. The going was tough, however, as the trails like the Inca trail were very difficult to navigate and the Andes mountain range proved difficult to climb in these parts. The climate was very cold and many explorers froze to death.

Finally Almagro gained Chile and established himself there. Many of the natives were friendly to Almagro in these parts; however, the Mapuche were not and a battle took place at Reinohuelen. Almagro was disappointed by climate, the lack of treasure found, and the Mapuches, and he decided to leave and go back to Peru to attempt to gain command of Cuzco.

While Pizarro's men were pursuing Manco Inca, Almargo's men laid siege to Cuzco and captured Francisco's brothers Hernando and Gonzalo. Almagro's rule did not last long though -- he soon became sick and during his sickness Pizarro defeated Almagro's men. Almagro ran from the city but was caught. He was executed by Pizarro after begging for his life, which Pizarro thought did not befit a gentleman (Prescott 336).

So the difficulties that Pizarro faced were several: first, he had to contend with those parts of the native population that were hostile to the Spaniards. This required Pizarro to use military strength and cunning and the tactical skills he had acquired in his training. Second, he had to face the climate and foreign environment of the land. The high mountains were troublesome and the different languages of the natives made it difficult to deal with them sometimes. Third, he had to deal with mutinies and insurrections among his own men, such as that enacted by Almagro. The spoils of war proved too tempting for such men and they led to bitterness and rivalries, which did not always end well (as is seen in Almagro's case). Also it was not always possible to befriend the natives in every territory, as Almagro's case proved again. Each tribe had its own way of dealing with the conquistadors.


The entire process of the conquest took place in this fashion: Pizarro and Balboa explored the Pacific coast; Pizarro then arrested Babloa, who was executed (Hemming 23). Pizarro was made mayor of Panama City. From this position he made friends with Hernando de Luque and Diego de Almagro (whom Pizarro would also later execute). They went south to explore and find riches. The queen of Spain gave permission to the conquistadors to go and conquer the foreign lands in the name of Spain (Somervill 52). Previous to this the conquistadors had done some exploring along the western range of South America. Now they returned to Peru. They were to spread the Christian faith and amass fortunes for the crown as well as for themselves. The Process of conquest took place as Pizarro led his men into Peru and encountered the different native tribes. Some were happy to assist the new men in their campaign against the rulers, who the natives did not like because of the bloody civil wars that were happening at the time. Pizarro also used cunning to take control of the rulers when he could because his own men were few in number and it was better to use cunning than to always have to rely on the natives who could not always be trusted to act in the Spaniards' best interest. Once Pizarro conquered the capital of the Incan Empire, he was able to fan out, as more men came from Spain and the number conquistadors grew. Maintaining control of the capital was also important as in-fighting among the Spaniards proved to be troublesome at times. So the process of conquest was a…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Hemming, J. The Conquest of the Incas. NY: Harcourt Brace, 1970. Print.

Leon, P. The Discovery and Conquest of Peru. Durham: Duke University, 1998. Print.

Prescott, William H. The History of the Conquest of Peru. NY: Dover Publications,

2005. Print.

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