THE TRAVELLING HISTORIAN -- INCAS

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PERU

The empire of Peru during the period of the Spanish invasion stretched along the Pacific from about the second degree north to the thirty-seventh degree of south latitude. This line also forms the western boundaries of the modern republics of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chili. The country's breadth is bounded everywhere by the great ocean to the west. Throughout its length to the east, the land gradually rises to the colossal peaks of the Andes. Within grassy niches, lamas and herds of alpacas thrive and crops are cultivated that include potatoes and beans. Sandwiched between the incredibly productive Pacific waters on the west and the great Andean chain on the east are vast stretches of white sandy soil. It is rarely dampened by a drop of rain. Nothing grows on this arid plain that once supported the Inca Empire occupying an area greater than was once governed by the Romans.

The Light Blue Indicates the Extent of Inca Territory after 1500 AD

Before the awesome Incas, this narrow strip supported artistic Moche and Chimu people famous for their decorated pottery. The secret of their homes on this hostile plain was simple irrigation, a natural part of their lifestyle. Refreshed by copious streams from the Andes, the networks of canals gown the grassy areas in fertility and beauty. From about 2000 BC, large settlements flourished here, deriving from the development of agriculture, maise being a major crop. Crops needed good weather conditions and this fostered worship of nature, the sun being the main focus of their fantacies. Temples and large ceremonial centres were built to celebrate the seasons beginning around 1800 BC. The source of this civilization is traced to the valley of Cuzco, the central region of Peru, as its name implies.

Lima's Larco Harrera Museum, one of the world's greatest collections of ancient gold in the world, is filled with 3000 years of Peru's pre-Columbian art. Included are gold bracelets, crowns, pectorals (ornamental breastplates) anklets, earrings, animal sculptures and other gold objects. The treasures belonged to a series of spectacular pre-Inca civilizations: the Vicus, Frias, Chancay, Ica, Nasca, Moche, Chimu and Chavin cultures. Skilled in working bronze, copper and gold, these people also produced very advanced techniques in pottery making.

Chavin Funerary Offering
photo by
G.Wilson


Barbara, one of our Peruvian guides, commented on the many items displayed.
photo by
G.Wilson

Silver Pre-Columbian Art
photo by
G.Wilson

Gold headresses
photo by
G.Wilson

Youth, Middle and Old Age Pottery People
photo by
G.Wilson

The centre of the Inca empire, Peru, was conquered by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro in 1532 and remained under Spanish control for three centuries.

Governor Don Francisco Pizarro
1471- 1541
Founder of Lima in 1535
City of Kings

LIMA

Lima
Hall of Justice on the Avenue of the Republic
photo by
G. Wilson

Avenues of the Republic
photo by
G. Wilson

Bronze Statues adorn the Avenue
photo by
G. Wilson

Llamas
photo by
G. Wilson

Lima, the centre of Spain's South American empire, was finally liberated by San Martin and Bolivar between 1820-24. Peru's declaration of independence took place on Plaza Mayor in 1821.

San Martin on Plaza San Martin
photo by
G. Wilson

Peruvians laud their liberators: Jose de San Martin, the country's first liberator and Simon BolÝvar, who finished the job.

Bolivar on Plaza Bolivar

"Judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement."
Simon Bolivar

Other Statues
photo by
G. Wilson

Francisco Pizarro
"How easy to execrate the wretched Pizarro for cruelties almost unparalleled in the history of conquest."

Born in Trujillo, Spain c. 1478
Died in Lima, Peru
26 of June, 1541

Cathedral of Lima begun in 1535
Plaza de Armas
photo by
G.Wilson

Pizarro's Tomb
photo by
G. Wilson

Despite Pizarro's very impressive tomb, which occupies a place of honour and distinction in the Cathedral of Lima, his legacy is less than laudable to many Peruvians. Ruler and plague of Peru for almost a decade, Pizarro was responsible for the collapse of the Inca Empire and for making its culture marginal in the Spanish-speaking society.

Wording beneath Pizarro's tomb
photo by
G. Wilson

Mural in Pizarro's Chapel in Cathedral
photo by
G. Wilson

THE INCAS

Incan years of splendour numbered no more than a hundred, but within that relatively short period, they accomplished a great deal. It was not until the middle of the fifteenth century that the famous Topa Inca Yupanqui, grandfather of the monarch who occupied the throne at the coming of the Spaniards, led his armies across the terrible desert of Atacama, and penetrating to the southern region of Chili, fixed the permanent boundary of his dominions at the river Maule. His son, Huayna Capac,who possessed ambition and military talent fully equal to his father's, marched along the Cordillera towards the north. He pushed his conquests across the equator and added the powerful kingdom of Quito to the empire of Peru By the 1500s AD, The Incas extended the frontiers of their empire to the south and to the north across the banks of the Columbia River and their westward reach was limited only by the Pacific Ocean. Never before had a government ruled so much territory and so many people of such ethnic diversity.

Peru

Nothing greased this growth like the roads that riddled the country. In Quechua, the Inca language, roads were called Capac Nan (Royal Roads) and noble indeed was their number. They amounted to a highway of thousands of kilometres that criss-crossed the country and made possible the administration of the rapid expansion of their Empire.

Stony Steps Steeped in History
photo by
G.Wilson

>

Quipu
."There is no tribe so rude that it has not attempted History written even with quipu threads."

Speedy communication ensured that central control was maintained. On stony paths that reached nearly every nook and cranny of the country, Chasquis, the Quechua word for 'messengers', seemingly unfazed by the rare air, raced hither and yon with messages of importance, which runners could carry from Quito to Cuzco in 3 days, less time than it sometimes takes by car.

The messages were carried on Quipu, which means knot in Quechua. These "talking knots" were recording devices used in the Inca Empire and its predecessor societies in the Andean region. Knots were tied in a number of cords of different colours and thicknesses, each with a special significance. A quipu usually consisted of colored, spun and plied thread or strings from llama or alpaca or cotton. The cords contained numeric and other values encoded by knots in a base ten.

Archeologists are now suggesting that authors used quipu to compose and preserve their epic poems and legends. Because there were relatively few words in Quechua, they could be used as pronunciation keys on the cords. Each knot on a cord designated a syllable of the word represented at the head of the cord. For example, the name of Pachacamac, god of earth and time, was divided into four syllables. So if two knots were tied close to the key word, the author had written the word 'pacha' or 'earth'. But if the two knots were tied further down the cord, they indicated the last two syllables of the god's name and meant the word 'camac' or 'time'.

The tangle of trails also allowed Tambos, the Quechua word for 'soldiers', to muster, meet and master any threat to the empire from trouble-making tribes attempting to encroach on Inca land. Ironically, the self-same roads that served the sovereign so well, served Spanish attackers too, who learned very fast to find, fight and defeat Inca forces assembling to counter the conquistadors. Inca efforts were too little, too late and the Spaniards reigned supreme in Peru for 300 years.

CUSCO

The ancient city of Cuzco increased in wealth and population until it became the metropolis of a great and flourishing monarchy. It is located in a beautiful valley on an elevated region of the plateau. If it was in the Alps instead of the Andes, it would be buried in eternal snows, however, it is within the tropics and so enjoys a genial and salubrious temperature. From Cusco, which was considered the navel of the Inca world, the "Holy City" and great Temple of the Sun, roads ran north, south, east and west, the Inca empire's four main administrative divisions. This city was the starting point for our trip to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Cusco
City of Atahualpa
Sovereign Emperor of the Incas
photo by
G. Wilson

Statue of Jesus Overlooking Cusco
photo by
G.Wilson

The blessing of Jesus
photo by
G.Wilson

Cusco
Inka Pachacuteq
( 'He Who Shakes the Earth')
Incan ruler in 1498, who expanded his domain through diplomatic and military means.
photo by
G.Wilson

Pacacuteq, considered the greatest Inca of all, used more than 20,000 men labouring for fifty years to construct Sacsayhuaman, a fortress whose biggest stone measures 8.5 m high and weighs 361 tons. Incredibly, the Incas pulled these massive stones into position by their own might and muscle. The heavy blocks were not laid in regular courses, but were so disposed that the small ones might fill up the interstices between the great ones. They were rough-hewn except towards the edges, which were so finely wrought, several blocks were adjusted with so much exactness and united so closely that it was impossible to introduce even the blade of knife between them. Many of these stones were of vast size, some being thirty-eight feet long by eighteen broad and six feet thick. The fort was defended by a single wall of great thickness, twelve hundred feet long on the side facing the city. The precipitous character of the ground was itself almost sufficient for its defence.

This three-tiered citadel's three towers were detached from one another. One was appropriated to the Inca and was garnished with the sumptuous decorations befitting a royal residence rather than a military post. The other two were held by the garrison of Peruvian nobles and commanded by an officer of the blood royal. The position was of too great importance to be entrusted to inferior hands. Its zigzag walls permitted immediate detection of any attacker.

Sacsayhuaman served both as a fort and a temple to the Sun God
photo by
G.Wilson

Sacsayhuaman's perfectly fitted joint.
photo by
G.Wilson

Sacsayhuaman
Its curved wall is earthquake-proof.
photo by
G.Wilson

Side view of Cusco's Santa Domingo, 17th century church showing the Inca foundation of the
Golden Temple - Koricancha.
photo by
G.Wilson

Inca foundation below the Santa Domingo Convent is still perfectly intact despite many earthquakes.
photo by
G.Wilson

While seemingly impregnable, the fort did not stop the Spaniards. They had entered Cusco unapposed two years before and had lived there undisturbed before finally being attacked by forces of Manco Ina. He used the fortress from which to launch his assaults and then retired behind its walls. After a lengthy siege in 1533, Pizarro's troops broke through the Inca defences, scaled the walls of the fort and overwhelmed the natives.

Only twenty per cent of the original structure remains, but many believe if it still looked as it did in the 16th century, this monstrous memento of man's handiwork might rival Machu Picchu in fame and the public's fascination.

MACHU PICCHU

The mythical mountain capital of the Incan Empire is 3400 metres above sea level. Visitors to these vast and varied peaks are cautioned to keep calm and relax in order to acclimatize to the thin air up there. Even these precautions may not prevent altitude sickness, whose zapping can be sudden and take any tourist. If fully afflicted by the height's flight of oxygen, you will succomb to suffering from insomnia, nausea, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, indigestion, loss of appetite and a general malaise.

Misty Mountains hide
Machu Picchu
photo by
G.Wilson

We eagerly sought this wonder of the ancient world, considered by many to be the most important archeological site in the Americas and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

The initial part of our trip to see it was by train to the town of Aguas Callentes, located below the Lost City of the Incas.

Aguas Callentes
photo by
G.Wilson

Next we travelled by bus from the Urubamba Valley on a zigzaging road to the site of Machu Picchu.
photo by
G.Wilson

Machu Picchu was long lost in the impenetrable tangle of trees.

Lush forests defied finding Machu Picchu
photo by
G. Wilson

Even today this wondrous product of the human hand is hidden behind a thick growth of greenery and we were unaware of its existence until our bus bounced around the final turn in the dusty trail, left unpaved to prevent the majesty of the moment from being messed up by modernization.

Here high in the Andes, where the air is thin and each puff a pant, Inca workers created this marvel in the mountains whose meaning still mystifies.

Located 112 km northeast of Cusco, the sacred citadel that combines earth and sky is an ancient complex of almost 200 houses, palaces and temples lying between the mountain of Machu Picchu (old mountain) and Hyayna Picchu (new mountain).

We were not alone in longing to view this wonder in the wilderness, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Hundreds ahead of us hurried to begin the trek up the trail to view what few could wait to see. They and we were among the 2.5 million our guide said visit the site every year.

According to Johan Reinhard's book, "Machu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred Centre", Machu Picchu was constructed in relation to the sun, the stars, the mountains - and to one another.

Hiram Bingham, the man who discovered its existence in 1911, said on seeing the site, "It took my breath away. What could this place be?" He came to the conclusion it was the legendary Vilcabamba, the famous Lost City of the Incas, a magnificently built sanctuary to which the surviving Incas escaped when their empire fell apart, courtesy of the conquistadors.

Other experts cast doubt on Bingham's bluster, arguing after examining countless artifacts, that it was all simply the country estate of an Inca emperor, the high summer home of a very particular potentate. To some of a more spiritual nature, it is Mecca, a cathedral at the end of a pilgrimage.

Another source says it was constructed between 1460 and 1470 under the reign of an emperor named Pachacuti, whose raison d'etre for working so many well-winded in the wild, was to celebrate the defeat of some rival tribe. The whole was mysteriously abandoned.

Bingham is lauded as the leader of a group that uncovered what supposedly no one had seen since it was abandoned by its builders. He raided the Inca cupboard, taking his best finds - small bronzes, a few pots, two carved stone containers, silver shawl pins and a copper bracelet - and boxes of bones back to Yale, where they lie to this day, despite attempts by Peruvian leaders to lure them back to rest rightfullly with the other ruins.

However, he was not the first to filch the fascinating findings. Carlos Carcelen, a Peruvian historian, whose search through maps, letters and long-lost documents, suggests a German named Augusto R, Berns boasted about finding the site in 1867 and he also carted away cases of artifacts.

No one really knows for sure, what motivated men to cut, carve, carry on their strong backs and fit-fast each piece of this great puzzle. The mystery of this human history on a hillside remains the secret of the centuries, a cliffhanger in fact and fantasy.

There is only one certainty to this rocky riddle. Before one can be amazed by what workers wrought with mind, muscle, stone and stamina, she/he must puff painfully up the Inca trail, each jutting, jagged, stony step a challenge, that chastens any seeking to savour the site of the sanctuary of the Incas.

"Little by little, one walks far."
Peruvian Proverb
[so true]

Trial by Trail
photo by
G. Wilson

Foot loose? then lost.
photo by
G. Wilson

Well-worn stone steps to Picchu place
photo by
G. Wilson

Exhausted but exhilarated
Geri claims the prize on high - sights few saw.

Machu Picchu.

Eastern Urban Sector
photo by
G. Wilson

Western Terraces
photo by
G. Wilson

Machu Picchu
photo by
G. Wilson

Machu Picchu
photo by
G. Wilson

Machu Picchu
photo by
G. Wilson

Agricultural Terraces
photo by
G. Wilson

Temple of the Sun - Solstice rays radiate through the window.
photo by
G. Wilson

Sun Temple built to follow the curve of the natural rock.
photo by
G. Wilson

Royal Mausoleum under the Sun Temple.
photo by
G. Wilson

Intihuatana
"Where the sun is tied up"
photo by
G. Wilson

On the top of the pyramid, the Inca chief would sit, clothed in gold to reflect the rising sun, a religious rite to stop the sun from disappearing or at least ensure its return.

Temple of the Three Windows in the Sacred Plaza erected as a tribute to the cave at Tampu Tocco.
photo by
G. Wilson

Three skycraping peaks were called important apus mountain gods in Inca cosmology. Condors that soared over these mountains were traditionally believed to be apus that had transformed into animals. The name of the temple comes from the shape of the rock, which suggests a condor with spread wings.

Temple of the Condor
photo by
G. Wilson

On the floor is the representation the male condor with its white neck, pick and eyes.

Temple of the Condor
photo by
G. Wilson

Here's the Hut.
photo by
G. Wilson

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Looking up at what is called, "The Caretaker's Hut".
photo by
G. Wilson

Looking down from the Inca trail at "The Caretaker's Hut"
(the tiny dot near tip of left slope)
photo by
G. Wilson


View of the mystical sight one last time
photo by
G. Wilson

What goes up ...
photo by
G. Wilson

Seen it? Sayonara.

The government of Peru was a despotism. The sovereign was placed at an immeasurable distance above his subjects and even the proudest of the Inca nobility, claiming a descent from the same divine original as himself, could not venture into the royal presence unless barefoot and bearing a token of homage. As the representative of the Sun, the sovereign stood at the head of the priesthood and presided at the most important of the religious festivals. He raised armies and usually commanded them in person. He imposed taxes, made laws and provided for their execution by the appointment of judges, whom he removed at pleasure. He was the source from which every thing flowed, - all dignity, all power, all emolument. He was "himself the state."

Huaina Capac, all-powerful twelth king of Peru, contrary to the devine law of the Inca Empire, created division that caused chaos in the kingdom.

Sons of Huaina Capac

Huascar

Atahualpa

The accounts which Huaina Capac received of white adventurers made a strong impression on his mind. He discerned in the formidable prowess and weapons of these foreign folk, proof of a civilization far superior to that of his own people. He instinctively feared that they would return and that at some day not far distant, perhaps, the throne of the Incas might be shaken by these strangers endowed with such incomprehensible powers. To the casual eye, it was a little speck on the verge of the horizon; but to the sagacious monarch, the speck spawned a dark thunder-cloud, that was to expand till it flared in fury on his nation!

Faced with the fearsome foe to come, King Huaina unwittingly fostered the failure and downfall of his own kingdom. Huscar, the son of his lawful wife and sister, was his eldest son and as first born, Incan laws of succession dictated that he become sole Inca of the Empire. However, Huaina Capac developed a great fondness for Atahualpa, his second son, a brave, bold, clever, cagey young warrior whose mother was the daughter of the last Scyri of Quito. The princess was beautiful and the Inca, to gratify his passion, received her among his concubines. Historians of Quito assert that she was his lawful wife; but this dignity, according to the usages of the empire, was reserved for maidens of the Inca blood.

The latter years of Huaina Capac were passed in his new kingdom of Quito. Atahuallpa was accordingly brought up under his own eye, accompanied him during his tender years in his campaigns, slept in the same tent with his royal father and ate from the same plate. The vivacity of the boy and his courage won the affections of the old monarch and the fearsome Atahualpa became his father's favourite and closest companion. Huaina Capac dearly wanted to grant him a lofty leadership role in the Incan Empire and he resolved to depart from the established usages of the realm and divide his empire between him and his elder brother Huscar Huaina Capac discussed this with Huscar, who agreed to his father's request and for the first time ever, the Incan Empire would have divided leadership.

On his death bed, Huaina Capac called his great officers around him and announced the subversion of his empire by the race of white and bearded strangers after the reign of the twelfth Inca. The Supreme Being, the great Pachacamac, was going to send these creatures to earth to punish the guilty Incas. Desptie this dire prediction, Huaina Capac declared that, Huscar would become king of Peru and Atahualpa king of the powerful state of Quito, which rivalled Peru itself in wealth and refinement. This last act of the heroic monarch was undoubtedly the most impolitic of his whole life. With his dying breath he subverted the fundamental laws of the empire and although he recommended harmony between the successors to his authority, he produced in this very division of it the seeds of inevitable discord. The more thoughtful in both countries dreaded the future faced with an empire with the sceptre, instead of being swayed by an old and experienced hand, consigned to rival princes, each jealous of the other and exposed to the unwholesome influence of crafty and ambitious counsellors.

Initially, the wishes of the father for fraternal faithfulness resulted in them maintaining their respective integrity and independence Eventaully, jealousy and discontent and the the counsel of courtly sycophants fomented fighting. Huscar was the only party who had grounds for complaint. He was four or five years older than his brother and was a prince of a generous and easy nature. If left alone he might have acquiesced in an arrangement, however unpalatable, that would have been the will of his deified father. Atahuallpa was of a different temper. Warlike, ambitious. and daring, he was constantly engaged in enterprises for the enlargement of his own territory. His restless spirit excited alarm at the court of Cuzco, and Huscar eventually had to send an envoy to Atahuallpa to remonstrate with him and require him to render Huscar homage for his kingdom of Quito. Solidarity was sacrificed to selfishness and the bloody battles badly divided the kingdom. Atahualpa prevailed. The military might of the empire was wasted, badly weakened and worsened by the whiteman's diseases that completely debilitated the Inca's capacity to cope with the conquistadors, who arrived in the spring of 1532.

The Conquering Conquistador

Their leader was named Francisco Pizarro. In 1515 Pizarro was selected with another cavalier named Morales to cross the isthmus and traffic with the natives on the shores of the Pacific. While engaged in getting gold and pearls from the neighbouring islands, his restless eyes ranged along the shadowy coastline that faded into the distance. His imagination was fired with the fancy of one day meeting and mastering the mysterious masses taht occupied those regions beyond the mountains. His efforts resulted in him overcoming the tribes of Veragua, but his victories brought him glory but no gold.At the age of fifty, captain Pizarro found himself in possession a tract of unhealthy land and little else. It was at this time the magnificent achievements of Cortes became known to the public and they inspired Pizarro to pursue the same fame and fortune. His dreams resulted in lots of loot and a name as a noted conquistador.

Pizarro's little vessel entered the river Biru. They anchored after sailing up this stream for a couple of leagues. Pizarro disembarked his whole force except the sailors and proceeded to explore the country. The land spread out into a vast swamp, where the heavy rains had settled in pools of stagnant water, and the muddy soil afforded no footing to the traveller. This dismal morass was fringed with woods whose thick and tangled undergrowth they found difficult to penetrate. They came out on a hilly country, so rough and rocky that their feet were cut to the bone, and weary soldiers, encumbered with heavy mail or thick-padded doublet of cotton, found it difficult to drag one foot after the other. The heat was oppressive and fainting with toil and famished for f food, they sank down on the earth from mere exhaustion. Pizarro did not lose heart and endeavoured to revive the spirits of his men, by reminding them of golden prize they were pursuing.It was obvious that nothing was to be gained by remaining longer in this desolate region, so they returned to their vessel and sailed along the southern course on the great ocean.

From the Indians of Tumbez, Pizarro learned that the country had been for some time distracted by a civil war between two sons of the late monarch, competitors for the throne. This intelligence he took as important, for he remembered the use which Cortes had made of similar dissensions among the tribes of Anahuac. Pizarro seems to have had the example of his great predecessor before his eyes on more than one occasion. He felt far short of his model,however.for despite his earnest endeavours, his coarser nature and more ferocious temper often betrayed him into commiting acts repugnant to right policy and contrary to those of Cortes.

Definite details about what actually happened have long hassled historians and the following represents a composite account of what might have occurred.

Thanks to his chasqui (messengers), the king was well aware that the Spanish were in his kingdom. He was still preening and preoccupied with his victory over his brother and failed to fully fear the father of fate they were about to face. In fact, he fully expected to conquer the conquistadors and after easily defeating them, he planned on breeding the creatures they rode and ridding the country of their riders by sacrificing them to the Sun god. He prepared now to meet and master their leader.

The Spaniards had been received kindly by the kinfolk of the city and offered food and drink. The natives were fascinated by the creatures they rode and took them for heavenly beasts that were continuously biting on their bits. Concluding this was some kind of food, they hastened to fill feed-troughs with bars of gold and silver ore, but they also encouraged them to, "Leave your iron aside and eat this fodder for the food is much better." Overjoyed with the ignorance of the Incas, the soldiers hastened to halt such hearsay and eagerly urged them to bring more bars if they really wanted to keep their hairy horses happy.

Francisco Pizarro, whose shrewdness was exceeded only by his ruthlessness, awaited the arrival of Atahualpa on the afternoon of 16 November 1532. An insatiable thirst for conquest and money motivated the man and nothing discouraged or exhausted him or the men he led. His sparce Spanish force had marched great distances the previous day and few had slept in anticipation of the confrontation to come. Small in numbers in a strange, foreign land, they had wondered and worried as the night outside glowed with campfires of the ten thousand-strong Inca army.

Nodding in the heat of the sun, Pizarro and his men waited in the square of Cajamarca for the king and his contingent to arrive. Some feared the madness of it all; so few to fight so many. One chronicler wrote that some, "wet themselves in their terror." The sights and sounds these poor, illiterate, peasant soldiers were to see must have seemed an extraordinary spectacle. Preceded by colourfully clothed sweepers, who cleaned the clay of dust as well as dirt, Atahualpa entered. He was surrounded by brightly-costumed, singers and dancers, followed by squadrons of men all in different dress, each bearing crowns of gold and silver. In their midst the king borne on a bed lined with plumes of macaw feathers and adorned with plates of silver and gold. When the procession reached the centre of the square, Atahualpa signalled to halt. He noted the Spanish infantrymen were in serried ranks and that they appeared nervous. The soldiers, while amazed at the mass of precious metal, were not so distracted as to miss noting that none of the many men was armed.

Pizarro and Atahualpa - ransom the reason for their meeting
An engraving from 1597

One historical version has a Dominican friar approaching the king. He was the source of great curiosity, for the Incas had never seen his like. Bearded with a partially shaved head, he was dressed in long black robe and bore a wooden cross in one hand and a book, the Bible, in the other. After a lengthy speech in which he mentioned God, the pope and the emperor, he finished by saying, "What I will teach you is what God says to us in this book," which he then handed to the king. From what Atahualpa could understand, this strange man was asking him to give up his kingdom or by fire and sword the Spaniards would take it. The king contemplated the friar and the book and then contemptuously threw it to the ground. An aroused Pizarro responded to this affront by leaping to his feet, racing to Atahualpa and pulling him from his gilded chair, yelling as he did so, "Santiago."

At that signal, trumpets sounded, four cannons were fired and mounted men galloped into and over the madly milling mass, killing and wounding those unable to flee from the havoc of the horses' hooves. Their king was captured and held as a hostage and Inca hordes lay dead in the dirt, slaughtered by the few Spaniards who themselves suffered no losses. During the whole time, "No Indian raised his arms against a Spaniard." The savagely successful assault was one of the most extraordinary in history. A force of 168 men killed thouands, seized their sovereign and eventually captured their country.

It did not take Atahualpa long to learn what Pizarro prized most. For his freedom, the emperor offered one of the richest ransoms known to man - a large room filled once with gold and twice again with silver. Pizarro greedily agreed to the deal and Atahualpa mobilized every man to collect precious metals. The realm rallied to his call and piles of precious metal mounted. When the flow did not fill the room quickly enough, doubt and suspicion worried some Spaniards, who questioned the king's sincerity and truthfulness. When Pizarro informed the king of the kind of critical cries being voiced, Atahualpa, explained as best he could, that much the fortunes flowed from places a great distance away - 300 leagues in some cases, Pizarro was pacified by the king's candid manner and stilled the dissent. Eventually the gold and silver filled the rooms to the rafters and murmurs of amazement replaced the outbursts of anger.

Pizarro faced a fearsome decision. Should he honour his bargain, release the Inca emperor and perhaps face a united foe or should he ignore his promise, kill the king and leave the Inca leaderless. He decided on the latter and had Atahualpa garrotted on a stake driven into the ground in the centre of Cajamarca.

Fierce fighing between the Inca and the Spaniards continued for years, but the chaos and killing in Cajamarca that day was the turning point. The richest empire in the Americas was overcome by a few fighters, definitely aided by a devastating disease that impacted the whole native population.

The royal riches of the Incas flowed across the sea to Spain. Included were vast quantities of smelted gold and silver, as well as remarkable objet d'art created by fine Inca artists - pitchers, braziers, drums and sculptures of animals and human forms - all beautifully crafted in gold and silver. The Spanish King took delight in sharing the wonder of their works with rulers he visited throughout Europe. Madrid's great buildings in Trujillo's Plaza Mayor are monuments to the millions Pizarro's ruthless ramapages produced from the Incan Empire. After Pizarro's death, his family built a palace commemorating the conquistador on the Plaza Major in Trujillo.

Madrid's Plaza Mayor at Night

After their return from Peru and notoriously rich, the Pizarro family erected a plateresque-style palace on the corner of the Plaza Mayor in Trujillo, Spain. It was said to have been constructed on the orders of Pizarros daughter, Francisca Pizarro Yupanqui. The opulent palace is sctructured in four stands, giving it the significance of the coat of arms of the Pizarro family, which is situated at one of its corner balconies displaying its iconographic content. At one of its sides it displays Francisco Pizarro and at the other his wife, the Inca princess InÚs Huaylas, along with their daughter Francisca Pizarro Yupanqui and her husband Hernando Pizarro.

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Pizarro's Palace in Madrid

Plaza Mayor Tower

The Incas were not the only ones to suffer from dissenion in their ranks. A Spanish civil war broke out between the Pizarro brothers and Almagro, a business partner of Francisco's. He and his supporters, known as the men of Chili, were enraged over receiving what they considered to be an unfair share of the loot unloaded at Cajamarca.Almagro was jealous over Pizarro's prestigious title bestowed by the King of Spain, Stripped of all means of support and without office or employment of any kind, they were reduced to the utmost distress. Their impoverishment was rendered all the more galling by the effrontery of their enemies, who insolently flaunted their equipage and apparel. Men goaded by insult and injury were too dangerous to be lightly regarded and although Pizarro received various intimations that should have alerted him to trouble, he failed to take heed. "Poor devils!" he would exclaim, speaking with contemptuous pity of the men of Chili, "they have had bad luck enough. We will not trouble them further." Unconcerned regarding revenge, he rode about without supporters alert to possible danger.

Almagro's followers were determined to take matters in their own hands and they decided to assassinate Pizarro. It is thought that Almagro was unaware of their plan. The day named for death was Sunday, the twenty- sixth of June, 1541. The eighteen conspirators initially planned to carry out the dastardly deed when the Governor Pizarro was returning from mass. This was foiled by his illness necessitating that he remain at home. No matter, they decided to there. Shouting "Long live the king! Death to the tyrant!" they burst into Francisco's palace, where Pizarro had just finished dining with friends. "What ho!" he cried. "Traitors, have you come to kill me in my own house!"

Enveloping one arm in his cloak, he seized his sword with the other, sprang at them and slashed fiercely with force, killing two attackers before he was overcome. Felled by a blow to the throat, he was immediately stabbed by two swords. "Jesu," he cried . and had his throat slit. As the conquistador's blood flowed to the floor, his last act was to trace a cross in it with his finger, before a blow to the head finished Francisco. He was sixty-three years of age. Following the coup, Pizarro's remains were buried in the cathedral courtyard in Lima and later reburied in the floor of the cathedral itself.

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