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William H. Prescott
14 pages (2007/1847); 150KB downloadWOWIO Books
; ISBN: WOWIO-00315
In 1531 Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro and his small band of soldiers landed on the coast of Peru and marched inland. Meeting with another small group of Spanish soldiers, their party numbered less than three hundred men against an Inca ruler with an army of thousands of men.
Once welcomed by the Peruvians, the Spanish were soon judged as dangerous: "For the white men were no longer regarded as good beings that had come from heaven, but as ruthless destroyers, who, invulnerable to the assaults of the Indians, were born along the backs of fierce animals, swifter than the wind, with weapons in their hands, that scattered fire and desolation as they went."
In 1532, demonstrating a show of goodwill, the Inca Atahuallpa had lured the Spanish deep into the Incan empire. Atahuallpa, with approximately fifty thousand troops, was camped in the hills over the great plaza Caxamalca. Pizarro, amidst the large Inca forces and geographically constrained by mountain passes as the only escape route, hatched a bold plan to capture the Inca and hold him for ransom.
Using sly negotiations through his emissaries, Pizarro, feigning a brotherly welcome, managed to convince Atahuallpa to accept an invitation to visit Pizarro in Caxamalca. Atahuallpa decided to enter Caxamalca with a reduced force of five or six thousand of his followers and few of his soldiers, all unarmed.
This excerpt from the classic "History of the Conquest of Peru" recounts how, on November 16, 1532, Pizarro and a group of 168 men managed to capture the Inca Atahuallpa and defeat the Inca's Peruvian guards without incurring one Spanish casualty.
The surprising conquest of the Incan Empire by a small band of Spanish soldiers led by Francisco Pizarro resulted from many factors: the Peruvians had never seen a horse, and armor-clad Spanish soldiers were given supernatural interpretation; the weaponry and military tactics of the Spanish outmatched the numerically superior Incas; a recent civil war among the Incas had destabilized their empire; Peruvians had little resistance to European diseases; and the very hierarchical model of Inca rule preordained that capturing the Inca leader meant, in effect, toppling the government.