Hello and good day!
When I left off yesterday, the Spanish had just taken down the mighty Aztecs. It took several years of scheming and fighting, but in the end the Spanish prevailed with the help of rival native tribes, constant reinforcements from the motherland, better weapons, horses, and immunity to fatal diseases.
With the conquest complete, one of the men serving under Cortez decided to journey south with his own regiment of conquistadores.
That man's name was Francisco Pizarro.
Pizarro and his men made several forays south, through Central America and down the Pacific Coast of South America. The first several attempts were failures and many of the men either starved to death or abandoned their leader because following Pizarro seemed futile.
But Pizarro persisted along with a core group of fighters. The group kidnapped natives along the way and forced them into becoming translators and guides.Eventually, the conquistadores came upon a land that appeared to be very rich.
On the coast, they saw golden statues in the temples.The priests were wearing golden jewelry. Pizarro decided that he had found his place. He had stumbled upon what is now Peru.
Based on what he learned from his experience fighting the Aztecs, Pizarro knew that he needed to go straight to the head of the empire.
He needed to find the king.
Through the kidnapped translators and guides, and through torturing and threatening natives to gather information, the Spanish found out that the king's name was Atahualpa.
The name of the empire was the Inca.
And they found out that the king was located with his army in a northern mountain city called Cajamarca. The Incas had been building a huge empire for the previous 300 - 400 years. They were a mountain tribe that originated in the city of Cusco.
Through military and administrative ability, they successfully expanded over the centuries such that they controlled territory from Chile and Argentina in the south, up to Ecuador and Columbia in the north. The Incas swept down west from the mountains to conquer coastal civilizations along the Pacific, and they swept down east to conquer civilizations in the jungle valleys.
The empire was well run and vast.
Royal secession was hereditary, and the common practice was for princes to fight each other in civil wars to determine the next king. When Pizarro and his band showed up, a civil war had just ended between Atahualpa and his brother, with Atahualpa reining supreme.
Atahualpa was a highly intelligent, war tested, emperor who was raised in the royal house and trained to rule. His empire was consolidated, and he had innumerable troops under his command.
Like the Aztecs, the Inca considered their sovereign to be a God, with absolute power over his dominion. Pizarro and his troops decided to hike up into the mountains with their tour guides and translators to search out Atahualpa. The further they moved from the coast, the more frightened they became.
Never in their lives had these Spaniards seen such daunting landscapes. The size and reach of the mountains overwhelmed them and the further they moved from the coast and their ships, the more impossible it would be to escape.
There would be no choice but to fight and win or fight and die. There could be no backing down. As they ascended into the Andes, they saw signs of a powerful and rich culture all around them.
They were emboldened and encouraged by how much gold was used in the daily religious ceremonies of the towns they passed through.The empire appeared to be very rich in precious metals.
But the sophistication and wealth of the empire also struck fear into their hearts. How could they possibly succeed? As against the Aztecs, the Spanish had the advantages of good swords, good armor, horses, and immunity against certain deadly diseases.
They knew that the Incas had likely created some blood enemies during the centuries of conquest who would be looking for revenge. And they knew that the government and army would likely collapse into disarray if the king were to be killed.
Finally, the Spanish arrived in Cajamarca. What they saw there convinced most of the Spaniards that they were doomed to fail. In the hills surrounding the city, they saw tens of thousands of Inca troops living in military camps.
The Spanish had just two hundred men.
Pizarro called his men together to calm their nerves and lay out a plan. He explained that there was no escape, and that they could only survive if they showed extreme bravery and crafted a smart plan.
The plan laid out buy Pizarro is as follows. They would send their translators out to the military camp to inform Atahualpa that there were new and strange people in the city. These strangers had light hair and blue eyes and beards and rode on the backs of enormous beasts.
Hopefully, this would pique Atahualpa's interest and he would come down for a look. Pizarro and a priest who had come along on the voyage would meet with Atahualpa and explain that they had come in the name of the Spanish monarchs and the holy church.
From there Pizarro would look for an opportunity to launch a surprise attack and during the chaos of the mele he would try to take Atahualpa hostage. Things played out more or less how Pizarro hoped they would.
Atahualpa decided to come get a look at the strangers. He came sitting in a throne on a platform, carried on the shoulders of his royal litter. He was accompanied by about a thousand soldiers.
Atahualpa descended from his throne and walked to where Pizarro and the priest were waiting for him. Standing face to face with the emperor, Pizarro announced himself. He said that he had come in the name of the king and queen of Spain and in the name of the one true religion, the holy Catholic church.
The priest reached out and handed a Bible to Atahualpa.
The presumptuousness of these strangers angered Atahualpa. Nobody spoke to him without following proper protocol and he was the one who decided who spoke and when. Atahualpa looked at the Bible, perturbed.
He had no idea what he was looking at. The Incas didn't have a written language and he'd never seen a book before. Atahualpa flipped through the pages and then, enraged, threw the Bible on the ground and started to walk away.
It seemed to Pizarro that Atahualpa would certainly order his soldiers to attack. But Pizarro beat him to the punch. Pizarro screamed to his men to come out. The heathen had desecrated the holy scriptures.
The Spanish came out of hiding on horses and started firing guns in the air. The guns weren't efficient for killing large numbers of people, but the noise and spark of the guns caused a commotion amongst the Incas. They'd never heard such a noise or seen fire come out to the end of a stick. The Spanish charged with their swords brandished and fighting broke out....
I'm out of space for today.
More to come tomorrow.
Thank you so much for your time.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!