Pizarro And Atahualpa.

by Daniel Russ on June 19, 2012

Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez

Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez



Pizarro must have been the quintessential charismatic. He managed to sail across a vast ocean, make contact with people who had never seen Europeans, and all but ruin a thousand year old empire. In the meantime he enriched himself, acted as a tyrant leveraging his Toledo swords and armor to garner royal authority and ultimately die in the jungle in what is now the city he founded: Lima. Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez grew in the mid 15th century in Trujillo, Spain. Illiterate and poor, Pizarro nonetheless impressed military personnel in the Spanish army enough to afford him the rank of colonel. Remember all of this was at the height of power for the Spanish empire. In the Mediterranean elaborate and well armed galleons cut through the waves from the Levant to the Iberian Peninsula. The Spain Pizarro was born into was imperial, deeply Catholic and completely unafraid to grab whatever land could be reached by its deep-water navy and voraciously ambitious kings and queens. The forays into the Americas were driven by three things. One was the desire to catechize Catholicism to primitive natives. The second catalyst for expeditions was simply the need for more resources and precious metals to support an expanding empire than relied on steady growth economically. The third was ego. Plain and simple. The people who made trips to and from the New World in 16th century were rock stars, celebrities, and often wrought with enormous egos. The competition for riches in the new World Knew no boundaries.


Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez Statue


Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez

Pizarro was ruthless early on, proving his metal in the conquered lands of the New World on expeditions to Central America and Mexico. He was rewarded with a magisterial position in Panama. Yet the tales of massive stone cities gleaming effulgent in gold and silver tantalized him. Ultimately he was driven mad with his own covetousness. On his famous expedition to the Incas in Peru he asks for devotees to stay in the country and help him uncover an empire filled with gold. Only a handful of men stayed. The rest sailed back to Spain. However Pizarro had enough cash on hand to buy mercenary support. So his ragtag group of Conquistadores was better armed than upstanding. Pizarro’s transparent ambitions and his self-aggrandizing behavior probably attacked the mercenary type.


Pizarro told himself that he loved the Incas he intimidated so fiercely. Staying with Atahualpa, But the facts remain that Pizarro was unstable psychologically. Pizarro sexually assaulted the daughter of one of the Incan royalty, and he did it right there in the Incan holy palaces. This was further sign that the obloquoy surrounding Pizarro was a result of more than ambition. He was also quite prone to violent outbursts.


Of course many of the Incas believed the Conquistadores had supernatural powers. For one thing, the Incas had never seen horses before, even though Atahualpa learned to ride one in short order. The hard steel of their weaponry had a greater heft, an ability to nullify the old stone and wooden Quechua axes. The Spanish Conquistadores fought encase in steel armor that protected them head to toe from the arrows and darts and rocks and slings of the Incans. Perhaps an Incan might wield an axe and luxate a Conquistadores’ shoulder or knee, but more than likely the hard steel armor would render the warriors weapon worthless. The long Toledo swords, which were made of special Spanish steel that was both hard and flexible could lop off a limb arcing through the air from a mounted warrior moving 40 miles per hour. A small number of Conquistadores could defeat a large number of semi naked Incas using stone age tools. The Spaniards also has gunpowder. The harquebus was a heavy, complicated weapon that at best could fire off two round a minute in the best of hands. But the report was loud and terrifying and the gunfire echoing throughout the canyon probably disoriented and drove off Incan attackers. Wounds from the musket ball were quite gruesome.


There was eudemonia in the Incan culture when Pizarro landed and met them. Without the cloying worship of the noble savage, it’s important to know that the Incans were deeply aware of their tellurian nature. The land to them was their very spirit. They were close to the land, majestic and gloriously beautiful, and they thought the world they saw was the whole world. So the appearance of the Conquistadores disrupted their entire worldview.  The Incans themselves were conquerors. They had warred with neighboring tribes and brought them under the control of a singular rule. There was a road system from Ecuador to Chile and Incan blood skeined through an enormous empire of over five million people. The Incans built sophisticated cities, irrigation systems, controlled agriculture, commerce, fine arts, and warriors and an oral tradition and legal system that were thousands of years old.


They faced only 60 mounted Conquistadores and 102 on foot.


On his return to Incan land in 1527, Atahualpa had watchers tracing the progress of the interlopers.  When Pizarro landed the Incans retreated from their cities and ascended into the mountains to live a more ascetic life and one out of the reach of Spanish steel. The Incans evacuated en masse and followed Atahualpa to a deep forest city of silver and splendor called Kayamacha. Pizarro and his warriors tracked them to the arcane and massive city. In a bizarre meeting, Atahualpa learned that Pizarro learned the Incan language he spoke.


Pizarro told Atahualpa that he was worshipping the wrong Gods. He commanded him to follow Christ


“On what authority do you speak?” Atahualpa asked.


Pizarro held up a bible.


Atahualpa thumbed through it and said: “The book says nothing to me.”


Pizarro was so enraged he ordered his Harqbusiers to open fire. They did. Atahualpa escaped for a few days but was captured and imprisoned and executed.


This was a bad start. And it only got worse.


Atahualpa’s death was a bellwether for the demise of the Incan empire. The Incas never recovered their shame, their paradigm had been totally crushed, and their charismatic God like leader had been humiliated and destroyed. They must surely have felt they imprecated themselves somehow and they were being punished by the divine authorities. Oddly Pizarro never had more than four dozen armed Spanish Conquistadores with him. Their Toldeo steel and armor were impervious to the Inca attackers. The Incans were also quite enthralled by the powerful outsiders and the intimidation portion of this played well for Pizarro.



Pizarro Captures Atahualpa

 Pizarro Captures Atahualpa






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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Louis September 15, 2017 at 1:34 am

Also the bodyguard of the king were his imidiate family, and their retainers, who were both the administrative backbone, and the intelligencia of the empire. So by killing them, Pizarro had decapicitated the empire. Most of its governors, and civil servants, and the people who would have the authority, or the linage, to rally the peasants, were dead. Which is one reason we can no longer “read” the quipos, the knotted cors that the Inca used as some sort of writing.

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