Pizarro and the end of the Incas 1524–42


Map Code: Ax00921

Francisco Pizarro made two preliminary expeditions to Peru, before his decisive campaign of 1531–32. The second expedition yielded enough gold, silver, emeralds and exotica such as llama, for Pizarro to return to Spain and plead for support directly from the king. This was granted, and royal backing garnered further recruits in New Spain. When, in November 1532, Pizarro was invited to meet the Inca Emperor, Atahualpa, at his winter retreat in Cajamarca in the Peruvian Andes, he headed a force of 168, crucially equipped with horses and firearms. Although the mountain valley was crowded with thousands of Atahualpa’s battle-hardened soldiers, Atahualpa, fatally, received his guests in private, with his personal retinue all unarmed. With stunning audacity, the Spaniards seized Atahualpa, and slaughtered his guard. After imprisoning him and extorting a huge ransom, they executed him in 1533, then marched on and captured Cuzco. Pizarro was assassinated by Spanish rivals in 1541.

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