Inca Empire Demise

Length: 4 Pages 919 Words

At its height, the Inca empire stretched from modern day Colombia to central Chile, and had about nine to ten million inhabitants, yet in 1532 Francisco Pizarro and a meager 62 horsemen and 102 foot soldiers conquered the empire. Pizarro was able to conquer the Incas not only because of his cunning and ruthlessness, but also because their kingdom was in disarray, therefore, I will discuss what I believe are the three main reasons why the empire fell, and none of them will have anything to do with Francisco Pizarro. My first explanation for the demise of the Incas is their rapid and recent expansion they had gone through only a few decades before Pizarro arrived. Circa 1438 AD Inca Yupanqui (Pachacutec) defeated the Chancas and expanded his empire out of the Cuzco valley. Around 1463 AD, while Inca Yupanqui was busy organizing his conquests and remaking Cuzco, the capital of his empire, his son, Topa Inca, was allowed to take control of the Inca army and continue the task of conquest. During that time, Topa Inca conquered the Northern Highlands of Peru, the Southern and Central Highlands of Ecuador, and then the Northern and Central Coastal areas of Peru. When Inca Yupanqui died around 1471 AD, and Topa Inca became Sapa Inca Continue...


To add to the already diverging kingdom, a brutal civil war closely followed the merge with the new cultures, which sent one part of the kingdom to side with Atahualpa and the other with Huascar. The recent and rapid Inca expansion did not allow enough time for all of the people to be absorbed into the Inca languages and traditions. Bibliography Davies, Nigel The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru Penguin Books, London 1997 Hemming, John Atahualpa and Pizarro History 169 Reader . Finally, I consider Atahualpa one of the main reasons for the empire's demise because by foolishly allowing himself to get caught he stopped his army from being able to defeat the Spaniards and set in motion what would eventually be the death of his people. What happened then is my second explanation for why the Inca empire collapsed: Huascar and Atahualpa launched the kingdom into a violent civil war. Atahualpa was asked to meet Pizarro and, despite still having most of the kingdom against him, Atahualpa went into Cajamarca with his guard down. The empire had expanded rapidly to absorb millions of people spread over thousands of miles of land, and Huayna Capac had to concentrate much of his effort on quelling various rebellions in the north and defending the large border. the Spanish had cast themselves in the role of champions of Huascar and as such enjoyed a certain degree of support among certain elements of the population (Davies, 191). As Hemmings wrote: "Cortez had brilliantly manipulated rival factions during the conquest of Mexico twelve years before, Pizarro hoped to do likewise. At first, Huascar's forces defeated Atahualpa's, who was imprisoned but managed to escape, but Atahualpa's generals Quizquiz and Chalco Chima defeated Huascar in Cuzco and subsequently had him killed (Davies, 134). On November 16, 1532, Pizarro and his men ambushed Atahualpa, using the advantages provided by their horses and a surprise attack to overcome the Inca and his unarmed retinue, in the end Atahualpa was imprisoned. During Sapa Inca's rule, the empire virtually doubled in size, with the conquest of the lands of the Southern Coast of Peru, the northern half of Chile, Northwest Argentina, and Eastern Bolivia. The successor to Sapa Inca was his son Huayna Capac in 1493 AD.