peru Travel

Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru

Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru Francisco Pizarro was a Spanish conquistador who was to take part in a bloody event that would radically change the history of the South America. In 1532 he landed on the coasts near Ecuador where gold, silver, and emeralds were taken. On the way back to Tumbes he was forced to confront the Punian natives, resulting in the Battle of Puna, leaving three Spaniards dead and 400 wounded or dead Punians.

He finally reached Tumbes to find it deserted and destroyed, so he ventured into the unknown interior of Peru and established the first Spanish settlement in the same year, which he named San Miguel de Piura. Soon after Pizarro embarked into the heart of the Inca Empire, into what is now the modern day Lima with just 62 horsemen and 106 foot soldiers. When Atahualpa, the Inca leader, was approached by the Spanish he refused their presence in his land by saying that he would "be no man's tributary," a statement that would seal the fate of the Incas for the rest of time.

Atahualpa's blatant rebuttals lead Pizarro and his men to attack in what became known as the battle of Cajamarca on November 16, 1532. As one can easily guess, the Spanish were victorious and took the leader captive. Although Atahualpa carried out the requested ransom of a room filled with gold and silver, he was convicted of killing his brother and plotting against the Spanish. He was executed by garrote on August 29, 1533.

One year later Pizarro invaded Cuzco and was faced with growing resistance. The conquest was one of the bloodiest and was filled with plunder, savagery and atrocities by the Spanish. Besides the bloodshed Pizarro did have a moment to admire the empire's capital, saying, "this city is the greatest and the finest ever seen in this country or anywhere in the Indies…We can assure your Majesty that it is so beautiful and has such fine buildings that it would be remarkable even in Spain."

Pizarro founded the city of Lima on January 18, 1535 as the provisional capital of Peru, which he considered to be his greatest achievement. Following a disagreement over jurisdiction was the Battle of Las Salinas in 1538, which resulted in the execution of Almagro, a fellow conquistador. Once year later Almagro supporters ambushed Pizarro's palace and assassinated him.

The legacy of Pizarro is laden with controversy. Pizarro is well known in Peru for being the leader of the Spanish conquest of the Incas but a growing number of Peruvians regard him as a war criminal. After Pizarro took over the empire the Inca culture declined dramatically. Christianity replaced their religion, Spanish became the official language, and the cities were transformed into colonial fortresses. He is also criticized for ordering Atahualpa's execution despite the ransom being fulfilled.

Further Information

PBS Conquistadors Website
WikiPedia Website

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