Last Stand of the Incans

The Incas were one of the great civilizations of their time, a great and powerful civilization, which fell to Spanish conquests. But the Spanish didn’t put down the Incans without a fight, just ask Manco Inca.

Capture of Atahualpa

Capture of Atahualpa

The Incan Empire was one of the most powerful regions in the world at its peak, although the empire only last for a century. The Incan's first appeared around the 12th century in the Andes region in modern day South America, and by the early 15th century, the tribe had turned into an empire.

When the ruler of the Incan Empire (Huayna Capac) died in 1527, the empire entered a brief period of turmoil as two of Capac's sons (Atahualpa and Huascar) fought over the right to rule, a war between the two that lasted 5 years. Manco was a younger brother of the two warring Princes, but supported Huascar's right to rule. After years of warfare, Atahualpa had finally won the conflict when he captured his brother Huascar in 1532 and defeated his armies. Little did he know that trouble was just arriving on the Incan shores.

In November of 1532, Atahualpa was still in the midst of victory celebrations when they were greeted by a party of almost 200 Spanish soldiers who had just landed, led by Conquistador Francisco Pizarro.

Atahualpa was happy to meet with the new Europeans who had landed, but the Spanish had other ideas, and defeated Atahualpa's forces in Cajamarca, and captured Atahualpa.

The Spanish seized control of the Incan Empire, but allowed the native ruler Atahualpa to continue to make decisions for his empire. Atahualpa was fearful of the influence his imprisoned brother might have with the Spanish so he ordered his brothers execution and execution of his family and supporters.

Once the Spanish had learned what Atahualpa had done (especially considering the Spanish were keen to speak with Huascar), they executed Atahualpa leaving the throne empty once again. The Spanish knew that if they were to be successful in the conquest of the Incan empire, they would need a native Incan they could control. They chose Tupac Huallpa, but he died from disease just after taking the throne, leading them to appoint Manco as their puppet ruler.

Funeral of Atahualpa

Funeral of Atahualpa

Manco served the Spanish well and aided in the conquest of the Empire, but certain parts of the Incan Empire were starting to rebel against his rule. He was constantly ridiculed by the Spanish, and the Incan's were losing patience with the native Incan not doing anything about the foreign invaders. The Spanish were already attempting to get their Incan's to dispose of parts of their heritage and adopt Spanish ways and customs.

While Pizarro was off colonizing other cities, he left his brothers Juan and Gonzalo to rule. Gonzalo had little respect for Manco, constantly ridiculing and spitting on him, even stealing Manco's wife for his own pleasure.

Trouble was brewing in the Spanish rule in 1534, when the conquistadors, the Pizarro brothers, as well as Diego de Almagro, were fighting over which part of the Incan empire belonged to each man. Almagro was swindled out of claim by the Pizarro brothers, and headed south to conquer Chile.

By 1535, Manco had grown tired of watching his people suffer brutalities at the hands of the Spanish, and tried to escape. But was quickly captured and imprisoned. Manco worked at regaining Spanish trust, and early the following year tricked the Spaniards into letting him go to Yucay Valley to bring back gold from ceremony being held there, Manco had his escape.

Manco used his time as a free man to gather the Incan's together to launch an attack against the Spanish and expel them from their lands, he was able to amass 100,000 to his cause.

In early 1536, Manco's army launched an assault upon Cuzco, they almost had it, but the Spanish were able to repel the final assaults. Not long after the Spanish reacted by seizing the fortress of Sachsaywaman.

Battle of Cajamarca

Battle of Cajamarca

In 1537 Almagro was returning from his Chilean expedition, Manco attempted to attack his army as they were returning, but Manco's army failed and scattered. After defeating Manco, Almagro went back into Cuzco and took the town from the Pizarro's, where the town had been partly destroyed from fighting with Manco's forces. The Pizarro's however made many attempts to take the town back over the next year.

While the Spaniards were in-fighting, Manco again raised another army, this time he attacked all of the Spanish outposts instead of taking the Conquistadors head on, which was mostly successful for Manco.

By 1541, the Spanish grew tired of Manco's tactics, and arranged for parties to track his down specifically, which led to Manco fleeing again, hiding out in Vilcabamba.

Later that year Conquistador Francisco Pizarro was murdered by assassins that were loyal to Almagro, sparking more in-fighting among the Spanish, although the Pizarro's eventually won out.

After defeat Almagro's forces dispersed, and several sought sanctuary in fear of the Pizarro reprisal.

Manco took in a couple of the fleeing Spaniards to for training purposes, which was to Manco's detriment, as the Spaniards murdered Manco hoping to win favour back among the Spanish rule.

Before they could do so, the Incans killed all of the Spanish murderers that took Manco's life.

Over the next 30 years the Spanish continued to instill Incan puppet rulers, until Tupac Amaru, who fought with the Spanish in 1572, and was swiftly defeated. His death signified the end of the Incan Empire and the completion of Spanish conquest of northern South America.