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The Conquest of the Inca Empire

Part 3


Francisco Pizarro

VII  the fatal procession

These two camps competed with each other in a strange and paradoxial way unique in the human history. Both armies had been invoked by men with large ambition. Atahualpa want to be crowned officially as the Sapa Inca so that he shouldn't fear his brother anyore. Pizarro hoped to become city holder of the areas that he would conquer and he hoped to achieve this as he could get so far already in accomplishing his dream. However, he had the knowledge of the strong and the weak points of th indians, while the Incas virtually didn't know anything about these intruders. A cousin of him, Hernán Cortéz had previously fought against the Aztec in Mexico and Pizarro took notes of him. Pizarro had learned some very valuelable leasons. The moment of truth had almost come.

Meanwhile Atahualpa had sent 5000 warriors to the north to block the way out of Cajamarca. His plan was to imprison the spanish and to offer them to the Inti, their Sun God. He would use the horses to breed. In the morning Pizarro positioned his men on and around the square into the buildings, waiting for Atahualpa. The men were close to despair and he considered this as an advantage and a stimulant for the violence he felt was going to arrive. "Make your heart a fortress, you have no other ", he urged his men. That night all had prayed and took confession with the priest. Pizarro's plan was to kidnap Atahualpa as his cousin Cortéz had done with the leader of the Aztec from whom he attained the whole empire. The Spanish were so frightened that many urinated in their pants.

The nerves of the Spanish were stretched to the extremes because Atahualpa did not show up, not in the morning, not at noon and even not in the airly evening. Finally at sunset the royal procession came to the direction of the square.The view was spectacular. Atahualpa was sitting on a golden throne decorated with gold, zilver and gems and carried by 80 blue dressed clerks. Feathers of parrots ensured a colourful splendour. He was dressed in a with gold wire woven tunic with a collar of emeralds and held in his hands a golden shield with the image the Sun God. Thousands of soldiers and courtiers accompanied him.

The procession was accompanied by indians in a colourful tunic crammed as a chess-board, all indians carried gouden and zilveren disks on their heads. Musicians with flutes, drums and trumpets accompanied by dancers and choirs who sang a song for the honour of Atahualpa. "o large and very powerful lord, son of the sun, only ruler, may the whole world obey you."

VIII    bloody turn

Pizarro in full equipment Atalhualpa left his main army behind hand on the hills of Cajamarca and had 5,000 soldiers on his side. The Spanish were surprised that the soldiers were only dressed in ceremonial attire and not in a military outfit. On the square stood only a dominican monk with a cross and a bible in the hand. As a Christian rule, the antagonists must first get the chance submit themselves to the bible before violence can be used. The conquistadores savages did not violate this law, also not at this moment.

The monk with the help of the interpreters explained the christian believe to the astonished Atahualpa. He was asked to convert himself to Christianity. The response of Atahualpa was: "you say that your god was brought to death, but my god is still alives" and he pointed to the Sun. The monk handed over a relic. Atahualpa understood that this was something that the Inca's called a huaca , but this object was in his eyes null and void compared to the Intihuatana adored by the Inca's. He threw the relic on the ground and said: "this says nothing to me". The monk returned to Pizarro who gave the command to his men: "Attack immediately. I give your all absolution!"

The two guns were fired on the mass of Indians . With the Spanish yell of cambat "Santiago!" and trumpet music the horsemen appeared from their shelters and starting chopping the mass with their swords. Then the soldiers followed who finished their "work". Their target was to imprison Atahualpa and nobody would be saved. In a couple of hours 6.000 Indians died an unarmed battle. The elite tried to protect Atahualpa but encountered the razor-sharp swords of the Spanish. Many lost their hands holding the trown of their leader untill the Inca finally made a fall. It is by intervention of Pizarro himselfe that he could be brought to safety and asked some soldiers to guard him. Meanwhile the mass hecatomb continued undiminished. Under the Spanish there were only a couple of wounded. Pizarro was also slightly wounded, by his own people as he tried to "save" Atahualpa from the enormous chaos the Spanish caused. He said afterwards: "it was gods mercy, we were so little. "

IX    caught by too much currage

Historians are still puzzled by this fatal mistake of Atahualpa who approached the Spanish with an unarmed army. Perhaps he was misleaded by the Spanish who spoke of peace and an alliance. Or maybe because of these strangers were hidden in the houses around the square, Atahualpa considered this maybe as a form of cowardice and not as a ambush. From this evening on, the Spanish were actually the new leaders of the Inca empire as history would learn.

It is also understandably that Atahualpa hadnever thought that an army of a mere 200 man could be of any danger. The Spanish had a large faith in god and that could have helped them in overpowering the Incas. Also the strength of European civilisations and the mother country Spain ruled by Karel V gave them enormous self-confidence. Pizarro served his country "well". The Sapa Inca had a similar belief in his god and had big ambitions, but the variola epidemic and the civil war had disturbed their society to a great extend.

Ramiñavi , an experienced general, escaped with his troops in the direction of Quito when the news came to him that the Sapa Inca was imprisoned. Two other generals stayed with their troops in Cuzco. The Spanish allowed much of his imperial privileges to Atahualpa, including passing commands to his army. His court and women remained close, even that he lived now in captivity. He kept even being informed about what was happening in Tawanintinsuyu and he could pass secret messages. He wished that his armies remained on a safe distance, because he feared for his life if the invaders were to be attacked.

Within 20 days he learned to speak Spanish and even succeeded in reading their books. The illiterate Pizarro was astonished about this performance. Atahualpa learned to play chess in a couple of days and could play quiet good. He also learned what these savages were really looking for and made up a plan. It was gold that attracted the most attention of the Spanish invaders. He made a proposal to the Spanish with a deal concerning the largest ransom ever paid in the history of mankind. In exchange for his freedom he offered to Pizarro and his men to fill a room of 6.5m by 5m entirely with gold and two times with silver.

Go to part 4

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