Friday, May 20, 2011
Conquest of the Inca
Atahualpa, 13th and last fully independent Inca Emperor. Defeated his brother Huáscar in a civil war completed just as Pizarro entered the empire.
Francisco Pizarro conquistador in his fifties who decided on one last throw of the dice to find and conquer new lands for God, Glory and Gold. He will have three great advantages over the Incan Empire- a "modern" military with the latest weapons (warhorses, wardogs, crossbows, muskets, cannons, steel weapons, steel & iron armor) and tactics, European diseases (smallpox being the most deadly) that had recently devastated the Empire and the Incan Civil War that had further disrupted the Incan government and military.
With a force of less than 200 conquistadors (at least sixty of which were cavalry) and one cannon, Pizarro began the hazardous march into the land of the Inca.
Destruction of Atahualpa's guards and his capture by the Spanish conquistadors of Pizarro. The capture and subsequent murder of the Inca emperor put Pizarro in virtual control of the empire. The ransom of 22,000 lbs of gold and 44,000 lbs of silver did not save the life of Atahualpa but it did make the conquistadors filthy rich. The value in today's money paid to each of Pizarro's cavalry men for the capture of the emperor was over 1.5 million dollars, each infantryman received around a million dollars worth of gold and silver.Pizarro's share was around 100 million and the "King Fifth" (the amount of all New World income paid directly to the king of Spain) was close to 1/4 billion dollars. Not bad for one days fighting.
Loading Spanish galleons with the kings fifth of the initial Inca treasure taken by Pizarro and his conquistadors. While the people of the Inca would futilely attempt to resist the Spanish for the next thirty years, their empire was for all intents an purposes conquered in that one fateful battle where a handful of Spaniards changed the history of the South America.
Pizarro would rule his new conquests for less then ten years before his greed and mismanagement brought his own destruction, not at the hands of the Indians he had conquered but by that of his own comrades. Pizarro's murder by his captains and officers that he cheated and mistreated. His greed lead to his death after he had succeeded in one of the greatest conquests in the Age of Colonialism.