Thanks to their powerful war-horses, steel weapons and sheer audacity, less than 200conquistadors managed to defeat 100,000 Inca warriors, putting 1500 of them to thesword. Within a few years, and with gold-hungry reinforcements pouring in fromPanama, all serious resistance to the Spaniards was destroyed. The Incas’ last junglerefuge, at Vilcabamba, fell in 1572.There were several reasons why the early stages of the conquest of the mighty Incaempire were largely accomplished without major battles. First, the Incas were divided:the death of the 11th Inca ruler, Huayna Capac, around 1527 was followed by a civil war in which Atahualpa deposed his brother Huascar. Second, after the arrival of theSpanish in Central America, infectious diseases such as smallpox swept through SouthAmerica, reducing the population by two-thirds. Third, the 8th Inca ruler had prophesiedaround 1432 that within five generations foreigners would come and conquer the Incas.Huayna Capac later said that he would be the last emperor, and instructed his sons andthe rest of his court to obey and serve the invaders.
The conquistadors were thereforeinitially seen as ‘viracochas’, a reference to the Incas’ legendary white culture-bringer and creator god, Viracocha. However, due to their greed and brutality they were soonreclassified as devils.The Inca people are said to have arrived in the Cuzco area in the 12th century AD.Atahualpa was the 13th Inca ruler since that time. However, Peruvian priests and thedescendants of the amautas, or sages, told Blas Valera, the son of a conquistador anda female native, that their kings went back to 1220 BC.
At first the Incas collaboratedpeacefully with other ethnic groups in the Cuzco region. Around 1430 the Chancas fromthe north invaded the area. After defeating them, the Incas began the age of expansionunder Pachacuti. Quechua was made the official language, and sun worship the officialreligion.
Lost civilizations of the Andes (1)2