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date: 29 September 2020

The Conquests of Peru

Summary and Keywords

Between 1472 and 1572, the conquests of Peru were many: by the Inca, who in the 15th century spread from their southern Andean heartland in Cusco to build an empire that stretched from what is now southern Colombia to northern Chile and Argentina; by the Spanish conquistadors under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro, who reached down from Panama in search of the rumored wealth of the kingdom of “Birú” and fatefully encountered the aspirant Inca emperor Atahualpa at Cajamarca in November of 1532; by the Spanish crown, which intervened after the revolt of Atahualpa’s brother Manco Inca in 1536 and the rebellion of the conquistadors in the 1540s; and by the Inca’s former subjects, the Spaniards’ Indian allies, and their mestizo sons, who ended independent Inca resistance by helping to capture Atahualpa’s nephew in the Vilcabamba valley in 1572. This essay sketches the century-long arc of those many conquests, which together yielded a historical entity not quite like any other in the early modern world, let alone Americas: a composite Spanish-Indian kingdom whose incredible wealth lay not just in the gold and silver that its mines and burials produced but in the network of subjects and laborers that drew both the Inca and their Habsburg successors on to further conquests than was wise.

Keywords: Peru, Inca, Indians, empire, conquest, rebellion, Andes, Cajamarca, Francisco Pizarro, Spanish, Huayna Capac, Atahualpa, Manco Inca, Titu Cusi, Tupac Amaru, Francisco de Toledo

When was the conquest of Peru achieved? Was it on November 16, 1532, when Francisco Pizarro famously captured Atahualpa in the great plaza of the Inca administrative center of Cajamarca? Was it half a year later, when Pizarro and his fellow conquistadors executed Atahualpa, “restoring” the kingdom of Peru to its supposedly rightful ruler, Atahualpa’s brother, who himself acceded to the rule of the Habsburg King Charles V in Spain? Or was it in the 1540s and 1550s, when royal administrators made that conquest “just” by putting down the revolts of the Spanish conquistadors and convincing one of Atahualpa’s rebel nephews to return to Charles V’s bosom? Was it in 1572, when that nephew’s still-rebel brother, Túpac Amaru, was captured by a joint expedition of Spanish, Indian, mestizo (of Spanish and Indian descent), and African troops, and then executed in Cusco, former capital of the Incas? Or should we be looking still further back in time? Did the nature of the 15th-century Inca conquest of the many peoples the Spanish would call Indians ease the European conquest to come?

The history of Peru’s conquest is best defined, then, not by one date, or even a series of them, but by a far longer process than the Spanish or their earliest historians wanted to admit, in which Atahualpa’s capture was only the beginning of a conquest that the Spanish claimed, but their Indian allies ensured. The Spanish conquistadors may have had certain technological or epidemiological advantages, but structurally, tactically, even religiously, they had to acknowledge their Indian opponents and allies’ tremendous advantage, so as not to die before accumulating the wealth and power they desired. Seen from the ground, what mattered most were the continuities between local Indian rule and that of the Inca and their local Spanish successors, and between the Inca and the Habsburgs in Spain. Those continuities, which required recognition of Inca, Indian, and Spanish shared ancestry and collaboration in conquest, were necessary to maintain, given the crucial role that Peru then played as the piggybank of Spain’s global empire—truly the world’s first. In the aftermath of the conquest, to ensure that Peru’s Indian laborers maintained production of the silver that Philip II relied upon to reach beyond the ambitions of his father, Charles V, the Spanish had to balance the interests of the conquistadors and their mixed-race sons and daughters with those of the Indian and Inca nobles, who retained considerable prestige as subjects of the crown.1

Telling that history is a challenge, given the tremendous gaps in the documentary record caused by the long conquest itself, a preponderance of Spanish sources, and the apparent desire of the conquistadors to appear more in control than they actually were. Scholars have nonetheless attempted the feat since the 16th century. Primary source-based Latin American history in the English-speaking world itself dates to that attempt, in the mid-19th century. Later works mixing a blend of approaches—from history, to anthropology, to religious studies and literature—continue to yield discoveries, such that one of colonial Latin America’s oldest stories is being made excitingly new.

Inca Origins

The Spanish-led conquest of Peru after 1532 was made possible by the Incas’ conquests and consolidations over the centuries prior. What Europeans came to call the Inca “empire” its rulers called Tawantinsuyu—the “Four Parts Together,” each radiating out from the Incas’ home in Cusco, in the southern Andes. The empire’s political and religious leader was the sapa inka, who, under Inca theology, was understood to be the descendant of the sun and thus the living ancestor of all Andean peoples and ancestral divinities. More practically, the current sapa inka was the worthiest son or close male relative of the prior sapa inka. The assumption of the maskaypacha, or royal fringe of rule, was not automatic. An incoming sapa inka might be ceremonially designated by the dying previous sapa inka, but could then compete or even war with another family member for the support of the other elite Inca families, particularly their female family members. Once vetted according to his perceived ability, the heir apparent could only officially take up the maskaypacha upon marrying his piwi warmi, or principal wife—ideally a woman as ccapac, or royal, as he was, which often meant a full sister. Their marriage established a new royal line, a panaca, that would continue to enjoy the wealth, possessions, attendants, and estates accumulated by the sapa inka during his lifetime and “owned” after his bodily death by his illapa, or still-living mummy, whose wishes were interpreted by his female-led panaca.

Once chosen, the next sapa inka would have to accumulate a household and territories of his own—a requirement that played no small part in the Incas’ extension across the Andes. When and how that expansion began—and whether the Inca’s cultural, social, and economic characteristics were themselves a product of that expansion—is a subject currently under fascinating revision. The history that the Inca panacas told of their own past was one largely built around their sapa inkas, whose stories were then consolidated by the Spanish into varying lists of kings in order to judge their heirs’ legitimacy on the basis of European ideals of primogeniture. Until very recently scholars accepted a starting date of 1438 ce for Inca imperial expansion, based on a chronology crafted by the Spanish priest Miguel Cabello Balboa in 1586. According to this “hero” version of Inca history—which extended back to the arrival in Cusco of the founding Inca pair of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo—expansion began when Pachacutiq Inca Yupanqui wrested control of the empire from his father, Viracocha, to push back against the invasions by neighboring Chancas that threatened the Inca heartland in Cusco. Pachacutiq then presided over a rapid expansion of Inca territory, in which defensive concerns gave way to the self-justifications of empire.

The problem with this narrative is how conditional Inca history was upon who remained alive to celebrate it and interpret its meaning anew. Inca history was performed by the Incas’ panacas and quipucamayocs, expert in reading the knotted-rope records, or quipus, by which information and stories were transmitted in the Andes. As the fortunes of panacas rose and fell, the varying importance of particular sapa inkas likely did as well, and there is every reason to believe, as the case of Pachacutiq suggests, that an individual sapa inka could be credited for the actions of their predecessors. The archaeologist Alan Covey has emphasized that there is little evidence for either a sudden arrival of the Incas to Cusco from elsewhere or a sudden, explosive expansion. Instead, the Inca state seems to have expanded beyond the Cusco valley by around 1300 ce, well before Pachacutiq. As Covey points out, this was the product of “centuries of local political centralization and regional territorial expansion and administrative consolidation.” If the Incas did extend more rapidly in the latter half of the 15th century, it was built upon this preexisting imperial base.2

The way that expansion proceeded varied. Where it fell along the scale from outright conquest to distant collaboration depended on the character of local societies and their resources, geography, and distance from Cusco. More like a quipu across the Andes than a noose encircling it, the Inca branched out along cord-like roads, upon which forts and temples and administrative centers and Inca governing officials were knotted. From those knots the Incas’ imperial dyes of ancestry, violence, and economic, kin-based obligation bled downward—often literally, in altitudinal terms—to local elites. Intermarriage with local elites tied them to the Inca royal family, and a mixture of coercion and inclusion pulled their sacred objects and ancestors, or huacas, to Cusco, where the Inca both venerated them and kept them hostage.3 The Inca required locals to provide them with mit’a, or corvée labor, producing foodstuffs or other more ceremonial materials, like fabrics or gold or silver, that were then stored and redistributed throughout the empire. In some regions—like the Northern Coast, whose Chimú lords were incorporated via diplomacy in the final third of the 15th century—Inca presence was slight. Elsewhere, the empire expanded through blunt force, violently subjugating groups that would not submit and scattering their survivors across the empire. In the early 16th century, the last pre-Hispanic sapa inka, Huayna Capac, had employed both tactics in his expansions to modern-day Ecuador and beyond, intermarrying within the local elite in the highlands but engaging in ever more violent fights with lowland groups. The net effect was an Inca empire under an unprecedented amount of control by the sapa inka but also highly contingent upon local resentments, geography, and the sapa inka’s continued ability to project religious authority and disperse economic benefits. In other words, an empire like many others.

A Longer Road to Cajamarca

The addition of 168 Spanish and their auxiliaries to this still-expanding Inca mix was like a match to a room filled with gas. In the early to mid-1520s, while Huayna Capac and his northern Andean son Atahualpa ground away at jungle tribes in the north, the circum-Caribbean empire that Charles V had inherited from his grandparents Ferdinand and Isabella’s sponsorship of Columbus was straining under the pressure of new Spanish arrivals. The conquest of the Mexica by Hernán Cortés, the Nahua translator Malintzín, and about five hundred Spanish subjects and their Tlaxcalan allies was secured by 1521. Although new peoples and lands still beckoned in New Spain’s north and in the Yucatán to the south, competition for encomiendas—grants of Indian labor and tribute—was fierce. Moreover, no indigenous peoples seemed quite as promising as those rumored to the south of the Darien, modern-day Panama, whose wealthy kingdom or lord, Virú or Birú, had lit the imaginations of conquistadors like Pascual de Andagoya (1495–1548) and Francisco Pizarro (c. early 1470s–1541) since their arrival in the mid- to late 1510s with governor Pedro Arias de Ávila (Pedrarias).

The nearly two-decade delay between the Darien Spaniards’ learning of Peru’s rumored wealth in the 1510s and the meeting of Pizarro and Atahualpa at Cajamarca should not be so easily passed over. In that time, as scholars like Patricia Seed and Matthew Restall have argued, the Spanish had refined a highly reproducible playbook of mainland invasion, capture, and rescate—ransom—of native lords and their realms according to seemingly rigid religious, moral, and legal formalisms: the increasingly broad attribution of cannibalism and human sacrifice in the circum-Caribbean during the 1510s, on the one hand, and the authorship of the requerimiento on the other—the document of “summons,” whose reading aloud to “gentile” Indians, and their subsequent resistance, justified the ensuing conquest.4 Still perfumed by the conquest of Muslim Iberia by 1492 and the chivalric romances it still inspired, Spaniards imagined themselves as latter-day crusaders, serving God and their sovereign in a seemingly unassailable cause.5

Yet there was something distinct about the conquistadors that Pizarro and his business partners Diego de Almagro and Hernando de Luque piled aboard the ships they had bought from Andagoya and sent sailing down the western coast of South America after 1524, culminating in Pizarro’s attainment in 1529 of a capitulación (contract) for conquest from the crown. Beneath their heroic descriptions of their exploits, composed later in life to appeal to the Spanish Crown for support, they seem—for lack of less salacious words—hungrier and more desperate than Mexico’s conquistadors. Although the Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas later had his reasons for casting the conquest of the Darien and South America after the 1510s as almost unbelievably violent, less moralistic and more contemporary accounts of Pedrarías and his conquistadors give a similar impression.6 This may have been a function of the difficulty of “normal” conquest in such an environmentally challenging and diversely populated region, as well as of the increasingly limited opportunities for conquest those conditions created. It is highly informative that the Inca and Spanish empires in the 1520s, now separated by only a few thousand miles at their northern and southern reaches, were experimenting with their most violent methods of incorporation.7

When Inca and Spanish war machines finally met at Cajamarca in 1532, however, the latter had a distinct immediate advantage. Older and more obviously incorrect explanations have long since been discarded—Christian providence, Spanish daring, European racial superiority—but certain “just so” stories must also be dispatched with. It was not their guns, which at that early stage were still few and slow to load, more psychologically surprising than game-changing. It was not their steel, which, though useful, was matched in complexity by the Andean metallurgy that yielded bronze, gold, and silver both harder and more plastic than European soldiers and artisans could imagine.8 To be sure, Andeans greeted the Spaniards’ horses with uncertainty but, as with gunpowder, adapted to their possibility and devised means of at least diminishing their effect. The demoralizing propensity for “total warfare” learned by the Spanish in Panama certainly played its part, as the Inca learned when the Pizarros ordered all captured Indian women killed during the 1536–1537 siege of Cusco and burned “alive” the illapa, or ancestral mummy of the former emperor Viracocha. But given the sheer difference in numbers—168 Spaniards to approximately one hundred thousand Inca soldiers in 1532—another, more convincing explanation must be sought.9

Or rather, a pair of them: a one-two punch of biology and politics that the Inca were still reeling from when the Spanish made official contact. The first was epidemiological: Pizarro and his men had sailed down the coast since 1524. The second expedition brought them to the coastal Inca city of Tumbez. The third and final expedition to Peru, led by Pizarro, left Panama in 1530, then lingered for nearly two years along the coast, waiting for reinforcements, playing politics, and interacting with local, non-Inca peoples. In the interim, sometime between 1525 and 1527, the strong Inca emperor Huayna Capac was informed of the presence of the Europeans, but then died during a violent epidemic that could have been malaria but has also been argued to have been smallpox.10

Just how destructive that epidemic and its successors were empire-wide remains a matter of no minor debate. But in the case of the Inca nobility and their cult of the circulating dead, it proved politically disastrous. “Had Huayna Capac been alive when we alive when we Spaniards entered this land it would have been impossible to win it, for he was greatly loved by his subjects,” Pedro Pizarro later explained.11 As noted, the death of a sapa inka was often followed by a dynastic contest, in which the panacas ultimately gathered behind the most ccapac candidate. The far more sudden death of Huayna Capac and his most likely heir, Ninan Cuyuchi, led to outright civil war between two other sons: the less ccapac but certainly self-entitled Atahualpa, commanding the Inca army in the north, and Huascar, supported more widely by the panacas in Cusco. When the Spanish made contact in 1532, Atahualpa’s army had just defeated Huascar, and the aspirant was on his way to Cusco to ensure his legitimacy among the elite imperial class and become the undisputed sapa inka.

Collaboration and Conquest

Atahualpa’s detour to confront the Spanish in Cajamarca was necessary but ultimately fatal, leading to his seizure on November 16, when he apparently refused the Spanish Crown and the Christians’ god. There are many differing Spanish and Inca representations of what specifically passed between the two warlords. The most compelling analyses, like that of Patricia Seed, explore how mutual incomprehension undercut the claims of the Spanish conquest. Atahualpa paraded into Cajamarca’s plaza veiled like a deity, a slow-moving illapa-to-be. Famously, the Spanish friar Valverde offered Atahualpa the Bible, and Atahualpa either dismissed it or, seeing little to it, cast it on the ground, offending the friar in the process. Rather than this being an emblem of the Incas’ lack of sophistication—or the product of bad translation, as a later indigenous chronicler charged—it suggests European literary technology’s lack of superiority and the failure of European religion to be convincingly and immediately commensurate in an Andean context.12

But as the literary scholar Gonzalo Lamana has pointed out, it may have been the product of extraordinary comprehension. As the head of the Inca religion, Atahualpa spoke to huacas. When the Bible did not speak back to him, it proved that the Spaniards were charlatans, that their God was not real, that they were thieves and freeloaders who did not deserve his respect, leading to his obvious outrage.13 The Spanish repaid that outrage by launching a surprise attack that in turn assaulted Atahualpa’s own sacrality. His litter toppled, his person captured by Pizarro, his honor guard of six to seven thousand slaughtered, Atahualpa and his already fragile authority were assaulted in the eyes of Tahuantinsuyu.

Even then, however, he continued to struggle. In November of 1532, the Spaniards remained few in number. Though they possessed Atahualpa’s person, they possessed neither Cusco nor the empire itself. Atahualpa even played his captivity to his advantage. Before Cajamarca, Hernando Pizarro had offered the Spanish to Atahualpa as what today would be called “force multipliers”—experienced soldiers that would help Atahualpa defeat his enemies. As Gonzalo Lamana further argues, Atahualpa’s famed gathering of a roomful of gold and two rooms full of silver for his ransom indeed served as a strategic deployment of the Spanish against his foes. He sent them to loot shrines that had defied him, like Pachacamac, and to Cusco in elevated litters, to loot the panacas that had defied him.14 His generals Chalcuchima, Quisquis, and Rumiñavi and their armies remained at large, and Atahualpa had them kill his captive brother Huascar. As long as the Spaniards stood by their promise—that all they wanted was gold and that they would then return him to his Quito kingdom—his conquest was far from over.

It was not to be. While their captive plotted, Pizarro and his men drew reinforcements from Panama, tricked Chalcuchima into giving himself up, and, on July 26, 1533, garroted Atahualpa. It was later claimed that the aspiring sapa inka was executed following an orderly trial as a traitor, murderer of his brother, and polygamist sacrificer. At the time, however, it was a hurried and public killing inspired by expedient fear: the possibly mistaken belief that Atahualpa secretly had prepared a surprise attack by Rumiñavi and the army of Quito and the reality that, even if he hadn’t, his disillusionment regarding the Spaniards would have endangered them in the long run. The Spaniards buried Atahualpa like a Christian (though his followers would later steal his body). Having cast the murder as an act on behalf of Huascar’s supporters, the Spaniards then presided over the selection of another brother, Tupac Huallpa, as a new “cacique king” acceptable to the Inca faction in Cusco.15 On the way to Cusco to see him properly invested, Tupac Huallpa died, probably of illness. In his place, the Cusco Incas proposed another brother still: Manco, whom the Spanish hoped would be compliant. Having taken Cusco from Atahualpa’s surviving soldiers, the Spanish, awestruck at the wealthy city’s architecture—“the greatest and finest ever seen in this country or anywhere in the Indies”—occupied the former sapa inka’s palace tombs.16 In early 1534, they watched as Manco became Inca, processing in Cusco’s great plaza with the still-living illapa mummies that were his antecessors.17 Friar Valverde read the requerimiento, and Pizarro and his men began the methodical but increasingly insatiable looting of what was likely the richest city in the pre-Hispanic Americas. The conquest of the Inca’s Peru was completed.

Or so the conquistadors wanted to communicate back to royal officials and fellow Spaniards, who watched the gold and silver stream into Seville. In reality, this remained a period of extraordinary Spanish-Indian alliance, in which relationships between conqueror and conquered were far from clear. The conquistadors founded a Spanish Cusco atop the Inca one, but they needed certain patterns of sacred rule and social organization to remain in place. They occupied the dead Incas’ palaces instead of destroying them, and their self-incorporation into the elite female-led panacas yielded children for whom they felt real affection.18

On the side of the Incas, Manco may have recognized the lordship of the Spanish Crown in the abstract, but he also used the conquistadors to his own ends, completing the defeat of the Quito faction’s remaining general, Quisquis, whose armies put up a tremendous, often ingenious fight. Manco further enlisted the help of Almagro to kill his rival brother Atoc-Sopa, and then provided the Spaniard with an army of twelve thousand men for the conquest of troublesome Chile in July 1535, likely hoping to further collaborate in the empire’s expansion and rule. This was also a period of local alliance. The decay of the Inca authority that many regions incorporated in the century prior reverted to local rule. As the Spanish spread out from their centers in Cusco and on the coast, they made new relationships with these newly independent curakas, sometimes collaborating in the looting of former Inca shrines and storehouses.19

From the distance of nearly half a millennium, it is therefore tempting to suggest that Peru in the 1530s was conquered not by Spanish guns, germs, or steel but, tragically, by the Incas and Indians themselves. Both groups gambled on personal relationships with the early conquistadors, hardly anticipating that their meager numbers heralded an impersonal and implacably hungry empire.

The Empires Strike Back

The bloom came off the rose for Manco and his fellow Incas in Cusco by late 1535. However much affection the conquistadors later felt for their mestizo children, they had sired them by taking, if not raping, the wives and daughters of the Inca elite. Francisco Pizarro lived with Huayna Capac’s fifteen-year-old daughter Quispe Cusi, who bore him a son and a daughter; Manco’s full sister and coya, or royal wife, was taken by Gonzalo Pizarro. These women and their husbands were abused, tortured to reveal hidden treasures. When the expedition to Chile returned with tales of horrifying treatment by Almagro of Manco’s troops, Manco’s religious and military advisors spurred him to act: “We cannot spend our entire lives in such great misery and subjection. Let us rebel once and for all. Let us die for our liberty, and for the wives and children whom they continually take from us and abuse.”20

In the autumn of 1535, Manco attempted to leave Cusco to organize a rebellion with curacas to the south. Juan and Gonzalo Pizarro imprisoned him, during which time he was urinated on, tortured, and kept with a chain around his neck. Manco was released by early 1536, but during Holy Week of 1536 he left Cusco promising to bring back a golden statue of Huayna Capac. Instead, he launched a massive uprising, surrounding Cusco and its 190 Spaniards with between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand supporters. They invaded the city and in a pitched battle showed how much they had learned in four years, neutralizing the Spanish forces and burning their former capital nearly to the ground. The Spanish were only able to hold them off by recapturing the great fortified temple of Sacsahuaman, above the city, during which one of the Pizarro brothers, Juan, was killed by a thrown stone. The three-month siege slackened after Hernando Pizarro decided to start killing captive women and maiming captive men, demoralizing Manco’s forces, who were already bleeding away to begin the planting season. The conquistadors in the new Spanish coastal capital of Los Reyes, or Lima, were nearly pushed into the sea by Manco’s army, while the sapa inka and his engineers himself roundly defeated a force led by Hernando Pizarro at the citadel of Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley to the northwest of Cusco, by diverting the Patacancha River, forcing the Spanish and their horses to retreat.

The Spanish and their black and Indian auxiliaries ultimately prevailed, however. Manco’s most successful general, Quizo Yupanqui, was killed outside of Lima, and reinforcement by newly arriving Spanish and black conquistadors from Panama allowed Francisco Pizarro to launch a reconquest of southern Peru in late November. Pizarro’s increasingly alienated partner Almagro meanwhile returned from Chile, hoping to ally with Manco and the Spanish Crown. Had Manco been able to believe Almagro’s overtures—if they were true—his story might have ended differently; instead, he attacked Almagro, who then took Cusco for himself, imprisoned the remaining Pizarro brothers, and allied himself with yet another son of Huayna Capac, Paullu. Disheartened, Manco and his army abandoned Ollantaytambo and the highlands, retreated past the now famed royal estate of Machu Picchu, and ensconced himself at the site of Vitcos, at the head of the Vilcabamba River. The Spanish cavalry and their Indian foot soldiers pursued him and sacked Vitcos, confiscating mummies of the Inca ancestors, a golden sun image, and Manco’s son Titu Cusi.

Manco was able to reinforce himself at Vitcos and a still further lowland site, Vilcabamba, from which he launched a second rebellion in 1537 and 1538. But he was in effect in permanent exile, and would die in 1544 when he gave refuge to seven former of allies of Almagro, who assassinated him while playing horseshoes. The sapa inka had outlived both Almagro and Pizarro at least. Each had been assassinated by their rival’s followers—in 1538 and 1541, respectively—prompting a wider series of civil wars, led by Spaniards but fought by Indians.

The Spanish crown and its advisors looked on in horror. It was not just that the capture of Atahualpa in 1532 had led to over a decade of violence, in which for every Inca lord or conquistador killed, thousands more Indian allies and potential converts had died.21 It was that the nature of the conquest—from the regicide of Atahualpa, the disillusionment and abuse of his unoffending heir, Manco, and the continued reports that the Pizarrists were hiding wealth from the crown—contrasted so greatly with that of New Spain, whose “diabolic” Mexica seemed worthy of rough handling in ways that the “sun-worshipping” Inca did not. Charles wrote to Pizarro sharply when he learned of Atahualpa’s death and was swayed by the opinion of the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria and the Salamanca school of jurists, who in 1534 held that Atahualpa had done no “wrong to the Christians or anything else that would justify making war on them,” let alone the indignities he had suffered in his execution. The conquistadors’ greed was Vitoria’s only explanation.22

What followed was a reconquest of the conquistadors’ Peru by the Spanish Crown itself, which took until 1548 to complete. Increasingly emphatic decrees calling for better treatment of the Indians—and larger portions of treasure for the Crown—had little effect, given that those charged with enforcing those decrees either were partisans or were attempting to survive the internecine conflict. In June of 1540, the crown sent the oidor (judge) Cristóbal Vaca de Castro to regain control over the dueling factions and “punish the bad treatment and thefts perpetrated upon the Indians.”23 Arriving in Quito in 1541, he sided with the Pizarrists and executed Almagro. Vaca de Castro faltered, however, when he was charged with enforcing Charles’s Nuevas Leyes for the Indies, the New Laws that in 1542 sought to roll back the conquistadors’ power in favor of the Indians and the Crown, providing for the gradual rolling back of encomiendas and their exploitations. Vaca de Castro was unable or unwilling to enforce them—apparently having become wealthy himself—and in 1544 the first crown-appointed viceroy of Peru, Blasco Núñez Vela, imprisoned Vaca de Castro and returned him to Spain. Lima’s Audiencia rebelled, swore in Gonzalo Pizarro as interim governor of Peru, and sent an army against Núñez Vela, who was decapitated in a battle in Ecuador in 1546. Realizing that the New Laws needed to be rolled back for the sake of peace, Charles V sent Pedro de la Gasca to offer Gonzalo a pardon if he surrendered. Gonzalo refused, and after losing a climactic battle to de la Gasca at Jaquijahuana near Cusco, he was beheaded—a moment that the Jesuit José de Acosta would later cast as an act of justice not just for the Spanish king but for the abused Incas themselves.24

Killing an Inca, Making Peru

More than the incorporation of the Andes into Tahuantinsuyu by the Inca and the capture of Atahualpa and Cusco by Pizarro, it was this military defeat of the conquistadors by the Crown that founded the historical entity that was Peru—simultaneously Inca, Indian, and Spanish—on the ideal of the correction of the conquest itself. After this moment, a reconquest of the Andes by its original peoples became impossible, not simply because Manco Inca had been assassinated and Spanish numbers—buoyed by Spanish wives—reached a threshold past which a more effective dominance was achieved. Rather, the enlistment of Indian lords in the military defeat of one faction of the conquistadors created a very real alliance between curacas and the Crown, in which certain rights could be called upon and effected. Major and minor resistance to colonial rule would continue, particularly in more remote regions where Spaniards were few and Christianization was more superficial. Yet even the indigenous scribe Guaman Poma de Ayala, who in the early 17th century called for a return of Peru’s governance to the Incas—and his family, in particular—made his claim in part based on the loyalty of the Indian soldiers who had fought on behalf of the Crown and the Christianity they then adopted.

That Guaman Poma, the son of a regional Inca noble, could make such a bold proposal suggests the degree to which the intervening years had swept away the kingdom-wide legitimacy of more traditionally ccapac Inca families while also reserving for them surprisingly real privileges. While Manco rebelled, his brother Paullu had converted to Christianity and had become the Spaniards’ sapa inka in Cusco. In 1550, a year after Paullu died, his family was permitted to bring his body back to Cusco’s great plaza for his purucaya, his social reintroduction as a sacred ancestor—a ritual that was nonetheless followed by Paullo’s burial as a Christian, possibly in Cusco’s Franciscan church.25

After Paullo’s death, royal authorities still felt enough of a need for a ccapac heir—a subject sapa inka sovereign upon whom Spanish justice could be draped—that they reached out to Manco’s son Sayri Tupac in Vilcabamba. In 1552, the future King Philip II wrote to Sayri Tupac—one sovereign to another—to admit that the conquistadors had provoked Manco into his rebellion and offer generous terms to end his exile.26 In 1555, Charles V signed a cédula that ceded the valuable Marquisate and Mayorazgo of Oropesa to Sayri Tupac, who was now baptized. The Inca heir left Vilcabamba, was given Atahualpa’s maskaypacha in Lima, and received an extraordinary dispensation from the pope to marry his sister in Cusco before taking up residence on his grandfather Huayna Capac’s estate in the Sacred Valley. The Spanish Crown recognized that the descendants of Huayna Capac as the “señores naturales” of “aquellos Dominios,” possessed certain clear rights of nobility, including, in one case, the “royal mandate to raise an army on defense of the Crown’s Andean realms.” As David Cahill notes, these were “concessions, privileges and powers … unknown elsewhere in the Indies.”27 When Sayri Tupac died suddenly in 1561—it was rumored that he was poisoned by an old enemy of the Incas, a curaca of the Cañari, from Ecuador—the Spanish began the wooing process all over again, this time appealing to his brother, Titu Cusi. From these negotiations a series of rights and privileges were established that would allow the Inca as a class of lords to persist and process in Cusco in their noble finery through the late 18th century.28

The 1560s saw a hardening process against the Incas as well, however. In 1559, Spanish officials in Cusco had confiscated their mummified illapa, the anchors of their sacred, royal history. Although the Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas wrote his most fervent calls for the Spanish royalty to give back Peru and its wealth in this period, Philip II was a less receptive audience than his father had been. The discovery of the massively productive silver mine at Potosí in the 1540s had made Peru absolutely central to his sense of Spain’s global millenarian purpose and strategy. Nor was it clear that the rebel Inca nobility merited his trust. In 1564 or 1565, caches of weapons had been discovered in Jauja, seemingly in coordination with Titu Cusi’s regime in the rump kingdom of Vilcabamba. A syncretic movement named the Taqui Onqoy may have developed soon after—a “dance of disease” that sought propitiate the ancestral huacas, who were punishing the living for neglecting them in favor of Christianity.29 In the late 1560s, royal officials like the oidor Juan de Matienzo penned treatises detailing the tyranny and diabolism of the Incas, and by the time the viceroy Francisco de Toledo arrived in 1569, a case against their sovereignty was in full bloom. Although Philip had sent Toledo with specific orders to peacefully entice Titu Cusi from Vilcabamba, Toledo mounted an intellectual campaign to gather curaca testimony attesting to Inca tyranny and demolishing the Vilcabamba Incas’ claim to sovereignty.30 Only loyal Paullu’s line remained legitimate.

If Peru had been politically conquered in 1548, then the Incas themselves were only fully subjugated in 1572, when Toledo spotted his opportunity to extirpate Manco’s family line altogether. In 1569, as a gesture of good faith to Spanish officials, Titu Cusi had allowed two Augustinian friars into his kingdom, to preach to his people. One of the friars and Titu Cusi’s mestizo scribe, Martín de Pando, recorded and organized for him an emotional letter to Philip II, in which he explained how his father Manco, on his deathbed, had told him never to live with the Spaniards in peace. Yet Manco’s son seemed to have been of two minds. He permitted a Spanish miner to search for gold and silver in his kingdom, but when it was discovered, he had the miner killed. In 1571, on the anniversary of his father’s death, he caught a chill and woke up in the night in pain, vomiting blood. The remaining friar tended him, but in the morning Titu Cusi died. The maskaypacha passed to a final and younger son of Manco, Tupac Amaru, who declined to intervene while his captains killed the friar and cut off communications with the Spanish. Toledo only learned of the change in regime the following year, when Vilcabamba’s captains killed an envoy, giving the Viceroy the casus belli he likely desired. On April 14, 1572, he declared “total war on Tupac Amaru as an apostate, prevaricator, homicide, rebel and tyrant.” On September 21, a joint force of Spaniards, mestizos, and African conquistadors returned to Cusco with the Incas’ sun icon, the Punchao, and Tupac Amaru himself, led by a golden chain around his neck by Martín García de Loyola—grandnephew of the founder of the Jesuits.

Both Tupac Amaru and Toledo were implacable, but only Toledo remained so. When the former was pulled past the latter’s window, he refused to remove his royal fringe. García de Loyola struck him twice.31 Despite the protests of Inca and Spanish nobles alike, Toledo and his officials charged Tupac Amaru with murder and rushed through a trial only a little more official than that which had been imagined for Atahualpa. With great dignity, Tupac Amaru ascended a scaffold in Cusco’s main square, made a speech in which declared his conversion to Christianity, then laid his head on the block. His decapitated head was lifted to the sky, then impaled on a pole. Two days later, the Spanish officials took it down, having realized that the Indians were venerating it as if it were still alive.

In two centuries’ time, Tupac Amaru’s name would be adopted by another Inca claimant, as a symbol of rebellion against unjust rule by the Habsburg’s successors, the Bourbons.32 For now, Peru’s conquests were over, and Toledo continued with the reforms and resettlements that remade the Andes into something simultaneously new and very old: a treasure palace for the Spanish empire, whose wealth lay as much in the Indian and Inca lords who had laid its foundations as in the silver that their more humble subjects were now forced mercilessly to mine, transforming the Andes’ environment, overextending Philip’s ambition and, inadvertently, fueling the rise of capitalism worldwide.

Discussion of the Literature

The conquest of Peru has been both overemphasized and neglected in the historiography of Latin America. Like any history whose surviving description was mostly one-sided and told in military victories, Peru’s conquest has invited dangerous oversimplification since the start of its secondhand composition, in the mid-16th century. The opportunities for romanticizing or vilifying the Incas and their Spanish counterparts are many, and attempts to be “clear-eyed” about the advantages of the latter based on these overdrawn contrasts often overdetermine the outcome of their encounter. Attempts to exonerate Peru’s Indians of any societal disadvantage can fall into another fantasy, in which cultural determinism is rightly avoided but wrongly replaced with environmental and technological determinism—the capture of Atahualpa passingly explained by developments millennia before in the Old World’s past. In other words, the Incas’ conquest has often been described as inevitable, when it was in fact the product of a stunning series of contingent events, some influenced by epidemiology but taken advantage of by that great bane of theoreticians of history: political, cultural, and economic choices based on highly local perceptions of personal and societal opportunity, or lack thereof.

Nevertheless, the history of Peru’s conquest, like that of Mexico, might be considered one of the earliest taproots in English-language Latin American history: at its worst, an explanation of the nearly three hundred years of Spanish American colonial history that followed, and at its best, an entryway to more complicated questions as to how colonial society was formed beyond overt violence. The history of Peru in English based on primary sources might be said to have begun with William Hickling Prescott’s The History of the Conquest of Peru (1847), in which the subversion of Atahualpa and the Incas, however much they quashed the “power of free agency,” was “undoubtedly one of the darkest chapters in Spanish colonial history.”33 For Prescott, Pizarro and the Spanish were the English colonists’ obverse: religiously intolerant, despotic, and greedily indolent.34

Stylishly written, Prescott’s histories were treated as authoritative through the early 20th century, despite the Spanish-led publication of volumes of primary sources from the Archive of the Indies and the papers of the Spanish Crown that challenged and extended the conquistador-centered tale, such as Titu Cusi’s fiery manuscript, and the secondary account of Guaman Poma de Ayala. While the rereading of the chronicles in light of the archaeological record by John Rowe and others sought to restore the Incas to the realm of history, not myth, George Kubler’s 1947 article on the Neo-Inca state in Vilcabamba was thoughtful, but more of a footnote to the Incas’ defeat in the 1530s than an extension of the larger conquest over time.35 James Lockhart’s first two books, Spanish Peru, 1432–1560, and The Men of Cajamarca, were an early application of social history to the subject and remain crucial texts, despite an emphasis on the success of Spanish forms. In 1970, John Hemming published The Conquest of the Incas, whose length, synthetic comprehensiveness, sensitivity to Inca accounts of their history, and foregrounding of Manco and his sons make it a text of first resort for scholars seeking to re-acquaint themselves with the chronology of the conquest and the first forty years of colonial Peru.36

Partly because of Hemming’s breadth, and partly to avoid the old blood-and-thunder conquistador canards, scholars have only recently edged toward a fuller reconsideration of the conquest’s significance and terms. Much of this scholarship is informed by the “Andean” turn in Peruvian history—the extraordinary outpouring of ethnohistorical scholarship on indigenous thought, culture, religion, and economics that followed the archaeological and anthropological work of Rowe, John Murra, and their successors. Karen Spalding’s Huarochirí excavated the transformations of one highland region under Inca and Spanish rule, while Steve Stern showed how early Indian alliances with the Spanish inadvertently set the conditions for the former’s societal division and exploitation. The work of demographers informed Noble David Cook’s re-estimate of the sheer devastation of smallpox and its effect upon the conquest of Peru and other regions, but perhaps the most thrilling turn of the 1990s was the re-examination of Spanish and Indian accounts of key moments of the conquest as highly non-transparent texts, telling us as much about what each side wanted to make historically true as the “truth” itself.37

Particularly exciting—and the perspective that most informs this entry—is the work that considers how lasting Inca and Indian social and religious forms not only determined the course of the first forty years but also challenge our understanding of the Spaniards’ purported early dominance itself. Most explicitly, Gonzalo Lamana’s Domination without Dominance is a highly imaginative but convincing re-telling that turns the conquistadors’ words against them, showing how frequently they lacked control over the proceedings, acceded to the “magical” thought of both the Andes and Europe, and imbricated themselves in indigenous society, and not vice versa. The work of Kathryn Burns and Jane E. Mangan on the families the conquistadors made and married into similarly recasts those early relationships, just as work by Juan Carlos Estenssoro Fuchs, Gabriela Ramos, and David Cahill suggests the extraordinary privileges that Inca and Indian elites were able to attain via collaboration.38

Finally, a reconsideration of the social and military terms of the conquest at its earliest seems in order. Scholars like Marina Zuloaga Rada and Rafael Sánchez-Concha Barrios have shown how much can be learned by considering the local differences of the many conquests beyond Cusco, and Adam Herring’s Art and Vision in the Inca Empire: Andeans and Europeans at Cajamarca shows how much symbolic and artistic blood can still be squeezed from the apparent stone of early conquistadors’ accounts. The extension of the rewriting of Inca history based on processual archaeology and attention to lasting indigenous forms offers a step further. R. Alan Covey is at work at an account of the conquest from the foundations of Huayna Capac’s conquests, on the one hand, and the Spaniards’ experience in Panama, on the other, building from his reconsideration of the Inca empire’s social and political forms in light of his archaeology in the Incas’ heartland and its earliest textual depictions.39

Primary Sources

Although historical treasures of Peru’s many conquests likely remain hidden in judicial, notarial, and administrative archives in Lima, Seville, Madrid, and regional collections in the Andes, the subject’s inherent interest—and occasional exaggeration—has meant that a tremendous amount of primary sources have been published, and that productive work can still be done by re-reading the classic accounts with the benefit of new nuances lacked by prior historians. Much of what Susan E. Ramírez writes of the sources for the Pizarro clan elsewhere in this encyclopedia remains true for the wider conquest. The letters and relaciones (testimonial relations) written for Francisco Pizarro—whose formal illiteracy, like that of the Incas, has been overemphasized—by his secretaries Pedro Sancho and Francisco de Jerez (Xerez) were rapidly published and disseminated in Europe, but must be read in light of conflicting and later contemporary accounts like those of the “anonymous” conquistador in 1534 (likely Captain Cristóbal de Mena), Miguel de Estete, Juan Ruiz de Arce, and Pedro Pizarro, writing in 1572. Pascual de Andagoya’s account of the conquest of Panama and the beginnings of that of Peru is crucial for understanding Pizarro and others’ start. Spanish accounts of the longer conquest of the Andes, the Inca and Indian transition during that period, and the conquest of the conquistadors by royal officials can be found in the chronicles and memorials of participants like Pedro Cieza de León, Agustín de Zárate, and Juan de Betanzos and later still-sympathetic chroniclers like the friar Martín de Murua. Many of the most interesting reconsiderations of the conquest come via the prefatory matter of more recent publications of these texts. Most all, in both Spanish and their translation by Clements Markham in the late 19th and early 20th century, can be consulted online via the Internet Archive and Google Books.

Although Betanzos and Murua contain much that might shed light upon native perspectives of the conquest—their primary sources included Doña Angelina Cuxirumay, formerly Atahualpa’s betrothed and Pizarro’s mistress, and Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala—still more directly “indigenous” perspectives exist as well. The early 17th century Comentarios Reales de los Incas (1609) of Garcilaso de la Vega, the son of a Spanish conquistador and a niece of Huayna Capac, contain his family’s perspectives, even if archaeologists and ethnohistorians like John Rowe once dismissed him as unreliable. Although the Relación de las antigüedades deste Reyno del Piru (1613) by Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salamayhua contains useful traditions regarding the last years of Inca rule, Guaman Poma’s more self-conscious foregrounding of his perspective as a Christian Inca heir to the conflicts with the conquistadors and subsequent viceroys make his richly illustrated Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (c. 1615) a more useful text to work with. Yet these “indigenous” texts contain their own blind spots. Both Garcilaso and Guaman Poma’s texts dealt powerfully with the execution of Tupac Amaru I by Toledo, but, as Catherine Julien recently noted, neither mentioned Titu Cusi, whose letter to Philip II, his History of How the Spaniards Arrived in Peru (1570), is the most insightfully angry retelling of the conquest of all, offering a counter-narrative to the perspective lent by the Augustinian Antonio de Calancha’s account of Vilcabamba.40

Beyond these first-person or thinly veiled third-person memorials and accounts are the innumerable testimonial, administrative, and judicial documents whose publication since the 19th century makes the writing of the Peruvian conquest at a distance from the Andes conceivable, if inadvisable. Prior to 1550, much documentation was lost, including the conquistadors’ first account of the founding of Spanish Cusco. Early gaps in archives such as that of Trujillo further suggest that Manco Inca’s rebellions and the civil war among the conquistadors destroyed a great deal—perhaps conveniently, as it allowed the less scrupulous among the Spanish to appropriate the wealth of their dead comrades. Yet, as Ramírez also notes, the publication from the mid-19th century to the early 20th of primary documents in Spain remains a treasure-house for today’s researcher, from the 112 volumes of José Sancho Rayón’s Colección de documentos inéditos para la Historia de España to Joachín Francisco Pacheco and Francisco Cárdenas y Espejo’s forty-two volume Colección de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y colonización de las posesiones españolas de América y Oceanía, José Toribio Medina’s thirty-volume Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de Chile, and the twenty-one volumes of the Coleccion de Documentos Inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las antiguas posesiones de ultramar. For the reconquest of Peru by the Spanish crown and Viceroy Toledo’s assault upon the Inca state in Vilcabamba, researchers should consult Miguel Salva y Munar’s Documentos relativos al licenciado Pedro de la Gasca sobre … ir a pacificar el Perú sublevado por Gonzalo Pizarro y los suyos, Juan Pérez de Tudela y Bueso’s Documentos relativos a don Pedro de la Gasca y Gonzalo Pizarro, and the fourteen volumes edited by Roberto Levillier, Gobernantes del Perú: Cartas y papeles.41

Portal de Archivos españoles (PARES), which includes the Archivo General de las Indias in Seville.

Guaman Poma de Ayala’s Nueva corónica y buen gobierno.

The Internet Archive and Google Books provide a tremendous range of primary accounts, chronicles, and published sources through the early 20th century.

Further Reading

Cahill, David. “The Long Conquest: Collaboration by Native Andean Elites in the Colonial System, 1532–1825.” In Technology, Disease, and Colonial Conquests, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries: Essays Reappraising the Guns and Germs Theories, ed. George Raudzens, 85–126. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001.Find this resource:

Castro Yupanqui, Diego de (Titu Cusi), History of How the Spaniards Arrived in Peru. Translated by Catherine Julien. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2006.Find this resource:

Cook, Noble David. Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Covey, R. Alan. “Chronology, Succession, and Sovereignty: The Politics of Inka Historiography and Its Modern Interpretation.” Comparative studies in society and history 48.1 (2006): 169–199.Find this resource:

Covey, R. Alan. How the Incas Built Their Heartland: State Formation and the Innovation of Imperial Strategies in the Sacred Valley, Peru. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Estenssoro Fuchs, Juan Carlos. Del Paganismo a la Santidad: La incorporación de los indios del Perú al catolicismo, 1532–1750. Translated by Gabriela Ramos. Lima: Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Instituto Riva-Agüero, 2003.Find this resource:

Hemming, John. The Conquest of the Incas. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1970.Find this resource:

Herring, Adam. Art and Vision in the Inca Empire: Andeans and Europeans at Cajamarca. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Lamana, Gonzalo. “Of Books, Popes, and Huacas; or, The Dilemmas of Being Christian.” In Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Religious and Racial Difference in the Renaissance Empires, ed. Margaret R. Greer, Walter D. Mignolo, and Maureen Quilligan, 117–149. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Lamana, Gonzalo. Domination without Dominance: Inca-Spanish Encounters in Early Colonial Peru. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Lockhart, James. Spanish Peru, 1532–1560: A Colonial Society. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968.Find this resource:

Lockhart, James. The Men of Cajamarca: A Social and Biographical Study of the First Conquerors of Peru. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972.Find this resource:

Mangan, Jane E. Transatlantic Obligations: Creating the Bonds of Family in Conquest-Era Peru. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Prescott, William H. History of the Conquest of Peru. London: Routledge, 1847.Find this resource:

Ramírez, Susan E. To Feed and be Fed: The Cosmological Bases of Authority and Identity in the Andes. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Ramos, Gabriela. Death and Conversion in the Andes: Lima and Cuzco, 1532–1670. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Sánchez-Concha Barrios, Rafael. Del Régimen Hispánico: Estudios Sobre la Conquista y el Orden virreinal peruano. Arequipa, Peru: Universidad Católica San Pablo, 2013.Find this resource:

Seed, Patricia. “‘Failing to Marvel’: Atahualpa’s Encounter with the Word.” Latin American Research Review 26.1 (1991): 7–32.Find this resource:

Spalding, Karen. Huarochirí: Indian Society under Inca and Spanish Rule. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1984.Find this resource:

Stern, Steve J. “The Rise and Fall of Indian-White Alliances: A Regional View of ‘Conquest’ History.” Hispanic American Historical Review 61.3 (1981): 461–491.Find this resource:

Stern, Steve J. Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982.Find this resource:

Stirling, Stuart. Pizarro: Conqueror of the Inca. Stroud, U.K.: Sutton, 2005.Find this resource:

Varón Gabai, Rafael. Francisco Pizarro and His Brothers: The Illusion of Power in Sixteenth-Century Peru. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.Find this resource:

de la Vega, Garcilaso. Royal Commentaries of the Incas, and General History of Peru. Translated by Harold V. Livermore. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Zuloaga Rada, Marina. La Conquista Negociada: Guarangas, autoridades locales e imperio en Huaylas, Perú, 1532–1610. Lima: IFEA, IEP, 2012.Find this resource:


(1.) The conquest of Peru might even be said to have yielded Europe’s attempted military and economic conquest of the rest of the world—inspiring European competition elsewhere in the Americas and, through its silver, fueling the rise of capitalism in the North Atlantic. For the beginning of that story, see Peter T. Bradley, “Peru in English: The Early History of the English Fascination with Peru,” in Habsburg Peru: Images, Imagination and Memory, by Peter T. Bradley and David Cahill (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000), 1–84, and Jason W. Moore, “‘Amsterdam Is Standing on Norway,’ Part I: The Alchemy of Capital, Empire, and Nature in the Diaspora of Silver, 1545–1648,” Journal of Agrarian Change 10.1 (January 2010): 33–68.

(2.) R. Alan Covey, “Chronology, Succession, and Sovereignty: The Politics of Inka Historiography and Its Modern Interpretation,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 48.1 (2006): 173.

(3.) Irene Silverblatt, “Imperial Dilemmas, the Politics of Kinship, and Inca Reconstructions of History,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 30.1 (1988): 83–102, is particularly excellent on this point.

(4.) Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World: 1492–1640 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

(5.) Irving A. Leonard, Books of the Brave (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).

(6.) Carl Otwin Sauer, The Early Spanish Main (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2008), remains highly useful on this point.

(7.) I thank R. Alan Covey for making this point to me in conversation and exceedingly look forward to his treatment of the subject.

(8.) See Heather Lechtman, “The Inka, and Andean Metallurgical Tradition,” in Variations in the Expressions of Inca Power: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 18 and 19 October 1997, ed. Richard R. Burger, Craig Morris, and Ramiro Matos Mendieta (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2007), 313–343.

(9.) John F. Guilmartin Jr., “The Cutting Edge: An Analysis of the Spanish Invasion and Overthrow of the Inca Empire, 1532–1539,” in Transatlantic Encounters: Europeans and Andeans in the Sixteenth Century, ed. Kenneth J. Andrien and Rolena Adorno (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 40–69.

(10.) Most forcefully by Noble David Cook, Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

(11.) As translated in John Hemming, The Conquest of the Incas (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1970), 55.

(12.) Patricia Seed, “‘Failing to Marvel’: Atahualpa’s Encounter with the Word.” Latin American Research Review 26.1 (1991): 7–32.

(13.) Gonzalo Lamana, Domination without Dominance: Inca-Spanish Encounters in Early Colonial Peru (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008).

(14.) Lamana, Domination without Dominance.

(15.) Hemming, Conquest of the Incas, 87.

(16.) Hemming, Conquest of the Incas, 120.

(17.) Sabine MacCormack, “History, Historical Record, and Ceremonial Action: Incas and Spaniards in Cuzco,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 43.2 (April 2001): 329–363.

(18.) Kathryn Burns, Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999); Lamana, Domination without Dominance; Jane E. Mangan, Transatlantic Obligations: Creating the Bonds of Family in Conquest-Era Peru and Spain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

(19.) Steve J. Stern, “The Rise and Fall of Indian-White Alliances: A Regional View of ‘Conquest’ History,” Hispanic American Historical Review 61.3 (1981): 461–491.

(20.) Hemming, Conquest of the Incas, 183.

(21.) One rumor reached the Council of Indies from Panama claiming that eighty thousand Peruvian Indians in Cusco marched with crucifixes asking for food and “falling dead in the streets.” Robles al Cardenal Siguenza, September 20, 1539, in Raúl Porras Barrenechea, Colección De Documentos Inéditos Para La Historia Del Perú, vol. 3, Cartas Del Perú, 1524–1543 (Lima: Sociedad de Bibliófilos Peruanos, 1959), 374.

(22.) Vitoria to P. Arcos about “cosas de Indias,” in Carta Magna de los indios: Fuentes constitucionales, 1534–1609, ed. Luciano Pereña, Carlos Baciero (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1988), 37–40.

(23.) “Libro Perú, de 1540,” Coleccion de Documentos Inéditos de Ultramar, vol. 15, Consejo de Indas II, ed. Angel de Altolaguirre y Duvale and Adolfo Bonilla y San Martín (Madrid: Tip. de la Revista de archivos, bibliotecas y museos, 1924), 128, 131, 137.

(24.) José de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, ed. Jane E. Mangan, trans. Frances López-Morillas (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 362.

(25.) Gabriela Ramos, “The Incas of Cuzco and the Transformation of Sacred Space under Spanish Colonial Rule,” in Space and Conversion in Global Perspective, ed. Giuseppe Marcocci, Wietse de Boer, Aliocha Maldavsky, and Ilaria Pavan (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2015), 73.

(26.) Hemming, Conquest of the Incas, 290. Although Sayri Tupac was Manco’s middle son, he apparently also had the greatest claim to the maskaypacha, the Inca royal fringe, given that his mother was apparently more ccapac—meaning more closely descended from the original Inca, Manco Ccapac, on both paternal and maternal sides—than the mothers of his brothers Titu Cusi and Tupac Amaru.

(27.) David Cahill, “Becoming Inca: Juan Bustamante Carlos Inca and the Roots of the Great Rebellion,” Colonial Latin American Review 22.2 (2013): 261, 267.

(28.) Carolyn J. Dean, Inka Bodies and the Body of Christ: Corpus Christi in Colonial Cuzco, Peru (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999); David T. Garrett, Shadows of Empire: The Indian Nobility of Cusco, 1750–1825 (Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

(29.) Pedro M. Guibovich Pérez, “Cristobal de Albornoz y el Taki Onqoy,” Historica 15.2 (1991): 205–236.

(30.) MacCormack, “History, Historical Record, and Ceremonial Action,” 347–348; Catherine J. Julien, “Francisco De Toledo and His Campaign against the Incas,” Colonial Latin American Review 16.2 (2007): 244.

(31.) Martín de Murúa and Manuel Ballesetros Gaibrois, Historia General del Perú (Madrid: Historia 16, 1987), 296.

(32.) Charles Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

(33.) Helen Delpar, Looking South: The Evolution of Latin Americanist Scholarship in the United States, 1850–1975 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008), 9–10.

(34.) William H. Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru (London: Routledge, 1847); Richard L. Kagan, “Prescott’s Paradigm: American Historical Scholarship and the Decline of Spain,” American Historical Review 101 (April 1996): 430.

(35.) George Kubler, “The Neo-Inca State (1537–1752),” Hispanic American Historical Review 27 (1947): 189–203.

(36.) James Lockhart, Spanish Peru, 1532–1560: A Colonial Society (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968); Lockhart, The Men of Cajamarca: A Social and Biographical Study of the First Conquerors of Peru (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972); Hemming, Conquest of the Incas.

(37.) Karen Spalding, Huarochirí: Indian Society under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1984); Stern, “Rise and Fall of Indian-White Alliances; Stern, Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982); Cook, Born to Die.

(38.) Lamana, Domination without Dominance; Burns, Colonial Habits; Mangan, Transatlantic Obligations; Juan Carlos Estenssoro Fuchs, Del Paganismo a la Santidad: La incorporación de los indios del Perú al catolicismo, 1532–1750, trans. Gabriela Ramos (Lima: Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Instituto Riva-Agüero, 2003); Gabriela Ramos, Death and Conversion in the Andes: Lima and Cuzco, 1532–1670 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010); Cahill, “Becoming Inca.”

(39.) Marina Zuloaga Rada, La Conquista Negociada: Guarangas, autoridades locales e imperio en Huaylas, Perú, 1532–1610 (Lima: IFEA, IEP, 2012); Rafael Sánchez-Concha Barrios, Del Régimen Hispánico: Estudios Sobre la Conquista y el Orden virreinal peruano (Arequipa, Peru: Universidad Católica San Pablo, 2013); Adam Herring, Art and Vision in the Inca Empire: Andeans and Europeans at Cajamarca (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

(40.) Diego de Castro Yupanqui (Titu Cusi), History of How the Spaniards Arrived in Peru, trans. Catherine Julien (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2006), xvi.

(41.) José Sancho Rayón, Colección de documentos inéditos para la Historia de España, 112 vols. (Madrid: Imprenta de la Viuda de Calero, 1842–1895); Joachín Francisco Pacheco and Francisco Cárdenas y Espejo, Colección de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y colonización de las posesiones españolas de América y Oceanía, 42 vols. (Madrid: Imprenta de M. Bernaldo de Quirós, 1864–1884); José Toribio Medina, Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de Chile, 30 vols, (Santiago, Chile: Imprenta Ercilla, 1888–1902); Coleccion de Documentos Inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las antiguas posesiones de ultramar, 21 vols. (Madrid,: Real Academia de la Historia, 1885–1932); Miguel Salva y Munar, Documentos relativos al licenciado Pedro de la Gasca sobre … ir a pacificar el Perú sublevado por Gonzalo Pizarro y los suyos (Madrid: Imprenta de la Viuda de Calero, 1866–1867); Juan Pérez de Tudela y Bueso, ed., Documentos relativos a don Pedro de la Gasca y Gonzalo Pizarro (Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 1964); Roberto Levillier, ed., Gobernantes del Perú: Cartas y papeles, 14 vols. (Madrid: Sucesores de Rivadeneyra (s. a.), 1921–1926).