Despite being rendered deaf and blind at 18 months, Helen
History classes paint Conquistadores with two brushes – on the one hand as bold explorers, and on the other as horrifying genocidal maniacs. They also normally focus on Cortez and the Aztec. Below are 7 facts about Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador who conquered the Inca.
His first expedition was a disaster
In November 1524, Pizarro left from Panama with 80 men and 40 horses. They sailed down the Pacific coast with the full approval of the Governor of Panama.
It did not go well. Due to bad weather, lack of food and hostile natives, the conquering heroes only got so far as Columbia before one final bad skirmish with natives made them turn back.
He spent his second expedition messing around in a swamp
The second expedition (after convincing the skeptical Governor of Panama to give them another chance) split into three parties. The first party, led by Pizarro, pushed inland into Columbia; the second party sailed south under command of Pizarro’s Main Pilot; and the third returned to Panama for reinforcements. Pizarro found nothing, but managed to exhaust himself and his men with some serious problems.
The second expedition’s success was less skill and more Battleship
The second party sailed south. After crossing the equator, they ran into and captured a native ship full of not only textiles and pottery, but also gold, silver, and emeralds. With this booty (and several captive natives as interpreters), they sailed back north and picked up the unproductive Pizarro.
The second expedition ended due to an angry city of just-conquered natives
After Pizarro and the second party reunited, the third returned from Panama full of supplies and reinforcements. Encouraged, the whole company sailed south. After a tough voyage due to weather and strong currents, they arrived at Atacames.
It was occupied.
There was a large population of natives there who had just come under Incan rule, but they put up such a fierce resistance that the Spanish gave up on the second excursion and returned to a safer area.
The expeditions almost stopped there
After the poor success of the first two expeditions, the Governor of Panama was not happy. When Pizarro’s company requested more reinforcements, the Governor flatly refused and sent boats to retrieve Pizarro and his men.
While Pizarro refused to return at first, he did return to Panama several months later, and the next governor agreed to a third expedition.
Pizarro demanded literal rooms of gold and silver as ransom for the King
The third expedition was a success. Pizarro and his men defeated a large Incan force and captured the King. In ransom, Pizarro demanded that the Inca completely fill a room with gold and two more with silver for their King back. The Inca did as Pizarro asked, literally filling the rooms.
However, despite protestations from his men, Pizarro still executed the Incan king.
The conquest was almost a matter of negotiations
Before that fateful battle, Pizarro and some of his men met the Incan king in his camp to negotiate. However, before Pizarro had a chance to speak to the king, a monk that they had brought with them spoke to the king (with the aid of an interpreter) and told him about the true church and about how the Inca would need to pay tribute to the King of Spain.
The Incan king was not happy with this. He declared “I will be no man’s tributary” and refused to join with Spain.