Peru: Beginnings of the Conquest

The beginnings of the Conquest of Peru.

On September 25, 1513, after a journey of one month across the isthmus of Panama, Vasco Núñez de Balboa was the first European to see the South Sea, as Magellan, later, will appoint Pacific Ocean. On 29, he formally took possession of this sea, on behalf of the kings of Spain. Subsequently, he undertook to sail south, and began to recruit men and to build boats. His project was interrupted by the new Governor of the Castile of Gold, Pedrarias Davila, which caused Balboa to be arrested, judged and condemned to death. He was beheaded on January 15, 1519. He had been arrested by his former captain Francisco Pizarro.

The project of journey to the south, was picked up three years later, by Pascual of Andagoya. The Indians of the gulf of San Miguel had advised him that further to the south, was a rich and powerful cacique of the name of Birú or Pirú. He undertook therefore this expedition. After many adventures, he succeeded to the Rio San Juan, in what is now Colombia. Here, the canoe in which he had taken place were overturned, and he was seriously injured. The journey took end with this incident, and the entire troupe went back to Panama. The letters that Andagoya wrote on his return, were commented on, and Birú or Pirú were transformed in Peru, a name that was assigned to the empire of the Incas.

Pizarro, in association with Diego de Almagro and Hernando de Luque, again took up the project of journey to the south.

A first attempt took place in 1524. It turned quickly to the disaster, on the Colombian side of the current province of Cauca. Pizarro himself almost lost life in a violent battle against the Indian tribes, in a place that the Spaniards called Punta Quemada. Diego de Almagro, lost an eye.

13 famaA second expedition in 1526, turned also to the disaster in June 1527. Arrived at the island of the Isla del Gallo, all men asked him to return to Panama. The new Governor, Pedro de Los Rios, sent Juan Tafur to lead back the men who did not want to go farther. Only 13 men decided to continue with Pizarro: Los Trece de la Fama. The driver Bartolome Ruiz was the first to see on the water an Inca boat, a balsa, steered by men richly dressed and trimmed up with gold. Pizarro abandoned yet the expedition and returned to Panama, from where he sailed to Spain to ask for the support of emperor Charles V.

On July 26, 1529, he obtained from Charles V, in the Agreement of Toledo, the title of Governor and Captain General and Adelantado of these new territories hereinafter called New Castile. The Agreement bear the seeds of civil wars that Peru will know later, because contrary to his promises, Pizarro was assigned all titles, leaving no particularly to Almagro than the measly as a Lieutenant of the small town of Tumbez.

In 1530, Pizarro returned to Panama accompanied by men recruited in his home region of Extremadura, and by his brothers, to which he gave the of supervisory positions for the troupe, despite their total inexperience of the Indies.

At the end of the year 1530, the expedition journeyed from Panama with 185 men and 35 horses. It stopped several months in Coaque, Ecuador. Over a third of the men died from diseases or Indian attacks. The reinforcements sent from Panama by Almagro (about 60 men) arrived several months later. The expedition continued the overland route to the Gulf of Guayaquil, from where it passed on rafts, on July 25, 1531, to the island of Puna, with the help of the Indians of the island. It received new reinforcements came from Nicaragua with Sebastian de Benalcazar and Hernando de Soto.

It is only a year later, they came back on the coast, where they took possession of the city of Tumbez. They left Tumbez the May 16, 1532 and arrived in Cajamarca on November 15 of the same year, after having founded the city of San Miguel where Pizarro left a part of the troupe (the wounded and sick especially).

In Cajamarca, we will attend to the massacre of more than 2,000 Indians in the escort of Atahualpa and the Inca army. We will also attend the capture of the Inca Atahualpa.

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