Cortés’ conquest of the mighty Aztec kingdom inspired another Spanish conquistador to find an empire of his own to conquer. His name was Francisco Pizarro; and, in 1532, he, with his brothers, set off on an expedition to Peru—an empire that rivaled the glory of the Aztecs.
In Peru, the Inca
Climbing high into the Andes, the Pizarro brothers and their men learned that the Inca, Atahualpa, was fighting a civil war against his brother.
Arriving in the Peruvian city of Cajamarca, it seemed to the explorers that the buildings were roofed with gold. The walls and roof of the Temple of the Sun, the largest building in Cajamarca, and the walls of the Inca’s palace were hung with plates of gold to reflect the life-giving rays of the sun god.
Hungry for treasure, Francisco Pizarro planned to seize this gold for himself.
Pizarro and his men carried out their plan in the most treacherous way.
They invited the Inca into their camp. When Atahualpa entered with his bodyguard, the Spaniards slaughtered the Indians and took Atahualpa captive.
Pizarro said he would release Atahualpa only if the Inca leader agreed to fill a room with gold. Atahualpa and Inca nobles agreed and filled the throne room of their palace with the shining metal.
But when, at last, the Inca fulfilled his promise and had filled the entire room with gold, the Spaniards killed him.
Naming a new Inca leader
Even so, Manco Capac wanted to drive the Spaniards from Peru. With his Indian armies, he laid siege to the Spaniards in the cities of Cuzco and Lima.
But in April 1537, the Spaniards defeated the Indians and put them to flight.
Murder from an unexpected place
Francisco Pizarro, however, did not long enjoy his new riches and power. On June 26, 1541, he was assassinated in Lima by fellow conquistadors!
The whole of rich Peru, however, remained part of the Spanish empire.