The Sapa Inca was
all-powerful. He ruled everything. He
made all the laws. Everything was the responsibility of the Sapa Inca,
and nothing could be done until the Sapa Inca approved it. How
did the Sapa Inca rule 12 million people all by himself? That's easy. He
The Sapa Inca organized his government in
Alone at the top of the pyramid was the
Supreme Council (4 men)
Officials (army officers,
priests, judges, and others from the noble class) These individuals
could ride in a litter and had other special privileges not enjoyed
by the general population.
Tax collectors. There were
several levels of tax collectors. There was one tax collector for
every ayllu (for every family group.) That tax collector reported to
a collector higher up the scale who might be in charge of 10 ayllus.
And so it went. Tax collectors could be in charge of 100 people or
10,000 people. Their rung on the social scale was measured
At the bottom of the pyramid were the workers.
Workers were organized into family units called ayllus. Most of the
people in the Inca Empire were workers.
When the Sapa Inca made a new law, he told the top tax collectors. They
told the tax collectors who reported to them, who told the next level
down, and so on, until everyone every farmer and every family in the
empire heard the news. Since the workers could not vote or voice an
opinion, that was the end of it until the Inca made a new law. Word
would come down. If you broke any Inca
law, punishment was harsh and swift.
The Sapa Inca put his relatives in
positions of power. You could
work your way up. But mostly, the government officials were members of
the royal family and the nobility.
It was easy to tell if someone in charge was a
royal or not. When the royals were young children, boards were strapped
to their heads. This was not painful, but their head grew almost into a
point. To the Incas, pointed heads were symbols of beauty and prestige.