Spanish Arrival, Pizarro Illustration

Inca Empire for Kids
Spanish Arrival

Fall of the Inca Empire

Around the same time that people were settling in Colonial America, in what would someday be the United States, down in South America, high in the Andes Mountains, an Inca ruler died without first choosing a son to take his place. Two sons both wanted to be the Sapa Inca. One crowned himself. The other objected. Civil war broke out in the Inca empire.

The war lasted five years. One brother finally won the war, but the people were exhausted. The army had been weakened by many deaths. New warriors had not yet been trained in enough numbers to replace them.

That's when the Spanish arrived. It was luck. If they had arrived a few years earlier, they probably would have been immediately sacrificed. But the new Sapa Inca was flush with victory. He wanted to have some fun. He let Francisco Pizarro and his band of 167 soldiers arrive in the capital city, unharmed. The new Sapa Inca greeted them warmly.

Pizarro knew they were in trouble the minute he entered their fabulous capital city. There was gold everywhere. There were people everywhere. There were temples and beautiful art. This was a civilization, and an organized one. Pizarro and his men planned all night how to escape. They knew they had very little chance of success.

The next morning, the Sapa Inca visited the Spanish. He brought about 2000 attendants and priests with him, which for the Sapa Inca, was normal. None of the 2000 attendants were armed. None were warriors. That was not how things were done.

The Spanish grabbed the Sapa Inca, holding him tightly by the throat. The 2000 attendants and priests did not know what to do. Nobody touched the Sapa Inca without his permission. The Spanish quickly killed nearly all the 2000 attendants, while they stood frozen in shock.

The Sapa Inca was startled, but he was also a quick thinker. From listening to the men, he learned that all they wanted was gold and silver. He offered them a ransom for his release, a room full of gold and silver. The Spanish could take it and safely leave. The Sapa Inca kept his word, because that's what Sapa Inca's did. The Spanish took all the gold they could carry, killed the Sapa Inca, and fled. No one stopped them, not even the military. They were not ordered to stop them. People in the Inca empire did what they were told.

When the Spanish returned, they brought an army with them. This time, the Incas were ready. But it did not save them.

Conquest of the Incas - Pizarro

Incas for Kids