History Francisco Pizarro Meets the Incas Part 3 Eyewitness View

About the eyewitness view of explorer Francisco Pizarro's first encounter with the Incas.


The Coming of Pizarro As Seen by the Incas

Eyewitness Account: Huaman Poma, a member of the Inca nobility, lived during the transition to Spanish rule. The following account of the battle at Cajamarca is excerpted from his Letter to a King, a description of Inca culture before and after the Spanish conquest.

"Friar Vicente.. came forward holding a crucifix in his right hand and a breviary in his left and introduced himself as another envoy of the Spanish ruler, who according to his account was a friend of God, and who often worshiped before the cross and believed in the Gospel. Friar Vicente called upon the Inca to renounce all other gods as being a mockery of the truth.

"Atahualpa's reply was that he could not change his belief in the Sun, who was immortal, and in the other Inca divinities. He asked Friar Vicente what authority he had for his own belief, and the friar told him it was all written in the book which he held. The Inca then said: 'Give me the book so that it can speak to me'. The book was handed up to him, and he began to eye it carefully and listen to it page by page. At last he asked: 'Why doesn't the book say anything to me?' Still sitting on his throne, he threw it on the ground with a haughty and petulant gesture.

"Friar Vicente found his voice and called out that the Indians were against the Christian faith. Thereupon Pizarro and Almagro (his lieutenant) began to shout orders to their men, telling them to attack these Indians who rejected God and the Emperor. The Spaniards began to fire their muskets and charged upon the Indians, killing them like ants. At the sound of the explosions and the jingle of bells on the horses' harness, the shock of arms and the whole amazing novelty of their attackers' appearance, the Indians were terror-stricken. The pressure of their numbers caused the walls of the square to crumble and fall. They were desperate to escape from being trampled by the horses, and in their headlong flight a lot of them were crushed to death. So many Indians were killed that it was impracticable to count them. As for the Spaniards, only five of them lost their lives, and these few casualties were not caused by the Indians, who had at no time dared to attack the formidable strangers. The Spaniards' corpses were found clasped together with their Indian victims, and it was assumed that they had been mistakenly trampled to death by their own cavalry."

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