Sarmiento described the decision of the 8th Sapa Inca:
As Viracocha was now very old, he nominated as his successor his bastard son Inca Urco, without regard to the order of succession, because he was very fond of his mother.
With the stamp bastard son, Sarmiento reminded his reader about what was fundamental for him: the Incas lack of legitimacy. The appointed heir to the throne, Inca Urco, was followed by this torrent:
This Inca was bold, proud, and despised others, so that he aroused the indignation of the warriors, more especially of the legitimate sons, Inca Roca, who was the eldest, and of the valiant captains Apu Mayta and Vicaquirau.
This oldest son Inca Roca must not be confused with the 6th Sapa Inca of the same name.
Sarmiento continued on some mens abuse of power:
These took order to prevent this succession to the Incaship, preferring one of the other brothers, the best conditioned, who would treat them well and honourably as they deserved. They secretly set their eyes on the third of the legitimate sons named Cusi, afterwards called Inca Yupanqui, because they believed that he was mild and affable, and, besides these qualities, he showed signs of high spirit and lofty ideas. Apu Mayta was more in favour of this plan than the others, as he desired to have some one to shield him from the fury of Inca Viracocha. Mayta thought that the Inca would kill him because he had seduced a woman named Cacchon Chicya, who was a wife of Viracocha.
So Sarmiento saw many reasons for an impending coup, and continued:
While they were consulting how it should be managed, the Chancas of Andahuaylas, thirty leagues from Cusco, marched upon that city, as will be narrated in the life of Inca Yupanqui. Inca Viracocha, from fear of them, fled from Cusco, and went to a place called Caquia Xaquixahuana, where he shut himself up, being afraid of the Chancas. Here he died after some years, deprived of Cusco of which his son Cusi had possession for several years before his fathers death. Inca Viracocha was he who had made the most extensive conquests beyond Cusco and, as we may say, he tyrannized anew even as regards Cusco, as has been said above.
Sarmiento described the terrified, cowardly and tyrannical Inca Viracocha who would not defend Cusco against the Chancas attacks.
And now Inca Viracocha had appointed an unpopular, illegitimate son as heir instead of the oldest genuine son. Sarmiento here hinted that it was wrong and mentioned the officers who conspired for covering a sexual relationship with one of the Incas women. In short: No respect for the royal succession! It must have delighted Sarmiento to be able to listen and nod to Indians and quote them for these arguments.
Sapa Inca, divine ruler, must have been burdened by immense expectations. Always to should show in close contact with the gods and to balance the powerful forces of reality. To sit at the top of the hierarchy implied the risk of falling deep into the abyss, of being murdered and worse: of being destroyed, so the descendants did not have an ancestor in the form of a mummy to worship in the eternal aftermath.
Inheritance struggles were part of the conditions of the upper circles. Court intrigues apparently did not contrast the ancestral worship – if only it happened hidden and was properly interpreted. Decisive was who worshipped which ancestors, which schemes were prepared, what stories were told and how. With the many sexually accessible women of the Inca – what opportunities it could give a woman and her offspring, if she was chosen to offer her sex and uterus to the ruler – he had many children and had to live with jealousy, strife and power struggles.
Now, the very old 8th Sapa Inca, Inca Viracocha, had the responsibility for appointing his heir among his sons. It wasn’t easy! And then he named his illegitimate son Inca Urco, because he was very fond of the boys mother, Sarmiento noted.
At that time – and I speak of the year 1438 when Inca Viracocha was pushed aside – the Chancas were the main opponents of the Incas. The crisis came in no way suddenly, it had been built up for years, but with the weak leadership of the Incas, the Chancas saw opportunities in a confrontation. War between the areas two major ones. Death and destruction await.
Major changes often arise from crises. Retrospectively, I can observe that the result of the confrontation with the Chancas was the reorganization and expansion of the Inca Empire that ended as the world’s largest Indian nation. But the story could have ended in other ways.
Sarmiento quoted with delight criticism of the Incas, but also the Chancas war-chiefs he characterized as robbers and tyrants who threatened to attack the Incas in Cusco. Brutal fights, and the impending attack of the Chancas led Sarmiento to reveal the conspiracy – which aimed at a palace revolution – among Inca-officers:
The news spread terror among the orejones of Cusco, for they doubted the powers of Inca Viracocha, who was now very old and weak. Thinking that the position of Cusco was insecure, Viracocha called a Council of his sons and captains Apu Mayta and Vicaquirau. These captains said to him: Inca Viracocha! We have understood what you have proposed to us touching this matter, and how you ought to meet the difficulty. After careful consideration it appears to us that as you are old and infirm owing to what you have undergone in former wars, it will not be well that you should attempt so great a business, dangerous and with victory doubtful, such as that which now presents itself before your eyes. The wisest counsel respecting the course you should adopt is that you should leave Cusco, and proceed to the place of Chita, and thence to Caquia Xaquixahuana, which is a strong fort, whence you may treat for an agreement with the Chancas.
They gave this advice to Viracocha to get him out of Cusco and give them a good opportunity to put their designs into execution, which were to raise Cusi Inca Yupanqui to the throne. In whatever manner it was done, it is certain that this advice was taken by the Inca Viracocha. He determined to leave Cusco and proceed to Chita, in accordance with their proposal.
But when Cusi Inca Yupanqui found that his father was determined to leave Cusco, they say that he thus addressed him: How father can it fit into your heart to accept such infamous advice as to leave Cusco, city of the Sun and of Viracocha, whose name you have taken, whose promise you hold that you shall be a great lord, you and your descendants. Though a boy, he said this with the animated daring of a man high in honour.
The father answered that he was a boy and that he spoke like one, in talking without consideration, and that such words were of no value. Inca Yupanqui replied that he would remain where they would be remembered, that he would not leave Cusco nor abandon the House of the Sun.
They say that all this was planned by the said captains of Viracocha, Apu Mayta and Vicaquirau, to throw those off their guard who might conceive suspicion respecting the remaining of Inca Yupanqui in Cusco. So Viracocha left Cusco and went to Chita, taking with him his two illegitimate sons Inca Urco and Inca Socso. His son Inca Yupanqui remained at Cusco, resolved to defend the city or die in its defence.
According to Sarmiento, old Inca Viracocha let officers seduce him out of Cusco, while Inca Viracochas third legitimate son, Inca Yupanqui, received divine help:
Inca Yupanqui made great praying to Viracocha and to the Sun to protect the city. One day he was at Susurpuquio in great affliction, thinking over the best plan for opposing his enemies, when there appeared a person in the air like the Sun, consoling him and animating him for the battle. This being held up to him a mirror in which the provinces he would subdue were shown, and told him that he would be greater than any of his ancestors: he was to have no doubt, but to return to the city, because he would conquer the Chancas who were marching on Cusco.
With these words the vision animated Inca Yupanqui. He took the mirror, which he carried with him ever afterwards, in peace or war, and returned to the city, where he began to encourage those he had left there, and some who came from afar.
(pp. 205-209 in volume 2, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2
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