The War of Brothers between Sapa Inca Huáscar and Atahualpa became the beginning of a much greater disaster. The War of Brothers cost hundreds of thousands of lives, but the Spanish conquest came to cost millions.
No one could know that the great collapse of the Inca Empire would follow the first cries, the first blood. It was a historic coincidence.
While Atahualpas warriors are fighting under the control of his generals and orders of captains, and victims on all sides are wrenching under consequences of clashes – many weakened by unknown diseases that have infected thousands – he himself is carried to the south – from Quito in present-day Ecuador to Cajamarca in the north of present-day Peru – in order to soon be inaugurated as Sapa Inca in the ancient capital, Cusco. While Atahualpas warriors occupy Cusco bloodyly, Atahualpa is contemplating how to be celebrated there.
It must be great! But then Atahualpas thoughts are interrupted. A chaski, a runner, reports news. High, bright people have gone ashore. They are approaching!
Every day, Atahualpa receives new messages about the strangers coming ever closer, 177 in noisy clothes, 67 sitting on big animals, that must be giant llamas. 177 men and some so big they are closer to the sun. Strange. Of course, nothing that can shake him, in no way, on the contrary, he might use the 177 men. Maybe.
A few days later, 168 strangers, 63 on the large animals, who are not llamas, are reported. Atahualpa sends a representative to the strangers for examining them further – under the guise of wishing to hand over many welcome gifts consisting of fountains of stone depicting forts, silky fabrics embroidered with silver and gold, dried goose meat with a distinctive smell. And an invitation to come to Atahualpas camp in Cajamarca.
The leader of the strangers presents gifts: A hat of blood red fabric, some glass mosaics and toys. The Inca representative is welcomed to stay some days, but unfortunately, he is busy – but no more busy than examining their equipment and wondering about the thunder and smoke emanating from their weapons.
At the farewell, the leader of the strange asks him to inform sapa inka that the Spaniards came from a powerful prince who dwelt far beyond the waters; that they had heard much of the fame of Atahualpas victories, and were come to pay their respects to him, and to offer their services by aiding him with their arms against his enemies; and he might be assured they would not halt on the road longer than was necessary, before presenting themselves before him.
At the head of the strangers is 60-year-old Francisco Pizarro and his four half-brothers Hernándo, Juan, Gonzalo and Francisco Martin; the brothers have no experience with conquests. It has, on the other hand, Hernándo de Soto, who has brought his own people, and then there are those soldiers of fortune who have paid their armours, horses and weapons themselves, and have therefore been promised part in the prey. Conquista, the conquest, is not paid by the Spanish King, so Pizarro can promise the participants gold and land.
With such expeditions, the King of Spain will be able to expand his empire without risking anything. Among the conquerors is a monk, twelve writers, native Nicaraguan slaves, black slaves from Africa, and several women of Muslim descent plus a handful of merchants – the latter having no interest in fighting but interested in buying and selling the conquistadors weapons and horses – the prices increases as weapons break or are lost in some other way and horses become ill – and replacements cannot be obtained. Also they hope to get shares of the gold.
On November 15, 1532, they stand outside Cajamarca in a subtropical valley between the mountains. High on horsebacks they ride into the citys central square, which is bounded by buildings on three sides. The sound of the first horseshoes ricochets in silence, then follow soldiers and they march military noisy in the city which is as emptied of inhabitants. As they enter the square, black summer clouds release hail over them, the hails strike their armour and emit other, but flimsy, sounds. As residents still do not show up, Pizarro decides to send Soto and a dozen men to Atahualpa, the Inca, who has camped on a hill behind the city.
(pp. 325-326 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
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
Published by Selskabet for smukkere Byfornyelse