THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ATAHUALLPA (atahu, Lat. virtus, and allpa, sweet), “the last of the Incas” (or Yncas) of Peru, was the son of the ruler Huayna Capac, by Pacha, the daughter of the conquered sovereign of Quito. His brother Huascar succeeded Huayna Capac in 1527; for, as Atahuallpa was not descended on both sides from the line of Incas, Peruvian law considered him illegitimate. He obtained, however, the kingdom of Quito. A jealous feeling soon sprang up between him and Huascar, who insisted that Quito should be held as a dependent province of his empire. A civil war broke out between the brothers, and, about the time when the Spanish conqueror Pizarro was beginning to move inland from the town of San Miguel, Huascar had been defeated and thrown into prison, and Atahuallpa had become Inca. Pizarro set out in September 1532, and made for Caxamarca, where the Inca was. Messengers passed frequently between them, and the Spaniards on their march were hospitably received by the inhabitants. On the 15th of November, Pizarro entered Caxamarca, and sent his brother and Ferdinando de Soto to request an interview with the Inca. On the evening of the next day, Atahuallpa entered the great square of Caxamarca, accompanied by some five or six thousand men, who were either unarmed or armed only with short clubs and slings concealed under their dresses. Pizarro’s artillery and soldiers were planted in readiness in the streets opening off the square. The interview was carried on by the priest Vicente de Valverde, who addressed the Inca through an interpreter. He stated briefly and dogmatically the principal points of the Christian faith and the Roman Catholic policy, and concluded by calling upon Atahuallpa to become a Christian, obey the commands of the pope, give up the administration of his kingdom, and pay tribute to Charles V., to whom had been granted the conquest of these lands. To this extraordinary harangue, which from its own nature and the faults of the interpreter must have been completely unintelligible, the Inca at first returned a very temperate answer. He pointed out what seemed to him certain difficulties in the Christian religion, and declined to accept as monarch of his dominions this Charles, of whom he knew nothing. He then took a bible from the priest’s hands, and, after looking at it, threw it violently from him, and began a more impassioned speech, in which he exposed the designs of the Spaniards, and upbraided them with the cruelties they had perpetrated. The priest retired, and Pizarro at once gave the signal for attack. The Spaniards rushed out suddenly, and the Peruvians, astonished and defenceless, were cut down in hundreds. Pizarro himself seized the Inca, and in endeavouring to preserve him alive, received, accidentally, on his hand the only wound inflicted that day on a Spaniard. Atahuallpa, thus treacherously captured, offered an enormous sum of money as a ransom, and fulfilled his engagement; but Pizarro still detained him, until the Spaniards should have arrived in sufficient numbers to secure the country. While in captivity, Atahuallpa gave secret orders for the assassination of his brother Huascar, and also endeavoured to raise an army to expel the invaders. His plans were betrayed, and Pizarro at once brought him to trial. He was condemned to death, and, as being an idolater, to death by fire. Atahuallpa, however, professed himself a Christian, received baptism, and his sentence was then altered into death by strangulation (August 29, 1533). His body was afterwards burned, and the ashes conveyed to Quito. (See also Peru: History.)
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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