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About Peru

The Colonial period

The Spanish conquest - 1532 - 1533

Attracted by wonderful stories about a country very rich, the Biru, Francisco Pizarro left Panama in 1524 where he resided, reaching the arid Peruvian coast.

Investigations last several weeks and Pizarro's men began to despair, when finally discovered an abandoned village with gold and food. Following the investigation, they find a strong hostility of the Indians and Pizarro decided to return to Panama.

Several other attempts failed due to the high indigenous resistance, but the conqueror heard of a civil war between the two brothers Inca, Atahualpa from Quito, and Huascar from Cuzco.

How less than 200 Spaniards can defeat a mighty empire, furthermore in un unknown and difficut to access terrain in the Andes?

An accumulation of factors explains the Inca defeat. First, all Spaniards have firearms. More important, they benefited from the civil war between the two brothers weakened considerably the empire, involved tricking to capture Atahualpa and finally, benefited from the complicity of certain populations subjected to the Inca empire that supported them to dispose of Incas, unaware that Spaniards will be more tyrannical than their predecessors.

The Atahualpa's capture


In early 1532, the Spaniards arrive in northern Peru, in the region of Tumbes, it is the beginning of the conquest. On August 15, 1532, Francisco Pizarro founded the first Spanish city in South America, Villa San Miguel de Tangarará (near the present city of Sullana) and continues until Cajamarca where the Inca Atahualpa was installed with a large army at the Baños del Inca (Inca Baths) 6 km (4 mi) from the city. On the way the conquerors sometimes find strong resistance or conversely assistance from people under the Inca empire, ready to help these curious covered metal warriors with their "giant llamas" to get rid of its powerful occupants.

Atahualpa does not attack Pizarro persuaded that few Spaniards can not do anything against his army of 20,000 men. On November 16, 1532, Pizarro sets a trap in Cajamarca. A diplomatic interview is organized and the Inca comes to the town with 2,000 unarmed men, but the Spanish soldiers are armed and hidden. A priest gave a bible to Atahualpa who threw the book on the floor . This sacrilege is the excuse for Spaniards emerging from everywhere causing a slaughter. Atahualpa is captured, its 2,000 defenseless soldiers ruthlessly killed and most of the imperial army taken by surprise does not react.

The Atahualpa's ransom

In prison Atahualpa realizes that the Spaniards are very interested in precious metals, which for the Incas have a ritual value. The Inca offered to buy his liberty by filling the room where he was kept prisoner with gold and the two following with silver "up to the level of the reach of his arm".

Pizarro received 6 tons of gold and 12 tons of silver, corresponding in present value to US$300 million or 240 million euros. After fulfilling his part, the Spaniards sentenced him to death for idolatry, fratricide, polygamy, incest and accused him of hiding a treasure. He was executed on July 26, 1533.

Arrival to Cuzco 


On the way to the Inca capital Cuzco, Pizarro found a strong resistance from the three Inca general, Rumiñahui, Chalcuchimac and especially Quisquis, an excellent strategist who becomes the bete noire of the Spaniards. 

On arrival at the imperial city, Pizarro receives help from Manco Inca Yupanqui also known as Manco II, former ally and brother of Huascar (the Inca defeated by his brother Atahualpa), who thinks that Spaniards will help him in the fight against the armies of the north (faithful to Atahualpa), civil war continues throughout the empire.

Pizarro enters the imperial capital without a fight on 15 November 1533 and quickly crown Manco Inca as Sapa Inca, the new emperor, who will fight against the rebel generals.

The colonial period - from 1533 to 1821

Lima - A year after the conquest of Cuzco, Francisco Pizarro decided to found the capital of Peru in the valley of the Rimac river that gives the final name of the city, Lima. He chose this place because of its strategic location on the coast, the city is a port to send wealth in Spain and also very well protected situated in a bay.

The Inca resistance lasted nearly 40 years. Even Manco Inca ally of Pizarro to conquer Cusco, enters rebellion, realizing very quickly that the Spaniards are only interested with wealth and do not respect at all to the Indians.

Initially, the Peruvian capital is called "City of the Kings" a pompuosa name that was influenced by the initial date of its foundation the January 6, 1535, the Three Kings' Day, finally took place in delay the January 18. However Lima will become the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru in South America for two centuries.

The Neo-Inca state of Vilcabamba


In 1536 Manco Inca install in Vilcabamba on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, that will become the last refuge of the Incas for 36 years. He will fight against the Spaniards until his death in 1544. Three sons will succeed him, Sayra Tupac who makes peace with the occupiers, Titu Cusi Yupanqui who tries to rebel but quickly controlled and Túpac Amaru I, the last Inca that confronted the Spaniards untill his execution in 1572.


For many years an existing rivalry between the conquerors because of disagreements on the distribution of wealth, Pizarro sent to kill Diego de Almagro his former partner and three years later, Almagro's friends retaliated by killing him on June 26 for 1,541.

The Viceroyalty of Peru

On November 20, 1542, King Charles V established the Viceroyalty of Peru, which at this time includes much of South America except Brazil and Venezuela. All the wealth of the kingdom go through the Peruvian capital to be sent to Spain.

Lima became the capital of this new empire and will be the economic center of South America for two centuries, until the creation of two other Viceroyalties, the New Granada (now Colombia) and Rio de la Plata (Argentina).

The splendor of the colonial capital then competed with Madrid.

colonial period

It was a time of great prosperity for the Spaniards thanks to the exploitation of the gold and silver mines, but the Indians pay a high price, many die in the mines or are decimated by diseases imported by Europeans, such as smallpox, cholera and measles. Agriculture is also developed, settlers  distributed between them large farmlands, using a docile workforce almost reduced to a state of slavery.

The four social classes during the colonial period 


The Spaniards sent by the motherland are obviously the privileged, followed by the Criollos (Creoles) who are the descendants of Spaniards born in America. A third category, the Mestizos for Spanish father and Indian mother, a result of a predominantly male immigration quickly appears. Finally, there are the natives.

Independence of Peru


Since the mid-eighteenth century, one can feel resistance movements against the conquistadors in Latin America.

Túpac Amaru II

Mestizo, José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera (his catholic name) is a direct descendant of the last Inca Tupac Amaru I. In 1780, he rebelled against Spanish domination, exorbitant taxes and exaggeration of compulsory labor for the state (derived from Mita Inca). 

His insurrection lasts less than six months, but it was enough to propagate his rebellion, even outside the borders of Peru. Promptly arrested and executed, it becomes a symbol of protest. Other insurrections took place in the following years, quickly repressed.

The French Revolution extended its Republican ideology in the new continent. In 1808, Napoleon's army weakened Spain, which led to the American colonies to separate from the colonial yoke.

Don José de San Martín

The Argentine General who participated in the independence of Argentina and Chile, was convinced that it should liberate Peru from Spanish stronghold, powerful and dangerous.

He arrived in Paracas the September 8, 1820. His troops advance towards the capital, mobilizing the population and after several unsuccessful negotiations with the viceroy, entered Lima few months later, while the Spanish troops had withdrawn to the Andes.

On July 28, 1821, San Martin proclaimed the independence of Peru. He will lead the country for more than a year before returning to Argentina. Thereafter, accused of conspiracy, fled to France and died two years later in Boulogne-sur-Mer at the age of 72 years.


The Peruvian coast is free but not the Andes and the army of the viceroy is increasingly threatening. After the withdrawal of San Martín, the new Peruvian government requested the help of the Venezuelan general Simón Bolívar, who just won in Colombia. Bolívar accepts and initiates a military campaign against the royal army, which ended with the victory of General Antonio José de Sucre in the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824. The capitulation of Viceroy José de La Serna finally sealed the independence of Peru. However, for Peruvian people, José de San Martín is considered the liberator.

Independence of "Upper Peru"


After the battle of Ayacucho, General Sucre continues to the south of Lake Titicaca, the Upper Peru, to fight the Spanish resistance. He entered the city of La Paz in February 1825. A few months later, Bolívar proclaimed the independence of Upper Peru, which takes the name of Republic of Bolivia.



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