The conquest of Peru

Essay by Zero0B-, March 2003

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The conquest of Peru by an obscure adventurer is one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of the New World. Until he was nearly 50 years old, Francisco Pizzaro, serving as a minor Spanish official on the Isthmus of Panama, had nothing to show for his years of toil and peril but a small holding of land. Little more than a decade later, he had conquered the fabulously wealthy empire of the Incas and had bestowed on Spain the richest of its American possessions. He also founded the city of Lima, now the capital of Peru.

Pizarro was born in about 1475 in Trujillo, a small town near Caceres, Spain. The illegitimate son of a Spanish captain, he spent his childhood with his grandparents in one of Spain's poorest regions. He apparently never learned to read or write.

Pizarro travelled to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in 1502.

Upon arriving in the New World, Pizzaro served as a member of the governor's military detachment on the island and in 1513 participated in the Vasco Nunez de Balboa expedition that ended in the discovery of the Pacific Ocean. From 1519 to 1523 he served as a mayor of the town of Panama. He accumulated a small fortune during this period but in 1523 the accounts of the riches captured by Hernando Cortes as well as rumors of a vast and wealthy Indian civilization to the south that possessed incalcuable riches encouraged Pizarro to seek further wealth. With the help of two friends a solider named Diego de Almagro who provided the equipment and the vicar of Panama, Hernando de Luque, who was to remain behind to look after their mutual interests and to keep in Pedrarias's (governor of Panama) favor so that he might continue to support their...