The Inca

Contents »

The people and their Origins

    "Our father, Inti the Sun, noticed the miserable condition of the people, and decided to send his sons and one of his daughters down to Earth in order to help them. Our Father put down his two children at the shores of Lake Titicaca and spoke to them: I give you my light and my radiance to the whole world, I give the humans warmth when they're freezing, I make their crops fertile and their livestock to multiply, each day I go around the whole World to keep me informed about the needs of the humans and to satisfy their needs - follow my example. Do to them all what a kind father would do to his beloved children, for I have sent you down to earth fort the sake of the people, so that they will stop living like the animals. You will be kings and rulers over all the peoples who receive our laws and recognize our power"

That is how the civilization of the Incas was created according to one of their own legends. But the reality was far from that simple, nonetheless it's a fascinating and enthralling journey back in time, to the dawn of the people and their state which in the end would become one of the mightiest and the largest empires in the whole of America. They were called the Incas which roughly mean "the ruling people", and we first find them just north of Lake Titicaca in the 1200's, in what today is southern Peru. This occurred at the same time as the Aztecs (mexica) entered Mexico from the north, and Chinggis Khan began his world conquest from Mongolia. Another word for themselves was Quechua (which have named the languages related to them). Perhaps the Incas originated from the northeastern forest areas, and migrated to the Cuzco basin in the Andean highlands for nearly a thousand years ago and became sedentary. These people spoke a Quechua dialect (Runa-Simi), and they were mainly hunters, fishermen and farmers of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, quinoa, peanuts, cotton (of which they vowed beautiful textiles) and coca leaves. Their domestic animals were Llamas and alpacas, dogs, ducks, vicuñas and guinea pigs - bred for their meat. The Incas were the people in all the Americas who had the highest level of animal-keeping and cultivation. In all, their advanced terrace cultivations handled forty different crops cultivated with effective tools of agriculture, like the taclla foot plow. Fertilizers were used; guana - excrements from bats and birds, and the irrigation technology was well developed. Corn was cultivated in the lower valleys, potatoes at higher altitudes. The first Incas lived in tribes led by chiefs, and they were to form a nation when they united around 1200 A.D. The land in which they lived was in fact the cradle of many earlier prominent pre-Columbian civilizations, like the Chavín (after the site of their capital at Chavín de Huántar), the paracas, pucará, nazca, the Mochica and many more or less forgotten ancient peoples. In the 7th century A.D. the powerful state of Huari (Wari) was founded in Peru, and this stable kingdom would last for 400 years 'til the 11th century. In the north, the Chimús (Chimori) formed a state around 900 A.D. These warlike conquerors expanded for hundred of years by warfare against their neighbors, and their capital was the enormous Chan-Chan (near Trujillo). In time, the expanding chimús would carve out an empire with 1 600 km of coastline. In the south, situated in today's Bolivia the Tihuanaco (Tiwanaco) empire was founded around 400 A.D., their religious and political centre being the formidable city of Tihuanaco on the southern shores of Lake Titicaca. It was mainly from these three states that the Incas were to get their strength and cultural influence, and they seem to appear shortly before 1200 A.D. - some two centuries after the Huari state had collapsed.

Cuzco and the first rulers-

In the late 13th century, the city of Cuzco was founded in the Cuzco basin, north of Lake Titicaca. This shows to us, that the Incas were beginning to form a more advanced state with centralized government, even though the Inca myths about the foundation can't be confirmed by archeological excavations. The word Cuzco was thought to mean "Navel" [of the world]. The following descriptions of the first Inca rulers are not confirmed by scholars, and their existence can be doubted in some cases due to lack of contemporary written records. According to their legend, four brothers and four sisters had been delivered from Pacarina - a divine cave at Lake Titicaca symbolizing a womb. These siblings were children if Inti, and they transformed into rocks and other sacred huacas and guancas. One of the brothers, Ayar (Lord) Manco (b. c1200?), became the leader and tutor to the people once he had arrived north to the Puna highlands, and adopted the title Capac or Leader (literary "Head"). The legend tells us, that this semi-mythical monarch ruled for more than 100 years, and when he died at the age of 144 he turned into a rock (guanca) which was to be venerated by the people. Manco Capac's existence can't be proved or disproved, but he's most likely a real historical person even though we don't know the details for sure. His wife was his sister Coya (mistress) Mama Ocllo. From this divine couple, the Inca ruler would claim to be descendants and thus justify their claim of power. It's very plausible that the myth about the ayar siblings symbolizes the unification of tribes and clans. When the first Incas in the 13th century formed the foundation of their future state around Cuzco they were hardly different from other farming societies in the area. One distinct aspect though was the divided confederacy that made the early Inca state. The city was divided into two divisions, the strong ruling Hanan ("Over") - possibly these were derived from the noble rulers of the indigenous population - and the subordinate Hurin ("Lower"). The rulers possessed the title Sinchi - war chief. The first Sinchi was Roca, alleged son of Manco Capac who was appointed by his aged demigod father. Before he died, Manco Capac is said to have summoned his people and instructed them to "The Incas should never forgot that they were the sons of the Sun Inti, they should expand the kingdom and be kind to their subjects, never act against their word and pass his laws from generation to generation". To keep his father's will, Sinchi Roca and the following rulers of Cuzco had to defend their territory against rival tribes and states. We don't know anything from the records of any conquests, but nor do the modern scholars know what is true facts among the legends surrounding the early rulers. In the beginning, the Incas were just too weak to set out on any expansion of their tiny realm confined to the Cuzco valley. Therefore, the Inca expansion would linger for another two centuries or so. Sinchi Roca's heir, Lloque ("the left handed") Yupanqui is said to have reached the age of more than 100 years. His son Mayta Capac was said to have been a prodigy child born with a full set of teeth and at two years of age he wrestled with the older kids. A quarrel between him and some other boys from another tribe is said to have turned into a regular full scale war which was won by the five year old Mayta, but these titanic feats are of course just legends. Mayta Capac was apparently the first ruler who's said to have put the Incas on the advance, raiding adjacent rival kingdoms and taking booty. Shortly before his death in the late 13th century (?), he appointed his younger son Capac Yupanqui in favor of his eldest son, who was considered 'too ugly'. The favored Capac Yupanqui was the first ruler who according to the chronicles made conquests beyond the Cuzco basin, a dozen or so miles to the north. Hardened by their environment and battles with their neighboring adversaries, the Incas would acquire a professional and effective army, and an extraordinarily well administrated stateapparatus.

First Conquests

Capac Yupanqui's military expeditions in the mid 14th century were more of demonstrations of power rather than real conquests. Nevertheless, it worked and the Incas were to be considered as a faction to count with. When he died in the 1350's (?) he was succeeded by his able son Roca Capac. He was a successful commander, and with the help of his soldiers he made revolution, seized power from the rulers and appointed Sinchi of the Hanan and declared himself as the first Sapa Inca - "Sole Ruler" (some Inca chroniclers claimed that the six preceding rulers had had the imperial Inca title as well, but that have been added by later writers). Roca Inca began his reign with successful military campaigns which subjugated tribes like the muina and pinahua. But his legacy was threatened after his death, when his weak successor Titu Cusi Hualpa - more known as his royal name Yahuar Huacac ("He who weeps blood"). His brother (or possibly cousin) Vicaquirao was a more apt leader, leading victorious campaigns south and east of Cuzco. He is also revered as a great administrator who integrated the subdued peoples into the growing Inca state. Yahuar Huacac's short reign ended when he was deposed by a conspiracy, it's said. His throne now came under Hatun Tupac Inca, or better known as his later adopted name Viracocha Inca. We don't know why Hatun Tupac adopted the name Viracocha when he ascended the throne around the year 1400, but clearly it was in reverence to the aymará creation God. Perhaps it implies an attempt by the Inca to get closer to their southern neighbors; perhaps did he claim descent from the God to legitimize his power, which was pretty common among the South American rulers. This eight ruler of the Incas inherited only a territory with about a 40 km radius, but now he launched a series of campaigns around the Cuzco basin and valley - calcas, canis and canchis became vassals to the Inca in the south, and made them a power factor in the Titicaca area. The emperor continued the integration-politic of his trusted general, Vicaquirao. Viracocha formed an alliance with the aymará speaking Lupaca-tribe to subjugate their common rival, the Colla. At the battle of Paucarcolla, they were defeated by the Incas. But in the northwest a new danger emerged in the Chanca-people, who had subjugated quechua speaking tribes - close relatives and allies to the Incas - in the early 15th century and now threatened Incas' northern boarder. At the end of Viracocha Inca's reign, the Chanca-federation saw their opportunity and launched an invasion of Inca territory in ca 1438. The old and stunned Inca and the Cuzco Nobles decided that the resistance was futile, and fled to a fortress at Calca with his heir - prince Urcu. But two other of his sons, Roca and Cusi Inca Yupanqui took the command of Cuzco together with the old veteran generals Vicaquirao and Apu Mayta, determined to offer a fight. The armies met outside Cuzco, and according to the Inca legends, sacred stones called pururaucas came to life as warriors and helped them in the bitter struggle. The Chancas, confident in victory, had brought the effigy of their tribal God, which was conquered by the Incas on the battlefield. That caused havoc among the Chancas, who fell back in order to regroup. Cusi Yupanqui followed them, and stormed their camp, pushing them back across the border. He now gathered his vassals, and defeated the Chancas in the subsequent battles. The two Sinchis of the Chanca was captured and executed, and the Chanca ceased to be a threat to the Incas. The victorious Cusi Yupanqui headed back to Cuzco in triumph, and with support of the army he dethroned his old and weak father who had failed to perform his duty of defending the land. In another version written by the chronicler Sarmiento; the warrior prince wanted to share the spoils with his father, but Viracocha Inca had already passed the throne and power to his son Urcu. Urged on by the military, Cusi Yupanqui deposed his brother and crowned himself Inca. His royal name would be Pachacuti (Pachacutec) Inca - meaning "Overthrower of the old world order".

The Great Conquerors

Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui ascended the throne in 1438 or 1440, and with him followed a new era in Incan history - not only due to his expansive politic and civic planning, but also because he's regarded by modern scholars as the first ruler of the Incas whose reign can be confirmed by historical material. Before him the stories of his predecessors are of divided views and the truth are beyond assurance, but now in the 1440's more material can verify historical events, the reliable sources are more plenty and are considered to be in virtual agreement. First now, with the 9th ruler - the Incas enter history as we know it. Pachacuti Inca is said to first have traveled to the cave of Pacarictampu, believed to be the original pacarina from where Manco Capac and his ayar siblings had been born - and there he performed a re-birth ceremony and after that walked the road to Cuzco, the same rout as Manco was said to have strode - and arrived in Cuzco he placed the mascapaycha on his head. The succeeding rulers would not undertake the same ceremony, but climbed to the sacred mountain Huanacauri from where Manco is said to have tossed his golden staff to mark the place of Cuzco. Pachacuti's first undertakings as crowned emperor was to beat the remainders of the Chanca and completely subjugate them. After the battle of Cuzco 1438, the Chancas had been disorganized and retreated to their mountain strongholds. One after one they fell in the hands of the Incas, and the Sapa Inca himself turned his army east to pacify the adjacent tribes around the Cuzco valley. Apparently Pachacuti had imperialistic goals, the first Inca leader who had a vision of an Inca Empire. He subjugated the Ayamarcas, the Cuyos and the towns of Ollantaytambo, Cugma and others. Moving north, the Inca took Vilcapampa (Vilcabamba) and attacked the territories west of that. He then turned south to invade the last independent aymarás, leaving the consolidation of Chanca territory to his brother Capac Yupanqui. Pachacuti Inca entered the Altiplano highlands of the Titicaca region, and 1445-50 he utterly subjugated the Collas and the former allied Lupacas. Meanwhile, Capac Yupanqui had pacified the Chanca and integrated them into Incan society, enrolling their warriors into his own ranks. To make sure of their loyalty, he ordered the Chanca leaders to be executed, but their king Anco Ayllo escaped. Capac Yupanqui now took his chance to strike northwards. Many scholars believe that he had the ambition to compete with his brother the Inca, and make himself emperor. While Pachacuti was busy in the Altiplano and fighting the last independent state in the area - Chumpivilqa, Capac and his army headed for north, with the instructions to bring the local people to the growing Inca realm. He defeated the ancara tribe, crossed the Mantaro basin and invaded the Huanca territory. Pachacuti Inca had ordered his brother to halt his campaign at Yanamayo, but without the emperor's approval Capac Yupanqui continued to move north in pursuit of the fleeing Chanca leader, he said. Forcing his way north through the Santa valley, he fought the huaylas and arrived at Cajamarca 1800 km from Cuzco, where he sat up his headquarter with an Inca garrison. The Inca realized what was going on, and he ordered his rival brother to be assassinated. When the emperor's brother returned to Cuzco with enormous treasures from the conquered territory, he was greeted not as a conqueror, but with his beheading as a rebel.

But Capac Yupanqui's bold and daring raid through hostile territory had already resulted in a conflict with the mighty Chimú Empire, whose dry territory in the western lowlands was depended on the streams flowing from the Cajamarca area. The Inca occupation of his sensitive strategic spot provoked the Chimú king Minchansanam, who attacked the garrison at Cajamarca. Pachacuti Inca chose to not abandon the northern newly acquired territory, but rallied a huge army which by 1463 moved north, commanded by the emperor's son Tupac (Topa) Yupanqui. In a lightning campaign, the prince completed the subjugation of the Ancaras, huancas, huaylas and other tribes on the way from Cuzco to the besieged Cajamarca, and his experienced soldiers crushed the Chimús outside Cajamarca (which had withstood the Chimú onslaught), which left the siege. He turned north into Ecuador capturing Quito and Manta, defeating the Quitu-people, and then he moved further north, fought the Cañaris and enrolled some of their capable warriors in his army. Several tribes where either driven away or incorporated by force, only those living in the dense rainforests got away. After a short expedition to the Panzaleo, Tupac turned south with the Chimú homeland as his goal. The defeat and capture of the rivers and water supply had made the fragile Chimús to collapse, and Tupac Yupanqui swiftly occupied the Moche valley which led to the coastal lowlands - the yunga (or Yunca) as it was known to the Incas - after defeating the defenders of Lambayaque. Arriving at the coast, Tupac allied himself with the city of Tumbez which was made a vassal of the Incas, and from there he could direct the attack on the Chimús. The capital Chan Chan, attacked from the south and east, was taken (despite its 60 km stone walls), and king Minchansanam was forced to capitulate (about 1468). In one blow, the Incas had conquered their foremost rivals and gained the territory of the largest empire in Peru. The deposed ruler was treated with dignity; he and the chimú nobles were piñas - prisoners of war - and sent as hostage to Pachacuti Inca in Cuzco. There he was made an honorable vassal and son-in-law by marrying a Nusta (princess), one of his sons became an Inca puppet in Chan Chan.

Tupac Yupanqui decided to strike while the iron was hot, and moved south for new conquests. On his way back to Cuzco, he took the coastal rout and conquered vast territories in his way; the local rulers as far south as the Nazca valley were made mitmaqs and paid rich tribute to the Inca. Meanwhile Tupac had made conquests in the north, his father the aged Sapa Inca had withdrew to Cuzco, concentrating on the building of public monuments which the spoils of war paid. It was probably now that the formidable fortress of Sacsahuamán was built outside Cuzco, with enormous stone blocks (the largest weighing 350 tons!) and the Coricancha temple of Inti was inaugurated. But the old man's time was over, when his victorious son arrived at Cuzco in 1471; Pachaciti Inca resigned in favor of his able son. His favorite candidate for successor was probably his son Amarú, but he appointed Tupac instead since he had the military and popular support. Content with his legacy of a strong and well administrated empire, he abdicated after 33 years on the throne and withdrew to civil life. He died a short time later at the admirable age of 80, according to the legend at an age of 125! Tupac Inca Yupanqui intended to continue the conquest and expansion of the empire. After placing the Mascapaycha on his head, he immediately launched an invasion of the southwestern coast, the Chincha tribes was willfully incorporated but the Guarco-people of the cañete valley put up a hard resistance in their mountain strongholds which took the Incas some four years to break. The important temple and place of pilgrimage - Pachacamac - was conquered and their oracles were given a high position in the Inca religious politic. Then Tupac Inca launched a campaign on the eastern forest regions, in order to break the resistance of raiding Anti tribes living by the Madre-de-Diós River. But his campaign came to an abrupt end as the Colla supported by the Lupaca and other tribes rebelled in the Altiplano north of Lake Titicaca. Appareatly they had bided their time and saw an opportunity to strike while the emperor was far away on the other side of the Andes. They quickly overran the Inca garrisons and resisted the Incan relief armies, so Tupac Inca himself had to bring his army to the Altiplano and utterly crushed the Collas by taking their capital Chucuito ca 1480, after many years of bitter struggle. The Lupaca were finished off at a battle near the Desaguadero River. Numerous rebels were massacred, the survivors were moved by force as mitmaqs and their territory was populated by immigrants loyal to the emperor. Meanwhile the campaign against the Antis had failed as the army got lost in the forests. The Sapa Inca then turned his rage on the Bolivian Highlands, incorporating the territory into the Inca realm and thus took the control of the rich Silver mines in the area. His army was divided for further conquest, one sent to the Chaco area was stopped by the Chirivanos. He then sent an army south against modern day Chile, which drove away the northern Arauacana tribes, they crossed the Maule river and pushed as far south as Coquimbo, where the empire's most southern garrison was founded. Even Tucumán in modern day Argentina recognized Inca suzerainty and paid tribute to Cuzco. The tributes and taxes continued to flow into Cuzco and the Inca, who used the wealth for building projects. In Tupac Inca Yupanqui's reign, the Sacsahuamán fortress was completed, and Cajamarca was made a populous city. Also the new system with stately appointed curacas which overtook the role of the former tribal chiefs was the work of Tupac Inca. He's said to have founded many new cities, and linked them with an effective road system.


The Inca realm was by now a real empire in every way; just within little more than 50 years of fierce conquests their territory had increased by an unbelievable 1500 percent, covering about 950 000 km² - the size of western Europe or the American east coast - and stretching approximately 4 000 km from north to south - from Ancasmayo valley in Ecuador to central the Maule river in Chile along the Andes. 4800 km of coastline belonged to the Inca realm, in the deep forested valleys and the high snowcapped mountains of 7 000 meters of altitude the Sapa Inca ruled supreme over more than 10 million subjects (perhaps 8-12 millions). It was the unrivalled largest empire ever seen in the whole of the pre-Columbian Americas, though it was home to more than 70 nationalities Quechua was the official languages and Inti the Sun was the highest God. The vast realm was guarded by a well trained army of probably more than 100 000 fighting men, the mightiest fighting force yet seen in the new world. They guarded the borders and expelled invaders, and with their presence in the land no one dared to rebel, as they could strike down everywhere anytime from their advanced road system. The Empire was known as Tahuantinsuyu (Tawantinsuyu) - "The land of the four corners (or regions)". When Tupac Inca made the first travel in his Empire from north to south, it took him four years of traveling through his domain.

Technology, traditions, religion and culture

The first Incas who had united in a tribal federation at the beginning of the 13th century (some scholars say it occurred a bit later) lived in the Puna highlands of the Andes, their economy and provision was based mainly on farming and keeping of livestock as most of the other local Andean populations. From this time period, archeologists have identified pottery and objects of silver, copper, bronze and gold. The vessels contained stored food, like chuño (dried potatoes), charqui (sun dried meet) and chicha, a kind of beer brewed from corn used both for ceremonies and as a soft drink. The Incas' plain diet consisted of Gacha - gruel of corn or other cereals. Characteristic for the Incas pottery was the pointed amphora with two handles and the painted, wooden quero (kero) goblets. The metalwork was clearly inspired by the chimú and other capable craftsmen of tradition. The Incas had great respect for specialists (camayoc), and as the empire grew later on these craftsmen from other cultures were put into Inca service. Large earpieces of gold were used by the élite as a sign of status. These ear decorations known as pacu gave the warrior nobles one of their name, pacuyoc, and because of their pierced and enlarged ears the Inca nobles would later be known as orejónes - "long ears" - to the Spanish. Metals were used for religious objects like effigies, ritual tools, decorations, jewelry and weapons of bronze. Metal objects originating from the Incas have been found as far away as Panamá and the Brazilian coast, revealing how well developed the pan-American trade was in the 15th century.

The clothes of the Incas were mostly made from wool from alpacas and vicuñas (llamas were mainly used as carriers and bred for their meat). The rich could also wear clothes woven from cotton. The woolen compi (cumbi) fabric was vividly colored and in many cases inspired by the textiles from the paracas. Men wore tunics - Uncu , and women wore llicllas and Añacos, often embroidered with intricate tocapu patterns. The soft woolen cloth kept them warm on the windy Andean mountains, and the light cotton garments kept the summer heat away. Building technique were inspired by various cultures, the ordinary commoners and farmers - Hatanrunas - lived in dwellings made of clay, claystone (Adobe) and rocks (Pircu). The roof was made of ichu-grass, similar to straw. Public buildings were made of cut rock, the technique derived from the skillful Aymarás - the descendants of the Tihuanaco empire. Their technique of cold-masonry of blocks of tight fitting and intricate cut blocks without any mortar was an adaptation of stable construction needed in the volcanic-active Andes. Towns were strictly planned with central squares with ushnu-platforms in the centre, where the rulers sat during official occasions and from where celestial observations were made by the Llayca - astrologers.

The Incas were always close to their strong religious beliefs which permeated their lives. It was mainly a worshiping of the ancestors; people of high status were mummified and kept at the family's dwellings. This was the case with the royal mummies - the Malqui (literary "Fruit bearing trees") - stored in a special temple. The ancestors' earthly remains needed food, new clothes, social company and even sex, and they where always consulted by huatoc oracles before the living would engage in any important activity or actions. According to Inca legend, the sun Inti had sent his two children to earth in order to help the primitive humans. They have given them clothes, corn and houses, and the ruling Incas were the sons of the Sun Inti, and therefore they had absolute power. The moon was named Mamaquilla (Mother Moon) there was Pachamama (Mother Earth), the Mamasara (Corn Goddess), Mamaqocha (the Mother ocean) and the thunder was Illapa ('llap'a). The Incas would later adopt the aymará creation God - Con Tici Viracocha ("original creator") with his high seat at ancient Tihuanaco. Sacrifices of food and animals were made regularly; only seldom did the Incas decide to sacrifice young children (Capacocha) to consult the Gods. Priests officiated the sacrifices, and special hamurpa oracles examined the sacrificed animals' entrails for predicting the future. The Incas also worshiped the nature, both animals like jaguars, condors and pumas, and natural sites like sacred mountains (Apus or Apó - "Lords") and Huacas (sacred sites and stones). The chronicler Cobo tells us that there where in all 350 special huacas around the capital Cuzco, and they were connected with the sun temple Coricancha by more than 40 imaginary sacred lines - ceque. The stars and sky was also considered sacred, and celestial predictions were made by astrologers. The year was divided into 12 months after the lunar movement. Important festivals were the Inti Raymi (Intip Raymin) celebration of the sun (still vividly practised today) which took place in June, the Huarachicuy in December, where adolescents were initiated into manhood and the citua - where the evils of the cities was expelled. It's important to remember that the Incas were the last great civilisation of pre-Columbian South America, and their technology and culture was the refined result of centuries of heritage from earlier civilisations, who had adopted their skills to confront the harsh environment of the Andean high plateau. The Incas never had any form of writing or scripture, but would deliver coded messages on quipus - sets of strings with knots which represented words and figures, the initiated - quipumayocs - could even tell historical events from them. Their stories and laws were taught by heart and passed on orally through the generations, sometimes the stories were sung by a Haravec- poet. Also found among the remains of the Incas are their skulls, sometimes deformed deliberately by flattening the head from early childhood. Trepanation was also conducted among the Incas, even though the treatment itself had been practised by earlier cultures. The physicians were known as Collahuaya.

The Administration of the Empire

The Incas treatment and system of integration of their subjects and conquered people was one reason for their remarkable success in expanding and keeping their state. First of all we have to look into the minds of the Incas what their reasons for expanding were. Apparently, the Incas saw themselves as the most advanced and highest ranking people on earth, their realm was the world and everything beyond it was savage and barbarian in their views, similar to the Chinese reaction to the outer world. They perceived themselves as spreaders of civilization and culture, missionaries among the savages, just like the Europeans later would think about the Incas themselves when they arrived to Peru! Therefore, the Incas saw it not only as their right, but also their duty to the Gods to expand their kingdom (as Manco Capac had instructed them to do in his last will) and educate the lesser people. When conquering a people, the Incas would take their rulers hostage and perhaps move the population as mitmaqs, to other areas whereas new mitmaq settlers from another area took over their lands. Often the weakest leaders were imposed as Incan puppet rulers. The Incas didn't banned different cultures, on the contrary they often took advantage of other culture's technology and foreign deities were adopted in the growing Inca pantheon. Only the worship of the Sun Inti was made mandatory throughout Tahuantinsusy (through the sun God the Inca could control the people since he was the son of Inti), as did the Quechua language. The Inca armies could be very brutal if necessary, but they preferred to save the opponent's fields and crops, which would be used by themselves later. If a subject people revolted however, the response could be extremely brutal to state an example - The people were massacred or carried into slavery, their leaders were brought to Cuzco and in front of the Sapa Inca they were publicly humiliated, tortured and executed. Their effigies of deities were trampled on, and the remains of the executed were transformed into trophies; their skulls were turned into drinking jars, their bones were made into flutes, their teeth became necklaces and drums were crafted from their skin.

Another reason for their rapid advance was that they from the Chanca war and forth subsequently got new borders, and thereby new neighbors who often felt threaten by the Incas, and attacked them. This resulted in defense campaigns that in the end became conquests, like the situation of the Roman expansion nearly two millennia earlier. The Inca army was much disciplined and combined the arms and tactics of all the subjugated peoples in the Empire. Thus, the Incas could respond to virtually any threat posed on them, and they managed to fight and win in such different environments as the thick rainforests and rivers, the dry Atacama Desert and the high altitudes and rocky terrain in the mountains. In time, the Inca Empire was so specialized in conquests that a large part of their economy was based on forcing tribute and acquiring spoils of war.

The Empire was held together by an extremely well developed administration and bureaucracy. The Sapa Inca emperor was omnipotent, but he had to take help of skillful administrators of different ranks in order to rule effectively. Below him stood the first minister and high priest of Inti - Villac Umu (Villa Oma).

Tahuantinsuyu means "Realm of the four Suyus (= Regions or corners) and therefore the empire was divided into four large sections - Suyus. These were divided into sections formed by two straight lines running from northwest-southeast and northeast-southwest, crossing at Cuzco - The "navel of the world". The northern region was Chinchasuyu - stretching from Ecuador to central Peru, the southern was Callasuyu which was the largest incorporating all the lands from Lake Titicaca to Chile, the western was Kuntisuyu in southern Peru and the eastern one was known as Antisuyu of the forest regions. Each of these regions was governed by an Apú Governor, a relative to the Sapa Inca.

But how could these vast realm be so controlled, how could the emperor keep an eye on his subjects across Tahuantinsuyu? The Incas had one of the world's most developed communication services before modern time - with special trained message runners known as chasquis. Equally important were the road network that the chasquis used. It is estimated that the Incas at the height of the empire had constructed more than 20 000 km of roads, built by engineers as the Inca army advanced in their conquests - just like the Romans did. There were two main roads, one runned along the coastal lowland from Tumbez to Arequipa and in to Chile, the second followed the mountainous highlands from the realm's most northern point at the Ancasmaya River, continued around Lake Titicaca and to Tucumán in Argentina. It ended at the Empire's most southern boarder at Coquimbo in central Chile. From these grand roads several branches emerged, connecting every town and village in the Empire. Along the the roads, stations or tambos were established for the runners and travellers. The Incas skillfully crossed the ravines, rivers and gorges with suspension bridges. These networks enabled the Incan armies and chasqui messengers to move virtually anywhere in need and in the long prosperous peacetime that the Pax Inca brought they were used by merchants and religious pilgrims.

(note: unfortunately, as of this time, this section in this article on Inca history until spanish conquest has not yet been written)

The Early Vilcamba Government

Manco Inca's decision to raise the siege of Cusco and withdraw to Vilcabamba in the rainforest valley known as Espiritu Pampa ("the Plain of Ghosts") was a sudden one. It is suggested by some that this action threw away his only real chance to rebuff the Spaniards from Tawantinsuyu. However, it was probably the only realistic choice he had, considering the arrival of Spanish reinforcements from the Indies led by Diego de Almagro. And so, the rope bridges over the Urubamba that connected Vilcabamba with the outside world were cut and left to sway. All ties with Spain or any fellow native tribe were severed. As the army was disbanded and the last of the free Peruvians withdrew to Vilcabamba, a message arrived for the Inca from none other than the leader of the reinforcement party that had saved Cusco, Almagro. Almagro had noted the Inca's hatred for the old Conquistadors, as well as his fine use of guerrilla tactics against them. He sought to find a way to convince Manco to assist him in his civil war against the Pizarro clan. This was to no avail. "I have taken up arms to recover my rights and restore freedom to the Peruvians," wrote Manco to Almagro, "not to protect the designs of one vile usurper against another." The Inca of Tawantinsuyu was much too busy preparing for the last stand of his old empire.

Vilcabamba, or Vitcos, was the last city the Inca's people ever constructed. It was erected in the Andean mountain valley known as Vilcabamba in 1533 and its building was, in many ways, one of the last great achievements of the Incan empire. The city of Vitcos, which beside the River Urubamba, 170km northeast of the old capital at Cusco, was at first hidden from the Spaniards. It was a moderately sized site, only half a league wide, but according to eyewitnesses, "covering a long distance in length." The land was also very fertile. Fruit and maize grew there in abundance. Local wildlife, including all manner of fowl, was to be found in great number and variety. The city was built in grand style. The multi-terraced palace was roofed with Spanish-style tiles, as was the temple that stood by one of the city's canals. The people "enjoyed life" in Vilcabamba. What was more important was that at the city of Vitcos, Manco Inca resurrected the old autonomous Incan state.

But a state of blissful isolation could not last. In 1542, seven allies of the younger Almagro (known as Almagrists) wandered into Vilcabamba asking for sanctuary. Manco Inca befriended them and quickly gathered that Pizarro had ultimately defeated Diego de Almagro, who had been in his turn executed. They had heard of Manco's hidden mountain state and had come seeking a hiding place from the vengeful Conquistadors. The Spaniards did know of Vilcabamba, but had not discovered their exact location. Manco's raiding parties, who preyed on isolated Spanish troops and merchants in the region, had wiped out any Conquistador foolish enough to approach. The most shocking news was that of Paullu, another younger brother of Manco, who had been captured by Pizarro and then given the post of puppet Inca in Cusco. Despite Manco's pleas to him that he join the neo-Incan court in Vilcabamba, Paullu had no wish to leave Spanish-held Cusco. He seemed to be enjoying his newfound power, embracing Spanish culture and religion completely. Indeed, he had even been recently baptized as Don Melchor Carlos Inca.

Manco Inca had continued his "rebellion" against Pizarro very well indeed, defeating all attempts to capture him. However, by 1539 it had become apparent that Manco could not win. Paullu had allied himself with Pizarro. He and several formerly enslaved native tribes assisted the Conquistadors in rooting out the Inca's supporters. Pizarro's younger half-brother Gonzalo even launched a brief raid into the Vilcabamba province itself, only barely missing his chance to bag the Inca. However, the Spanish crackdown exhausted itself in 1541 as the former Almagrists arose once again in rebellion, this time led by Almagro's son. Though they were unsuccessful, one of their victims was Don Francisco Pizarro himself, murdered in his bedroom in Cusco. Seven of Pizarro's own killers had found their way to the lost city of Vitcos.

However, Manco Inca's new friends soon proved to be untrustworthy. In hopes that they might impress the new Viceroy of Peru enough to be allowed to regain their lost prestige, they knifed the twenty-nine year old Inca in front of two of his sons. They then ran for their lives, ultimately blundering into a group of Incan warriors who summarily burned them alive. Following this disaster, the state was left without an Inca. The next in line was Paullu, who was now universally hated for his betrayal. The problem was that the late Inca had left only one legitimate heir, and he was five-years-old. A guardian was quickly appointed for the new Inca until he was old enough to manage his 'empire' competently.

Sayri-Tupac Inca had been a witness to the assassination of his father, but he was still more open to negotiation than Manco had been. In 1549 he had even agreed to come to Cusco to speak with his uncle Paullu and the new Viceroy of Peru. However, due to the sudden death of Paullu, Sayri-Tupac never left Vitcos. However, the discussion was recommenced in 1557, when the Prince of Spain himself asked for the Inca to come to Cusco. The Prince and the Viceroy informed him that he had been pardoned officially by the Spanish Crown and would be allowed to take back some ancestral lands and estates around Cusco.

The Inca, deciding that "the Sun wishes that I should leave", journeyed with a retinue of warriors to Lima for a meeting with the Viceroy, and then to his new estates in Cusco, where he was warmly received. Negotiations went fairly well for a time. Both the Inca and his wife were baptized and then their wedding was consecrated by a special dispensation from the Pope. It was only when Sayri-Tupac Inca died suddenly in 1561 that the Spanish realized that the negotiations were going nowhere. The Inca had been sent to test the Spaniards by the military, the heads of state, and the Inca's own half brother, Titu Cosi. However, with the ascension of Titu Cosi, things suddenly improved markedly for the Vilcabambans. 

The Late Vilcabamba Government and Ultimate Loss of Autonomy

Titu Cosi Yupanqui was the last of the great Incas. He was arguably the shrewdest diplomat in Incan history, and the finest leader of the neo-Incan state. Like his half-brother, the late Sayri-Tupac, Titu Cosi had been a witness to the murder of his father and the rape of his mother by Conquistadors. For this, he, unlike his predecessor, seems to have formed an understandable grudge against the Spaniards.

His reign was, at first, a controversial one, even to the Vilcabambans. Being only a bastard, Titu Cosi had no direct claim to the throne until Manco's legitimate line had died out. Technically, the next in line to rule was the young hothead Tupac Amaru. However, Titu Cosi, with the backing of his generals, usurped the throne, sending the boy away to become a priest. The new Inca's next act was to cut ties with the Viceroy once again, ending all negotiation talks. He then quietly encouraged Incan raids on Spanish settlements and native uprisings in other provinces.

In 1565, Viceroy Castro was informed of various rumors circulating concerning Titu Cosi's plans for another rebellion against the Spanish. Alarmed by the reports, he dispatched an ambassador and several Spanish and native troops to meet the Inca and attempt to once again negotiate with him. The Inca soon found that it would indeed be profitable to agree to the Viceroy's terms. The threat of another Spanish invasion of the Vilcabamba province was not an all-together pleasant one. Besides, Titu Cosi was concerned in establishing his own line of succession for the throne through his son, Quispe Titu. He had seen his son married off to the Christian daughter of Sayri-Tupac and one of Manco's legitimate daughters. For the Spanish to reinforce these claims, as they would be expected to do, would ensure his right to rule over the neo-Incan state at Vitcos.

In return for an end of the action against Spanish settlers and an act of submission to the King of Spain by all of the members of the royal family, Titu Cosi was baptized, given the estates of Sayri-Tupac at Cusco, and allowed to have his son's marriage to Sayri-Tupac's daughter officially consecrated by the Church. With the signing of the Treaty of Acobamba in 1566, fourteen years of peaceful co-existence with the Spanish were inaugurated. The Inca skillfully maintained a balance between traditional culture and modernization in the state of Vilcabamba. He allowed into the hidden valley a group of Augustinian missionaries and traders, yet he still maintained the old ways of the culture, such as the worship of the Sun. Indeed, despite the growing number of Christian converts in Vitcos and the newly built Spanish style haciendas, little would change in the city.

It was thus indeed a disaster when, in 1571, the wise and thoughtful Inca Titu Cosi fell seriously ill with a fever. Eventually, his physicians became so afraid for his life that they asked for the help of Spanish medicine from one of the local friars and the Inca's friend, the local Spanish Corregidor, or royal administrator for the region of Vilcabamba. When the Inca finally died from this fever, an angry citizenry sought a scapegoat. The friar was tortured to death, and the Corregidor was quietly assassinated in the palace. The now adult Tupac Amaru, a follower of the old rites of the Sun, was determined to reinforce his claim to the throne and block the Christian Quispe Titu from control. Backed by priests of the old religion, he hid the news of his brother's death from Cusco, where Quispe Titu was staying. He then had all Spaniard settlers murdered and all churches in Vilcabamba burned and leveled.

What the unwise new Inca did not know was that the new Viceroy of Peru was in no mood to have Spanish authority questioned. Don Francisco de Toledo was largely occupied with reforming the colonial system of Peru, but the sudden inability to contact Titu Cosi for negotiations was disconcerting. Toledo was already wary of the existence of an independent neo-Incan state, but he was even more shocked by the inability of his envoys to reach the Inca. All had been barred from entering the valley by native sentries guarding the Urubamba bridges. However, when news reached him that Incan warriors had slaughtered his latest envoy, he decided that action had to be taken at once. He had been ordered by the King not to attack except in self-defense. And so, in April 1572, Toledo was given the authority to destroy Tupac Amaru's sovereign state of Vilcabamba once and for all, thanks to the unfortunate actions condoned by the Inca.

By June 1st, Toledo had sent a force of two thousand and two hundred troops into Vilcabamba. With them came a plague that killed many Vilcabambans and severely depleted Tupac Amaru's armed forces. In a short time, thanks to the superior artillery power of Toledo's troops, Tupac Amaru was forced to abandon Vitcos, and Vilcabamba itself, fleeing into the jungle with a hundred of his best warriors. When, on June 25th, the Conquistadors entered the last capital of the Inca, they found it already smoldering in the flames set by the Vilcabambans themselves. The site of the city would serve as a Spanish town until its abandonment in the 1700s.

Tupac Amaru was captured not long after by a small group of Spanish troops and was sent as a prisoner back to Cusco for his trial. The last Inca's sham trial mirrored that of his uncle Atahualpa forty years earlier, and he was soon convicted of the murders of the Spanish settlers in Vilcabamba and of violating the act of submission that he had shown alongside Titu Cosi in 1566. Despite the outrage incited by the verdict of the court that was aggravated among former Incan citizens and influential Spanish Christians alike, he was sentenced to death. After his baptism, an executioner removed his head quickly with a sword. Various advisors and family members were also executed, and the mummified remains of Manco Inca and Titu Cosi were burned to a crisp. With that, the last Inca was dead and his heritage was rubbed out. The bloodline itself, so Toledo supposed, had been likewise forever removed, as Tupac Amaru's only son was banished from Peru. 

The Final Revival and Collapse of Incan Culture

In his haste to destroy the last vestiges of the Incas completely, Francisco de Toledo overlooked one important factor inherent in Tupac Amaru's own family. Though his son was put out of the picture, nothing had been done about his daughters. One of those surviving daughters would be married to a nobleman living in the Apurimac Valley, two hundred miles south of Cusco in the Andes. His name was Diego Condorcanqui.

Toledo served as Viceroy until 1581, and in his tenure he started a series of reforms in the region. His re-organization of the viceroyalty instituted a new taxation system that included the implementation of the Corregidors, royal administrators who served as both tax collectors and judges. All natives were to be herded together into their own townships and districts, known as the corregimientos, which were presided over by the Corregidors. These districts also served as work camps. Large groups of the Indians were used as slaves in construction and mining efforts. In the 1600s, African slaves were added to the work force as the sugar trade went through a boom in the region. Further aggravation would be caused in the 1700s when natives were forced by law to sell their goods to the common market. By the 1740s, there was a renewal of pride among the natives in their Incan heritage, and the grumbling about the overlords reached an all-time high. However, the Corregidors were not paying any attention to the grievances of the natives. The Spanish alone paid attention to the mestizos, the half-breeds, or literally, the mongrels, those who could claim both Spanish and Incan lineage.

In 1742, the Corregidors had reason to worry. In lowland Peru, Juan Santos Atahualpa, a man claiming descent from the Inca, led a rebellion to drive the Franciscans and the mestizos from the tropics. The guerrilla actions continued until 1759. The Spaniards were never able to defeat Atahualpa, or even to corner him. He continued to harass them until he slowly vanished away into the tropical lowlands forever. It was hoped by Spain that this was the end of that unsettling revival of Incan culture. Unfortunately for the Corregidors, it was only the beginning. However, some changes were made for the better. The Viceroy appointed a group of native and mestizo administrators, all noblemen with a long family tree, to keep watch over the mood of the native populace and to judge any disputes that might arise. These administrators were called Kurakas.

By 1780, this feeling of resentment towards the Spanish had flared up once again. The native administrator of the province of Pinta (comprising Tinta, Surinama, and Tungasuca, and lying in the Apurimac Valley) was a mestizo named Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui. Through Tupac Amaru's daughter Juana and the nobleman Condorcanqui, Jose Gabriel was the great-great-great-grandson of the last Inca of Vilcabamba. Though he would always dress as a Spanish nobleman of the period (or, indeed, like any man with some wealth and education living in the 1700s), and had been schooled in Spanish law, he was an avid reader of the history of the empire of Tawantinsuyu, and he was ever mindful of his heritage. He certainly knew that he shared blood ties with the workers in the mines and sugar fields and on his own extensive land holdings, men whom he oversaw every day as kuraka. He displayed his pride as an Incan descendent by changing his name in 1771 to Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui Tupac Amaru.

It was in 1780 that Tupac Amaru complained of the cruelty of the Pinta Corregidor, the mestizo Antonio de Arriaga. Infuriatingly, the government at Lima did nothing about Arriaga, and the matter went without notice. Angrily, that November, the kuraka decided to take matters into his own hands. "I am the only one who remains of the royal blood of the Incas, Kings of this Kingdom," he proclaimed. "I have decided to try all means possible that all abuses the Corregidores and other persons may cease." He called on the natives of Pinta to turn on Arriaga and overthrow the Corregidores, freeing themselves and the African slaves as well. His supporters, wearing the traditional plumes of Incan warriors of old, declared their loyalty to the King of Spain, Charles III, but pledged to join Tupac Amaru in his effort to enforce a reform. They seized Arriaga from his home in Tungasuca, and hanged him from the gallows in the city square.

By 1781, the rebellion had spread throughout all the former territories of the Inca, into Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and northern Argentina. Initially, the Creole population backed the self-proclaimed Jose Gabriel Tupac Amaru II in his rebellion, and the Viceroy was unable to effectively quell the revolt. The initial actions were not un-successful, but the fight indeed became a revolt, and then a war to annihilate the Spanish presence in Peru forever and to reinstate the old Incan state. He was now the new Inca, proclaiming, "From this day, no longer shall the Spanish feast on your poverty!" At Sangara, he trapped six hundred loyalists in a church, and burned it to the ground. Though a major victory, this sacrilege cost him the support of the Creoles, who then joined the forces of the Spaniards, the mestizos, and the mulatto militiamen.

Despite a series of well-fought fights around Cusco, the new Inca was unable to defeat the loyalist Indian troops. He was eventually captured along with his entire family. On May 18th, 1781, Spanish and mestizo troops took Tupac Amaru II to the center of Cusco, and there his limbs were tied to four horses. The animals were then sent running in all four directions of the compass. Despite their tugging, the Inca would not be pulled apart, and survived, "dangling in the air like a spider". Eventually, an officer removed his head and quartered his body. Other members of his family and his retinue, including his wife, were also executed after having their tongues removed. At the date of his death, 30,000 rebels were loyally fighting for the Inca. 10,000 were already dead.

With Tupac Amaru II's death, his brother Diego Cristobal Tupac Amaru III took command of the neo-Incan state, fighting the war to a cease-fire in 1782. The agreement was ultimately violated, of course, and in July 1783, he was exiled from the viceroyalty of Peru. Despite the defeat of Tupac Amaru's rebellion, however, the Spanish Crown took measures favorable to the goals of the revolution. The Corregidor system was abolished, and attention was paid to the grievances of the Indians. However, with the burning of the body of Jose Gabriel Tupac Amaru II, the dream of a second Empire of Tawantinsuyu finally died away. 

 List of Legitimate Incas

1. Manco Capac: (c. 1200 -?) The semi-mythological first Inca of Tawantinsuyu. According to Inca legend, he was the son of the Sun God Inti, and he founded the city of Cusco.
2. Sinchi Rocca: (c. 1240s?) The second Inca, honored by legend as being the founder of the empire.
3. Lloque Llupanqui: (c. 1260s?) So clouded by mythology that nothing is known of his reign.
4. Mayta Capac: (c. 1290s?) Is likewise semi-mythological.
5. Capac Yupanqui: (c. 1320s - 1350s?) The first expansionist Inca. It is said that he moved the borders of the empire for the very first time since Sinchi Rocca.
6. Inca Rocca: (c. 1350s - 1370s?) Founded the Henan Cusco Dynasty of Incas, the final line of rulers over Tawantinsuyu.
7. Yahuar Huaca: (c. 1370s - 1400?) Yet another Inca who is clouded in mythology and legend.
8. Wiraqocha Inca: (c. 1400? - 1438) Both a heroic figure from Incan mythology and the first Inca who can be given a specific date. As an old man, he was forced to deal with the threat of the Chanca tribe, which was annexed into the empire by his second son, Ypanqui, who would succeed him as Pachacutec.
9. Pachacutec: (1438 - 1471) Started the empire by defeating the Chancas. He then expanded the empire up both the northern and southern coasts, defeating the Ancocoyuch in 1465. He is credited with forming the basis of Incan administration and city planning. According to Incan legends, he also ordered the construction of Machu Picchu.
10. Tupac Inca: (1471 - 1493) Expanded the empire from Quito in Ecuador to present-day northern Chile, annexing the lands of the Chimu and capturing the city of Chan Chan.
11. Huayna Capac: (1493 - 1525) Died in the Smallpox epidemic. In his will he divided the empire between his two sons, Huascar (the legitimate heir) and Atahualpa.
12. Huascar: (1525 - 1532) Ruled over Tawantinsuyu while Atahualpa ruled over the northern half of the empire. In the end, Atahualpa defeated Huascar in a civil war and executed him.
13. Atahualpa: (1532 - 1533) Defeated Huascar in the civil war and met Pizarro at Cajamarca. He was apprehended, held prisoner, and ultimately garroted.
14. Tupac Huallpa: (1533) The younger brother of Atahualpa. When it became clear that Pizarro needed a puppet emperor, he was recruited for the job. Unfortunately, he shortly fell ill and died.
15. Manco Inca Yupanqui: (1533 - 1545) At first the second puppet emperor recruited for Pizarro, being another young brother of Atahualpa. Recognized as the best of the post-Cusco Incas, he turned on his captors and fled to the city of Vilcabamba. He would rule independent of the Spaniards until he was murdered by a group of Conquistadors in 1545.
16. Paullu Inca: (1536 - 1549) Yet another son of Huayna and brother to Atahualpa. He would betray Manco's interests after his half-brother's murder by allying with Spain and becoming the puppet Inca of Cusco. The much-hated ruler was even baptized Don Melchor Carlos Inca before his death.
17. Sayri-Tupac Inca: (1545 - 1557) Appointed Inca after the murder of Manco Inca. He was the first son of Manco, and was five years old at his ascension. He would try his hand at negotiation with the Spaniards to receive grants of land near Cusco, but would die suddenly in 1561 while living with the Viceroy before a deal could be made.
18. Titu Cosi Yupanqui: (1557 - 1571) A shrewd and able ruler over Vilcabamba. The second son of Manco to rule, he was the ablest diplomat in Incan history, allowing Spanish traders and missionaries into a portion of Vilcabamba, embracing Christianity, but maintaining Incan tradition and autonomy.
19. Tupac Amaru: (1571 - 1572) The last legitimate Inca to rule, and, unfortunately, the most unfit. With the death of his elder brother Titu Cosi, he ordered the execution of all Spanish citizens in Vilcabamba, and led an unsuccessful and poorly planned rebellion against the colonists. This ultimately resulted in his death and the end of Incan sovereignty, for Vilcabamba was occupied and the survivors were enslaved.