Siege of Cusco

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Siege of Cusco
Part of Spanish conquest of Peru
POMA0402v.jpg
The siege of Cusco according to Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala
DateMay 6, 1536 – early March 1537
Location
Cuzco, present-day Peru
Result Spanish victory
Retreat of Incan forces
Almagristas seizes power in Cuzco
Belligerents

Flag of New Spain.svg Spanish Empire
Pizarro brothers
Native allies

Remnants of the Inca Empire
Commanders and leaders
Hernando Pizarro   (POW)
Gonzalo Pizarro   (POW)
Juan Pizarro II
Diego de Almagro
Rodrigo Orgóñez
Manco Inca Yupanqui
Cahuide
Strength
30,000 Indios auxiliares
190 Spaniards
700 Spaniards (as for early 1537) 100,000 to 200,000 Inca warriors
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown, but low Unknown
Almagro's forces took possession of Cusco Almagro en el Cuzco.jpg
Almagro's forces took possession of Cusco

The Siege of Cusco (May 6, 1536 – March 1537) was the siege of the city of Cusco by the army of Sapa Inca Manco Inca Yupanqui against a garrison of Spanish conquistadors and Indian auxiliaries led by Hernando Pizarro in the hope to restore the Inca Empire (1438–1533). The siege lasted ten months and was ultimately unsuccessful.

Siege military blockade of a city or fortress

A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from Latin: sedere, lit. 'to sit'. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static, defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy. The art of conducting and resisting sieges is called siege warfare, siegecraft, or poliorcetics.

Cusco Place in Peru

Cusco, often spelled Cuzco, is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region and of the Cusco Province. In 2017, the city had a population of 428,450. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft).

Sapa Inca Emperor of the Inca Empire (Tawantinsuyu)

The Sapa Inca, Sapan Inka or Sapa Inka, also known as Apu ("divinity"), Inka Qhapaq, or simply Sapa, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Cuzco and, later, the Emperor of the Inca Empire (Tawantinsuyu) and the Neo-Inca State. While the origins of the position are mythical and originate from the legendary foundation of the city of Cusco, historically it seems to have come into being around 1100 CE. Although the Inca believed the Sapa to be the son of Inti and often referred to him as Intip Churin or ‘Son of the Sun,’ the position eventually became hereditary, with son succeeding father. The principal wife of the Inca was known as the Coya or Qoya. The Sapa Inca was at the top of the social hierarchy, and plays a dominant role in the political and spiritual realm.

Contents

Background

A Spanish expedition led by Francisco Pizarro had captured the Inca capital of Cusco on November 15, 1533 after defeating an Inca army headed by general Quisquis. [1] The following month, the conquistadors supported the coronation of Manco Inca as Inca emperor to facilitate their control over the empire. [2] Real power rested with the Spaniards who frequently humiliated Manco Inca and imprisoned him after an attempted escape in November 1535. [3] After his release in January 1536, Manco Inca left Cusco on April 18 promising the Spanish commander, Hernando Pizarro, to bring back a large gold statue when in fact he was already preparing a rebellion. [4]

Francisco Pizarro 16th-century Spanish conquistador who conquered the Inca Empire

Francisco Pizarro González was a Spanish conquistador who led the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. He captured and killed Incan emperor Atahualpa, and claimed the lands for Spain.

<i>Conquistador</i> soldiers, explorers, and adventurers primarly at the service of the Spanish Empire, and also to the Portuguese Empire

Conquistador is a term widely used to refer to the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Spain and Portugal in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Hernando Pizarro 16th-century Spanish conquistador

Hernando Pizarro y de Vargas was a Spanish conquistador and one of the Pizarro brothers who ruled over Peru. He ultimately died in Spain at a very advanced age, unlike his brothers who all suffered violent ends.

Siege

Having realized their mistake, Hernando Pizarro led an expedition against Manco Inca's troops, which had gathered in the nearby Yucay Valley; the attack failed as the Spaniards had severely underestimated the size of the Inca army. [5] The Inca emperor did not attack Cusco at once, instead he waited to assemble his full army estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000 men strong around the city (some sources suggest numbers as low as 40,000); against them there were 190 Spaniards, 80 of them horsemen, and several thousand Indian auxiliaries. [6] The siege started on May 6, 1536 with a full-scale attack towards the main square of the city; the Inca army succeeded in capturing most of the city while the Spaniards took refuge in two large buildings near the main plaza. [7] The conquistadors fended off Inca attacks from these constructions and mounted frequent raids against their besiegers. [8]

Indian auxiliaries Indigenous peoples of the Americas who aligned with the Spanish conquest

Indian auxiliaries or indios auxiliares is the term used in old Spanish chronicles and historical texts for the indigenous peoples who were integrated into the armies of the Spanish conquistadors with the purpose of supporting their advance and combat operations during the Conquest of America. They acted as guides, translators, or porters and in this role were also called yanakuna, particularly within the old Inca Empire and Chile. The term was also used for formations composed of indigenous warriors or Indios amigos, which they used for reconnaissance, combat, and as reserve in battle. The auxiliary Indians remained in use after the conquest, during some revolts, in border zones and permanent military areas, as in Chile in the Arauco War.

To relieve their position, the Spaniards decided to assault the walled complex of Sacsayhuamán which served as the main base of operations for the Inca army. Fifty horsemen, led by Juan Pizarro, and accompanied by Indian auxiliaries broke through the Inca army files, turned around and attacked Sacsayhuamán from outside the city. During the frontal assault against the building's large walls, a stone struck Juan Pizarro in the head; he died days later from the injury sustained. The following day, the Spaniards resisted several Inca counterattacks and mounted a renewed assault at night using scaling ladders. In this way, they captured the terrace walls of Sacsayhuamán while the Inca army held on to the two tall towers of the complex. The Inca commanders, Paucar Huaman and the high priest or Willaq Umu, decided to leave the confinement of the towers and fight their way towards Calca, the site of Manco Inca's headquarters, to bring back reinforcements. The attempt was successful and the towers were left under the command of Titu Cusi Gualpa, an Inca nobleman. Despite Titu's fierce resistance, the Spaniards and their auxiliaries stormed the towers so that when the Inca commanders returned, Sacsayhuamán was firmly under their control. [9]

Sacsayhuamán archaeological site

Sacsayhuamán, Sacsayhuaman, Sacsahuaman, Saxahuaman, Saksaywaman, Saqsaywaman, Sasawaman, Saksawaman, Sacsahuayman, Sasaywaman or Saksaq Waman is a citadel on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, Peru, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Sections were first built by the Killke culture about 1100; they had occupied the area since 900. The complex was expanded and added to by the Inca from the 13th century; they built dry stone walls constructed of huge stones. The workers carefully cut the boulders to fit them together tightly without mortar. The site is at an altitude of 3,701 m (12,142 ft).

Juan Pizarro (conquistador) Spanish conquistador

Juan Pizarro y Alonso was a Spanish conquistador who accompanied his brothers Francisco, Gonzalo and Hernando Pizarro for the conquest of Peru in 1532.

The Willaq Umu were the High Priests of the Sun in the Inca Empire. They were usually the brothers of the Sapa Inca, and most likely the second most powerful person in the entire empire. This office was created during the reign of Pachakuti. By the end of the empire, the high priest was also the field marshals in war for the emperor.

The capture of Sacsayhuamán eased the pressure on the Spanish garrison at Cusco; the fighting now turned in a series of daily skirmishes interrupted only by the Inca religious tradition of halting attacks during the new moon. [10] During this period, the Spaniards successfully implemented terror tactics to demoralize the Inca army, which included an order to kill any woman caught and cutting off the hands of captured men. [11] Encouraged by their successes, Hernando Pizarro led an attack against Manco Inca's headquarters which were now at Ollantaytambo, further away from Cusco. Manco Inca defeated the Spanish expedition at the Battle of Ollantaytambo by taking advantage of the fortifications and the difficult terrain around the site. [12] The Spanish garrison had more success with several raids to gather food from regions near Cusco; these incursions allowed them to replenish their almost exhausted provisions. [13] Meanwhile, Manco Inca tried to capitalize on his success at Ollantaytambo with a renewed assault on Cusco, but a Spanish cavalry party had a chance encounter with the Inca army thus ruining any hope of surprise. That same night the Spaniards mounted a full-scale attack which achieved complete surprise and inflicted severe casualties on Manco Inca's troops. [14]

New moon phase of the moon

In astronomy, the new moon is the first lunar phase, when the Moon and Sun have the same ecliptic longitude. At this phase, the lunar disk is not visible to the unaided eye, except when silhouetted during a solar eclipse. Daylight outshines the earthlight that dimly illuminates the new moon. The actual phase is usually a very thin crescent.

Ollantaytambo Town in Cusco, Peru

Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 72 km (45 mi) by road northwest of the city of Cusco. It is located at an altitude of 2,792 m (9,160 ft) above sea level in the district of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba, Cusco region. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region, and built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays, located in what is called the Sacred Valley of the Incas, it is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca ruins and its location en route to one of the most common starting points for the four-day, three-night hike known as the Inca Trail.

The Battle of Ollantaytambo took place in January 1537, between the forces of Inca emperor Manco Inca and a Spanish expedition led by Hernando Pizarro during the Spanish conquest of Peru. A former ally of the Spaniards, Manco Inca rebelled in May 1536, and besieged a Spanish garrison in the city of Cusco. To end the stand-off, the besieged mounted a raid against the emperor's headquarters in the town of Ollantaytambo. The expedition, commanded by Hernando Pizarro, included 100 Spaniards and some 30,000 Indian auxiliaries against an Inca army more than 30,000 strong.

After 10 months of vicious fighting in Cusco, with low morale playing a factor, Manco Inca decided to raise the siege at Cusco and withdraw to Ollantaytambo and then Vilcabamba, where he established the small Neo-Inca State. It is suggested by some that by this action he threw away his only real chance to rebuff the Spaniards from the lands of the Inca Empire, but it was probably the only realistic choice he had considering the arrival of Spanish reinforcements from Chile led by Diego de Almagro. Upon facing victory and the availability of expanding his own reign into Peru, Almagro seized the city once having achieved victory for Spain and had Hernando and Gonzalo imprisoned. Gonzalo escaped, to later face Almagro in a personal triumph at the Battle of Las Salinas. [15] :246–249,256–260

Vilcabamba, Peru City in Neo-Inca State

Vilcabamba, Willkapampa or Espíritu Pampa was a city founded by Manco Inca in 1539 that served as the capital of the Neo-Inca State, the last refuge of the Inca Empire until it fell to the Spaniards in 1572, signaling the end of Inca resistance to Spanish rule. The city was then destroyed, rediscovered in 1911, and scholars believe it to be the fabled "Lost city of the Incas".

Neo-Inca State Period of Incan resistance to Spanish conquest

The Neo-Inca State, also known as the Neo-Inca state of Vilcabamba, was the Inca state established by Inca emperor Huayna Capac's son Manco Inca Yupanqui in Vilcabamba, Peru in 1537. It is considered the remnants of the Inca Empire (1438–1533) after the Spanish conquest. It lasted until 1572, when the last Inca stronghold was conquered, and the last ruler, Túpac Amaru, Manco's son, was captured and executed. This ended the resistance to the Spanish conquest under the political authority of the Inca state.

Inca Empire Empire in pre-Columbian America

The Inca Empire, also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Its political and administrative structure is considered by most scholars to have been the most developed in the Americas before Columbus' arrival. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in the city of Cusco. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.

Notes

  1. Hemming, The conquest, p. 115.
  2. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 123–125.
  3. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 178–180.
  4. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 181–182.
  5. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 184–185.
  6. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 185–186.
  7. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 187–188.
  8. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 189–190.
  9. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 192–196.
  10. Hemming, The conquest, p. 197.
  11. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 198–199.
  12. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 207–209.
  13. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 210–211.
  14. Hemming, The conquest, pp. 211–212.
  15. Prescott, W.H., 2011, The History of the Conquest of Peru, Digireads.com Publishing, ISBN   9781420941142

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References