The Conquest Of Peru Essay

1048 words - 4 pages

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 enterprise he seeked to conquer new land. In his first expedition Pizzaro went with about 80 men and a small number of horses.The result of the first expedition was disheartening. Pizzaro went no further than Punta Quemada, than to Chicama, a short distance from Panama. When a second expedition fared little better, Pizarro sent Almagro to Panama for reinforcements which the governor refused to do. According to legend, Pizarro drew in the sand with his sword, inviting those who desired wealth and glory to step across and to join him in the continued conquest. Thirteen crossed the line and the rest sailed back to Panama.This small group were dropped on a small island which they named Gorgon's Island. After 7 months of despair Almagaro appeared and Pizarro used this opportunity to explore and sailed to the south of Peru. The first contact between the Incas and the Spaniards were open and each thought the other side to be rational people. Pizarro told them that he had come to save their souls which was met with disbelief. Pizarro than pushed down the Peruvian coast realizing that a civilization existed south of the equator. Elated he returned to Panama with clothing, embroidery and small pieces of gold. On this evidence, the queen granted a licence for Pizarro to discover and conquer...

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