Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The Europeans Did Not Conquer The Incas

... Francisco Pizarro and his goon squad did.

I'm currently making my way through The Great Age of Discovery: Volume I. I highly recommend it. Written in the 1950s, it is far superior to the politically correct History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration, which selectively edits history to make sure you end up hating the West and feeling sorry for the indigenous peoples who ended up on the losing side. More on that in a later blog post, perhaps.

Francisco did indeed whack the Incas. He showed up with a motley crew of brigands right on the heels of an Incan civil war, which was probably the only way that disease-riddled pack of thieves were going to stand a chance against the Incan Empire. He defeated the Incan King, Atahualpa, in a sneak attack at the Battle of Cajamarca,which was more of a simple massacre than anything else. Atahualpa himself was fresh off the field from defeating his brother and rival for the Incan crown. A while later, the Pizarro ruffians split into two factions and fought a civil war of their own at the Battle of Las Salinas.

In short, one faction after another fought over the same territory and the same wealth. That's not the point, it's just the lead up to this: the Spanish crown had about as much control over Pizarro as you do over the moon.

To travel from Spain to Peru, assuming you took the most direct route possible, would have taken about two months. King Charles I of Spain gave Pizarro permission to explore and conquer, but he had no direct control over him at all. The time it took to communicate saw to that. The conquistadors were effectively independent operators.

Previous failed efforts to conquer the Incas by Pizarro led the local governor of Panama to deny Pizarro permission to try again, after which Pizarro went over the governor's head to the king. King Charles probably figured he had nothing to lose as Pizarro would eventually find a sponsor anyway. Whatever imperial motives the king had, he was certainly also trying to use Pizarro's willingness to gamble his life to get something good for Spain out of it.

Meanwhile, the rest of Europe was unaware of Pizarro's existence, much less his exploits. If King Charles had no direct control over Pizarro, the "Europeans" couldn't have picked him out of a police lineup.

See where this leads? What's all this nonsense about the"Europeans" conquering the new world? At the time of the conquistadors, the work was done by semi-independent bands of adventurers who did their own thing as soon as they got out of earshot of the royal court. Given the multiple sides in the Incan-Pizarro conflict alone, it was more like Somali warlords duking it out over the territory and the loot than an organized invasion.

Pizarro's exploits in Peru against the Incas. Local Starbucks are shown on the map, indicating where Pizarro stopped to email King Chares I of Spain for further orders.


Foxfier said...

Given the multiple sides in the Incan-Pizarro conflict alone, it was more like Somali warlords duking it out over the territory and the loot than an organized invasion.

But it's racist to not pretend that someone from Spain getting into some 400 years of war (that we are pretty sure of) between tribal warlords is utterly and totally different. Same way that we must hold any designated Person of Pallor to modern, liberal-approved public standards of behavior, but don't you dare so much as suggest there might be something less than awesome about mass human sacrifice.

K T Cat said...

Seriously. It's success that we're supposed to hate, not imperialism, war or slavery.