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THE LAST FOUR INCAS
READERS of Prescott’s charming classic, “The Conquest of Peru,” will remember that Pizarro, after killing Atahualpa, the Inca who had tried in vain to avoid his fate by filling a room with vessels of gold, decided to establish a native prince on the throne of the Incas to rule in accordance with the dictates of Spain. The young prince, Manco, a son of the great Inca Huayna Capac, named for the first Inca, Manco Ccapac, the founder of the dynasty, was selected as the most acceptable figurehead. He was a young man of ability and spirit. His induction into office in 1534 with appropriate ceremonies, the barbaric splendor of which only made the farce the more pitiful, did little to gratify his natural ambition. As might have been foreseen, he chafed under restraint, escaped as soon as possible from his attentive guardians, and raised an army of faithful Quichuas. There followed the siege of Cuzco, briefly characterized by Don Alonzo Enriques de Guzman, who took part in it, as “the most fearful and cruel war in the world.” When in 1536 Cuzco was relieved by Pizarro’s comrade, Almagro, and Manco’s last chance of regaining the ancient capital of his ancestors failed, the Inca retreated to Ollantaytambo. Here, on the banks of the river Urubamba, Manco made a determined stand, but Ollantaytambo was too easily reached by Pizarro’s mounted cavaliers. The Inca’s followers, although aroused to their utmost endeavors by the presence of the magnificent stone edifices, fortresses, granaries, palaces, and hanging gardens of their ancestors, found it necessary to retreat. They fled in a northerly direction and made good their escape over snowy passes to Uiticos in the fastnesses of Uilcapampa, a veritable American Switzerland.
GLACIERS BETWEEN CUZCO AND UITICOS
The Spaniards who attempted to follow Manco found his position practically impregnable. The citadel of Uilcapampa, a gigantic natural fortress defended by Nature in one of her profoundest moods, was only to be reached by fording dangerous torrents, or crossing the mountains by narrow defiles which themselves are higher than the most lofty peaks of Europe. It was hazardous for Hannabal and Napoleon to bring their armies through the comparatively low passes of the Alps. Pizarro found it impossible to follow the Inca Manco over the Pass of Panticalla, itself a snowy wilderness higher than the summit of Mont Blanc. In no part of the Peruvian Andes are there so many beautiful snowy peaks. Near by is the sharp, icy pinnacle of Mt. Veronica (elevation 19,342 ft.). Not faraway is another magnificent snow-capped peak, Mt. Salcantay, 20,565 feet above the sea. Near Salcantay is the sharp needle of Mt. Soray (19,435 ft.), while to the west of it are Panta (18,590 ft.) and Soiroccocha (18,197 ft.). On the shoulders of these mountains are unnamed glaciers and little valleys that have scarcely ever been seen except by some hardy, prospector or inquisitive explorer. These valleys are to be reached only through passes where the traveler is likely to be waylaid by violent storms of hail and snow. During the rainy season a large part of Uilcapampa is absolutely impenetrable. Even in the dry season the difficulties of transportation are very great. The most sure-footed mule is sometimes unable to use the trails without assistance from man. It was an ideal place for the Inca Manco.
The conquistador, Cieza de Leon, who wrote in 1550 a graphic account of the wars of Peru, says that Manco took with him a “great quantity of treasure, collected from various parts ... and many loads of rich clothing of wool, delicate in texture and very beautiful and showy.” The Spaniards were absolutely unable to conceive of the ruler of a country traveling without rich “treasure.” It is extremely doubtful whether Manco burdened himself with much gold or silver. Except for ornament there was little use to which he could have put the precious metals and they would have served only to arouse the cupidity of his enemies. His people had never been paid in gold or silver. Their labor was his due, and only such part of it as was needed to raise their own crops and make their own clothing was allotted to them; in fact, their lives were in his hands and the custom and usage of centuries made them faithful followers of their great chief. That Manco, however, actually did carry off with him beautiful textiles, and anything else which was useful, may be taken for granted. In Uiticos, safe from the armed forces of his enemies, the Inca was also able to enjoy the benefits of a delightful climate, and was in a well-watered region where corn, potatoes, both white and sweet, and the fruits of the temperate and sub-tropical regions easily grow. Using this as a base, he was accustomed to sally forth against the Spaniards frequently and in unexpected directions. His raids were usually successful. It was relatively easy for him, with a handful of followers, to dash out of the mountain fastnesses cross the Apurirnac River either by swimming or on primitive rafts, and reach the great road between Cuzco and Lima, the principal highway of Peru. Officials and merchants whose business led them over this route found it extremely precarious. Manco cheered his followers by making them realize that in these raids they were taking sweet revenge on the Spaniards for what they had done to Peru. It is interesting to note that Cieza de Leon justifies Manco in his attitude, for the Spaniards had indeed “seized his inheritance, forcing him to leave his native land, and to live in banishment.”
Manco’s success in securing such a place of refuge, and in using it as a base from which he could frequently annoy his enemies, led many of the Orejones of Cuzco to follow him. The Inca chiefs were called Orejones, “big ears,” by the Spaniards because the lobes of their ears had been enlarged artificially to receive the great gold earrings which they were fond of wearing. Three years after Manco’s retirement to the wilds of Uilcapampa there was born in Cuzco in the year 1539, Garcilasso Inca de la Vega, the son of an Inca princess and one of the conquistadores.
As a small child Garcilasso heard of the activities of his royal relative. He left Peru as a boy and spent the rest of his life in Spain. After forty years in Europe he wrote, partly from memory, his “Royal Commentaries,” an account of the country of his Indian ancestors. Of the Inca Manco, of whom he must frequently have heard uncomplimentary reports as a child, he speaks apologetically. He says: “In the time of Manco Inca, several robberies were committed on the road by his subjects; but still they had that respect for the Spanish Merchants that they let them go free and never pillaged them of their wares and merchandise, which were in no manner useful to them; howsoever they robbed the Indians of their cattle [llamas and alpacas], bred in the countrey.... The Inca lived in the Mountains, which afforded no tame Cattel; and only produced Tigers and Lions and Serpents of twenty-five and thirty feet long, with other venomous insects.” (I am quoting from Sir Paul Rycaut’s translation, published in London in 1688.) Garcilasso says Manco’s soldiers took only “such food as they found in the hands of the Indians; which the Inca did usually call his own,” saying, “That he who was Master of that whole Empire might lawfully challenge such a proportion thereof as was convenient to supply his necessary and natural support” — a reasonable apology; and yet personally I doubt whether Manco spared the Spanish merchants and failed to pillage them of their “wares and merchandise.” As will be seen later, we found in Manco’s palace some metal articles of European origin which might very well have been taken by Manco’s raiders. Furthermore, it should be remembered that Garcilasso, although often quoted by Prescott, left Peru when he was sixteen years old and that his ideas were largely colored by his long life in Spain and his natural desire to extol the virtues of his mother’s people, a brown race despised by the white Europeans for whom he wrote.
The methods of warfare and the weapons used by Manco and his followers at this time are thus described by Guzman. He says the Indians had no defensive arms such as helmets, shields, and armor, but used “lances, arrows, clubs, axes, halberds, darts, and slings, and another weapon which they call ayllas (the bolas), consisting of three round stones sewn up in leather, and each fastened to a cord a cubit long. They throw these at the horses, and thus bind their legs together; and sometimes they will fasten a man’s arms to his sides in the same way. These Indians are so expert in the use of this weapon that they will bring down a deer with it in the chase. Their principal weapon, however, is the sling.... With it, they will hurl a huge stone with such force that it will kill a horse; in truth, the effect is little less great than that of an arquebus; and I have seen a stone, thus hurled from a sling, break a sword in two pieces which was held in a man’s hand at a distance of thirty paces.”
Manco’s raids finally became so annoying that Pizarro sent a small force from Cuzco under Captain Villadiego to attack the Inca. Captain Villadiego found it impossible to use horses, although he realized that cavalry was the “important arm against these Indians.” Confident in his strength and in the efficacy of his firearms, and anxious to enjoy the spoils of a successful raid against a chief reported to be traveling surrounded by his family “and with rich treasure,” he pressed eagerly on, up through a lofty valley toward a defile in the mountains, probably the Pass of Panticalla. Here, fatigued and exhausted by their difficult march and suffering from the effects of the altitude (16,000 ft.), his men found themselves ambushed by the Inca, who with a small party, “little more than eighty Indians,” “attacked the Christians, who numbered twenty-eight or thirty, and killed Captain Villadiego and all his men except two or three.” To any one who has clambered over the passes of the Cordillera Uilcapampa it is not surprising that this military expedition was a failure or that the Inca, warned by keen-sighted Indians posted on appropriate vantage points, could have succeeded in defeating a small force of weary soldiers armed with the heavy blunderbuss of the seventeenth century. In a rocky pass, protected by huge boulders, and surrounded by quantities of natural ammunition for their slings, it must have been relatively simple for eighty Quichuas, who could “hurl a huge stone with such force that it would kill a horse,” to have literally stoned to death Captain Villadiego’s little company before they could have prepared their clumsy weapons for firing.
THE URUBAMBA CANYON
A reason for the safety of the Incas in Uilcapampa
The fugitives returned to Cuzco and reported their misfortune. The importance of the reverse will be better appreciated if one remembers that the size of the force with which Pizarro conquered Peru was less than two hundred, only a few times larger than Captain Villadiego’s company which had been wiped out by Manco. Its significance is further increased by the fact that the contemporary Spanish writers, with all their tendency to exaggerate, placed Manco’s force at only “a little more than eighty Indians.” Probably there were not even that many. The wonder is that the Inca’s army was not reported as being several thousand.
Francisco Pizzaro himself now hastily set out with a body of soldiers determined to punish this young Inca who had inflicted such a blow on the prestige of Spanish arms, “but this attempt also failed,” for the Inca had withdrawn across the rivers and mountains of Uilcapampa to Uiticos, where, according to Cieza de Leon, he cheered his followers with the sight of the heads of his enemies. Unfortunately for accuracy, the custom of displaying on the ends of pikes the heads of one’s enemies was European and not Peruvian. To be sure, the savage Indians of some of the Amazonian jungles do sometimes decapitate their enemies, remove the bones of the skull, dry the shrunken scalp and face, and wear the trophy as a mark of prowess just as the North American Indians did the scalps of their enemies. Such customs had no place among the peace-loving Inca agriculturists of central Peru. There were no Spaniards living with Manco at that time to report any such outrage on the bodies of Captain Villadiego’s unfortunate men. Probably the conquistadores supposed that Manco did what the Spaniards would have done under similar circumstances.
Following the failure of Francisco Pizarro to penetrate to Uiticos, his brother, Gonzalo, “undertook the pursuit of the Inca and occupied some of his passes and bridges,” but was unsuccessful in penetrating the mountain labyrinth. Being less fool-hardy than Captain Villadiego, he did not come into actual conflict with Manco. Unable to subdue the young Inca or prevent his raids on travelers from Cuzco to Lima, Francisco Pizarro, “with the assent of the royal officers who were with him,” established the city of Ayacucho at a convenient point on the road, so as to make it secure for travelers. Nevertheless, according to Montesinos, Manco caused the good people of Ayacucho quite a little trouble. Finally, Francisco Pizarro, “having taken one of Manco’s wives prisoner with other Indians, stripped and flogged her, and then shot her to death with arrows.”
Accounts of what happened in Uiticos under the rule of Manco are not very satisfactory. Father Calancha, who published in 1639 his “Coronica Moralizada,” or “pious account of the missionary activities of the Augustinians” in Peru, says that the Inca Manco was obeyed by all the Indians who lived in a region extending “for two hundred leagues and more toward the east and toward the south, where there were innumerable Indians in various provinces.” With customary monastic zeal and proper religious fervor, Father Calancha accuses the Inca of compelling the baptized Indians who fled to him from the Spaniards to abandon their new faith, torturing those who would no longer worship the old Inca “idols.” This story need not be taken too literally, although undoubtedly the escaped Indians acted as though they had never been baptized.
Besides Indians fleeing from harsh masters, there came to Uilcapampa, in 1542, Gomez Perez Diego Mendez, and half a dozen other Spanish fugitives, adherents of Almagro, “rascals,” says Calancha, “worthy of Manco’s favor.” Obliged by the civil wars of the conquistadores to flee from the Pizarros, they were glad enough to find a welcome in Uiticos. To while away the time they played games and taught the Inca checkers and chess, as well as bowling-on-the-green and quoits. Montesinos says they also taught him to ride horseback and shoot an arquebus. They took their games very seriously and occasionally violent disputes arose, one of which, as we shall see, was to have fatal consequences. They were kept informed by Manco of what was going on in the viceroyalty. Although “encompassed within craggy and lofty mountains,” the Inca was thoroughly cognizant of all those “revolutions” which might be of benefit to him.
Perhaps the most exciting news that reached Uiticos in 1544 was in regard to the arrival of the first Spanish viceroy. He brought the New Laws, a result of the efforts of the good Bishop Las Casas to alleviate the sufferings of the Indians. The New Laws provided, among other things, that all the officers of the crown were to renounce their repartimientos or holdings of Indian serfs, and that compulsory personal service was to be entirely abolished. Repartimientos given to the conquerors were not to pass to their heirs, but were to revert to the king. In other words, the New Laws gave evidence that the Spanish crown wished to be kind to the Indians and did not approve of the Pizarros. This was good news for Manco and highly pleasing to the refugees. They persuaded the Inca to write a letter to the new viceroy, asking permission to appear before him and offer his services to the king. The Spanish refugees told the Inca that by this means he might some day recover his empire, “or at least the best part of it.” Their object in persuading the Inca to send such a message to the viceroy becomes apparent when we learn that they “also wrote as from themselves desiring a pardon for what was past” and permission to return to Spanish dominions.
Gomez Perez, who seems to have been the active leader of the little group, was selected to be the bearer of the letters from the Inca and the refugees. Attended by a dozen Indians whom the Inca instructed to act as his servants and bodyguard, he left Uilcapampa, presented his letters to the viceroy, and gave him “a large relation of the State and Condition of the Inca, and of his true and real designs to doe him service.” “The Vice-king joyfully received the news, and granted a full and ample pardon of all crimes, as desired. And as to the Inca, he made many kind expressions of love and respect, truly considering that the Interest of the Inca might be advantageous to him, both in War and Peace. And with this satisfactory answer Gomez Perez returned both to the Inca and to his companions.” The refugees were delighted with the news and got ready to return to king and country. Their departure from Uiticos Was prevented by a tragic accident, thus described by Garcilasso.
“The Inca, to humour the Spaniards and entertain himself with them, had given directions for making a bowling green; When playing one day with Gomez Perez, he came to have some quarrel and difference with this Perez about the measure of a Cast, Which often happened between them; for this Perez, being a person of a hot and fiery brain, without any judgment or understanding, would take the least occasion in the world to contend with and provoke the Inca.... Being no longer able to endure his rudeness, the Inca punched him on the breast, and bid him to consider with whom he talked. Perez, not considering in his heat and passion either his own safety or the safety of his Companions, lifted up his hand, and with the bowl struck the Inca so violently on the head, that he knocked him down. [He died three days later.] The Indians hereupon, being enraged by the death of their Prince, joined together against Gomez and the Spaniards, who, fled into a house, and with their Swords in their hands defended the door; the Indians set fire to the house, which being too hot for them, they sallied out into the Marketplace, where the Indians assaulted them and shot them with their Arrows until they had killed every man of them; and then afterwards, out of mere rage and fury they designed either to eat them raw as their custome was, or to burn them and cast their ashes into the river, that no sign or appearance might remain of them; but at length, after some consultation, they agreed to cast their bodies into the open fields, to be devoured by vulters and birds of the air, which they supposed to be the highest indignity and dishonour that they could show to their Corps.” Garcilasso concludes: “I informed myself very perfectly from those chiefs and nobles who were present and eye-witnesses of the unparalleled piece of madness of that rash and hair-brained fool; and heard them tell this story to my mother and parents with tears in their eyes.” There are many versions of the tragedy.1 They all agree that a Spaniard murdered the Inca.
Thus, in 1545, the reign of an attractive and vigorous personality was brought to an abrupt close. Manco left three young sons, Sayri Tupac, Titu Cusi, and Tupac Amaru. Sayri Tupac, although he had not yet reached his majority, became Inca in his father’s stead, and with the aid of regents reigned for ten years without disturbing his Spanish neighbors or being annoyed by them, unless the reference in Montesinos to a proposed burning of bridges near Abancay, under date of 1555, is correct. By a curious lapse Montesinos ascribes this attempt to the Inca Manco, who had been dead for ten years. In 1555 there carne to Lima a new viceroy, who decided that it would be safer if young Sayri Tupac were within reach instead of living in the inaccessible wilds of Uilcapampa. The viceroy wisely undertook to accomplish this difficult matter through the Princess Beatrix Coya, an aunt of the Inca, who was living in Cuzco. She took kindly to the suggestion and dispatched to Uiticos a messenger, of the blood royal, attended by Indian servants. The journey was a dangerous one; bridges were down and the treacherous trails were well-nigh impassable. Sayri Tupac’s regents permitted the messenger to enter Uilcapampa and deliver the viceroy’s invitation, but were not inclined to believe that it was quite so attractive as appeared on the surface, even though brought to them by a kinsman. Accordingly, they kept the visitor as a hostage and sent a messenger of their own to Cuzco to see if any foul play could be discovered, and also to request that one John Sierra, a more trusted cousin, be sent to treat in this matter. All this took time.
In 1558 the viceroy, becoming impatient, dispatched from Lima Friar Melchior and one John Betanzos, who had married the daughter of the unfortunate Inca Atahualpa and pretended to be very learned in his wife’s language. Montesinos says he was a “great linguist.” They started off quite confidently for Uiticos, taking with them several pieces of velvet and damask, and two cups of gilded silver as presents. Anxious to secure the honor of being the first to reach the Inca, they traveled as fast as they could to the Chuquichaca bridge, “the key to the valley of Uiticos.” Here they were detained by the soldiers of the regents. A day or so later John Sierra, the Inca’s cousin from Cuzco, arrived at the bridge and was allowed to proceed, while the friar and Betanzos were still detained. John Sierra was welcomed by the Inca and his nobles, and did his best to encourage Sayri Tupac to accept the viceroy’s offer. Finally John Betanzos and the friar were also sent for and admitted to the presence of the Inca, with the presents which the viceroy had sent. Sayri Tupac’s first idea was to remain free and independent as he had hitherto done, so he requested the ambassadors to depart immediately with their silver gilt cups. They were sent back by one of the western routes across the Apurimac. A few days later, however, after John Sierra had told him some interesting stories of life in Cuzco, the Inca decided to reconsider the matter. His regents had a long debate, observed the flying of birds and the nature of the weather, but according to Garcilasso “made no inquiries of the devil.” The omens were favorable and the regents finally decided to allow the Inca to accept the invitation of the viceroy.
Sayri Tupac, anxious to see something of the world, went directly to Lima, traveling in a litter made of rich materials, carried by relays chosen from the three hundred Indians who attended him. He was kindly received by the viceroy, and then went to Cuzco, where he lodged in his aunt’s house. Here his relatives went to welcome him. “I, myself,” says Garcilasso, “went in the name of my Father. I found him then playing a certain game used amongst the Indians.... I kissed his hands, and delivered my Message; he commanded me to sit down, and presently they brought two gilded cups of that Liquor, made of Mayz [chicha] which scarce contained four ounces of Drink; he took them both, and with his own Hand he gave one of them to me; he drank, and I pledged him, which as we have said, in the custom of Civility amongst them. This ceremony being past, he asked me, Why I did not meet him at Uilcapampa. I answered him, ‘Inca, as I am but a Young man, the Governours make no account of me, to place me in such Ceremonies as these! ‘How,’ replied the Inca, ‘I would rather have seen you than all the Friars and Fathers in Town.’ As I was going away I made him a submissive bow and reverence, after the manner of the Indians, who are of his Alliance and Kindred, at which he was so much pleased, that he embraced me heartily, and with much affection, as appeared by his Countenance.”
Sayri Tupac now received the sacred Red Fringe of Inca sovereignty, was married to a princess of the blood royal, joined her in baptism, and took up his abode in the beautiful valley of Yucay, a day’s journey northeast of Cuzco, and never returned to Uiticos. His only daughter finally married a certain Captain Garcia, of whom more anon. Sayri Tupac died in 1560, leaving two brothers; the older, Titu Cusi Yupanqui, illegitimate, and the younger, Tupac Amaru, his rightful successor, an inexperienced youth.
YUCAY, LAST HOME OF SAYRI TUPAC
The throne of Uiticos was seized by Titu Cusi. The new Inca seems to have been suspicious of the untimely death of Sayri Tupac, and to have felt that the Spaniards were capable of more foul play. So with his half-brother he stayed quietly in Uilcapampa. Their first visitor, so far as we know, was Diego Rodriguez de Figueroa, who wrote an interesting account of Uiticos and says he gave the Inca a pair of scissors. He was unsuccessful in his efforts to get Titu Cusi to go to Cuzco. In time there came an Augustinian missionary, Friar Marcos Garcia, who, six years after the death of Sayri Tupac, entered the rough country of Uilcapampa, “a land of moderate wealth, large rivers, and the usual rains,” whose “forested mountains,” says Father Calancha, “are magnificent.” Friar Marcos had a hard journey. The bridges were down, the roads had been destroyed, and the passes blocked up. The few Indians who did occasionally appear in Cuzco from Uilcapampa said the friar could not get there “unless he should be able to change himself into a bird.” However, with that courage and pertinacity which have marked so many missionary enterprises, Friar Marcos finally overcame all difficulties and reached Uiticos.
The missionary chronicler says that Titu Cusi was far from glad to see him and received him angrily. It worried him to find that a Spaniard had succeeded in penetrating his retreat. Besides, the Inca was annoyed to have any one preach against his “idolatries.” Titu Cusi’s own story, as written down by Friar Marcos, does not agree with Calancha’. Anyhow, Friar Marcos built a little church in a place called Puquiura, where many of the Inca’s people were then living. “He planted crosses in the fields and on the mountains, these being the best thing to frighten off devils.” He “suffered many insults at the hands of the chiefs and principal followers of the Inca. Some of them did it to please the Devil, others to flatter the Inca, and many because they disliked his sermons, in which he scolded them for their vices and abominated among his converts the possession of four or six wives. So they punished him in the matter of food, and forced him to send to Cuzco for victuals. The Convent sent him hard-tack, which was for him a most delicious banquet.”
Within a year or so another Augustinian missionary, Friar Diego Ortiz, left Cuzco alone for Uilcapampa. He suffered much on the road, but finally reached the retreat of the Inca and entered his presence in company with Friar Marcos. “Although the Inca was not too happy to see a new preacher, he was willing to grant him an entrance because the Inca... thought Friar Diego would not vex him nor take the trouble to reprove him. So the Inca gave him a license. They selected the town of Huarancalla, which was populous and well located in the midst of a number of other little towns and villages. There was a distance of two or three days journey from one Convent to the other. Leaving Friar Marcos in Puquiura, Friar Diego went to his new establishment and in a short time built a church, a house for himself, and a hospital, — all poor buildings made in a short time.” He also started a school for children, and became very popular as he went about healing and teaching. He had an easier time than Friar Marcos, who, with less tact and no skill as a physician, was located nearer the center of the Inca cult.
The principal shrine of the Inca is described by Father Calancha as follows: “Close to Vitcos [or Uiticos] in a village called Chuquipalpa, is a House of the Sun, and in it a white rock over a spring of water where the Devil appears as a visible manifestation and was worshipped by those idolators. This was the principal mochadero of those forested mountains. The word ‘mochadero’2 is the common name which the Indians apply to their places of worship. In other words it is the only where They practice the sacred ceremony of kissing. The origin of this, the principal part of their ceremonial, is that very practice, which Job abominates when he solemnly clears himself of all offence before God and says to Him: ‘Lord, all these punishments and even greater burdens would I have deserved had I that which the blind Gentiles do when the sun shines resplendent or the moon shines clear and they exult in their hearts and extend their hands toward the sun and throw kisses to it,’ an act of very grave iniquity which is equivalent to denying the true God.”
Thus does the ecclesiastical chronicler refer to the practice in Peru of that particular form of worship of the heavenly bodies which was also widely spread in the East, in Arabia, ad Palestine and was inveighed against by Mohammed as well as the ancient Hebrew prophets. Apparently this ceremony “of the most profound resignation and reverence” was practiced in Chuquipalpa, close to Uiticos, in the reign of the Inca Titu Cusi.
Calancha goes on to say: “In this white stone of the aforesaid House of the Sun, which is called Yurac Rumi [meaning, Quichua, a white rock], there attends a Devil who is Captain of a legion. He and his legionaries show great kindness to the Indian idolators, but great terrors to the Catholics. They abuse with hideous cruelties the baptized ones who now no longer worship them with kisses, and many of the Indians have died from the horrible frights these devils have given them.”
One day, when the Inca and his mother and their principal chiefs and counselors were away from Uiticos on a visit to some of their outlying estates, Friar Marcos and Friar Diego decided to make a spectacular attack on this particular Devil, who was at the great “white rock over a spring of water.” The two monks summoned all their converts to gather at Puquiura, in the church or the neighboring plaza, and asked each to bring a stick of firewood in order that they might burn up this Devil who had tormented them. “An innumerable multitude” came together on the day appointed. The converted Indians were most anxious to get even with this Devil who had slain their friends and inflicted wounds on themselves; the doubters were curious to see the result; the Inca priests were there to see their god defeat the Christians’; while, as may readily be imagined, the rest of the population came to see the excitement. Starting out from Puquiura they marched to “the Temple of the Sun, in the village of Chuquipalpa, close to Uiticos.”
Arrived at the sacred palisade, the monks raised the standard of the cross, recited their orisons, surrounded the spring, the white rock and the Temple of the Sun, and piled high the firewood. Then, having exorcised the locality, they called the Devil by all the vile names they could think of, to show their lack of respect, and finally commanded him never to return to this vicinity. Calling on Christ and the Virgin, they applied fire to the wood. “The poor Devil then fled roaring in a fury, and making the mountains to tremble.”
It took remarkable courage on the part of the two lone monks thus to desecrate the chief shrine of the people among whom they were dwelling. It is almost incredible that in this remote valley, separated from their friends and far from the protecting hand of the Spanish viceroy, they should have dared to commit such an insult to the religion of their hosts. Of course, as soon as the Inca Titu Cusi heard of it, he was greatly annoyed. His mother was furious. They returned immediately to Puquiura. The chiefs wished to “slay the monks and tear them into small pieces,” and undoubtedly would have done so had it not been for the regard in which Friar Diego was held. His skill in curing disease had so endeared him to the Indians that even the Inca himself dared not punish him for the attack on the Temple of the Sun. Friar Marcos, however, who probably originated the plan, and had done little to gain the good will of the Indians, did not fare so well. Calancha says he was stoned out of the province and the Inca threatened to kill him if he ever should return. Friar Diego, particularly beloved by those Indians who came from the fever-stricken jungles in the lower valleys, was allowed to remain, and finally became a trusted friend and adviser of Titu Cusi.
One day a Spaniard named Romero, an adventurous prospector for gold, was found penetrating the mountain valleys, and succeeded in getting permission from the Inca to see what minerals were there. He was too successful. Both gold and silver were found among the hills and he showed enthusiastic delight at his good fortune. The Inca, fearing that his reports might encourage others to enter Uilcapampa, put the unfortunate prospector to death, notwithstanding the protestations of Friar Diego. Foreigners were not wanted in Uilcapampa.
In the year 1570, ten years after the accession of Titu Cusi to the Inca throne in Uiticos, a new Spanish viceroy came to Cuzco. Unfortunately for the Incas, Don Francisco de Toledo, an indefatigable soldier and administrator, was excessively bigoted, narrow-minded, cruel, and pitiless. Furthermore, Philip II and his Council of the Indies had decided that it would be worth while to make every effort to get the Inca out of Uiticos. For thirty-five years the Spanish conquerors had occupied Cuzco and the major portion of Peru without having been able to secure the submission of the Indians who lived in the province of Uilcapampa. It would be a great feather in the cap of Toledo if he could induce Titu Cusi to come and live where he would always be accessible to Spanish authority.
During the ensuing rainy season, after an unusually lively party, the Inca got soaked, had a chill, and was laid low. In the meantime the viceroy had picked out a Cuzco soldier, one Tilano de Anaya, who was well liked by the Inca, to try to persuade Titu Cusi to come to Cuzco. Tilano was instructed to go by way of Ollantaytambo and the Chuquichaca bridge. Luck was against him. Titu Cusi’s illness was very serious. Friar Diego, his physician, had prescribed the usual remedies. Unfortunately, all the monk’s skill was unavailing and his royal patient died. The “remedies” were held by Titu Cusi’s mother and her counselors to be responsible. The poor friar had had to stiffer the penalty of death “for having caused the death of the Inca.”
The third son of Manco, Tupac Amaru, brought up as a playfellow of the Virgins of the Sun in the ‘Temple near Uiticos, and now happily married, was selected to rule the little kingdom. His brows were decked with the Scarlet Fringe of Sovereignty, but, thanks to the jealous fear of his powerful illegitimate brother, his training had not been that of a soldier. He was destined to have a brief, unhappy existence. When the young Inca’s counselors heard that a messenger was coming from the viceroy, seven warriors were sent to meet him on the road. Tilano was preparing to spend the night at the Chuquichaca bridge when he was attacked and killed.
The viceroy heard of the murder of his ambassador at the same time that he learned of the martyrdom of Friar Diego. A blow had been struck at the very heart of Spanish domination; if the representatives of the Vice-Regent of Heaven and the messengers of the viceroy of Philip II were not inviolable, then who was safe? On Palm Sunday the energetic Toledo, surrounded by his council, determined to make war on the unfortunate young Tupac Amaru and give a reward to the soldier who would effect his capture. The council was of the opinion that “many Insurrections might be raised in that Empire by this young Heir.” “Moreover it was alledged,” says Garcilasso...... “That by the Imprisonment of the Inca, all that Treasure might be discovered, which appertained to former kings, together with that Chain of Gold, which Huayna Capac commanded to be made for himself to wear on the great and solemn days of their Festival”! Furthermore, the “Chain of Gold with the remaining Treasure belong’d to his Catholic Majesty by right of Conquest”! Excuses were not wanting. The Incas must be exterminated.
The expedition was divided into two parts. One company was sent by way of Limatambo to Curahuasi, to head off the Inca in case he should cross the Apurimac and try to escape by one of the routes which had formerly been used by his father, Manco, in his marauding expeditions. The other company, under General Martin Hurtado and Captain Garcia, marched from Cuzco by way of Yucay and Ollantaytambo. They were more fortunate than Captain Villadiego whose force, thirty-five years before, had been met and destroyed at the pass of Panticalla. That was in the days of the active Inca Manco. Now there was no force defending this important pass. They descended the Lucumayo to its junction with the Urubamba and came to the bridge of Chuquichaca.
The narrow suspension bridge, built of native fibers, sagged deeply in the middle and swayed so threateningly over the gorge of the Urubamba that only one man could pass it at a time. The rapid river was too deep to be forded. There were no canoes. It would have been a difficult matter to have constructed rafts, for most of the trees that grow here are of hard wood and do not float. On the other side of the Urubamba was young Tupac Amaru, surrounded by his councilors, chiefs, and soldiers. The first. hostile forces which in Pizarro’s time had endeavored to fight their way into Uilcapampa had never been allowed by Manco to get as far as this. His youngest son, Tupac Amaru, had had no experience in these matters. The chiefs and nobles had failed to defend the pass; and they now failed to destroy the Chuquichaca bridge, apparently relying on their ability to take care of one Spanish soldier at a time and prevent the Spaniards from crossing the narrow, swaying structure. General Hurtado was not taking any such chances. He had brought with him one or two light mountain field pieces, with which the raw troops of the Inca were little acquainted. The sides of the valley at this point rise steeply from the river and the reverberations caused by gun fire would be fairly terrifying to those who had never heard anything like it before. A few volleys from the guns and the arquebuses, and the Indians fled pell-mell in every direction, leaving the bridge undefended.
Captain Garcia, who had married the daughter of Sayri Tupac, was sent in pursuit of the Inca. His men found the road “narrow in the ascent, with forest on the right, and on the left a ravine of great depth.” It was only a footpath, barely wide enough for two men to pass. Garcia, with customary Spanish bravery, marched at the head of his company. Suddenly out of the thick forest an Inca chieftain named Hualpa, endeavoring to protect the flight of Tupac Amaru, sprang on Garcia, held him so that he could not get at his sword and endeavored to hurl him over the cliff. The captain’s life was saved by a faithful Indian servant who was following immediately behind him, carrying his sword. Drawing it from the scabbard “with much dexterity and animation,” the Indian killed Hualpa and saved his master’s life.
Garcia fought several battles, took some forts and succeeded in capturing many prisoners. From them it was learned that the Inca had “gone inland toward the valley of Simaponte; and that he was flying to the country of the Manaries Indians, a warlike tribe and his friends, where balsas and canoes were posted to save him and enable him to escape.” Nothing daunted by the dangers of the jungle nor the rapids of the river, Garcia finally managed to construct five rafts, on which he put some of his soldiers. Accompanying them himself, he descended the rapids, escaping death many times by swimming, and finally arrived at a place called Momori, only to find that the Inca, learning of their approach, had gone farther into the woods. Garcia followed hard after, although he and his men were by this time barefooted and suffering from want of food. They finally captured the Inca. Garcilasso says that Tupac Amaru, “considering that he had not People to make resistance, and that he was not conscious to himself of any Crime, or disturbance he had done or raised, suffered himself to be taken; choosing rather to entrust himself in the hands of the Spaniards, than to perish in those Mountains with Famine, or be drowned in those great Rivers.... The Spaniards in this manner seizing on the Inca, and on all the Indian Men and Women, who were in Company with him, amongst which was his Wife, two Sons, and a Daughter, returned with them in Triumph to Cuzco; to which place the Vice-King went, so soon as he was in-formed of the imprisonment of the poor Prince.” A mock trial was held. The captured chiefs were tortured to death with fiendish brutality. Tupac Amaru’s wife was mangled before his eyes. His own head was cut off and placed on a pole in the Cuzco Plaza. His little boys did not long survive. So perished the last of the Incas, descendants of the wisest Indian rulers America has ever seen.
1 Another version of this event is that the quarrel was over a game of chess between the Inca and Diego Mendez, another of the refugees, who lost his temper and called the Inca a dog. Angered at the tone and language of his guest, the Inca gave him a blow with his fist. Diego Mendez thereupon drew a dagger and killed him. A totally different account from the one obtained by Garcilasso from his informants is that in a volume purporting to have been dictated to Friar Marcos by Manco’s son, Titu Cusi, twenty years after the event. I quote from Sir Clements Markham’s translation:
“After these Spaniards had been with my Father for several years in the said town of Viticos they were one day, with much good fellow-ship, playing at quoits with him; only them, my Father and me, who was then a boy [ten years old]. Without having any suspicion, although an Indian woman, named Banba, had said that the Spaniards wanted to murder the Inca, my Father was playing with them as usual. In this game, just as my Father was raising the quoit to throw, they all rushed upon him with knives, daggers and some swords. My Father, feeling himself wounded, strove to make some defence, but he was one and unarmed, and they were seven fully armed; he fell to the ground covered with wounds, and they left him for dead. I, being a little boy, and seeing my Father treated in this manner, wanted to go where he was to help him. But they turned furiously upon me, and hurled a lance which only just failed to kill me also. I was terrified and fled amongst some bushes. They looked for me, but could not find me. The Spaniards, seeing that my Father had ceased to breathe, went out of the gate, in high spirits, saying, ‘Now that we have killed the Inca we have nothing to fear.’ But at this moment the captain Rimachi Yupanqui arrived with some Antis, and presently chased them in such sort that, before they could get very far along a difficult road, they were caught and pulled from their horses. They all had to suffer very cruel deaths and some were burnt. Notwithstanding his wounds my Father lived for three days.’’
Another version is given by Montesinos in his Anales. It is more like Titu Cusi’s.
2 A Spanish derivative from the Quichua mucha “a kiss.” Muchani means ‘to adore, to reverence, to kiss the hands.’