Aztecs Incas and Spanish Empires

During the creation of the Spanish empire, very many native tribes were destroyed.  They destroyed the people alongside their culture and in the case of the Incas and the Aztecs tried to eliminate every trace of these people because they were pagans.

The first attraction they had to these peoples lives were the treasure that they possessed.  The Spaniards lusted after these treasures and this led them to conquer various groups of people so that they may own what they had.  All these people were civilized when the Spaniards met them but were non -Christians.  The Spaniards greed and their devotion to Christianity let the led them to wipe out any trace of those civilizations and especially that of the Incas who were completely annihilated but some Aztecs are still around the maintain their culture.

The Aztec civilization started off as far back as the 12th and 13th century AD.  They migrated to the valley of Mexico around this time under the leadership of their chief named Tenoch.  Their god was Huitzilopochtli and he was the one who instructed the chief to lead to Aztec people to the valley of Mexico. They were to go Lake Texcoco and inhabit an island that was to be found there.

They were to build a city there and name it Tenochtitlan also as to hour their and they did this.  This city later became their capital city once they formed an empire.  The valley of Mexico therefore became the centre of their civilization since the capital city was based there.

Once they established the city, they were supposed to provide gifts to their god in form of human sacrifices. By the time they arrived in the swampy areas, they were destitute who were hired, poor and with no wealth or means to survival.

To make matters worse, they inhabited a swamp in a lake that was seen by others to be a waste that would not produce anything.  Due to the hardships that they faced, they were forced to use all means to get nutrition for themselves.  This meant they stole food from their neighbours used snakes and vermin for their meals and this did not in any way endear them to their neighbors.

This intense dislike by their neighbours was compounded by their practice of offering human sacrifices to their god Huitzilopochtli.  They were therefore segregated and no one wanted to be associated with them.  With so many odds against them and with no help, they had to come up with a way of improving their lives.

They built mud and batch houses in the swamp supported by strong poles.  They then transformed the uninhabitable land into a fertile productive land that provided them with more than enough through their mode of agriculture called chinampas. The city of Tenochtitlan grew and by using skilled craftsmen and common laborers, it expanded more.

There was need to gain respect from the neighbours and therefore in 1376, Acamapichli was made emperor because he was related to the last rulers of Culhuacan and also the Quetzalcoatl who was a great Toltec ruler.  In the 15th century, the tribe grew into a strong and disciplined military force and they formed the Triple Alliance with Texcoco and the Tacuba.

They conquered around 38 provinces which paid taxes to Tenochtitlan by the time the empire ended in 1520.  The Spaniards were able to conquer them easily because some of the boarder provinces maintained their independence.

Montezuma who was the ruler, than thought that Cortez the Spanish captain was a god returning.  He therefore offered golden presents which ignited Cortez’s lust for wealth.  The Aztecan priests tried to worn Montezuma but he did not heed their warning. The Spaniards conquered the Aztecs and wiped out traces of their existence and civilization because they were Catholics.  However, some survived and have maintained their culture up to date.

In 1527, Bartolome Ruiz on board his ship met a raft filled with expensive ornaments and textiles and realized need to establish contact with those who owned the treasure.  He left 3 men to become translators.  Francisco Pizarro was the leader of the group.  He and his men spent the winter in an uninhabited island and many died before spring.  From here they met therapist Inca city Tumbes where they found out that, these people were very wealthy and highly civilized.  Francisco then managed to convince the royal court in 15 months, the need to conquer the Incas and his idea was supported by Cortez, the “conquer” of the Aztecs.

Francisco and his men left Spain in January 1530 and marched his men along the Ecuador coast which was full of hardships and tightened their journey. While in the northern part of Peru, they established san Miguel which is near Piura.  In September 1532, they attacked the Inca and were lucky to have some events precipitate their attack.

Although their number was little, they found divisions caused by civil war by factions aligning themselves to either of two sons of the dead ruler.  Atahualpa who ruled the northern half of empire won but the Cuzco the capital city supported the other brother.  Since the Spaniards entered Inca from the north, they first met Atahualpa in his territory.

Atahualpa was attracted by the Spaniards horses and did not consider them to be any threat. He was invited by Pizarro to pay him a visit where he was based in Cajamarca. Atahualpa went on this visit with the intention of capturing the Spaniards but Pizarro had the same intention concerning him. It is in this place that the Indians were massacred.

Pizarro’s priest met them and explained the Christian doctrines to Atahualpa who did not heed them and instead threw the priests prayer book on to the ground. The priest was infuriated and it was on this pretext that the Spaniards attacked the Indians. They made it seem as if this was the reason but it had been an ambush that was clearly planned.

On this day, thousands of Indians died yet none of the Spaniards was hurt apart from a cut on Pizarro’s hand.  He intended to use Atahualpa to rule the Incas just as Cortes had done with the Aztecs so he made sure he did not die. He instead held him prisoner and this led to the Incas proposal to pay ransom for his release.

They offered to give a room full pf gold and this was to take them two months to do. This was to the advantage of Pizarro because he could now get additional troops from Spain. In March 1533, the artifacts from the temples started being melted down and this took around three months.

During this time, Diego de Almago arrived with troops in April the Spaniards did not release Atahualpa and instead charged him with treason in July the same year and was sentenced to die by being burned alive. Before his death, they managed to convert him to a Christian and his sentence was ‘reduced’ to die by garrote.

Through the destruction of artifacts and the killing of the rulers, the Spaniards ensured that the Incas of Peru were completely forgotten by the rest of society. They had nothing to show for the great civilization that they had been. Their empire was destroyed completely and up to date there is little to show for their existence.

Reference

1. History of the Incas a Glimpse of Inca Treasure: AD 1527-1532 24TH September 2007

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