Top 10 Battles that changed history

The Battle of Cajamarca was a battle between the Spaniards and the Incas in 1532. The battle, often thought of as an ambush or a frontal skirmish, saw a small unit of Spanish soldiers under led by conquistador Francisco Pizarro proceeded to capture Atahualpa, a “Sapa Inca”, meaning ruler of the Inca Empire.

Pizarro’s victory at the Battle of Cajamarca – One of Top 10 Battles that changed history, a victory by a bit of luck, had dire consequences for Spanish as well as American history. As a result, the Inca Empire, one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas at the time, was destroyed.

For the Spanish, on the other hand, this battle led to the conquest of Peru, bringing prosperity to the empire. This contributed to the superpower status of Spain on the European chessboard.


The Battle of Cajamarca
The Battle of Cajamarca

Although the Battle of Cajamarca began in 1532, the events that preceded it influenced the defeat of the Incas and the victory of the Spaniards. Not long before Pizarro and his men landed, the Inca Empire reached its peak of prosperity. During the 15th century, the “Sapa Inca” successors pushed for military expansion of the empire’s borders to the north and south.

Around that time, Huayna Capac (Atahualpa’s father) died, specifically in 1527, the Inca Empire expanded its territory from present-day Ecuador in the North to the Central Territory. Chile today. Conquering such a vast land meant that the Inca Empire was holding a formidable army. Moreover, the Incas were not a purely militaristic nation, but they possessed one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas at the time.

To link the other territories, the Incas built a system of roads along the empire with a distance of nearly 25,000 miles (40,200 km), three times the diameter of the Earth. The Incas were also very good at handicrafts. Although they made many pieces of gold and silver jewelry, which were later robbed by the Spanish conquistadors, it is their knitting that is considered the pinnacle of American art.

The finest woven fabric was called “cumpi” and was used exclusively by the Inca elite. The Incas were also skilled builders in creating many stone structures without the use of putty. The structures are said to fit so perfectly that “not even a sharp knife could fit the joints between the stones”.

In short, the Inca Empire was a highly developed civilization. In fact, even the Spaniards, when they launched the Inca invasion, were surprised and amazed at what they witnessed.

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The Battle of Cajamarca
The Battle of Cajamarca

On the other side, the Spaniards had just finished recapturing their homeland from the Muslims. In 1492, a year before Huayna Capac’s accession to the throne, the Emirate of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula, fell to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, ending the “Reconquista” mission.

That same year, Christopher Columbus embarked on a voyage to find a possible sea route to Asia to the west. By chance, Columbus discovered the New World and placed it in the Spanish Crown. For the next several decades, the Spaniards began to explore and colonize islands in the Caribbean.

In 1510, Santa María la Antigua del Darién (in present-day Panama) was discovered by Vasco Núñez de Balboa. This was the first land colony of Spain (and Europe). Over the next three years, Balboa embarked on a territorial expansion in search of kingdoms along the shores of the “other sea”, now known as the South Sea or the South Pacific Ocean. Balboa first heard of it while he was in the land of Comage, a native tribal leader.

The story begins when Balboa and his men are peacefully received by Comage’s men and invited to a festival. Later, the Spaniards were presented with an amount of gold, but the group argued over how to divide the gold because it was not enough. The greed of the Spaniards angered Comagre’s son, Panquiaco, who kicked over the scale to weigh the gold and shouted, “If you covet gold and silver so much that you leave your country, go away. make war with others, then I will show you an area that will satisfy your greed.”

Panquiaco had told Balboa of a kingdom to the south so rich that its people ate from gold plates and drank from silver cups. The chief’s son also warned the Spaniards that they would need thousands of men if they were to defeat kingdoms deep in the continent and along the shores of “other seas”. Balboa’s expedition turned out to be a great success. Along the Isthmus of Panama, Balboa discovered the South Sea from the west coast of the New World and claimed, along with all the land adjacent to it, to Spain.


One of the entourage that followed Balboa to the South Sea was Francisco Pizarro, who acted as the group’s commander. Pizarro was born around 1475 in Trujillo, a town in the West. In 1502, Pizarro left the Old Continent for the island of Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) with Nicolás de Ovando, the new Governor of the Spanish colony.

Over the next few years, Pizarro engaged in explorations of new lands. In 1508, Pizarro joined Alonso de Ojeda’s expedition deep into the continent. The expedition, consisting of 300 men, settled in a colony called San Sebastián de Urabá, which is present-day Columbia. The region did not last long, however, and Pizarro led the survivors (about 100 in 1510) back to Hispaniola.

The Spaniards entered the Aztec Empire in 1519 and subdued it two years later. The land of the Aztecs was annexed to Spain, who later called the colony New Spain. In addition, the riches of the Aztecs stimulated the imaginations of the Spaniards remaining in the New World, who dreamed that there were other similar civilizations in the region for them to conquer.

While Cortés was organizing his campaign to conquer the Aztecs, Pizarro was serving as the Mayor of Panama. Pizarro held this position from the founding of the settlement in 1519 to 1523 and amassed a small fortune. In 1524, Pizarro teamed up with Diego de Almagro, a soldier, and Hernando de Luque, a priest. A year later, Pizarro organized his first expedition along the Pacific coast in South America.

However, the expedition was a terrible failure, because of bad weather, food shortages, and attacks by native tribes. As a result, the explorers were forced to return to Panama shortly after reaching the Colombian coast. In 1526, a second expedition was conducted. Despite the defeat, Pizarro had to return to Peru. Furthermore, he heard stories about the Incas and obtained some of their artifacts, which convinced him that there was another great empire in the New World waiting to be conquered.

When Pizarro returned to Panama in 1528, he realized that the new mayor had no intention of exploration or conquest. So he returned to Spain and persuaded the King, Charles V. The king agreed to Pizarro’s request, and in 1530 the explorer returned to Panama, accompanied by four brothers.

Around the time of Pizarro’s second expedition, the elderly “Sapa Inca”, Huayna Capac died, possibly from smallpox, a disease brought to the New World by the Spaniards. Huayna Capac’s death plunged the Inca Empire into a civil war for the throne between his two sons, Atahualpa and Huascar.

In 1532, Atahualpa triumphed over Huascar, who had been captured after the battle at Quipaipan. Atahualpa headed south, to Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire, where he would ascend to the throne. On the way, he stopped near the citadel of Cajamarca in the Andes to rest and celebrate his victory over Huascar.

In January 1531, Pizarro organized his third expedition, and the following year he marched into the heart of the Inca Empire. Atahualpa heard about the Spaniards but decided to let them pass without causing trouble, as he considered them insignificant. At that time, the number of Spaniards entering the Inca was only 200 people.

And Atahualpa was confident in his army of 80,000 warriors. Moreover, his confidence increased due to his recent victory in the civil war. Atahualpa’s underestimation of the Spaniards would cost him his empire.


The Battle of Cajamarca
The Battle of Cajamarca

On November 15, Pizarro and Atahualpa agreed to meet in Cajamarca. According to many documents, the meeting took place on November 15 or 16, and of course, this was the trap that Pizarro set for the new “Sapa Inca”.
Atahualpa, still looking down on the Spaniards, decided to leave almost all of his 80,000 soldiers outside the city, bringing only a few thousand unarmed entourage to the meeting. According to another version of the story, at the beginning of the meeting, Vincente de Valverde, a friar accompanying the expedition, asked Atahualpa to convert to Catholicism, and recognized the King of Spain as the king of Spain. supreme being. If Atahualpa refused, he would be seen as an enemy of the Church and of Spain.


The “Sapa Inca” responded by shouting at the monk, “If I do that, I’m not worthy of a man,” and threw the Bible on the ground. This was the moment the Spaniards had been waiting for their prey to fall into.

The Incas had a clear numerical superiority over the Spaniards — a few thousand Incas versus almost 200 Spaniards. However, Atahualpa’s men were unarmed. The Spaniards, on the other hand, were armed with swords, muskets, and some small cannons. In addition, they brought about 40 horses (animals that the Incas had never encountered) into battle.

The Spaniards’ weapons and horses were a shock to the Incas. By one estimate, within two hours, more than 4,000 Incas were killed by Pizarro and his men. In contrast, Pizarro did not lose a single soldier.

The Spaniards complete the task of capturing Atahualpa. Pizarro fought the “Sapa Inca” himself on horseback, but capturing him was not easy. Atahualpa’s escorts wholeheartedly protected him, so the Spaniards had to destroy them all to capture the “Sapa Inca”.

Pizarro realized the importance of keeping Atahualpa alive. Therefore, when one of his men was about to kill Atahualpa, Pizarro stopped him and was slashed in the hand.

The capture of Atahualpa was the greatest shock to the Incas. Because this “Sapa Inca” was considered divine by his subjects, the Spaniards accomplished the unthinkable.

The spirit of the Incas was broken, even the nearly 80,000 strong troops stationed outside Cajamarca were paralyzed, unable to do anything after Atahualpa was captured. Had Atahualpa not been captured by Pizarro, the story would have had a much different ending.

After the victory at the Battle of Cajamarca, the Spaniards kept Atahualpa prisoner. So in 1533, Pizarro held a mock trial, trying Atahualpa for crimes against the Spaniards, idolatry, and murder of Huascar, the true “Sapa Inca”. Atahualpa was executed on August 29, 1533.

However, Atahualpa’s death was not the end of the Inca Empire. The Incas who survived fiercely resisted the Spaniards. It was only in 1572, with the fall of their last stronghold, Vilcabamba, that the conquest of the Incas was finally completed.

The Battle of Cajamarca was undoubtedly an important event in world history. Before the battle, Pizarro’s situation was precarious, as his party could easily be destroyed by Atahualpa, if the “Sapa Inca” wanted to do so. Atahualpa’s underestimate of Pizarro, as well as the audacity of the Spaniards, contributed to the “Sapa Inca” being arrested in Cajamarca, thus paving the way for Spanish colonialism in western South America.

By Eryk Wu Address: 3999 Pine Forest Hollow Trail Houston, TX 77084 Phone: +12813473007 Email: Website:

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