Capture of an Inca King: Francisco Pizarro
From Narrative of the Conquest of Peru, by his secretary, Francisco de Xeres, 1530-34 [Pizarro sends for Atahualpa.]
As soon as the messenger came before Atahualpa, he made an obeisance to him, and made signs that he should come to where the Governor waited. Presently he and his troops began to move, and the Spaniard returned and reported that they were coming, and that the men in front carried arms concealed under their clothes, which were strong tunics of cotton, beneath which were stones and bags and slings; all which made it appear that they had a treacherous design. Soon the van of the enemy began to enter the open space. First came a squadron of Indians dressed in a livery of different colors, like a chessboard. They advanced, removing the straws from the ground and sweeping the road. Next came three squadrons in different dresses, dancing and singing. Then came a number of men with armor, large metal plates, and crowns of gold and silver. Among them was Atahualpa in a litter lined with plumes of macaws' feathers of many colors and adorned with plates of gold and silver. Many Indians carried it on their shoulders on high . . .
On reaching the center of the open space, Atahualpa remained in his litter on high, and the others with him, while his troops did not cease to enter. A captain then came to the front and, ascending the fortress near the open space, where the artillery was posted, raised his lance twice, as for a signal. Seeing this, the Governor asked the Father Friar Vicente if he wished to go and speak to Atahualpa, with an interpreter. He replied that he did wish it, and he advanced, with a cross in one hand and the Bible in the other, and going amongst the troops up to the place where Atahualpa was, thus addressed him: "I am a priest of God, and I teach Christians the things of God, and in like manner I come to teach you. What I teach is that which God says to us in this Book. Therefore, on the part of God and of the Christians, I beseech you to be their friend, for such is God's will, and it will be for your good. Go and speak to the Governor, who waits for you."
Atahualpa asked for the Book, that he might look at it, and the priest gave it to him closed. Atahualpa did not know how to open it, and the priest was extending his arm to do so, when Atahualpa, in great anger, gave him a blow on the arm, not wishing that it should be opened. Then he opened it himself, and, without any astonishment at the letters and paper, as had been shown by other Indians, he threw it away from him five or six paces, and, to the words which the monk had spoken to him through the interpreter, he answered with much scorn, saying: "I know well how you have behaved on the road, how you have treated my chiefs, and taken the cloth from my storehouses." The monk replied: "The Christians have not done this, but some Indians took the cloth without the knowledge of the Governor, and he ordered it to be restored." Atahualpa said: "I will not leave this place until they bring it all to me." The monk returned with this reply to the Governor.
Atahualpa stood up on the top of the litter, addressing his troops and ordering them to be prepared. The monk told the Governor what had passed between him and Atahualpa, and that he had thrown the Scriptures to the ground. Then the Governor put on a jacket of cotton, took his sword and dagger, and, with the Spaniards who were with him, entered amongst the Indians most valiantly; and, with only four men who were able to follow him, he came to the litter where Atahualpa was, and fearlessly seized him by the arm, crying out, "Santiago!" Then the guns were fired off, the trumpets were sounded, and the troops, both horse and foot, sallied forth. On seeing the horses charge, many of the Indians who were in the open space fled, and such was the force with which they ran that they broke down part of the wall surrounding it, and many fell over each other. The horsemen rode them down, killing and wounding, and following in pursuit. The infantry made so good an assault upon those that remained that in a short time most of them were put to the sword. The Governor still held Atahualpa by the arm, not being able to pull him out of the litter because he was raised so high. Then the Spaniards made such a slaughter amongst those who carried the litter that they fell to the ground, and, if the Governor had not protected Atahualpa, that proud man would there have paid for all the cruelties he had committed. The Governor, in protecting Atahualpa, received a slight wound in the hand. During the whole time no Indian raised his arms against a Spaniard.
So great was the terror of the Indians at seeing the Governor force his way through them, at hearing the fire of the artillery, and beholding the charging of horses, a thing never before heard of, that they thought more of flying to save their lives than of fighting. All those who bore the litter of Atahualpa appeared to be principal chiefs. They were all killed, as well as those who were carried in the other litters and hammocks....
The Governor went to his lodging, with his prisoner Atahualpa despoiled of his robes, which the Spaniards had tom off in pulling him out of the litter. It was a very wonderful thing to see so great a lord taken prisoner in so short a time, who came in such power. The Governor presently ordered native clothes to be brought, and when Atahualpa was dressed, he made him sit near him, and soothed his rage and agitation at finding himself so quickly fallen from his high estate. Among many other things, the Governor said to him: "Do not take it as an insult that you have been defeated and taken prisoner, for with the Christians who come with me, though so few in number, I have conquered greater kingdoms than yours, and have defeated other more powerful lords than you, imposing upon them the dominion of the Emperor, whose vassal I am, and who is King of Spain and of the universal world. We come to conquer this land by his command, that all may come to a knowledge of God, and of His Holy Catholic Faith . . ."
. . . Atahualpa feared that the Spaniards would kill him, so he told the Governor that he would give his captors a great quantity of gold and silver. The Governor asked him: "How much can you give, and in what time?" Atahualpa said: "I will give gold enough to fill a room twenty-two feet long and seventeen wide, up to a white line which is halfway up the wall." The height would be that of a man's stature and a half. He said that, up to that mark, he would fill the room with different kinds of golden vessels, such as jars, pots, vases, besides lumps and other pieces. As for silver, he said he would fill the whole chamber with it twice over. He undertook to do this in two months. The Governor told him to send off messengers with this object, and that, when it was accomplished, he need have no fear....
After some days some of the people of Atahualpa arrived. There was a brother of his, who came from Cuzco, and sisters and wives. The brother brought many vases, jars, and pots of gold, and much silver, and he said that more was on the road; but that, as the journey is so long, the Indians who bring the treasure become tired, and cannot all come so quickly, so that every day more gold and silver will arrive of that which now remains behind. Thus on some days twenty thousand, on others thirty thousand, on others fifty thousand or sixty thousand pesos of gold arrived, in vases, great pots weighing two or three arrobas, and other vessels. The Governor ordered it all to be put in the house where Atahualpa had his guards, until he had accomplished what he had promised.
[After receiving the huge ransom from Atahualpa,
Pizarro charges the Inca with conspiring against him.]
. . . I will say something of the place that was subject to the Cuzco and now belongs to Atahualpa. They say that it contained two houses made of gold, and that the straws with which it was roofed were all made of gold. With the gold that was brought from Cuzco, there were some straws made of solid gold, with their spikes, just as they would grow in the fields. If I was to recount all the different varieties in the shape of the pieces of gold my story would never end. There was a stool of gold [the throne of the Incas, which Pizarro himself took] that weighed eight arrobas. There were great fountains with their pipes, through which water flowed into a reservoir on the same fountains, where there were birds of different kinds, and men drawing water from the fountain, all made of gold. It was also ascertained from Atahualpa and Chilicuchima, and many others, that in Xauxa Atahualpa had sheep and shepherds tending them, all made of gold; and the sheep and shepherds were large, and of the size that they are met with in this land.
Now I must mention a thing which should not be forgotten. A chief, who was Lord of Caxamalca, appeared before the Governor and said to him through the interpreters: "I would have you to know that, after Atahualpa was taken prisoner, he sent to Quito, his native land, and to all the other provinces, with orders to collect troops to march against you and your followers, and to kill you all; and all these troops are coming under the command of a great captain called Lluminabi. This army is now very near to this place. It will come at night and attack the camp . . ."
The Governor then spoke to Atahualpa, saying: "What treason is this that you have prepared for me? For me who have treated you with honor, like a brother, and have trusted in your words!" Then he told him all the information he had received. Atahualpa answered, saying: "Are you laughing at me? You are always making jokes when you speak to me. What am I and all my people that we should trouble such valiant men as you are? Do not talk such nonsense to me." He said all this without betraying a sign of anxiety; but he laughed the better to conceal his evil design, and practiced many other arts such as would suggest themselves to a quick-witted man. After he was a prisoner, the Spaniards who heard him were astounded to find so much wisdom in a barbarian....
Then the Governor, with the concurrence of the officers of his Majesty, and of the captains and persons of experience, sentenced Atahualpa to death. His sentence was that, for the treason he had committed, he should die by burning, unless he became a Christian . . .
They brought out Atahualpa to execution; and, when he came into the square, he said he would become a Christian. The Governor was informed, and ordered him to be baptized. The ceremony was performed by the very reverend Father Friar Vicente de Valverde. The Governor then ordered that he should not be burned, but that he should be fastened to a pole in the open space and strangled. This was done, and the body was left until the morning of the next day, when the monks, and the Governor with the other Spaniards, conveyed it into the church, where it was interred with much solemnity, and with all the honors that could be shown it. Such was the end of this man, who had been so cruel. He died with great fortitude, and without showing any feeling . . .