In the mid-1520’s, the Spanish adventurer Francisco Pizarro began to explore the west coast of South America. He had heard tales of the Inca Empire and of its treasures of silver and gold. About 1527, Pizarro and a few followers landed near the |Inca city of Tumbes on Peru’s north coast. They became the first white men to set foot in Peru.
Pizarro saw enough riches at Tumbes to convince him that the legends about the Inca were true. On that same year, the last of the Inca emperors, named Huayna Capac, died. Civil war broke out between the rival groups of two of his sons, Huascar and Atahualpa. Huascar was the heir to the empire but Atahualpa controlled a large army in Ecuador. The Inca Empire was severely weakened by the civil war, in which Atahualpa finally defeated Huascar in 1532. In 1532, shortly after Atahualpa’s army conquered Huascar, Pizarro returned to Peru. He arranged to meet with the emperor Atahualpa in Cajamarca. About 180 men accompanied Pizarro. Instead of meeting with the emperor as arranged, however, he ambushed and defeated Atahualpa’s army. Pizarro captured Atahualpa and held him for ransom.
Atahualpa paid the ransom, which was a room filled with gold and another one filled twice with silver. After getting the ransom, the Spaniards executed him anyway. Earlier, Huascar had been imprisoned and then killed, as ordered by Atahualpa. Therefore the Inca had no recognized leader following the execution of Atahualpa. The Spaniards easily took over the empire including the fabulous city of Cusco, the Inca capital. In 1535, Pizarro founded Lima and it became the center of the Spanish government in Peru.
In the mid-1520’s, the Spanish adventurer Francisco Pizarro began to explore the west coast of South America. He had heard tales of the Inca Empire and of its treasures of silver and gold.