Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru - Frederick Ober

Quarrels of the Conquerors


Strange as it may appear, Manco Capac had taken great pleasure in assisting at the defeat of Quizquiz, the valiant Peruvian, because most of his soldiers were men of Quito, to which city and province belonged a faction from which he had much to fear. Indeed, the men of Quito were invariably plotting treason in his camp, and intriguing against him. When, in the progress of events, Manco Capac could endure no longer the humiliations imposed upon him, and endeavored to escape to the mountains, warriors of Quito in the service of Pizarro betrayed him, and brought about his capture.

That episode of the conquest will be narrated in due course; meanwhile, let us turn to glance for a moment at that portion of olden Peru lying on and north of the equator, known as Quito. As we have seen already, it was the birthplace of Atahuallpa, and during the latter years of Huayna Capac his chosen place of residence.

The unparalleled achievements of Pizarro in Peru had drawn to that country the attention of all the Spanish adventurers in America, as well as of those at home desirous of emulating their careers. Among others was that valiant but unscrupulous officer who served with CortÚs in Mexico, Pedro de Alvarado. He was then governor of Guatemala, which country he had conquered, and was enjoying wealth and honors that should have satisfied the most towering of ambitions; but, casting his eye towards Peru, and noting that Quito had not been invaded, he resolved to conquer it. So he diverted from its original destination a fleet that had been intended for the Spice Islands, and with five hundred men, well equipped, landed on the southern coast.

In short, he marched upon Quito, which he finally reached after terrible sufferings while crossing the Cordilleras; but was not permitted to taste the fruits of conquest, since he had aroused enemies far more formidable than the natives of the country. For Pizarro, on receiving the alarming rumors of this invasion of his territory, immediately despatched Almagro to intercept Alvarado, and, if possible, induce him to quit the territory.

Though he pressed forward with the utmost rapidity, Almagro found, on reaching San Miguel, that the commandant of that place, Sebastian Benalcazar, had anticipated his design, and himself hurried off to make the capture of Quito. Both commanders, in fact, reached and grasped the coveted prize before Alvarado arrived, and with united forces calmly awaited his coming. There was then the prospect of a bloody encounter, for the redoubtable hero of Guatemala and Mexico was the equal in valor and military training of any captain of his time. But, though he had a force vastly superior in numbers to his opponents, it had been weakened by starvation to such an extent that he hesitated to give battle.

In brief, negotiations were entered into which resulted in the fiery Alvarado agreeing to withdraw from the country for a consideration of one hundred thousand pesos de oro, or about a million dollars, which, he claimed, was less than his armament had cost him, not to mention the privations he had endured.

Thus the matter was settled amicably, and the two principals retired upon Pachacamac, where they met Pizarro, who cordially ratified the compact, and entertained Alvarado with banquets and tournaments. This meeting of the two great conquerors was a notable event. They were never to meet again, for Alvarado, who was known to the Mexicans as Tonatiuh, or (as the Inca was called) a "Child of the Sun," departed from the country soon after, and was killed by a fall from his horse in 1541, the same year in which Pizarro was assassinated.

Now that Pizarro had turned away Alvarado and absorbed the greater portion of his large army and armament; now that he and his captains had subjected to his rule the two extremes of the empire and the intervening country—all this accomplished, and the Inca his abject slave—he set himself to the founding of cities. In his capacity of founder, as promoter of peace and commerce, we shall see the warlike Pizarro in a new and more attractive role than hithertc. The stern and relentless conqueror was getting old, and though still filled with all the ardor of youth, as it seemed, he desired to settle down at peaceful avocations.

Seeking the most desirable site for a capital, he happily found it in the beautiful valley of Rimac, on a river which flowed into the Pacific, not far distant. Here, on January 6, 1535, he laid the first stones of the city known as Lima, which had a wonderful growth from the first, and is now numbered among the finest cities of South America. His army of soldiers he converted into an army of workmen, none of whom labored harder at the upbuilding of the city than Pizarro himself. But there was still another army, commanded by Almagro, who had gathered about him the best of Alvarado's soldiers, some of whom were "men of Mexico," who had fought and conquered with CortÚs. Pizarro despatched Almagro to Cuzco, which he had left in charge of his brothers, to whom he wrote, confirming his old partner in the command of the city. Nothing was more to Almagro's liking than the governorship of Cuzco, though he still hoped, old as he was, to carry the conquest southward into Chile, on his own account, and never lost sight of that scheme.

And now, while Francisco Pizarro is busy at the building of Lima, and Almagro watching over Cuzco as its governor, let us throw a glance across an intervening continent and ocean to Old Spain, where things are happening which will have an important influence upon subsequent doings in Peru. Soon after the Inca's treasure had been divided, at Cassamarca, Hernando Pizarro had been sent to Spain by his brother, in charge of the "king's fifth," and commissioned to secure all the honors he could for himself and his fellow-conquerors.

He arrived at Seville on a day in January, 1534, and at once proceeded to court, where he was received with open arms; for Charles V. was in need of gold at that time, and the sight of so much treasure opened his heart. He showed his pleasure by making Hernando a knight of Santiago, and bestowing upon Francisco the marquisate of Atavillos, besides confirming him in the governorship of all Peru. He also gave Hernando permission to recruit a force and equip an expedition, with the result that he returned to the isthmus with the largest fleet that had ever sailed to that region direct.

Many a Spanish cavalier was lured to his death by the tales told by Hernando respecting the vast wealth to be obtained in Peru, for few of the company sailing with him realized their hopes. Some died of starvation at Nombre de Dios, others perished in crossing the isthmus, and but a few reached the golden land, where they found that everything had been appropriated by the first arrivals.

Hernando himself was as the angel of death bearing to Peru the cause of a dissension worse than a pestilence. His return, in truth, marked the beginning of a feud which involved the sacrifice of hundreds of lives and the downfall of his family. It originated as follows: Besides the honors for himself and his brother, Hernando had secured from the king the bishopric of Cuzco for Valverde, the monk, and an independent governorship for Almagro. To Francisco Pizarro was assigned the territory of Peru, from a point a little north of the equator to another two hundred and seventy leagues south, beyond which Almagro was authorized to explore, to conquer, and to rule.

It was thought that by this apportionment the differences between the two chief conquerors might be satisfactorily settled; but at once, when the news arrived, arose the difficulty of running the dividing-line. No accurate survey could be made then, and, as both parties to this affair desired to hold the great city of Cuzco, both naturally insisted that it was within their jurisdiction. By one side it was held that Pizarro's southern boundary went beyond Cuzco, and by the other that it not only fell short, but barely included his new city of Lima!

It might have seemed as if Hernando had been very generous to Almagro, in securing him any concessions whatever, had it not been that the latter had sent with him an emissary of his own, who saw to it that Pizarro's former partner got his due. Hernando could not have done less, in the circumstances; and, on the whole, he doubtless considered it a very good arrangement, by which Almagro could be sent southward into Chile, where he might get lost, or be killed by the Indians. At all events, he would be out of the way. The contingency of a mutual claim to Cuzco he had anticipated by having his brother's southern boundary extended seventy leagues, so that there could be, he believed, no shadow of doubt on his title.

But old Almagro was obstinate. He had suffered much from the Pizarros: he had endured their contempt and revilings, had accepted but a meagre portion of the spoils, when by the terms of his contract with Francisco he was entitled to a moiety. Now that he was independent, however, and intrenched at Cuzco with a valiant following, he set the Pizarros at defiance.

Juan and Gonzales had delivered up the city to Almagro by Francisco's order; but close on the heels of the messenger who had brought it came a command for them to regain and hold it till the boundary-line had been adjusted, or at least the king's wishes on the subject known.

Sturdy old Almagro refused to yield an inch of territory or a single street of the city, and a fierce dispute resulted, to end which the governor hastened from Lima, where he was peacefully resting, and at once threw himself into the breach. Whenever these two—Pizarro and Almagro—came together, the latter always yielded to the former, who, indeed, ruled all men with whom he came in contact. So they embraced, and at once patched up a truce. In the end, Almagro consented to abandon Cuzco to the Pizarros and at once set forth on his expedition into Chile. They renewed their compact in the presence of a priest, calling upon the Almighty to witness that they invoked His wrath if either should violate the contract, or if either should do harm to the other. Eternal perdition was to be the share of him who broke it—so far as they could invoke the torments of the world to come, and loss of life and property in this—as was attested by a notary and a number of witnesses on June 12, 1535.

Having satisfied Almagro by another oath—the third or fourth they had mutually taken—Pizarro sent him off to the southward, whither he went with a large and well-appointed army, accompanied by Manco Capac's brother and the high-priest, Villaoma, as guides and counsellors. Owing to his popularity, resulting from his generous disposition, Almagro had no lack of offers of service from the cavaliers, including among them, it is said, so renowned a caballero as Fernando de Soto, who aspired to be lieutenant-general of the command.

Having rid himself of his troublesome friend, Pizarro returned to the coast, leaving his two brothers, Juan and Gonzalo, in charge of Cuzco, and eagerly resuming his interrupted labors in Lima, which he called the "City of the Kings."