Map of the Conquest of Peru - History

Map of the Conquest of Peru - History

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Exploring the Early Americas Pizarro and the Incas

Francisco Pizarro (ca. 1475&ndash1541) arrived in present-day northern Peru late in 1531 with a small force of about 180 men and 30 horses. Taking advantage of a civil war, he and his compatriots toppled the ruler, Atahualpa, in 1532. Over the next several decades the Spanish suppressed several Inca rebellions, achieving complete control by 1572. Pizarro&rsquos Spanish rivals assassinated him in 1541 in Lima, the city he had founded in 1535.

Chimú Vessel Flute

The Chimú culture dominated the north coast of Peru from the thirteenth century AD until the arrival of the Incas in 1465. The Chimú peoples constructed sophisticated cities that included temples, reservoirs, and irrigation systems and created beautiful works in gold, silver, and copper, as well as distinctive pottery. In 1470 the Incas conquered the Chimú and absorbed much of their culture. This Chimú flute is part of the Library&rsquos Dayton C. Miller Collection in the Music Division.

South American Indian avian whistle vessel. Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (077.00.00)

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The First European Chronicle of Peru

Pedro de Cieza de León left Spain at the age of thirteen for a life of uncertain adventure, first in Hispaniola and then as a soldier in Colombia and Peru. He was also involved in the re-conquest of Peru from Spanish rebel forces. With government permission, Cieza de León began interviewing local officials, Inca lords, and high officials about the Inca realm and its past. From these interviews and his own research, he produced the first European chronicle of Peru, which includes natural history, ethnography, and the history of pre-Inca and Inca civilizations.

Pedro de Cieza de León (1518?&ndash1560). Parte Primera Dela Chronica Del Peru. [Seville : Impressa en Seuilla en casa de Martín de Montesdoca], 1553. Jay I. Kislak Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (070.02.00, 070.02.01)

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Pizarro&rsquos Rejection of a Conquistador&rsquos Petition

The person (encomendero) granted a charter called an encomienda by the Spanish crown could require tribute (repartimiento) from the Indians and was required to protect them and instruct them in the Christian faith. Although encomiendas did not include land, in practice encomenderos took control of Indians&rsquo lands and forced them into low or unpaid labor for a portion of each year. Because of such abuses, the Spanish government attempted reform at various times. In this petition to Francisco Pizarro, governor of Peru, encomendero Pedro del Barco requests inspections of encomiendas before institution of reforms regarding repartimientos. The document bears the extremely rare signature of Pizarro, "El Marques Pizarro."

Francisco Pizzaro. Response to a petition by conquistador Pedro del Barco. Cusco: April 14, 1539. Facsimile. Jay I. Kislak Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (071.01.00, 071.00.01)

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Chart of the Pacific Coast

This is a portion of a sixteenth-century portolan (or sailing) chart of the Pacific Coast of Central and South America, showing the region from Guatemala to northern Peru. The names of coastal towns on the map are written in two different hands, dating the chart to the middle of the sixteenth century. This chart may be the first to represent the Galapagos Islands, shown in red just off the coast of what is present-day Ecuador.

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First Quechua-Spanish Dictionary and Grammar

This first dictionary and grammar of Quechua, the language of the Incas, and Spanish was published in Peru in 1586. Friar Domingo de Santo Tomás wrote the first study of the two languages, but that was published in Spain in 1560. This later work is of even greater importance because the Inca did not have written language prior to the Spanish Conquest. Scholars believe this work was part of a much larger group of printed materials about confessions, catechisms, and sermons no longer in existence.

Vocabulario en la lengua general del Peru llamada quichua, y en la lengua Española. El mas copioso y elegante que hasta agora se ha impresso (Vocabulary in the general language of Peru called Quechua, and in the Spanish language. . . .). Lima: 1586. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (073.00.00, 073.01.00, 073.00.03)

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Letter to Pizarro

The conqueror of Peru, Francisco Pizarro, had two children with Doña Inés Yupanqui Huaylas, an Inca woman. These children were made legitimate, and, after Pizarro married their mother off to one of his retainers, cared for by Pizarro&rsquos half brother Francisco Martín de Alcántara and his wife Doña Inés Muñoz, the first woman to be given permission to use the title &ldquodoña,&rdquo in Peru. In the letter displayed, Doña Inés, now widowed, gives her rights to Hernando Pizarro and others to plead her case for the restoration of her wealth (Indian labor), taken away from her and Pizarro&rsquos children by the enemy of the Pizarro family, Spanish Governor Vaca de Castro. Both she and Pizarro&rsquos daughter, Doña Francisca, prevailed.

Dona Inés Múñoz. Power of attorney to Hernando Pizarro, Sebastián Rodríguez, and Juan de Cáceres to petition for restoration of Indians. Lima, May 5, 1543. Peru. Harkness Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (074.00.00, 074.00.02, 074.00.03)

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Peruvian Ruins

The Inca fortress of Sacsahuamán overlooks Cusco from a hill 755 feet above the city. The huge fortifications surrounding Cusco, built to protect and to solidify Inca control, are outstanding examples of the advanced engineering techniques of Andean peoples. Stones weighing several tons were precisely cut and placed in jigsaw-like fashion, without the aid of mortar, to form massive walls. These stone structures have withstood numerous earthquakes during the intervening centuries.

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Deeds of the Castilians in the New World

Unlike many who wrote histories of the Indies, Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas was an accomplished historian. Herrera&rsquos history of the Castilians in the New World is written in exacting detail. His lengthy account, organized by decades, depicts the Spanish as guided by Providence to bring Christianity to the peoples of the Indies.

Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas (d. 1625). Historia general de los hechos de los castellanos en las Islas i Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano (General history of the deeds of the Castilians in the islands. . . .). Madrid: Emplenta Real, 1601&ndash1615. Jay I. Kislak Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (076.00.00, 076.00.02, 076.00.03)

Mapping Conquest

To answer these questions, this work combines ethnohistorical, digital history, and geospatial methodologies to retell the story of the Spanish invasion of Peru (and of European conquests of Indigenous societies more generally).

This study integrates these methods – as well as lessons from similar interdisciplinary fields such as literary geography and Historical GIS – into a new two-step methodology. This methodology: a) deconstructs colonial texts and traces how they conceal Indigenous activity and presence, and b) reconstructs the role of previously erased or marginalized Indigenous people, places, institutions, and histories.

For the conquest of Peru, the resulting analysis contributes to other scholarship examining the key role of Indigenous allies and auxiliaries in shaping the events of the conquest era. Unlike previous research - which is largely anecdotal - this study systematically reconstructs the ubiquity and magnitude of this aid and participation. Moreover, it shows Andean allies invited, guided, accompanied, and fought alongside the conquistadors not as passive subordinates but as political actors pursuing their own agenda.

  1. The simultaneous Spanish exploration of the coast of Peru and the outbreak of the Inka Civil War (Ch. 2)
  2. the encounter at Cajamarca (1532 Ch. 3)
  3. a much-overlooked series of diplomatic negotiations between the conquistadors and Andean nobility (1532-33 Ch. 4),
  4. the initial invasion of the Inka heartland as manifested by the march of Francisco Pizarro, his fellow conquistadors, and massive numbers of auxiliaries and slaves from Cajamarca to Cusco (1533 Ch. 5)
  5. Manqo Inka's nearly-successful effort to destory the nascent Spanish colony in 1536 and 1537 (Chs. 6 and 7)
  6. Finally, it concludes by mapping the limited range of Spanish power and the vast spaces of Indigenous power and resistance surrounding them in the first few decades after invasion (Ch. 8).

Methods for putting Indigenous people back on the map

By applying digital and spatial analysis to this research, this project demonstrates the potential of new methodologies to wring new insights out of colonial texts and other sources. This section highlights some of these methods.

Typical Maps of Conquest

The typical map of the Spanish conquest of Peru - found in many books on the topic - traces the route of Francisco Pizarro from his first explorations of the coast to his march through Inka Peru, ending with his arrival in the imperial capital of Cusco (1531-1533). The problem with this map is that it suggests the Spanish invaded a blank and people-less landscape. Like most European eyewitness texts, these maps erase the presence and agency of Indigenous people.

Mapping Indigenous Territory

This project, among other things, seeks to place Indigenous people back on the map. The simplest way to do this is to include approximations of Indigenous territory. Here, Pizarro's 1533 invasion of Peru is laid over not a map of blank Andean territory, but a cartographic approximation of the territory occupied and controlled by the Hurin Huaylas ethnic polity. Unlike previous maps of the Pizarro invasion, this one makes clear the conquistadors were entering Indigenous territory with a history. 1

Mapping Indigenous History

Mapping Experiences

In 1527, the conquest expedition was in crisis. Now occupying the uninhabited Rooster Island (Isla del Gallo), only about eighty survivors remained of the original 300 who had set out with Francisco Pizarro three years earlier. The rest had died of disease, starvation, dehydration, battles with natives, over-exertion, and even caymen or crocodile attacks. However, the nature of these experiences was not the result of geography alone. Rather, as Heidi Scott has argued, the Spaniards' “physical engagements with landscape, and consequently their portrayals of it, were strongly shaped by the agency of Indigenous groups and by their physical presence or absence.” 1.5 Interestingly, the fields of literary geography and affective cartography provide a means to test this argument. Click on the image to the left to see how I apply affective or emotional cartographic techniques to demonstrate the link between the availability of Indigenous labor and the experiences of the conquistadors during their initial explorations along the coast.

Click here to see full image

Mapping Movement

For some time, ethnohistorians have, of course, been mapping the location and territories of Indigenous groups. However, this tendency to map ethnic territory often provides the misleading impression of stasis even when the accompanying text more carefully describes communities under constant flux and historical change.

Thus, after mapping Indigenous presence, the second goal of this ethno-spatial history is to map historical change and dynamism. Interestingly, in the definitive introduction to spatial history, Richard White argues the primary focus and contribution of the field is the study of movement. 2 Over the long term, Indigenous groups migrated, relocated, expanded, and contracted. A smaller- resolution analysis of history shows the lives of Indigenous people, like all people, were defined by mobility: daily, seasonal, and periodic treks, commutes, and relocations leading to a variety of intercultural exchanges and interactions. For a history of events, such as the events of the conquest-era, the activity and movement of Indigenous people has remained sorely understudied. In particular, while many scholars have shown how much colonial texts conceal Indigenous agency, there is still a need to systematically reconstruct this activity as a means to uncover the dynamism of Indigenous America during the era of European contact and conquest.

As the ethnohistorian of North America Michael McDonnell argues, “we need to rely less on European words and more on native actions over time.” This study does just this - it moves past European explanations to analyze and map Indigenous activity recorded in European and Indigenous texts. Whereas colonial texts may focus almost entirely on the activity of a few Europeans – only dropping a few hints to the movement and activity of much larger groups of Indigenous people, the maps produced here allow the visual comparison of the magnitude of such activity. Thick lines, representing the marches of Indigenous armies numbering in the tens of thousands, dwarf narrow lines symbolizing the movements of small bands of conquistadors.

Changing Orientation and Perspective

This spatial history also 'counter-maps' the conquest by decentering the European and re-centering the Andean. One common way ethnohistorians often flip the table on typical Eurocentric histories is simply by changing the narrator’s - and by extension - the reader’s orientation.

For North America, this generally means “facing east from Indian Country.” 3 This often involves recentering the story in the Indigenous heartland, on the far periphery of European settlements. 4

For Peru, I decenter the Spanish conquistador both spatially and temporally. Temporally, I broaden the analysis by beginning with the Inka Civil War and other events which preceded the Spanish invasion. Spatially, this study reorients the study of conquest by examining events taking place far from the gaze of the Spanish and exploring how the deep history of each place helped produce these events. For example, the map to the right shows eight of the nine places examined in the chapter "Beyond Cajamarca." (the ninth, Panama, is beyond the scope of the map). Of these nine places analyzed, the Spanish only occupied one in 1532-33 (Cajamarca they also occupied San Miguel de Piura which is off the map to the north) and briefly passed through some of the others. Indigenous sources allow the reconstruction of events taking place beyond the gaze of the conquistadors.

Mapping the Spatiality of Texts

Nearly all historical texts have an underlying spatiality. That is, nearly all texts store spatial information, whether in the form of place-names or spatial relationships. Historical texts that describe real places can thus be mapped in a variety of ways to interrogate both the information contained and that omitted from the text as well as to examine how different places and spaces are described.

Interestingly, most of the important developments in the study and mapping of the underlying spatiality or geography of texts comes from literary scholars. Literary geographers have been active in recent years mapping the position of literary authors and their texts in space. They have examined both the geography within books and the geography of books. 5 The former traces the narrative content of literature and what it reveals about the author and the time and place in which the book was written. The latter maps out the geographic dispersion of published literature and the associated diffusion of ideas from this literature.

While literary geographers have been busy mapping and analyzing the spatiality of literature, few historians have adapted these methods to historical texts and other sources. For example, in my study of the conquistadors' 1533 invasion of Peru, I trace the locations mentioned in the most detailed account of this invasion, Pedro Sancho's An Account of the Conquest of Peru. The application of “kernel density” or “cluster” analysis allows for the visual identification of the geographic density of descriptions found in Sancho’s account. Thus, the dark blue circles indicate the places Sancho most frequently mentions. This in turn poses a question little explored previously: why did European authors describe their experiences in some places while leaving out others? 71

Visualizing Trends in Scholarship

As with primary sources, it is just as possible to visualize and/or map patterns contained within historical scholarship. Here I compare modern histories of the conquest of Peru. In particular, I wanted to examine how the emphasis and focus of modern histories on the conquest have changed over the past two centuries. In what ways did historians' emphasis on events change over time? This choice matters as the selection or omission of particular events - the same with actors and places - can bend a particular narrative one way or another. For example, as I argue in an article I am about to submit to a journal on Latin American history, focusing on the event of the "Encounter at Cajamarca" between Atawallpa and the conquistadors can perpetuate a narrative of domination. Exploring alternative spaces and events, however, challenges this narrative of an easy, complete conquest and domination.

In a later post, I hope to add a few more key modern narratives and explain what this graph tells us about how the story of the conquest of Peru has been told and retold.

Data Visualizations: Exploring and Communicating Patterns

As is clear above, much of this work is spatial in nature. That is, it seeks to not only document but also visualize how the events of the conquest-era moved across space as well as time.

However, as a result of prior experiences working on digital history projects and experimenting with digital tools for historical scholarship, I believe digital data visualization techniques can help scholars recognize and communicate a whole slew of patterns far beyond the spatial. Graphs and charts of quantitative data are the most obvious examples. However, there are many robust techniques available for the visualization of more qualitative and imprecise data.

For example, in Mapping Conquest I explore the question: just how many Indigenous auxiliaries and allies assisted Pizarro and his fellow conquistadors? Given the available information, this is impossible to say for certain. Not a single source ever endeavored to estimate the total number of allied warriors, diplomats, laborers, and servants that accompanied the conquest expedition. This is not even to speak of the long caravan of dogs, pigs, and llamas: the last of which carried food, supplies, and plunder for the conquistadors.

There is good reason for this silence. Spanish texts in general rarely even mentioned their Andean companions let alone their African and Central American slaves. Conquistadors sought to exaggerate their own importance in their accounts. Describing how they were so thoroughly aided in every juncture of the conquest challenges the narrative they wished to send back home: that of an audacious, valiant, and solitary conquest on behalf of the Crown.

Likewise, Indigenous sources - which did seek credit for the assistance they provided the conquistadors - failed to mention the simultaneous assistance provided by Andeans from other ethnic groups.

Besides the image below, an animation of the entire caravan is here (check it out)

Fortunately, there are a variety of indirect clues to the overall size of the expedition. From these clues I have reconstructed a one-tenth sample of the caravan that likely accompanied the Spaniards on their march to Cusco. Scroll across the image above to see the approximate proportion of Andeans (gray) to Spaniards (black). The types of actors that participated are indicated by the legend to the right. Note: this some sizeable number of women were included among the Andean ethnic nobility and porters. In total, I estimate 10,000 or more Andeans as well as African and Central American slaves marched with the conquistadors on their journey. This estimate derives from the following clues:

    6 [more. ] -->
  1. The well-documented amount of gold and silver carried by the conquistadors from Cajamarca to Cusco. Using archaeological literature to calculate the average weight an Andean porter (which often were men but not exclusively) could carry, I estimate at least 1,000 such porters were needed to carry the gold and silver alone. This does not include the additional porters needed to transport food and supplies for the Spanish as well as the porters bearing the gold and silver.
  2. The amount of food the Wankas stated they gave the Spanish along the journey in a series of petitions they wrote between 1558 and 1561. The amount of food they gave at various points along the journey could have fed an army several times the size of the Spanish contingent.
  3. The typical proportion of Andean allies, porters, as well as African and Central American slaves on other conquest expeditions that are better documented.

1. To make this map, I began with a basemap made from one of a series of intricately hand-drawn relief maps of the mountains of Peru made by the nineteenth-century Peruvian geographer Mariano Felipe Paz Soldán. Then, I added the approximate territory of the Hurin Huaylas and other Andean ethnic groups. At times, such stylized maps provide more clarity than the hyper-realism provided by topographic maps made with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. These GIS maps, by showing all the topographic relief and complexity of the Andes - tend to wash away some of the most prominent mountains and canyons. In this map by Paz Soldán, however, the major mountain ranges become clear, even if the undulating and vertical terrain between these ranges are omitted.

1.5. Scott, Contested Territory, 14.

2. Richard White, “What Is Spatial History?,” Spatial History Project, 2010,

3. Daniel Richter, Facing East from Indian Country (2003).

4. For relatively recent examples of this reorientation of colonial Indigenous histories see: Pekka Hämäläinen, The Comanche Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) Elizabeth A. Fenn, Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People, Reprint edition (Hill and Wang, 2015) Andrew Lipman, The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast, 2015.

5. Franco Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel, 1800-1900 (London New York: Verso, 1998) Matthew L. Jockers, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2013) David Cooper, Christopher Donaldson, and Patricia Murrieta-Flores, eds., Literary Mapping in the Digital Age (Farnham, Surrey, England Burlington, VT: Routledge, 2016) Charles W. J. Withers, Geographies of the Book (Routledge, 2016).

6. There is, of course, abundant evidence that conquistadors often marched their native allies, servants, and slaves to their deaths. However, there is also evidence the nature of the Spaniard's relationship and treatment of Indigenous laborers depended on local and historical circumstances. For example, in a moment of unusual clarity, one Spanish witness in a trial recalled how Andean allies participated in these caravans of their own free will. Simultaneously, according to this man's testimony, the Spaniards' slaves and servants (which included Andeans, Central Americans, and Africans) trudged through the Andes, carrying their heavy loads, while chained together. I also hypothesize that these porters participating in these early conquest expeditions did so under slightly better, if still difficult, conditions than did their successors in the years to come. This is due to the conquistador's overwhelming dependence on native allies at the time.


That Prescott’s histories continue to be popular with scholars as well as lay readers after more than a century of criticism attests to their vitality and readability. Though further research has revised his view of 16th-century Spanish monarchy, Prescott’s basic work is still judged to be generally fair and accurate. It was in narrating the Spanish conquests at that time that Prescott’s republicanism penetrates his histories so as to colour his picture of the Spanish state and the aboriginal governments of the Aztecs and the Incas. Moreover, his New England Unitarianism made it difficult for him to appreciate the acceptance of the miraculous or supernatural among peoples of another age or to understand the peculiarities of the conquistadors.

Perhaps the most severe unfavourable criticisms of the Conquest of Mexico and the Conquest of Peru are based upon Prescott’s romantic version of native civilizations, which later findings in archaeology and anthropology have found to be distorted. Prescott’s failure to visit the historical settings of his narratives and to examine actual remains of the native cultures he described was partly responsible for this defect in his books. Yet modern scholars have concluded that Prescott’s historical narrative, based upon Spanish chronicles, is essentially sound. What Prescott hoped to do with his histories was to instruct and to entertain. His history was narrative and descriptive rather than philosophical or analytical. His colourful prose dealt with conquests, war, diplomacy, and politics—not with cultural, social, or economic themes. In his Spanish histories his concern was almost exclusively with the Spanish courtiers and other aristocrats.

Despite such criticisms, Prescott’s achievements as a historian and as a literary artist were remarkable. For example, the persistent demand for the Conquest of Mexico has resulted in its publication in 10 languages at least 200 times and that of the Conquest of Peru in 11 languages at least 160 times. He was the first English-speaking historian to reach a wide audience outside the Hispanic world with a history expressing the Spanish point of view. Spaniards, in Prescott’s histories, were often forerunners of progress. Thus the Moors in Spain and the aboriginal peoples of Mexico and Peru make way for the achievements of Spanish characters. Throughout the conquistador histories, Prescott exposes the reader to vivid landscapes, battles, and processionals as the march of Spanish civilization overwhelms the savage world. Prescott’s literary artistry convincingly shows the conquistador Hernán Cortés caught up in a series of crises that, on the eve of final victory, tend to become more and more complex. In the end, however, the “pusillanimity” of the Aztec emperor Montezuma is the advantage that the forthright Cortés has in determining the outcome of events.

Prescott weaves a dramatic fabric that completely envelopes his narrative. Indeed, much of the same story is repeated in both the Conquest of Mexico and the Conquest of Peru in respect to descriptions of battles, characterizations, use of metaphor, dramatic encounters, and crises, suggesting that Prescott perhaps manipulated his narratives for literary effect. Yet critics generally agree that he accurately follows his sources. His empathy with the Spanish point of view still makes him the greatest Anglo-American historian of the Hispanic world.


Peru is a less-developed country whose economy has long been dependent upon the export of raw materials to the more-developed countries of the Northern Hemisphere. It is one of the world’s leading fishing countries and ranks among the largest producers of bismuth, silver, and copper. In recent decades, the country has struggled to modernize its economy by developing nontraditional export industries as well as the manufacture of consumer items to meet local needs. Serious economic problems persist, however, in several areas. Extensive destruction of transportation and agricultural systems occurs periodically from earthquakes, landslides, El Niño rains, and other natural disasters. The limited agricultural areas do not meet the needs of the rapidly expanding population, resulting in continually rising imports of foodstuffs and difficult attempts to alter the country’s farming and dietary habits. To remedy these and other economic deficiencies, a military government nationalized the petroleum, mining, and other industries in the late 1960s and early 1970s and made extensive efforts at agrarian reform. Nationalization, however, created additional economic problems, including massive government debt, high rates of inflation, a large trade deficit, and strained relations with some of Peru’s trading partners. This caused successive Peruvian governments to reassess the role of the state in the economy and to reopen some economic sectors to private entrepreneurs. These actions, along with structural reforms implemented by the government in the 1990s, contributed to rapid economic growth in the early 21st century.

Map of the Conquest of Peru - History

Chronological events in the history of Peru.

7500 – First identifiable villages built in Peru. Nomads became sedentary as they discover agriculture.

ca 1200 – Chavin, the first culture developed in Peru. The people of Chavin built one of Peru’s earlier temples in Chavin de Huantar.

ca 200 – The Nazca culture thrived in the Nazca Valley. Nazca are best known for its lines and drawings of animals, know as the Nazca Lines, which cover a large area of the desert outside the towns of Nazca and Palpa.

ca 100 – The Moche culture flourished in the north of Peru in the present department of La Libertad. The Moche produced a great amount of pottery.

ca 50 – The powerful Moche ruler, Lord of Sipan was buried in a tomb that was to become one of Peru’s most famous archeological sites.

ca 500 – The Tiwanaku culture rules the highlands in the Lake Titicaca region. The Lambayeque culture rules in the north coast, they were great goldsmiths, the Tumi or ceremonial knife is the symbol of Peru and one of their creations.

ca 1000 – The Chimu became the largest empire that ruled the coast of Peru. They built the city of Chan Chan. They were absorbed by the Incas.

ca 1200 – The Incas absorbed small tribes in the Cuzco area under the leadership of Manco Capac,the first Sapa Inca.

1460 – Pachacutec built Machu Picchu in the Urubamba Valley.

1463 – Topa Inca, son of Pachacutec, continues the expansion of the empire to the east, reaching the Bolivian altiplano.

1470 – Huayna Capac, son of Topa Inca, and his sons Huascar and Atahualpa expanded empire to Quito in the north and to Chile and part of Argentina in the south.

1527 – Huayna Capac died of smallpox. Civil war begins between Huascar and Atahualpa which caused the fall of the Inca Empire.

1532 – Huascar was assassinated by Atahualpa’s forces. Arrival of Spanish forces led by Francisco Pizarro, began the conquest of Peru.

1533 – Atahualpa was charged of treason and executed by the Spaniards.

1534 – Spanish invaded Cusco.

1536 – Manco Inca and his army rebelled and took refuge in Vilcabamba where they created an Inca government. Manco Inca was assassinated and replaced by successive Spanish elected Sapa Incas.

1541 – Civil war between Spanish conquistadors leads to the killing of Francisco Pizarro.

1543 – Lima becomes the capital of the first colonial government, the Viceroyalty of Peru, which initially included Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile and part of Argentina.

1551 – San Marcos, the first university of the Americas was founded in Lima.

1572 – Tupac Amaru I, the last Inca royal, was captured and executed by orders of Viceroy Toledo.

Colonization, assimilation and Cristianization of the Indian population.

1780 – Tupac Amaru II claimed to be the last Inca royal heir, led a rebellion which ended in his execution.

1810 – War of independence that lasted until 1824.

1821 – General Jose de San Martin declared Peruvian Independence.

1824 – Peru won the battle of Ayacucho sealing its independence from Spain.

1836 – Peru and Bolivia formed a confederation which lasted less than three years.

1845 – Ramon Castilla was the first president elected by direct elections. Previous presidents were elected by indirect elections, coup d’état or by congress.

1856 – President Ramon Castilla abolished slavery.

1879 – Peru entered the War of the Pacific with Chile and Bolivia and lasted until 1884.

1911 – American explorer Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu.

1924 – Victor Raul Haya de la Torre founded APRA.

1928- Jose Mariategui founded the Peruvian Communist Party.

1948 – A coup put General Manuel Odria and the military into power.

1963 – First government of Fernando Belaunde Terry.

1968 – Coup d’état by Juan Velasco Alvarado. Large scale nationalizations of key industries.

1975 – Coup d’état by Morales Bermudez.

1980 – Second government of Fernando Belaunde Terry.

1980 – Sendero Luminoso, a guerrilla group, began an armed struggle against the Peruvian government.

1983 – El Niño caused extensive flooding in the north of the country and drought in the interior. Large damage to the economy.

1985 – First government of Alan Garcia, an APRA candidate.

1990 – First government of Alberto Fujimori. Restored market based economy and decreased inflation from 400% to almost 0%.

1992 – Abimael Gusman, Shining Path guerrilla leader, was captured and sentenced to life in prison.

1995 – Second government of Alberto Fujimori.

2000 – Fujimori resigned following political scandals and flees the country.

2001 – Alejandro Toledo became the Amerindian president of Peru.

2005 – Fujimori was arrested in Chile and extradited to Peru facing charges of treason.

2005 – Free trade agreement with US.

2006 – Second government of Alan Garcia.

2011 – Ollanta Humala elected president in a run-off against Keiko Fujimori, daughter of Alberto Fujjimori.

2013 – President Ollanta Humala rejects a request to pardon the jailed former leader Alberto Fujimori on humanitarian grounds.

2016 – Keiko Fujimori lost second round against World Bank economist Pedro Kuczynski. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski becomes president.


Francisco Pizarro , along with two dozen soldiers, stumbled upon and named the Pacific Ocean in 1513 while on an exploratory expedition in Panama. From that moment his determination, fired by native tales of a fabulously rich land to the south, was set. Within eleven years he had found himself financial sponsors and set sail down the Pacific coast with the priest Hernando de Luque and Diego Almagro.
With remarkable determination, having survived several disastrous attempts, the three explorers eventually landed at Tumbes in 1532. A few months later a small band of Spaniards, totalling less than 170 men, arrived at the Inca city of Cajamarca to meet the leader of what they were rapidly realizing was a mighty empire. En route to Cajamarca, Pizarro had learned of the Inca civil wars and of Atahualpa’s recent victory over his brother Huascar. This rift within the empire provided the key to success that Pizarro was looking for.
The day after their arrival, in what at first appeared to be a lunatic endeavour, Pizarro and his men massacred thousands of Inca warriors and captured Atahualpa. Although ridiculously outnumbered, the Spaniards had the advantages of surprise, steel, cannons and, above all, mounted cavalry. The decisive battle was over in a matter of hours: with Atahualpa prisoner, Pizarro was effectively in control of the Inca Empire. Atahualpa was promised his freedom if he could fill the famous ransom room at Cajamarca with gold. Caravans overladen with the precious metal arrived from all over the land and within six months the room was filled: a treasure worth over one and a half million pesos, which was already enough to make each of the conquerors extremely wealthy. Pizarro, however, chose to keep the Inca leader as a hostage in case of Indian revolt, amid growing suspicions that Atahualpa was inciting his generals to attack the Spanish. Atahualpa almost certainly did send messages to his chiefs in Cusco, including orders to execute his brother Huascar who was already in captivity there. Under pressure from his worried captains, Pizarro brought Atahualpa to trial in July 1533, a mockery of justice in which he was given a free choice: to be burned alive as a pagan or strangled as a Christian. They baptized him and then killed him.
With nothing left to keep him in Cajamarca, Pizarro made his way through the Andes to Cusco where he crowned a puppet emperor, Manco Inca , of royal Indian blood. After all the practice that the Spaniards had had in imposing their culture on both the Moors in Spain and the Aztecs in Mexico, it took them only a few years to replace the Inca Empire with a working colonial mechanism. Now that the Inca civil wars were over, the natives seemed happy to retire quietly into the hills and get back to the land. However, more than wars, disease was responsible for the almost total lack of initial reaction to the new conquerors. The native population had dropped from some 32 million in 1520 to only five million by 1548 – a decline due mainly to new European ailments such as smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, whooping cough and influenza.


First came the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in present-day Mexico, led by Hernán Cortés. Soon after Cortés first arrived in Mexico in 1519, a native woman named Malintzin (later baptized Marina) was one of 20 women given to Cortés and his men after they defeated the natives in Tobasco. Malintzin became Cortés&rsquos mistress, learned Spanish, and served as Cortés&rsquos interpreter and advisor. She played a key role in Cortés&rsquos victory over the Aztecs and also bore him a son, Martín, the first famous Mexican mestizo (although he couldn&rsquot have actually been the first mestizo born in the Americas). Today, Malintzin, commonly known as La Malinche, is a very important figure in Mexican history, though interpretations of her actions are a great source of controversy in Mexico.

Cortés and his army, accompanied by Malintzin, started their journey to Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital. Along the way, the Spaniards came across different indigenous groups willing to help them defeat the Aztecs, especially the Tlaxcala. These groups had previously been conquered by the Aztecs and forced to serve the Empire, and they resented having to make tributes and provide victims for religious sacrifices.

Shortly after reaching Tenochtitlán in late 1519, Cortés&rsquos forces and their allies occupied the city and took Aztec ruler Moctezuma II hostage. A few months later, in 1520, Cortés left Tenochtitlán to deal with a Spanish envoy that had been sent from Cuba to unseat him. When Cortés returned, Tenochtitlán was in the midst of a full-fledged rebellion. During this time, Moctezuma II was killed, though it is unclear if it was by the hand of the Aztecs or the Spanish, and was succeeded as emperor by his brother, Cuitláhuac. Under constant attack, the Spanish were forced to flee the city. But before too long, in 1521 the Spanish and their allies returned, and after three months of fighting, Cortés was able to regain control of Tenochtitlán. Cuahtámoc, Cuitláhuac&rsquos successor, was executed and Cortés became the ruler of the vast empire.


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Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of the Incas, assassinated

Francisco Pizarro, the governor of Peru and conqueror of the Inca civilization, is assassinated in Lima by Spanish rivals.

The illegitimate son of a Spanish gentleman, Pizarro served under Spanish conquistador Alonso de Ojeda during his expedition to Colombia in 1510 and was with Vasco Nunez de Balboa when he discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Hearing legends of the great wealth of the Incas in South America, Pizarro formed an alliance with fellow conquistador Diego de Almagro in 1524 and sailed back to the Americas. Their first expedition only penetrated as far as present-day Ecuador, but their second reached farther and discovered evidence of the existence of the Inca kingdom.

Securing aid from Emperor Charles V, and a guarantee that he, not Almagro, would receive the majority of the expedition’s future profits, Pizarro sailed to Peru and landed at Tumbes in 1532. He led his army up the Andes Mountains to the Inca city of Cajamarca and met with Atahualpa, the king of the Inca kingdom of Quito. After winning his trust, Pizarro captured Atahualpa, exacted a room full of gold as ransom for his life, and then treacherously had him executed. The conquest of Peru came quickly to Pizarro and his army, and in 1533 Inca resistance came to an end with their defeat at Cuzco.

Pizarro, now the governor of Peru, founded new settlements, including Lima, and granted Almagro the conquest of Chile as appeasement for claiming the riches of the Inca civilization for himself. However, Pizarro failed to provide Almagro with all the land he had promised, and Almagro responded by seizing Cuzco in 1538. Pizarro sent his half brother, Hernando, to reclaim the city, and Almagro was defeated and put to death. Three years later, on June 26, 1541, a group hired by Almagro’s former adherents penetrated Pizarro’s palace and slew the conquistador while he was eating dinner. Shortly after his death, Diego el Monzo, Almagro’s son, proclaimed himself governor of Peru.

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