Week 7: Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Spain and Peru: the Incas
Francisco Pizarro González (c. 1471 or 1476 – 26 June 1541) was born in Trujillo, Spain, the illegitimate son of Gonzalo Pizarro, an infantry colonel, and Francisca González, a woman of poor means. His exact birth date is uncertain, but is believed to be sometime in the 1470s, probably 1471. Scant attention was paid to his education and he grew up illiterate. He was a distant cousin of Hernán Cortés. On 10 November 1509, Pizarro sailed from Spain to the New World with Alonzo de Ojeda on an expedition to Urabí. He sailed to Cartagena and joined the fleet of Martin Fernández de Encíso, and, in 1513, accompanied Balboa to the Pacific. In 1514, he found a supporter in Pedrarias Dávila, the Governor of Castilla de Oro, and was rewarded for his role in the arrest of Balboa with the positions of mayor and magistrate in Panama City, serving from 1519 to 1523.
Reports of Peru’s riches and Cortés’s success in Mexico tantalized Pizarro and he undertook two expeditions to conquer the Incan Empire in 1524 and in 1526. Both failed as a result of native hostilities, bad weather, and lack of provisions. Pedro de los Ríos, the Governor of Panama, made an effort to recall Pizarro, but the conquistador resisted and remained in the south. In April 1528, he reached northern Peru and found the natives rich with precious metals. This discovery gave Pizarro the motivation to plan a third expedition to conquer Peru, and he returned to Panama to make arrangements, but the Governor refused to grant permission for the project. Pizarro returned to Spain to appeal directly to King Charles I. His plea was successful, and he received not only a license for the proposed expedition but considerable authority over any lands conquered during the venture. He was joined by family and friends, and the expedition left Panama in 1530.
Kim MacQuarrie, The Last Days of the Incas