Inca Civil War

Inca Civil War

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Inca Civil War

caption=Emperor Atahualpa, the victorious brother, however, his reign as emperor was short.
date=1529 to April 1532
place=Peru and Ecuador
result=Northern victory
Reunion of the Inca Empire under the rule of Atahualpa
combatant1=Inca Empire
Defecting city-states of Tumebamba and Tumipampa
combatant2=Atahualpa's forces, renegades
Topa AtaoPOW
Ullco CollaKIA
Tito Atauchi
Uampa Yupanqui
Guanca Auqui
Agua Panti
Paca Yupanqui
Tomay Rima KIA
100,000 Cañaris
strength2=Initially 50,000-100,000
At peak some 250,000
casualties1=At least 100,000 killed
Tumebamba destroyed

The Inca Civil War, Inca Dynastic War, or Inca War of Succession, sometimes the War of the two brothers broke out after the death of Huayna Capac in 1527 (full-scale fighting did start as late as in 1529) as a disagreement between the two brothers Huáscar and Atahualpa and was — in a way — a war of succession of the Inca throne. However, it was Huáscar who started the war since he saw himself as the rightful heir of all Incas, while Atahualpa was revealed to be tactically superior to the mighty armies of Cuzco.

Causes - division of the Empire

The Kingdom of Cuzco, dominated by the Inca tribe, was formed in the late 12th Century by Manco Capac, the divine ruler of the Incas, but first in 1438, when Pachacuti (the "shaker of worlds") seized power, the small city-state of Cuzco with 40,000 Inca inhabitants would translate in what would be known as the Inca empire. Around 1500, the empire stretched from Tupiza and Coquimbo in central Chile to the south and to Quito and southern Colombia to the north. The capital was Cuzco (belly) in the center, from which the Sapa Inca ruled all. The empire, at its peak under Huayna Capac (1492-1527) had over 15 million inhabitants and controlled an area of more than 2 million square kilometers. However, the legacy of the Sapa Inca demanded he was the son of the former Sapa Inca and his sister, which invoked inbreeding, culminating in Huáscar.

In 1524-1526, the Spaniards under Francisco Pizarro explored South America. What was suspected to be smallpox was taken to the continent, causing later disaster for the Incas. However, the Sapa Inca Huayna Capac went to the north to investigate about the unfamiliar men. He never met any Spaniards, but he contracted smallpox and died in 1527. In addition, the eldest son and heir, Ninan Cuyochi, died briefly after him. As no one was the clear heir, the choice stood between Huáscar, oldest pure heir, Manco Inca, his younger brother, and Atahualpa. Atahualpa was Huayna Capac's favorite son but only of half noble blood, his mother was a woman of low birth, a former mistress of Huayna Capac. Huáscar saw it as an insult that Atahualpa, despite his alleged cunning and early wisdom was considered for Sapa Inca. Some sources say Atahualpa was offered the fringe by his father on his deathbed, if so, he refused.

The Inca Empire was, much to the displeasure of Huáscar's and the nobility in Cuzco, split between him and Atahualpa. Huáscar received more than 90% of its area and some 80% of the population, capital Cusco, and its important temples. Atahualpa received the three important cities in the north, Cajamarca, Tumebamba, Tumbes and Quito with surrounding areas dominated by the Incas, most important the homelands of his mother, and ruled from present-day Ecuador. Most important, Atahualpa was stationed in the north with the majority of Huayna Capac's soldiers, of which he managed to win vast loyalty despite his origin.

Initial moves - Huáscar invades the north

Huáscar, supported by the nobility in Cuzco as well as the religious and political principalists and main figures, saw it as a great insult that a "bastard"Fact|date=February 2007 had inherited Huayna Capac, though Atahualpa had received only a small part of the empire. In 1531, Huáscar demanded Atahualpa to swear him allegiance to Huáscar, to make him a puppet. He refused; this may have been an excuse for war, among the fact that Huáscar was in fact the eldest of "pure" Incan blood.

The armies of Huáscar, under the command of Atoc, his brother and general, crossed the border in 1529. Atahualpa himself assembled the former army of Huayna Capac as well as generals loyal to himself, Chalkuchimac, Quizquiz, Rumiñahui and Ucumari. Ullco Colla, the lord of Tumipampa and one of his finest noblemen, did however defect to Huáscar.

Out of the Inca Empires standing army of 250,000, most were stationed in Quito. However, since Huáscar alone was the sovereign of at least 12 million subejcts , he could easily muster an army that outnumbered Atahualpa. Cajamarca, close to the border, was seized and shortly thereafter Atahualpa himself was defeated and captured at Chillopampa. However, Atahualpa escaped before Huáscar made the decision to execute him, and united himself with his father's former generals in Quito, mainly Chalicuchima and Quizquiz. There may have been a battle fought at Mullihambato, but sources differ. The vigour of Atahualpa's soldiers reportedly managed to halt the advance of the initially superior Huáscaran army. He allegedly visited an oracle in Huamachuco and killed the priest for predicting a "bad end" to his success.

Tumebamba, called "the second Cuzco", had already defected and switched sides; this may have been triggered by two reasons. First Tumebamba was ruled by the non-Inca Cañaris tribe, earlier subjugated by the armies of Huayna Capac and as well waited for a moment to regain firm independence; another was that it seemed Huáscar would emerge as victor and that death would occur to those staying loyal to Atahualpa.
However, in the Battle of Chimborazo, Atoc and his army was defeated and routed by the forces of Atahualpa. Atoc and his second commander Hango were both captured and executed by Atahualpa's general Chalkuchimac. Ullco Colla was reportedly killed in battle. This victory would ensure Atahualpa's future reign as Sapa Inca. Pushing the Huáscaran forces over the mountains back into the south, Atahualpa seized Tumebamba shortly after, showing no mercy but burning the city to the ground and massacrating the Cañaris and executing their tribal leaders. Tumipampa was captured by another contingent but apparently spared, as Atahualpa accepted the tassel over the body of Ullco Colla. It was at this time the Spaniards at first began to sally forth in the expedition that would later put the entire Inca Empire under the rule of Spain, landing in the large city of Tumbes to the north under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro. The Spaniards allegedly were shocked by the devastation caused by the war, as well as the atrocities inflicted upon the civilian population, reportedly more grimmer than known during campaigns in Europe. It is possible that Tumbes as well was razed, if so it was another city of the north to ally with the cause of Huáscar, but that is not certain, as sources differ.

Atahualpa moves the war over to Huáscaran territory

Atahualpa was saluted as a hero; when recapturing Cajamarca, making his camp outside the city with some 80,000 troops (see Atahualpa) while Chalkuchimac and Quizquiz chased Huáscar's army to the south. With the disastrous northern campaign, Huáscar had lost not only his finest generals and much of his soldiers, allegedly taking command himself for the first time over his shocked and demoralized army. Shadowed by the forces of Chalkuchimac and Quizquiz, the two armies clashed at Huanucopampa in an inconclusive battle, with the Atahualpan forces withdrawing after an alleged day of heavy fighting and losses for both sides. Huáscar, in one of his skilful moves, ordered the grass to be put on fire and by the luck of the wind forced the army of Atahualpa to pull back. He refused to gain advantage of the success, however, but preferred to use the advantage for a safe retreat, crossing the Cotabambas river on the way to Cuzco.

He reportedly ordered his captain, Topa Atao, to fortify a mountain pass by a smaller force and halt the advance of Atahualpa's forces, but Chalkuchimac, soon on the move again, predicted the action and divided his army in two, sending one contingent around Topa Atao's back, enveloping and destroying the defenders. In April 1532, only miles from Cusco, Huáscar's retreat was cut off at Quipaipan, his army annihilated and disbanded. Huáscar's was himself captured along with family and capital Cuzco seized by Quizquiz, who had the supporters of Huáscars reign butchered in a bloodbath clearing the streets for a new emperor. This marked the reunification of the Inca empire and so the end of the Northern Inca Empire as Atahualpa with arms had taken control of it all, now on his way to Cusco to be crowned Sapa Inca and to put Huáscar to death.

The war was over with Huáscar was in captivity, his supporters - mainly all of the Cuzco nobility - and family executed, the capital held by generals Quizquiz and Chalicuchima securing peace to the empire. The army Atahualpa commanded, from Quito to Cuzco had at this time risen to a strength of 250,000 men, the regular size of the standing Inca army, with peace at hands by some 80,000 men personally camped by himself in Cajamarca. However, before he had the chance to move, he met up with conquistador Francisco Pizarro, having reached Cajamarca upon 14 november, and was captured by the Spaniards as a part of the Spanish conquest of Peru. He ordered Huáscar executed, reportedly by drowning, from captivity, and was himself later garrotted at the plaza of Cajamarca on July 26, 1533.


The casualties were reportedly severely high, with at least 100,000 civilians killed. Villages and towns not loyal to either side was razed and entire populations massacred, as well as vast number of thousands being killed in the vast battles, in which hundreds of thousands participated. Out of the Inca population of 15 million, as many as one million may have been killed as the armies left fields of killed and mutilated bodies behind themselves as the marched over the often burned plainlands.

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