History: Pizarro and the conquest of Peru

By: Frederick A. Ober

Chapter 16


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 ;i ,1 emulating their careers. Among others was that valiant but unscrupulous officer who ••[ served with Cort6s 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 orOy or about a million dollars, which, he claimed, was less than his armament had cost him, not to mention the privations he had endured.