Pertaining to the biography of Francisco Pizarro, the first thing to highlight is he was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who played a significant role in the conquest of Peru and the expansion of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century.
Born in Trujillo, Spain, in 1478, Pizarro grew up impoverished and had limited formal education.
However, he had a thirst for adventure and, at the age of 20, joined an expedition to the New World.
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Pizarro began his career as a conquistador in Hispaniola, participating in several expeditions against the native Taíno people.
In 1513, he joined Vasco Núñez de Balboa on his journey to discover the Pacific Ocean.
Pizarro was present when Balboa first saw the ocean and claimed it for Spain. This experience sparked Pizarro’s desire to explore and conquer new lands.
Expedition to Peru
The biography of Francisco Pizarro cannot be discussed without highlighting his expedition to Peru.
In 1524, Pizarro embarked on an expedition to explore and conquer the lands south of Panama.
He was also joined by two other conquistadors, Diego de Almagro and Hernando de Luque.
The group landed in what is now Ecuador but quickly realized that the real prize was further south, in the land of the Incas, which was rumoured to be rich in gold and silver.
Pizarro made three expeditions to Peru, the first in 1524, the second in 1526, and the third in 1532.
During the first two expeditions, Pizarro faced fierce resistance from the native populations and was forced to return to Panama.
However, on his third expedition, he successfully captured the Inca emperor Atahualpa and held him for ransom.
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The Capture of Atahualpa
In November 1532, Pizarro and his army of 168 men arrived in the Inca city of Cajamarca, where Atahualpa and his entourage met them.
Pizarro invited Atahualpa to a meeting in his tent, where he was ambushed and captured.
Pizarro demanded a huge ransom for Atahualpa’s release, including a room filled with gold and two rooms filled with silver.
Atahualpa’s followers paid the ransom, but Pizarro refused to release the emperor.
Instead, he accused Atahualpa of various crimes and executed him by strangulation in July 1533.
This act cemented Pizarro’s control over the Inca Empire and allowed him to establish Spanish rule over Peru.
Establishment of Spanish Rule in Peru
After the capture of Atahualpa, Pizarro and his men continued their march south, conquering the Inca capital of Cusco in November 1533.
Pizarro established the city of Lima in 1535 and made it the capital of the new Spanish colony of Peru.
Pizarro’s rule in Peru was marked by brutality and oppression.
The Spanish enslaved the native population and forced them to work in mines and on plantations.
The Spanish also introduced European diseases to which the native population had no immunity, leading to widespread illness and death.
Despite his success in conquering Peru, Pizarro’s rule was challenging.
In 1541, he was assassinated by a group of his men led by Juan de Rada.
The assassination was sparked by a power struggle between Pizarro and Diego de Almagro, who had been his partner in conquering Peru.
Despite his brutal tactics and questionable morality, Francisco Pizarro played a significant role in the Spanish Empire’s expansion and the New World’s colonization.
His conquest of Peru paved the way for Spanish rule in South America.