- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

The Spanish Conquest

Page 1 of 5

The Spanish Conquest

In Spalding’s Huarochirí, she explains the way in which the Spanish entered the Andes and conquered the Indians. The Spanish entered the Inca Empire in 1532 on an expedition headed for Peru from Panama. Shortly after settlement, the Spanish planned an ambush and took the Inca as prisoner, killing thousands of Indians who tried to fight back. The capture and death of the Inca ruler is generally seen as the marker for the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Andean area. Over the course of the next fifty years, the Spanish replaced the Inca and made themselves rulers of the state structure. The dominance of the Europeans in the Andes however, didn’t penetrate deeply into Andean culture.¹

At the beginning of Spanish conquest, the Spanish didn’t seek the destruction of native societies, but were content to ride the surface of Andean society with the support of local communities. At the beginning of the conquest, the Spanish used the structures in place and profited by them by absorbing the flow of labor and products that had once gone into the Inca state. Soon, many Europeans heard about the profit of the Spanish and came to join the conquest. The next four decades were characterized by the confiscation of the products of Indian communities set up by the Spanish. Wealth became the driving force of rapid Spanish expansion in the Americas.²

The Spanish crown gave a man named Pizarro the rank of governor and captain-general of all territories that he conquered. Pizarro knew the Indians greatly outnumbered his forces and therefore, ordered that the Indians be treated well. Pizarro’s orders were ignored, and the Indians responded by attacking and besieging Cuzco. The attacks lasted approximately four months and then the Spanish gained back control of Cuzco. During this time, the Spanish robbed and looted freely as they expanded. The Spanish had to adapt to the Inca society in order to transform the disordered political situation into a more durable means of providing themselves with wealth and power.

The Spanish adopted the encomienda system which became the basic sociopolitical form through which the conquerors dealt with local society. Under this system, the Indians were protected by their assigned encomendero as long as they didn’t resist the work they were forced to do. This system lasted more than three decades. Spalding says, “It appears that the local sociopolitical structure of Andean society were little affected by the presence of Europeans in the early decades.” ³ This means that under the encomienda system, the Indians were more or less able to preserve the majority of their cultural norms.

When conquering the Indians in the Andes, the Spanish justified their actions by claiming to bring Christianity to the Indians, and thus “saving them”. The Indians, however, resisted this change in belief. In Huarochiri, Spalding explains that the Spanish knew that once Andean society gave up on their own ideological beliefs and replaced it with that of the Europeans, they would also give up control of their actions, and therefore, be easier to conquer. When the Indians resisted the Catholic faith, the Spanish responded by destroying religious statues and temples and also brutally punishing those who openly resisted. ⁶

The Indians grew tired of being treated poorly and they eventually rebelled. The rebellion was lead by Tupac Amaru II. Tupac Amaru II tried to achieve what is referred to as an “Andean utopia” in which the Incas would rule again. Tupac Amaru II wanted to establish respect for the property and lives of mestizos and criollos. To achieve this goal, he found rebel leaders and formed the rebellion with the intention of driving out the Europeans and ending Spanish taxation. He gained many followers with his good intentions, however, toward the end of the rebellion he sought his goals through brutal means. A German baron was quoted saying “Tupac Amaru’s initial aim of Inca restoration had developed into a vicious caste war with no middle ground.”⁴ His rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful and he was executed on May 18th, 1781. His execution lasted an entire day for all of the Indians to watch. His execution served as a lesson to leave the Indians with fear, putting

Download as (for upgraded members)
Citation Generator

(2016, 05). The Spanish Conquest. Retrieved 05, 2016, from

"The Spanish Conquest" 05 2016. 2016. 05 2016 <>.

"The Spanish Conquest.", 05 2016. Web. 05 2016. <>.

"The Spanish Conquest." 05, 2016. Accessed 05, 2016.