Conquest of Cusco

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Conquest of Cusco
date November 14, 1533
place Cusco
output Spanish victory
consequences Taking Cusco
Parties to the conflict

Conquistadors , allied Kañari and Huanca

northern Inca Empire


Francisco Pizarro
Diego de Almagro

Quiz quiz

Troop strength
300 Spaniards,
thousands of Indians
Tens of thousands

The conquest of Cusco by the Spanish conquistadors ended with the capture of the city on November 15, 1533


Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire Tawantinsuyu . In 1532 Atahualpa emerged victorious in the civil war between Atahualpa , who came from Quito , and his half-brother Huáscar . His general quiz quiz had taken Cusco and massacred the Inca nobility there. On his way from Quito to Cusco, Atahualpa was captured by Francisco Pizarro in a coup at the Battle of Cajamarca and executed despite paying an immense ransom.

Way to Cusco


Three weeks after Atahualpa's execution, Pizarro left Cajamarca for Cusco on August 11, 1533. Reinforced by men who had come with his partner Diego de Almagro and who had not been involved in distributing the booty from Cajamarca, his army consisted of around 220 men. With them was Atahualpas General Chalcuchímac , whom they carried with them as prisoners.

Francisco Pizarro's army first followed the Inca roads that his brother Hernando had already used six months earlier on his trip to Pachácamac. After eight weeks they reached the town of Jauja, which is halfway through . Here they met for the first time professional armed forces from the north who had previously been under Chalcuchímac's command. Pizarro's cavalry defeated this army of several thousand men and prevented them from setting the city on fire. The Spanish were welcomed as liberators by the native Huanca .

After this military conflict, the first ever since Atahualpa's capture in November, Pizarro split his forces: he left 80 men in Jauja with the treasures from Cajamarca. He sent the best 70 riders ahead under the command of Hernando de Soto to pursue the fleeing army from Quito and to prevent them from destroying the bridges on the way to Cusco. Almagro and Pizarro followed with 30 mounted and 30 foot soldiers.


The most difficult part of the way was still to come. The landscape in the central Andean region is extremely diverse: deeply cut gorges alternate with steppe-like plateaus, from lovely valley areas the path leads up to the passes of huge, snow-covered mountain ranges that are structured like a backdrop into the depths. Without the narrow, but well-developed and often paved Inca roads, an advance would hardly have been possible.

On October 29, just five days after leaving Jauja, de Soto's men reached Vilcas ( Vilcashuamán ), which is halfway between Jauja and Cuso. This was the second time a battle took place in which the brave fighting army from Quito brought the Spaniards into great distress, but was ultimately defeated again.


De Soto advanced with 40 men. Like many other bridges, the one over Apurímac , the largest of the rivers to be crossed, was destroyed. But it was the time of the lowest water level and they could cross the river unmolested at a ford.

When de Soto's men reached the Vilcaconga pass on November 8th, they were attacked by several thousand warriors. When night fell, de Soto's situation was almost hopeless: many Spaniards were wounded, five or six dead. But at dawn Almagro unexpectedly appeared with reinforcements, and Quizquiz's troops fled.

Before Cusco

As Pizarro approached the capital further, he met Manco Inca Yupanqui , a half-brother of Huáscar, on the Jaquijuana plain . Manco had escaped the bloodbath that quizzes had wrought among the Cusqueñian nobility and was now offering Pizarro his support. Pizarro was happy to enter into this alliance. Manco told Pizarro that the captured Chalcuchímac Quizquiz had sent secret messages. Pizarro then had Chalcuchímac executed.

One day later, on November 14th, the Spaniards were at Cusco. Quizquiz opposed them, but here too the Spaniards and their Indian allies remained victorious and were also able to prevent Quizquiz from setting the city on fire. With this the resistance of Atahualpa's occupying power was finally broken.

Taking Cusco

Pizarro moved into Cusco on November 15th. The following day Manco was enthroned as the new Inca ruler Manco Cápac II with a magnificent ceremony . The Spanish took the abundant gold and silver. On March 25, 1534, Pizarro “founded” Cusco as a city under Spanish law.


Manco provided Pizarro with several thousand men with whom he drove quiz quizzes from the southern part of the empire, and otherwise worked closely with Pizarro and Almagro. However, his hopes for the restoration of the empire were not fulfilled. The supposed liberators turned out to be occupiers who divided the country among themselves and did not spare his person either.

In 1536 Manco fled the city. In the following siege of Cusco , the Spaniards narrowly escaped destruction.



  1. Jauja was newly "founded" in July 1534 as the Spanish city and capital of New Castile .
  2. According to other reports, Chalcuchímac was executed before the encounter with Manco.