Sunday, September 18, 2016

How the Spanish Conquered the Lamanites – Part II

Continuing with the defeat of the Lamanites at the hand of Francisco Pizarro after Cortes had demolished and subjugated the mighty Aztecs of Mexico.
In 1532, Spanish conquistadors under Francisco Pizarro first made contact with the mighty
Inca Empire, which ruled present-day Peru and Ecuador, and parts of Chile, Bolivia and Colombia. Within 20 years, the Inca Empire was in ruins and the Spanish were in undisputed possession of the Inca cities and wealth: Peru would continue to be one of Spain's most loyal and profitable colonies for another three hundred years. The conquest of the Inca looks unlikely on paper: 160 Spaniards against an Empire with millions of subjects and hundreds of thousands of experienced fighting men who had in the recent fifty years or so subjugated numerous countries, tribes and groups of people by their might.
    How did Spain do it? Here are the facts about the fall of the Inca Empire. First of all, and without question, the Spanish just got lucky—as though a divine intervention was in place. As late as 1528, the Inca Empire was a cohesive unit, ruled by one dominant ruler, Huayna Capac. He died, however, and two of his many sons, Atahualpa (Atahuallpa, Atawallpa, Ata Wallpa) and Huascár, who by the way was actually the legitimate son of a first wife and therefore the rightful appointed leader, began to fight over his empire. For four years, a bloody civil war raged over the Empire and in 1532 Atahualpa emerged victorious. It was at this precise moment, when the Empire was in ruins, that Pizarro and his men entered the picture. These few Spanish were able to defeat the weakened Inca armies and exploit the social rifts that had caused the war in the first place. 
    Secondly, the Inca made numerous mistakes. In November of 1532, Inca Emperor Atahualpa was captured by the Spanish: he had agreed to meet with them, feeling that they did not pose a threat to his massive army. This was but one of the mistakes the Inca made. Later, Atahualpa's generals, fearing for his safety in captivity, did not attack the Spanish while there were still only a few of them in Peru: one Inca general even believed Spanish promises of friendship and let himself be captured. Most importantly, the Inca did not have any understanding of lying and cheating, or leaders going back on their word.
Atahualpa believed that once the Spanish received their ransom of a room full of gold for his release, they would leave and not bother the Inca any more 

    Atahualpa was the last of the native lords of the mighty Inca Empire, which spanned most of the entire western portion of South America. Atahualpa had just defeated his brother Huascár in a violent civil war just as Pizarro arrived in the Andes. The unlucky Atahualpa was quickly captured by the Spanish and held for ransom. Although his ransom was paid, the Spanish killed him anyway, clearing the way for the plunder of the Andes. While his birthdate is unknown, but probably around 1500: he was killed in 1533.
    In the Inca Empire, the word “Inca” meant “King,” and generally only referred to one man, the ruler of the Empire. Atahualpa was one of many sons of Inca Huayna Capac, an efficient and ambitious ruler. The Incas could only marry their sisters: no one else was deemed noble enough. They had many concubines, however, and their offspring (Atahualpa included) were considered eligible for rule, but generally if no rightful son was available.
    Into this rift Pizarro marched his pitifully little band of soldiers. Though the Spanish were, by this time, seasoned campaigners, with Pizarro actually inspired by Cortes’ audacious and lucrative conquest of Mexico, by all rights it should have been a swift defeat and annihilation of the less than two hundred Spanish who moved against hundreds of thousands of Inca fighting men.
    Under Pizarro’s command was four of his brothers, with Diego de Almagro on the march behind them with reinforcements, thoughn theyh did not arrive until after Atahualpa’s capture. Even though the Spanish had an enormous advantage over the Andeans with their horses, armor and weapons, certain events just happened to play out in their favor that could not have been anticipated.
    First, the Spanish were immensely fortunate that Atahualpa happened to be at Cajamarca, one of the closest major cities to the coast where they had disembarked. Atahualpa had just received word that Huascár had been captured and was celebrating with one of his armies. He had heard of the foreigners coming and felt that he had little to fear from fewer than 200 strangers.
Taken by surprise, Atahualpa’s enormous force was defeated by Pizarro’s meager band and Atahualpa captured

    On the other hand, grasping the enormous challenge he had ridden into, Pizarro hid his horsemen in the buildings around the main square at Cajamarca, and when the Inca arrived to converse with Pizarro, they rode out, slaughtering hundreds and capturing Atahualpa, without losing a single Spaniard.
    Before the arrival of the Spanish, Atahualpa had proven to be ruthless in his ascent to power. He ordered the death of his brother Huascár and several other family members who blocked his way to the throne. The Spanish who were Atahualpa’s captors for several months found him to be brave, intelligent and witty. He accepted his imprisonment stoically and continued to rule his people while captive. He had small children in Quito by some of his concubines, and he was evidently quite attached to them. When the Spanish decided to execute Atahualpa, some were reluctant to do so because they had grown fond of him.
    Although Atahualpa may have been friendly with some individual Spaniards, such as Francisco Pizarro’s brother Hernando, he wanted them out of his kingdom. He told his people to not attempt a rescue, believing that the Spanish would leave once they had received their ransom. As for the Spanish, they knew that their prisoner was the only thing keeping one of Atahualpa’s armies from crashing down on them. Atahualpa had three important generals, each of whom commanded an army: Chalcuchima in Jauja, Quisquis in Cuzco and Rumiñahui in Quito.
    General Chalcuchima allowed himself to be lured to Cajamarca and captured, but the other two remained threats to Pizarro and his men. In July of 1533, they began hearing rumors that Rumiñahui was approaching with a mighty army, summoned by the captive Emperor to wipe out the intruders. Pizarro and his men panicked. Accusing Atahualpa of treachery they sentenced him to burn at the stake, although he was eventually garrotted. Atahualpa died on July 26, 1533 in Cajamarca. Rumiñahui's army never came: the rumors had been false.
    With Atahualpa dead, the Spanish quickly elevated his brother Tupac Huallpa to the throne. Although Tupac Huallpa soon died of smallpox, he was one of a string of puppet Incas who allowed the Spanish to control the nation. When Atahualpa’s nephew Túpac Amaru was killed in 1572, the royal Inca line died with him, ending forever any hope for native rule in the Andes.
    It had actually been simpler than even the naive Pizarro could have imagined, especially in light of all the in-fighting that took place among the Spanish in fighting over who was going to control the Andean empire.
The successful conquest of the Inca Empire by the Spanish was largely due to unbelievable luck and several key mistakes by the Andeans. Had the Spanish arrived a year or two later, the ambitious Atahualpa would have consolidated his power and may have taken the threat of the Spanish more seriously and not allowed himself to be captured so easily—and another time, he may well have been in Cuzco, a fortress not even the Spanish could have overcome with the Inca in charge. 
    The residual hatred by the people of the south for Atahualpa after the civil war certainly played a part in his downfall as well, but would have dissipated in a year or so as the people got back to the normal lives within the Inca Empire.
    After Atahualpa’s death, some people back in Spain began asking uncomfortable questions, such as: “Did Pizarro have any legal right to invade Peru, take Atahualpa hostage, kill thousands and take away literally tons of gold, considering that Atahualpa had done nothing to him?” These questions were eventually solved by declaring that Atahualpa, who was younger than his brother Huáscar with whom he had been warring, had usurped the throne. Therefore, it was reasoned, he was fair game. This argument was very weak – the Inca did not care who was older, any son of Huayna Capac could have been king – but it sufficed. By 1572 there was a complete smear campaign in place against Atahualpa, who was called a cruel tyrant and worse. The Spanish, it was argued, had “saved” the Andean people from this “demon.”
Atahualpa today is seen as a tragic figure, a victim of Spanish ruthlessness and duplicity, which is an accurate assessment of his life. The Spanish not only brought horses and guns to the fight, they also brought an insatiable greed and violence which was just as instrumental in their conquest. Atahualpa is still remembered in parts of his old Empire, particularly in Quito, where you can take in a fútbol game at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium.
    For a thousand years the Nephites had ruled in the Land of Promise. By then, they had deteriorated so far, that even Mormon writes that they had passed the time of their grace (Mormon 2:15). For the next thousand years the Lamanites floundered about the land, living desperate lives that were mired in nearly constant wars with fighting that never seemed to end. But finally, after a thousand years, the Lamanites began to climb into supreme positions of power and accomplishment. The Aztec in Central America and the Inca in South America were two very accomplished civilizations that achieved heights never before seen in the Americas, or for that matter, most of the world. In the following hundred years, their downfalls were sealed, Columbus was led to discover the land and the Spanish arrived to destroy the people.
    While “the Lord will not suffer the wicked to destroy the righteous” (1 Nephi 22:16), we learn from Mormon that “by the wicked are the wicked punished” (Mormon 4:5). Thus, the wicked Lamanites were finally used to destroy the Nephites once they lost their grace and became wicked themselves, and then used the Spanish to punish the Lamanites—a punishment from which most Lamanites have not yet recovered. In the end, then, the Lamanites, were ripe for destruction in the time frame of the Lord, and because they were convinced to do wickedness because of the traditions of their fathers (Helaman 5:19), the judgements of God did overtake them (Mormon 4:5), and they who did wickedly became stubble (3 Nephi 25:1), even though they were by far the more likely to have defeated that small band of conquerors, they themselves were conquered by less than a thousand Spanish soldiers though they numbered in the millions.


  1. Del - have you ever gone to one of them BOM conferences where they discuss the Heartland and Meso theories? You likely haven't presented at any but if you ever do please put out the word. Love to attend. I heard that there was one this weekend somewhere in the valley.

  2. No, I have not. A close friend of mine went to several a few years ago and said they always deteriorated into shouting matches and everyone hates everyone else. Not the environment I am interested in. I believe the BOM can be debaated, but not argued over. Even the first conference conducted by Joseph F. Smith in 1909 I think it was, was much like that--Elder Smith found it quite difficult to keep down the arguments and was continually reminding the brethren to be civil. I avoid gatherings like that--I see nothing valuable coming from them. To me, conversion like for a missionary, comes from the Spirit and in the quiet moments of one's heart. Besides, I am not a fan of Meldrum whose treatment of the scriptures is foot loose and fancy free.