Francisco Pizarro (c. 1475–June 26, 1541) was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Inca Empire and founder of the city of Lima.
Pizarro was born in Trujillo, Spain. He was an illegitimate son of Gonzalo Pizarro, who as colonel of infantry afterwards served in Italy under Gonsalvo de Cordova, and in Navarre, with some distinction.
Of Pizarro's early years hardly anything is known; but he appears to have been poorly cared for, and his education was neglected. Shortly after the news of the discovery of the New World had reached Spain he was in Seville, he sailed to the New World in 1509 and took part in various Spanish missions of exploration and conquest. He is heard of in 1510 as having taken part in an expedition from Hispaniola to Urab under Alonso de Ojeda, by whom he was entrusted with the charge of the unfortunate settlement at San Sebastian.
He accompanied Vasco Núñez de Balboa (whom he later helped to bring to the executioner's block) in the discovery of the Pacific; and under Pedro Arias de Avila he received a repartimento , and became a cattle-farmer at Panama. Here in 1522 he entered into a partnership with a priest named Hernando de Luque , and a soldier named Diego de Almagro, for purposes of exploration and conquest towards the south. Pizarro, Almagro and Luque afterwards renewed their compact in a more solemn and explicit manner, agreeing to conquer and divide equally among themselves the opulent empire they hoped to reach. Explorations were then undertaken down the west coast of South America, in which Pizarro, though left for months with but thirteen followers on a small island without ship or stores, persisted till he had coasted as far as about 9 S. and obtained distinct accounts of the Peruvian Empire.
The governor of Panama showing little disposition to encourage the adventurers, Pizarro resolved to apply to the sovereign in person for help, and with this object sailed from Panama for Spain in the spring of 1528, reaching Seville in early summer. King Charles V was won over and on July 26, 1529 executed at Toledo the famous capitulation, by which Pizarro was upon certain conditions made governor and captain-general of the province of New Castile for the distance of 200 leagues along the newly discovered coast, and invested with all the authority and prerogatives of a viceroy, his associates being left in wholly secondary positions. One of the conditions of the grant was that within six months Pizarro should raise a sufficiently equipped force of two hundred and fifty men, of whom one hundred might be drawn from the colonies; as he could not make up his due complement he sailed clandestinely from San Lucar in January 1530.
He was afterwards joined by his brother Hernando with the remaining vessels, and when the expedition left Panama in January of the following year it numbered three ships, one hundred and eighty men, and twenty-seven horses.
Conquest of Peru
Main article: Spanish conquest of Peru
On November 16, 1532, Pizarro, with his small force, came to Cajamarca where he invited the Sapa Inca Atahualpa to leave his army in the field and join him in for a dinner in his honor. Pizarro then killed Atahuallpa's 12 man honor guard and took Atahualpa captive at the so-called Ransom room in Cajamarca. A year later Pizarro invaded Cuzco with indigenous troops and brought down Tahuantinsuyu (the Inca empire). During the conquest of Cuzco, Pizarro was impressed and wrote back to King Charles V of Spain, saying:
"We can assure your majesty that it is so beautiful and has such fine buildings that it would even be remarkable in Spain."
As he thought the Inca capital of Cuzco was too far up in the mountains and far from the sea to serve as the Spanish capital of Peru, Pizarro founded the city of Lima on January 15, 1535.
Pizarro's coffin in the Lima
After the final effort of the Inca to recover Cuzco had been defeated by Almagro, a dispute occurred between him and Pizarro respecting the limits of their jurisdiction. This led to battle; Almagro was defeated at the City of Ute (1538) and executed; but his supporters conspired, and assassinated Pizarro on June 26, 1541.
The Discovery and Conquest of Peru by William H. Prescott
- Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming, 1973.
Last updated: 10-24-2005 06:02:22