Latin American History: Tupac Amaru
Tupac Amaru descended from a royal family who had ruled the Inca Empire in Peru between the 15th and 16th century. The Incas was the name an empire that had stretched from present day Ecuador to parts of Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. As a result of its wide coverage, the Inca Empire has been described as the largest in the history of the Pre-Columbian America. The empires center of origin was at a place known as Cusco. This center acted as its capital and base of operations.
In the year 1531, the Spanish people started to arrive in the areas comprising the Incas Empire. The Spanish, who were led by a man named Francisco Pizarro, were impressed with the level of civilization that the Incan Empire had achieved. During the same time, there was an outbreak of small pox which led to the death of Huayna Capac, who was the leader of the Incan Empire at the time. The death of the leader resulted in leadership wrangles between Atahualpa and Huascar who were brothers to the ruler. Pizarro identified the existing wrangles in the leadership of the Incan empire as an opportunity to gain control of the empire. In the year 1532, Pizarro managed to conduct a successful coup d’état against the Incan people after which the Spanish took control of the empire.
Once the Spanish had consolidated their rule over the Incan people, they began to rule over them oppressively while at the same time conducting a campaign to force all members of the Incan Empire to denounce their cultural and religious beliefs. Instead, they forced the Incan people to profess the Christian faith. In the year 1536, a series or revolutions against Spanish rule began within the Incan Empire. However, in the year 1557, the Inca who was on the throne at that time entered into a treaty with Spanish leaders. Between the years 1560-1571, the Inca at the time who was called Titu Cusi, renewed efforts to rebel the rule of the Spanish over the Incan Empire. However, Tito Cusi was captured and killed.
It was only after the death of Tito Cusi, that his nephew, Túpac Amaru became the leader of the Incan Empire. Tupac led the first major war against the Spanish in a valley called Vilcambamba. The war took place in the year 1572. However, the Incan people were overpowered by the Spanish due to the fact that they were using crude weapons to fight the Spanish who were using firearms. Túpac Amaru was forced to escape into the forest nearby to avoid capture by Spanish soldiers. However, it was not long before he was captured and convinced to surrender to the Spanish soldiers with the assurance that no harm would be inflicted to both him and his wife.
However, upon his capture, Tupac Amaru was forced to wear a chain of gold and instructed to match inside the streets of Cusco by the Spanish soldiers. The Spanish also brought the remains of Tupac’s father and those of Tito Cusi to be carried through Cusco during Tupac’s match. A golden statue that symbolized the Incan lineage was also included in Tupac’s caravan. The Spanish put the above inclusions in Tupac’s caravan in order to achieve a goal of portraying him as a cause of trouble and political unrest. To add to this, Tupac and five of his generals who had also been captured were subjected to intense Christian teachings for two days in order to convert them into Christianity. Tupac and his five generals were also given an unfair trial during the two days they were subjected to Christian teachings. The verdict given from the trial was that Tupac and his generals were to be killed.
According to a report that was given by an eye witness, Tupac was made to match for a second time inside the streets of Cuzco after the two days of his trial and attempted conversion to Christianity. The eye witness explained that Tupac walked in between two Catholic Fathers who claimed that their presence would benefit Tupac’s soul. It is said that Tupac’s match led him to Cusco’s main Cathedral where he was supposed to address a crowd of his followers for the last time. It is said that in between 10000 to 15000 Incan people came to the Cathedral’s square to witness Tupac’s final address.
There are a number of versions that have been given to explain the final events that took place before Tupac’s execution. However, it is clear that Tupac was killed by the Spanish through beheading. It was after Tupac’s death that the Spanish enjoyed some stable level of rule over the entire Incan Empire. However, the short leadership of Tupac Amaru I and his quest to bring Spanish rule to an end had planted a seed of rebellion inside the Incan people. The Spanish, however, managed to stamp there authority over the Incan people thus enabling them to have a stable level of authority over the Incan people for the remaining 16th and 17th century.
It was not until the 18th century that another string of revolutions against the Spanish began in Cusco. One man known as Juan Santos Atahualpa began the revolution against the Spanish in mid-18th century. There is little information about the origin and early life of Jose before he initiated the rebellion. However, Jose claimed that he was a descendant of the Atahualpa which was the name of the royal family that had once ruled the Incan Empire. It is also said that Jose had received some level of Christian education from some scholars known as Jesuits who lived in the area at that time.
Jose Atahualpa’s rebellion began in the year 1742 at a place called Quiopango. Atahualpa began his rebellion by marshaling his followers to evict all Spaniards and Black people who had settled in the area. With time, more people joined Atahualpa’s rebellion, therefore, enabling him to come up with a formidable force that was able to fight Spanish rule in the provinces of Tarma and Jauja. Atahualpa’s forces became very strong to the extent that all attempts by the Spanish to resist the rebellion in the two provinces became unsuccessful. The viceroy of Lima was forced to assign military governors whose responsibility was to build fortresses that would surround the provinces of Tarma and Jauja in an attempt to contain Atauhalpa’s rebellion within the two provinces. However, in the year 1756, Jose Atahualpa died. The cause of his death has never been established with certainty. After his death, the rebellion he had started was not able to grow beyond the two provinces of Tarma and Jauja. In the 1780s, the Spanish managed to regain their control over the two provinces.
In the year 1780, another leader known as Jose Gabriel Cordoncanqui emerged. He was given the name Tupac Amaru II. Gabriel was a great grandson of Tupac Amaru I. He began his rebellion by capturing a governor known as Arriaga. Amaru II forced Arriaga to write letters that were addressed to Hispanic and some other people in Curacas. Once the Hispanic and Curacas people read Arriaga’s letter, 200 hundred of them gathered within a few days. However, unknown to them, Amaru II had surrounded them with around 4000 Indians. Amaru II gave orders to one of Arriaga’s slaves to behead him. This act would mark the start of another rebellion against Spanish rule in the Andean region. Although Tupac Amaru II’s rebellion failed after some time, he had managed to inspire the indigenous people to revolt against Spanish rule.
Analysis of Atahualpa’s and Amaru II’s rebellion against Spanish rule reveals that both leaders drew their inspiration from the first rebellion that was led by Tupac Amaru I. It was as a result of Tupac Amaru I’s rebellion in the 16th century, that subsequent civilizations drew their inspiration to resist the oppressive rule that was subjected to them by the Spanish. Coincidentally, the leaders of two of the biggest rebellions that followed Tupac Amaru I’s rebellion were his descendants who strongly believed that they were an independent people who should have been given the right to rule themselves.
In conclusion, Tupac Amaru I can be considered as an iconic leader by native Andeans and Creoles. This is because Tupac Amaru I showed his people that they had to fight to gain their indepedence from the Spanish even if it meant sacrificing their lives. The Spanish thought that by parading Tupac Amaru I in public and executing him thereafter, they would intimidate the people in Andeas and Creoles region from initiating other rebellions in future. However, Tupac Amaru I’s fight for independence and his subsequent execution made him a hero to his future generations. Up to this day people living in Peru (which was previously the Andeas and Creoles region) still consider Tupac Amaru I as an icon who portrayed the qualities of a true leader to other subsequent leaders of the Andean and Creoles people.
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