34 Facts About Atahualpa


Atahualpa was the son of the emperor Huayna Capac, who died around 1525 along with his successor, Ninan Cuyochi, in a smallpox epidemic.


Atahualpa initially accepted his half-brother Huascar as the new emperor, who in turn appointed him as governor of Quito in the north of the empire.


From 1529 to 1532, they contested the succession in the Inca Civil War, in which Atahualpa's forces defeated and captured Huascar.


In captivity, Atahualpa gave a ransom in exchange for a promise of release and arranged for the execution of Huascar.


The name Atahualpa comes from a construction of the Puquina language, a language that was used by the Inca nobility.


For centuries it was believed that the name Atahualpa came from the Quechua words Ataguallpa, Atabalipa or Atawallpa, whose meanings were erroneously constructed by chroniclers of the time based on the Quechua translation of the word "rooster" or "hen".


Atahualpa was likely born around the turn of the 16th century, c 1502.

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The chronicler and soldier Pedro Cieza de Leon, from his investigations among the members of the Inca nobility of Cusco, affirmed that Atahualpa had been born in Cusco and that his mother was Tuto Palla or Tupac Palla, a "India Quilaco".


Cieza de Leon denied that Atahualpa was born in Quito or Caranqui and that his mother was the lady of Quito, as some at the time claimed, since Quito was a province of Tahuantinsuyo when Atahualpa was born.


Paccha, the daughter of Cacha Duchicela, would have married Huayna Capac, and from that union Atahualpa would have been born as a legitimate son.


Atahualpa stayed in Quito with his father for more than ten years, helping him put down rebellions and conquer new lands.


Atahualpa personally led his army and defeated the rebels in the battle of Laguna de Yahuarcocha where there was such a massacre that the lake turned to blood.


Atahualpa was captured and imprisoned in a "tambo" but succeeded in escaping.


But, the chronicler Miguel Cabello de Balboa said that this story of capture was improbable because if Atahualpa had been captured by Huascar's forces, they would have executed him immediately.


Atahualpa attacked the Canari of Tumebamba, defeating its defenses and levelling the city and the surrounding lands.


Atahualpa arrived in Tumbes, from which he planned an assault by rafts on the island Puna.


Furious at the prophecy, Atahualpa went to the sanctuary, killed the priest and ordered the temple to be destroyed.


Atahualpa had remained behind in the Andean city of Cajamarca, where he encountered the Spanish, led by Pizarro.


The Spaniards headed south and occupied Tumbes, where they heard about the civil war that Huascar and Atahualpa were waging against each other.


Atahualpa decided that the 168 Spaniards were not a threat to him and his 80,000 troops, so he sent word inviting them to visit Cajamarca and meet him, expecting to capture them.


Atahualpa was staying in a building close to the Konoj hot springs, while his soldiers were in tents set up around him.


The Spaniards invited Atahualpa to visit Cajamarca to meet Pizarro, which he resolved to do the following day.


The plan was to persuade Atahualpa to submit to the authority of the Spaniards and, if this failed, there were two options: a surprise attack, if success seemed possible or to keep up a friendly stance if the Inca forces appeared too powerful.


Atahualpa instead demanded the return of every thing the Spaniards had taken since they landed.


Pizarro led the charge on Atahualpa, but captured him only after killing all those carrying him and turning over his litter.

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Atahualpa was sentenced to death by burning at the stake.


Atahualpa was horrified, since the Inca believed that the soul would not be able to go on to the afterlife if the body were burned.


Friar Vincente de Valverde, who had earlier offered his breviary to Atahualpa, intervened, telling Atahualpa that, if he agreed to convert to Catholicism, the friar could convince Pizarro to commute the sentence.


Atahualpa was given the name Francisco Atahualpa in honor of Francisco Pizarro.


Atahualpa declared that his birthplace was in what the Incas called the Kingdom of Quito, in a place called Caranqui.


Atahualpa was succeeded by his brother Tupac Huallpa and, later, by another brother, Manco Inca.


Pizarro's third son, by a relative of Atahualpa renamed Angelina, who was never legitimized, died shortly after reaching Spain.


The burial site of Atahualpa is unknown, but historian Tamara Estupinan argues it lies somewhere in modern-day Ecuador.


The role of Atahualpa was played by Robert Stephens and by David Carradine, who received a Theatre World Award in the 1965 Broadway production.