The Ransom Room (El Cuarto del Rescate) is a small room located in Cajamarca, Peru. It is considered by most Peruvian historians to be the place where the Inca Empire came to an end with the capture and eventual execution of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa. Ravines, Rogger ; El cuarto del rescate de Atahualpa, 1532-1986 ; Lima : Instituto Nacional de Cultura, 1987.
When Francisco Pizarro arrived in Cajamarca in November 15, 1532, he sent a messenger to Atahualpa, proposing they both meet outside the Main Plaza. Soon after, Atahualpa agreed and decided to come out but did not reach the place Pizarro asked for, so as to let the Spaniards approach him and his faithful nobles for the meeting. At this point Pizarro decided to send a friar, Vicente de Valverde, along with an interpreter (Felipillo) to speak with Atahualpa. Friar Valverde presented himself to Atahualpa as a man of God, and explained through the interpreter the mysteries of Catholic religion, and that, on account of their heathenism, the pope had granted his kingdom to the Spaniards. Atahualpa professed not to understand the tenor of this discourse, and would not resign his kingdom, saying he would "be no man's tributary." Upon hearing this, the friar is said to have given a Bible to Atahualpa, who, after merely observing it and turning a few pages, threw the holy book on the floor since he had no knowledge of Christianity and did not seem to care. Instead, Atahualpa demanded a full account of the presence of the Spaniards in his land.
The friar, however, did not take any further actions and merely picked up the Bible and left to inform Pizarro of the incident, calling Atahualpa a "dog" and full of pride. He also told Pizarro he suspected the fields around the plaza where the Spaniards were hiding were soon to be invaded by Indians to look for them. At this point Pizarro assessed the situation had come to take over the Main Square by force and he, along with the Spaniards who had been hiding in the surroundings of the square, decided to come out on horseback with firearms, causing many of Atahualpa's army to flee upon hearing the sounds of artillery and muskets.
Many natives (some sources claim thousands) were appalled and died across the plaza as they tried to fight helplessly against the well-armed Spaniards, while many others perished as they tried to escape and were hit by artillery.
Thereafter, Pizarro went on to look for Atahualpa himself, who was surrounded and shielded by his faithful nobles, who, in the end, were also captured by the Spaniards.
It was also during this time that Atahualpa gave orders for the execution of his brother, Huascar, whom he thought was an obstacle to his ruling of the empire. Atahualpa gave these orders thinking the Spaniards would soon leave after further concessions, leaving him ruling alone once again.
Pizarro and the Spanish decided to charge Atahualpa with 12 crimes, the most important being attempting to revolt against the Spanish, practicing idolatry and murdering Huascar, his own brother. Atahualpa was found guilty of all 12 charges, and was sentenced to execution by burning. Atahualpa realized the Spaniards' greed and offered Pizarro to buy his liberty by filling the room where he was kept prisoner with gold and the two following rooms with silver, up to the level of the reach of his arm. After being led to the place of execution, Atahualpa begged for his life. Friar Vicente de Valverde, who before had offered the Bible to Atahualpa, intervened again, telling Atahualpa that if he agreed to convert to Christianity he would persuade the rest to commute his sentence. Atahualpa agreed to be baptized into the Christian faith and, in the end, was strangled instead of being burned,
or rather was strangled just before being burned: this was the mercy the Inquisition granted to heretics that repented of their heresy. Atahualpa died on August 29, 1533.
It is noteworthy that various sources claim the so-called "ransom room" alleged to have been filled with gold was only where Atahualpa was held prisoner, and the real room filled with gold was located at an unconfirmed location .
After Atahualpa was executed, the "Tahuantinsuyo" (Inca Empire) is considered to have reached its end, giving way to the further Spanish conquest of Peru. During 2004, approximately 60,000 tourists visited the site of the ransom room in Cajamarca, Peru .
History of Peru
Spanish conquest of Peru
Prescott, William H. Prescott. The Discovery and Conquest of Peru
Hemming, John, 1973. Conquest of the Incas.
Visiting Peru - Cajamarca, Embassy of Peru (Washington DC)
Catholic Encyclopedia article on Pizarro
History of the Conquest of Peru by William H. Prescott - Online Version from Gutenberg.org
Capture of an Inca King
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