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A Divided Kingdom

When I visited Peru I was fascinated by the incredible Incan Empire and how it was conquered by the Spanish. From the battle between two brothers, to the lucky ambush of Atahualpa by Pizzaro, I loved hearing about this dramatic story.

Huayna was the leader of the Incan Empire for 32 years. He died from smallpox which was brought by the Spaniards. Huayna had two sons, Huascar and Atahualpa. When their father was dying, he told them to divide his land; Huascar received Cusco and Atahualpa got Quito.

The two brothers lived in harmony and had an alliance for five years until Huascar decided he wanted it all. Huascar built up a big army to fight his brother in the north, in order to control the entire Incan Empire. Even though Huascar was the attacker, his brother Atahuelpa was able to win the battle and imprison Huascar. Atahualpa was now the ruler of the entire Incan Empire. He soon traveled south to his newly conquered territory named Cosco (today's Cusco, meaning the center) and was enjoying a victorious day at the hot spring spas when his complacency would soon change his fate forever.

Atahualpa's complacency turned out to be the luckiest outcome that Francisco Pizzaro, a Spanish conquistador, could have ever hoped for. Without any regards for potential danger, Atahualpa accepted to meet Pizzaro without knowing that it was an ambush. When Atahualpa came with his few guards, Pizarro and his men gifted him with a Bible and told him that it was the word of God. Atahualpa thought that it was literally the voice of God and lifted the Bible to his ear, expecting to hear something. When he didn't hear anything, he threw the Bible on the ground, upset. This triggered Pizzaro and his men (about 180) to shoot his men and take Atahualpa captive for 2 years.

Pizzaro's luck continued when he was able to make a deal with Atahualpa: his freedom in exchange for one room full of gold and two rooms full of silver (this is still the largest payoff in history). Pizzaro's soldiers soon became afraid of the large Incan army that wanted to free their leader, Atahualpa. Pizzaro's army pressured him to kill Atahualpa, out of fear of the growing Inca army, which he reluctantly agreed to.

When Atahualpa first heard that he was going to be burned alive, he panicked and begged Pizzaro for a different death that would allow for him to be reincarnated. Incas believed that the only way to be reincarnated was to be mummified in fetal position and buried back into the earth. Pizzaro agreed to not burn him only if he converted to Catholicism. Atahualpa agreed, and got a simpler death by strangulation.

This dramatic story is not only fascinating, but has some good lessons to learn from it. One would be to not fight with your brother. Another big lesson would be the dangers of being complacent - especially after victory.