Túpac Amaru

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Túpac Amaru, also called Thupa Amaro (Thupaq Amaru in modern Quechua) (died 1572), was the last indigenous leader of the Inca state in Peru.



Following the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire in the 1530s, a few members of the royal family established a small independent state in Vilcabamba, in the relatively inaccessible Upper Amazon to the northeast of Cusco. The founder of this so-called Neo-Inca state was Manco Inca Yupanqui (also known as Manco Cápac II), who had initially allied himself with the Spanish, then led an unsuccessful war against them before establishing himself in Vilcabamba in 1540. After a Spanish attack in 1544 in which Manco Inca Yupanqui was killed, his son Sayri Tupac assumed the title of Sapa Inca (emperor, literally "only Inca"), before accepting Spanish authority in 1558, moving to Cuzco, and dying (perhaps by poison) in 1561. He was succeeded in Vilcabamba by his brother Titu Cusi, who himself died in 1571. Túpac Amaru, another brother of the two preceding emperors, then succeeded to the title in Vilcabamba.

Final war with Spain

At this time the Spanish were still unaware of the death of the previous Sapa Inca (Cápac) and had routinely sent two ambassadors to continue ongoing negotiations being held with Titu Cusi. They were both killed on the border by an Inca captain.

Using the justification that the Incas had "broken the inviolate law observed by all nations of the world regarding ambassadors" the new Viceroy, Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa, decided to attack and conquer Vilcabamba. He declared war on April 14, 1572. Within two weeks a small party of Spanish soldiers had captured a key bridge on the border and from here Toledo assembled his army.

On June 1, the first engagement of the war commenced in the Vilcabamba valley. The Inca people attacked first with much spirit despite being only lightly armed. Again and again, they attempted to lift the siege held by the Spanish and their native allies but each time they were forced to retreat. On June 23 the fort of Huayna Pucará surrendered to Spanish artillery fire. The Inca army now in retreat opted to abandon their last city and head for the jungle to regroup. On June 24 the Spanish entered Vilcabamba to find it deserted and the Sapa Inca gone. The city had been entirely destroyed, and the Inca Empire, or what was left of it, officially ceased to exist.

Flight from Vilcabamba

Túpac Amaru had left the previous day with a party of about 100 and headed west into the lowland forests. The group, which included his generals and family members, had then split up into smaller parties in an attempt to avoid capture.

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