Today we continue the BBC Conquistadors series with episode 2, chronicling the Inca Empire of South America and its conquest by the Pizarro brothers, who seemed to fight everybody–the Incas, the neighboring tribes, and each other.
From 1528 to the 1570s, the Spanish would engage in a long, protracted period of conquest over the most vast empire in the Western Hemisphere. When Francisco Pizarro and his brothers Gonzalo, Juan and Hernando arrive in Peru, the timing was perfect: the last emperor of the Inca, or Sapa Inca, had died from smallpox, and a civil war raged between his two sons, Atahualpa and Huascar.
The Pizarros exploited this division of power, taking sides in the civil war and capturing the victor, Atahualpa. Their subsequent reign was marked by widespread bloodshed, corruption, massive exploitation of gold and silver reserves in Peru and surrounding areas, and internecine warfare between the Pizarros and the subsequent Spanish officials sent to calm the situation.
As before, Michael Wood uses the lens of modern Peru as his focal point in retelling the Inca tragedy. Enjoy this episode with your students–and definitely give a loud Bronx cheer to the Pizarro brothers, a few of the truly bad guys in history.