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| Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of The Inca Empire |

Francisco Pizarro was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Inca Empire and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of Peru.

The first attempt to explore western South America was undertaken in 1522 by Pascual de Andagoya. The native South Americans he encountered told him about a gold-rich territory called Virú, which was on a river called Pirú (later corrupted to Perú) and from which they came. Andagoya eventually established contact with several Native American curacas (chiefs); some of whom he later claimed were sorcerers and witches. Having reached as far as the San Juan River (part of the present boundary between Ecuador and Colombia), Andagoya fell very ill and decided to return. Back in Panama, he spread the news and stories about "Pirú" –- a great land to the South rich with gold (the legendary El Dorado). These revelations caught the immediate attention of Pizarro, prompting a new series of expeditions to the South in search of the riches of the Incan Empire.

On 13 September 1524, the first of three expeditions left from Panama for the conquest of Peru with about 80 men and 40 horses. Pizarro formed a partnership with a priest, Hernado de Luque, and a soldier, Diego de Almagro to lead this expedition. It turned out to be a failure as his conquistadors, sailing down the Pacific coast, reached no farther than Colombia before succumbing to such hardships as bad weather, lack of food, and skirmishes with hostile. Pizarro chose to end his tentative first expedition and return to Panama.

Two years after the first very unsuccessful expedition, Pizarro started the arrangements for a second expedition. In August 1526, after all preparations were ready, Pizarro left Panama with two ships with 160 men and several horses, reaching as far as the Colombian San Juan River.

By April 1528, they finally reached the northwestern Peruvian Tumbes Region. Tumbes became the territory of the first fruits of success the Spanish had so long desired, as they were received with a warm welcome of hospitality and provisions from the Tumpis, the local inhabitants. On subsequent days two of Pizarro’s men reconnoitered the territory and both, on separate accounts, reported back the incredible riches of the land, including the decorations of silver and gold around the chief’s residence and the hospitable attentions, which they received from everyone. The Spanish also saw, for the first time, the Peruvian Llama, which Pizarro called the "little camels". The conquistadors decided to return to Panama to prepare the final expedition of conquest with more recruits and provisions.

This gave Pizarro time to leave for his native Trujillo and convince his brother Hernando Pizzaro and other close friends to join him on his third expedition. Along with him also came Francisco de Orellana, who would later discover and explore the entire length of the Amazon River. Two more of his brothers, Juan Pizarro and Gonzalo Pizzaro, would later decide to also join him as well as his cousin Pedro Pizzaro who served as his page. When the expedition was ready and left the following year, it numbered three ships, one hundred and eighty men, and twenty-seven horses.

Pizarro’s third and final expedition left Panama for Peru on December 27th, 1530.

In 1532 Pizarro once again landed in the coasts near Ecuador, where some gold, silver, and emeralds were procured and then dispatched to Almagro, who had stayed in Panama to gather more recruits. As Tumbes no longer afforded the safe accommodations Pizarro sought, he decided to lead an excursion into the interior of the land and established the first Spanish settlement in Peru (third in South America after Santa Marta, Colombia in 1526), calling it San Miguel de Piura in July 1532. The first repartimiento in Peru was established here.

After marching for almost two months towards Cajamarca, Pizarro and his force of just 106 foot-soldiers and 62 horsemen arrived and initiated proceedings for a meeting with Atahualpa. Pizarro sent Hernando De Soto, friar Vicente de Valverde and native interpreter Felipillo to approach Atahualpa at Cajamarca’s central plaza. Atahualpa, however, refused the Spanish presence in his land by saying he would "be no man’s tributary." His complacency, because there were fewer than 200 Spanish as opposed to his 80,000 soldiers sealed his fate and that of the Incan empire.

Atahualpa’s refusal led Pizarro and his force to attack the Incan army in what became the Battle of Cajamarca on 16 November 1532. The Spanish were successful and Pizarro executed Atahualpa’s 12-man honor guard and took the Inca captive at the so-called ransom room. Despite fulfilling his promise of filling one with gold and two with silver, Atahualpa was convicted of killing his brother and plotting against Pizarro and his forces, and was executed by garrote on 26 July 1533. A year later, Pizarro invaded Cusco with indigenous troops and with it sealed the conquest of Peru. Pizarro founded the city of Lima in Peru’s central coast on 18 January 1535, a foundation that he considered as one of the most important things he had created in life.

After the final effort of the Inca to recover Cusco had been defeated by Almagro, a dispute occurred between him and Pizarro respecting the limits of their jurisdiction. This led to confrontations between the Pizarro brothers and Almagro, who was eventually defeated during the Battle of Las Salinas (1538) and executed. Almagro’s son, also named Diego and known as "El Mozo", was later stripped of his lands and left bankrupt by Pizarro.

In Lima on 26 June 1541 a group of twenty heavily armed supporters of young Almagro stormed Pizarro’s palace, assassinated him, and then forced the terrified city council to appoint young Almagro as the new governor of Peru.

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