HISTORY OF THE INCA EMPIRE or TAHUANTINSUYO
THE CONQUESTS OF TUPAC YUPANQUI
The Inca armies and the warrior mita (enforced service)
In early years of Inca dominion, the armies were gathered only once the harvests were safely stored away, and the soldiers were accompanied on their campaigns by their wives, called rabonas by the Spaniards, whose duties were to look after and feed their men, as well as cure their battle wounds.
Later on, with territorial expansion, it became impossible to maintain these traditional practices, and regular armies were conscripted by the "warrior mita" system. This system enabled the collection of troops to conquer remote regions like Charcas, Chile and Ecuador, implying for the soldiers years of absence, and sometimes permanent absence from their hometowns.
Tupac Yupanqui organized his armies by squadrons,
according to origin and type of weapons used, putting them under
the orders of captains of the same racial stock. There were soldiers
armed with macanas (spiked clubs), hondas (slings), porras (clubs),
estólicas and others. Musical instruments included drums, seashell
trumpets and flutes.
The soldiers were dressed according to the
fashions of their hometowns, and wore feathered headdresses with
copper, silver or gold bands, according to their ranks in the army.
In some cases, they wore warpaint. Before the attack, they shouted
and sang rude songs to disconcert the enemy. The chroniclers tell
that the shouting was so intense that "the birds would fall to the
One of the young Tupac Yupanqui's first conquests
was in Chincha, where a short time before, general Capac Yupanqui
had carried out a first raid, obtaining recognition of Cusco sovereignty
over the area.
He had also obtained certain advantages, such as
the construction of an aclla huasi with its crew of mamaconas who
sewed clothes and provided drinks for the troops and worship as
part of the reciprocity arrangement, as well as the construction
of a house called Hatun Cancha, as a seat of Inca administration.
Tupac Yupanqui's reign signaled the confirmation
of a reciprocity treaty with the Chinchanos and the Inca demanded
more land for the state. The local curacas preferred accepting the
reciprocity terms to risking a war, which they would probably lose,
and would upset their commercial barter.
This method explains the rapid expansion of the Inca empire, since the mere presence of Cusco troops was often enough for the annexation of the major ethnic groups to Tahuantinsuyo. However, although the system favored the rapid growth of the Inca state, it was also a determining factor of its fragility, since the appearance of Pizarro's hosts was often enough to dissolve the fragile links of reciprocity between ethnical authorities and the Inca sovereigns.
The conquest of Guarco
In the fifteenth century, the curaca of Guarco was renowned for his bellicosity. His valley was defended by several fortresses and a surrounding wall that stood in the way of any attack.
The Inca armies had followed the road from the sierra along the river bed and had easily obtained the surrender of the small kingdom of Lunahuaná. Quite different was the attitude of the Guarcos, who resisted during three or four years.
In this attack one can observe the first Inca strategies that were ineffective, as they only fought in winter due to a fear of summer heat. This allowed the coastal tribes to regroup and consolidate their positions.
Chroniclers relate that the chief of the Guarcos was a very beautiful woman, whose coquetry made the colla so jealous that she asked the Inca to leave the quenching of the rebellion in her hands.
Amused by this, the sovereign agreed. The colla sent an embassy to the curaca assuring her that she would retain her position and that all she asked was to be able to celebrate a great festivity in honor of Mama Cocha, the sea. Once the whole population had put out to sea, the Incas entered Guarco silently, taking over the deserted kingdom.
Tupac Yupanqui enters Pachacamac
The young Inca co-regent arrived with his troops at Pachacamac, but approached the sanctuary as a pilgrim after going on a prolonged fast. The prophecy of the oracle promised him many triumphs and new conquests.
Despite his devotion, the prince ordered the building of a Sun temple to be called Punchao Cancha or Daylight Enclosure, to counteract the influence of the god Pachacamac, god of night and darkness. The temple had to be higher than the old coastal sanctuary to show the superiority of the Sun. The priests had no choice but to obey the Inca.
After a time, the young Inca decided to try his luck in the jungle region, perhaps so as to ensure a supply of coca. For the purpose, he divided his forces into three armies, and with great effort they penetrated the Amazonian jungle on an expedition of conquest (Sarmiento de Gamboa, chap. 49). According to the chronicler, the inhabitants of Collasuyo took advantage of the rumors that Tupac Yupanqui had died in hands of rebels.
Once Tupac was apprised of the situation, he hurriedly left the jungle to march against the collas. After squashing the uprising and showing his powerful army in Charcas, he headed for Chile to conquer the southern region. After a few years, Tupac made a triumphal return to Cusco. His brother Otorongo Achachi, who he had left in the jungle to pacify the region and enforce Cusco organization on the locals, was waiting for him. Together they made a triumphal entry into Cusco.