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History of the Conquest of Peru

Edited by: Robert Guisepi

2002

 

View Of The Civilization Of The Incas.

Author:      Prescott, William H.

 

Part I

Physical Aspect Of The Country. - Sources Of Peruvian Civilization. - Empire

Of The Incas. - Royal Family. - Nobility.

 

     Of the numerous nations which occupied the great American continent at

the time of its discovery by the Europeans, the two most advanced in power and

refinement were undoubtedly those of Mexico and Peru.  But, though resembling

one another in extent of civilization, they differed widely as to the nature

of it; and the philosophical student of his species may feel a natural

curiosity to trace the different steps by which these two nations strove to

emerge from the state of barbarism, and place themselves on a higher point in

the scale of humanity. - In a former work I have endeavoured to exhibit the

institutions and character of the ancient Mexicans, and the story of their

conquest by the Spaniards.  The present will be devoted to the Peruvians; and,

if their history shall be found to present less strange anomalies and striking

contrasts than that of the Aztecs, it may interest us quite as much by the

pleasing picture it offers of a well-regulated government and sober habits of

industry under the patriarchal sway of the Incas.

 

     The empire of Peru, at the period of the Spanish invasion, stretched

along the Pacific from about the second degree north to the thirty-seventh

degree of south latitude; a line, also, which describes the western boundaries

of the modern republics of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chili.  Its breadth

cannot so easily be determined; for, though bounded everywhere by the great

ocean on the west, towards the east it spread out, in many parts, considerably

beyond the mountains, to the confines of barbarous states, whose exact

position is undetermined, or whose names are effaced from the map of history.

It is certain, however, that its breadth was altogether disproportioned to its

length. ^1

 

[Footnote 1: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 65. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica del

Peru, (Anvers, 1554,) cap. 41. - Garcilasso de la Vega, Commentarios Reales,

(Lisboa, 1609,) Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.

 

     According to the last authority, the empire, in its greatest breadth, did

not exceed one hundred and twenty leagues.  But Garcilasso's geography will

not bear criticism.]

 

     The topographical aspect of the country is very remarkable.  A strip of

land, rarely exceeding twenty leagues in width, runs along the coast, and is

hemmed in through its whole extent by a colossal range of mountains, which,

advancing from the Straits of Magellan, reaches its highest elevation -

indeed, the highest on the American continent - about the seventeenth degree

south, ^2 and, after crossing the line, gradually subsides into hills of

inconsiderable magnitude, as it enters the Isthmus of Panama.  This is the

famous Cordillera of the Andes, or "copper mountains," ^3 as termed by the

natives, though they might with more reason have been called "mountains of

gold." Arranged sometimes in a single line, though more frequently in two or

three lines running parallel or obliquely to each other, they seem to the

voyager on the ocean but one continuous chain; while the huge volcanoes, which

to the inhabitants of the table-land look like solitary and independent

masses, appear to him only like so many peaks of the same vast and magnificent

range.  So immense is the scale on which Nature works in these regions, that

it is only when viewed from a great distance, that the spectator can, in any

degree, comprehend the relation of the several parts to the stupendous whole.

Few of the works of Nature, indeed, are calculated to produce impressions of

higher sublimity than the aspect of this coast, as it is gradually unfolded to

the eye of the mariner sailing on the distant waters of the Pacific; where

mountain is seen to rise above mountain, and Chimborazo, with its glorious

canopy of snow, glittering far above the clouds, crowns the whole as with a

celestial diadem. ^4

 

[Footnote 2: According to Malte-Brun, it is under the equator that we meet

with the loftiest summits of this chain.  (Universal Geography, Eng. trans.,

book 86.) But more recent measurements have shown this to be between fifteen

and seventeen degrees south, where the Nevado de Sorata rises to the enormous

height of 25,250 feet, and the Illimani to 24,300.]

 

[Footnote 3: At least, the word anta, which has been thought to furnish the

etymology of Andes, in the Peruvian tongue, signified "copper." Garcilasso,

Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 15.]

 

[Footnote 4: Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres et Monumens des Peuples Indigenes

de l'Amerique, (Paris, 1810,) p. 106. - Malte-Brun, book 88.

 

     The few brief sketches which M. de Humboldt has given of the scenery of

the Cordilleras, showing the hand of a great painter, as well as of a

philosopher, make us regret the more, that he has not given the results of his

observations in this interesting region as minutely as he has done in respect

to Mexico.]

 

     The face of the country would appear to be peculiarly unfavorable to the

purposes both of agriculture and of internal communication.  The sandy strip

along the coast, where rain rarely falls, is fed only by a few scanty streams,

that furnish a remarkable contrast to the vast volumes of water which roll

down the eastern sides of the Cordilleras into the Atlantic.  The precipitous

steeps of the sierra, with its splintered sides of porphyry and granite, and

its higher regions wrapped in snows that never melt under the fierce sun of

the equator, unless it be from the desolating action of its own volcanic

fires, might seem equally unpropitious to the labors of the husbandman.  And

all communication between the parts of the long-extended territory might be

thought to be precluded by the savage character of the region, broken up by

precipices, furious torrents, and impassable quebradas, - those hideous rents

in the mountain chain, whose depths the eye of the terrified traveller, as he

winds along his aerial pathway, vainly endeavours to fathom. ^5 Yet the

industry, we might almost say, the genius, of the Indian was sufficient to

overcome all these impediments of Nature.

 

[Footnote 5: "These crevices are so deep," says M. de Humboldt, with his usual

vivacity of illustration, "that if Vesuvius or the Puy de Dome were seated in

the bottom of them, they would not rise above the level of the ridges of the

neighbouring sierra" Vues des Cordilleres, p. 9.]

 

     By a judicious system of canals and subterraneous aqueducts, the waste

places on the coast were refreshed by copious streams, that clothed them in

fertility and beauty.  Terraces were raised upon the steep sides of the

Cordillera; and, as the different elevations had the effect of difference of

latitude, they exhibited in regular gradation every variety of vegetable form,

from the stimulated growth of the tropics, to the temperate products of a

northern clime; while flocks of llamas - the Peruvian sheep - wandered with

their shepherds over the broad, snow-covered wastes on the crests of the

sierra, which rose beyond the limits of cultivation.  An industrious

population settled along the lofty regions of the plateaus, and towns and

hamlets, clustering amidst orchards and wide-spreading gardens, seemed

suspended in the air far above the ordinary elevation of the clouds. ^6

Intercourse was maintained between these numerous settlements by means of the

great roads which traversed the mountain passes, and opened an easy

communication between the capital and the remotest extremities of the empire.

 

[Footnote 6: The plains of Quito are at the height of between nine and ten

thousand feet above the sea.  (See Condamine, Journal d'un Voyage a

l'Equateur, (Paris, 1751,) p. 48.) Other valleys or plateaus in this vast

group of mountains reach a still higher elevation.]

 

     The source of this civilization is traced to the valley of Cuzco, the

central region of Peru, as its name implies. ^7 The origin of the Peruvian

empire, like the origin of all nations, except the very few which, like our

own, have had the good fortune to date from a civilized period and people, is

lost in the mists of fable, which, in fact, have settled as darkly round its

history as round that of any nation, ancient or modern, in the Old World.

According to the tradition most familiar to the European scholar, the time

was, when the ancient races of the continent were all plunged in deplorable

barbarism; when they worshipped nearly every object in nature

indiscriminately; made war their pastime, and feasted on the flesh of their

slaughtered captives.  The Sun, the great luminary and parent of mankind,

taking compassion on their degraded condition, sent two of his children, Manco

Capac and Mama Oello Huaco, to gather the natives into communities, and teach

them the arts of civilized life.  The celestial pair, brother and sister,

husband and wife, advanced along the high plains in the neighbourhood of Lake

Titicaca, to about the sixteenth degree south.  They bore with them a golden

wedge, and were directed to take up their residence on the spot where the

sacred emblem should without effort sink into the ground.  They proceeded

accordingly but a short distance, as far as the valley of Cuzco, the spot

indicated by the performance of the miracle, since there the wedge speedily

sank into the earth and disappeared for ever.  Here the children of the Sun

established their residence, and soon entered upon their beneficent mission

among the rude inhabitants of the country; Manco Capac teaching the men the

arts of agriculture, and Mama Oello ^8 initiating her own sex in the mysteries

of weaving and spinning.  The simple people lent a willing ear to the

messengers of Heaven, and, gathering together in considerable numbers, laid

the foundations of the city of Cuzco.  The same wise and benevolent maxims,

which regulated the conduct of the first Incas, ^9 descended to their

successors, and under their mild sceptre a community gradually extended itself

along the broad surface of the table-land, which asserted its superiority over

the surrounding tribes.  Such is the pleasing picture of the origin of the

Peruvian monarchy, as portrayed by Garcilasso de la Vega, the descendant of

the Incas, and through him made familiar to the European reader. ^10

 

[Footnote 7: "Cuzco, in the language of the Incas," says Garcilasso,

"signifies navel." Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 18.]

 

[Footnote 8: Mama, with the Peruvians, signified "mother." (Garcilasso, Com.

Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 1.) The identity of this term with that used by

Europeans is a curious coincidence.  It is scarcely less so, however, than

that of the corresponding word, papa, which with the ancient Mexicans denoted

a priest of high rank; reminding us of the papa, "pope," of the Italians. With

both, the term seems to embrace in its most comprehensive sense the paternal

relation, in which it is more familiarly employed by most of the nations of

Europe.  Nor was the use of it limited to modern times, being applied in the

same way both by Greeks and Romans.]

 

[Footnote 9: Inca signified king or lord.  Capac meant great or powerful. It

was applied to several of the successors of Manco, in the same manner as the

epithet Yupanqui, signifying rich in all virtues, was added to the names of

several Incas.  (Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 41. - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,

Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 17.) The good qualities commemorated by the cognomens of

most of the Peruvian princes afford an honorable, though not altogether

unsuspicious, tribute to the excellence of their characters.]

 

[Footnote 10: Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 9 - 16.]

 

     But this tradition is only one of several current among the Peruvian

Indians, and probably not the one most generally received.  Another legend

speaks of certain white and bearded men, who, advancing from the shores of

lake Titicaca, established an ascendency over the natives, and imparted to

them the blessings of civilization.  It may remind us of the tradition

existing among the Aztecs in respect to Quetzalcoatl, the good deity, who with

a similar garb and aspect came up the great plateau from the east on a like

benevolent mission to the natives.  The analogy is the more remarkable, as

there is no trace of any communication with, or even knowledge of, each other

to be found in the two nations. ^11

 

[Footnote 11: These several traditions, all of a very puerile character, are

to be found in Ondegardo, Relacion Segunda, Ms., - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms.,

cap. 1, - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 105, - Conquista i Poblacion del Piru,

Ms., - Declaracion de los Presidente e Oydores de la Audiencia Reale del Peru,

Ms., - all of them authorities contemporary with the Conquest.  The story of

the bearded white men finds its place in most of their legends.]

 

     The date usually assigned for these extraordinary events was about four

hundred years before the coming of the Spaniards, or early in the twelfth

century. ^12 But, however pleasing to the imagination, and however popular,

the legend of Manco Capac, it requires but little reflection to show its

improbability, even when divested of supernatural accompaniments.  On the

shores of Lake Titicaca extensive ruins exist at the present day, which the

Peruvians themselves acknowledge to be of older date than the pretended advent

of the Incas, and to have furnished them with the models of their

architecture. ^13 The date of their appearance, indeed, is manifestly

irreconcilable with their subsequent history.  No account assigns to the Inca

dynasty more than thirteen princes before the Conquest.  But this number is

altogether too small to have spread over four hundred years, and would not

carry back the foundations of the monarchy, on any probable computation beyond

two centuries and a half, - an antiquity not incredible in itself, and which,

it may be remarked, does not precede by more than half a century the alleged

foundation of the capital of Mexico.  The fiction of Manco Capac and his

sister-wife was devised, no doubt, at a later period, to gratify the vanity of

the Peruvian monarchs, and to give additional sanction to their authority by

deriving it from a celestial origin.

 

[Footnote 12: Some writers carry back the date 500, or even 550, years before

the Spanish invasion.  (Balboa, Histoire du Perou, chap. 1. - Velasco,

Histoire du Royaume de Quito, tom. I. p. 81. - Ambo auct. ap. Relations et

Memoires Originaux pour servir a l'Histoire de la Decouverte de l'Amerique,

par Ternaux-Compans, (Paris, 1840.)) In the Report of the Royal Audience of

Peru, the epoch is more modestly fixed at 200 years before the Conquest.  Dec.

de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

 

[Footnote 13: "Otras cosas ay mas que dezir deste Tiaguanaco, que passo por no

detenerme: concluyedo que yo para mi tengo esta antigualla por la mas antigua

de todo el Peru.  Y assi se tiene que antes q los Ingas reynassen con muchos

tiempos estavan hechos algunos edificios destos: porque yo he oydo afirmar a

Indios, que los Ingas hizieron los edificios grandes del Cuzco por la forma

que vieron tener la muralla o pared que se vee en este pueblo." (Cieza de

Leon, Cronica, cap. 105.) See also Garcilasso, (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 3,

cap. 1,) who gives an account of these remains, on the authority of a Spanish

ecclesiastic, which might compare, for the marvellous, with any of the legends

of his order.  Other ruins of similar traditional antiquity are noticed by

Herrera, (Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas y

Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano, (Madrid, 1730,) dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 9.)

McCulloch, in some sensible reflections on the origin of the Peruvian

civilization, adduces, on the authority of Garcilasso de la Vega, the famous

temple of Pachacamac, not far from Lima, as an example of architecture more

ancient than that of the Incas.  (Researches, Philosophical and Antiquarian,

concerning the Aboriginal History of America, (Baltimore, 1829,) p. 405.)

This, if true, would do much to confirm the views in our text.  But McCulloh

is led into an error by his blind guide, Rycaut, the translator of Garcilasso,

for the latter does not speak of the temple as existing before the time of the

Incas, but before the time when the country was conquered by the Incas.  Com.

Real., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 30.]

 

     We may reasonably conclude that there existed in the country a race

advanced in civilization before the time of the Incas; and, in conformity with

nearly every tradition, we may derive this race from the neighborhood of Lake

Titicaca; ^14 a conclusion strongly confirmed by the imposing architectural

remains which still endure, after the lapse of so many years, on its borders.

Who this race were, and whence they came, may afford a tempting theme for

inquiry to the speculative antiquarian.  But it is a land of darkness that

lies far beyond the domain of history. ^15

 

[See Antiquities: Artistic handicrafts of the ancient people of Peru]

 

[Footnote 14: Among other authorities for this tradition, see Sarmiento,

Relacion, Ms., cap. 3, 4, - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 6, -

Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms., - Zarate, Historia del Descubrimiento y de la

Conquista del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 10, ap. Barcia, Historiadores Primitivos de

las Indias Occidentales, (Madrid, 1749,) tom. 3.

 

     In most, not all, of the traditions, Manco Capac is recognized as the

name of the founder of the Peruvian monarchy, though his history and character

are related with sufficient discrepancy.]

 

[Footnote 15: Mr. Ranking,

     "Who can deep mysteries unriddle,

     As easily as thread a needle,"

 

finds it "highly probable that the first Inca of Peru was a son of the Grand

Khan Kublai"!  (Historical Researches on the Conquest of Peru, &c., by the

Moguls, (London, 1827,) p. 170.) The coincidences are curious, though we shall

hardly jump at the conclusion of the adventurous author.  Every scholar will

agree with Humboldt, in the wish that "some learned traveller would visit the

borders of the lake of Titicaca, the district of Callao, and the high plains

of Tiahuanaco, the theatre of the ancient American civilization." (Vues des

Cordilleres, p. 199.) And yet the architectural monuments of the aborigines,

hitherto brought to light, have furnished few materials for a bridge of

communications across the dark gulf that still separates the Old World from

the New.]

 

     The same mists that hang round the origin of the Incas continue to settle

on their subsequent annals; and, so imperfect were the records employed by the

Peruvians, and so confused and contradictory their traditions, that the

historian finds no firm footing on which to stand till within a century of the

Spanish conquest. ^16 At first, the progress of the Peruvians seems to have

been sow, and almost imperceptible.  By their wise and temperate policy, they

gradually won over the neighbouring tribes to their dominion, as these latter

became more and more convinced of the benefits of a just and well-regulated

government.  As they grew stronger, they were enabled to rely more directly on

force; but, still advancing under cover of the same beneficent pretexts

employed by their predecessors, they proclaimed peace and civilization at the

point of the sword.  The rude nations of the country, without any principle of

cohesion among themselves, fell one after another before the victorious arm of

the Incas.  Yet it was not till the middle of the fifteenth century that the

famous Topa Inca Yupanqui, grandfather of the monarch who occupied the throne

at the coming of the Spaniards, led his armies across the terrible desert of

Atacama, and, penetrating to the southern region of Chili, fixed the permanent

boundary of his dominions at the river Maule.  His son, Huayna Capac,

possessed of ambition and military talent fully equal to his father's marched

along the Cordillera towards the north, and, pushing his conquests across the

equator, added the powerful kingdom of Quito to the empire of Peru. ^17

 

[Footnote 16: A good deal within a century, to say truth.  Garcilasso and

Sarmiento, for example, the two ancient authorities in highest repute, have

scarcely a point of contact in their accounts of the earlier Peruvian princes;

the former representing the sceptre as gliding down in peaceful succession

from hand to hand, through an unbroken dynasty, while the latter garnishes his

tale with as many conspiracies, depositions, and revolutions, as belong to

most barbarous, and, unhappily, most civilized communities. When to these two

are added the various writers, contemporary and of the succeeding age, who

have treated of the Peruvian annals, we shall find ourselves in such a

conflict of traditions, that criticism is lost in conjecture.  Yet this

uncertainty as to historical events fortunately does not extend to the history

of arts and institutions, which were in existence on the arrival of the

Spaniards.]

 

[Footnote 17: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 57, 64. - Conq. i. Pob. del Piru,

Ms. - Velasco, Hist. de Quito, p. 59. - Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. -

Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 7, cap. 18, 19; lib. 8, cap. 5-8.

 

     The last historian, and, indeed, some others, refer the conquest of Chili

to Yupanqui, the father of Topa Inca.  The exploits of the two monarchs are so

blended together by the different annalists, as in a manner to confound their

personal identity.]

 

     The ancient city of Cuzco, meanwhile, had been gradually advancing in

wealth and population, till it had become the worthy metropolis of a great and

flourishing monarchy.  It stood in a beautiful valley on an elevated region of

the plateau, which, among the Alps, would have been buried in eternal snows,

but which within the tropics enjoyed a genial and salubrious temperature.

Towards the north it was defended by a lofty eminence, a spur of the great

Cordillera; and the city was traversed by a river, or rather a small stream,

over which bridges of timber, covered with heavy slabs of stone, furnished an

easy means of communication with the opposite banks.  The streets were long

and narrow; the houses low, and those of the poorer sort built of clay and

reeds.  But Cuzco was the royal residence, and was adorned with the ample

dwellings of the great nobility; and the massy fragments still incorporated in

many of the modern edifices bear testimony to the size and solidity of the

ancient. ^18

 

[Footnote 18: Garcilasso, Com. Real., lib. 7, cap. 8-11. - Cieza de Leon,

Cronica, cap. 92.

 

     "El Cuzco tuuo gran manera y calidad, deuio ser fundada por gente de gran

ser.  Auia grandes calles, saluo q era angostas, y las casas hechas de piedra

pura co tan lindas junturas, q illustra el antiguedad del edificio, pues

estauan piedras tan grades muy bien assentadas." (Ibid., ubi supra.) Compare

with this Miller's account of the city, as existing at the present day.  "The

walls of many of the houses have remained unaltered for centuries. The great

size of the stones, the variety of their shapes, and the inimitable

workmanship they display, give to the city that interesting air of antiquity

and romance, which fills the mind with pleasing though painful veneration."

Memoirs of Gen. Miller in the Service of the Republic of Peru, (London, 1829,

2d ed.) vol. II. p. 225.]

 

     The health of the city was promoted by spacious openings and squares, in

which a numerous population from the capital and the distant country assembled

to celebrate the high festivals of their religion.  For Cuzco was the "Holy

City"; ^19 and the great temple of the Sun, to which pilgrims resorted from

the furthest borders of the empire, was the most magnificent structure in the

New World, and unsurpassed, probably, in the costliness of its decorations by

any building in the Old.

 

[Footnote 19: "La Imperial Ciudad de Cozco, que la adoravan los Indios, como a

Cosa Sagrada." Garcilasso, Com. Real., parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 20. - Also

Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]

 

     Towards the north, on the sierra or rugged eminence already noticed, rose

a strong fortress, the remains of which at the present day, by their vast

size, excite the admiration of the traveller. ^20 It was defended by a single

wall of great thickness, and twelve hundred feet long on the side facing the

city, where the precipitous character of the ground was of itself almost

sufficient for its defence.  On the other quarter, where the approaches were

less difficult, it was protected by two other semicircular walls of the same

length as the preceding.  They were separated, a considerable distance from

one another and from the fortress; and the intervening ground was raised so

that the walls afforded a breastwork for the troops stationed there in times

of assault.  The fortress consisted of three towers, detached from one

another.  One was appropriated to the Inca, and was garnished with the

sumptuous decorations befitting a royal residence, rather than a military

post.  The other two were held by the garrison, drawn from the Peruvian

nobles, and commanded by an officer of the blood royal; for the position was

of too great importance to be intrusted to inferior hands.  The hill was

excavated below the towers, and several subterraneous galleries communicated

with the city and the palaces of the Inca. ^21

 

[Footnote 20: See, among others, the Memoirs, above cited, of Gen. Miller,

which contain a minute and very interesting notice of modern Cuzco.  (Vol. II.

p. 223, et seq.) Ulloa, who visited the country in the middle of the last

century, is unbounded in his expressions of admiration.  Voyage to South

America, Eng. trans., (London, 1806,) book VII. ch. 12.]

 

[Footnote 21: Betanzos, Suma y Narracion de los Yngas, Ms., cap. 12. -

Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 1, iib. 7, cap. 27-29.

 

     The demolition of the fortress, begun immediately after the Conquest,

provoked the remonstrance of more than one enlightened Spaniard, whose voice,

however, was impotent against the spirit of cupidity and violence.  See

Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 48.]

 

     The fortress, the walls, and the galleries were all built of stone, the

heavy blocks of which were not laid in regular courses, but so disposed that

the small ones might fill up the interstices between the great.  They formed a

sort of rustic work, being rough-hewn except towards the edges, which were

finely wrought; and, though no cement was used, the several blocks were

adjusted with so much exactness and united so closely, that it was impossible

to introduce even the blade of knife between them. ^22 Many of these stones

were of vast size; some of them being full thirty-eight feet long, by eighteen

broad, and six feet thick. ^23

 

[Footnote 22: Ibid., ubi supra. - Inscripciones, Medallas, Templos, Edificios,

Antiguedades, y Monumentos del Peru, Ms.  This manuscript, which formerly

belonged to Dr. Robertson, and which is now in the British Museum, is the work

of some unknown author, somewhere probably about the time of Charles III.; a

period when, as the sagacious scholar to whom I am indebted for a copy of it

remarks, a spirit of sounder criticism was visible in the Castilian

historians.]

 

[Footnote 23: Acosta, Naturall and Morall Historie of the East and West

Indies, Eng. trans., (London, 1604,) lib. 6, cap. 14. - He measured the stones

himself. - See also Garcilasso, Com. Real., loc. cit.]

 

     We are filled with astonishment, when we consider, that these enormous

masses were hewn from their native bed and fashioned into shape, by a people

ignorant of the use of iron; that they were brought from quarries, from four

to fifteen leagues distant, ^24 without the aid of beasts of burden; were

transported across rivers and ravines, raised to their elevated position on

the sierra, and finally adjusted there with the nicest accuracy, without the

knowledge of tools and machinery familiar to the European.  Twenty thousand

men are said to have been employed on this great structure, and fifty years

consumed in the building. ^25 However this may be, we see in it the workings

of a despotism which had the lives and fortunes of its vassals at its absolute

disposal, and which, however mild in its general character, esteemed these

vassals, when employed in its service, as lightly as the brute animals for

which they served as a substitute.

 

[Footnote 24: Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 93. - Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.

 

     Many hundred blocks of granite may still be seen, it is said, in an

unfinished state, in a quarry near Cuzco.]

 

[Footnote 25: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 48. - Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms. -

Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 7, cap. 27, 28.

 

     The Spaniards, puzzled by the execution of so great a work with such

apparently inadequate means, referred it all, in their summary way, to the

Devil; an opinion which Garcilasso seems willing to indorse.  The author of

the Antig y Monumentos del Peru, Ms., rejects this notion with becoming

gravity.]

 

     The fortress of Cuzco was but part of a system of fortifications

established throughout their dominions by the Incas.  This system formed a

prominent feature in their military policy; but before entering on this

latter, it will be proper to give the reader some view of their civil

institutions and scheme of government.

 

     The sceptre of the Incas, if we may credit their historian, descended in

unbroken succession from father to son, through their whole dynasty. Whatever

we may think of this, it appears probable that the right of inheritance might

be claimed by the eldest son of the Coya, or lawful queen, as she was styled,

to distinguish her from the host of concubines who shared the affections of

the sovereign. ^26 The queen was further distinguished, at least in later

reigns, by the circumstance of being selected from the sisters of the Inca, an

arrangement which, however revolting to the ideas of civilized nations, was

recommended to the Peruvians by its securing an heir to the crown of the pure

heaven-born race, uncontaminated by any mixture of earthly mould. ^27

 

[Footnote 26: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 7. - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,

Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 26.

 

     Acosta speaks of the eldest brother of the Inca as succeeding in

preference to the son.  (lib. 6, cap. 12.) He may have confounded the Peruvian

with the Aztec usage.  The Report of the Royal Audience states that a brother

succeeded in default of a son.  Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

 

[Footnote 27: "Et soror et conjux." - According to Garcilasso the

heir-apparent always married a sister.  (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 9.)

Ondegardo notices this as an innovation at the close of the fifteenth century.

(Relacion Primera, Ms.) The historian of the Incas, however, is confirmed in

his extra-ordinary statement by Sarmiento.  Relacion, Ms., cap. 7.]

 

     In his early years, the royal offspring was intrusted to the care of the

amautas, or "wise men," as the teachers of Peruvian science were called, who

instructed him in such elements of knowledge as they possessed, and especially

in the cumbrous ceremonial of their religion, in which he was to take a

prominent part.  Great care was also bestowed on his military education, of

the last importance in a state which, with its professions of peace and

good-will, was ever at war for the acquisition of empire.

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