On this day in 1532, Spanish explorer, conquistador and creep Francisco Pizarro springs a trap on the Incan emperor, Atahualpa. With fewer than 200 men against several thousand, Pizarro appeals to Atahualpa’s vanity, lures the Incan icon to a feast fit for the king and opens fire on the unarmed Incas. Pizarro’s men massacre nearly all in the retinue and capture Atahualpa.
Exploiting the now-hapless Incan ruler to maximum effect, Pizarro uses Atahualpa to incite and pacify, extorts tons of gold from him, and forces him to convert to Christianity before promptly killing him. Initially, Atahualpa was to be burned at the stake—the Spanish believed this to be a fitting death for a heathen—but at the last moment, Friar Valverde offered the emperor clemency if he would convert. Atahualpa submitted, only to be executed by strangulation.
Fighting between the Spanish and the Incas would continue well after Atahualpa’s death as Spain consolidated its conquests. Pizarro’s bold and craven victories, however, effectively marked the end of the Inca Empire and the beginning of the European colonization of South America.
And here endeth the lesson.