Mesoamerican and South American Mythologies: Maya, Aztec, Inca

The Inca

Who were the Inca?

An Andean people, of uncertain origin, the Inca can be traced at least as far back as the twelfth century C.E. By the mid-fifteenth century they were the most powerful group in South America, with their capital at Cusco and with many highly developed settlements in the Inca Valley and elsewhere nearby, especially the spectacular one at Machu Pichu.

A leader known as Manco Cápac was the founder of the Kingdom of Cusco. It was he, followed by a leader, Pachacuti, known as “The Earth Shaker,” who began the process by which the Inca became dominant, controlling what are today Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and parts of Chile. Inca kings were known as “the Inca.” Among the most powerful of these was Túpac Inca Yupanqui and his son Huayna Cápac. By the time of the arrival of the Spanish, led by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, there were troubles in the Inca Empire. A civil war had broken out between the sons of Huayna Cápac. It was the son named Atahualpa who prevailed, and it was he who negotiated with the small but well-armed Spanish army in 1532 C.E. Imprisoned as a hostage, Atahualpa was eventually executed by the Spanish, who installed Atahualpa’s brother Manco Inca Yupanqui as a puppet ruler. Finally, after putting down several rebellions, the Spanish defeated the army of the last Inca emperor, Túpac Amaru, in 1572.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Mythology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App