We will go down in history either as the world’s greatest statesmen or its worst villains – Hermann Göring
What this quote means is, as Winston Churchill best put it, “History is Written by the Victor”. This history does not necessarily have to be true either as it will most likely fit the agenda of the victorious party. A good example of this is how the Spaniards succeeded in taking over the Inca Empire.
During the lecture, Professor O’Toole mentioned some myths that were passed off as truth. One of the myths involved how the Incas thought that the Spaniards were gods and another how the Spaniards had superior weaponry. These two myths are not completely true in the way the Spaniards wanted people to believe.
The Incas saw the Spaniards as some form of God due to their white skin and the fact that one of them, Francisco Pizzaro, was riding a horse. It is now known that this idea is a purely Eurocentric idea. Through the usage of the word viracocha, many sources of this Eurocentric idea attempt to pass off how Andean people viewed the Spaniards as a divine “White God”. This idea is a post-conquest invention. Usage of the word originally meant the divine figure the Incas worshiped but soon changed to a different meaning. The meaning changed from God to someone who was different due to how quickly the Incas realized that the Spaniards were humans.
“They’re not professional soldiers, but mercenaries and adventurers”
The Inca Empire was already weak due to the civil war it suffered when Huayna Capac died along with his eldest son from the diseases that Pizarro brought from Europe. Capac’s two sons, Atahualpa and Huascar, then proceeded to fight each other for control of the throne. It so happened that Pizarro lucked out and came across the Inca Empire as the Civil War was finishing.
The second myth about how the Spaniards had superior weaponry was partly true. The Incas had a major disadvantage fighting the Spaniards. Their weaponry was not as powerful as the Spaniard’s but the main thing that kept the Spaniards on top was their armor. The Eurocentric idea would like people to believe that the Incas fell to the firepower of the harquebus, the powerful Spanish steel sword, and their horseback prowess. The 15th century harquebus took a very long time to reload, had poor accuracy, and had existed in a small number. Due to the small number of Spaniards and lack of professional military training, the musket ended up being used as a club after firing once. The Spanish sword (Toledo Sword) was strong and could kill many Incas but the Incas could actually destroy the swords with a warak’a (sling). The Spaniard’s ability to use horses aided their combat strength but the Incas countered it with the usage of bolas. The reason the Spaniards were more successful in combat was not because of their superior weaponry but the fact that the Spaniards got assistance from the other Andean tribes. Pizarro’s concubine, Quispe Sisa, had appealed to her mother, the curaca of Huaylas, to help break the siege that Manco Inca had placed the Cuzco under. This was the ultimate driving force that helped the Spaniards conquer the Incas.
But why did these ideas come post-conquest? Most of these ideas stem from Eurocentrism and have been a disproportional aspect in American studies. These ideas only strive to make the Western Aspect seem stronger than it really is and to provide a just cause behind something that was done only for greed.