The History Book Club discussion

HISTORY OF LATIN AMERICA > 6. LAST DAYS OF THE INCAS ~ EIGHT – PRELUDE TO REBELLION – (May 12th – May 18th) ~ (165-192) ~ No Spoilers

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message 1: by Mark (new)

Mark | 11 comments Kathy wrote: "Again we see the Spanish greed in this chapter. Almagro and his new men see the wealth of those conquistadors that had received the encomiendas from Pizarro. I think it is no surprise that Almagro ..."

What stands out most for me is how quickly the Spanish elite in Cuzco undermined their "alliance" with Manco, their chosen puppet emperor. It is perplexing to me that Gonzolo basically stole Manco's wife which could only lead to resentment and might sow the seeds of rebellion. It seems a rather poor strategy for a parasite that could easily suck the gold and silver out of the empire from behind the scenes through their chosen leadership chose to bite and bite until the stinging could no longer be tolerated by anyone. Certainly a good deal of hubris on the part of the younger Pizarros. Also, treatment of the native peoples as less than human in some way. Not only was this counterproductive in a very practical sense, but also flew in the face of the tenets of the religious faith that was actively being promoted/evangelized.

It was mentioned earlier on this board that the Spanish were less interested in colonization when comparing the North American experience with the Meso and South American experience of European "discovery". This book mentions numerous times how the Spanish were seeking to build cities like Lima and establish themselves as what seems to me to be permanent residents of a New Spain. Certainly they wanted to extract resources. However, if the native population had not already been so well organized and capable of producing surpluses, then I think the call would have been to emigrate agricultural and working class folks from Europe just as was the case in the US colonies to meet the need.

An interesting comparison would be looking at British India and maybe South Africa and Spanish conquests where a relatively small number of economically-focused Europeans controlled the production by manipulating local labor and societies versus displacement and full scale resettlement of Europeans.

message 2: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 917 comments I was very disappointed to read that Orgonez was a Marrano (a Jew who converted to Christianity) and that his name was Mendez. Actually, Mendez was one of the most common Jewish names in Spain. One of its most famous bearers was Dona Gracia Beatriz Mendez. A good bio on her is. . .

The Woman Who Defied Kings The Life and Times of Doña Gracia Nasi by Andrée Aelion Brooks by (no photo) Andrée Aelion Brooks

message 3: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 917 comments @Kathy - Oops! It doesn't get mentioned until p. 284 in the chapter called "In the Realm of the Antis."

message 4: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 84 comments this was a very interesting chapter. I was really rooting for the incas by the end. I think the treatment of manco really stood out for me. if he treats the emperor like a dog, then the common peasants must have had it really rough.

message 5: by Kressel (last edited May 16, 2014 01:23PM) (new)

Kressel Housman | 917 comments Gonzalo went too far in demanding the queen. That's hubris to the point of obsession. An empire full of women, but he had to have the queen. His selfishness is what finally turned Manco Inca.

message 6: by Stevelee (new)

Stevelee Kathy wrote: "I was impressed really at how easy the secret meetings were arranged. But the spies in the Inca camp surprised me. So some of the natives must have thought that they were better off with the Spanis..."

I am not as far along in this chapter as others but can speculate as to why some might choose to align themselves with the Spanish. The Incas were themselves conquers subjecting many to their rule, which resulted in the removal, likely by violent means, of the local elites, upending long standing social structures. These populations were then placed unwillingly under Inca rule. I am sure there would be no love loss there. Another reason may be that the Spanish appeared invincible – they overthrew and executed the Inca ruler, a living deity; ruthlessly stripped temples of their gold and silver ornamentation, which was associated with the Inca gods; possessed perceived mystical technology; and without hesitation, established themselves as the supreme rulers of the empire. Maybe the choice to align with the winning side was a natural one.


message 7: by Stevelee (last edited May 17, 2014 07:25PM) (new)

Stevelee Something caught my attention toward the end of the chapter, “…April was known as ayrihua – the month in which fifteen llamas were sacrificed in honor of the first llama to appear on earth." (189-190) This got me thinking about why is it that the idea of the religious sacrifice (ritual killing) of animals, and in some cases humans, was so widespread, temporally and geographically. It was practiced by the Norse, the Egyptians, the Aztecs, Romans, Greeks, Hebrews, fanning eastward to Asia with the spread of Islam, and I am sure used in others cultures / religions as well. What is it about this act that links man to God, or the gods.


message 8: by Stevelee (last edited May 17, 2014 09:05PM) (new)

Stevelee I seem to remember from an anthropology class long ago that something universal in cultures were ceremonies to mark some form of marriage/mates and burial/death rites.

message 9: by shescribes (new)

shescribes (iamspartacus) The similarities between the Incas and ancient Egyptians are intriguing (mummification, king ruling as deity incarnated on earth, intramarriage between brothers and sisters to maintain the purity of the royal bloodline). These cultures are on different continents and never crossed paths (to the best of my knowledge).

I am also moved by the disheartening treatment of women. The Spanish lust for power did not stop at silver and gold, but demanded the Inca women (regardless of their marital status) as their own. Talk about barbarism! It is as though the women were trophies or markers of their status and power over the conquered. It seems to be more than just sexual lust, but a lust for dominance perhaps driven by their own inferiority complexes. In Spain they had no status and no opportunity. Yet, in Peru they could reinvent themselves into a master elite.

I continue to wonder what happened to the moriscas? In Chapter 4 we discover the Spaniards brought some Muslim slave women to Peru. Why? Where they brought to cook and tend to the men sexually? All of the above? I wonder if we will learn more of their plight in later chapters.

message 10: by Stevelee (new)

Stevelee s. marie wrote: "The similarities between the Incas and ancient Egyptians are intriguing (mummification, king ruling as deity incarnated on earth, intramarriage between brothers and sisters to maintain the purity o..."

Egyptians – Incas – wonder if there were any architectural similarities as well.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim | 117 comments "Stevelee wrote:
I am not as far along in this chapter as others but can speculate as to why some might choose to align themselves with the Spanish...Another reason may be that the Spanish appeared invincible"

I'm thinking some may have wanted to back the likely winner -- to minimize the pain for themselves, their families, and possibly to gain benefits down the road.

message 12: by Jim (last edited May 31, 2014 07:50AM) (new)

Jim | 117 comments Mr. MacQuarrie certainly can tell a tale.

"s. marie wrote:
I am also moved by the disheartening treatment of women. "

This section, and the description of Manco Inca's trying not to "give up" his primary wife (and how low his alternatives sank), was a particularly upsetting example of how the occupiers behaved. Just when I thought my opinion of the conquistadors couldn't get any lower...

Go Rebels.

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Jim wrote: ""Stevelee wrote:
I am not as far along in this chapter as others but can speculate as to why some might choose to align themselves with the Spanish...Another reason may be that the Spanish appeare..."

That is true Jim - probably some were thinking that is was safer for them to align with the folks who had guns and horses (obviously a frightening site for some of these natives).

message 14: by Emily (new)

Emily Klein | 12 comments I finally gave in and bought the audible version of this book because I couldn't keep up with the discussions using my kindle alone. One of my primary purposes of starting this read wad to be involved so I had to conceed to my slow reading. I wad able to listen to the remaining part of this chapter this morning and like others, I thoroughly enjoyed but was also disturbed by this chapter. I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I can't imagine choosing sides against my own culture, but I can imagine changing my life for a more beneficial one, whichever that means. The non elite citizens of the Inca culture probably didn't have a great life and therefore may have believed that the Spaniards could give them a better one, but we will never know. It's quite saddening to read about all the betrayals of culture, family and alliance'sfrom all sides. Not only do the Spaniards "buy" and "sell" the Inca women for their own sexual desires, but the Inca elite are willing to sell many females, including their sisters, to make the Spaniards happy. Of course it was a terrible decision and place to be in, trying to protect their wives and all, but it's still disgusting and terribly sad. I think that's what stood out to me the most, that and the broken promises made by the Spaniards that were probably never intended to be kept. I'm really not impressed with either side right now, but I am happy to hear that a rebellion has FINALLY been decided on and that the Inca will stand up to the Spanish. I'm rooting for those that stand up for their culture.

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