Amaru, Túpac, the last emperor of the Inca people (1571-1572). Túpac Amaru was executed in 1572 in Cuzco, Peru, by Spanish colonial officials. He is sometimes known as the Fourth Inca of Vilcabamba, and was the fourth son of the Inca emperor Manco Capac.

Túpac Amaru is a symbol of indigenous resistance to Spanish domination, which goes far beyond his importance in the history of the Inca empire.

The word Inca means "prince" or "king" in the language of the Quechua people of Peru and the name was used by the Spaniards to refer to them. The word Inca also applies to each supreme ruler of that empire, and, broadly, to all subject peoples of the Inca empire.

After the conquest of Cuzco and the Inca empire in 1533, the Spaniards sought to maintain the appearance of an Inca monarchy in order to make it easier to govern Peru. Manco Capac was crowned as the Inca in 1533 by the Spaniards, who assumed he would follow their orders. He governed peacefully for two years but then led a major rebellion against Spanish rule that included a failed attack on Lima and an unsuccessful siege of Cuzco.

He established a permanent Inca settlement in the province of Vilcabamba, an area about 50 km (about 30 mi) northwest of Cuzco along the Urubamba River. After Manco Capac died in 1545, his four sons governed the Inca people in succession. Túpac Amaru, the fourth son, ascended to the throne in 1571. The new Spanish viceroy of Peru, Francisco de Toledo, sought to eliminate the remnants of the Inca empire that remained in Vilcabamba.

In 1572 a column of Spanish soldiers and their Native American allies overran the Vilcabamba empire and captured Túpac Amaru and his followers. He was returned to Cuzco, where he was tried and sentenced to death. He was decapitated in the town’s central plaza on November 14, 1572, in full view of thousands of Native American and Spanish onlookers.

Túpac Amaru has become a powerful symbol of resistance in Latin America. The 18th-century Peruvian rebel, José Gabriel Condorcanqui adopted the name Túpac Amaru II and led a two-year rebellion in the 1780s against Spanish colonial rule. The Tupamaros, a Uruguayan revolutionary group active in the 1970s, and also the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, a guerrilla group that has been active in Peru since the early 1980s, have both associated their contemporary movements with Túpac Amaru.


Contributed By:

Robert B. Kent