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1548 to 1561 - Inca Sayri-Tupac

Negotiations with Sayri-Tupac
IllustrationAfter the defeat of Gonzalo's rebellion, Pedro de la Gasca turned his attentions to the Inca Sayri-Tupac, Manco's son now aged 9 years, in Vilcabamba. Gasca sent some native envoys to the Inca, offering to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Sayri-Tupac responded encouragingly and an agreement was soon reached whereby Sayri-Tupac would emerge from Vilcabamba and be provided with lands and houses in Cuzco for him to live peacefully.


At the beginning of 1549, the Inca sent men to take possession of the houses and lands promised to him and to plant crops. Paullu Inca, ever the master of switching allegiances at the opportune time, led a great procession to Vilcabamba to escort his nephew back to Cuzco. But Paullu became sick en route and, returning to Cuzco, died suddenly. Sayri-Tupac and his regents took fright at this development and, fearing Spanish treachery again, determined to remain in Vilcabamba.



Sayri-Tupac leaves Vilcabamba
Negotiations with the Inca resumed in 1557, this time under the Viceroy Cañete. A full pardon and great estates were offered to the Sayri-Tupac if he agreed to emerge from Vilcabamba within six months.


IllustrationSayri-Tupac was now aged 22 years and had finally been crowned with the royal fringe, the ultimate symbol of power in the Inca Empire. Sayri-Tupac made a bold but materialistic decision, telling his followers : "We have never been so well fortified as now, nor so prepared for war... but you must consider that the Sun wishes that I should leave, so that my domain should be increased... I tell you, therefore, that I wish to leave, even though I know that it could cost me my life".

Sayri-Tupac emerged from Vilcabamba and, escorted by 300 Vilcabamba warriors, journeyed to Lima to meet the Viceroy. After banquets in their honour, the Inca and his beautiful wife, María Cusi Huarcay, journeyed to Cuzco to occupy the rich estates granted to them by the Viceroy. The natives of Cuzco rejoiced in the presence of the Inca, even though he had no real power or authority.

Later native writers claimed that Sayri-Tupac had been sent from Vilcabamba to test the Spaniards' good faith. It was certainly significant that he left behind the royal fringe. Only when Sayri-Tupac died suddenly in 1561 did the Spanish realise the failure of their negotiations and agreement with the Inca. The independent native state of Vilcabamba was still in existence and now under the strong, capable rule of Sayri-Tupac's brother: Titu Cusi.