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Tupac Amaru Inca (1544-1572)

Tupac Amaru, meaning "royal serpent", ascended to power after the sudden death of his brother Titu Cusi in 1571. Tupac Amaru was not a careful negotiator or given to pacifying and accomodating the Spanish. In fact, he cut off all communications with the Viceroy in an effort to keep secret the death of his brother. His warriors, whilst probably not acting on his express orders, killed a Spaniard who was about to learn their secret and thus provoked the Vilcabamba campaign.

Tupac Amaru was captured in 1572 and led back to Cuzco for execution. He was described by his captors as "affable, well-disposed and discreet, eloquent and intelligent". On the day of his death, faced with crowds of many thousands of lamenting Indians, Tupac Amaru, the last crowned Inca, acted with great dignity and made a remarkable speech:

"Inca Tupac Amaru raised both hands, making a sign similar to that which the Indians used to make to their lords." "Turning to face towards the direction where there was the greatest number of chiefs, he said in a loud voice in his own language: 'Oiari guaichic!' This was a man almost on the point of death. He could scarcely be heard by those immediately alongside him. But the cries, lamentations and shouting ceased instantly...everything became as silent as if there had not been a single living thing in the square..."

"'Lords, you are here from all the four suyos. Be it known to you that I am a Christian, they have baptised me and I wish to die under the law of God. And I have to die. All that I and my ancestors the Incas have told you up to now - that you should worship the sun Punchao and the huacas, idols, stones, rivers, mountains and vilcas - is completely false. When we told you that we were entering in to speak to the sun, that it advised you to do what we told you, and that it spoke, this was false. It did not speak, we alone did...'"