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Sapa Inca (13th)
Waskhar lifetime portrait.jpg
Huáscar, the 13th Inca emperor
Reign 1527–1532
Predecessor Huayna Capac
Ninan Cuyochi (only a few days)
Successor Atahualpa
Born 1491
Died 1533
Spouse Chuqui Huipa
Dynasty Hanan Cuzco
Father Huayna Capac

Huáscar Inca (Quechua: Waskar Inka, of uncertain meaning, said to be related to his birthplace Huascarpata; 1503–1532) was Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire from 1527 to 1532 AD, succeeding his father Huayna Capac and brother Ninan Cuyochi, both of whom died of smallpox while campaigning near Quito.[1]:112,117-119

The actual events that brought about Huáscar's succession are unclear. Conflicting factions and the fact that the Spanish chroniclers' accounts stemmed from the winners of the ensuing civil war led to conflicting versions of what actually happened. Thus although Huayna Capac named the infant Ninan Cuyochi as his first heir, sources differ as to whether the boy died first, was unacceptable because of an unfavorable divination, or even if Huayna simply forgot that he had named him when asked to confirm the nomination. In any event a second choice was requested and again sources vary. He may have named Huáscar's half-brother Atahualpa who then refused, or named Huáscar himself, or perhaps even the nobles put forward Huáscar.[2] Whatever the truth, the result of Huáscar's accession and the dispute over it before and after led to civil war between Huáscar (made Emperor by a faction based in Cuzco) and Atahualpa (backed by leaders who were based in the north with Huayna).[3]

The Spanish chronicler Juan de Betanzos who provided with information pertaining to the Huáscar-Atahualpa civil war outlines Huáscar's tyranny. This is however a very biased account as Betanzos's wife, on whose testimony much of his chronicle is based, was previously married to Atahualpa. Betanzos outlines how Huáscar would seize his lords' wives if they took his fancy. More importantly, he seized both the Lands of the Previous Incas and the Lands of the Sun. In Inca society, the lands of previous dead Incas remained part of their household to support their divine-like cult. Similarly lands were reserved for the worship of the Sun. In this way, Huáscar's seizure represented his disrespect and insensitivity for Inca religion.[4]:189

Huáscar then declared war on Atahualpa.[1]:120 The battles reported by Betanzos talk of Quizquiz (Atahualpa's commander) leading armies of 60,000 men against armies of 60,000 men supporting Huáscar.[4]:197,222 Betanzos's account also enlightens us on the bloody nature of Inca wars. Atahualpa's punishment of the Canares saw him rip the hearts from their chiefs and force their followers to eat them.[4]:201

Huascar was defeated in the battle of Chimborazo and the Battle of Quipaipan. Huascar was made prisoner, and Atahuallpa's chiefs Quizquiz and Chalicuchima occupied Cuzco.[5]:146-149

The war had Atahualpa in the clear ascendancy on Pizarro's arrival. However it was partly due to the ongoing civil war that Pizarro was able to triumph. Firstly, the Inca armies were depleted from the civil war. Secondly, disunity can be demonstrated by Huáscar's celebrations and in the celebrations of the province of Cuzco (loyalists to Huáscar) at Atahualpa's capture.

Furthermore, Atahualpa had Huáscar killed so that he was not in a position to offer Pizarro a larger ransom of gold than Atahualpa was offering for his own release.[6]:31


  1. 1.0 1.1 de Gamboa, P.S., 2015, History of the Incas, Lexington, ISBN 9781463688653
  2. Niles, Susan A. (1999). The Shape of Inca History: Narrative and Architecture in an Andean Empire. University of Iowa Press. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0877456735.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. McEwan, Gordon Francis (2006). The Incas: New Perspectives. ABC-CLIO. p. 179. ISBN 978-1851095742.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Betanzos, J., 1996, Narrative of the Incas, Austin: University of Texas Press, ISBN 0292755600
  5. Prescott, W.H., 2011, The History of the Conquest of Peru, Publishing, ISBN 9781420941142
  6. Pizzaro, P., 1571, Relation of the Discovery and Conquest of the Kingdoms of Peru, Vol. 1-2, New York: Cortes Society,, ISBN 9781235937859

See also

  • Huascarán, highest peak in Peru and named for Huáscar
Preceded by
Huayna Capac
(See also Ninan Cuyochi)
Sapa Inca
As ruler of the Inca Empire

Succeeded by