Huayna Capac

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Huayna Capac
Sapa Inca (11th)
Inca huayna capac.jpg
Huayna Capac, drawn by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala. The title, in Poma de Ayala's nonstandard spelling, reads: El onceno inga Guainacapac, "The Eleventh Inca, Guayna Capac".
Reign 1493–1527
Predecessor Topa Inca Yupanqui
Successor Huáscar
Consort Coya Cusirimay, Araua Ocllo
Issue Ninan Cuyochi, Huáscar, Atahualpa, Topa Huallpa, Manco Inca Yupanqui, General Atoc, Paullu Inca, and Quispe Sisa, and others
Full name
Huayna Capac
Quechua Wayna Qhapaq
Dynasty Hanan
Father Topa Inca Yupanqui
Mother Mama Ocllo Coya

Huayna Capac, Huayna Cápac, Guayna Capac (in hispanicized spellings) or Wayna Qhapaq (Quechua wayna young, young man, qhapaq the mighty one,[1][2] "the young mighty one") (1464/1468–1527) was the third Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire, sixth of the Hanan dynasty, and eleventh of the Inca civilization. His original name was Tito Husi Hualpa.[3] He was the successor to Topa Inca Yupanqui.[4]:108

Background and family

Huayna Capac was born in Tomebamba, possibly in 1468.[5] He was the son of Topa Inca.[6]

Huayna Capac's legitimate wife and full sister was Coya Cusirimay.[7] The couple produced no male heirs, but Huayna Capac sired more than 50 sons with other women. Huayna Capac took another sister, Araua Ocllo, as his royal wife; they had a son called Tupac Cusi Hualpa, also known as Huáscar. Other children included Ninan Cuyochi, Atahualpa, Túpac Huallpa, Manco Inca Yupanqui, General Atoc, Paullu Inca, and Quispe Sisa.[4]:112,118 Many of them later once held the title of Sapa Inca, although some were installed by the Spaniards.

Political and military career

Since he was a "boy chief" or "boy sovereign", he had a tutor, Hualpya, nephew of Inca Yupanqui. This tutor's plot to assume the Incaship, was discovered by the Governor Huaman Achachi, who had Hualpya killed.[4]:109

Huayna Capac extended the Tawantinsuyu (Inca Empire) significantly to the south into present-day Chile and Argentina and tried to annex territories towards the north, in what is now Ecuador and southern Colombia, founding cities like Atuntaqui[8] and building astronomical observatories such as Ingapirca. The capital city of the Tawantinsuyu was in Cuzco, and Huayna Capac hoped to establish a northern stronghold in the city of Tumebamba. In present-day Bolivia, he was responsible for developing Cochabamba as an important agriculture and administrative center, with more than two thousand silos for corn storage built in the area.[9] Further north, Huayna Capac's forces reached the Chinchipe River Basin but were pushed back by the Shuar in 1527.[10]

The Inca empire reached the height of its size and power under his rule, stretching over much of present-day Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and southwestern Colombia. It included varying terrain from high frozen Andes to the densest swamps, and more than two hundred distinct ethnic groups, each with their own customs and languages. The empire spanned over a thousand miles north to south.[5]

Despite the geographical and cultural challenges, Inca or Tawantinsuyu, "the united four regions", was sophisticated for its time and place. At its height, it had monumental cities, temples, fortresses of stone marvelously engineered, roads cut through granite mountain slopes, and massive agricultural terraces and hydraulic works.

A dedicated ruler, Huayna Capac did much to improve the lives of his people. In addition to building temples and other works, Huayna greatly expanded the road network.[11]:144 He had storehouses built along it for food so that aid could be quickly rushed to any who were in danger of starvation.

Death and legacy

Huayna contracted a fever, perhaps from measles or smallpox upon returning to Quito,[4]:117[12]:115 while campaigning in Colombia (though some historians dispute this).[13] The Spaniards had carried smallpox to South America, and the Native Americans had not acquired immunity against it. Huayna and millions of other South and Central Americans died in that epidemic, including his brother, Auqui Tupac Inca, and successor eldest son, Ninan Cuyochi. Huayna Capac died at the age of 80 years, having reigned 60.[4]:117-118

Huayana knew of the Spanish arrival off the coast of his empire[4]:131 since 1515. Before his death, Huayna Capac divided the empire, leaving the newly conquered north to his favorite son Atahualpa and the rest to his legitimate heir Huáscar. Upon the death of their father, Huayna Capac, in 1524,[14]:82-83,85 the brothers Atahualpa Inca and Huáscar Inca were granted two separate realms of the Inca Empire: Atahualpa, the northern portion centered on Quito, and Huáscar, the southern portion centered on Cuzco.[11]:146 The two sons reigned peacefully for four to five years before Huascar Inca had second thoughts.[14]:89

Huáscar quickly secured power in Cuzco and had his brother Atahualpa arrested. But Atahualpa escaped from his imprisonment with the help of his wife and began securing support from Huayna Capac's best generals Chalkuchimac and Quizquiz, who happened to be near Quito, the nearest major city. Atahualpa rebelled against his brother and won the ensuing civil war, imprisoning Huascar at the end of the war.[14]:89-94

Pizarro and his men had the fortune of ascending into the Andes just as Atahualpa was returning to Cuzco after successful conclusion of his northern campaigns. After launching a surprise attack in Cajamarca and massacring upward of 6,000 Incan soldiers, Pizarro took Atahualpa prisoner. To secure his release, Atahualpa pledged to fill a room of approximately 88 cubic meters with precious golden objects, the famous Atahualpa's Ransom Room. Over the next months, trains of porters carted precious objects from across the empire, including jars, pots, vessels, and huge golden plates pried off the walls of the Sun Temple of Qurikancha in Cuzco. On May 3, 1533, Pizarro ordered the vast accumulation of golden objects melted down, a process that took many weeks. Finally, on July 16, the melted loot was distributed among his men, and 10 days later, Pizarro had Atahualpa executed anyway.


  1. Teofilo Laime Ajacopa, Diccionario Bilingüe Iskay simipi yuyayk'ancha, La Paz, 2007 (Quechua-Spanish dictionary): wayna. - adj. s. m. Joven. Hombre que está en la juventud. qhapaq. - adj. Principal. Primero en importancia. || Noble, ilustre. Qhapaq. / Rico, -ca. Noble, adinerado. / adj. y s. Poderoso, -sa. Acaudalado, adinerado. || El que tiene extensas tierras.
  2. Diccionario Quechua - Español - Quechua, Academía Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, Gobierno Regional Cusco, Cusco 2005: qhapaq - s. Hist. Término utilizado en el inkanato para denominar al poderosos, ilustre, eminente, regio, próspero, glorioso, de sangre real, etc. ...
  3. Sarmiento de Gamboa 173
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 de Gamboa, P.S., 2015, History of the Incas, Lexington, ISBN 9781463688653
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Maya, Aztecs, Inca, Inuit: before Columbus." Worldwide Story for Civilization. (retrieved 3 July 2011)
  6. Sarmiento de Gamboa 171
  7. Niles, Susan (May 1, 1999). The Shape of Inca History: Narrative and Architecture in an Andean Empire. University Of Iowa Press. p. 109. ISBN 0877456739.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Ernesto Salazar (1977). An Indian federation in lowland Ecuador (PDF). International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. p. 13. Retrieved 16 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 Prescott, W.H., 2011, The History of the Conquest of Peru, Publishing, ISBN 9781420941142
  12. Leon, P., 1998, The Discovery and Conquest of Peru, Chronicles of the New World Encounter, edited and translated by Cook and Cook, Durham: Duke University Press, ISBN 9780822321460
  13. McCaa; et al. "Why Blame Smallpox? The Death of the Inca Huayna Capac and the Demographic Destruction of Tawantinsuyu (Ancient Peru)". Retrieved 7 Jan 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 de la Vega, G., "El Inca", 2006, Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of Peru, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., Inc., ISBN 9780872208438

Further reading

Preceded by
Topa Inca Yupanqui
Sapa Inca
As ruler of the Inca Empire

Succeeded by
(see also Ninan Cuyochi)