All the Incas who ruled the Tahuantinsuyo
The chronicles and the work of historians refer that there are fourteen Incas who ruled the Inca society. The first was the mythical Manco Cápac in the eleventh century. The last was Atahualpa who died at the hands of the Spanish in the sixteenth century. During the almost five centuries of Inca government great works were achieved. Learn about the fourteen Incas who ruled the Inca civilization.
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Manco Cápac (¿? – 1230) was the founder and first ruler of the Inca ethnic group.
There is no exact information about his government. The myths and legends of Inca origin mention that he was the one who led the migration of the Inca ethnic group from the highlands to the valley of Cusco.
Legends also say that he was the one who civilized the Incas and the neighboring towns in the Cusco valley.
Manco Cápac and his wife (and sister) Mama Ocllo laid the foundations for the Inca government that would endure for several centuries.
Some historians consider Manco Cápac to be a mythical character. However, other historians consider him a royal character who ordered the construction of the Inticancha as his palace.
Sinchi Roca (¿? – 1260) was the son and successor of Manco Cápac on the Inca throne. Its name comes from two Quechua words that mean: Magnificent Warrior.
The chronicles indicate that he was the first Inca to wear the mascaipacha as a symbol of coronation.
His government failed to expand the conquered territory in the Cusco valley. He only managed to improve the architectural works begun by Manco Cápac, such as the construction of the Inticancha.
He also ordered the Huacaypata swamp (current Plaza de Armas) to be filled with earth where the Saphy River crosses.
Inca Roca married Mama Coca, daughter of the ayllu of Soña (current district of San Sebastián in Cusco).
He died at a very old age after a long period of government.
Lloque Yupanqui (¿? – 1290) means ‘memorable lefty’. He was the third ruler of the Inca dynasty. His father Sinchi Roca appointed him as such at the last moment and unexpectedly.
His government was characterized by internal struggles for the Inca permanence in the Cusco valley. It did not achieve any territorial expansion.
He achieved an understanding of peace with the Ayamarca ethnic group who shared the territory of Cusco with the Incas.
He married Mama Cagua, daughter of the lord of Oma, a neighboring lordship of the Incas.
Lloque Yupanqui died in the Inticancha palace. His successor was his fourth son: Mayta Cápac.
Mayta Cápac (1282 – 1394) was the fourth ruler of the Inca dynasty. Its name comes from the Quechua language and means: ‘And where is the powerful?’.
Mayta Cápac was very young when it was his turn to be an Inca ruler. That is why he spent his first years of youth under the tutelage of his uncle who assumed command in his first years of government.
During his rule, the Incas achieved a significant victory against the Alcahuisa ethnic group.
The chronicles indicate that under the government of Mayta Cápac the Ayamarca ethnic group who saw how, through alliances, the Incas became increasingly powerful.
Mayta Cápac died prisoner by the alcahuisas in the Inticancha.
Cápac Yupanqui (¿? – 1350) was the fifth ruler of the Inca dynasty after leading a coup against his cousin Tarco Huamán, the son of Mayta Cápac.
To assume power, the brave Cápac Yupanqui ordered the assassination of nine brothers from Tarco Huamán. However, he was exiled as governor of the lordships of Anta and Cuyo.
Cápac Yupanqui obtained small but significant lands through wars as before the cuntis.
In addition, Cápac Yupanqui sent troops to help the Abancay in the face of the threat of the brave Chanca ethnic group.
However Cápac Yupanqui never faced the Chancas as he died presumably poisoned by his concubine Cusi Chimbo.
After his death, the Hurin Cusco ethnic group left power to make way for the Hanan Cusco dynasty, led by Inca Roca.
Inca Roca (? – 1380) was the sixth Inca ruler and the first of the Hana Cusco dynasty.
Governor was proclaimed after a coup against Cápac Yupanqui. To ensure harmony, he established political power in the Hanan Cusco dynasty and religious power in the Hurin Cusco dynasty.
Inca Roca was called ‘Sapa Inca’ (supreme ruler). He ordered the construction of his own palace in the Hatun Rumiyoc street sector (current Archbishop’s Palace of Cusco). In this street is currently the famous Stone of the 12 angles.
During his government he achieved important victories in wars against the Mascas, Cautomarcas and Quiquijanas. He also sent an army to fight the Chancas.
Inca Roca passed away in his palace in Cusco. His successor was his son Yahuar Huacac.
Yahuar Huaca (¿? – 1400) was the seventh ruler of the Inca ethnic group. Its name comes from the Quechua language and means ‘He who cries blood’.
The chronicles indicate that he was kidnapped as a child by the Ayamarca ethnic group. However, his execution was not achieved, so he was released.
Legends say that he cried blood in front of his executioners. They became alarmed and called off his execution.
During his government he managed to placate the rebellion of the curacas of Muyna and Pinahua who viewed the Inca expansion with bad eyes.
Yahuar Huaca ordered to invade the territories of the Collao but the consesuyos rebelled and killed him without leaving a fixed successor.
Huiracocha or Wiracocha (1380 – 1448) was the seventh Inca ruler.
The chronicles indicate that the god of the staffs (the god Wiracocha) was called the same because of a divine dream he had before his proclamation.
He was elected Inca ruler after a meeting of ‘orejones’ or members of the Inca elite.
During his government he managed to conquer the territories of Yucay and Calca. In this place he built his palace where he managed to take refuge from the threat of an invasion by the powerful Chancas.
Leaving the city of Cusco in misgovernment, the figure of his son Cusi Yupanqui appeared, who managed to gather an important army and suffocate the Chanca invasion.
Neither Huiracocha nor his chosen successor Inca Urco managed to face the Chancas, so they fled to their lands in Calca. The chronicles indicate that he died there very old and overshadowed by the surprising appearance of Pachacutec.
Some time later his mummy was looted by the Spanish leader Gonzalo Pizarro.
Pachacutec (1418 – 1471) is the ninth Inca ruler, the founder of the Tahuantinsuyo empire, also considered the first Inca emperor.
Its name comes from the Quechua language and means ‘Inca of the change of the direction of the earth’.
This nomination is related to the historical events that Pachacutec achieved: historic victory against the Chanca army, foundation of the Tahuantinsuyo empire, construction of the Coricancha, construction of sections of qhapac ñan, construction of Machu Picchu and the reorganization of the Inca state.
Pachacutec is considered the highest Inca ruler. During his rule the Inca empire achieved a sudden and amazing expansion.
Pachacutec died naturally in 1471. His mummy was worshiped in the Tococache temple (what is now the church of San Blas in the city of Cusco).
Inca Yupanqui (¿? – ¿?) is the tenth ruler of the Inca empire after succeeding his father Pachacutec on the throne.
Being the eldest son of the Inca emperor, he was educated to rule. Thus, the chronicles indicate that he co-ruled with his father for approximately ten years.
Inca Yupanqui showed ability to rule but not to lead the harsh battles and rebellions to expand the Inca empire.
For this reason, despite having been crowned with the mascaipacha by Pachacutec, he changed his opinion and decided on his youngest son Túpac Yupanqui as his successor.
Despite his replacement, Inca Yupanqui was always faithful to his brother Túpac Yupanqui and accepted his father’s decision.
Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1440 – 1493) is considered by historians to be the actual tenth ruler of the Inca empire.
From a very young age he showed skill on the battlefield which took him to the furthest points of the empire: Quito to the north, the Maule River to the south and Paititi to the east.
There are even chronicles that indicate that he sailed to the Mangareva (Polynesia) on an exploratory mission. That is why it is also known as ‘The Inca Navigator’.
Among his main works, the conquests of extensive territories stand out. It was Túpac Yupanqui who founded the city of Quito.
He was born and died in Chinchero where he built a sumptuous palace that was later destroyed by the Spanish. The chronicles indicate that he was poisoned by Chuqui Ocllo, one of his wives who did not accept Huayna Cápac as the emperor’s successor.
Huayna Cápac (1467 – 1527) was the eleventh Inca ruler and the third emperor after the founding of Tahuantinsuyo.
His name comes from the Quechua language and means ‘Young powerful’. It was under his rule that the Inca empire achieved its maximum expansion.
Regarding his appointment, the chronicles indicate that it was Pachacutec himself who chose him from among his grandchildren. From a very young age he showed ability for government by participating in religious and social ceremonies.
He ruled from Cusco where he sent his emissaries and generals to conquered cities and put down rebellions, mainly in the north.
On a trip to the north, says historian María Rostworowski, Huayna Cápac received news of the presence of strange bearded people sailing the coasts in “wooden houses.”
He died in his palace in Tomebamba, in the north of the empire (Cañari territory and current Cuenca in Ecuador)
Huáscar (1491 – 1533) was the twelfth and penultimate Inca emperor.
He was one of the ten blood children of Huayna Cápac with the ability to govern. The chronicles indicate that the Inca Huayna Cápac and his chosen heir Ninan Cuyuchi died of smallpox (a disease brought by the Spanish) in the north of the empire in 1527.
The orejones of Cusco decided to elect Huáscar as the new Inca ruler.
Huáscar ruled in the city of Cusco, from where news of uprisings and attempted coups by his half-brother Atahualpa in the northern kingdoms reached him.
Finally, after a few years of government, Huáscar was captured by his brother Atahualpa who assassinated him. While this was happening, the Spanish had already entered the north of the empire and organized an army of Indians who rebelled against the Incas.
Atahualpa (1497 – 1533) is considered the last Inca emperor because after his death the Inca state succumbed to the presence of the Spanish invaders.
However, Atahualpa never arrived in Cusco nor was he crowned with the mascaipacha. Even so, he is recognized as the last Inca emperor.
After assassinating Huáscar, Atahualpa decides to go to Cusco to take power. However, before accepting an invitation from Francisco Pizarro to meet in Cajamarca.
Once in the Plaza de Cajamarca, Atahualpa receives the bible from the priest Valverde. For not understanding what it was about, he throws it to the ground being caught.
In Cajamarca Atahualpa offers Pizarro a room full of gold at the height of his raised hand. Such a treasure was gathered from all corners of the empire, which was finally delivered to the Spanish.
However, fearful of the Inca’s power, they decide to assassinate him, accusing him of murder (his brother Huáscar) and other crimes. He finally died by strangulation in Cajamarca.
After Atahualpa’s death, the Spaniards appointed Túpac Hualpa as his successor and marched to Cusco to gradually establish themselves in power.
Despite the rebellion of Manco and the rebellious Incas of Vilcabamba (from 1537 to 1572), after Atahualpa’s death, Inca power in Cusco and the rest of the empire ended.