A Socialist Empire: The Incas of Peru

By Louis Baudin; Katherine Woods et al. | Go to book overview

10
The Expansion of the Empire

The King: One must call the enemies in a friendly way before fighting them and must speak to them gently. Take care not to shed blood needlessly or to sacrifice the innocent.

-- The Peruvian drama, Ollantay, scene 3

Many of the most distinguished sociologists have regarded ancient Peru as the very type of a military society, a state designed for conquest.1 It has pleased some of them to represent the expansion of the empire as a simple matter. According to these writers, the first confederation of tribes must have found it easy to prevail over isolated groups by sheer force of numbers, and the expeditions of the sovereigns of Cuzco were no more than military parades.2 Other authors, emphasizing the feeble resistance that the Peruvians offered to the Spaniards, paint such a vivid picture of the Indians' lack of valor that the reader is reduced to imagining Peru as a singular state indeed -- extremely militaristic, yet inhabited by people of distinctly peaceable inclinations. These exaggerations are refuted by the facts. It is true that the Incas had a powerful and well-organized army at their disposal and that they subdued a great many tribes, but their conquests were often longdrawn-out and difficult; and although they were indeed vanquished with ease by the Spaniards, this was the result of special circumstances, which we shall describe, and which had nothing to do with the courage of the Indians.

There was nothing especially original about the organization

-176-

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