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Many accounts of the Spanish invasion of the Americas suggest that the contest between “conquerors” and “conquered” was decided quickly due to the natural superiority of Spanish arms or ingenuity. The chronicler Pedro Cieza de León, for example, described the conquest in the valley of Cochabamba as a brief and uncomplicated affair whose outcome was more or less a foregone conclusion. But this account, by an anonymous author who accompanied Hernando Pizarro from Cuzco on his expedition into Qollasuyu in 1538, reveals that the campaigns in the southern Andes were more protracted and the Spanish forces more vulnerable than we might have thought. For those who participated in the battles, the outcome was by no means predictable. Among the features that stand out in this account are the size and strength of the indigenous resistance that combined local ethnic mobilization with Inka military leadership under Tisuq. But ultimately decisive were the political divisions between the Cochabamba forces and other indigenous peoples that had submitted to Pizarro, and the crucial collaboration of Paullu Inka who commanded thousands of native troops answering to Pizarro.

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