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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...

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