Huáscar Inca (/ˈwɑːskɑːr/;[1] Quechua: Waskar Inka; 1503–1532) also Guazcar[2] was Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire from 1527 to 1532. He succeeded his father, Huayna Capac, and his brother Ninan Cuyochi, both of whom died of smallpox while campaigning near Quito.[3]:112,117–119

Waskhar portrait.jpg
Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire
PredecessorHuayna Capac
Ninan Cuyochi (only a few days)
Huascarpata, Peru
Cusco, Peru
SpouseChuqui Huipa
DynastyHanan Qusqu
FatherHuayna Capac


The origin of his name is uncertain. One story is that Huáscar was named after a huge gold chain that was made to mark the occasion of his birth. "Huasca" is Quechua for "chain." Because his father did not think "chain" was an appropriate name for a prince, he added an r to the end of the name to make "Huáscar".[4] Another story is that his name is from his birthplace, Huascarpata.

The actual events that brought about Huáscar's succession are unclear. Conflicting factions and the fact that the Spanish chroniclers' accounts stemmed from the winners of the ensuing civil war led to conflicting versions of what actually happened. Thus, although Huayna Capac named the infant Ninan Cuyochi as his first heir, sources differ as to whether the boy died first, was unacceptable because of an unfavorable divination, or even if Huayna simply forgot that he had named him when asked to confirm the nomination. In any event, a second choice was requested, and again sources vary. He may have named Huáscar's half-brother Atahualpa who then refused, or named Huáscar himself, or perhaps even the nobles put forward Huáscar.[5] Whatever the truth, the result of Huáscar's accession and the dispute over it before and after led to civil war between Huáscar (made emperor by a faction based in Cuzco) and Atahualpa (backed by leaders who were based in the north with Huayna).[6]

The Spanish chronicler Juan de Betanzos who provided information pertaining to the Huáscar-Atahualpa civil war, outlines Huáscar's tyranny. It is, however, a very biased account, as Betanzos's wife, on whose testimony much of his chronicle is based, was previously married to Atahualpa. Betanzos outlines how Huáscar would seize his lords' wives if they took his fancy. More importantly, he seized both the Lands of the Previous Incas and the Lands of the Sun. In Inca society, the lands of previous dead Incas remained part of their household to support their divine-like cult. Similarly lands were reserved for the worship of the Sun. Thus, Huáscar's seizure represented his disrespect and insensitivity for Inca religion.[7]:189

Huáscar then declared war on Atahualpa.[3]:120 The battles reported by Betanzos talk of Quizquiz (Atahualpa's commander) leading armies of 60,000 men against armies of 60,000 men supporting Huáscar.[7]:197,222 Betanzos's account also enlightens on the bloody nature of Inca wars. Atahualpa's punishment of the Canares saw him rip the hearts from their chiefs and force their followers to eat them.[7]:201

Huáscar was defeated in the Battle of Chimborazo and the Battle of Quipaipán. Huáscar was made prisoner, and Atahualpa's chiefs Quizquiz and Chalicuchima occupied Cuzco.[8]:146–149

The war had Atahualpa in the clear ascendancy on Pizarro's arrival. However it was partly because of ongoing civil war that Pizarro was able to triumph. Firstly, the Inca armies were depleted from the civil war. Secondly, disunity can be demonstrated by Huáscar's celebrations and in the celebrations of the province of Cuzco (loyalists to Huáscar) at Atahualpa's capture.

Furthermore, Atahualpa had Huáscar killed so that he was not in a position to offer Pizarro a larger ransom of gold than Atahualpa was offering for his own release.[9]:31 Atahualpa (spelled Atabalica) stated "How shall my brother get so much gold and silver for himself; I would give twice as much as he can, if they would kill him, and leave me as lord."[2][10]

See alsoEdit

  • Huascarán, highest peak in Peru and named for Huáscar


  1. ^ "Huáscar". Webster's New World Dictionary.
  2. ^ a b Andagoya, Pascual de. "Narrative of the Proceedings of Pedrarias Davila". The Hakluyt Society. Retrieved 21 June 2019 – via Wikisource.
  3. ^ a b de Gamboa, P.S., 2015, History of the Incas, Lexington, ISBN 9781463688653
  4. ^ Edward Hyams and George Ordish, The Last of the Incas, (London: Longmans, 1963), 102-103.
  5. ^ Niles, Susan A. (1999). The Shape of Inca History: Narrative and Architecture in an Andean Empire. University of Iowa Press. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0877456735.
  6. ^ McEwan, Gordon Francis (2006). The Incas: New Perspectives. ABC-CLIO. p. 179. ISBN 978-1851095742.
  7. ^ a b c Betanzos, J., 1996, Narrative of the Incas, Austin: University of Texas Press, ISBN 0292755600
  8. ^ Prescott, W.H., 2011, The History of the Conquest of Peru, Publishing, ISBN 9781420941142
  9. ^ Pizzaro, P., 1571, Relation of the Discovery and Conquest of the Kingdoms of Peru, Vol. 1-2, New York: Cortes Society,, ISBN 9781235937859
  10. ^ de Navarette, Martin Fernadez (1829). Viages menores, y los de Vespucio; Poblaciones en el Darien, suplemento al tomo II (in Spanish). pp. 428–.
Preceded by
Huayna Capac
(see also Ninan Cuyochi)
Sapa Inca
As ruler of the Inca Empire

Succeeded by