world cilvilization

Topic: A Spanish Conquistador Describes Inca Government


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From the fifteenth to the early sixteenth century, the large Inca empire in western South America spanned an area that included modern-day Peru. Compared with other civilizations in the Americas, the Inca had a sophisticated bureaucracy. Their empire had four provinces that were each headed by a governor who reported back to the king, or Sapa Inca (God Emperor). In the following account, Pedro de Cieza de León (1520–1554), a Spanish conquistador who came to admire the Inca culture, describes the administration of the empire. In the case of the Inca, historians are particularly dependent on the Spanish record because no civilization from South America developed a form of writing.

Read the section on the Inca Empire in McKay’s chapter 11.

Primary Source

Read the following excerpt from from Pedro De Cieza De Leon’s Chronicles: On the Inca (ca. 1535). Link to the source.

Using specific examples from the primary and secondary sources, address the following questions:

Describe the Inca bureaucracy. How did it enable the king to rule this large territory?
What role did the quipu play in the administration of the Inca Empire?
Cieza mentions a law requiring that every person in the empire learn the Inca language. What does this law tell you about the priorities of the Inca government?
What services did the Inca government provide for the people of the empire? How were they able to offer such services?

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