November 15, 1539
Reporter: Today we are interviewing a very important man in history, Francisco Pizarro. Hello, Mr. Pizarro.
Francisco Pizarro: Hello.
Tell us a little bit about your early life.
Well, I was born in Trujillo, Spain. My father was the royal captain of a branch of the army. My parents were never married. The poor relatives of my mother raised me. I never got a very good education.
When did you leave your home?
I left in 1503 for Hispaniola, the main Spanish port in the New World. My brother and father were already there, so they took care of me.
Where did you go after this?
Well, it was 1509 when I left Hispaniola to take part in the first exploration of the Caribbean coast of northern South America and southern Central America.
I have heard that you knew the Spanish explorer, Balboa, who discovered the Pacific Ocean.
Yes, I knew Balboa. I was his chief lieutenant and walked across the Isthmus of Panama with him in 1513.
What about the founding of Panama City?
The Spaniards founded Panama City in 1519. I was one of its most wealthy and powerful citizens.
How did you find out about the Inca?
We heard stories about a wealthy Indian empire somewhere to the south.
How was your journey and who helped you?
In 1524, I began the first of many expeditions to find the rich empire. Diego de Almagro, who managed my expeditions, helped me. Our journeys down the Pacific Ocean were horrible. At first, bad weather and Indian attacks prevented us from finding the Inca Empire in what is now Peru.
What happened when you found Peru?
In 1527, we found Peru. We saw much evidence of gold. Soon after that, we returned to Spain and King Charles I appointed me governor of Peru.
What other cities have you founded?
After I was appointed governor, I founded San Miguel (now Piura) in 1532.
Where did you go from there?
Cajamarca where the Inca ruler, Atahualpa, gathered his forces.
Did anything weaken the Inca before you fought them?
Yes, in fact they were weakened because the two half brothers, Huascar and Atahualpa, both wanted to rule. They fought against each other. I wrote a letter to the Spanish king about my plans.
How did you defeat the Inca?
We caught them in a surprise attack. With the advantages of swords, guns, and horses, I killed thousands of Inca and captured Atahualpa.
What did you do once you captured Atahualpa?
We said we would spare his life if they gave us many riches. The Inca agreed because Peru had more silver and gold than anywhere else in the Americas. After we received the ransom, we killed Atahualpa.
Where did you head for after that?
I then went to Cusco, the Inca mountain capitol. I took control of the city in 1533. After that, the Inca Empire slowly fell apart.
What did you do while you were governor of Peru?
In 1535, I founded the city of Lima and made it Peru’s capitol. While I was governor, a large number of Spaniards settled here. We started to mine great amounts of gold and silver. We also built many cities. Using Peru as a base, we conquered most of South America.
I heard you were in an argument recently. Can you tell us about it?
Yes, a dispute broke out in the late 1530s between Almagro and me over who was to rule the area around Cusco. A civil war began. My forces won and in 1538, I had Almagro killed.
Well, you had an interesting life. Thank you for joining us.
Three years after this interview, in 1541, Pizarro was killed by followers of Almagro’s son.
Who Goes There: European Exploration of the New World