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Depending how far you want to go back, the genesis of the Incan Empire was laid down in the migration of the human race out of Africa, accross Asia, crossing the Asia/America land bridge that is now the Bering Strait, and down through the Americas. The furthest south this migrating reached was the region we now know as the Argentinian Campos. This area was reached about 5500BC. South America was the farthest that human population had to travel. The numbers that eventually reached the Campos were small, but finding abundant game and food there was no further need to migrate.
Numbers increased and spread further back up through South America till an area that covered what is present day Argentina and Chile were loosely aligned through tribal alegiances. About 1200BC a great leader appeared and the Campos peoples became united and through a time of plenty the population expanded as did the borders of the Empire. For 500 years the Campos Empire ruled most of South America. Eventually the sheer size of the Empire worked against it with smaller and meaner minded people achieving positions of power where they were building their own little empires. Corruption was rife and the last God/Emperor was weak and the Empire fell apart with internal strife revolution and civil wars breaking out. A time of darkness fell over the Campos peoples.
A thousand years passed until about 500AD when a new group of leaders appeared. By some stroke of genes coalescing into one family where strength and inteligence was the prime traits. This ruling family, its heirs and offshoots would rule South America for the next 1500 years. The Yupanqui family rose to prominence in an area of what is present day Bolivia. The patriarch of the family Tambo Yupanqui set in stone the rules by which the family should rule. Tambo was the eldest of 7, five brothers and two sisters. Between the 7 siblings they produced over 70 children of which 52 reached maturity. It was these children on which the Empire was to be formed. The five brothers split 'South America' into four 'kingdoms' while the fifth brother would be elected Emperor.
Of course while the areas had been set, each brother would have to go out with his tribal army and take the land under his control. Tambo knew instinctively that the way to control the Empire would require the best lines of communication. Horses and fast sea craft would be the fastest means of communication. That would be one of the Emperors major works, setting up the communication lines to and from what would be the five Capital cities. Each of the four Kingdoms would supply the revenue to the Emperor for all the major works to be carried out throughout the Empire. One of the other major things the Emperor would keep track of was the bloodlines of the Empire. Arranged marriages were the norm and for the nobility this was done at the Emperors behest. This gave the Emperor his largest say in how the Empire would be ruled in the future. Whenever an Emperor died, the new Emperor was elected from one of the four kings of the realm.
As the family increased exponentially the tighter the grip could be exerted on the kingdoms. With stability in the Empire, the Emperor could oversee the resource and development of the Empires war machine. By the year 1000AD the Empire was in control of South America but had been stopped from further expansion in the isthmus of Panama by the Toltec and later Aztec empires. Both sets of Empires flip-flopped between peace and war depending on the bloodthirstyness of the current Emperors. This war and peace cycle made each Empire stronger, producing new weapons and styles of warfare.
First European contact came with one of Christopher Columbus' ships running aground on the coast of Chinchansuyu (modern day Venezuela). The survivors were cared for by the local people, who started dying from an unknown disease. The survivors were rife with smallpox and syphylis and the other European diseases that the Incan Empire had never encountered before. Over 20% of the Empires population would die before the surviving population would start creating its own immunities to these diseases. Another 40 years would pass before the next contact with Europeans in the form of the Spanish Conquistadores who came down the Panamanian isthmus after defeating the Aztecs.
The intervening 40 years had been put to good use by the Incan Empire. The wrecked ship had provided many interesting discoveries, including guns and gunpowder. A crash program in metallurgy and casting for guns big and small was instituted with the help of some of the survivors from the wreck with the skills required (whether they wanted to or not).
By the time Pisaro and Cortez came down the Panamanian Isthmus, they ran into a well drilled and well defended series of positions. The Conquistadores were stopped in their tracks. The Spanish next sought to go round the fortified positions by landing troops behind enemy lines by ship. It was then that the Incan Empires most closely guarded secret was revealed. Two mighty ships of the line with 8 x 40lb culverins and a 30lb bow chaser. The Spanish ships were slaughtered, there was no real warship among them and the Incan ships were too strong or agile.
The current Emperor realised very well that this would not be the only European power to try to come and defeat the Empire. The Empire was too large to be able to have troops everywhere strong enough to be able to contain or defeat a landing force. The only way to alleviate the problem was to find a European 'friend' and make an alliance with them that would make the Empire safer. Ships were dispatched with two of the senior Princes aboard to Europe. Only one of which talked a smattering of French while both had some pidgin-Spanish. Having beaten off a Spanish Army, the Incan envoys had France, England, The Holy Roman Empire, that were big enough to make an Alliance that would mean anything. All had their pros and cons, while each wanted their priests to have access to the Empire to be free to find converts to Christianity. The envoys find that the 'church' has been split assunder by the King of England. France and the Holy Roman Empire are allied to Spain so the envoys end up in England. King Henry VIII is also looking for allies. A mutual defence pact is signed in 1536. This gives the Church of England first crack at converting the South American Kingdoms to Christianity. It also give the English freebooters/pirates (take your pick) bases from which they can attack ships going to and from the Spanish controlled area of Central America.
What it gave the Incans was access to the shiprights and gunsmiths the Empire needed to produce better weaponry and with the knowledge being passed to be able to keep up with new inventions.
The Empire had been pulling itself out of the dark ages and into parity with the European nations. The Empires assayers and geologists new where there was plenty of iron ore in various parts of the Empire. This had been found when a survey of the Empire in the 1300's had been carried out at the behest of the Emperor. The iron so far had been used for the production of swords, spear tips, arrow tips and other paraphanalia that went with that age. From 1500 the Empire had been looking for iron ore for large casting for artillery for both the Army and the new Navy ships.
For the next 400 years, the Incan Empire assisted the British Empire when the British were attacked. Incan troops were present at all of the major battles and wars of the 16th to 19th centuries. The Incans would not help with the internal problems of the British Empire. No Incan troops were involved in the war of independence. It was a time of change for the Incan Empire as well. The sheer size of the Yupanqui family (still faithfully being recorded at the Emperors Palace), that it came to a point where the younger members wanted more say in the affairs of Empire. A few ritual killings of a few of the ring leaders was done to 'encourage the others'. But the seeds of revolution were set. In 1744 the lands exploded with violence and revolution. Just three months later and three of the four kings were dead and the Emperor under siege in his Palace preserve at Cuzco.
The lands of the Incan Empire became fractured as borders were reset time and again as internal strife continued. The Emperor retained his title and was given what became known as Yupanqui. The largest section was retained by the final King still alive who's loyal troops had managed to keep him alive and fought the rebels and defeated them. Once the civil wars had finished by 1752 the current Emperor called a meeting of all the new overlords of the newly founded lands. This meeting brought final peace to the lands again and a new map was drawn of the new Incan Empire. The Emperor was still to remain but his roles would be reduced and any new Emperor would be elected from the leaders of the new nations.
With the new boundaries set, the Emperor new it was no time for recriminations but a time to heal the wounds. Something all the Yupanqui Emperors had was brains. Part of the selection process for the elected Emperor was to pass the tests set down by old Tambo all those years ago. It was still an honour for a family member to be elected Emperor. But the power of the Emperor was much reduced. No longer was the Emperor Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Each kingdom was now responsible for its own destiny. It was now that the Spanish tried to do what they had been thwarted from 200 years before. To turn South America into a set of Spanish Colonies. A large fleet was assembled with transports full of troops and these ships sailed for a landing in Chinchansuyu. A fast courier vessel brought the news, and another courier from the British Admiral at Antigua stated that the Carribean fleet was sailing to help the Incan navy intercept the Spanish Fleet. What became known as the Battle of Trinidad of 1754 was fought between ships of the Incan Navy and the British Navy versus a Spanish Armada. While the fleets were of similar sizes the Spanish were hampered by the transports they had to guard. The British Admiral Forbes led the combined fleet briliantly and captured or destroyed over half the Spanish Fleet. The rest withdrawing at high speed.
This finished the European powers attempts to colonise any part of South America.
Incan forces fought with the British against the French and Spanish during the Napoleonic Wars. Then a period of peace for South America ensued during which the Incan Navies went from wooden walls to steel ships in line with the British and US navies. From 1880 the United States made overtures to the Incan Empire to have a mutual defense pact. An Alliance Treaty was signed in 1882. This worked well as the US was another English speaking people. Since the Treaty with Britain of 1536, the Incans had taken 'English' as the Empires second language and language of Diplomacy.
Receiving Naval assistance from both the United States and Britain gave the Incan Nations an edge over most other Naval powers.
We have now reached the point in this narrative where ship drawings will appear to support the continued history of the Incan Empire.
If you have got this far in reading the Incan Empire Histories, then you have done very well. It is always difficuilt to cover thousands of years of history and keep a reader interested. (Trying not to be boring), I hope the following ships will also keep your interest.
Go to Incan Navy Page: