In chapter 3 Jared Diamond discusses one of the most controversial battles that shifted the new world to what we know today, the Battle of Cajamarca. Diamond states in his book “The biggest population shift of modern times has been the colonization of the new World by Europeans, and the resulting conquest, numerical reduction, or complete disappearance of most groups of Native Americans. ” This battle was between the Incas and the Spaniards. Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a Spanish army of 168 soldiers; he was going against an army of 80,000 soldiers led by Atahualpa.
Pizarro was 1000 miles away from reinforcements, and knew nothing about the local inhabitants. The stakes were all against him. Yet Pizarro was able to win this battle, how did he do it? Diamond states a couple of factors that influenced the Spaniards to triumph over the Incas. First and most importantly was the element of surprise, Pizarro took Atahualpa by surprise, and he came in with horses, which the Incas had not seen before. Also the Incas wooden weapons stood no chance to the Spaniards steel armor, weapons and guns. Then Pizarro was able to capture Atahualpa, hitting the Incas right in the heart.
Without their leader the Incas broke, and before they knew it they had lost a war that seemed to have been theirs. Pizarro asked for a ransom from Atahualpa. The biggest ransom anyone had ever asked for, a room from floor to ceiling full of gold. Atahualpa was very naive, because right after the ransom was paid, Pizarro executed Atahualpa. In addition to the Battle of Cajamarca, the Spaniards did not know that they held a virus that they were immune to, smallpox. In short how did the 168 Spaniards succeed in beating 80,000 Spaniards? They succeeded because of guns, germs and steel.