Juan Pizzarro was the illegitimate son of Captain Gonzalo Pizzarro y Rodríguez de Aguilar (senior) (1446–1522) and María Aloneso, from Trujillo. His father was a colonel of infantry who had served with distinction in the Italian campaigns under Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, and in Navarre. Juan Pizzarro was the half brother of Francisco and Hernándo Pizzazrro, and full brother to Gonzalo Pizarro. Juan and his brothers, led by Francisco and friend Diego de Almagro, conquered the mighty Inca Empire and the sacred Inca [[Capital capital, Cuzco in 1533. They imprisoned and executed the Inca Emperor Atahualpa and stole the gold treasures from the city. Juan, Hernándo and Gonzalo Pizzarro were then appointed to garrison the city of Cuzco by Francisco Pizarro when he departed to explore the northern west coast of Peru and founded Lima in 1535.
Juan, Gonzalo and Hernándo ruled Cuzco as a dictatorship, torturing and executing those who refused to accept Spanish rule. On May 6, 1536, the Incas, led by the crowned puppet Inca Emperor Manco Inca Yupanqui, rebelled due to mistreatment and gathered 100,000 Inca warriors to overthrow the Spaniards in Cuzco. This led to many sieges and battles for control of the land, over ten months. The Incas, however, failed to drive the Spaniards from the city, as many succumbed to small pox. Juan eventually died in the battle of Sacsayhuamán, an Inca fortress near Cuzco. He was attempting to break the siege of Cuzco by leading an army out of the palace and attacking the Inca fortress. Juan Pizarro was struck on the head by a large stone hurled by an Inca warrior as he was trying to climb the high walls of Sacsayhuamán. Juan's soldiers won the battle, gained control of the fortress and weakened the Inca's control of Cuzco.
Juan's death did not stop the Spanish from destroying the Incas. In 1536-37, his brother, Francisco Pizarro, led an army of 300 soldiers into the port of Lima, and due to the superiority of their heavily armed cavalry, defeated the Manco Inca force. Manco eventually lifted the siege upon the arrival of Diego de Almagro with another Spanish contingent and withdrew to the jungles of Vilcabamba.
- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900) "Pizarro, Francisco" Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography New York: D. Appleton
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