What did the Spanish find when they met the Incas?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are referring to the first meeting between Pizarro and Atahualpa, when it comes to answering the question of "what the Spanish found", the answer is that, essentially, they found the once-mega powerful empire now turned into a divided nation where the natives were fighting against one another. As it was, the Spanish quickly picked up on this and used it to their advantage to the point of achieving complete control of the land in a relatively short period of time. 

Huayna Capac was the leader of the Inca Empire circa 1524.  When he dies along with his heir, Ninan Cuyuchi, there were two surviving family members who were already reigning parts of the empire as regents. Atahualpa was the regent of Quito, and his brother Huáscar was in Cuzco. When their father dies, Atahualpa and Huáscar make the terrible mistake of declaring war on one another to fight out their rights to be successor.

This resulted in a civil war that lasted nearly 5 years (1527 to 1532) and weakened the empire severely in many ways, but mainly financially, morally, and politically. Atahualpa won the war, but the country has already suffered the consequences. At this very low point, Francisco Pizarro enters the land, fools Atahualpa into thinking that they want to make a peaceful meeting, and traps Atahualpa, making him his prisoner.

Pizarro allows Atahualpa to reign from captivity, and Atahualpa promises silver and gold to the Spaniards for his liberation. All this time Atahualpa may have not seen what was obviously happening: He had just been dethroned by the Spanish. He was eventually executed and the state of the empire was so weak that it took very little for the Spanish to subjugate the Incans under their rule.