Capac Women and the Politics of Marriage in Early Colonial Peru

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During the major Inca civil wars, Atahualpa had almost exterminated Huascars kin. Only a few capac women, those who descended from Manco Capac, the founder of the Inca dynasty, remained alive. Atahualpa had planned to take them as his principal wives since only this type of marriage could successfully maintain the authority of the Incas over a large Andean territory. The Spanish arrival in 1532 interrupted his plans, but it did not eliminate Inca claims of sovereignty through marriage. In fact, it was through marriage that Atahualpa aimed to establish political alliances with Francisco Pizarro. While both Incas and Spaniards understood marriage on their own terms, there were many instances in which both were willing to redefine their own concepts of marriage in their struggle for power. In all of these, the women engaged in these unions were not only conscious about their political roles, but agents in the main historical events of this period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-167
Number of pages21
JournalColonial Latin American Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015


  • Inca
  • conquest
  • lineage
  • marriage
  • women


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