Atahualpa, (1500?–1533), the last ruler of the Inca empire in Peru. His half-brother Huáscar succeeded their father to the throne in 1527. Atahualpa seized control of a northern region, and civil warfare broke out. In 1532 Atahualpa defeated Huáscar and put him to death.
By this time, however, a Spanish expedition under Francisco Pizarro had arrived in Peru. Pizarro's lieutenant Hernando de Soto met the Inca emperor and invited him to confer with the Spaniards. The invaders were so few in number—less than 200—that Atahualpa had no fear of them. He came willingly to the meeting place, where the Spanish cavalry slaughtered his bodyguard and took him prisoner.
Promised freedom in exchange for a roomful of gold and a roomful of silver, Atahualpa ordered the Incas to pay the ransom. When it had been paid, however, Pizarro had Atahualpa strangled.
See also Pizarro (Francisco Pizarro: Conquest of the Incas); South America, picture titled Atahualpa .