Huayna Capac, ‘the young mighty one’ succeeded his father in 1493. He was a relentless expansionist: strengthening the empire’s foothold in the North (he got as far as what is today Colombia) and making massive strides into the South, by annexing vast tracts of modern-day Chile and Argentina. He also did a lot of good for his people, building temples, roads and food storehouses throughout the empire.
Huayna Capac had scores of children, both with his official wives, and with the numerous concubines expected of the Inka elite. It was the battle for succession between two of his sons - Huascar, a legitimate heir, and Atahualpa, the son of a concubine - that would lead to the demise of the Empire at the hands of the Spanish. But more about that next week.
The Inca Empire reached its peak during Huayna Capac’s reign. Empires must rise and fall, but the Incas’ demise was quickened by the arrival of the Spanish and their silent, secret army of germs and bacteria. It is widely believed that Huayna Capac died of smallpox while campaigning in Colombia, and in the decades to follow hundreds of thousands of his countrymen would suffer the same fate.