(born circa 1502—died Aug. 29, 1533, Cajamarca, Inca empire) Last free-reigning emperor of the Incas. He became ruler after defeating his half brother in what may have been the greatest military engagement in Inca history. The conquistador Francisco Pizarro met Atahuallpa just before the emperor's triumphal entry into Cuzco and invited him to a feast in his honour. When Atahuallpa and his unarmed retainers arrived, Pizarro ambushed them on horseback with cannons and guns, slaughtered thousands, and took Atahuallpa prisoner. Pizarro accepted Atahuallpa's offer of a ransom of a roomful of gold; then, having received 24 tons of gold and silver, he ordered Atahuallpa burned at the stake. The sentence was changed to death by garrote when Atahuallpa agreed to convert to Christianity.
Learn more about Atahuallpa with a free trial on Britannica.com.