Friday, July 14, 2017

Key to a Defeated Race & New Beginnings

Howdy key lovers!

        Today's key takes us back to the Spanish conquest of the Americas in the 1500s and the defeat of the mighty South American Inca Empire by Francisco Pizarro.  This key unlocks a monastery in Cusco, Peru, and the key was crafted by the followers of Francisco Pizarro in the early 1500s.

Key to a monastery in Cusco, Peru, donated by
Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Gates.

        Cusco, sometimes spelled Cuzco, is a city in the Peruvian Andes that was once the capital of the ancient Inca Empire.  The famous Inca citadel known as Machu Picchu (you may have heard of it!) is located just outside the city of Cusco.  The city was acquired by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro after his army defeated and dismantled the Inca Empire in 1532.  The battle started when the Inca emperor, Atahualpa, refused to pay tribute to the King of Spain.  The Inca Emperor, who boasted an army of 50,000 men, felt confident that Pizarro's force of just 110 foot soldiers and 67 cavalrymen was no match for his enormous Inca military.  However, enraged at Atahualpa's refusal to pay tribute to the Spanish Emperor, Charles V, Pizarro attacked the Inca Emperor.  The Spanish successfully captured Atahualpa and his 12 closest advisers.  All were executed, bringing an end to the powerful Inca Empire.

Stamp depicting Francisco Pizarro and a map of Peru to
commemorate the 500th anniversary of discovering
the Americas.

City street in Cusco, Peru.

        In the early 16th Century, the national religion of Spain was the Roman Catholic religion, and the Spanish always made it a point to bring Catholicism with them to all the colonies they established in the New World.  After the Spanish defeated the Inca, they built monasteries and cathedrals as places of worship for the Spanish clergymen and settlers.  Our key opens the doors to one such monastery built by the Spaniards in the conquered city.

While we do not know the exact monastery to which our key belongs,
this is an example of a monastery built by the Spanish in Cusco, Peru.

        Today, this key hangs in the Baldpate Key Room as a symbol of a once mighty empire lost to the world.  It also represents the birth of a new civilization in Latin America and the introduction of a new religious culture in the region.  Overall, this key embodies just one of the historically meaningful events that we wish to learn about and preserve here at the Baldpate.  Come visit us in the Key Room to see this incredible ancient key and many others like it!

Blog written by:
Alicia Byers
Museum Curator, The Baldpate Inn