"In 1985 the Ecuadorian Congress has determined that December 1 of each year was a day to remember Rumiñahui as an hero and defender of the Kingdom of Quito."
Rumiñahui is a nickname; in Quechua means "eye of stone". Certainly, in addition to historical references, which highlight his strong stance against the Spaniards in the Battle of Mount Chimborazo, he was always one of the best warriors, or the best of the army of Atahualpa.
Born in Pillaro, present-day province of Tungurahua, in Ecuador, by the name of Pillahuaso, died on June 25, 1535, after having led the resistance against the Spaniards in the north of the Inca Empire (now Ecuador) in 1533. Assumed the insurgency with an iron hand, after the murder of Atahualpa, by the Spaniards in Cajamarca. Historians seem to believe that he was half-brother of Atahualpa, son of the Inca with some noble from Quito.
When Francisco Pizarro arrested Atahualpa, demanding ransom, Rumiñahui promptly marched to Cajamarca, carrying a large amount of gold but, as we know, the Spaniards broke their word and Atahualpa was killed before he got there, what made he returning to Quito, hiding the treasure, as mentioned previously, in the region of Llanganates.
By knowing the strength of Rumiñahui, Francisco Pizarro sent his lieutenant, Sebastián de Benalcazar to take Quito and bring all the gold that could be achieved. The Forces of Rumiñahui and Benalcázar clashed at the Battle of Mount Chimborazo, where Rumiñahui was defeated. However, before the Spanish forces invaded Quito, Rumiñahui ordered that it be burned to the ground, and that the ñustas (temple virgins) were killed to preserving their honor. Rumiñahui was finally captured, tortured and killed by the Spaniards, but never revealed the location of the treasure.
As general of the armies of Cuzco, Rumiñahui is remembered for have participated in several campaigns, in which he could support Atahuallpa and constantly accompanied him. With the death of Huayna Capac the rapprochement between both was, of course, even larger, whether by lived experience or by the precipitation of future events.
Rumiñahui was a major participant in the civil war conducted by Atahualpa against his brother, the legitimate Inca of Cuzco, Huascar Inca, maintaining close contact with his leader. At the beginning of hostilities, was present in the more important fightings alongside Quizquiz and Chalcochima but when the area of operations was transferred to the Inca capital, he was assigned to protect the rear. Thus, he was in Cajamarca in the terrible moment of the capture of Atahualpa.
Apparently, experienced general, wanted to attack the Spaniards at the moment of his arrival; Atahualpa, however, declined to do so. Rumiñahui remained, then, encamped, outside the city, with an army of five thousand soldiers.
Historians and lay people, they face a single question, it seems, will never be answered.
Why, then, Rumiñahui, not moved his army and not destroyed the Spaniards in that moment?
We can infer that the rigid military discipline of the incan would not allow him to take such a decision alone, what made him wait for the decision of Atahualpa, even though he was in the hands of the Spaniards. Secondly, because of the rapidity of the action and confusion caused - his interference could harm the physical integrity of the Inca,that at that moment, was exactly in the middle of the killing.
When the Inca defeat was clearly exposed, Rumiñahui ordered the withdrawal of the army to Quito, suffering no loss.
During Atahualpa's captivity, he merely controled the Spanish presence, while the collecting of treasure to the rescue was supervised personally by Quilliscache, brother of the Inca. With the death of Atahualpa, Rumiñahui realized that the Spaniards would come to the territories and prepared to act.
Encountered opposition from Quilliscache that preferred to use diplomacy with aliens who had already given proof of invincibility.
Revolted with the weakness of the legitimate heir of Atahualpa, decided to act. Under the pretext of a banquet in a posthumous tribute to the Inca, met all the relatives of Atahualpa and his followers and, in the middle of the meeting, arrested everyone. Before naming himself as Lord of Quito, killed Quilliscache, considering him a traitor of the land of their ancestors. The Spanish chroniclers make a grisly description of the death, which I prefer not to accept, because they also said that he had killed all the sons of Atahualpa that occasion, what is unfounded, because, later, they appeared alive.
Initially, the spanish forces could only count on the troops of Banalcazar that, on their own, had ventured in the conquest of the Northern Territory, blinded by the possibility of finding gold, as it was told that there were aplenty.
The lieutenant of Pizarro, followed by Almagro, came, soon, to join him, with few men, to bring him to reason. Gradually, this contingent has been reinforced with the arrival of Don Pedro de Alvarado, conqueror of Mexico, which had reached the Andes from Puerto Viejo, leaving behind him an impressive number of victims. Even Rumiñahui was not alone. The army of Zope-Zopahua and the one of Quizquiz, coming from the Cusco region, came to join him. The three armies were operating separately, which would have facilitated to the Spaniards fight them one by one, with strategic advantages.
However, the factor that defined the conflict, was the presence of the Cañari, who joined the invaders. Old enemies of the people of Quito, believed able to take advantage of the occasion to defeat their "oppressors" and gain freedom. They provided the Spaniards with the necessary supplies, were in charge of transporting luggage and, in the battle, were the first to enter combat, leaving the Spaniards to intervene in the midst of the struggle to resolve the situation.
The first battles, however, were fierce: Teocajas, Ambato, Pancallo and Latacunga were favorable to the armies of Quito, which did not lose ground. Quizquiz alone killed fourteen enemies in a single fight, forcing the Spanish army to retreat. However, a strange event caused him to be killed by his own men who wanted a state of guerrilla.
Rumiñahui organized tactics for dealing with horses: holes in the ground, covered with branches and leaves, to prevent the advance of them, but the Cañari went in front, dismantling the traps.
When the Spaniards finally entered in Quito, they found it burned and abandoned.
Chased by the cavalry, the warriors of Quito have made jugglings, however, they were accustomed to quick battles, while foreigners to long campaigns. The defections had grown day by day, and Rumiñahui was forced to leave the area, pursued by enemies. It remained to him a handful of men, the invincible leader tried once again to escape but was captured after a fierce struggle. Soon after, Zope-Zopahua also fell prisoner, apparently abandoned by theirs, and forced to surrender. Rumiñahui and the others were tortured, but revealed nothing. Seeing that their efforts were useless, the Spaniards decided by their death and, in June 25, 1535, Rumiñahui, Zopa-Zopahua, Quingalumba, Razorazo and Sina were executed in a barbaric manner.
In Ecuador, Rumiñahui is considered "defender of Quito," national hero and, about him, many works were written.
1) Llescas, according to Spanish chroniclers.