Fall of the Inca Empire

Fall of the Inca Empire

I can explain the key factors that contributed to the fall of the Inca Empire.

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Fall of the Inca Empire

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In this lesson, students learn about Fernando Pizarro and Spanish exploration, including their motivations for taking over the Inca empire. Students learn why the arrival of Fernando Pizarro was so devastating for the Inca civilization as well as the effects of the civil war between Atahualpa and Huáscar. The lesson also includes a printable “note catcher” where students keep track of what they’ve learned.

Learning Objective

Students will be able to describe the factors that led to the fall of the Inca empire, including disease, civil war, and Spanish conquest.


Ask students what they already know about the Inca empire. Who were they? Where did they live? Briefly review what students have learned and introduce the three main factors that led to the fall of the Inca empire.


First, explain how disease contributed to the demise of the Incas. A large portion of the population was killed by diseases. This weakened the working class and the government, setting the stage for the civil war. Have students take notes in their note catcher. Next, introduce the two brothers, Atahualpa and Huáscar. Explain why the two entered into a civil war that divided the civilization, making it easier for Francisco Pizarro and his army to take over. After this, introduce Francisco Pizarro and go over his motives for taking over the Inca civilization. Explain how they were able to conquer the Incas with an ambush and how they kidnapped and later killed Atahualpa. Students will then watch a video and jot down any additional information they learned.


Check student understanding with ten multiple-choice and true or false questions.


Students write a short paragraph to explain how the Inca Empire came to an end. Then they will write a journal entry from the perspective of either an Inca native or from the point of view of a Spanish conquistador. You may choose to have students draw a picture as well.

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