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Battle of Tucapel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Tucapel
Part of Arauco War
DateDecember 25, 1553
Vicinity of fort of Tucapel
Result Mapuche victory
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg
Spanish Empire
Lautaro flag.svg
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg
Pedro de Valdivia (POW)
Lautaro flag.svg
Toqui Caupolicán
Lautaro flag.svg
vice toqui Lautaro
55 Spanish soldiers[1]
2,000–5,000 yanakuna
more than 50,000 warriors according to Spanish sources, considered exaggerated, modern estimations 10,000[2]
Casualties and losses
All 55 Spaniards killed
most of the yanaconas killed
Unknown, but not small[3]
Pedro de Valdivia
Pedro de Valdivia

The Battle of Tucapel (also known as the Disaster of Tucapel[citation needed]) is the name given to a battle fought between Spanish conquistador forces led by Pedro de Valdivia and Mapuche (Araucanian) Indians under Lautaro that took place at Tucapel, Chile on December 25, 1553. This battle happened in the context of the first stage of the Arauco War, named the "offensive war" within a larger uprising by Araucanians against the Spanish conquest of Chile. It was a defeat for the Spaniards, resulting in the capture and eventual death of Valdivia.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Arauco War | History #5
  • ✪ Battle of Wilson's Creek


Hello, I’ll be talking about the Arauco war. This video will be split in 2 parts, Before the Arauco war and the actual Arauco war. I’ll start with Before the Arauco war. There was two side in the war. So I’ll start with the Mapuche people. The Mapuche people have been living in Araucania for a solid century or so. They’ve been very preserve and peaceful beside a few internal conflict of course just like most pre industrial society. As time progress the Mapuche people began expanding moving further and further away from each other hence becoming different tribes. Some stayed in the mountains, other moves down the valley and even more traveled into the forest. This happened from the 600 to 500 BC till the beginning of the Arauco war when some random colonial powerhouse landed in Araucania. Those colonial powerhouse are of course the Spaniard. The Spaniards were making history being part of The New World order and invading countries good job Spanish Empire here a candy. From the Spanish empire specialist of both exploring and fighting called Conquistador were the first to lead the The New World era having much more advance technology then all of the Americans countries at the time it was destiny that they conquer most of America. (I’m talking about the continent not the country for all you Americans.) Spaniards just finish the conquest of the Inca Empire and the Aztec Empire which made the Spaniard believes that the quote on quote “Indians” could be conqueror quickly and easily but as you’re going to find out 270 years isn’t particularly short is it. (Advertisement) Onto part 2, The actual Arauco war. The Arauco War began with the Battle of Reynogüelén which pitted the superior more advance tactically correct Spaniard against the Mapuche people (pause) which ended with a massacre of the Mapuche people at the hands of Gómez de Alvarado and his mens. With this the Spaniard continue with their conquest of Chile which created the Campaigns of Pedro de Valdivia. Pedro de Valdivia a conquistador start the 9 years campaign which purpose was to capture and secure the city of Santiago which was destroyed in 1541 by the Mapuche people. With the Spaniard securing the city, they began working on improving and transforming the city later on making it the biggest city in Chile as well as the capital. This takes us onto the Founding of Concepción, Imperial, and Valdivia which in short was an exhibition started again by the Spaniard in hope of reuniting the shore of the Bay of Concepción to the shore of the Bio Bio river. The exhibition prove to be a success and before long another exhibition this time only lead by Valdivia which established forts at Tucapel,Purén, Confines and Arauco. This again was a success but this time the Mapuches decided that they had enough and appointed Caupolicán as a military leader who was able to successfully capture the fort of Tucapel and successfully defended it as well from the first counter attack making this the first great Mapuche uprising. This would also be the last of Pedro de Valdivia as he was killed in the same battle. The Spaniard were beginning to take the Mapuche as a threat and began strengthening their forces along the two other forts. Following that, Villagra lead a devastating raid against the Mapuche settlement near the edge of Arachania causing havoc and creating famines and epidemic for the Mapuche. This in term cause and create more hostile Mapuche which later on join in the fight. Of course this raid wouldn’t have gone unnoticed as this inspired Lautaro who was second in command after Caupolican in the battle of Tucapel to start his own campaign. This Campaign started out promising with a great assault on Santiago forcing the Spanish force and many civilian to retreat but from then on the campaign began a downward spiral that would lead to the death of Lautaro in the Battle of Mataquito. For convenience sake and my sake, I’ll be skipping the campaign of Caupolicán and García Hurtado de Mendoza but to summarize Caupolican was killed and the Mapuche lost. However, the Mapuche began preparing for the second uprising as you’ll see soon. The Mapuche after the defeat was now united as one force began acting out their plans which began with a few assassination but leads to an all out war. The assassination came upon the new spaniard governor son which cause him to fled leaving his relative Pedro de Villagra in charge. The new governor first move was to bring all of his force out of Arauco giving the Mapuche more resources and maneuverability which would make a big difference later on. With this the Mapuche began putting their plan in effect by first surrounding Conception and cutting off any outside aid for the city creating a siege. Although the Mapuche were tip for an easy victory winter came early forcing a Mapuche retreat, ending the second great Mapuche rebellion and extending the war. Which now is just dragging on. Their was 30 years period of Spaniard domination and campaign before again you guessed it another Mapuche uprising but this was the chance for the Spaniard to end the Arauco war and they bottled it. The Spaniard now have lost their 11th governor in just over 60 years proving that their conquest of Chile was a failure but they keep trying. The Mapuche in the span of 6 years ransacked many Spaniard cities but ultimately returned back to Arauco in the end. For the next 50 years the Spaniard and Mapuche would have a sort of peace but this peace didn’t last and before long more war. Again, there was another Mapuche uprising this time only a major uprising not a great one and this time lead by Clentaru. This uprising only pushed back the Spaniard force and giving the Spaniard a reason to keep attacking Arauco. This then created the Campaigns of the Mestizo Alejo and Misqui which didn’t accomplish much for the Spaniard besides making peace with the Mapuche which lasted (pause) for 30 years. Once more, peace ended with another uprising for the Mapuche from 1723 to 1784. In 1793 the Spaniard finally made peace with the Mapuche people officially ending the war. Sorry if there wasn’t much information near the end of the war and also for the long video. As always Thank you Watching! And hopefully you enjoy this video!



The Arauco War was a large scale war that took place in what is now Chilean territory between Spanish conquerors and Mapuches. Pedro de Valdivia was the Spanish conqueror, who founded the first cities in Chilean territory. Around 1550, he took a Mapuche man who had offered his services as his servant. The conqueror baptized him as Felipe Lautaro. Under Pedro de Valdivia's wing, Lautaro quickly learned horse-riding and Spanish military techniques that he would use later in the war that was taking place at the moment. Once he had learned this knowledge, he eventually went back to his village and decided to use these techniques to his advantage. At the same time, Pedro de Valdivia was using a policy of quickly founding cities, dispersing his forces in the conquered territory. His forces also built numerous forts, like Tucapel and Purén.

Valdivia went on an inspection tour of a group of forts constructed to secure the Chilean interior for the Spanish. He left Concepción in December 1553 and worked his way south to Quilacoya, where he gathered troops for the march into the restive territory of Arauco. Mapuche spies observed his column from the hills, but merely followed and did not present themselves for battle. Meanwhile, the Mapuche leader Lautaro kept the forces of Gómez de Almagro bottled up in the nearby fort of Purén through various trickery. He learned through his spies of the southwards movements of Valdivia, and realized that they would probably pass through the fort of Tucapel.

Valdivia became perturbed by the lack of news from Tucapel and by the lack of hostility on the road. On December 24, he decided that he would make for the fort, hoping to find Almagro and his troops there. The tranquility and the occasional sightings of Indians in the distance continued to raise his suspicion, and he sent an advance scouting team of five men under the command of Luis de Bobadilla to explore the road ahead and return information about the location of the enemy.


Bust of Lautaro in the square of Cañete.
Bust of Lautaro in the square of Cañete.

Tucapel fort was located on a hill in the coastal mountain range. In December 1553, Mapuche forces, under the command of the vice toqui Lautaro attacked and destroyed the fort using the battle tactics learned from the Spanish. Pedro de Valdivia had left Concepción with only 50 soldiers and sent a message to Purén fort to send reinforcements. The message, however, was intercepted by Lautaro's men.

Valdivia received no reports from his leading element, and spent the night a half day's journey from Tucapel. On Christmas Day, December 25, 1553, he left early in the morning for the fort, arriving in its vicinity with silence reigning. He found it completely destroyed. Neither Gómez de Almagro nor Bobadilla was anywhere to be found. He decided to make camp amidst the damp ruins of the fort, but the contingent had hardly begun to make preparations when there were shouts from the surrounding forest. Without advance warning, a mass of Mapuche warriors charged out towards the Spanish enclave.

A veteran soldier, Valdivia had time to form and arm his defensive line and repulsed the first attack. The cavalry charged upon the rearguard of the retreating Mapuche force, but the Indians were prepared for this action and reversed the charge with lances. However, with much valor and resolution the Spaniards managed to drive back the resulting Mapuche surge into the forest. The Spaniards savored their temporary victory.

There was still more to come, however. A second squadron of Mapuches attacked, this time armed with maces and ropes as well as lances, with which they succeeded in dismounting the unfortunate Spanish caballeros, whom they quickly dragged out of the battlefield once they were on the ground. The Spanish managed to drive them back, but not without leaving many fallen. Then a third group of Mapuches appeared, this time with Lautaro behind it.

Valdivia, aware of the desperate situation due to the Spanish losses and fatigue, gathered together his available men and threw himself into the bitter fight. Already half of the Spanish forces were casualties and the Indian auxiliaries were steadily being reduced. Valdivia, seeing that the fight was lost, ordered the retreat, but Lautaro himself came around the flank and sealed the Spanish fate. The Indians felled every one of the Spaniards, and only Valdivia and the cleric Pozo, who rode the best horses, were able to escape. However, when crossing the swamps the men became bogged down and the Mapuches eventually captured them.


Valdivia's death

According to Jerónimo de Vivar, the toqui Caupolicán personally ordered the execution of Valdivia, who was killed with a lance and his head, along with those of the two other bravest Spaniards, were put on display.[4] Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo writes Valdivia offered as a ransom for his life that he would evacuate the Spanish settlements in their lands and give them large herds of animals, but this was rejected and the Mapuche cut off his forearms, roasted and ate them in front of him before killing him and the priest.[5] Pedro Mariño de Lobera also wrote that Valdivia offered to evacuate the lands of the Mapuche but says he was shortly after killed by a vengeful warrior named Pilmaiquen with a large club, saying Valdivia could not be trusted to keep his word once freed.[6] Lobera also says that a common story in Chile at the time was that Valdivia was killed by giving him the gold that the Spaniards so desired; however, the gold was molten and was poured down Valdivia's throat.[6] According to a later legend, Lautaro took Valdivia to the Mapuche camp and put him to death after three days of torture, extracting his beating heart and eating it with the Mapuche leaders.

Following the battle Caupolicán went on to blockade the city of Valdivia and the few remaining Spanish settlements in the south of Chile. Lautaro watched the Spanish forces in Concepción, the center of the Spanish power in southern Chile. The Spanish for a while were in some disarray as the succession of the governorship was for a while in dispute between three men.

See also


  1. ^ Vivar, Capítulo CXV.
  2. ^ Vivar, Capítulo CXV "más de cincuenta mil indios"; Marmolejo, Capítulo XIV "cincuenta mill indios y más"; Lobera, Capítulo XLIII "ciento y cincuenta mil"; Diego de Roslaes, Vol. 1, Libro III Cap. XXXV, "veinte mil indios"
  3. ^ Lobera, Crónica del Reino de Chile, Capítulo XLIII, Lobera names several famous araucanos captains that died in the battle: Triponcio, Gameande, Alcanabal, Manguié, Curilen, Layan, Ayanquete and others of much fame.
  4. ^ Vivar, Capítulo CXV. Vivar says this is according to Indians that had been in the battle, no Spaniard had survived.
  5. ^ Marmolejo, Capítulo XIV.
  6. ^ a b Lobera, Capítulo XLIII.


Jerónimo de Vivar, Pedro Mariño de Lobera and Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo all were in Chile at the time of this battle and wrote about it from other participants accounts.

This page was last edited on 13 April 2019, at 20:29
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