Huilliche uprising of 1792

Last updated
Huilliche uprising of 1792
DateSeptember 1792–14 January 1793
Result Uprising suppressed
Parliament of Las Canoas
Huilliches recognise Spanish sovereignty over Futahuillimapu
Strip of land between Rahue and Damas rivers opened for Spanish colonization leading to the reestablishment of Osorno
Flag of Spain.svg Spanish Empire Huilliches of Futahuillimapu
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Spain.svg Tomás de Figueroa

The Huilliche uprising of 1792 was an indigenous uprising against the Spanish penetration into Futahuillimapu, territory in southern Chile that had been de facto free of Spanish rule since 1602. The first part of the conflict was a series of Huilliche attacks on Spanish settlers and the mission in the frontier next to Bueno River. Following this a militia in charge of Tomás de Figueroa departed from Valdivia ravaging Huilliche territory in a quest to punish those involved in the attacks.



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The location of Spanish settlements (yellow dots) by 1792 within the modern boundaries of Chile. In red is the land of Cuncos and Huilliches where the Spanish aimed to build a road to connect Valdivia with the settlements to the south.

Beginning in the mid-18th century the Spanish enclave of Valdivia begun a period of agricultural expansion. The expansion was mainly directed to the south and was done mostly by pacific means, but hostilities with indigenous Huilliches did occur. [1] The second Battle of Río Bueno in 1759 was an exception to the otherwise peaceful penetration. [2] The expansion of Valdivia included a process of racial mixing, the purchasing of indigenous lands by people of European descent and the transformation of previous indigenous proprietors into bonded labourers. [3] In contrast, the Spanish settlement at Chiloé Archipelago had a history of conflicts with the indigenous peoples to the north. After the Valdivian colonization had reached the Bueno River, the Spanish authorities pushed to connect the city of Valdivia and the settlements at Chacao Channel with a road. This way they hoped to make it possible for Valdivia and Chiloé to offer each other mutual aid in the case of invasion by a European power. [1]

In the 1780s, when attempting to cooperate to build this road, the Governor of Valdivia Mariano Pusterla and the Intendant of Chiloé Francisco Hurtado del Pino disagreed. Hurtado del Pino preferred to confront the Huilliches militarily, while Pusterla rejected this approach. [4] After Hurtado del Pino was removed from his position and replaced by Francisco Garos, cooperation ensued. [4] In October 1788 Pusterla sent an expedition across Huilliche-ruled territory to reach Chiloé. The expedition was successful, and by February 1789 its men were back in Valdivia. [5] After this Pusterla made arrangements to improve the road to Chiloé, in particularly to widen it at places where it was no more than a narrow track through forests. [5] In a meeting the Spaniards held with local Cuncos and Huilliches, Pusterla gave assurances that the opening of the road would not imply a re-establishment of the city of Osorno. [5] [upper-alpha 1] subsequently safe transit along the road came to depend on the goodwill of local tribes. [5] [upper-alpha 2]

In parallel with the agricultural expansion and the drive to connect Valdivia and Chiloé Catholic missionary activity also advanced from Valdivia to the south. Spanish Jesuit Andrés Febrés supported the incorporation of Futahuillimapu into the Spanish Empire [8] and by 1767 Febrés had developed plans to establish a mission in Río Bueno. [9] This mission was however established in 1777 by Franciscans as the Jesuits had been expelled from the Americas in 1767.


According to Diego Barros Arana the catalyst of the uprising was a rumour spread by "an Indian" called Felipe who was said to have obtained a letter from the Governor of Valdivia directed to the head of the mission of Río Bueno. [10] This letter would have revealed that the purpose of the mission was to "lull the Indians in the confidence of peace, give death to their warriors and thus reduce more easily the peoples into slavery". [10]

The uprising begun in September 1792, with a series of assaults against Spanish settlers in Río Bueno and Lago Ranco. [10] Houses were torched and animals stolen. Ten Spanish settlers are reported to have been killed. [10] Spanish messengers and priests were caught off guard and brutally killed. [11] Spanish refugees escaped north reaching Valdivia. [11] Once authorities realised it was an uprising and not ordinary crime a detachment under the command of Tomás de Figueroa was sent south from Valdivia on October 3, following Futa River. [11] The first step of the campaign was to Daglipulli where the militia of Figeroa was to absorb the 22 soldiers stationed to reach a total of 104 men. [11]

When Figueroa reached the conflict zone the local Huilliches presented themselves as friends. [12] Deeming this to be a tactic to avoid retribution Figueroa had local cacique Manquepán executed along his two sons and seventeen of his men. [12] These men rejected baptism before their death. [13] Subsequently, the Spanish took custody of women and children, while animals were confiscated. [14] Next on the militia continued to cross Bueno River. Thereafter it advanced slowly amidst heavy rains, obstacles put in their way and minor ambushes. [14] Figueroa reached the ruins of Osorno on November 22, the view of which made a strong impression on him. [14] The campaign continued to ravage Huilliche territory in pursuit of rebel elements until it arrived back to Valdivia on January 14, 1793. [15]


After the Spanish had suppressed the uprising, Royal Governor of Chile Ambrosio O'Higgins summoned local chiefs to the Parliament of Las Canoas. [16] The parliament is historically relevant since the treaty signed at the end of the meeting allowed the Spanish to reestablish the city of Osorno and secure the transit rights between Valdivia and the Spanish mainland settlements next to Chiloé Archipelago (Carelmapu). The indigenous signatories recognized the king of Spain as their sovereign but they kept considerable autonomy in the lands they had not ceded. [17]


  1. The city of Osorno had originally been founded by the Spanish in 1558 but was destroyed by Cuncos and Huilliches in 1602 during the destruction of the Seven Cities.
  2. A similar road known as Caicumeo was opened in 1788 in Chiloé Island connecting the Spanish settlements of Ancud and Castro. [6] [7]

Related Research Articles

Huilliche people

The Huilliche[wi.ˈʝi.tʃe], Huiliche or Huilliche-Mapuche are the southern partiality of the Mapuche macroethnic group of Chile. The Huilliche are the principal indigenous population of Chile from Toltén River to Chiloé Archipelago. According to Ricardo E. Latcham the term Huilliche started to be used in Spanish after the second founding of Valdivia in 1645, adopting the usage of the Mapuches of Araucanía for the southern Mapuche tribes. Huilliche means 'southerners'

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Bueno River

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Parliament of Las Canoas

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Tomás de Figueroa

Tomás de Figueroa y Caravaca was a Spanish soldier was active in the military outpost of Valdivia and later in Santiago as a royalist during the early phase of the Chilean struggle for independence. He was born in Estepona near Málaga in southern Spain. A soldier by profession he had to migrate Chile in 1775 after having killed a man in a duel in Spain. In late 1792 he led Spanish forces that suppressed a Huilliche uprising around Río Bueno and Futahuillimapu in southern Chile. After leading a mutiny to restore colonial order in Santiago on April 1, 1811 he was summarily executed on the orders of pro-independence leader Juan Martínez de Rozas.


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  4. 1 2 Barros Arana 2000, p. 49.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Barros Arana 2000, p. 50.
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  8. Febrés, Andrés (1765). Arte de la lengua general del Reyno de Chile, con un diálogo chileno-hispano muy curioso : a que se añade la doctrina christiana, esto es, rezo, catecismo, coplas, confesionario, y pláticas, lo más en lengua chilena y castellana : y por fin un vocabulario hispano-chileno, y un calepino chileno-hispano mas copioso (in Spanish). Lima. p. 465.
  9. Hanisch Espíndola, Walter (1972). Itinerario y pensamiento de los jesuitas expulsos de Chile, 1767-1815 (in Spanish). Santiago de Chile: Editorial Andrés Bello. p. 251.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Barros Arana 2000, p. 65.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Barros Arana 2000, p. 66.
  12. 1 2 Barros Arana 2000, p. 67.
  13. Barros Arana 2000, p. 68.
  14. 1 2 3 Barros Arana 2000, p. 69.
  15. Barros Arana 2000, p. 70.
  16. Alcamán, Eugenio. "El parlamento general de Las Canoas" (in Spanish).
  17. Contreras Painemal, Carlos (2011). "Los Tratados celebrados por los Mapuche con la Corona Española, la República de Chile y la República de Argentina" . Retrieved 3 December 2013.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)