Túpac Amaru II

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Túpac Amaru II
Tupac Amaru II, oleo.jpg
José Gabriel Condorcanqui

(1738-03-19)March 19, 1738
Surimana-Canas, Cuzco, Viceroyalty of Peru
DiedMay 18, 1781(1781-05-18) (aged 43)
Cuzco, Viceroyalty of Peru
Other namesJosé Gabriel Túpac Amaru, José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera
Tupac Amaru II Condorcanqui.jpg
Tupac Amaru II

José Gabriel Túpac Amaru (March 10, 1738 – May 18, 1781) — known as Túpac Amaru II — was the leader of a large Andean uprising against the Spanish in Peru, whose quelling resulted in his death. [1] He later became a mythical figure in the Peruvian struggle for independence and indigenous rights movement, as well as an inspiration to myriad causes in Spanish America and beyond.


Early life

Túpac Amaru II was born José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera between March 8 and 24, 1738 in Surimana, Tungasuca, in the province of Cusco, to Miguel Condorcanqui Usquionsa Tupac Amaru, kuraka of three towns in the Tinta district, and María Rosa Noguera. On May 1, Túpac Amaru II was baptized by Santiago José Lopez in a church in Tungasuca. Prior to his father's death, Amaru II spent his childhood in the Vilcamayu Valley; he accompanied his father to community functions, such as the temple, the market, and processions. [2] Tupac's parents died when he was twelve years old, and he was raised by an aunt and uncle. At age sixteen, he received a Jesuit education at the San Francisco de Borja School, founded to educate the sons of kurakas. The Jesuits "impressed upon him his social standing as future kuraka and someone of royal Inca blood." [3] At age twenty-two, Túpac Amaru II married Micaela Bastidas. [4] Shortly after his marriage, Amaru II succeeded his father as kuraka, giving him rights to land. As with his father, he was both the head of several Quechua communities and a regional merchant and muleteer, inheriting 350 mules from his father's estate. His regional trading gave him contacts in many other indigenous communities and access to information about economic conditions. His personal contacts and knowledge of the region were useful in the rebellion of 1780–81. [5]

His status in the colonial Spanish racial hierarchy has been discussed by scholars, whether he was of "pure indigenous blood" or a mixed-race mestizo, although his mother most likely had partial Spanish ancestry. He was recognized as an elite Quechua from a kuraka family and was educated at a school in Cuzco for sons of indigenous leaders. He spoke Quechua and Spanish, and learned Latin from the Jesuits. He was upwardly socially mobile, and in Cuzco he had connections with distinguished Spanish and Spanish American (creole) residents. "The upper classes in Lima saw him as a well-educated Indian," [6] whatever European ancestry he might have had.

Between 1776 and 1780 Condorcanqui went into litigation with the Betancur family over the right of succession of the Marquisate of Oropesa and lost the case. [7] In 1760, he married Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua of Afro-Peruvian and indigenous descent. Tupac Amaru II inherited the caciqueship, or hereditary chiefdom of Tungasuca and Pampamarca from his older brother, governing on behalf of the Spanish governor.

At the end of the 1770s, the trade relations between Buenos Aires and the Upper Peru ended with the commercial monopoly of Lima, which caused greater competition for the manufacturers of Cuzco. They needed to sell their merchandise in Potosí but had to compete with producers of Buenos Aires and even of Spain. On the other hand, the widespread overproduction throughout the Andes pushed prices down. Furthermore, in the years 1778 and 1779, extremely cold weather damaged crops and made travel difficult. In 1780, Túpac Amaru, who also experienced this crisis, had considerable resources but numerous debts, as well. He also witnessed the economic discomforts the others were going through, from merchants who were on the brink of bankruptcy to communities that could not afford the growing tribute. [8] [9]

Condorcanqui lived the typical situation of the curacas (tribal chiefs): he had to mediate between the local commander and the indigenous people in his charge. However, he was affected, Like the rest of the population, due to the establishment of customs and the rise of the alcabalas (taxes). He voiced his objection against these issues. He also demanded that the indigenous people be freed from compulsory work in the mines. claims directed through the regular channels to the colonial authorities in Tinta, Cusco and later in Lima, obtaining negatives or indifference.

In addition, he adopted the name of Túpac Amaru II, in honor of his ancestor Túpac Amaru I, the last Neo-Inca State, seeking to be recognized for his royal Inca lineage. For this reason, a judicial process followed for years in the Audiencia of Lima, which was finally rejected.

Current monument in Cusco, in homage to Jose Gabriel Tupac Amaru, in the square of the same name Tupac Amaru II.JPG
Current monument in Cusco, in homage to José Gabriel Túpac Amaru, in the square of the same name

The Corregidores and the exploitation of the natives

Although the Spanish trusteeship labor system, or encomienda , had been abolished in 1720, a seventh of the population living in native communities (pueblos the indios) as well as permanent indigenous workers at the time living in the Andean region of what is now Ecuador and Bolivia, who made up nine tenths of the population, were still pushed into forced labor for what were legally labeled as public work projects. [10] [11] This shift from the encomienda to the state sponsored and controlled draft labor system consolidated the indigenous labor force in the hands of the local government and not in the individual encomenderos. [12] Most natives worked under the supervision of a master either tilling soil, mining or working in textile mills. What little wage that was acquired by workers was heavily taxed and cemented Native American indebtedness to Spanish masters. The Roman Catholic Church also had a hand in extorting these natives through collections for saints, masses for the dead, domestic and parochial work on certain days, forced gifts, etc. [13] Those not employed in forced labor were still subject to the Spanish provincial governors, or corregidores who also heavily taxed and overpriced commodities to any free natives, similarly ensuring their financial instability. [13] [11]

In addition, the middle of the 18th century mining production intensified, putting more and more of a burden on the mita, or draft labor, system. [11] While Potosi's mining mita had already been dangerous and labor-intensive work as well as forcing a migration by both the native worker and sometimes their families to Potosi to work, the labor became more extractive during this time, even though no new veins of ore had been discovered. [14] [11] Indeed, many future rebellious areas centered around Potosi and the mining district. [11]

Condorcanqui's interest in the Native American cause had been spurred by the re-reading of one the Royal Commentaries of the Incas, a romantic and heroic account of the history and culture of the ancient Incas. The book was outlawed at the time by the Lima viceroy for fear of it inspiring renewed interest in the lost Inca culture and inciting rebellion. [15] The marquis's native pride coupled with his hate for the Spanish colonial system, caused him to sympathize and frequently petition for the improvement of native labor in the mills, farms and mines; even using his own wealth to help alleviate the taxes and burdens of the natives. After many of his requests for the alleviation of the native conditions fell on deaf ears, Condorcanqui decided to organize a rebellion. He began to stall on collecting reparto debts and tribute payments, for which the Tinta corregidor and governor Antonio de Arriaga threatened him with death. Condorcanqui changed his name to Túpac Amaru II and claimed he was descended from the last Inca ruler, Túpac Amaru. [16]


Tupac Amaru II TupacAmaruII.jpg
Túpac Amaru II

The Túpac Amaru rebellion was an Inca revival movement that sought to improve the rights of indigenous Peruvians suffering under the Spanish Bourbon Reforms. The rebellion was one of many indigenous Peruvian uprisings in the latter half of the 18th century. It began with the capture and killing of the Tinta Corregidor and Governor Antonio de Arriaga on November 4, 1780, after a banquet attended by both Túpac Amaru II and Governor Arriaga.The immediate cause of the rebellion lay in grievances caused by a series of modernising reforms of the colonial administration implemented by the Bourbon monarchy in Spain under Charles III (1759–88), centralising administrative and economic control and placing heavier tax and labour burdens on both the Indian and Creole populations. The focus of discontent was the main representative of the crown in Peru, the visitador general José Antonio Areche. Ideologically, the rebellion was complex. At one level, it expressed simply a demand on the Spanish authorities for changes and reforms within the structure of colonial rule, often speaking in the name of the king himself, for example. At another, it envisioned an overthrow of European rule, and something like a restoration of the pre-conquest Inca empire, the Tahuantinsuyo. Túpac Amaru's claim to be the legitimate descendant of the Inca suggested the possibility of an aristocratic state similar to the one envisioned in the sixteenth century by the mestizo writer, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who saw the Incas as sharing rule with the Spanish aristocracy. But there were also strong millenarian, proto-Jacobin and even proto-communist elements in the rebellion. In the main, the soldiers of the Tupamarista armies were poor Indian peasants, artisans and women, who saw the rebellion not so much as a question of reforms or power sharing but as an opportunity to ‘turn the world upside down’. The restoration of the Inca Empire meant for them the possibility of an egalitarian society, based economically on the Inca communal agricultural system, the ayllu, and one without castas (racial divisions), rich and poor, or forced labour in haciendas, mines and factories, particularly the dreaded textile mills.” [17]

When Arriaga left the party drunk, Túpac Amaru II and several of his allies captured him and forced him to write letters to a large number of Spaniards and kuracas. When about 200 of them gathered within the next few days, Túpac Amaru II surrounded them with approximately 4,000 natives. Claiming that he was acting under direct orders from the Spanish Crown, Amaru II gave Arriaga's slave Antonio Oblitas the privilege of executing his master. [16] A platform in the middle of a local town plaza was erected, and the initial attempt at hanging the corregidor failed when the noose snapped. Arriaga then ran for his life to try to reach a nearby church, but was not quick enough to escape, and was successfully hanged on the second attempt. [15]

After the execution of de Arriaga, Amaru II continued his insurrection. Releasing his first proclamation, Tupac Amaru II announced, "that there have been repeated outcries directed to me by the indigenous peoples of this and surrounding provinces, outcries against the abuses committed by European-born crown officials... Justified outcries that have produced no remedy from the royal courts" to all the inhabitants of the Spanish provinces. He went on in the same proclamation to state, "I have acted ... only against the mentioned abuses and to preserve the peace and well-being of Indians, mestizos, mambos, as well as native-born whites and blacks. I must now prepare for the consequences of these actions." [18] Tupac Amaru II then went on to quickly assemble an army of 6,000 natives who had abandoned their work to join the revolt. As they marched towards Cuzco, the rebels occupied the provinces of Quispicanchis, Tinta, Cotabambas, Calca, and Chumbivilcas. The rebels looted the Spaniards' houses and killed their occupants. [16] The movement was supremely anti-royalist since, upon arriving at a town the rebels would upturn Spanish authority.

“Women, as much as men, were affected by these injustices.” [19] In fact, Tupac Amaru II's wife, Michaela Bastidas, commanded a battalion of insurgents and was responsible for the uprising in the San Felipe de Tungasuca region. She is also often credited to being more daring and a superior strategist, compared to Túpac Amaru II. It is told that she scolded her husband for his weakness and refusal to set up a surprise attack against the Spaniards in Cuzco to catch the weakened city defenders off guard. Instead of listening to his wife, Túpac Amaru II lost precious time by encircling the country in hopes that he could gather more recruits for his army. So, by the time the insurgents had attacked the city, the Spaniards had already brought in reinforcements and were able to control and stop the uprising. This led to Túpac Amaru II, Micaela Bastidas, and several others to be captured while the rebels scattered. [20]

During a stage of his rebellion, Túpac Amaru II was able to convince the Quechua speakers to join him. Therefore, under his command, the Quechua speakers fought alongside him with Aymara-speaking rebels from Puno on Lake Titicaca and on the Bolivian side of the lake. Unfortunately, the alliance did not last that long and this led the Aymara leader, Túpac Katari, to lead his army alone which ultimately led to his capture in October 1781. His partner and female commander, Bartola Sisa, took control after his capture and lead an astonishing amount of 2,000 soldiers for several months. Soon after that in early 1782, the Spanish military defeated the rebels in Peru and Bolivia. According to modern sources, out of the 73 leaders, 32 were women, who were all executed privately. [20]

On November 18, 1780, Cuzco dispatched over 1,300 Spanish and Native loyalist troops. The two opposing forces clashed in the town of Sangarará. It was an absolute victory for Amaru II and his Native rebels; all 578 Spanish soldiers were killed and the rebels took possession of their weapons and supplies. The victory however, also came with a price. The battle revealed that Amaru II was unable to fully control his rebel followers, as they viciously slaughtered without direct orders. Reports of such violence and the rebels' insistence on the death of Spaniards eliminated any chances for support by the Criollo class. [16] The victory achieved at Sangarará would be followed by a string of defeats. The gravest defeat came in Amaru II's failure to capture Cuzco, where his 40,000 – 60,000 indigenous followers were repelled by the fortified town consisting of a combined force of loyalist Native troops and reinforcements from Lima. "After being repelled from the capital of the ancient Inca empire and intellectual hub of colonial Peru" [21] Amaru and his men marched through the countryside attempting to recruit any native to his cause, in doing so bolstering his forces. Amaru II's army was surrounded between Tinta and Sangarara and he was betrayed by two of his officers, Colonel Ventura Landaeta and Captain Francisco Cruz, which led to his capture. [20] When his captors attempted to procure the names of his rebel accomplices from him in exchange for promises, Amaru II scornfully replied "There are no accomplices here other than you and I. You as oppressor, I as liberator, deserve to die." [22]

Attempt to dismember Tupac Amaru II. Tupac amaru execution.jpg
Attempt to dismember Túpac Amaru II.


Amaru II was sentenced to be executed. He was forced to watch the deaths of his wife Micaela Bastidas, his eldest son Hipólito, his uncle Francisco Tupa Amaro, his brother-in-law Antonio Bastidas, and some of his captains before his own death.

On May 18, 1781, they were taken to the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco to be executed one by one. His son Hipólito first had his tongue cut out, for having spoken against the Spanish, and then he was hanged. Micaela and José Gabriel were forced to witness the death of their son, then they made her climb to the platform. In front of her husband and her son Fernando Micaela fought against her executioners, until they finally subdued her and cut off her tongue. Her thin neck could not reach the winch, so they threw ties around her neck that pulled it from side to side to strangle her. They bit her with a club and ended up killing her with kicks in the stomach and breasts. [23]

The following is an extract from the official judicial death issued by the Spanish authorities which condemns Túpac Amaru II to torture and death. It was ordered in sentence that Túpac Amaru II be condemned to have his tongue cut out, after watching the executions of his family, and to have his hands and feet tied. [24]

...to four horses who will then be driven at once toward the four corners of the plaza, pulling the arms and legs from his body. The torso will then be taken to the hill overlooking the city... where it will be burned in a bonfire... Tupac Amaru's head will be sent to Tinta to be displayed for three days in the place of public execution and then placed upon a pike at the principal entrance to the city. One of his arms will be sent to Tungasuca, where he was the cacique, and the other arm to the capital province of Carabaya, to be similarly displayed in those locations. His legs will be sent to Livitica and Santa Rosas in the provinces of Chumbivilcas and Lampa, respectively.

Sarah C. Chambers, Latin American Independence: An Anthology of Sources
The Tomb of Tupac Amaru II, located in the Plaza de Armas of Cuzco. La Tumba de Tupac Amaru II - CUSCO.jpg
The Tomb of Túpac Amaru II, located in the Plaza de Armas of Cuzco.

After the failed dismemberment by the four horses, his body was quartered, and he was then beheaded on the main plaza in Cuzco, in the same place his apparent great-great-great-grandfather Túpac Amaru I had been beheaded.

His youngest son,10-year-old Fernando, was not executed but was forced to witness the torture and death of his entire family and to pass under the gallows of those executed. He was later exiled to Africa for life imprisonment. However, the ship taking him there was capsized and he ended up in Cádiz to be imprisoned in the dungeons of the city. Viceroy Agustín de Jáuregui suggested that he would be kept in Spain fearing that some enemy power might rescue him on the way to Africa. [25]

Scientists who have studied this dismemberment attempt concluded that due to the physical build and resistance of Túpac Amaru II it would not have been possible to dismember him in that way, however, his arm s and legs were dislocated along with his pelvis. Even if Amaru had survived this execution, he would have been practically invalid. [26]

Despite the execution of Túpac Amaru II and his family, the vice regal government failed to quell the rebellion, which continued under the leadership of his cousin Diego Cristóbal Túpac Amaru at the same time that it extended through Upper Peru and the Jujuy region. Likewise, disaffection of the Spanish Crown towards the Creoles became evident, especially for the Oruro Case. The lawsuit were filed against Juan José Segovia, born in Lima, and Colonel Ignacio Flores, born in Quito, who had served as president of the Real Audiencia of Charcas and as the Governor Intendant of La Plata (Chuquisaca or Charcas, currently Sucre). [27]


Tupac Amaru II Monument in the Comas and Independencia District, Lima. Monumento Tupac Amaru II - Distrito de Comas.jpg
Túpac Amaru II Monument in the Comas and Independencia District, Lima.

When the revolt continued, the Spaniards executed the remainder of his family, except his 12-year-old son Fernando, who had been condemned to die with him, but was instead imprisoned in Spain for the rest of his life. It is not known if any members of the Inca royal family survived this final purge. Amaru's body parts were strewn across the towns loyal to him as ordered, his houses were demolished, their sites strewn with salt, his goods confiscated, his relatives declared infamous, and all documents relating to his descent burnt. [28]

At the same time, on May 18, 1781, Incan clothing and cultural traditions, and self-identification as "Inca" were outlawed, along with other measures to convert the population to Spanish culture and government until Peru's independence as a republic. However, even after the death of Amaru, Native revolts still seized much of what is today southern Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, as Native revolutionaries captured Spanish towns and beheaded many inhabitants. In one instance, a Native-American army under rebel leader Túpac Katari besieged the city of La Paz for 109 days before troops sent from Buenos Aires stepped in to relieve the city.[ citation needed ]

Diego Verdejo; Antonio Oblitas (black servant who participated in the hanging of Arriaga and possibly drew a portrait of Tupac Amaru); Micaela's brother, Antonio Bastidas; and Antonio Castelo, they were the first victims. Later, Francisco Tupac Amaru (José Gabriel's uncle), and Hipólito (eldest son of Tupac Amaru and Micaela Bastidas) were executed. Their tongues were cut out before being hanged at gallows. Soldiers forced Túpac Amaru and Micaela to watch the scene. She then was then executed by garrote, along with Tomasa Tito Condemayta, whom, sometimes was called Tupac Amaru's favorite. [29] [30]


Tupac Amaru II Tupac amaru ii 01.png
Tupac Amaru II

Although Túpac Amaru II's rebellion was not a success, it marked the first large-scale rebellion in the Spanish colonies and inspired the revolt of many Natives and mestizos in the surrounding area. The rebellion took on important manifestations in "Upper Peru" or what is today modern Bolivia including the region South and East of Lake Titicaca. Indeed, Túpac Amaru II inspired the indigenous peoples to such an extent that even the official document wherein he is condemned to death, it is remarked that "the Indians stood firm in the place of our gunfire, despite their enormous fear of it" and that despite being captured, his followers remained steadfast in their beliefs in his immortality and heritage. [31]

The rebellion gave indigenous Peruvians a new state of mind, a sort of indigenous nationalism that would re-emerge and change shape over the course of the country's future. They were now willing to join forces with anyone who opposed the Spanish. By contrast, the Peruvian creole peoples would prove to be South America's most conservative in the independence movement due to the fear that independence would leave them at the mercy of the Native populations. As well, other Peruvian creoles had prosperous co-owned businesses and land with the Spaniards, and as such did not want to lose those interests in the event of a revolution. While Túpac Amaru II's revolt was spawned in the Vilcanota Valley and ended in the city of Cuzco, the legacy and ideology of his revolt had echoes throughout the Andean region.[ citation needed ]


Querrán volarlo y no podrán volarlo ("They will want to blow him up and won't be able to blow him up").
Querrán romperlo y no podrán romperlo ("They will want to break him and won't be able to break him").
Querrán matarlo y no podrán matarlo ("They will want to kill him and won't be able to kill him").
Al tercer día de los sufrimientos, cuando se creia todo consumado, gritando: ¡LIBERTAD! sobre la tierra, ha de volver. ¡Y no podrán matarlo! ("On the third day of suffering, when it was believed everything was finished, he will scream: FREEDOM! over the land must return. And they won't be able to kill him!")
Alejandro Romualdo


Effigy of Tupac Amaru II in the Panteon de los Proceres in Lima. Procer Tupac Amaru II 1780.jpg
Effigy of Túpac Amaru II in the Panteón de los Próceres in Lima.

The fame of Túpac Amaru II spread to such an extent that for the indigenous rebels in the plains of Casanare in the New Granada region, he was recognized as "King of America".

Later movements invoked the name of Túpac Amaru II to obtain the support of the indigenous, among others, Felipe Velasco Túpac Amaru Inca or Felipe Velasco Túpac Inca Yupanqui, who wanted to rise up in Huarochirí (Lima) in 1783. The rebellion of Túpac Amaru II marked the beginning of the Peruvian War of Independence in the history of Peru.

This great rebellion produced a strong influence on the Conspiracy of the Tres Antonios which came up in Chile on January 1, 1781, at the height of the insurrection They were encouraged to act hearing the news of the advances of Túpac Amaru II in the Viceroyalty of Peru. [32]

XX and XXI centuries

In Peru, the government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968-1975) welcomed the formalized effigy of Túpac Amaru II as a symbol of the Gobierno Revolucionario de la Fuerza Armada (Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces) that he headed, to date, the only government of leftist ideology in the history of Peru. He recognized him as a national hero. In 1968, which was a novelty since independence the symbol of Túpac Amaru II was carried by Peruvian education and official historiography. [33] In his honor one of the main rooms of the Government Palace was named after him. That room until then was Francisco Pizarro room and that his picture was replaced by that of the indigenous rebel. [34]


In Peru

In novels

In the book, Inca Gold, by Clive Cussler, one of the main villains named himself Tupac Amaru and claims to be a descendant of the real Túpac Amaru. [37]

In the beginning of the book, The Book of Human Skin, Túpac Amaru II's death is described, and a book said to be a bound in his skin plays a major role in the plot. [38]

Around the world

See also

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Francisco Pizarro and his fellow conquistadors from the rapidly growing Spanish Empire first arrived in the New World in 1524. But even before the arrival of the Europeans, the Inca Empire was floundering. Pizarro enjoyed stunning successes in his military campaign against the Incas, who, despite some resistance, were defeated and in 1538 the Spaniards completely defeated Inca forces near Lake Titicaca, allowing Spanish penetration into central and southern Bolivia.

Micaela Bastidas

Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua, was a pioneering indigenous leader against Spanish rule in South America, and a martyr for Peruvian independence. With her husband Túpac Amaru II, she led a rebellion against the Spanish and like him, suffered martyrdom of execution by the Spaniards when the revolt failed. She was a full partner in her husband's enterprises before the revolt, and "an exceptionally able leader of the rebellion." She has been described as the "celebrated wife of José Gabriel Condorcanqui ... who played a paramount role in the logistics of the rebel army in Cuzco in 1780 and 1781.

Charles "Chuck" Walker professor of Latin American history at University of California, Davis. He is the director of its Hemispheric Institute on the Americas and director of Global Centers for Latin America & The Caribbean. From 2015-2020 he held the MacArthur Foundation Endowed Chair in International Human Rights. His interests include Peru, natural disasters, social movements, subaltern politics, truth commissions, and sports and empire.

Tomasa Tito Condemayta Hurtado de Mendoza was a leading force in the indigenous uprising against the Spanish colonial rulers under Tupac Amaru II in the 18th century in Peru. She was cacica of her people in the 1770s, the most powerful such ruler in her region. During the uprising, she served as both a strategist and a military officer. She was executed for her role in the rebellion alongside Tupac Amaru II, his wife Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua, and their son Hipólito Condorcanqui Bastidas.


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Further reading