Last updated

Turcupichun was the toqui of the Mapuche Aillarehues in the vicinity of Concepcion, Chile and the Bio-Bio River valley from 1557 to 1558. García Hurtado de Mendoza landed in early June 1557 on the island of La Quiriquina at the mouth of the bay of San Pedro. Soon afterward he sent out messengers to the local Aillarehues to come and submit to the Spanish. Turcupichun gathered them in a great coyag where he advocated resistance to the death and elected him as their toqui replacing the dead Lautaro. [1]

Toqui Mapuche leader in times of war

Toqui is a title conferred by the Mapuche on those chosen as leaders during times of war. The toqui is chosen in an assembly or parliament (coyag) of the chieftains (loncos) of various clans (Rehues) or confederation of clans (Aillarehues), allied during the war at hand. The toqui commanded strict obedience of all the warriors and their loncos during the war, would organize them into units and appoint leaders over them. This command would continue until the toqui was killed, abdicated (Cayancaru), was deposed in another parliament, or upon completion of the war for which he was chosen.

Mapuche Ethnic group in South America

The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of present-day Patagonia. The collective term refers to a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups who shared a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage as Mapudungun speakers. Their influence once extended from the Aconcagua River to the Chiloé Archipelago and spread later eastward to the Argentine pampa. Today the collective group makes up over 80% of the indigenous peoples in Chile, and about 9% of the total Chilean population. Mapuches are particularly concentrated in Araucanía. Many have migrated to the Santiago and Buenos Aires area for economic opportunities.

Aillarehue or Ayllarehue ; a confederation of rehues or family-based units (lof) that dominated a region or province. It was the old administrative and territorial division of the Mapuche, Huilliche and the extinct Picunche people. Aillarehue acted as a unit only on special festive, religious, political and especial military occasions. Several aillarehues formed the Butalmapu, the largest military and political organization of the Mapuche.

Turcupichun led his army to build a pucara on the height of Andalicán five leagues south of Concepcion covering the approach down the coast to Arauco and posted detachments to cover the crossing points on the Bio Bio River. Governor Mendoza deceived him by having a detachment build rafts at one of these crossing points but using the boats of his fleet to carry his army across at the mouth of the river. Turcupichun then engaged and was defeated by the army of Mendoza in the Battle of Lagunillas. [2] Following this defeat his army fell back and joined with Caupolicán to fight in the Battle of Millarapue. Following the battle Turcupichun was blamed by Caupolican, for the defeat when his third division marching to attack the Spanish rear did not arrive in time. Angry at the accusation he withdrew to defend his own lands. [3]

Andalicán during the era of conquest and colonial times in Chile was the name of the high hill in the middle of two ravines and site of a fortress built by the Mapuche in 1557 to prevent García Hurtado de Mendoza from invading La Araucanía north of Marihueñu and the valley of Colcura. This height overlooks the location of the modern city of Lota in Concepción Province of the Bío Bío Region of Chile.

Arauco, Chile City and Commune in Bío Bío, Chile

Arauco is a city and commune in Chile, located in Arauco Province in the Bío Bío Region. The meaning of Arauco means Chalky Water in Mapudungun. The region was a Moluche aillarehue. The Spanish settlements founded here during the Conquest of Chile were destroyed on numerous occasions by the Mapuche during the Arauco War.

The Battle of Lagunillas was a battle in the Arauco War on November 8, 1557, between the army of García Hurtado de Mendoza and the Mapuche army near some shallow lakes a league south of the Bio-Bio River.

Following the execution of Caupolican, Turcupichun attempted to organize a new revolt and an attack on Concepcion, but the Spanish Corregidor of the city, Gerónimo de Villegas discovered his attempt and sent Juan Galiano with some soldiers to attack him first. Moving to where he was lodged at night Galiano captured him and some of his companions and returned with them to the city where he was hung in the plaza. After his death his army elected Lemucaguin as his successor. [4]

Lemucaguin a native of Andalicán was the successor to Turcupichun as toqui of the Moluche Butalmapu north of the Biobío River in 1558. He organized a detachment of arquebusiers from weapons captured in the Battle of Marihueñu. He continued the war against García Hurtado de Mendoza after the executions of Caupolican and Turcupichun. Establishing pucaras at Quiapo and other locations to block Spanish access to the Arauco region. He was the first toqui to use firearms and artillery in the Battle of Quiapo However he was killed in this battle and was replaced by Illangulién. The later historian, Juan Ignacio Molina, calls the toqui that led at Quiapo Caupolicán the younger, son the executed toqui Caupolican

Related Research Articles

Arauco War Conflict between Spanish settlers of Chile and indigenous peoples

The Arauco War was a long-running conflict between colonial Spaniards and the Mapuche people, mostly fought in the Araucanía. The conflict begun at first as a reaction to the Spanish conquest attempt establishing cities and forcing Mapuches into servitude. It subsequently evolved over time into phases of low intensity warfare, drawn-out sieges, slave-hunting expeditions, pillaging raids, punitive expeditions and renewed Spanish attempts to secure lost territories. Abduction of women and war rape was common on both sides.

Battle of Tucapel battle

The Battle of Tucapel 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.

Battle of Peteroa was a battle in the Arauco War in 1556, in a plain beside a river in the Mataquito River valley, called Peteroa. The battle was between the Spanish forces of Pedro de Villagra, and Mapuche headed by their toqui Lautaro.

Battle of Quilacura was a battle in the Arauco War, fought at night, four leagues from the Bio-Bio River, between the Spanish expedition of Pedro de Valdivia and a force of Mapuche warriors led by Malloquete on February 11, 1546.

The Battle of Mataquito was fought in the Arauco War on April 30, 1557, between the Spanish forces of the governor, Francisco de Villagra, and Mapuche headed by their toqui Lautaro. It was a dawn surprise attack on Lautaro's fortified camp between a wooded mountain and the shore of the Mataquito River. The battle is notable for ending Mapuche pretensions to expulse the Spanish from Santiago, while also avenging the death of former governeor Pedro de Valdivia who had been killed by Lautaro's warriors four years earlier.

The Battle of Millarapue that occurred November 30, 1557 was intended by the Toqui Caupolicán as a Mapuche ambush of the Spanish army of García Hurtado de Mendoza that resulted in a Spanish victory when the ambush failed.

Illangulién, Quiromanite, Queupulien or Antiguenu, was the Mapuche toqui elected to replace Lemucaguin or Caupolicán the younger in 1559 following the Battle of Quiapo to his death in battle in the Battle of Angol in 1564.

Caupolicán the Younger according to Juan Ignacio Molina was the son of the toqui Caupolicán. He was made toqui following the capture and execution of his father in 1558. He continued the first Mapuche rising against the Spanish conquistadors in 1558 and commanded the Mapuche army in constructing a pukara at Quiapo to block García Hurtado de Mendoza from rebuilding a fort in Arauco completing the chain of forts for suppression of their rebellion. In the Battle of Quiapo the Mapuche suffered a terrible defeat and there Caupolicán the younger died. His successor as toqui was Illangulién.

Cadeguala or Cadiguala was a Mapuche toqui elected in 1585 following the death in battle of the previous toqui Nangoniel. Cadeguala was a noted warrior and the first Mapuche toqui known to have used cavalry successfully in battle. He was killed in a duel with the garrison commander of the Spanish fort at Purén in 1586.

Paineñamcu or Paynenancu or Alonso Diaz, was the Mapuche toqui from 1574 to 1584. Alonso Diaz was a mestizo Spanish soldier offended because the Governor of Chile did not promote him to the officer rank of alféres, who subsequently went over to the Mapuche in 1572. He took the Mapuche name of Paineñamcu and because of his military skills was elected toqui in 1574 following the death of Paillataru.

Battle of Quiapo in the Arauco War was the final battle in the campaign of García Hurtado de Mendoza against the Mapuche under the toqui known as Lemucaguin or Caupolicán the younger. It was fought in Quiapo, Arauco Province, Chile on the December 13, 1558.

Cayancura or Cayeucura, a Mapuche native to the region of Marigüenu, chosen as toqui in 1584, to replace the captured Paineñamcu. His one great operation was an attempted siege of the fort at Arauco that failed, leading to his abdication of his office in favor of his son Nangoniel in 1585.

Lientur was the Mapuche toqui from 1618 to 1625. He was the successor to Loncothegua. Lientur with his vice toqui Levipillan was famed for his rapid malóns or raids. Because of his ability to slip back and forth over the Spanish border between its fortresses and patrols and raid deep into Spanish territory north of the Bio-Bio River without losses he was called the Wizard by the Spanish.

Millalelmo or Millarelmo was a Mapuche military leader in the second great Mapuche rebellion that began in 1561 during the Arauco War. Probably the toqui of the Arauco region, he commanded the Mapuche army of that area at the siege of Arauco from May 20 to June 30, 1562.

Pedro de Avendaño a Spanish soldier that had arrived in Chile with the army of García Hurtado de Mendoza in 1557. He distinguished himself in the Battle of Millarapue. He later served in the garrison of Cañete under captain Alonso de Reinoso. Reinoso eventually found an Indian who betrayed the location of the fugitive Mapuche toqui Caupolicán. Avendaño, with 50 men and the traitorous Indian as a guide, marched in stormy weather into the mountains to Pilmaiquén and captured Caupolicán as he was planning a new counter-offensive against the Spanish, near the modern Antihuala, on February 5, 1558. He brought the toqui back to Cañete where he was eventually executed by empalement at the order of corregidor Reinoso.

The Battle of Catirai took place on January 7, 1569 near Catirai, Chile between the Mapuche army of Toqui Llanganabal and the Spanish army led by Martín Ruiz de Gamboa that resulted in a Mapuche victory.

Butapichón or Butapichún or Putapichon was the Mapuche toqui from 1625 to 1631, as successor to Lientur. After the death of Quepuantú in 1632 he became toqui once again from 1632 to 1634.


  1. This according to Diego de Rosales, “Historia General del Reino de Chile”, Flandes Indiano, Tomo II, Capitulo XII. This would seem to imply that Lautaro was also the toqui of the Butalmapu of the Moluche north of the Bio Bio River, as Ainavillo had been before him.
  2. Rosales, Historia general ..., Tomo II,Capitulo XIII]
  3. Rosales, Historia general ..., Tomo II,Capitulo XIV.]
  4. Rosales, Historia general ..., Tomo II, Capitulo XXI


Diego de Rosales was a Spanish chronicler and author of Historia General del Reino de Chile.