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Túpac Amaru II

Túpac Amaru II

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Don Túpac Amaru II
BornMarch 19, 1742
Surimana-Canas, Cuzco, Viceroyalty of Peru
DiedMay 18, 1781 (aged 39)
Cuzco, Viceroyalty of Peru
Other namesJosé Gabriel Túpac Amaru, José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera

Túpac Amaru II (José Gabriel Túpac Amaru b. March 19, 1742 in Surimana-Canas, Cuzco, Viceroyalty of Peru – executed in Cuzco May 18, 1781) was a leader of an indigenous uprising in 1780 against the Spanish in Peru. Although unsuccessful, he later became a mythical figure in the Peruvian struggle for independence and indigenous rights movement and an inspiration to myriad causes inPeru. He should not be confused with Túpac Katari who led a similar uprising in the region now called Bolivia at the same time.




Túpac Amaru II was born José Gabriel Condorcanqui in Surimana, Tungasuca, in the province of Cuzco, and received a Jesuit education at the San Francisco de Borja School, although he maintained a strong identification with the indigenous population. He was a mestizo who claimed to be a direct descendant of the last Inca ruler Túpac Amaru.[1] He had been honored by the Spanish authorities of Peru with the title of Marquis of Oropesa, a position that allowed him some voice and political leverage during Spanish rule. Between 1741 and 1780 Amaru II went into litigation with the Betancur family over the right of succession of the Marquisate of Oropesa and lost the case.[2] In 1760, he married Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua of Afro-Peruvian and indigenous descent. Condorcanqui inherited the caciqueship, or hereditary chiefdom of Tungasuca and Pampamarca from his older brother, governing on behalf of the Spanish governor.

[edit]The Corregidores and the Exploitation of the Natives

Although the Spanish trusteeship labor system, or encomienda had been abolished in 1720, most Indians at the time living in the Andean region of what is now Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, who made up nine tenths of the population at the time, were still pushed into forced labor for what were legally labeled as public work projects.[3] However, 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 Indian indebtedness to Spanish masters. The Roman Catholic Churchalso 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.[4] Those fortunate enough not to be subjugated to forced labor were subject to the Spanish provincial governors, or corregidores who also heavily taxed any free natives, similarly ensuring their financial instability.[4]

Condorcanqui's interest in the Indian 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.[5] The marquis' native pride coupled with his hate for the oppressors of his people, caused him to sympathize and frequently petition for the improvement of Indian 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 Tintan corregidor and governor Antonio de Arriaga threatened him with death. Feeling that his time was ripe, Condorcanqui changed his name to Túpac Amaru II and declared his lineage to the last Inca ruler Felipe Túpac Amaru.[1]


Túpac Amaru II's rebellion was one of many indigenous Peruvian uprisings in the latter half of the 18th century, and its birth was marked by the capturing and killing of Tintan corregidor and governor Antonio de Arriaga on November 4, 1780. The event unfolded after both Túpac Amaru II and the governor Arriaga attended a banquet hosted by a priest.[6] When governor Arriaga left the party in a drunken state, Túpac Amaru II and several of his allies captured him and forced him to write letters to a large number of Hispanics and curacas. When about 200 of them gathered within the next few days, Túpac Amaru II surrounded them with approximately 4,000 Indians. Claiming that he was acting under direct Spanish royal orders, Amaru II gave Arriaga's slave Antonio Oblitas the privilege of executing him.[1] A platform in the middle of a local town plaza was erected, and the initial attempt at hanging the corregidor failed after the noose had snapped. He then ran for his life to try and reach a nearby church, but was not quick enough to escape being successfully hanged at the second attempt.[5]

After the execution of the corregidor, Amaru II continued his insurrection. He organized an army of 6,000 Indians 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. After years of living under oppression, the rebels looted the Hispanic houses and killed their Spanish oppressors.[1]

On November 18, 1780, Cuzco dispatched over 1,300 Hispanic and Indian loyalist troops. The two opposing forces clashed in the town of Sangarara. It was an absolute victory for Amaru II and his native Indian rebels; all of the 578 Hispanic 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 Hispanics eliminated any chances for a support by the Creole class.[1] The victory achieved at Sangarara would be followed by a string of defeats. The most critical defeat came in Amaru II’s failure to capture Cuzco, which was fortified by a combined troop of loyalist Indians and reinforcements from Lima. After subsequent skirmishes around the surrounding region, Amaru II and his rebels became surrounded between Tinta and Sangarara. A betrayal by two of his officers, colonel Ventura Landaeta and captain Francisco Cruz, sealed Amaru II's defeat and capture.[1]

Túpac Amaru II is quartered

Amaru II was sentenced to a cruel execution. He was forced to bear witness to the execution of his wife, his eldest son Hipólito, his uncle Francisco, his brother-in-law Antonio Bastidas, and some of his captains before his own death. He was sentenced to be tortured and beheaded. Preceding his own beheading, Túpac Amaru II had his tongue cut out and his limbs tied to four horses. Túpac Amaru was too strong to be killed in this fashion. Due to this, the method chosen to kill him was to behead him (as part of a failed attempt to quarter him) on the main plaza in Cuzco, in the same place his great-great-great-grandfather Túpac Amaru I had been beheaded. 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, his houses were demolished, their sites strewn with salt, his goods confiscated, his relatives declared infamous, and all documents relating to his descent burnt.[7]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, Indian revolt still overtook much of southern Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, as Indian revolutionaries captured Spanish towns and beheaded many inhabitants. In one instance, an Indian army under rebel leaderTúpac Katari besieged the city of La Paz for 109 days before Argentinean troops stepped in to relieve the city.

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 native Indians and mestizos in the surrounding area. The rebellion gave the Natives a new state of mind, and set the stage for their support of Bolivar forty years later. They were now willing to join forces with anyone who opposed the hated Spanish. For all his sacrifice he was proclamated King of America. By contrast, the Peruvian creoles would prove to be South America's most conservative in the independence movement because some of them feared independence would leave them at the mercy of the Indian population. Some others co-owned businesses and land with the Spaniards and were doing really well, therefore they did not want to lose those interests in the event of a revolution.


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 crea 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, screaming: FREEDOM! over the earth, he shall be back. And they won't be able to kill him!")
Alejandro Romualdo

[edit]Cultural references

[edit]In Peru

[edit]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.

[edit]Around the world

  • The Tupamaros (also known as the National Liberation Movement), was the informal name of an urban guerilla that was active in the 1960s and early 1970s in Uruguay. The name was also direct influence of Túpac Amaru II and its ideals.
  • American rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur (2Pac) was named after him.[8]
  • Polish reggae music band NDK in their song Mafija mentions Túpac Amaru II's death as an example of Catholicism's cruelty.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Native Insurgencies and the Genocidal Impulse in the Americas, Nicholas A. Robins
  2. ^ First among Incas: The Marquesado de Oropesa Litigation (1741–1780) en route to the Great Rebellion, David Cahill
  3. ^ John Crow, The Epic of Latin America ( California: University of California Press Berkeley), p. 404
  4. ^ a b John Crow, The Epic of Latin America, p. 405
  5. ^ a b John Crow, The Epic of Latin America ( California: University of California Press Berkeley), p. 406
  6. ^ The Epic of Latin America, Fourth Edition, John A. Crow
  7. ^ John Crow, The Epic of Latin America, p. 407
  8. ^ John Crow "The Epic of America" p. 408



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