Dubian Ade

Brief Histories: The Rebellion of Tupac Amaru II

Dubian Ade
Brief Histories: The Rebellion of Tupac Amaru II

The very last ruler of the Incan Empire was publicly assassinated before the people of Cuzco by the Spanish Viceroy Don Francisco de Toledo in 1572.

His name was Tupac Amaru, the rightful heir of the Incan throne who was shafted in a series of political maneuvers by the Viceroy and his own Incan officials. The crowd of thousands mourned over his death as the Spanish crown moved in to begin the genocide in Peru. October of that year Toledo ordered the Libro de Tasas, a document which began the process of systematically annihilating all vestiges of Inca rule.

It is said that Tupac Amaru was survived by two daughters, Juana and Magdalena, who found refuge with the Archbishop of Lima. Juana would later marry the curaca of Surimani and Tungasuca named Condorcanqui. Her decedent was Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui, who would later be known as Tupac Amaru II.

The colonizing process in Peru moved forward with harshest domination. The Spanish crown regarded the Indigenous peoples as its immediate subordinates. The Christianization of indigenous populations was made into policy. The repartimiento system, which allotted plots of land and native labor to Spanish colonizers, was introduced. The conditions on the repartimientos and in the mines in which Indigenous workers toiled were absolutely deplorable. For the native members of the mitta who were forced to work in the obrajes the situation was particularly atrocious.    

The country was divided into small jurisdictions called corregimientos. Each corregimiento was overseen by a corregidor. Many of the corregidors were Spanish viceroyalty and the unregulated abuse from the corregidors ran rampent. The corregidors collected increasingly large amounts of taxes from the Indigenous people living in these areas for the purpose of keeping them in a perpetual state of debt to the Spanish colonizers. Native rights to trade were restricted. The Christian church generally became an extortion ring as tribute was demanded as well as fees for baptisms, weddings, and burials. The native ruling class of the curacas generally aligned themselves with the Spanish colonizers and served to reinforce the exploitation of the impoverished native sectors. 

The gradual worsening of conditions for Indigenous Peruvians continued for more than a century. In the late 1700s the Corregidor of Tinta, Antonio Arriaga, had a notorious reputation for ruthlessness and colonial tyranny especially among native people. Arriaga's callousness was further amplified by the imposed Bourbon Reforms which raised taxes significantly in the corregimientos.

In 1777 a curaca of Tinta traveled to Lima to express his grievances and to represent the natives of the region before the Spanish administration. After talks with the corregidors proved fruitless, Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui traveled back to his home in Tungasuca, Tinta. He changed his name to Tupac Amaru II.

On November 4, 1780 Tupac Amaru II and a few others ambushed Antonio Arriaga on his way home from a dinner party. Arriaga was taken prisoner in Tungasuca and a large ransom was demanded from the Spaniards. On November 10th before a crowd of dispossessed Indigenous people, the hated Arriaga was executed.

Arriga's execution set all the conditions needed for a massive Indigenous up-rising. Within a matter of days Tupac Amaru II had assembled a crew of several hundred people. Amaru used the money secured from Arriga's ransom to win over the loyalty of many more native people.  On November 17th 1780, the rebel force successfully attacked Sangarara as Spanish troops fled to a nearby church. The church caught on fire after being pelted by the rebel forces. Over 500 Spaniards were killed. The victory at Sangarara greatly encouraged many natives to join the insurgency.

It is said that Tupac Amarus forces numbered close to 60,000 at this point. The rebel forces moved southward and split into three factions, some of which went to the region of Ayaviri and Azangaro. Many cruelties and atrocities were committed by the forces in Ayaviri and Azangaro against Spanish sympathizers.

Tupac Amaru returned to Tungasuca on December 14th and with the partnership of his wife Micaela Bastidas staged two failed attempts to take the city of Cuzco that January.  Though the insurgency was widely supported by the native curacas and the rebel army was significantly larger than the Spanish forces, the insurgents were unable to overcome the Spanish defenses. Receiving word of the revolts, the Spanish colonial administrator Jose Antonio de Areche had heavily armed the colonial militias and ordered troops to be imported from Lima and surrounding areas. Spanish defenses were able to successfully repel the rebel forces.

The defeats at Cuzco were a serious blow for Tupac Amaru's army, which took refuge in Tinta to recuperate. By this time more than 17,000 of the Spanish forces from Lima had arrived in Cuzco under General Jose del Valle y Torres. Fighting beganagain on March 12, 1781 and a series of battles in the Vilcamayu Alley led to the complete defeat of the rebel army at Checcacupe on April 6, 1781. Tupac Amaru, Micaela Bastidas, their two children, and numerous others were captured. Sixty-seven insurgents were hung in Tinta.

The captives were taken to Cuzco where they were tortured. On May 18th, by order of Jose Antonio de Areche, Tupac Amaru II was forced to watch the execution of his wife and children. His tongue was ripped out of his mouth and his limbs were tied to four horses running in different directions. When that failed to dismember him he was beheaded, his body was burned, and his remains were distributed among the native villages. Afterwards, Areche banned the use of the Quechua language in the Peruvian territories and commanded that all documents, folktales, and literature in Quechua be destroyed. In addition all of Tupac Amaru's property was thoroughly destroyed and all members of the Incan royal family line were hunted down by the Spanish administration and viciously murdered.