Battle of Curalaba

The Battle of Curalaba (Spanish: Batalla de Curalaba pronounced [baˈtaʝa ðe kuɾaˈlaβa]) is a 1598 battle and ambush where Mapuche people led by Pelantaru soundly defeated Spanish conquerors led by Martín García Óñez de Loyola at Curalaba, southern Chile. In Chilean historiography, where the event is often called the Disaster of Curalaba (Spanish: Desastre de Curalaba), the battle marks the end of the "Conquista" period in Chile's history, although the fast Spanish expansion in the south had already been halted in the 1550s.

Battle of Curalaba
Part of Arauco War
DateDecember 23, 1598
Curalaba, on the banks of the Lumaco River, 25 kilometers from Angol

37°55′S 72°53′W / 37.917°S 72.883°WCoordinates: 37°55′S 72°53′W / 37.917°S 72.883°W
Result Decisive Mapuche victory
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spanish Empire Lautaro flag.svg Mapuche
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Martín García Oñez de Loyola  Lautaro flag.svg vice toqui Pelantaru
50 Spanish and 300 Indian auxiliaries 300 Warriors
Casualties and losses
All but two Spaniards were killed,[1] as were most of the Indian auxiliaries. ?


On December 21, 1598, governor Martín García Oñez de Loyola traveled to Purén leading 50 men. On the second day they camped in Curalaba without taking protective measures. The Mapuche people, aware of their presence, with their cavalry led by Pelantaru and his lieutenants, Anganamón and Guaiquimilla, with three hundred men, shadowed his movements and made a surprise night raid. Completely surprised, the governor and almost all of his soldiers and companions were killed.

This event was called the Disaster of Curalaba by the Spaniards. It not only involved the death of the Spanish governor, but the news rapidly spread among the Mapuche and triggered a general revolt, long-prepared by the toqui Paillamachu, that destroyed Spanish camps and towns south of the Bío-Bío River over the next few years.

See also


  1. ^ The Spanish survivors were a priest, Bartolomé Pérez, who was captured, and Bernardo de Pereda, a soldier left for dead with 23 wounds who made his way to La Imperial after 70 days.



The 1590s decade ran from January 1, 1590, to December 31, 1599.



was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1598th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 598th year of the 2nd millennium, the 98th year of the 16th century, and the 9th year of the 1590s decade. As of the start of 1598, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Araucanía (historic region)

Araucanía or Araucana was the Spanish name given to the region of Chile inhabited by the Mapuche peoples known as the Moluche (also known as Araucanos by the Spanish) in the 18th century. Prior to the Spanish conquest of Chile, the lands of the Moluche lay between the Itata River and Toltén River. Following the great rising of the Moluche and Huilliche after the Battle of Curalaba in 1598 during the Arauco War, the Spanish were expelled from south of the Bío-Bío River. After many decades of further warfare, the bounds of Araucania were recognized by the Spanish as being between the Bío-Bío River and Toltén River. This old region of Araucanía now is divided between the southern part of the Bío-Bío Region and the Araucanía Region, in southern Chile.

Arauco War

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 unfree labour. 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.

After many initial Spanish successes in penetrating Mapuche territory, the Battle of Curalaba in 1598 and the following destruction of the Seven Cities marked a turning point in the war leading to the establishment of a clear frontier between the Spanish domains and the land of the independent Mapuche. From the 17th to the late 18th century a series of parliaments were held between royal governors and Mapuche lonkos and the war devolved to sporadic pillaging carried out by Spanish soldiers as well as Mapuches and outlaws.

The Chilean War of Independence brought new hostilities to the frontier, with different factions of Spaniards, Chileans and Mapuches fighting for independence, royalism or personal gain. Mapuche independence finally ended with the Chilean occupation of Araucanía between 1861 and 1883. The modern Mapuche conflict is partially inspired by the Arauco War.

Captaincy General of Chile

The General Captaincy of Chile (Capitanía General de Chile [kapitaˈni.a xeneˈɾal ðe ˈt͡ʃile]) or Gobernación de Chile, was a territory of the Spanish Empire, from 1541 to 1818. It comprised most of modern-day Chile and southern parts of Argentina. Its capital was Santiago de Chile. In 1818 it declared itself independent, becoming the Republic of Chile. It had a number of Spanish governors over its long history and several kings.

Chilote Spanish

Chilote is a dialect of Spanish language spoken on the southern Chilean islands of Chiloé Archipelago (Spanish: Archipiélago de Chiloé or simply, Chiloé). It has distinct differences from standard Chilean Spanish in accent, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, especially by influences from local dialect of Mapuche language (called huilliche or veliche) and some conservative traits.

After the battle of Curalaba (1598) and the Destruction of the Seven Cities Chiloé was further isolated from the rest of Chile and developed a culture with little influences from Spain or mainland Chile. During the 17th and 18th centuries most of the archipelago's population was bilingual and according to John Byron many Spaniards preferred to use the Local Huilliche language because they considered it more beautiful. Around the same time, Governor Narciso de Santa María complained that Spanish settlers in the islands could not speak Spanish properly, but could speak Veliche, and that this second language was more used.

Colonial Chile

In Chilean historiography, Colonial Chile (Spanish: la colonia) is the period from 1600 to 1810, beginning with the Destruction of the Seven Cities and ending with the onset of the Chilean War of Independence. During this time the Chilean heartland was ruled by Captaincy General of Chile. The period was characterized by a lengthy conflict between Spaniards and native Mapuches known as the Arauco War. Colonial society was divided in distinct groups including Peninsulars, Criollos, Mestizos, Indians and Black people.

Relative to other Spanish colonies Chile was a "poor and dangerous" place.

Conquest of Chile

The Conquest of Chile is a period in Chilean historiography that starts with the arrival of Pedro de Valdivia to Chile in 1541 and ends with the death of Martín García Óñez de Loyola in the Battle of Curalaba in 1598, and the destruction of the Seven Cities in 1600 in the Araucanía region.

This was the period of Spanish conquest of territories, founding of cities, establishment of the Captaincy General of Chile, and defeats ending its further colonial expansion southwards. The Arauco War continued, and the Spanish were never able to recover their short control in Araucanía south of the Bío Bío River.

December 21

December 21 is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 10 days remain until the end of the year.

In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 is usually the shortest day of the year and is sometimes regarded as the first day of winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, December 21 is usually the longest day of the year and occurs during the southern summer.

Destruction of the Seven Cities

The Destruction of the Seven Cities (Spanish: Destrucción de las siete ciudades) is a term used in Chilean historiography to refer to the destruction or abandonment of seven major Spanish outposts in southern Chile around 1600 caused by the Mapuche and Huilliche uprising of 1598. The Destruction of the Seven Cities is one of the events that mark the end of the Conquest period and the beginning of the proper colonial period.

The revolt was triggered following the news of the Disaster of Curalaba on 23 December 1598, where the vice toqui Pelantaru and his lieutenants, Anganamon and Guaiquimilla, with three hundred men ambushed and killed the Spanish governor Martín García Óñez de Loyola and nearly all his companions.

Over the next few years, the Mapuche were able to destroy or force the abandonment of many cities and minor settlements including all the seven Spanish cities in Mapuche territory south of the Biobío River: Santa Cruz de Coya (1599), Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia (1599, reoccupied in 1602 and abandoned again in 1604), San Andrés de Los Infantes (1599), La Imperial (1600), Santa María Magdalena de Villa Rica (1602), San Mateo de Osorno (1603), and San Felipe de Araucan (1604).

Dutch expedition to Valdivia

The Dutch expedition to Valdivia was a naval expedition, commanded by Hendrik Brouwer, sent by the Dutch Republic in 1643 to establish a base of operations and a trading post on the southern coast of Chile. With Spain and the Dutch Republic at war, the Dutch wished to take over the ruins of the abandoned Spanish city of Valdivia. The expedition sacked the Spanish settlements of Carelmapu and Castro in the Chiloé Archipelago before sailing to Valdivia. The Dutch arrived in Valdivia on 24 August 1643 and named the colony Brouwershaven after Brouwer, who had died several weeks earlier. The short-lived colony was abandoned on 28 October 1643. Nevertheless, the occupation caused great alarm among Spanish authorities. The Spanish resettled Valdivia and began the construction of an extensive network of fortifications in 1645 to prevent a similar intrusion. Although contemporaries considered the possibility of a new incursion, the expedition was the last one undertaken by the Dutch on the west coast of the Americas.

Francisco de Quiñónez

Francisco de Quiñónez (? - ? Leon †); Spanish soldier who was appointed as governor of Chile for thirteen months, between May 1599 and June 1600.

When he became governor of Chile, Quiñónez was a veteran soldier. He had served, in 1559, in the Spanish Tercios that operated in Italy. He embarked in the squadron of the viceroy of Naples, in a campaign against Turkish pirates. In 1560 in the Battle of Djerba that was a disaster for the Spaniards who lost thirty ships. Quiñónez became one of the five thousand prisoners who were taken to Istambul and sold as slaves. Later rescued by means of the payment of a large ransom, he continued as a soldier fighting in Italy and Flanders. On his return to Spain, Quiñónez married Grimanesa de Mogrovejo, sister of the inquisidor of Granada, later canonized as Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo. When this monk was promoted to the rank of archbishop of Lima, Quiñónez went to Peru, in 1580, as part of his retinue. Thanks to the protection of the archbishop, Quiñónez soon became Maestro de Campo and general commissioner of the cavalry. In 1582, the Viceroy of Peru, Martin Enríquez de Almansa made him commander of the treasure fleet that sailed from Peru to Panama, be sent to Spain from there. Later he was named corregidor of Lima, a position in which he gained some notice as a pursuer of thieves and vagabonds.

Quiñónez was designated Royal Governor of Chile by the Viceroy of Peru, Luis de Velasco, after finding out about the death of Martín García Óñez de Loyola at the hands of the forces of the Mapuche toqui Pelantaro, in the Battle of Curalaba. Once in Chile he replaced the lawyer Pedro de Viscarra, who had temporarily administered the government. He commanded the Spaniards during the early desperate months of the Mapuche Revolt of 1598. During 1599, despite his efforts the Mapuche destroyed the forts of Chivicura and Jesus de Huenuraquí in Catirai and its city Santa Cruz de Coya, the cities of Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia, San Andrés de Los Infantes and San Bartolomé de Chillán y Gamboa. In 1600, Quiñónez was able to rebuild a fort at the site of the destroyed city of Chillán.

Huilliche people

The Huilliche, 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' (Mapudungun willi 'south' and che 'people'.)

The majority of Huilliche speak Spanish, while a minority, dominated by older adults, speaks the Huilliche language.The Huilliche calls the territory between Bueno River and Reloncaví Sound Futahuillimapu, meaning "great land of the south".

Martín García Óñez de Loyola

Don Martín García Óñez de Loyola (1549 in Azpeitia, Gipuzkoa – December 24, 1598 at Curalaba) was a Spanish Basque soldier and Royal Governor of the Captaincy General of Chile.

Pedro de Viscarra

Pedro de Viscarra de la Barrera, twice Royal Governor of Chile, was an old lawyer who had arrived in the Captaincy General of Chile from Spain in 1590. Alonso de Sotomayor went to Peru on July 30, 1592 to petition the viceroy there for more men leaving Pedro de Viscarra with the title of lieutenant governor of Chile. Upon the arrival of Martín García Óñez de Loyola on 23 September 1592 to replace Sotomayor, Viscarra relinquished his office.

After Loyola was killed in the Battle of Curalaba in December 1598, Pedro de Viscarra again was the temporary governor of the Kingdom of Chile for six months until he was replaced as governor by Francisco de Quiñónez in May 1599.


Pelantaro or Pelantarú (Spanish: [pelanˈtaɾo]; from the Mapuche pelontraru or "Shining Caracara") was one of the vice toquis of Paillamachu, the toqui or military leader of the Mapuche people during the Mapuche uprising in 1598. Pelantaro and his lieutenants Anganamon and Guaiquimilla were credited with the death of the second Spanish Governor of Chile, Martín García Óñez de Loyola, during the Battle of Curalaba on December 21, 1598.

This provoked a general rising of the Mapuche and the other indigenous people associated with them. They succeeded in destroying all of the Spanish settlements south of the Bio-bio River and some to the north of it (Santa Cruz de Oñez and San Bartolomé de Chillán in 1599). After this actions, the following Governor, Alonso de Ribera, fixed a border and took the suggestions of the Jesuit Luis de Valdivia to fight a defensive war.

At one point, Pelantaro had both the heads of Pedro de Valdivia and Martín Óñez de Loyola and used them as trophies and containers for chicha, a kind of alcohol. As a demonstration of peaceful intentions, he gave them up in 1608.

Pelantaro was captured in 1616 and held for a year and a half until after the death of the governor Alonso de Ribera. He was released by his successor Fernando Talaverano Gallegos in a vain attempt to establish a peace with the Mapuche.


Tucapel is a town and commune in the Arauco Province, Bío Bío Region, Chile. It was once a region of Araucanía named for the Tucapel River. The name of the region derived from the rehue and aillarehue of the Moluche people of the area between the Lebu and the Lleulleu Rivers, who were famed for their long resistance to the Spanish in the Arauco War. Tucapel is also the name of a famous leader from that region in the first resistance against the Spanish mentioned in Alonso de Ercilla's epic poem La Araucana. Formerly belonging to the Nuble Province, in the Department of Yungay. Near the town of Tucapel is the Plaza de San Diego de Tucapel. The capital of the commune is the town of Huépil, moving the municipality from Tucapel in 1967. In mapudungún its name means "To seize or to take by force".

The main economic activities of the commune are commerce, agriculture and forestry.

Villarrica, Chile

Villarrica is a city and commune in southern Chile located on the western shore of Villarrica Lake in the Province of Cautín, Araucanía Region 746 km (464 mi) south of Santiago and close to the Villarrica Volcano ski center to the south east. Residents of Villarrica are known as Villarriquences.

Tourism, grain and dairy farming, and forestry are the main economic activities of the community. The climate is mild and humid with the greatest rainfall experienced between May and July (autumn and winter). The dry season is between December and February (Summer).

Other lakes found nearby include Calafquén, Caburgua, Huilipilún and Colico. In the summer water sports and sunbathing are popular activities in the warm temperatures experienced at the low altitudes ranging from 200 to 500m above sea level.

Fishing and rafting are popular activities in the various rivers in the area, which include the Toltén, Voipir, Trancura, Llancahue and Lincura. Popular waterfalls include León, La China, Palguín, Ojos del Caburga. Thanks to the numerous volcanos, hot springs with temperatures ranging from 48 °C to 90 °C, are found nearby. Included are Coñaripe (48 °C), San Luis (43 °C), Huife (49 °C), Palguín (57 °C) and Liquiñe (87 °C).

Villarrica National Park is 36 km (22 mi) away, and was created to preserve the natural beauty of the volcano. The area is noted for using wood as its principal building material.

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