Battle of Mataquito

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.[7] 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.

Battle of Mataquito
Part of the Arauco War
DateApril 30, 1557
Vicinity near the foot of the Cerro Chiripilco northeast of the modern town of La Huerta in Hualañé on the north bank of the Mataquito River[1]
Result Spanish victory
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spanish Empire Lautaro flag.svg Mapuche
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Francisco de Villagra Lautaro flag.svg Lautaro 
120 Spanish soldiers[2] and a number of indios amigos[3] 700 Mapuche and 500 allied warriors,[4] from the provinces of "Itata, Nuble and Renoguelen"[5]
Casualties and losses
1 Spaniard, over half of the indios amigos 250 – 500 Mapuche[6]


In early 1557, following the defeat and retreat of Lautaro after the Battle of Peteroa, Francisco de Villagra felt strong enough to gather a strong force of soldiers and march south to aid the remaining cities against the Mapuche besetting them. Discovering that the city of Santiago was now relatively unprotected, Lautaro evaded the army of Villagra, letting them pass to the south. He soon marched again toward Santiago gathering a new army of 6,000 men joined by allies under Panigualgo[8] bringing it to 10,000 men.[9] However once the army reached the banks of the Mataquito River, Lautaro's treatment of the local Indians in a manner similar to that of the Spaniards had created many enemies, and after a quarrel with his ally over this mistreatment, most of the allies and many of the Mapuche refused to follow him. He moved over a league up river from Lora and established himself in a fortified camp[10] in a place called Mataquito.[11]

Villagra became aware that the location of the camp had been betrayed by local Indians previously abused by Lautaro. Villagra sent word to Juan Godíñez near Santiago to meet him as he hurriedly returned from the south with seventy men. The Spanish forces met at a location in the province of Gualemo three leagues from Lautaro's camp,[12] without Lautaro being warned by the local Indians. The unified force of Francisco de Villagra and Juan Godíñez came to 120 men, with 57 horsemen (including Pedro Mariño de Lobera), five arcabuzeros and more than four hundred yanakuna, made a surprise night march over the hills of Caune, to the one overlooking Lautaro's camp, on the shore of the Mataquito River. Villagra sent a body of Spanish infantry (including Alonso López de la Eaigada) with arquebus or swords and shields into the carrizal under Gabriel de Villagra.[10][13]

At dawn Villagra made his surprise attack on the camp. The infantry burst into the fortress while Juan Godíñez and Villagra led the charge of the cavalry down the hill against the fortress with their Indian allies in advance.[14] In the beginning of the battle they killed Lautaro, coming out of the doorway of his ruca.[10] When the Spaniards shouted Lautaro was dead, the allied warriors from Itata, Ñuble and Renoguelen fled any way they could,[15] leaving only Lautaro's Mapuche fighting a six-hour battle, putting up a stubborn resistance despite the death of their leader. At the end of the battle Lautaro and from 250 to 500 Mapuche[14] were killed while the Spaniards lost Juan de Villagra and over half of their yanacona killed or wounded along with many of the Spaniards' horses. Lautaro's head was then taken and displayed in the main plaza of Santiago.


  1. ^ Mataquito was one of the two encomiendas of Juan Jufré on the banks of the Mataquito River. I—Probanza de los méritos y senidos del general Juan Jufré en el descubrimiento y población de las provincias de Chile. (Archivo de Indias, Patronato, 1-5-32/16), pg. 5-216.
  2. ^ Lobera,Historia de Chile, Chapter LV
  3. ^ Lobera, Crónica del Reino de Chile, Chapter LV; Rosales, Historia de Chile, Cap. X, Juan Gudiñez had two hundred and fifty Indian friends
  4. ^ Jerónimo de Vivar, Capítulo CXXIX
  5. ^ Lobera, Crónica, Capítulo LV
  6. ^ Lobera, Historia de Chile Cap. XXII, no losses mentioned; Alonso Lopez de Larraigada, 500 killed; Vivar, Crónica Capítulo CXXIX, Lautaro another captain and 250 warriors killed; Marmolejo Historia, Cap. XXII "more than three hundred Indians died in this assault with many others wounded or surrendered": Roslaes, Cap. X "six hundred Indians, with many wounded who went to die to their land"
  7. ^ The location of this battle is uncertain and the location of the Mataquito camp has been confused with Lautaro's 1556 Peteroa fortress. According to Vivar, Crónica, CXXIX, the 1557 battle was fought at a location three leagues from the province of Gualemo where Francisco de Villagra with seventy men met Juan Godíñez prior to their night march on the Mataquito camp. A soldier in this campaign and the battle, under Juan Godíñez, Alonso Lopez de la Raigada, refers to Lautaro's 1556 fortress as "Peteroa" and the camp where Lautaro was killed as "Mataquito" and also refers to "Peteroa" and "Mataquito" as separate places (Medina, Colección de documentos inéditos, Información de senidos de Alonso López de la Eaigada). Lobera does not give a place name to the location of the 1556 fortress. He does call the place of the 1557 battle he took part in as being at the "lugar de Mataquito"; Capítulo LV. Marmolejo gives no place names to the location. A place along the north shore of the Mataquito River near the foot of the Cerro Chiripilco northeast of the town of La Huerta in Hualañé is believed to be the location of this camp and a monument was put up commemorating it.
  8. ^ Diego de Rosales, Historia de Chile, Cap. X, calls him Chillican
  9. ^ Lobera, Cap. LV
  10. ^ a b c Rosales, Historia General, Cap. X.
  11. ^ Lobera, Chapter LV
  12. ^ Vivar, Crónica, CXXIX
  13. ^ Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de Chile, Vols. 6–7, IV. Información de senidos de Alonso López de la Eaigada, vecino de la ciudad de Santiago de Chile.
  14. ^ a b See note 5
  15. ^ Lobera, Chap. LV


Of these sources Pedro Mariño de Lobera and Alonso López de la Eaigada participated in the battle. While Jerónimo de Vivar and Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo were both living in Chile at the time, Vivar was in Santiago compiling his history, Marmolejo was in the south. Diego de Rosales wrote about one hundred years after the battle, Vicente Carvallo y Goyeneche over two hundred years later.

External links

Coordinates: 35°04′05″S 71°38′19″W / 35.06806°S 71.63861°W


The 1550s decade ran from January 1, 1550, to December 31, 1559.


Year 1557 (MDLVII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

April 30

April 30 is the 120th day of the year (121st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 245 days remain until the end of the year.

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.

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.

Francisco de Villagra

Francisco de Villagra Velázquez (1511 – 22 July 1563) was a Spanish conquistador, and three times governor of Chile.

Juan Godínez

Juan Godíñez (1517 - 1571) Conquistador Juan Godínez, was born in the city of Úbeda, Spain. He came to the Americas in 1532. After coming to Peru, he campaigned with Diego de Almagro in Chile. He later served in Peru in the subjugation of Manco Inca, and in the expeditions of the captains Pedro de Candia and Diego de Rojas. Afterward, he returned to Chile in 1540 with Pedro de Valdivia serving in the wars of the Conquest of Chile until the arrival of García Hurtado de Mendoza.

He was captain of cavalry during the campaign against Lautaro in 1556 where, after the Battle of Peteroa, his company pursued the retreating Mapuche and destroyed a detachment of Lautaro's army near the Maule River. In 1557 his command defending Santiago joined that of the Governor Francisco de Villagra to destroy Lautaro's army in the Battle of Mataquito. He then served in the army of García Hurtado de Mendoza in his campaign during the Arauco War in southern Chile.

He was an encomendero of Choapa. He was a regidor of Santiago, Chile in 1550, 1554 and 1556. He married Catalina de la Cueva in 1557 and had eight children. His mestiza daughter, Leonor Godínez, married Don Juan Hurtado, notary public of Serena and Santiago. He died in 1571.

La Araucana

La Araucana (also known in English as The Araucaniad) is a 16th-century epic poem in Spanish about the Spanish Conquest of Chile by Alonso de Ercilla. It was considered the national epic of the Captaincy General of Chile and one of the most important works of the Spanish Golden Age (Siglo de Oro).

La Huerta, Chile

La Huerta, or Huerta de Mataquito is a village (aldea) or small town near the north bank of the Mataquito River, in the Hualañé commune, in the Curicó Province, in the Maule Region, of Chile. It is 45 kilometers west of the city of Curicó.

Nearby to the northeast is the Cerro Chiripilco and the monument commemorating the death of Lautaro in the Battle of Mataquito that is thought to have been fought at its foot near the Mataquito River.


Lautaro (Mapudungun: Lef-Traru "swift hawk") (Spanish pronunciation: [lau̯ˈtaɾo]; 1534? – April 29, 1557) was a young Araucanian toqui known for leading the indigenous resistance against Spanish conquest in Chile and developing the tactics that would continue to be employed by the Mapuche during the long-running War of Arauco. Lautaro was captured by Spanish forces in his early youth, and he spent his teenage years as a personal servant of chief conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, but escaped in 1551. Back among his people he was declared toqui and led Mapuche warriors into a series of victories against the Spanish culminating in the Battle of Tucapel in December 1553 where Pedro de Valdivia was killed. The outbreak of a typhus plague, a drought and a famine prevented the Mapuche from taking further actions to expel the Spanish in 1554 and 1555. Between 1556 and 1557 a small group of Mapuche commanded by Lautaro attempted to reach Santiago to liberate the whole of Central Chile from Spanish rule. Lautaro's attempts ended in 1557 when he was killed in an ambush by the Spanish.

Today Lautaro is revered among Mapuche and non-Mapuche Chileans for his resistance against foreign conquest, servitude and cruelty.

List of battles (geographic)

This list of battles is organized geographically, by country in its present territory.

List of conflicts in South America

This is a list of armed conflicts in South America.

List of wars involving Spain

This is a list of wars fought by the Kingdom of Spain or on Spanish territory.


Peteroa is a small town west southwest of the town of Sagrada Familia, Chile.

Peteroa is also the name of the location of the fortress built by Lautaro and the site of the Battle of Peteroa. This location is uncertain and sometimes confused with the place on the Mataquito River where Lautaro was killed during the Battle of Mataquito in 1557. His fortress of Peteroa built in 1556 was located near Teno "twenty leagues from the city of Santiago". A soldier in this campaign under Juan Godíñez, Alonso Lopez de la Raigada refers to the 1556 fortress as "Peteroa" and the camp where Lautaro was killed as "Mataquito" and also refers to "Peteroa y Mataquito" as separate places. Pedro Mariño de Lobera does not give a place name to the location of the 1556 fortress. He does call the place of the 1557 battle he took part in as being at the "lugar de Mataquito". The contemporary chronicler Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo gives no place names to either location in his account.Peteroa is named as the location of the confluence of the rivers Teno, Pumaiten, and Lontué to form the Mataquito River in the eighteenth century description of the province of Maule.

The current town of Peteroa may be the vicinity where this fortress was located on the south bank of the Mataquito river and his second camp was located across the Mataquito river on its north bank.

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