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.
When the Spanish first came to Central Chile the territory had been under Inca rule for less than 60 years. Historian Osvaldo Silva posits the last Inca push towards the south were made as late as in the 1530s. The main settlements of the Inca Empire in Chile lay along the Aconcagua River, Mapocho River and the Maipo River. Quillota in Aconcagua Valley was likely their foremost settlement. As it appear to be the case in the other borders of the Inca Empire, the southern border was composed of several zones: first, an inner, fully incorporated zone with mitimaes protected by a line of pukaras (fortresses) and then an outer zone with Inca pukaras scattered among allied tribes. This outer zone would according to historian José Bengoa have been located between Maipo and Maule Rivers.
However the largest indigenous population were the Mapuches living south of the Inca borders in the area spanning from Itata River to Chiloé Archipelago. The Mapuche population between Itata River and Reloncaví Sound has been estimated at 705,000–900,000 in the mid-16th century by historian José Bengoa.[note 1] Mapuches lived in scattered hamlets, mainly along the great rivers of Southern Chile. All major population centres lay at the confluences of rivers. Mapuches preferred to build their houses on hilly terrain or isolated hills rather than on plains and terraces. The Mapuche people represented an unbroken culture dating back to as early as 600 to 500 BC. Yet Mapuches had been influenced over centuries by Central Andean cultures such as Tiwanaku. Through their contact with Incan invaders Mapuches would have for the first time met people with state-level organization. Their contact with the Inca gave them a collective awareness distinguishing between them and the invaders and uniting them into loose geopolitical units despite their lack of state organization.
The first Spanish subjects to enter the territy of what would become Chile were the members of the Magellan expedition that discovered the Straits of Magellan before compliting the Worlds first circumnavigation.
Gonzalo Calvo de Barrientos left Peru for Chile after a quarrel involving accusations of theft by the Pizarro brothers that ended up with him being cropped. He was accompained by a Spniard named Antón Cerrada.
Diego de Almagro ventured into present-day Bolivia and the Argentine Northwest in 1535. From there he crossed into Chile at the latitudes of Copiapó. Almagros expedition was a failure as he did not find the riches he expected.
In April 1539, Francisco Pizarro authorized Pedro de Valdivia as his lieutenant governor with orders to conquer Chile. That did not include monetary aid, which he had to procure on his own. Valdivia did so, in association with the merchant Francisco Martínez Vegaso, captain Alonso de Monroy, and Pedro Sanchez de la Hoz. Sanchez was the longtime secretary to Pizarro, who had returned from Spain with authorization from the king to explore the territories south of Viceroyalty of Peru to the Strait of Magellan, also granting Valdivia the title of governor over lands taken from the indigenous peoples.
Valdivia came to the Valley of Copiapo and took possession in the name of the King of Spain and named it Nueva Extremadura, for his Spanish homeland of Extremadura. On February 12, 1541, he founded the city of Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura on Huelen hill (present day Santa Lucia Hill).
Valdivia had rejected the position and titles due him while Pizarro was alive, as it could have been seen as an act of treason. He accepted the titles after the death of Francisco Pizarro. Pedro de Valdivia was named Governor and Captain-General of the Captaincy General of Chile on June 11, 1541. He was the first Governor of Chile.
Valdivia organized the first distribution of encomiendas and of indigenous peoples among the Spanish immigrants in Santiago. The Chilean region was not as rich in minerals as Peru, so the indigenous peoples were forced to work on construction projects and placer gold mining. The "conquest" was a challenge, with the first attack of Michimalonco on September 1541, burning the new settlement to the ground.
Valdivia authorized Juan Bohon to found the city of La Serena in 1544. The Juan Bautista Pastene expedition ventured to unexplored southern Chile in 1544. Arriving at the Bio-Bio River, started the Arauco War with the Mapuche people. The epic poem La Araucana (1576) by Alonso de Ercilla describes the Spanish viewpoint.
The Spanish won several battles, such as the Andalien battle, and Penco battle in 1550. The victories allowed Valdiva to found cities on the Mapuche homelands, such as Concepcion in 1550, La Imperial, Valdivia, and Villarrica in 1552, and Los Confines in 1553.
The conquest of Chile was not carried out directly by the Spanish Crown but by Spaniards that formed enterprises for those purposes and gathered financial resources and soldiers for the enterprise by their own. In 1541 an expedition (enterprise) led by Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago initiating the conquest of Chile. The first years were harsh for the Spaniards mainly due to their poverty, indigenous rebellions and frequent conspirations. The second founding of La Serena in 1549 (initially founded in 1544 but destroyed by natives) was followed by the founding of numerous new cities in southern Chile halting only after Valdivia's death in 1553.
The Spanish colonization of the Americas was characterized by the establishments of cities in the middle of conquered territories. With the founding of each city a number of conquistadores became vecinos of that city being granted a solar and possibly also a chacra in the outskirts of the city, or a hacienda or estancia in more far away parts of the countryside. Apart from land natives were also distributed among Spaniards since they were considered vital for carrying out any economic activity.
The cities founded, despite defeats in the Arauco War, were: Santiago (1541), La Serena (1544), Concepción (1551), La Imperial, Valdivia, Villarrica (1552), Los Confines (1553), Cañete (1557), Osorno (1558), Arauco (1566), Castro (1567), Chillán (1580), and Santa Cruz de Oñez (1595).
|1540||December||Pedro de Valdivia takes possession of Chile in the name of the King of Spain.|
|1541||February 12||Santiago is founded.|
|September 11||Destruction of Santiago. Michimalonco leads a Picunche attack on Santiago, the city is severely damaged but the attack is repelled.|
|1544||September 4||La Serena is founded by Juan Bohón.|
|1549||January 11||La Serena is destroyed by natives.|
|August 26||La Serena is refounded.|
|1551||October 5||Concepción is founded.|
|1552||San Felipe de Rauco, La Imperial and Villarrica are founded.|
|February 9||The city of Valdivia is founded by Pedro de Valdivia.|
|1553||Los Confines is founded.|
|December 25||The battle of Tucapel takes place, governor Pedro de Valdivia is killed after the battle.|
|1554||February 23||The battle of Marihueñu takes place, Concepción is abandoned and destroyed.|
|October 17||Jerónimo de Alderete is appointed governor of Chile in Spain by the king but dies on his journey to Chile.|
|1557||April 1||Francisco de Villagra defeats the Mapuches and kills their leader Lautaro at the battle of Mataquito.|
|April 23||The new governor García Hurtado de Mendoza arrives in La Serena.|
|June||García Hurtado de Mendoza arrives in the bay of Concepcion and builds a fort at Penco, then defeats the Mapuche army trying to dislodge him.|
|October 10||García Hurtado de Mendoza defeats the Mapuche army in the Battle of Lagunillas.|
|November 7||García Hurtado de Mendoza defeats Caupolicán in the Millarupe.|
|1558||January 11||Cañete founded by Mendoza.|
|February 5||Pedro de Avendaño captured the Mapuche toqui Caupolicán, later executed by impalement in Cañete.|
|March 27||Osorno is founded.|
|December 13||Battle of Quiapo, Mendoza defeats the Mapuche and San Felipe de Araucan rebuilt.|
|1559||January 6||Concepción is refounded.|
|1561||Francisco de Villagra succeeds García Hurtado de Mendoza as governor.|
|1563||Cañete is abandoned.|
|July 22||Francisco de Villagra dies and is succeeded as governor by his cousin Pedro de Villagra. San Felipe de Araucan is soon abandoned.|
|August 29||The territories of Tucumán are separated from the Captaincy General of Chile and transferred to the Real Audiencia of Charcas.|
|1564||February||Concepción is unsuccessfully sieged by native Mapuches.|
|1565||A Real Audiencia is established in Concepción.|
|1566||January||San Felipe de Araucan is refounded.|
|1567||With the founding of Castro the dominions of the Captaincy General of Chile are extended into Chiloé Archipelago.|
|1570||February 8||The 1570 Concepción earthquake affects all of south-central Chile.|
|1575||The Real Audiencia of Concepción is abolished.|
|December 16||The 1575 Valdivia earthquake affects all of southern Chile.|
|1576||April||Valdivia is flooded by a Riñihuazo caused by the 1575 Valdivia earthquake.|
|1578||December 5||Valparaíso is plundered by Francis Drake, the first corsair in Chilean waters.|
|1580||June 26||Chillán is founded.|
|1584||March 25||Rey Don Felipe is founded in the Straits of Magellan by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa.|
|1587||Thomas Cavendish finds Rey Don Felipe as a ruin city.|
|1594||May||Fort of Santa Cruz de Oñez is founded and becomes the city of Santa Cruz de Coya the following year.|
|1598||December 21||The battle of Curalaba takes place, governor Martín García Óñez de Loyola is killed during the battle.|
|1599||Los Confines, Santa Cruz de Coya and Valdivia are destroyed.|
|The Real Situado, an annual payment to finance the Arauco War, is established.|
|1600||La Imperial is destroyed.|
|1602||Villarrica is destroyed.|
|March 13||A fort is established in the ruins of Valdivia.|
|1603||February 7||The last inhabitants of Villarrica surrender to the Mapuches and became captives.|
|1604||Arauco and Osorno are destroyed.|
|February 3||The fort at Valdivia is abandoned.|
Fr. Alonso de Ovalle (Santiago; July 27, 1603 – Lima; May 1651) was a Chilean Jesuit priest and chronicler of Chilean history, author of the Historica relacion del Reyno de Chile y de las missiones y ministerios que exercita en él la Compañía de Jesus, describing the Conquest of Chile and the Arauco War. He was great grandson of the Genoese sailor Juan Bautista Pastene.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, Chile
Arauco is a city and commune (Spanish: comuna) 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.Bartolomé Flores
Bartolomé Flores (1511 – November 11, 1585) is believed to have been the first German to arrive in Chile. He came with the expedition of Pedro de Valdivia at the beginning of the Spanish conquest of Chile.Battle of Tucapel
The Battle of Tucapel (also known as the Disaster 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.Butalmapu
Butalmapu or Fütalmapu is the name in Mapudungun for "great land", which were one of the great confederations wherein the Mapuche people organized themselves in case of war. These confederations corresponded to the great geographic areas inhabited by the Mapuches in Chile.
At the beginning of the conquest of Chile it is thought that there was a Butalmapu among the Picunche from the Limari River south to the vicinity of the Mataquito River that was headed by a Michimalonco. Also at the beginning of the conquest of Chile, a Moluche Butalmapu, (name unknown), existed south of the Itata River and north of the Bio Bio River. It may have included the aillurehue of the Cauquenes north of the Itata, who occasionally fought with them against the Spanish in the sixteenth century and earlier against the Inca in the Battle of the Maule.
Among the Moluche south of the Bio Bio River there were by the seventeenth century, three Butalmapu, that conformed with the main territorial identities of the Moluche: Lafkenmapu, the coastal region, Lelfünmapu the plains of the Intermediate Depression and Inapiremapu the foothills of the Andes. One other Piremapu in the Andes mountain range, was inhabited by the Pehuenches.Each butalmapu was made up of several smaller confederations; aillarehues, that were made up of a number of familial clans of the same region, known as lofs. In case of an external danger or the beginning of a military campaign, the loncos (caciques) of all the lofs chose a supreme military leader of the Butalmapu, called the Toqui and Gran Toqui by the Spaniards. This leader had the right to make military decisions and usually only left his position when the campaign finished or he died. Butalmapus were not described as such in Spanish chronicles until the Cautiverio feliz y razón individual de las guerras dilatadas del reino de Chile, of Francisco Núñez de Pineda y Bascuñán, where an account of these confederations first occurred. They were called by Núñez “utanmapu”.Among the Huilliche and Cuncos to the south of the Moluche there were two Butalmapu: Willimapu located in between the Toltén River and the Bueno River and the Chawra kawin located between the Bueno River and the Reloncaví Sound. By 1805 these were consolidated into just one, Huillimapu.Chilotan architecture
Chilotan architecture is a unique architectural style that is mainly restricted to the Chiloé Archipelago and neighboring areas of southern Chile. These buildings have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Francisco de Villagra
Francisco de Villagra Velázquez (1511 – 22 July 1563) was a Spanish conquistador, and three times governor of Chile.Hualqui
Hualqui (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈwalki]) is a Chilean city and commune in the Concepción Province, Biobio Region. It is also part of the Greater Concepcion conurbation, although it maintains a rural profile. It had a population of 24,333 inhabitants according to the 2017 census.Its name comes from the Moluche Aillarehue and rehue of Hualqui that existed there at the beginning of the Conquest of Chile. In 1577, the Royal Governor of Chile Rodrigo de Quiroga erected a small fort of Hualqui on the Biobío River 23 km (14 mi) from the city of Concepcion and 24 km (15 mi) to the northwest of Talcamávida at the site of the modern city and over time a small settlement grew around it. In the beginning of 1756 Governor Manuel de Amat y Juniet erected a town there, named San Juan Bautista de Gualqui. It served as capital to the Corregimiento de Puchacay and then Partido de Puchacay until 1799.Inés Suárez
Inés Suárez, (Spanish pronunciation: [iˈnes ˈswaɾeθ]; c. 1507–1580) was a Spanish conquistadora who participated in the Conquest of Chile with Pedro de Valdivia, successfully defending the conquered Santiago against an attack in 1541 by the Mapuche, Chile's indigenous people whose generations have shown the existence of their culture in Chile and Argentina as early as 600 to 500 BC.Itata River
The Itata River flows in the Bío Bío Region, southern Chile.
Until the Conquest of Chile, the Itata was the natural limit between the Mapuche, located to the south, and Picunche, to the north.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).Moluche
The Moluche ("people from where the sun sets" or "people from the west") or Nguluche are an indigenous people of Chile. Their language was a dialect of Mapudungun, a Mapuche language. At the beginning of the Conquest of Chile by the Spanish Empire the Moluche lived in what came to be known as Araucanía. The Moluche were called Araucanos ("Araucanians") by the Spanish.
Descendants of the Moluche and the Pehuenche and Huilliche later migrated into Argentina in later centuries mixing with the local tribes. This Araucanization made their language the common spoken language in the region.Mutilation
Mutilation or maiming (from the Latin: mutilus) is cutting off or injury to a body part of a person so that the part of the body is permanently damaged, detached or disfigured.Pedro de Villagra
Pedro de Villagra y Martínez (Mombeltrán, Ávila Province ; 1513 - Lima; September 11, 1577) was a Spanish soldier who participated in the conquest of Chile, being appointed its Royal Governor between 1563 and 1565.
His father was Juan de Villagra, a minor civil official. In 1537 he moved from Spain to Cartagena de Indias, then to Santa Marta and later Peru. He arrived in Chile with the expedition of Pedro de Valdivia.
With the founding of Santiago, Villagra held for 4 years the post of the city's mayor. Valdivia also granted him an encomienda in Tirúa. After the death of the governor, he moved back to Peru, where he married Beatriz de Figueroa.
He returned to Chile when his nephew (cousin?) Francisco de Villagra was governor for the first time. He fought in the Arauco War and took command of the southern forces when the governor became ill. In 1556 he commanded the forces that drove Lautaro back from Santiago in the Battle of Peteroa.
He again commanded forces under Francisco de Villagra when he became governor again in 1561. When Francisco de Villagra died on June 22, 1563, he left Pedro de Villagra as interim governor. This was later confirmed by the Viceroy of Peru, Diego López de Zúñiga y Velasco. His military strategy led him to concentrate his forces, vacating the fort Arauco in order to reinforce Angol and Concepción. Some of the worst Mapuche defeats would be suffered through the attack on Angol, where the garrisoning forces led by Lorenzo Bernal del Mercado inflicted over a thousand of casualties and killed the toqui Illangulién in the Battle of Angol. Later he headed a new campaign in the south, relieving the Siege of Concepcion and resulting in the victorious battles of Reinohuelen and Tolmillán against the Mapuches north of the Bio-Bio River. This series of defeats resulted in a few years of apparent peace between the Spanish and Mapuche.
With the death of the viceroy López de Zúñiga y Velasco in 1564 the political situation deteriorated for Villagra. In 1565, at the orders of the new viceroy Lope García de Castro, he was replaced by Rodrigo de Quiroga, arrested, and sent to Peru, where he managed to clear his name. After his absolution he petitioned the king for the reparations he believed himself due, but he never received a response.
He died in Lima on September 11, 1577.Picunche
The Picunche (a Mapudungun word meaning "North People"), also referred to as picones by the Spanish, were a Mapudungun-speaking Chilean people living to the north of the Mapuches or Araucanians (a name given to those Mapuche living between the Itata and Toltén rivers) and south of the Choapa River and the Diaguitas. Until the Conquest of Chile the Itata was the natural limit between the Mapuche, located to the south, and Picunche, to the north. During the Inca attempt to conquer Chile the southern Picunche peoples that successfully resisted them were later known as the Promaucaes.
The Picunche living north of the Promaucaes were called Quillotanes (those living in the Aconcagua River valley north to the Choapa) and Mapochoes (those living in the Maipo River basin) by the Spanish, and were part of the Inca Empire at the time when the first Spaniards arrived in Chile.
Among the peoples the Spanish called the Promaucaes, the people of the Rapel River valley were particularly called by this name by the Spanish. Those of the Mataquito River valley were called the Cures. The people in the Maule River valley and to the south were distinguished as Maules and those to the south of the Maules and north of the Itata were known as Cauqui by the Inca and Cauquenes by the Spanish and that gave their name to Cauquenes River.
They did not survive as a separate society into the present day, suffering a general reduction in numbers and having been absorbed into the general Chilean population during the colonial period.San Pedro de la Paz
San Pedro de la Paz (Spanish pronunciation: [sam ˈpeðɾo ðe la pas]) is a Chilean city and commune located in the Concepción Province, Biobío Region. It has some 80,447 inhabitants according to the 2002 national census. In 2005, the Pedro Aguirre Cerda avenue, the main avenue in the city, was completed. Most of the inhabitants of this comuna commute daily to Concepción - either by car, bus or train - over the Biobío River. It is considered to be part of Greater Concepción conurbation.
San Pedro was established during the Conquest of Chile first as fort la Candelaria which was destroyed following the death of Governor Martín García Óñez de Loyola in 1599. It was rebuilt as part of La Frontera by Alonso de Ribera as fort San Pedro de la Paz in 1603. A small settlement grew up around it. During the Chilean War of Independence the town was burned in 1821, by the royalist Juan Manuel Picó on the order of Vicente Benavides during the Battle of San Pedro. The fort was ruined by the 1835 Concepción earthquake.Vicente Carvallo y Goyeneche
Vicente Carvallo y Goyeneche (1742–1816) was a Chilean soldier, author and historian of Basque descent, born in Valdivia. Author of the Descripcion Histórico Geografía del Reino de Chile, covering the history and geography of the Captaincy General of Chile from the beginning of the Spanish conquest to 1789. The book remained unpublished for eighty years, until it was published between 1875 and 1876 by
José Toribio Medina. The text is divided in two sections. In the first Carvallo narrates events beginning with the Conquest of Chile up to the year 1789. The second section consists of a description of all the provinces of the country and the customs of the Mapuche. It was published in three parts, the last in 1876.