Micaela Bastidas

Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua (born in Tamburco, 1744; died in Cusco, May 18, 1781) was a pioneering indigenous leader against Spanish rule in South America, and a martyr for Peruvian independence. With her husband Túpac Amaru II, she led a rebellion against the Spanish and like him, suffered martyrdom of execution by the Spaniards when the revolt failed. She was a full partner in her husband's enterprises before the revolt, and "an exceptionally able leader of the rebellion."[1] She has been described as the "celebrated wife of José Gabriel Condorcanqui Momento Maren (Túpac Amaru II)... who played a paramount role in the logistics of the rebel army in Cuzco in 1780 and 1781.[2]

Micaela Bastidas Pumacahua
Virgen del Carmen with donors, also known as Túpac Amaru II and family.


Effigy of Micaela Bastidas in the Panteón de los Próceres in Lima

Daughter of Josefa Puyucahua and Manuel Bastidas. The documentation on the life of Micaela Bastidas is not ample in comparison to that of her husband, but the historical record documents her birth, marriage, and death.[3] Micaela was born in Pampamarca province of Canas (laqaymarca annexed iromocco community of Pabellones, of the district of Pampamarca, of the province of Canas in 1744). She was the natural daughter of Manuel Bastidas (d. 1746) (perhaps of African descent or a priest) and Josefa Puyucahua Sisa. Given her status as an illegitimate child perhaps either of a priest or a Black man, she was marginalized in the overwhelmingly indigenous Andean highlands. Micaela spoke Quechua better than Spanish. She was a devout Catholic, but had little formal schooling.[4] An account describes her as being "a beautiful Indian girl."[5] It is unclear whether she was of African descent, since virtually nothing is known about her father, but some documents refer to her as a Zamba, a name given during the colonial-era racial hierarchy for those of mixed race, African and indigenous. Her marriage certificate listed her parents as both being "Spaniards" (españoles), but there was considerable fluidity in the system of racial classification, and such a designation may have been a "sign of respectability."[6]

On May 25, 1760, before her sixteenth birthday, Micaela married José Gabriel Condorcanqui, who later used the name Túpac Amaru II, in the church of Our Lady of Purification in the city of Surimana. José Gabriel was a young mixed-race descendant of an important figure in Peruvian history, of the Inca Tupac Amaru I, executed by the Spanish in 1572. In 1764, he was named the cacique or kuraka of the territories corresponding with his legacy: Pampamarca, Tungasuca, and Surimana. The title and perquisites of power were hereditary. He fixed his residency with Micaela in Tinta, a region of Cusco. The couple produced three sons, Hipólito (1761), Mariano (1762), and Fernando (1768), baptized by the same priest that married them.[7]

José Gabriel had received a privileged education in the school of Jesuits in Lima and Cusco at a school for the sons of indigenous lords. He spoke and wrote Spanish, spoke Quechua, and knew some Latin from his Jesuit education. He was the owner of large extensions of land and riches, having many roles of administration of their property. As a chief, he would mediate between the chief magistrate and indigenous people and their crime charges. As he prospered, he saw how the rest of the population was affected due to the physical revolts and creation of internal customs. As a regional trader over an extensive network, with 350 mules to carry trade-goods, he was in an excellent position to forge relationships with those he traded with and gather information about local conditions and concerns. As a person of mixed roots, he felt that he touched all of the injustices to his people firsthand. He came up with strategies and official applications to the authorities of Tinta Cusco and Lima so that indigenous people were freed from obligatory work in the mines and exonerated from compliance with forced labor. He usually met with negativity and indifference, but began to develop a libertarian ideology based on the defense of indigenous people, slaves, creoles, and people of mixed races, while guiding the independence of the territory and commerce from the decisions of the crown of Spain.

The marriage was a happy one and a full partnership. An important series of letters in Spanish exchanged between them during the early period of the rebellion include endearments and pet names for each other, as well as concerns about the other's safety.[8]

After that she was captured in a failed uprising. She had joined her spouse in leading the rebellion, leading indigenous men and women in a battle for independence as well as organizing supplies and recruiting forces.[9] She was known as being a "superior strategist to Tupac Amaru II, and certainly more daring." In a joint attack against the Spaniards, she encouraged Amaru to march on Cuzco quickly in order to surprise them and take advantage of their weakened city guard. However, Amaru held off which allowed the Spaniards to bring in reinforcements and capture Bastidas, Amaru, and many of their soldiers.[10]

She was executed by the Spanish very painfully on May 18, 1781, at 36 years of age. The Spanish attempted to use a hand-cranked garrote on her that had been designed for the occasion and first used on fellow rebel Tomasa Tito Condemayta, but because her neck was so slender she was instead strangled with a rope.[6] Her son Hipólito was also executed by the Spanish, both of them in front of Tupac Amaru II, who himself was then quartered and beheaded by the Spanish.

In 1780, the channels of dialogue with the representatives of the Spanish crown were exhausted, José Gabriel Condorcanqui started a movement against Spanish domination. It was supported by curacas linked to landowners from Cusco who were united against the new customs, Creoles, Indians and mestizos. At that time, he chose the name of Túpac Amaru II for himself, in honor of his ancestor the last Neo-Inca State.

On November 4, 1780 Túpac Amaru II presented the first cry for freedom and issued an independence proclamation. This was the beginning of the rebellion of Túpac Amaru II. The local commander of Spanish rule, Antonio de Arriaga, was taken prisoner and was later hanged. The rebels established their headquarters in Tungasuca.[11]

The indigenous people were prohibited from possessing firearms, therefore one of the biggest problems they faced was obtaining weapons.[12] Micaela was in charge of supplying the troops, which included obtaining and distributing money, food, clothing and weapons. She issued the safe-conducts to facilitate the movement of those who traveled through wide territories. She was in charge of the indigenous rearguard, demonstrating diligence and ability, implementing security measures and fighting espionage. She implemented an efficient communications system, organizing a chasquis service on horseback that quickly carried information from one point to another in the rebel territory.[13][14]

A true legion of Andean fighters, [Quechuas] and Aymara worked together with Micaela in the uprising, carried out strategies and gave support to the troops. Her goal was not only to let free her people from Spanish exploitation, but also to reestablish the role of indigenous women with their participation in social life and politics,[15] a tradition that the colonial system tried to abolish by making them victims of all kinds of abuses. There were women leaders within the movement Cecilia Túpac Amaru and Tomasa Tito Condemayta, chief of Acos, and many others.[16]

These women also participated in the battle, along with their children and husbands. So did Micaela, who with her energetic character gave Túpac Amaru encouragement from the same battlefield. After the triumph of Sangarará, she was constituted as acting chief of the rebellion.[17]

On November 18, 1780, the rebel army defeated the Spanish in the battle of Sangarará. Túpac Amaru sent a message to the peoples of Peru, calling on the Creoles to join the Indian cause: “Creoles, mestizos, zambos and Indians because we are all compatriots, as we were born in these lands and are of the same origin”.[18]

In March 1781 the army of Túpac Amaru had seven thousand men and women willing to fight to the death against the Spanish crown, who proclaimed Túpac Amaru II as Emperor of America.In testimonies of the time it is Micaela appeared as the main strategist through political tasks, military and administrative and main advisor to the leader. With her solid principles, clarity of thought and high intuition, became the sixth sense of rebellion.[19]

In 1976 the Peruvian government declared the law N° 21705, which exposes the importance of historical importance the celebration of the Bicentennial of the Emancipatory Rebellion of Túpac Amaru and Micaela Bastidas.


On May 18, 1781, they were taken to the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco to be executed one by one. His son Hipólito first had his tongue cut out, for having spoken against the Spanish, and then he was hanged. Micaela and José Gabriel were forced to witness the death of their son, then they made her climb to the platform. In front of her husband and her son Fernando Micaela fought against her executioners, until they finally subdued her and cut off her tongue. Her thin neck could not reach the winch, so they threw ties around her neck that pulled it from side to side to strangle her. They hit her with a club and ended up killing her with kicks in the stomach and breasts.[20]

Then they took Túpac Amaru to the center of the plaza, who was also subjected to a dreadful death. Both were dismembered and their parts sent to different towns in the region to be exhibited in public squares, warning the inhabitants of the consequences of rebelling.[21]

The whole event was, of course, an inspiration to be continued in Spanish American wars of independence.[22]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Campbell, Leon G. "The Army of Peru and the Túpac Amaru Revolt, 1780-1783". Hispanic American Historical Review 56(1):31-57.
  • Fernández Domínguez, Renata. "Micaela Bastidas en la historia, literatura, y cultural peruana: Análsis de sus reconfiguraciones discursivas." PhD dissertation, University of Kentucky 2005.
  • Fisher, Lillian Estelle. The Last Inca Revolt, 1780-83. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 1966.
  • Loayza, Francisco, Mártires y heroinas (documentos inéditos del año de 1780 a 1782). Lima: Imprenta D. Miranda 1945, pp. 18-42 [contains letters exchanged by the couple]
  • Stavig, Ward. The World of Tupac Amaru: Conflict, Community and Identity in Colonial Peru. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1999.
  • Guardia, Sara Beatriz, "Reconociendo las huellas: Micaela Bastidas y las heroinas de la independencia del Perú" in Las mujeres en la independencia de América Latina, ed. Sara Beatriz Guardia. Lima: CEMHAL 2010.
  • Stavig, Ward and Ella Schmidt, eds. The Tupac Amaru and Catarista Rebellions: An Anthology of Sources. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing 2008.
  • Vega, Juan José, Túpac Amaru y sus compañeros. 2 vols. Cuzco: Municipalidad del Qosqo 1995.
  • Walker, Charles F. The Tupac Amaru Rebellion. Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2014.


  1. ^ Charles F. Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2014, p. 21
  2. ^ Cecilia Méndez, The Plebeian Republic: The Huant Rebellion and the Making of the Peruvian State, 1820-1850. Durham: Duke University Press 2005, pp. 174-75.
  3. ^ Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, pp. 20-21, 289.
  4. ^ Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, p. 21.
  5. ^ Clements R. Markham, Travels in Peru and India. London: John Murray 1862, pp. 135-36 cited in Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, p. 289.
  6. ^ a b Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, p. 21
  7. ^ Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, p. 21.
  8. ^ Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, p. 99. Walker cites letters published in the Colección Documental del de la Independencia del Perú, II, 2.
  9. ^ Uglow, Jennifer; Maggy Hendry (1999). Frances Hinton (ed.). The Northeastern Dictionary of Women's Biography. UPNE. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-55553-421-9.
  10. ^ A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present, Second Edition, by Teresa A. Meade
  11. ^ "CVC. Rinconete. Cultura y tradiciones. Heroínas de las independencias latinoamericanas (7). Micaela Bastidas (Perú, 1744-1781), por Concepción Bados Ciria". cvc.cervantes.es. Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  12. ^ "Revista El Cóndor Agosto 2017 Parlamento Andino". Issuu. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  13. ^ "Bastidas, Micaela (1745–1781) | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  14. ^ "educabolivia". 2017-11-11. Archived from the original on 2017-11-11. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  15. ^ Campbell, Leon G. (1985). "Women and the Great Rebellion in Peru, 1780-1783". The Americas. 42 (2): 163–196. doi:10.2307/1007207. ISSN 0003-1615. JSTOR 1007207.
  16. ^ "El Dia del Pueblo - Mujeres ejemplares del Perú: MICAELA BASTIDAS". 2014-07-25. Archived from the original on 2014-07-25. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  17. ^ Valcárcel, Carlos Daniel (1973). La rebelión de Túpac Amaru (in Spanish). Peisa.
  18. ^ "Túpac Amaru, padre de la emancipación americana". studylib.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  19. ^ Guardia, Sara Beatriz (2012). "Micaela Bastidas y las heroínas de la Independencia del Perú". Micaela Bastidas y las heroínas de la Independencia del Perú: 153–174.
  21. ^ Angelis, Pedro de (1836). Colección de obras y documentos relativos a la historia antigua y moderna de las provincias del Rio de la Plata (in Spanish). Imprenta del estado.
  22. ^ República, Subgerencia Cultural del Banco de la. "La Red Cultural del Banco de la República". www.banrepcultural.org (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  • Herrera Cuntti, Arístides (2004, 2006). Divagaciones históricas en la web. Chincha, Perú: AHC Ediciones Perú (RUC N° 10078391575). ISBN 978-9972-2908-1-7.
  • Herrera Cuntti, Arístides (2004, 2006). Divagaciones históricas en la web. Chincha, Perú: AHC Ediciones Perú (RUC N° 10078391575). ISBN 978-9972-2908-2-4.