Túpac Amaru II

José Gabriel Túpac Amaru (March 10, 1738 – May 18, 1781) — known as Túpac Amaru II — was the leader of a large Andean uprising against the Spanish in Peru, whose quelling resulted in his death.[1] He later became a mythical figure in the Peruvian struggle for independence and indigenous rights movement, as well as an inspiration to myriad causes in Spanish America and beyond.

Túpac Amaru II
Tupac Amaru II, oleo.jpg
José Gabriel Condorcanqui

(1738-03-19)March 19, 1738
Surimana-Canas, Cuzco, Viceroyalty of Peru
DiedMay 18, 1781(1781-05-18) (aged 43)
Cuzco, Viceroyalty of Peru
Other namesJosé Gabriel Túpac Amaru, José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera

Early lifeEdit

Túpac Amaru II was born José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera between March 8 and 24, 1738 in Surimana, Tungasuca, in the province of Cusco, to Miguel Condorcanqui Usquionsa Tupac Amaru, kuraka of three towns in the Tinta district, and María Rosa Noguera. On May 1, Túpac Amaru II was baptized by Santiago José Lopez in a church in Tungasuca. Prior to his father's death, Amaru II spent his childhood in the Vilcamayu Valley; he accompanied his father to community functions, such as the temple, the market, and processions.[2] Tupac's parents died when he was twelve years old, and he was raised by an aunt and uncle. At age sixteen, he received a Jesuit education at the San Francisco de Borja School, founded to educate the sons of kurakas. The Jesuits "impressed upon him his social standing as future kuraka and someone of royal Inca blood."[3] At age twenty-two, Túpac Amaru II married Micaela Bastidas.[4] Shortly after his marriage, Amaru II succeeded his father as kuraka, giving him rights to land. As with his father, he was both the head of several Quechua communities and a regional merchant and muleteer, inheriting 350 mules from his father's estate. His regional trading gave him contacts in many other indigenous communities and access to information about economic conditions. His personal contacts and knowledge of the region were useful in the rebellion of 1780–81.[5]

His status in the colonial Spanish racial hierarchy has been discussed by scholars, whether he was of "pure indigenous blood" or a mixed-race mestizo, although his mother most likely had partial Spanish ancestry. He was recognized as an elite Quechua from a kuraka family and was educated at a school in Cuzco for sons of indigenous leaders. He spoke Quechua and Spanish, and learned Latin from the Jesuits. He was upwardly socially mobile, and in Cuzco he had connections with distinguished Spanish and Spanish American (creole) residents. "The upper classes in Lima saw him as a well-educated Indian,"[6] whatever European ancestry he might have had.

Between 1776 and 1780 Condorcanqui went into litigation with the Betancur family over the right of succession of the Marquisate of Oropesa and lost the case.[7] In 1760, he married Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua of Afro-Peruvian and indigenous descent. Tupac Amaru II inherited the caciqueship, or hereditary chiefdom of Tungasuca and Pampamarca from his older brother, governing on behalf of the Spanish governor.

The Corregidores and the exploitation of the nativesEdit

Although the Spanish trusteeship labor system, or encomienda, had been abolished in 1720, most natives at the time living in the Andean region of what is now Ecuador and Bolivia, who made up nine tenths of the population were still pushed into forced labor for what were legally labeled as public work projects.[8] However, most natives worked under the supervision of a master either tilling soil, mining or working in textile mills. What little wage that was acquired by workers was heavily taxed and cemented Native American indebtedness to Spanish masters. The Roman Catholic Church also had a hand in extorting these natives through collections for saints, masses for the dead, domestic and parochial work on certain days, forced gifts, etc.[9] Those not employed in forced labor were still subject to the Spanish provincial governors, or corregidores who also heavily taxed any free natives, similarly ensuring their financial instability.[9]

Condorcanqui's interest in the Native American cause had been spurred by the re-reading of one the Royal Commentaries of the Incas, a romantic and heroic account of the history and culture of the ancient Incas. The book was outlawed at the time by the Lima viceroy for fear of it inspiring renewed interest in the lost Inca culture and inciting rebellion.[10] The marquis's native pride coupled with his hate for the Spanish colonial system, caused him to sympathize and frequently petition for the improvement of native labor in the mills, farms and mines; even using his own wealth to help alleviate the taxes and burdens of the natives. After many of his requests for the alleviation of the native conditions fell on deaf ears, Condorcanqui decided to organize a rebellion. He began to stall on collecting reparto debts and tribute payments, for which the Tinta corregidor and governor Antonio de Arriaga threatened him with death. Condorcanqui changed his name to Túpac Amaru II and claimed he was descended from the last Inca ruler, Túpac Amaru.[11]


Túpac Amaru II

The Túpac Amaru rebellion was an Inca revival movement that sought to improve the rights of indigenous Peruvians suffering under the Spanish Bourbon Reforms. The rebellion was one of many indigenous Peruvian uprisings in the latter half of the 18th century. It began with the capture and killing of the Tinta Corregidor and Governor Antonio de Arriaga on November 4, 1780, after a banquet attended by both Túpac Amaru II and Governor Arriaga.The immediate cause of the rebellion lay in grievances caused by a series of modernising reforms of the colonial administration implemented by the Bourbon monarchy in Spain under Charles III (1759–88), centralising administrative and economic control and placing heavier tax and labour burdens on both the Indian and Creole populations. The focus of discontent was the main representative of the crown in Peru, the visitador general José Antonio Areche. Ideologically, the rebellion was complex. At one level, it expressed simply a demand on the Spanish authorities for changes and reforms within the structure of colonial rule, often speaking in the name of the king himself, for example. At another, it envisioned an overthrow of European rule, and something like a restoration of the pre-conquest Inca empire, the Tahuantinsuyo. Túpac Amaru's claim to be the legitimate descendant of the Inca suggested the possibility of an aristocratic state similar to the one envisioned in the sixteenth century by the mestizo writer, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who saw the Incas as sharing rule with the Spanish aristocracy. But there were also strong millenarian, proto-Jacobin and even proto-communist elements in the rebellion. In the main, the soldiers of the Tupamarista armies were poor Indian peasants, artisans and women, who saw the rebellion not so much as a question of reforms or power sharing but as an opportunity to ‘turn the world upside down’. The restoration of the Inca Empire meant for them the possibility of an egalitarian society, based economically on the Inca communal agricultural system, the ayllu, and one without castas (racial divisions), rich and poor, or forced labour in haciendas, mines and factories, particularly the dreaded textile mills.”[12]

When Arriaga left the party drunk, Túpac Amaru II and several of his allies captured him and forced him to write letters to a large number of Spaniards and kuracas. When about 200 of them gathered within the next few days, Túpac Amaru II surrounded them with approximately 4,000 natives. Claiming that he was acting under direct orders from the Spanish Crown, Amaru II gave Arriaga's slave Antonio Oblitas the privilege of executing his master.[11] A platform in the middle of a local town plaza was erected, and the initial attempt at hanging the corregidor failed when the noose snapped. Arriaga then ran for his life to try to reach a nearby church, but was not quick enough to escape, and was successfully hanged on the second attempt.[10]

After the execution of de Arriaga, Amaru II continued his insurrection. Releasing his first proclamation, Tupac Amaru II announced, "that there have been repeated outcries directed to me by the indigenous peoples of this and surrounding provinces, outcries against the abuses committed by European-born crown officials... Justified outcries that have produced no remedy from the royal courts" to all the inhabitants of the Spanish provinces. He went on in the same proclamation to state, "I have acted ... only against the mentioned abuses and to preserve the peace and well-being of Indians, mestizos, mambos, as well as native-born whites and blacks. I must now prepare for the consequences of these actions."[13] Tupac Amaru II then went on to quickly assemble an army of 6,000 natives who had abandoned their work to join the revolt. As they marched towards Cuzco, the rebels occupied the provinces of Quispicanchis, Tinta, Cotabambas, Calca, and Chumbivilcas. The rebels looted the Spaniards' houses and killed their occupants.[11] The movement was supremely anti-royalist since, upon arriving at a town the rebels would upturn Spanish authority.

“Women, as much as men, were affected by these injustices.”[14] In fact, Tupac Amaru II's wife, Michaela Bastidas, commanded a battalion of insurgents and was responsible for the uprising in the San Felipe de Tungasuca region. She is also often credited to being more daring and a superior strategist, compared to Túpac Amaru II. It is told that she scolded her husband for his weakness and refusal to set up a surprise attack against the Spaniards in Cuzco to catch the weakened city defenders off guard. Instead of listening to his wife, Túpac Amaru II lost precious time by encircling the country in hopes that he could gather more recruits for his army. So, by the time the insurgents had attacked the city, the Spaniards had already brought in reinforcements and were able to control and stop the uprising. This led to Túpac Amaru II, Micaela Bastidas, and several others to be captured while the rebels scattered. [15]

During a stage of his rebellion, Túpac Amaru II was able to convince the Quechua speakers to join him. Therefore, under his command, the Quechua speakers fought alongside him with Aymara-speaking rebels from Puno on Lake Titicaca and on the Bolivian side of the lake. Unfortunately, the alliance did not last that long and this led the Aymara leader, Túpac Katari, to lead his army alone which ultimately led to his capture in October 1781. His partner and female commander, Bartola Sisa, took control after his capture and lead an astonishing amount of 2,000 soldiers for several months. Soon after that in early 1782, the Spanish military defeated the rebels in Peru and Bolivia. According to modern sources, out of the 73 leaders, 32 were women, who were all executed privately.[15]

On November 18, 1780, Cuzco dispatched over 1,300 Spanish and Native loyalist troops. The two opposing forces clashed in the town of Sangarará. It was an absolute victory for Amaru II and his Native rebels; all 578 Spanish soldiers were killed and the rebels took possession of their weapons and supplies. The victory however, also came with a price. The battle revealed that Amaru II was unable to fully control his rebel followers, as they viciously slaughtered without direct orders. Reports of such violence and the rebels' insistence on the death of Spaniards eliminated any chances for support by the Criollo class.[11] The victory achieved at Sangarará would be followed by a string of defeats. The gravest defeat came in Amaru II's failure to capture Cuzco, where his 40,000 – 60,000 indigenous followers were repelled by the fortified town consisting of a combined force of loyalist Native troops and reinforcements from Lima. "After being repelled from the capital of the ancient Inca empire and intellectual hub of colonial Peru"[16] Amaru and his men marched through the countryside attempting to recruit any native to his cause, in doing so bolstering his forces. Amaru II's army was surrounded between Tinta and Sangarara and he was betrayed by two of his officers, Colonel Ventura Landaeta and Captain Francisco Cruz, which led to his capture.[15] When his captors attempted to procure the names of his rebel accomplices from him in exchange for promises, Amaru II scornfully replied "There are no accomplices here other than you and I. You as oppressor, I as liberator, deserve to die."[17]


Amaru II was sentenced to be executed. He was forced to watch the deaths of his wife Micaela Bastidas, his eldest son Hipólito, his uncle Francisco Tupa Amaro, his brother-in-law Antonio Bastidas, and some of his captains before his own death.

The following is an extract from the official judicial death issued by the Spanish authorities which condemns Túpac Amaru II to torture and death. It was ordered in sentence that Túpac Amaru II be condemned to have his tongue cut out, after watching the executions of his family, and to have his hands and feet tied...[18]

...to four horses who will then be driven at once toward the four corners of the plaza, pulling the arms and legs from his body. The torso will then be taken to the hill overlooking the city... where it will be burned in a bonfire... Tupac Amaru's head will be sent to Tinta to be displayed for three days in the place of public execution and then placed upon a pike at the principal entrance to the city. One of his arms will be sent to Tungasuca, where he was the cacique, and the other arm to the capital province of Carabaya, to be similarly displayed in those locations. His legs will be sent to Livitica and Santa Rosas in the provinces of Chumbivilcas and Lampa, respectively.

— Sarah C. Chambers, Latin American Independence: An Anthology of Sources

After the failed dismemberment by the four horses, his body was quartered, and he was then beheaded on the main plaza in Cuzco, in the same place his apparent great-great-great-grandfather Túpac Amaru I had been beheaded.


When the revolt continued, the Spaniards executed the remainder of his family, except his 12-year-old son Fernando, who had been condemned to die with him, but was instead imprisoned in Spain for the rest of his life. It is not known if any members of the Inca royal family survived this final purge. Amaru's body parts were strewn across the towns loyal to him as ordered, his houses were demolished, their sites strewn with salt, his goods confiscated, his relatives declared infamous, and all documents relating to his descent burnt.[19]

At the same time, on May 18, 1781, Incan clothing and cultural traditions, and self-identification as "Inca" were outlawed, along with other measures to convert the population to Spanish culture and government until Peru's independence as a republic. However, even after the death of Amaru, Native revolts still seized much of what is today southern Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, as Native revolutionaries captured Spanish towns and beheaded many inhabitants. In one instance, a Native-American army under rebel leader Túpac Katari besieged the city of La Paz for 109 days before troops sent from Buenos Aires stepped in to relieve the city.[citation needed]


Although Túpac Amaru II's rebellion was not a success, it marked the first large-scale rebellion in the Spanish colonies and inspired the revolt of many Natives and mestizos in the surrounding area. The rebellion took on important manifestations in "Upper Peru" or what is today modern Bolivia including the region South and East of Lake Titicaca. Indeed, Túpac Amaru II inspired the indigenous peoples to such an extent that even the official document wherein he is condemned to death, it is remarked that "the Indians stood firm in the place of our gunfire, despite their enormous fear of it" and that despite being captured, his followers remained steadfast in their beliefs in his immortality and heritage.[20]

The rebellion gave indigenous Peruvians a new state of mind, a sort of indigenous nationalism that would re-emerge and change shape over the course of the country's future. They were now willing to join forces with anyone who opposed the Spanish. By contrast, the Peruvian creole peoples would prove to be South America's most conservative in the independence movement due to the fear that independence would leave them at the mercy of the Native populations. As well, other Peruvian creoles had prosperous co-owned businesses and land with the Spaniards, and as such did not want to lose those interests in the event of a revolution. While Túpac Amaru II's revolt was spawned in the Vilcanota Valley and ended in the city of Cuzco, the legacy and ideology of his revolt had echoes throughout the Andean region.[citation needed]


Querrán volarlo y no podrán volarlo ("They will want to blow him up and won't be able to blow him up").
Querrán romperlo y no podrán romperlo ("They will want to break him and won't be able to break him").
Querrán matarlo y no podrán matarlo ("They will want to kill him and won't be able to kill him").
Al tercer día de los sufrimientos, cuando se creia todo consumado, gritando: ¡LIBERTAD! sobre la tierra, ha de volver. ¡Y no podrán matarlo! ("On the third day of suffering, when it was believed everything was finished, he will scream: FREEDOM! over the land must return. And they won't be able to kill him!")
Alejandro Romualdo


In PeruEdit

In novelsEdit

In the book, Inca Gold, by Clive Cussler, one of the main villains named himself Tupac Amaru and claims to be a descendant of the real Túpac Amaru.[citation needed]

In the beginning of the book, The Book of Human Skin, Túpac Amaru II's death is described, and a book said to be a bound in his skin plays a major role in the plot.[citation needed]

Around the worldEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kendall W. Brown, "Túpac Amaru (José Gabriel Condorcanqui)" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 5, p. 279. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  2. ^ Busto Duthurburu, José Antonio del (1981). José Gabriel Túpac Amaru antes de su rebelión. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru: Fondo Editorial.
  3. ^ Charles F. Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion. Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2014, p. 18.
  4. ^ Means, Philip Ainsworth (1919). he rebellion of Tupac-Amaru II, 1780-1781. United States: Board of Editors of the Hispanic American Review.
  5. ^ Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, p. 19.
  6. ^ Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, p. 20.
  7. ^ First among Incas: The Marquesado de Oropesa Litigation (1741–1780) en route to the Great Rebellion, David Cahill
  8. ^ John Crow, The Epic of Latin America ( California: University of California Press Berkeley), p. 404
  9. ^ a b John Crow, The Epic of Latin America, p. 405
  10. ^ a b John Crow, The Epic of Latin America ( California: University of California Press Berkeley), p. 406
  11. ^ a b c d Native Insurgencies and the Genocidal Impulse in the Americas, Nicholas A. Robins
  12. ^ The Epic of Latin America, Fourth Edition, John A. Crow
  13. ^ Sarah C. Chambers; John Charles Chasteen (2010). Latin American Independence: An Anthology of Sources. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 33, 34. ISBN 9780872208636.
  14. ^ Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, "Gender from 1750 to World War I: Latin America and the Caribbean," in T. Meade and M. Wiesner-Hanks (Eds.) A Companion to Gender History (Oxford: Blackwell,2006), p.481
  15. ^ a b c Meade, Teresa A. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.
  16. ^ Meade, Teresa A. 2010. A history of modern Latin America: 1800 to the present. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell)(39)
  17. ^ Daniel Valcarcel. La rebellion de Tupac Amaru (Mexico, 1947)
  18. ^ Sarah C. Chambers; John Charles Chasteen (2010). Latin American Independence: An Anthology of Sources. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 36, 37. ISBN 9780872208636.
  19. ^ John Crow, The Epic of Latin America, p. 407
  20. ^ Sarah C. Chambers; John Charles Chasteen (2010). Latin American Independence: An Anthology of Sources. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. p. 35. ISBN 9780872208636.
  21. ^ John Crow "The Epic of America" p. 408
  22. ^ "The 'Tupac Amaru' Name Is a Symbol of Rebellion". Los Angeles Times. December 25, 1996. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved June 30, 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Brown, Kendall W. "Túpac Amaru (José Gabriel Condorcanqui)" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 5, pp. 279–280.
  • Fisher, Lillian Estelle, The Last Inca Revolt, 1780-1783 (1966)
  • Robins, Nicholas A. Native Insurgencies and the Genocidal Impulse in the Americas
  • Charles F. Walker: The Tupac Amaru Rebellion. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-674-05825-5 (Print); ISBN 978-0-674-41637-6 (eBook)

External linksEdit