Atahualpa (Juan Santos) (1710?–c. 1756)

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Atahualpa (Juan Santos) (1710?–c. 1756)

Atahualpa (Juan Santos) (b. 1710?; d. ca. 1756), leader of an indigenous rebellion in the jungles and mountain slopes of east-central Peru from 1742 to 1752. Not much is known about the early life of Juan Santos, who later took the name Atahualpa. He was born either in Cajamarca or, more likely, Cuzco; he learned Spanish and Latin while studying with the Jesuits. A Jesuit may have taken him to Spain and Africa.

In 1742 Juan Santos appeared in the mountains of Chanchamayo, declaring himself the descendant of Atahualpa, the Inca captured and murdered in 1533 by Francisco Pizarro at the outset of the Spanish conquest of Peru. A charismatic leader, Juan Santos combined Christian and Andean messianism. Raiding from the jungles of the Gran Pajonal, his followers destroyed the region's Franciscan missions. Juan Santos aimed to drive the Spaniards out of Peru but was unable to mobilize the populous central highlands. Nonetheless, several military expeditions against his stronghold failed to defeat him, and the government finally established forts along the frontier to prevent him from invading the highlands. In 1752 Juan Santos's forces seized Andamarca, threatening Jauja, but quickly withdrew. His hostilities then ceased. He probably died in Metraro. His uprising reflected mounting indigenous resistance to the colonial system. Revolts in Tarma (1744) and Lima (1750) supported his call for insurrection, and even after 1752 rumors about the new Atahualpa disturbed Peru.

See alsoMovimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA) .


Mario Castro Arenas, La rebelión de Juan Santos (1973).

Steve J. Stern, "The Age of Andean Insurrection, 1742–1782: A Reappraisal," in Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries, edited by Steve J. Stern (1987), esp. pp. 43-63.

Alonso Zarzar, "Apo Capac Huayna, Jesus Sacramentado": Mito, utopía, y milenarismo en el pensamiento de Juan Santos Atahualpa (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Dávila Herrera, Carlos. Juan Santos Atahualpa, paradigma de la rebelión asháninca. Lima, Perú: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Seminario de Historia Rural Andina, 2002.

Torre y López, Arturo Enrique de la. Juan Santos Atahualpa. Lima, Perú: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Fondo Editorial, 2004.

                                    Kendall W. Brown