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Caupolicán (?–1558)

Caupolicán (?–1558)

Caupolicán (d. 1558), Araucanian warrior and hero. The cacique of Palmaiquén, he was active in the Araucanian resistance to the Spanish conquistadores from early on. He rose to prominence among his people after the death of Lautaro (April 1557), when he was chosen as toqui (chief). He was a principal adversary of the newly arrived Spanish governor García Hurtado De Mendoza (1535–1609). Caupolicán's attacks on the new governor's hastily constructed fort near Concepción were repulsed. The Spaniards, now reinforced, defeated the Araucanians at the battles of Lagunillas (or Bío-Bío) and Millarapue in November 1557. Caupolicán rejected all Hurtado de Mendoza's offers of peace. In mid-1558 a Spanish captain, Alonso de Reinoso, organized a surprise raid on the toqui's encampment at Palmaiquén and succeeded in capturing him. A woman, presumably his wife, revealed his identity to the Spaniards by reproaching him for being taken alive and dashing her infant son to the ground. (The name traditionally given to her, Fresia, is probably an invention of the poet Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga.) Reinoso took Caupolicán back to the newly founded settlement at Cañete, where he was executed by impalement. He is remembered as second only to Lautaro among the Araucanian heroes of the sixteenth century.

See alsoAraucana, La .


Márquez, Antonio. Historia de Chile ilustrada. Santiago: Ercilla, 2000.

                                            Simon Collier

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