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Galvarino (?–1557)

Galvarino (?–1557)

Galvarino (d. December 1557), Araucanian warrior and hero. Nothing is known about Galvarino's life before the events in which he figured during the Spanish invasion of Chile. At the battle of Lagunillas (or Bío-Bío) during Governor García Hurtado De Mendoza's (1535–1609) advance into Araucanian territory in 1557, he was captured and had both his hands cut off. The fiery speeches he delivered following his mutilation rallied his people to resist the Spaniards. Soon afterward, at the battle of Millarapue (November 1557), Galvarino was again captured and later hanged with other Araucanian prisoners.

The events of Galvarino's demise were witnessed by the poet-soldier Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga (1533–1594), who recounted them in memorable passages in his epic La Araucana. This more than anything else gave Galvarino the legendary status he enjoys in the pantheon of Araucanian heroism. While some of the speeches attributed to Galvarino in this poem must have been invented by Ercilla, the events themselves are confirmed by independent sources.

See alsoAraucanians; Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de.


Dillehay, Tom D. Monuments, Empires, and Resistance in the Andes: The Araucanian Polity and Ritual Narratives. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Ferrando Keun, Ricardo. Y así nació la frontera: Conquista, guerra, ocupación, pacificación, 1550–1900. Santiago: Editorial Antártica, 2007.

                                        Simon Collier

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