Skip to main content

Gamarra, Agustín (1785–1841)

Gamarra, Agustín (1785–1841)

Agustín Gamarra (b. 1785; d. 1841), quintessential military caudillo of nineteenth-century Peru, born in Cuzco, and twice president of Peru (1829–1833, 1839–1841) during an unstable period in which there were more than thirty presidents in twenty years (1826–1846). Like Andrés de Santa Cruz and Ramón Castilla, Gamarra was initially trained by the Spanish colonial army. Under creole Generals José Manuel Goyeneche and Pío Tristán, Gamarra fought against independence movements in the regions of Upper and Southern Peru between 1809 and 1820. In 1820, however, the entire royalist Numancia battalion in which Gamarra served passed over to General José de San Martín's independence forces, at the time active on the Peruvian coast. Consequently, Gamarra fought in the independence army in the battles of Junín and Ayacucho that finally removed Spanish colonial presence in Peru.

Soon after independence Gamarra became prefect of Cuzco and military commander of the southern Peruvian armies. Gamarra was a zealous creole-patriot, politically conservative and protectionist in trading matters. He achieved renown in early "national" military campaigns against Colombian influence in Bolivia (1828) and in the dispute over the port of Guayaquil with Colombia (1829). In the middle of the latter, unsuccessful campaign in Ecuador, Gamarra forcibly exiled President José de la Mar to become president of Peru. In his first presidency, Gamarra foiled at least seventeen rebellions with the aid of his belligerent wife Francisca Zubiaga de Gamarra, but was finally defeated in a civil war by General Luis José Orbegoso in 1833.

Gamarra continued to conspire but did not seize power until 1839, after he led the opposition against General Santa Cruz's Peru-Bolivia Confederation (1836–1839). The Chilean army, employing Peruvian dissenters such as Gamarra himself, defeated Santa Cruz in the battle of Yungay (1839). Finally, Gamarra's attempt to incorporate Bolivia into Peru was soundly defeated in the battle of Ingaví (1841), in which Gamarra lost his life.

See alsoPeru: Peru Since Independence .


Jorge Basadre, Historia de la República del Perú, vols. 1-2 (1963).

Celia Wu, Generals and Diplomats: Great Britain and Peru 1820–40 (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Manrique, Nelson. Historia de la república. Lima: Fondo Editorial de COFIDE, 1995.

Walker, Charles. Smoldering Ashes: Cuzco and the Creation of Republican Peru, 1780–1840. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.

                                      Alfonso W. Quiroz

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gamarra, Agustín (1785–1841)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . 23 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Gamarra, Agustín (1785–1841)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . (April 23, 2019).

"Gamarra, Agustín (1785–1841)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Retrieved April 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.