Pumacahua Rebellion

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Pumacahua Rebellion

Pumacahua Rebellion, an anticolonial uprising in 1814–1816 that spread from its base in Cuzco, Peru, in the southern Andes, to central Peru and to what is today Bolivia. In late 1813 and early 1814, tensions in Cuzco between the audiencia, the high court and the focal point of Spanish interests, and the more liberal, creole cabildo, the city council, erupted when the former had prominent members of the cabildo imprisoned. On 2 August 1814, the prisoners escaped, imprisoned many Spaniards, and demanded the implementation of the liberal 1812 Spanish constitution. They were led by middle-class Cuzco residents José and Vicente Angulo and Gabriel Béjar. The rebellion has been named, somewhat erroneously, after one of its military leaders, Mateo Pumacahua, a curaca (an Indian local official).

The rebels advanced quickly to Huamanga and Huancavelica in the north and to La Paz and Arequipa in the south. Their numbers were in the tens of thousands, primarily indigenous peasants and the urban lower classes. They allied with Río de la Plata rebels who were besieging Upper Peru. Yet by the end of 1814, colonial forces had largely defeated the rebels, who had not counted on the rapid demise of their Río de la Plata allies. The return of Ferdinand to the throne of Spain also bolstered royalist efforts in Peru. Finally, divisions between the creole leadership and the Indian masses weakened the rebels.

Although the repression of the rebels was brutal, sparks of the revolt continued to flicker in distant provinces. Nonetheless, with the rebellion's defeat and the subsequent concentration of colonial forces in Cuzco, the southern Andes of Peru thereafter played a minor role in the struggle for independence in Peru.

See alsoAudiencia; Cuzco; Peru: From the Conquest Through Independence; Spain, Constitution of 1812.


Jorge Cornejo Bouroncle, Pumacahua: La revolución del Cuzco de 1814. Estudio documentado (1956).

John Lynch, The Spanish-American Revolutions 1808–1826 (1973), pp. 117-126, 164-171.

David Cahill and Scarlett O'Phelan Godoy, "Forging Their Own History: Indian Insurgency in the Southern Peruvian Sierra, 1815," in Bulletin of Latin American Research 11, no. 2 (1992): 125-167.

Additional Bibliography

Andrien, Kenneth. Andean Worlds: Indigenous history, Culture, and Consciousness under Spanish Rule, 1532–1825. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

Fisher, John. Bourbon Peru, 1750–1824. Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press, 2003.

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

                                       Charles F. Walker