Túpac Amaru (José Gabriel Condorcanqui) (1738–1781)

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Túpac Amaru (José Gabriel Condorcanqui) (1738–1781)

Túpac Amaru (José Gabriel Condorcanqui) (b. March 1738; d. 18 May 1781), the most famous leader and martyr of the Great Andean Rebellion of 1780–1783. Born in Surimana, Canas y Canchis (Tinta), José Gabriel was the son of Miguel Condorcanqui and Rosa Noguera and a descendant of Inca Túpac Amaru, executed by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572. Orphaned in 1750, José Gabriel was raised by an aunt and uncle. As heir to the cacicazgo (chieftainship) of Tungasuca, Pampamarca, and Surimana, he attended Cuzco's San Francisco de Borja school. In 1760 he married Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua, and they had three sons: Hipólito, Mariano, and Fernando.

At age twenty-five José Gabriel claimed the cacicazgo and also became a successful teamster on the route linking Cuzco to Potosí. His travels made him aware of mounting dissatisfaction with colonial rule. The repartos (distributions of merchandise), whereby corregidores (provincial governors) forced Indians to purchase costly, unwanted goods, caused great discontent. Indians also resented the abusive mita (draft labor) for the mines of Potosí. The government's failure to correct the corruption and abuse of the colonial system proved increasingly galling to José Gabriel. Empowered by other caciques from Tinta, he spent 1777 and part of the following year in Lima, attempting to secure the province's exemption from the mita. When Visitador José Antonio de Areche rejected his suit, the cacique considered traveling to Spain to press his case. Meanwhile, he unsuccessfully petitioned the government to recognize him as the marquis of Oropesa, the vacant title that belonged to the heir of the original Incas.

Frustrated at each turn, he returned to Tinta in mid-1778, encouraged by influential friends in Lima to act against the illegality and abuse that the regime allowed to flourish. During the following two years, he conspired and planned. Sporadic local revolts independently erupted throughout the Andes. Areche's policies heightened tensions. He established new customhouses to collect higher taxes and intended to force mestizos to pay tribute. Dissatisfaction extended beyond the Indian population to include many creoles and mestizos.

On 4 November 1780, José Gabriel, taking the name Túpac Amaru, struck, arresting Antonio de Arriaga, the corregidor of Tinta. A convenient target, Arriaga had openly feuded with local clergy and had been excommunicated by the bishop of Cuzco, Juan Manuel Moscoso y Peralta. Túpac Amaru transported Arriaga to Tungasuca, where he tried Arriaga for corruption and abuse of the repartos and hanged him on 10 November. As the news spread, both rebels and royalists gathered forces. Many caciques of Tinta joined Túpac Amaru, whose relatives provided most of the movement's leadership. Building support, Túpac Amaru decreed the emancipation of slaves on 16 November. At Sangarara two days later, the rebels defeated a force sent out from Cuzco. Nonetheless, the mounting violence in the wake of Sangarara caused many creoles and mestizos to withdraw their support for the rebellion.

In early December, Túpac Amaru captured Lampa and Azángaro, and his influence threatened both southern and Upper Peru. Viceroy Augustín de Jáuregui and Areche mobilized reinforcements and supplies for the defense of Cuzco. News of their imminent arrival brought Túpac Amaru's forces north from Callao to attack Cuzco. With 40,000 to 60,000 troops, he besieged Cuzco from 2 to 9 January 1781. Aid from royalist caciques helped prevent Cuzco's fall, and Túpac Amaru retreated. Defeated in Tinta, he was betrayed and captured in Langui on 6 April 1781. While the rebellion continued, his captors took him to Cuzco for interrogation and trial. On 18 May he witnessed the torture and execution of his wife and other captive family members and then was pulled apart by four horses.

Although the Great Andean Rebellion comprised more than Túpac Amaru's revolt, other insurgents looked to his leadership. For many Indians his ancestry allowed him to carry the banner of Inca legitimacy, and his violent protest against Spanish colonialism won broad sympathy. Yet his rebellion failed owing to the massive mobilization carried out by the government, his inability to win lasting support from mestizos and creoles, and opposition from many caciques.

See alsoMita; Peru: From the Conquest Through Independence.


Daniel Valcarcel, La rebelión de Túpac Amaru (1947).

Lillian Estelle Fisher, The Last Inca Revolt, 1780–1783 (1966).

Boleslao Lewin, La rebelíon de Túpac Amaru y los orígenes de la Independencia Hispanoamérica (1967).

Alberto Flores Galindo, ed., Túpac Amaru II—1780 (1976).

Comisión Nacional Del Bicentenario De La Rebelión Emancipadora De Túpac Amaru, Actas del Coloquio International: "Túpac Amaru y su tiempo" (1980).

José Antonio Del Busto Duthurburu, José Gabriel Túpac Amaru antes de su rebelión (1981).

Scarlett O'Phelan Godoy, Rebellions and Revolts in Eighteenth-Century Peru and Upper Peru (1985).

Steve J. Stern, ed., Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries (1987), pp. 94-139.

Additional Bibliography

Angles Vargas, Victor. José Gabriel Túpac Amaru. Cusco: V. Angles Vargas, 2004.

Cajías de la Vega, Fernando. Oruro 1781: Sublevación de indios y rebellión criolla. Lima: IFEA, 2004.

Robins, Nicholas A. Genocide and Millennialism in Upper Peru: The Great Rebellion of 1780–1782. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

Stavig, Ward. The World of Túpac Amaru: Conflict, Community, and Identity in Colonial Peru. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Thomson, Sinclair. We Alone Will Rule: Native Andean Politics in the Age of Insurgency. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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

                                 Kendall W. Brown