Arauco War

Arauco War
Guerra Arauco.jpg
Illustration of the Arauco War in Jerónimo de Vivar's book Crónica y relación copiosa y verdadera de los reynos de Chile (1558).
Date1536 – Chilean War of Independence (1810–1818)
ResultStrategic Mapuchean victory – Establishment of the Bío Bío River as frontier, Mapuches are independent until the occupation of Araucanía in 1883.

 Spanish Empire

Lautaro flag.svg Mapuche League (Ngulu Mapu)

  • Araucano
  • Huilliche
  • Pehuenche
  • Picunche
Commanders and leaders

Spanish Empire Pedro de Valdivia Executed
Spanish Empire Francisco de Villagra
Spanish Empire García Hurtado de Mendoza
Spanish Empire Pedro de Villagra

Spanish Empire García Óñez de Loyola 
Spanish Empire Alonso García de Ramón
Spanish Empire Alonso de Ribera
Spanish Empire Francisco Laso de la Vega
Lautaro flag.svg Lautaro 
Caupolican Executed
Casualties and losses
30,000–42,000 Spanish1[citation needed]
60,000 Indian auxiliaries
1 About half of the Spanish died by direct consequences of the war.[citation needed] Casualties as estimated in 1664 by Spanish

The Arauco War was a long-running conflict between colonial Spaniards and the Mapuche people, mostly fought in the Araucanía. After many initial Spanish successes in penetrating Mapuche territory, the Battle of Curalaba in 1598 and the following destruction of the Seven Cities marked a turning point in the war leading to the establishment of a clear frontier between the Spanish domains and the land of the independent Mapuche. From the 17th to the late 18th century a series of parliaments were held between royal governors and Mapuche lonkos and the war devolved to sporadic pillaging carried out by Spanish soldiers as well as Mapuches and outlaws.

The Chilean War of Independence brought new hostilities to the frontier, with different factions of Spaniards, Chileans and Mapuches fighting for independence, royalism or personal gain. Mapuche independence finally ended with the Chilean occupation of Araucanía between 1861 and 1883. The modern Mapuche conflict is partially inspired by the Arauco War.

Spanish conquest

The beginning of the conflict is usually placed at the Battle of Reynogüelén, which occurred in 1536 between an expedition of Diego de Almagro and a well-organized and numerous group of Mapuche soldiers, near the confluence of the Ñuble and Itata rivers.

Campaigns of Pedro de Valdivia (1546–1553)

Doña Inés de Suárez in defending the city of Santiago

During the early phase of the Conquest of Chile, the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia conducted a nine-year campaign to secure the city of Santiago, which had been destroyed on September 11, 1541 by the Mapochoes under the direction of their chief, Michimalonco. Valdivia hoped to enlarge the territory under his jurisdiction and, despite injuries from a fall from his horse, resolved to take personal command of a land expedition into Araucanía.

In 1544, sent a naval expedition comprising the barks, San Pedro and Santiaguillo, under the command of Juan Bautista Pastene, to reconnoiter the southwestern coast of South America to the Strait of Magellan. The expedition set sail from Valparaíso, entered the bay of San Pedro, and made landings at what is now known as Concepción and at Valdivia, which was later named in honor of the commander. Encountering severe storms further south, he then returned to Valparaiso.

Valdivia himself set out in 1546, with sixty horsemen plus guides and porters, and crossed the Itata River and were attacked by Mapuche warriors in the Battle of Quilacura near the Bío-Bío River. Realizing that it would be impossible to proceed in such hostile territory with so limited a force, Valdivia elected to return to Santiago after finding a site for a new city at what is now Penco and that would become the first site of Concepción.

Founding of Concepción, Imperial, and Valdivia

In 1550, a new expedition was launched, consisting of a naval force under Pastene, and a land force of two hundred Spaniards mounted and foot and a number of Mapocho auxiliaries under Valdivia. They planned to reunite on the shores of the Bay of Concepción. The expedition advanced beyond the Itata River and Laja River, to the shores of the Bío-Bío River. Along the way they had several battles with groups of Mapuches as they explored the region killing many with little loss to themselves. After spending over a week in the area and encountering increasing opposition, the Spanish marched toward the Sea through the valleys of the Laja and Bío-Bío rivers, towards the coast at Penco. On the banks of the Andalién River, they camped for two days between the river and a lake, where they were attacked on the second night by a large force of Araucanians under their toqui Ainavillo in the Battle of Andalien. The night attack was defeated in a furious battle, the Spaniards suffered one killed and many wounds to men and especially their mounts. After a day treating their wounds they continued towards their rendezvous at the Bay of Concepción.[1][2] There Valdivia began building a fort at what is now Penco.

On February 23, Pastene's fleet anchored in the bay, brought supplies, reinforcements and provided materials to finish the fort.[1] On March 1 Valdivia founded here the city of Concepción del Nuevo Extremo. On March 3 of that year, the fort was completed and was attacked nine days later by the largest force of Mapuches yet seen in the Battle of Penco. This force was broken and routed despite the small size of the Spanish forces.[1][3] Despite the resulting submission of the local tribes, Valdivia sent an emissary to the Viceroy of Peru, asking for additional forces; he knew that it would not be possible to complete the conquest of Araucanía with only the forces at his disposal. After reinforcement at Concepción in 1551, he organized another expedition to establish the fort La Imperial on the banks of the Imperial River. He then returned to Concepción to prepare another expedition and await the reinforcements the Viceroy had promised to send by sea.

Leaving orders that the new troops should disembark on the Tierras de Valdivia that Pastene had discovered earlier, Valdivia left with two hundred soldiers in the direction of Fort Imperial. Once he had passed it on his way south, he ordered Jerónimo de Alderete to drive inland and establish a fort, with the goal of securing his eastern flank. To this end, Alderente reached Lake Villarrica and established a fort there. Meanwhile, Valdivia's column advanced southwards and joined the reinforcements sent from Peru, under the command of Francisco de Villagra. There, the city of Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia was established. After garrisoning these new places, Valdivia returned to his base at Concepción in 1552 where rich placer gold mines were found in the Quilacoya River valley.

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Araukani müharibəsi
Deutsch: Arauco-Krieg
français: Guerre d'Arauco
Bahasa Indonesia: Perang Arauco
ქართული: არაუკოს ომი
português: Guerra de Arauco
Simple English: Arauco War
svenska: Araucokriget
українська: Арауканська війна