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Tupac Amaru’s Rebellion: the first cry of emancipation

Posted on by Antoine TH

Tupac Amaru’s Rebellion: the first cry of emancipation

José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguerason was born in Surimana (in today’s Bolivia) in 1742. He was a mestizo of noble origins and was sent at a very good school in Cusco, that was hold by Jesuits. Later on he attended classes in the San Marcos University in Lima.

Even though José Gabriel originated from a noble family he was conscious about the harsh reality that the indigenous people face.

In fact the Peruvian colonial society was divided into a strong hierarchy. On the above of the pyramid were the Spanish from Spain. They carried the most important functions. After them came the criollos, they were Spaniards born in Peru. Some of them were very wealthy people while others were modest. They were in permanent competition with the royal civil servants who looked down on them. Then came mestizos that became more and more numerous with time. Even though they had to face prejudices, some managed to be successful. Finally, on the bottom of the pyramid were the indigenous people. They were mostly farmers, that were submitted and despised.

José Gabriel Condorcanqui started to denounce in particular the system of the encomienda, in which the indigenous people where de facto still treated as serfs.

In October 1780 an uprising started. José Gabriel became its leader. It was the start of a rebellion that became a real mass movement. José Gabriel wanted to continue there where his predecessor Tupac Amaru I had been stopped. It was also in his honor that José Gabriel took the name of Tupac Amaru II.

Tupac Amaru’s troupes became bigger and bigger. He was joined by mesitzos, poor white people, members of the criolla-elite and even some Spaniards, that were seduced by his speeches that promised change (even though they did not wish to completely cut off with the Spanish crown). Tupac Amaru II wants a society, where justice and harmony reign.

Once Tupac Amaru II had gathered together an army of 50 000 men he went to Cusco to liberate the city that was the symbol of the Inca Empire’s past greatness. This happened on January 2nd 1781. Unfortunately it was a defeat for Tupac Amaru II’s army. If they would have gone earlier maybe it could have been a victory. But as they took so long, the Spaniards had enough time to organize themselves.

From then on the troupes of Tupac Amaru II started to have internal conflicts and to face more and more defeats.

In April, a relative of Tupac Amaru II betrays him and Tupac Amaru is arrested. On May 18th 1781 he is executed. First his family is killed in front of him. Then he is dismembered by quatering and afterwards beheaded.

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