Recent research on the reformed militias and regular forces in several areas of Spanish America during the latter half of the eighteenth century demonstrates, among other things, that military reorganization was an important component of Bourbon reformism. While the most frequently noticed conclusion of these works on the colonial military is the doubt they collectively cast on the effectiveness of military reform in New Spain, New Granada, and Peru, and the questions they raise about the colonial origins of Latin American militarism, other important information emerges about the sociopolitical role of these armies. Further understanding of the ways in which colonial elites used the military institution to improve their personal situation is also provided. A subject pioneered by Lyle McAlister some years ago is thereby elaborated upon and extended.1 Vivid portraits of the popular classes who were conscripted into service also emerge, providing quite a different perspective of the presumed desirability of a military career during these times. All the recent studies also approach the subject of military reform from a regional point of view, examining the struggles taking place among civil, military, and clerical officials in, say, Mexico City and Veracruz, Quito and Cartagena, or Lima and Cuzco, and the different relationships that developed among these groups in each area. Finally, these works inform us about the state of late colonial society and make it clear that the later colony, particularly in the eighteenth century, was far more violent than traditional historiographical treatments indicate.

It is certain that the Bourbon military establishment in America paid considerable attention to the control of domestic violence, often on the part of Blacks, Indians, or other nonwhite groups. Although the Caroline reformers had created organized militia units in an effort to repel seaborne attacks, with the exception of a few notable invasions (such as the English attacks on Cartagena in 1739, Havana in 1762, and Buenos Aires in 1806), most attacks on royal authority in Spanish America were domestic in origin. While these revolts were of many types and occurred throughout Spanish America, they were unusually common in the Vice-royalty of Peru, particularly in areas where large concentrations of native peoples came into contact with agents of the Spanish colonial administration, notably local magistrates, or corregidores de indios, who held fiscal, judicial, and military authority over Indian communities. Between 1730 and 1814, well over one hundred revolts involving peasants are known to have occurred in Peru, and it is likely that many others went unrecorded. Moreover, these brief and often unsuccessful efforts to resist economic and social domination occurred in virtually every region of the viceroyalty.2 Nevertheless, it appears that the incidence of domestic revolt is higher in areas where efforts to reorganize or strengthen the local military units either had not occurred or had been ineffective, although major eighteenth-century disturbances took place in the cities of Arequipa, Lima, or La Paz, all foci of military concentrations.3

As I explained in a recent article, the rebellion led by José Gabriel Túpac Amaru II in Tinta, a province of the bishopric of Cuzco, in the central highlands of Peru, located about 50 miles southeast of the capital city of Cuzco, is simply the most obvious and extensive example of an endemic process of revolts involving native peoples that took place in late colonial Peru.4 Once we recognize that these events form part of an extensive phenomenon of mass rebellion, it becomes necessary to categorize them according to their objectives, social composition, and ideology. Clearly there were far more revolts than those of 1730, 1750, 1780, and 1814 that John Rowe identified for Peru. Often they can be correlated with specific events, such as the legalization of the repartimiento de mercancías, or forced sale of useless merchandise, such as frilled shirts, linens, or eyeglasses, for example, which the crown allowed the corregidors to sell to the Indians after 1756.5 It is simplistic to attempt to determine the precise reasons for the outbreak of these revolts merely by correlating them with administrative changes. For example, a substantial number of all domestic revolts occurring in eighteenth-century Peru erupted during the decade 1770-80, well in advance of the implementation of the Bourbon fiscal reforms by Visitor General José Antonio de Areche, who arrived in Lima in 1777. This makes it difficult to characterize the revolts exclusively as responses to Bourbon tax policies. Moreover, as we learn more about the extensive planning and administrative development of certain of these insurrections, as well as their complex social organization, it becomes harder to characterize them as spontaneous and somewhat thoughtless acts of violence by Indian peasants.6 Still, it is far easier to characterize the revolts in negative and exclusionary terms than to define their social history and ideology through analysis of internal factors.

This article examines one, albeit a major one, of the many revolts that plagued Peruvian officials during the eighteenth century. More specifically, it examines the social structure of the rebel army recruited and deployed by Túpac Amaru in the bishopric of Cuzco as a way of better understanding the objectives, ideology, and dynamics of his rebellion. Because armed attack constituted only one form of native resistance, it is important to understand why this form of response to oppression was employed in 1780. An examination of the social composition of the rebel army, both officers and cadre, can help to explain the type of rebellion that took place. If the army were in reality a mass of Indian peasants of similar social derivation, occupational status, and place of origin, that fact would provide an important key to Túpac’s goals and objectives. If, on the other hand, Túpac commanded a socially and occupationally diverse coalition of ethnic groups, drawn from different regions and backgrounds, that will help to clarify both the nature of his leadership and the dynamics of society in late colonial Cuzco. By tracing over time the tactics and objectives of the rebel leadership, both written and oral, patterns of accommodation can be discerned among different ethnic groups, which, during periods of peace, were not only differentiated from each other, but often were in conflict. Finally, the real meaning of the rebellion to these social groups emerges, the total not always equaling the sum of its parts.

It is easily observable that my focus of inquiry here is quite different from the social and political analysis made of the army of Peru in The Military and Society in Colonial Peru, 1750-1810. There I examined the Túpac Amaru rebellion primarily to test the proposition of military reformism, but also concentrating on the changes taking place in the royalist military as they portended Independence. This article constitutes part of a larger project dealing with the phenomenon of Andean revolt, using it as a vehicle to provide additional details about the nature of Andean society during the latter part of the eighteenth century. The article is also concerned with the ways in which the structure of colonialism changed before Independence. By focusing on the army of the vanquished rather than the victorious royal forces in the provinces of Cuzco after 1780, I am able to give a quite different picture of the quality and meaning of life in the Viceroyalty of Peru from that presented in Military and Society, which concentrated on events centered about Lima.

On November 4, 1780, José Gabriel Túpac Amaru II, a mestizo cacique, or chieftain of Spanish and Indian parentage, who held rights to the chieftaincies of Pampamarca, Surimana, and Tungasuca in the province of Tinta (Canas y Canchis) in the archbishopric of Cuzco, seized and jailed the Spanish corregidor of Tinta, Antonio de Arriaga, placed him on trial for crimes against the Indian community, and a week later presided over his execution. Although other corregidors had been put to death by irate Indian groups elsewhere in Peru, this particular outburst posed problems of a unique sort for Spanish authorities. In the first place, Túpac Amaru was an attractive and well-connected provincial cacique who enjoyed considerable local prestige as claimant to the hereditary title of Marqués de Oropesa, which provided him status in the Spanish world of Cuzco.7 Besides, Túpac also claimed direct descent from the last Inca ruler, Túpac Amaru I, who had been executed by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572 and was still venerated by the Indians for keeping alive the traditions of the Incario, or Old Empire. The name Túpac Amaru, which translates as “Royal Serpent,” carried with it strong connotations of a wise ruler possessed of the power and authority to overthrow Spanish tyranny and restore the Incas to their rightful place as governors of Peru.8 Second, the revolt took place in the heartland of colonial Peru rather than in the frontier regions of the viceroyalty where warfare between Spaniards and Indians had been commonplace. This kind of violence, nearly endemic in Chile south of the Bío-Bío River and in New Spain north of the Chichimec frontier, was troublesome, but accommodable, since settled Spanish urban populations or major markets were hardly ever affected. In this instance, however, the revolt broke out in Tinta, a province located along el Camino Real, which linked Lima to the silver-mining districts of Potosí in Upper Peru and was the major commercial arterial uniting the various regions of the viceroyalty. Moreover, when the rebellion moved northward, it directly threatened important productive centers and urban settlements, particularly Cuzco and Puno, also situated along the highway. The revolt also took place in the central Peruvian highlands, within an economic setting that had entered upon a steady deterioration with the creation in 1776 of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. This had shifted the lucrative Upper Peruvian markets such as Potosí, located in the Audiencia of Charcas, into the orbit of the Platine provinces, with their capital in Buenos Aires. Many of the Bourbon fiscal reforms, particularly the collection of Indian tribute and sales taxes, which were raised from 4 to 6 percent, had been enforced more stringently in Cuzco by the irascible Areche after 1777. Curiously, however, the revolt in Tinta also spread to districts where levels of economic oppression of Indian communities were relatively low, indicating that the disturbances were of a far more complex origin than the tax revolts that regularly occurred throughout the highlands.9

The revolt presented unusual military difficulties for Spanish authorities. What military reform measures had taken place in Peru before 1780 were confined to the coastal provinces near Lima. Since Spain and Great Britain were currently at war over the North American Revolution, Peru’s few veteran forces in Lima had to stay there to guard against seaborne attacks. In fact, earlier royalist efforts to subdue the Indian rebel Juan Santos Atahuallpa in Tarma in 1739 had been abject failures, as had been the measures taken previously to quell riots in Arequipa and Lambayeque.10 Moreover, Túpac Amaru appeared to be a clever and, more important, a charismatic leader. For several years before the outbreak of the revolt he had taken careful steps to link himself to the Royal Inca line and to take advantage of the strained relations existing between Arriaga, a Spaniard, and the powerful creole Bishop of Cuzco, Juan Manuel de Moscoso y Peralta. Moscoso had excommunicated Arriaga shortly before the rebellion, thus precipitating a serious crisis in the leadership structure of southern Cuzco by removing from Arriaga support of the Church.

When Túpac chose to begin his revolt in November, he did so with the anticipated backing of many important groups throughout Tinta. After recruiting a devoted band of 6,000 men, which he led north into the province of Quispicanchis, Túpac attacked the obrajes, or textile workshops, of Parapuquio and Pomacanchi, and freed the Indians there. He distributed money and textiles, a highly effective symbolic gesture of protest against the oppressive features of Bourbon modernization. These and other clever actions proved either that Túpac was a resourceful military tactician or had competent advisors. In the first encounter between rebel forces and local militias dispatched from Cuzco, which took place in the town of Sangarara, Quispicanchis, at dawn on November 18, Túpac’s forces defeated a force led by the corregidors of Quispicanchis and Paucartambo, leaving 576 dead, 390 of whom were loyalists, including many non-Indians.11 This ended whatever speculation may have existed about the invincibility of Spanish arms. It also bolstered Túpac’s confidence in his ability to confront the Cuzco militias, which he disparagingly referred to as “useless individuals fit only to kill sparrows and eat corn-meal mush.”12

Rumors of an uprising had been rife for several years in the Cuzco region, and help to explain the ease with which Túpac recruited an army and appointed civil administrators to govern conquered areas.13 It is still difficult, however, to decide what type of movement Túpac Amaru envisaged, since, obviously, whatever planning took place before 1780 was secretive and probably transmitted by word of mouth. The extensive correspondence carried on between Túpac and the several caciques of the southern provinces and even those in Cuzco, however, indicates his desire to win their support. Because of their peculiar position within the provincial administrative structure, serving the corregidors both as labor brokers and tribute collectors, it was unlikely that the caciques could act individually against these administrators. Given Túpac’s relatively low status within the hierarchy of cacicazgos, or caciqueships, compounded by his failure as of 1780 to win royal certification of his claim to the marquesado, which would have aided his claim to Inca descent, support from the superior caciques, who held better claims to the Incario than did he, was unlikely.14 Nevertheless, because certain of these individuals, such as Diego Choqueguanca, the cacique superior of neighboring Azangaro, reportedly controlled more than 30,000 Indians, it was critical that Túpac pursue all opportunities to gain this support. At the same time, Túpac found it easier to attract to his side other social groups, (particularly Indian commoners and non-Indians, who held a variety of grievances against the corregidors), and whose presence could strengthen the movement both tactically and ideologically, particularly in urban areas, as an “American” protest against the excesses of Spanish colonialism.15

An examination of Túpac’s behavior and that of his military high command makes clear that the movement never took the form of a peasant rebellion aimed at the overthrow of the social order. Elements of social banditry, where rural peasants launch attacks on the lands and property of the rich and powerful, were virtually absent in Cuzco so long as the movement remained under Túpac’s control. A careful analysis of recruitment techniques, military tactics, and the social composition of the civil and military administrative structures developed by Túpac corroborates this point. It is likely, however, that recruitment of cadre for the rebellion was pursued by means of various methods that emphasized different goals and tactics. The first, and least studied, of these recruitment schemes was conducted orally and in secret by Túpac and others in Quechua, and was probably directed toward both Indian caciques and commoners. The other type of recruitment was expressed more openly, in the form of edicts and proclamations directed toward non-Indian groups, primarily mestizos, acculturated Indians, creoles, and other urban residents, including members of the royalist bureaucracy considered susceptible to reformist arguments. While the first type of recruiting stressed the mythic concepts of the Incario, the latter emphasized the inequities of the Bourbon fiscal reforms, particularly the corregimientos, tribute and sales taxes, and customshouses, and the need for an appropriate court system that would allow for a speedy redress of these grievances.

The former method, which was the more diffuse, emphasized the charismatic qualities of Túpac Amaru, who came to be regarded, according to Spanish witnesses, as a Messiah by the common people, “a new Moses come to break his brothers’ chains.”16 While the written, and more public effort devised by Túpac constantly asserted that he was carrying out the rebellion on secret orders that he had received from the king and Church, authorizing him to take action against corrupt functionaries, it is possible that the broad spectrum of oral communications, issued by authorized and unauthorized representatives of the Inca, may have included separatist overtones, particularly in the last stages of the rebellion. One Spanish observer noted the ease with which Túpac altered his communiqués to suit his constituents, “converting himself from one commissioned by the crown into a redemptor of injustices.”17

A review of the considerable correspondence carried on between Túpac and the important caciques gamonales, or wealthy native landowners, as well as powerful creole families of the Cuzco area, indicates the difficulty of securing the support of these elites. Túpac’s correspondence with Diego Choqueguanca, the Marqués de Salinas, a descendant of the former Inca emperor Huayna Capac and cacique principal of Azángaro, Mateo García Pumacahua, the cacique principal of Chinchero, the noble chieftains of the eight royal ayllus, or clans of the Cuzco region, and the creole Ugarte family of the same city, all reflects the Inca’s sincere desire to obtain their support for his movement. For example, letters to Choqueguanca, who held stronger claims to the mantle of Incaship than did Túpac, tactfully evaded the subject of who should serve as an Inca head of state and instead concentrated on the need for relief from excessively high taxes and bad government. The actions of Choqueguanca, however, who turned Túpac’s unopened letters over to royal authorities and dismissed their author as “a bastard and usurper,” probably reflected the response of a majority of this superior social class. Not only did their rejection make it impossible for Túpac to present himself to the Indian nobility as a primus inter pares, but several of the upper Indian nobility, exemplified by Choqueguanca and Pumacahua, took up arms against the rebels and ultimately were instrumental in turning the tide of warfare in favor of the royalist forces.18

If, on the one hand, evidence suggests that the Indian nobility failed to support Túpac Amaru, on the other, a detailed examination of his command and staff argues against a populist interpretation of the rebellion as the action of an aroused peasantry. To begin with, Túpac structured his civil and military administrations along elitist lines in a form quite similar to that of the royalist civil and military bureaucracies. His Council of Five, for example, whose members functioned as Túpac’s closest advisors, was composed primarily of creoles and mestizos and did not include caciques, Blacks, or Indian commoners. Moreover, it was further restricted to family members, including Túpac’s wife, the intrepid Micaela Bastidas.19 The rebel army also reflected royalist organizational influences. It was divided into companies according to ethnic affiliations; soldiers of different social groups were not integrated. Moreover, non-Indian soldiers were paid double what Indians received (4 reales daily as opposed to 2 reales) and in specie rather than commodities (coca, textiles, and so forth) as were the Indians. These practices given an idea of the distinctions Túpac drew between these various social classes and the value he attached to their services.20

Royalist authorities made every effort to play down the participation of these non-Indian groups, depicting the insurrection as a mass rebellion headed by “the most rebellious Indians of the provinces” who practiced the most savage barbarism against all whites or near-whites. A survey of the fifty-nine defendants placed on trial with Túpac in Cuzco in April 1781, however, indicates that rebel leadership was drawn from among persons of varied ethnic and occupational backgrounds.21 As Table I indicates, Túpac placed military command firmly in the hands of loyal creoles and mestizos rather than Indians. For example, only two indios tributarios, or tributary Indians, Pascual Mansilla of Combapata, Tinta, and Isidro Poma of Quispicanchis, were members of the high command. Besides, the latter received his important rank as commandant, with responsibility for armies in the field, in part due to his appointment as cacique in Tinta, since chieftaincy status carried with it exclusion from tribute obligations, a prerequisite for commissioned rank. Although Túpac had freed the Negro slaves of Tungasuca on November 16, 1780, no Blacks were incorporated into his military command. The only notable Black member of the army, Antonio Oblitas, a zambo, had been employed as Arriaga’s executioner and in Túpac’s forces served the dual roles of cook and artist. In the latter role, Oblitas’s assigned duty was to create a visual record of Túpac as an avenging Inca ruler.22

On the other hand, creoles and mestizos held a majority of the highest ranks in the military command and staff group. Of the forty-two persons holding the most important military titles, sixteen were designated as españoles, a social classification including both Spaniards and creoles; seventeen were listed as mestizos; and nine were considered Indians. Clearly, therefore, the Túpac Amaru rebellion was not directed by a network of loyal caciques, since only six caciques, four of whom were mestizos, including Túpac Amaru, were in the military high command. When the Indian nobility was represented it was by inferior, or lower-ranking, provincial caciques rather than by caciques superiores, or members of the Inca elite, many of whom were closely tied to the Spanish administration.

Occupationally, the high command had a strong component of individuals who were chacareros, or “small farmers,” and hacendados, those owning larger landholds (36 percent), escribanos, or “scribes” (7 percent), arrieros, or “muleteers” (9 percent), and a variety of urban tradesmen and artisans (14 percent). Caciques made up 14 percent of the total, while the occupations of the remaining members of the command (20 percent) held unskilled or unknown occupations. Although it is difficult to determine their educational backgrounds, most of the group held middle- or lower-class occupations, but no fewer than fifteen were landowners. The three scribes, Francisco Cisneros, Mariano Banda, and Diego Berdejo, were all either creoles or Spaniards, and may have exercised great influence through their practice of this function by interjecting their own ideas into the rebel correspondence.23 Banda, a creole from Cuzco, also served Túpac as comptroller with access to the rebel treasury, while José Esteban Escarcena, an ironworker from Cuzco, Manuel Galleguillos, a mestizo tailor from Cuzco, Diego Ortigosa, a creole schoolteacher from Tinta, and José Unda, a creole landowner from Cuzco and a member of the Council of Five, also participated in the formulation of written propaganda. Besides these prominent individuals, others deserving mention were Francisco Molina, a creole landowner from the altiplano region near Lake Titicaca, who held the rank of colonel and paymaster; Esteban Baca, a creole blacksmith of Tinta, who operated the rebel foundry; José Antonio Figueroa, a Spaniard of Paruro, who aided in the maintenance of armaments; Bamón Ponce, a mestizo cacique of Tinta, who commanded the rebel artillery; and Mariano Catano, a mestizo of Tinta, who served as sergeant-major of the enlisted forces.24

In conclusion, this brief examination of the command and staff group assembled by Túpac Amaru II in Cuzco in 1780 provides important information about the social structure of the rebellion and offers suggestions about the causal factors behind the movement. It also argues for further study of rebellion in late colonial Peru as a key to the dynamics of regional societies and their relationship to local government. First, the ethnic and occupational diversity of the rebel military command affirms the presence of leaders drawn from a variety of occupations. None of these individuals, however, regardless of occupation, seems to have had access to public appointments, although certain of them, such as Oblitas, had worked in a menial capacity for corregidors. Second, none of the group is classified as forastero, or “rootless migrant,” who lacked land and status and might well have gravitated to the side of a charismatic leader like Túpac Amaru. Indeed, one is struck by the relatively high average age of the military officers (56 years), marital status (36 of 42 were either married or widowed), and the fact that they do not represent the unemployed masses. Neither young, transient, nor occupationally destitute, presumably their experiences over time with the government in Cuzco brought about their decision to rebel.

Third, the rebellion clearly appears to have been a regional expression of discontent. All but a few members of the rebel officer corps were born or resided in the province of Tinta or neighboring Quispicanchis. Many, however, had moved from their original place of residence before the revolt, and so may as a group have been more aware than most of general conditions throughout the central Peruvian highlands. This is true of the muleteer group, including Túpac Amaru, who plied its trade of transporting goods between Lima and Potosí and beyond along the Royal Highway.25 For his part, Túpac had traveled widely and had developed personal relationships in advance of the revolt with many of those who served under him. When he launched his rebellion, it was friends and family members in Tinta and Quispicanchis, many of them urban, non-manual laborers who could leave their employment, who joined him; these same individuals also stood with Túpac at the end.

Fourth, the ethnic and occupational diversity of the rebel command makes it clear that Túpac’s charismatic qualities and his cause made it possible for him to forge a successful coalition of different social groups in support of the movement. If the rebellion was not a clear expression of Inca nationalism, however, it is less than obvious—to judge from its multiethnic leadership—what it did represent. Túpac seems to have sought the support of experienced creole and mestizo military men out of a desire to shape his armies, since Indians lacked formal military training, and control the participation of the masses. Ironically, his greatest military victory, at Sangarara on November 18, probably convinced many potential supporters that Túpac was not acting on behalf of the crown, thereby limiting his non-Indian adherents to the persons who had joined earlier or were later coerced into supporting the revolt.26 Yet at no time did Túpac ever shift to a more populist orientation in an effort to obtain a mass following. Rather, he seemed to redouble his efforts to convince royal authorities and followers alike of his desire for a negotiated peace based on the series of reform measures that he had called for when he initiated the rebellion. Incidents of robbery, rapine, or social banditry were only rarely reported, and, in fact, levels of human and material destruction appeared to be far lower than Spanish authorities suggested. Nevertheless, sources on both sides of the war gave a sorry picture of self-interest and profiteering as the rebellion moved beyond its social base in Tinta. Frequent were the references to a lack of cooperation among individuals, towns, and regions, of hijos de interés, or “special interest groups,” who demanded money and commodities in exchange for their services, and sometimes used the pretext of rebellion to serve their own interests or those of their communities.27 Indeed, the tangled skein of rebellion and loyalty suggests the complex rifts and tensions existing between social groups and regions of southern Peru during this period, which were probably accentuated by the rebellion.28

Spanish authorities clearly understood that if the rebellion were to be directed toward Cuzco, it would bring the end, at least temporarily, of Spanish domination over the central highlands of Peru. Writing in the wake of the rebellion, which spread into Upper Peru and the north-western provinces of the Platine viceroyalty after Túpac’s death, the Spanish intendant of Cuzco, Benito de la Mata Linares, expressed to the crown the fear of many Peruvian administrators that had this regional disaffection from the government been unified and directed toward Cuzco, it would have spelled the end of Spanish control over the southern part of the viceroyalty and threatened the loss of Charcas.29 Indeed, royalist authorities in Peru early recognized this danger and had taken astute measures to disrupt Túpac’s ethnic coalition. Within a month of the outbreak of the revolt, its leadership was excommunicated, the repartimiento and other taxes were abolished, and Indian caciques were incorporated into the royalist army. In addition, the Spaniards continually represented the contest not as a reform movement, but as a struggle between the forces of civilization and barbarism, playing on creole fears of a race war and using the clergy to depict the insurgents as savage and godless.

The sentences imposed on the rebel military command are a further indication of the royalist effort to prevent regional challenges to Bourbon modernization. Royalist authorities in Peru understood full well that charismatic political leaders like the Túpac Amarus would continue to protest efforts at centralizing authority. Túpac had been unable to secure the support of elite groups outside of southern Cuzco and was unwilling to condone the presence of social bandits who might have expanded the rebellion still further. To prevent a recurrence of such a movement, Areche and Mata Linares used the trial proceedings against the Túpac Amarus to propagate the myth of Inca nationalism and the dangers therein. The Túpac Amarus were singled out for especially gruesome punishment, some of them being publicly beheaded and quartered in the main square of Cuzco, their limbs then placed on pikes and exhibited in the cities and towns of the most rebellious provinces as warnings to others. On the other hand, Túpac’s creole and mestizo confederates were sent to prison or quietly exiled from Peru, perhaps as part of a larger effort to regain the loyalty of these social groups, whose support was crucial to Bourbon reform efforts.30 No visitation was formulated after 1781 to investigate the behavior of Cuzqueño creoles, and ironically, the city was granted the imperial designation “Most Loyal and Faithful” at the same time that the central highlands were placed under the control of Spanish-born intendants and military officers.

On the whole, however, the royalists were successful in preventing the adhesion of whites and near-whites to mass rebellions after 1780. The fear of the masses at arms that sustained and motivated the army of Peru in Cuzco was underscored after 1781 by the violent race wars headed by Diego Túpac Amaru, Túpac’s half-brother, and the Catari rebels in Upper Peru. Throughout the balance of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the army of Peru maintained the peace by remaining vigilant toward all forms of domestic rebellion. By defending itself against the presumed vestiges of Inca nationalism, it found a new mission as the protector of the center of Spanish loyalism in America.


Editor’s note: This and the following two articles and the two commentaries are slightly revised versions of presentations delivered at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association held in Washington, December 1980.


Christon I. Archer, The Army in Bourbon Mexico, 1760-1810 (Albuquerque, 1977); Leon G. Campbell, The Military and Society in Colonial Peru, 1750-1810 (Philadelphia, 1978); Allan J. Kuethe, Military Reform and Society in New Granada, 1773-1808 (Gainesville, 1978). The subject of military reformism was originally introduced in L. N. McAlister, The “Fuero Militar” in New Spain, 1764-1800 (Gainesville, 1952).


John Howland Rowe, “El movimiento nacional inca del siglo xviii,” Revista Universitaria (Cuzco), 107, (1954), 17-47; Scarlett O’Phelan, Túpac Amaru, 1780: Sociedad colonial y sublevaciones populares (Lima, 1976), pp. 67-82; and Scarlett O’Phelan, “El carácter de las revueltas campesinas del siglo XVIII en el norte del virreinato peruano” (Bachelor’s Thesis, Universidad Católica, Lima, 1976), pp. 186-192 are preliminary efforts at classifying these revolts by type. For colonial Mexico, see William Taylor, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford, 1979), pp. 113-126; Jorge Domínguez, Insurrection or Loyalty: The Breakdown of the Spanish American Empire (Cambridge, Mass., 1980), pp. 46-58, deals briefly with social violence in eighteenth-century Brazil, Cuba, Chile, and Venezuela.


Military reorganization, largely confined to the coastal provinces around Lima, is discussed along with these urban revolts in Campbell, Military and Society, chaps. V and VI.


This process is dealt with in the author’s review article, “Recent Research on Andean Peasant Revolt, 1750-1820,” Latin American Research Review, 14 (Spring 1979), 3-49.


While Rowe determined the existence of “rebellious cycles” beginning in 1730, 1750, 1780, and 1814, it is clear that the phenomenon of revolt was much more pervasive than he indicated. The incidence of revolt increases following certain events; to wit, the legalization of the reparto in 1756, the expulsion of the Society of Jesus in 1767, and the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, which severely depressed the Cuzqueño economy by separating from it the lucrative markets of Upper Peru. This still does not explain the rash of violence taking place in 1780 well before the full thrust of Bourbon reformism was felt in many areas. Peru was obviously not at peace during the intervening years.


J. R. Fisher, Government and Society in Colonial Peru: The Intendant System, 1784-1814 (London, 1970), p. 23, characterizes the Túpac Amaru revolt as “a series of fruitless attempts to secure the legal redress of grievances, followed by a sudden, unplanned, violent outburst.” Those who accept the Bourbon fiscal reforms as the primary cause of the rebellion include Carlos Daniel Valcárcel, Túpac Amaru, precursor de la independencia (Lima, 1977); Boleslao Lewin, La rebelión de Túpac Amaru y los orígenes de la independencia de Hispanoamérica (Buenos Aires, 1957); and Lillian Estelle Fisher, The Last Inca Revolt, 1780-1783 (Norman, 1966). Magnus Mörner’s recent study of the economy of the bishopric of Cuzco, Perfil de la sociedad rural del Cuzco a fines de la colonia (Lima, 1977), demonstrates that provinces like Aymaraes and Paucartambo, where repartimiento levels were much higher than average, remained loyal in 1780, while those such as Abancay, Chumbivilcas, and Cotabambas, where absolute and per capita levels were relatively low, supported the rebellion. Several of the most rebellious provinces were not liable for mita service in Potosí, one of the strongest rebel grievances. While these findings do not diminish economic factors as a cause of the rebellion, they do point up the complexities of native resistance. For example, revolts often took place where corregidors violated local norms by suddenly elevating reparto levels, which were not fixed (as were those of tribute), collecting tribute on feast days, or extending tribute to non-Indian groups. See, for example, Biblioteca Nacional (Lima), C4129, Informe que hicieron los curas de Indios del Obispado de Arequipa sobre el inconveniente que traen los repartimientos de los corregidores, and C4144, Estado actual del Catolicismo, Política y Economía de los Naturales del Perú y medios de corregirlos.


This period in Peru is covered in Vicente Palacio Atard, Areche y Guirior: Observaciones sobre el fracaso de una visita al Perú (Seville, 1946).


Juan Ossio, ed., Ideología mesiánica del mundo andino (Lima, 1973), pp. xxiv-xxv, 85, 105-142; and Nathan Wachtel, The Vision of the Vanquished: The Spanish Conquest of Peru Through Indian Eyes (New York, 1977), are two preliminary efforts to understand the meaning of the symbolic language of peasant rebellions.


Mörner, Perfil de la sociedad rural, pp. 109-132.


These efforts to curb domestic violence are covered in Campbell, The Military and Society, pp. 91-98.


Túpac Amaru’s movement north into the province of Quispicanchis was made in an effort to ensure the support of the caciques of this province who bore a deep animus toward Corregidor Pedro de Cabrera. The attacks on the treasury provided the rebels with much-needed funds for stores and recruitment purposes, as did the properties seized at the obrajes. The actions are better understood as tactical measures than as examples of Túpac Amaru’s populism. Pedro de Vallina, Corregidor and Colonel of Militias of Azángaro, to the Corregidor of Larecaja, Azángaro, Nov. 20, 1780, Colección documental de la independencia del Perú (hereinafter CDIP), Tomo II: pt. 2 (Lima, 1971), pp. 292-293.


José Gabriel Túpac Amaru to Juan Manuel de Moscoso, Bishop of Cuzco, Chuquibamba, Jan. 26, 1781, in CDIP, II: 2, p. 462.


Mörner, Perfil de la sociedad rural, pp. 103-107. At his trial, Túpac Amaru admitted to planning the revolt since the time of D. Gregorio de Viana,” who was appointed in 1759 as Arriaga’s predecessor in Tinta. Although one cannot vouch for the defendant’s veracity under such trying circumstances, other data corroborate Túpac’s testimony. For example, in 1770, Túpac dropped his Spanish surname of Condorcanqui in favor of his hereditary name of Túpac Amaru. For four years (1766-70) he waged legal warfare against the bureaucracy in an effort to secure his title. The trial testimony of the Túpac Amaru defendants is to be found in Archivo General de las Indias (Seville), Audiencia del Cuzco (hereinafter AGI: AC), legs. 29-33.


This rebuff may have contributed to Túpac Amaru’s failure to secure broad support from caciques for his rebellion by preventing him from acting on behalf of a class with strong ties of kinship, and access to wealth and manpower, that might have altered the outcome of the struggle. I have dealt with the personal and psychological origins of the rebellion in two unpublished papers, “The Túpac Amaru Rebellion of 1780: Structure and Leadership Formation,” delivered at the Eighth National Meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Pittsburgh, Apr. 5-7, 1979, and “The Túpac Amaru Rebellion: Social Banditry or Millennialism,” given at the Twenty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies, Laguna Beach, Calif., Oct. 9-12, 1980. A revised and retitled version of this paper forms part of a forthcoming book, Paul J. Vanderwood, ed., Bandit Rebels: Essays on Bandoleros in Latin America’s Independence Wars, on social banditry and rebellion in colonial and modern Latin America. In these studies I raise questions about the rebellion as a manifestation of Inca nationalism, by demonstrating that a majority of Peru’s 2,300 caciques stayed loyal to the crown in 1780 and that the rebel army was multiethnic in character. The behavior of the caciques also tells us much about social inequality and exploitative relationships at the village and provincial levels. An analysis of the social structural elements of these revolts indicates that many of these struggles were as characteristic of incipient class conflicts as they were manifestations of cultural nationalism or antifiscal sentiment.


Vallina to the Corregidor of Larecaja, CDIP, II: 2, p. 293. For a brief time, Vallina was a prisoner of the rebels and offered considerable insights about their activities. He believed that had the caciques supported the movement, Túpac Amaru would have taken control of the central sierra. I have broken down the caciques’ support by provinces in my 1979 LASA paper cited in note 14. Túpac Amaru was undoubtedly aware that the corregidors were moving to exempt the caciques from tribute payment in return for their service as labor brokers in an effort to retain their fidelity, which may have had an impact on their response to the revolt. This also probably helps explain why his program concentrated so heavily on attacking the Bourbon reforms since they created favorable conditions for an alliance of ethnic groups. Mestizos, zambos, and mulattoes joined Indians over the issue of tribute, which was being expanded to include them, while these groups were also affected by customshouses and rising sales taxes. The reparto affected all groups since its terms continued to be implemented after the authorities in Cuzco had ordered its abolition.


Anonymous account of the rebellion, dated Calca, Dec. 28, 1780, CDIP, II: 2, pp. 420-421. Six of the fifty-nine defendants tried and executed with Túpac Amaru were muleteers, as was the Inca himself, and all of them had strong ties to the province of Quispicanchis, which, apart from Tinta, gave the strongest support to the rebellion. Four of the thirteen caciques implicated in the rebellion were also from this province. The presence of muleteers may also help to explain why the revolt broke out in areas located along el Camino Real, which linked Lima to the mines of Potosí via the cities of Cuzco and Puno. Mörner, Perfil de la sociedad rural, pp. 106 ff.


AGI, Buenos Aires 512, Visita del Fiscal Pacheco al Rey, Buenos Aires Jan 15 1781, fols. 1-3.


Both were amply rewarded by the crown. Pumacahua, for example, was awarded an annuity and in 1809 was appointed interim president of the Audiencia of Cuzco.


I am currently at work on the subject of women in the rebellion, which provides considerable information about the Indian family and its interrelationships.


One witness at Arriaga’s hanging observed that the soldiers were divided by ethnic groups and swore obedience to Túpac’s charismatic authority, stating that the onlookers appeared to be “entranced.” He called Túpac “a lion of the sierra who had put the gatos españoles to flight.” Campbell, The Military and Society, p. 106. A list of the members of this command group is obtained from the trial records in AGI: AC 32 and 33, Trial records of the Túpac Amaru defendants, Cuzco, Apr. 1781. A summary is reprinted in CDIP, II: 2, pp. 637-640, 774-780. Pay differentials are described by a variety of contemporary observers: for example, Bishop Moscoso to Antonio de Areche, Cuzco, Nov. 17, 1780, CDIP, II: 2, p. 277. Anonymous letter from a resident of Cuzco to a minister in Madrid, CDIP, II: 1, pp. 567-594.


Of the fifty-nine individuals tried with Túpac Amaru in Cuzco in April 1781, seventeen identified themselves as Indians; another fifteen required the services of an interpreter, raising the possibility that they too were Quechua-speaking. Eleven were classified as mestizos, while another fifteen were regarded as españoles, a social classification usually signifying either creole or mestizo birth. Two were classified as creoles, another two as mulattoes, while twelve did not reply to the question of social derivation, but did not require the services of an interpreter, which suggests that they were either mestizos or acculturated Indians. The question of social derivation can only be determined in approximate terms based on variables such as occupation, language, and marital status. AGI: AC 32 and 33; Scarlett O’Phelan, “La rebelión de Túpac Amaru: Organización interna, dirigencia y alianzas,” Histórica (Lima), 3: 2 (Dec. 1979), 89-121, is a valuable social study of the rebellion, which asserts that it was a mestizo-led tax movement.


The edict freeing the slaves of Tungasuca, AGI: AC 33, Tungasuca, Nov. 16, 1780, should not, therefore, be termed an “emancipation proclamation”; it was a tactical device instead.


The primary instance of this would be over the attack on Cuzco, which probably did not figure initially into Túpac’s plan to control the southern provinces. Another example might be the tone of Micaela Bastidas’s letters to Túpac Amaru, accusing him of indecision and cachaza (“sloth”) in delaying an attack on Cuzco; these letters are hardly characteristic of their relationship, one based on trust and mutual confidence. Historians such as Boleslao Lewin assume Micaela to have been the superior tactician. In fact, Cuzco may not have been a primary rebel objective, but the decision to attack this royalist stronghold may have emerged from the counsel of creoles who urged such an attack for other, different purposes.


See the trial testimony compiled in AGI: AC 32 and 33, and the confessions of Francisco Cisneros, Francisco Molina, Miguel Galleguillos, Diego Ortigosa, Esteban Escarcena, and others, set out in Boleslao Lewin, La rebelión de Túpac Amaru, pp. 822-831; the relación of the prisoners taken with Túpac Amaru, dated Langui, Apr. 6, 1781, reproduced in CDIP, II: 2, pp. 637-640; and Bishop Moscoso’s letter to Bishop Gregorio Francisco de Campos of La Paz, dated July 20, 1782, AGI: AC 35, fols. 1-14.


It bears noting that the social and occupational structure of the Túpac Amaru rebel force resembles that of the most politically active groups in late colonial Querétaro, studied by Torcuato S. Di Telia, “The Dangerous Classes in Early Nineteenth-Century Mexico,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 5:1 (May 1973), 79-105. A fuller analysis of internal stratification within a popular majority seems a key to understanding political behavior. Mörner, Perfil de la sociedad rural, first noticed that the most rebellious provinces, Tinta, Quispicanchis, and Chumbivilcas, were located along the Royal Highway connecting Lima to Potosí via Cuzco and raised the possibility about the use of muleteers in propagating the rebellion outside Tinta. Mörner also notes (p. 131 n.38) that both sides sought to control the numerous bridges that linked these provinces, but the royalists were more adept here. For example, Micaela Bastidas’s pleas to the two caciques of Maras, Urubamba, to cut the Apurímac bridge in order to disrupt communications between Cuzco and Lima, went unheeded. The pair later were officers in the royalist army. CDIP, II: 2, pp. 332-333; II: 3, p. 444. lorge I. Domínguez develops the concept of “spatial mobility” in his recent book, Insurrection or Loyalty, pp. 191-192.


See, for example, Túpac’s edict to the Province of Chumbivilcas, dated Nov. 29, 1780, CDIP, II: 2, p. 308. Feliciano Paz, the curate of Colcha, wrote later to Bishop Moscoso that Túpac’s call for 300 mestizos of the province to join 1,000 Indians already recruited there had gone unanswered and that the soldiery was by then composed almost entirely of Indians, men and women alike; AGI: AC 29, Feliciano Paz to Bishop Juan Manuel Moscoso, Colcha, Paruro, Dec. 15, 1780, fols. 1-3. At this point, Túpac may have begun to intensify his ties to the peasantry through exercise of his charismatic authority.


Antonio Bastidas to Micaela Bastidas, Pucacasa, Feb. 13, 1781, in Francisco A. Loyaza, Mártires y heroínas (Lima, 1945), pp. 39-40.


Oscar Cornblit, “Society and Mass Rebellion in Eighteenth-Century Peru and Bolivia” in Latin American Affairs, edited by Raymond Carr (Oxford, 1970) argues that the army was a “rebel mass” composed largely of “migrant,” or forastero, Indians. The command and staff group does not share this characteristic, however. More work needs to be done on the rebellion outside Cuzco to determine whether this particular leadership group was unique.


AGI: AC 35, Benito de la Mata Linares to the Crown, núm. 37, Lima, Apr. 12, 1786, fols. 1-2. Mata was particularly critical of the viceroy in Lima, who had refused to aid the provincial capital La Paz and of Arequipa, which failed to give aid in the form of men and mules to the expedition sent to Cuzco early in 1781.


Such sentences were handed down against the creoles Francisco Molina, Francisco de Cisneros, Esteban Escarcena, Juan Antonio Figueroa, and Mariano Banda, among others. Molina, who allegedly urged Túpac to besiege Cuzco, was reportedly exiled because he had close ties to the creole nobility of Lima. See Fisher, The Last Inca Revolt, p. 99; O’Phelan, “La rebelión de Túpac Amaru,” pp. 109-110.

Author notes


The author is Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside.