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  The choice of caupolican by José Troncoso
The choice of caupolican by José Troncoso

Caupolicán (? in Pilmaiquén – 1558 in Cañete) was a Toqui, the military leader of the Mapuche people of Chile, who commanded their army during the first Mapuche rising against the Spanish conquistadors from 1553 to 1558.

Following the successful campaign of conquest by Pedro de Valdivia in Araucanía and the failure of the toqui Lincoyan to stop them, the Mapuche were persuaded by Colocolo to choose a new supreme war leader in response to the Spanish threat.

Caupolicán as an Ulmen of Pilmayquen won the position of Toqui by demonstrating his superior strength by holding up a tree trunk for three days and three nights.[1] In addition to proving his physical power, he also had to improvise a poetical speech to inspire the people to valor and unity.

Caupolicán's death came in 1558, at the hands of colonizing Spaniards as their prisoner. He was impaled by making him sit on a stake while his wife was forced to watch. After his death he was replaced by his son Caupolicán the younger.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caupolicán carried it for two days and one night according to Vivar, Cap. CXVII. Alonso de Ercilla made it three days and three nights.