Mateo Pumacahua

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Mateo Pumacahua
Portrait now at the Museo Inka, Cuzco
Personal details
BornSeptember 21, 1740
Chinchero, Cusco
DiedMarch 17, 1815(1815-03-17) (aged 74)
Sicuani, Cusco
Military service
Years of service1780–1814
Battles/warsRebellion of Túpac Amaru II
Bolivian War of Independence
Cuzco Rebellion of 1814

Mateo García Pumacahua (September 21, 1740 – March 17, 1815) simply known as Pumacahua, modern spelling variants Pumakawa or Pumaqawa (meaning "he who stalks with the stealth of a puma", from Quechua Puma cougar, puma, Qawa sentinel, serene, "he who observes or monitors shrewdly") was a Royalist commander later turned into a Peruvian revolutionary who led the Cuzco Rebellion of 1814 in the War of Independence.


Pumakawa was the kuraka (Quechua for cacique) of Chinchero, soldier of the militia of the Viceroyalty of Peru, and interim president of the Audiencia of Cuzco. Pumaqawa was a member of the Inca nobility of Ayarmaca descent,[1] who also has some Spanish ancestry.[2]

He was appointed commander of the Royalist Army militias against Túpac Amaru II. Reason for this is because Amaru's uprising caught off guard colonial authorities[3] and caused major tumult in Lima, as the colonial authorities were largely unprepared and scarce of troops in order to deal with the revolt, for this reason, Spanish colonial authorities decided to organize an army composed largely of native conscripts, a tactic repeated in the Peruvian independence wars where the Spanish royalist army of Peru was composed, outside of commanding leaders, almost entirely of levy indigenous soldiers.[4]

As Pumakawa became head of the Royal Army indigenous militias, he persecuted José Gabriel Condorcanqui (Tupac Amaru II) during his rebellion of 1780 and 1781, Pumakawa made major contributions to the royal cause with accouterments and men. He gained prestige among the Inca nobility of Cuzco, being elected Real Ensign of Noble Indians of Cuzco in 1802.

Pumacahua defeated the rebel army of Tupac Amaru II in 1781, an event depicted in a mural at the church of Chinchero, although he received fame and prestige for Amaru's capture, his role was little acknowledged outside of Cuzco and Peru in spite of the fact that it was Pumaqawa, more than anyone, who defeated Tupac Amaru II.[5] Higher-rank Spanish authorities such as the Viceroy Agustín de Jáuregui, who resided in Lima for all the duration of the conflict, received most of the credit and praise for the capture and defeat of Tupac Amaru II.

Three decades later, despite being in his seventies, Pumakawa led the — essentially indigenous — militias of the Royal Army of Peru,[4] the bulk of the army, in the expeditions of the Peruvian viceroy José Fernando de Abascal sent against the junta of La Paz in Upper Peru during 1811. Despite having won the battle of Guaqui as colonel of the Royal Army, he and a portion of his troops joined the insurrection of central and southern of Viceroyalty of Peru (Cuzco, Huamanga, Arequipa and Puno) started in Cuzco on August 3, 1814, demanding the full implementation of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 in Peru. Pumacahua was appointed member of the governing junta. Pumacahua led the forces that occupied Arequipa on November 10. On November 30, Pumacahua's troops retreated from Arequipa to the Cuzco and Puno regions. On March 11, 1815, Pumacahua and his troops were defeated in the battle of Umachiri. He was captured and executed in May by the royal army militias.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cahill, David Patrick; Blanca Tovías (2006). New World, First Nations: Native Peoples of Mesoamerica and the Andes Under Colonial Rule. Sussex Academic Press. p. 186. ISBN 1-903900-63-8.
  2. ^ Nicholson, Irene (1969). The Liberators: A Study of Independence Movements in Spanish America. Praeger. p. 137.
  3. ^ Walker, Charles F. (2015). La rebelión de Tupac Amaru (in Spanish). IEP. ISBN 9789972515408.
  4. ^ a b Hamnett, Brian R. (December 3, 2012). Revolución y contrarrevolución en México y el Perú: Liberales, realistas y separatistas (1800-1824) (in Spanish). Fondo de Cultura Economica. p. 127. ISBN 9786071612526. Muchos oficiales militares eran criollos, y la tropa del ejército realista del Perú desde 1809 hasta la victoria de Bolívar en Ayacucho se componía principalmente de soldados reclutados entre la población indígena.
  5. ^ Historia general del ejército peruano (in Spanish). 5. Comisión Permanente de la Historia del Ejército del Perú. 2005. p. 10. No olvidemos que fue Pumacahua, más que nadie, quien derrotó a Túpac Amaru; y que su campaña sobre las provincias al sur del Cusco (Collasuyo) fue una verdadera guerra de exterminio contra las poblaciones campesinas
  6. ^ Lynch, John (1986). The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826 (2 ed.). London: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 165–170. ISBN 0-393-95537-0.

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