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Battle of Curalaba
Part of Arauco War
DateDecember 23, 1598
Curalaba, on the banks of the Lumaco River, 25 kilometers from Angol
37°55′S 72°53′W / 37.917°S 72.883°W / -37.917; -72.883
Result Decisive Mapuche victory
Spanish Empire Mapuche
Commanders and leaders
Martín García Oñez de Loyola  Vice toqui Pelantaru
50 Spanish and 300 Indian auxiliaries 600 warriors [1]
Casualties and losses
All but two Spaniards were killed,[2] as were most of the Indian auxiliaries. ?

The Battle of Curalaba (Spanish: Batalla de Curalaba pronounced [baˈtaʝa ðe kuɾaˈlaβa]) is a 1598 battle and ambush where Mapuche people led by Pelantaru soundly defeated Spanish conquerors led by Martín García Óñez de Loyola at Curalaba, southern Chile. In Chilean historiography, where the event is often called the Disaster of Curalaba (Spanish: Desastre de Curalaba), the battle marks the end of the Conquest of Chile (la conquista) period in Chile's history, although the fast Spanish expansion in the south had already been halted in the 1550s. The battle contributed to unleash a general Mapuche uprising that resulted in the Destruction of the Seven Cities. This severe crisis reshaped Colonial Chile and forced the Spanish to reassess their mode of warfare.


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On December 21, 1598, governor Martín García Oñez de Loyola traveled to Purén at the head of 50 soldiers and companions. At the end of the second day they camped overnight in Curalaba, failing to take protective measures. The Mapuche were aware of their presence and Pelantaru and his lieutenants Anganamón and Guaiquimilla, leading three hundred men on horseback, shadowed the group's movements and mounted a surprise night raid. Taken by surprise, the governor and almost all of his party were killed.

This event was called the Disaster of Curalaba by the Spaniards. It not only involved the death of the Spanish governor, but the news rapidly spread among the Mapuche and triggered a general revolt, long-prepared by the toqui Paillamachu, that destroyed Spanish camps and towns south of the Bío-Bío River over the next few years.

See also


  1. ^ Diego de Ocaña (1987). A través de la América del Sur. Madrid: Historia 16, pp. 105. Edición de Arturo Álvarez.
  2. ^ The Spanish survivors were a priest, Bartolomé Pérez, who was captured, and Bernardo de Pereda, a soldier left for dead with 23 wounds who made his way to La Imperial after 70 days.