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1712 Huilliche rebellion

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1712 Huilliche rebellion

The 1712 Huilliche rebellion was an indigenous uprising against the Spanish encomenderos of Chiloé Archipelago, which was then a part of the Captaincy General of Chile. The rebellion took place in the central part of the archipelago.



The Huilliches of Chiloé had already taken action against their Spanish lords back in 1600. In that year a group helped the Dutch corsair Baltazar de Cordes attack the Spanish settlement of Castro. Unlike in continental Chile, the indigenous population of Chiloé grew from 1700 onwards. By 1712 indigenous peoples made up around 50% of the population of the archipelago. The encomiendas of Chiloé were the largest of Chile and the administration of this form of labor more abusive than on the mainland. Moreover, the encomenderos did not fulfill their obligations; they did not register tribute nor salaries. Encomenderos often did not pay legal salaries or salaries at all and did not observe the "free time" of Indians in the encomienda laws. The encomienda activities in Chiloé included the Indians traveling to the continental coast to log for alerce wood.

In retrospect, the Huilliches considered the abuses of José de Andrade a trigger of the rebellion, one of his abuses in particular: the whipping of Martín Antucan, an Indian he tied to an apple tree and to then flogged his genitals with nettles to be then covered in tow and set afire. According to testimonies gathered in 1725 José de Andrade judged wrongdoings himself, did not pay salaries and tortured those who did not work due to illness. His son is reported to have had similar behaviors and his majordomo kidnapped children to send them to continental Chile. During a meeting on January 26 of 1712 the Huilliches set February 10 as the date of their uprising. The objective of the rebellion was not the end of Spanish rule but vengeance for perceived injustices.

The rebellion

The strategy of the rebellion focused on attacking Castro, the political and economic center of the islands which was also where most Spaniards lived and where most encomiendas were. On the night of February 10, houses and haciendas of Spaniards in central Chiloé were attacked; Spaniards were killed and buildings set afire. Some Spaniards managed to fortify themselves in Castro while they were surrounded by rebels. Spanish women and children were taken as prisoners. On the first night of rebellion only notable Spaniards died, no Spaniards of low social standing or mestizos, friars or priests were attacked. Other Spaniards survived hidden in the forests.

The same day Spanish captains Juan de Aguilar and Diego Telles de Barrientos began to crush the rebellion. They subsequently fought in different places of Chiloé for 8 days. Also on February 10 a Spanish militia began to kill Huilliches and were only stopped by the intervention of Jesuits.


José Marín de Velasco, the Royal Governor of Chiloé, was suspended from his duties after the rebellion. However he later obtained the approval of the King of Spain and returned to rule Chiloé in 1715 aiming to put the encomienda system under the rule of law. Indigenous complaints to the Spanish authorities began a period of increase after the rebellion.

The encomienda system was abolished in 1782 in Chiloé and in 1789 in the rest of Chile and in 1791 in the whole Spanish Empire.


1712 Huilliche rebellion Wikipedia

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