Battle Of Chupas: Antecedents, Causes And Consequences

The battle of Chupas was a warlike confrontation framed in the second stage of the civil war between the conquerors of Peru. That of Chupas is considered the bloodiest battle in that war and took place on September 16, 1542. In it the loyalists of the Spanish crown and the followers of Almagro “El Mozo” fought.

The conflict unleashed between the supporters of Francisco Pizarro and those of Diego de Almagro for control of the conquered lands in Peru and Chile, ended with the death of the two conquerors. Almagro “El Mozo”, a descendant of Diego, was named Governor of Nueva Castilla by his followers.

The situation made the Spanish Crown react. Cristóbal Vaca de Castro was sent to pacify the territory and reinforce the Castilian position in the area.

Diego de Almagro “El Mozo” did not accept the authority of the Crown envoy and prepared his army to fight him. In this phase of the war, royalists and almagristas settled power in the territory. The battle of Chupas ended up giving victory to the faithful to the Spanish king.


Very shortly after ending the Inca Empire, the Spanish conquerors began to clash with each other. Historians distinguish various stages within this civil war, started by the confrontation between the supporters of Francisco Pizarro and those of Diego de Almagro to seize power in the territory.

The second stage occurred when the Spanish crown tried to impose its authority on the new continent, faced with the resistance of the conquerors and their descendants to lose the advantages they had achieved.

Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro

The rivalry between the two partners in the conquest of the area of ​​America that includes Peru and Chile, was born since the signing of the Capitulation of Toledo, which reflected the gains that each of them were going to obtain.

The then Spanish king, Carlos I, decided to divide the invaded territories into governorates, handing them over to the conquerors. Pizarro received the Governor of Nueva Castilla, in Peru, and Almagro was appointed governor of Nueva Toledo, in Chile.

Apart from the little wealth that, according to Almagro, there was in Nueva Toledo, the conflict broke out over the situation in Cuzco. Both conquerors claimed that the city was located in their respective governorate, without it being possible to reach an agreement.

Fernando Pizarro’s brother, Hernando, led the troops that defeated Almagro on April 6, 1538 at the Battle of Las Salinas. The loser was taken prisoner and executed shortly after.

Assassination of Francisco Pizarro

Diego de Almagro’s death left his mestizo son as heir. The young man, with the same name as his father and nicknamed “the young man”, was not recognized by the pizarristas, denying him his inheritance rights.

The almagristas then conspired with a double purpose: to avenge the father and fight for the rights of the son. On June 26, 1541, a group of almagristas circumvented the security of the Government Palace and assassinated Francisco Pizarro.

After the death of the conqueror, the almagristas proclaimed Diego de Almagro “the young man” as governor of Nueva Castilla.

Cristóbal Vaca de Castro

While all this was happening in America, the Spanish crown had decided to cut back the power of the first conquerors. In the case of Peru, at the end of 1541, the Hispanic authorities sent the Judge Visitor Cristóbal Vaca de Castro as commissioned judge and governor of Peru.

Vaca de Castro had not yet reached Peru when the first royalist rebellion against Almagro “el mozo” broke out, starring Álvarez Holguín and Alonso de Alvarado, both former supporters of Pizarro.

War between Almagro “the young man” and Governor Vaca de Castro

The rebellion caused Almagro “the young man” and his supporters to leave Lima to confront Holguín in the mountains. In addition, they began to prepare to resist Vaca de Castro.

The failure of the Almagro military man García de Alvarado in his attempt to get the troops of Holguín and those of Alonso de Alvarado to group together, caused Almagro to assume the captaincy general in person. The death of Juan de Rada, the true brain of the group, also left his side very weak.

Despite this, the Almagristas continued their preparations for war, building cannons at Huamanga. Likewise, they tried to sign an alliance with Manco Inca, one of the surviving indigenous chiefs.

For his part, Vaca de Castro finally arrived in Peru. On her way to Lima she met with Alonso de Alvarado and Holguín, forming a very large army.

After passing briefly through the capital, he moved to Jauja, a town where more troops loyal to the king awaited him, including many pizarristas eager to avenge the death of their leader. There, Vaca de Castro proclaimed himself Governor of Peru and Captain of the Royalist Army.

Movements prior to the battle of Chupas

The two armies moved on. Vaca de Castro towards Huamanga and Almagro el Mozo left Cuzco to meet them. According to historians, the indigenous people of Manco Inca passed him information on the movements of his rival.

At the beginning of September 1542, Almagro reached the Ayacucho region, where he raised his defenses while waiting for Vaca de Castro. These had received attacks on their way by the men of Manco Inca, although the casualties were not too many.

Despite preparations for battle, the two leaders maintained some contact by correspondence. Thus, on September 4 Almagro el Mozo asked Vaca de Castro to recognize his right to occupy the government of Nueva Toledo. Although the request was rejected, the negotiations continued for a time.

Finally, on September 13, Almagro and his troops set out for Sachabamba. Very close, just a day’s journey away, was Chupas, where both armies would end up fighting.


As noted above, the causes of civil wars between the conquerors go back to the Capitulation of Toledo. This agreement gave Pizarro many more advantages than his partner, Almagro, which would end up being the starting point for a confrontation that lasted several years.

Possession of Cuzco

The division of the conquered lands into two governorates, Nueva Castilla and Nueva Toledo, ended up causing problems among the conquerors. The Crown granted Pizarro the first, while Almagro kept the second.

The main problem was that nobody knew in which of them the city of Cuzco had to be framed. The two governors claimed it and submitted the matter to arbitration, without this finally solving the problem.

Battle of the Salinas

With Cuzco as the main objective, the almagristas and the pizarristas clashed in the battle of the Salinas on April 6, 1538. The victory corresponded to the latter and Diego de Almagro was captured and executed. His men swore revenge.

Diego de Almagro’s inheritance

Before being executed, Almagro left his position as governor of Nueva Toledo to his son, also named Diego. The almagristas thus found a new leader.

The situation was worsened by the refusal of Pizarro’s supporters to recognize the right of Almagro el Mozo as heir.

M or erte Pizarro

On June 26, 1541, Francisco de Pizarro was assassinated by a group of almagristas while he was in the Government Palace. Almagro el Mozo was appointed by the council as Governor of Peru.

Spanish intervention

Meanwhile, the Spanish crown began to change the way of governing the conquered lands. When the news about what was happening in Peru reached the Hispanic authorities, they decided to send Cristóbal Vaca de Castro to take possession of the government in the event that Pizarro could not continue.

Upon reaching America, the Spanish envoy learned of the conqueror’s death. His reaction was to try to solve the problem by defeating Almagro el Mozo and assuming power.


The battle of Chupas took place in the plain of the same name on September 16, 1542. Historians consider it the bloodiest of the entire civil war between the conquerors. It concluded with the victory of the royalists and with the subsequent capture of Almagro el Mozo.

The confrontation lasted until late at night. At first, the almagristas managed to gain positions, but the entry into the fray of the contingent of knights commanded by Vaca de Castro himself ended up deciding the battle. Around 9 o’clock at night, the royalists proclaimed themselves the winners.

The chroniclers, although they differ in the figures, speak of more than 500 dead soldiers out of a total of 1,300. Curiously, more men died among the royalists, despite being the victors. The subsequent repression, according to historians, was especially bloody.

Although Almagro el Mozo tried to request asylum among the Incas of Vilcabamba, he was taken prisoner by his enemies. He was tried in Cuzco and sentenced to death for treason against the Crown.

Spanish control of the territory

The triumph of Vaca de Castro meant the change of the Crown’s policy in America. Thus began a process of centralization of power, stripping privileges from the encomiendas and the first settlers.

New laws

In the legal aspect, centralization was established in the New Laws of the Indies, promulgated on November 20, 1542.

The American colonies came to be controlled directly by Spain, in addition to establishing more humane rules on the treatment of indigenous people. These laws abolished hereditary encomiendas and forced labor of the Indians.

Apart from these aspects, by means of these laws the Viceroyalty of Peru was established, as well as the Royal Audience of Lima. The first viceroy was Blasco Núñez Vela and four auditors were elected for the Audience.

Gonzalo Pizarro rebellion

The New Laws harmed the encomenderos by eliminating inheritance from their lands and the possibility of forcing indigenous people to perform forced labor. Shortly after the arrival of Núñez Vela as Viceroy, he had to face a rebellion of the owners of the encomiendas,

The leader was Gonzalo Pizarro, a wealthy encomendero in Charcas. The uprising was successful at first, since in 1545 the Audiencia of Lima expelled the Viceroy.

The war between the Crown and the rebels continued for several years. There was even a plan to marry Gonzalo Pizarro to an Inca princess and have him proclaimed King of Peru with indigenous support.

In 1548, a new envoy from the Crown, the Peacemaker Pedro de la Gasca, managed to defeat the rebels. Three years later, the second Viceroy of Peru, Antonio de Mendoza, arrived from New Spain.


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