'Transitional Figures' in the Conquest of the Americas: The Case of Lautaro Open Access

Goodman, Elijah Preston (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/gb19f6264?locale=en


In recent decades, there has been a rise in revisionist history on the conquest of the Americas. The Conquests of Peru and Mexico, in particular, have seen reimaginations through a great deal of new academic sources. As the histories of these conquests have become revised, many figures, especially those in a transitional role where they participated on both sides of the conquest, see their legacies revisited. While this has created new attention for figures such as Malintzin and Manco Inca, characters from less popular conquests, such as the Conquest of Chile, have not received a revival in interest through the academic arena. This thesis focuses on revisiting the image of one of these neglected characters of the conquest, Lautaro. Lautaro was born into a native tribe in central Chile but was kidnapped by the Spanish during his adolescence. He spent approximately six years serving as a page under Governor Pedro de Valdivia. During his service to the Spanish, Lautaro developed a relationship of crianza, a paternalist relationship of service and tutelage where he came to learn much about Spanish weaponry and military tactics. After escaping from the Spanish, Lautaro returned to the Araucanian tribes in order to defend his homeland. He brought with him this knowledge of Spanish military affairs that led to several Araucanian victories in battle. These victories forced the cronsitas of the conquest to reconcile this success of an indigenous figure. As the Spanish Crown viewed natives as inferior and savages, the cronistas were forced to demonstrate how a barbaric native defeated their forces. To do so, the cronistas enlisted themes of treachery, violence, and heroism to define Lautaro. This thesis shows how the cronistas used these three themes in order to create Lautaro as a worthy adversary and explain his defeat of the Spanish.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter I: The Rise of Lautaro 19

Chapter II: Promotion Through Death 34

Chapter III: A Fitting End 48

Conclusion 58

Bibliography 61

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