Lautaro (loutäˈrō) [key], c.1533–57, leader of the Araucanians in their nearly successful attempt to reconquer S central Chile from the Spanish. He was captured by the Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, but escaped and returned to his people in 1553, when they began the struggle for freedom. In a memorable battle in Dec., 1553, near Tucapel, Lautaro sent one band after another against a force under Valdivia. Not one Spaniard escaped death. Aiming at nothing less than the reconquest of Chile, he won several more battles, destroyed cities such as Concepción, and finally advanced on Santiago, the capital. Lautaro was betrayed by one of his own people and surprised in his encampment; he fell in battle. Resistance continued under Caupolicán. Lautaro, who figures in Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga's epic, La Araucana, later became the symbol of Chilean independence.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.