Lautaro loutä´rō [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.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: South American Indigenous Peoples: Biographies