Battle of Reynogüelén

Battle of Reynogüelén
Part of Arauco War
DateAustral winter of 1536
Result Spanish Victory
Spanish Empire Mapuche
Commanders and leaders
Gómez de Alvarado unknown toqui
100 cavalry and 100 Spanish infantry,[1] perhaps as many as 4,400 to 5,000 "indios auxiliares" [2] between 24,000 and 30,000[3] Not considered real, modern estimation 8,000
Casualties and losses
2 Spaniards killed[4]
several Spaniards and horses wounded
many auxiliares killed or wounded[5]

The Battle of Reynogüelén[8] was a battle between Spanish conquistadors and Mapuche soldiers, thought to have occurred near the confluence of the Ñuble and Itata Rivers,[9] in Chile. It is usually taken as the beginning of the Arauco War.


Diego de Almagro after reaching the Mapocho Valley in 1536, sent Gómez de Alvarado with an expedition of 200 Spaniards, 100 Cavalry and 100 foot,[1] with a large group of Indian auxiliaries [10] to the south of Chile with the mission of exploring the country to the Strait of Magellan. The group advanced without encountering much resistance from the Promaucaes. After crossing the Itata River they were intercepted by a numerous contingent of Mapuches perhaps as many as 24,000,[3] armed with many bows and pikes.[11]

The Mapuches launched a number of assaults which were successfully repulsed by the Spanish. Frustrated by these reverses and by disorientation caused by the horses, iron weapons, and armour of the conquistadors (all of which were previously unknown to the Mapuches), the natives retreated, leaving many dead and more than one hundred prisoners.[12] The Spanish lost only two men but others were hurt.

Discouraged by the ferocity of the Mapuches, and the apparent lack of gold and silver in these lands, Gómez de Alvarado decided to return and inform Almagro what had happened. This battle had a strong influence on Almagro's entire expedition, and motivated, in part, its full retreat the following year to Peru.


  1. 1 2 Marmolejo, Cap.II: "doscientos hombres"; Lobera, Cap. VI: "cien hombres de a caballo"
  2. Goyeneche, Tomo I, Cap. I: "11,000 indios auxiliares" at the beginning of the expedition, "15,000" before entering Chile. This gave an average of 22 to 25 Indian auxiliaries per Spaniard in the expedition. Goyeneche also says that 15,000 Inca soldiers of the Inca Paullo accompanied them but there is no mention of them in the account of Alvarado's expedition.
  3. 1 2 Marmolejo, Cap. II: "grande número de naturales comarcanos a aquel territorio"; de Lobera, Cap. VI: "El número de los indios era excesivo"; Goyeneche, Tomo I, Cap. I: "fueron en número de 24 a 30.000 hombres le presentaron batalla"
  4. de Lobera, Cap. VI:"entre tanta multitud de difuntos solos dos eran españoles"
  5. Goyeneche, Tomo I, Cap. I
  6. Marmolejo, Cap. II, "muerto muchos indios"
  7. de Lobera, Cap. VI "multitud de difuntos"
  8. Renuhuelén was the original name of the eastern regions of what are now the communes of Parral in Linares Province, and Ñiquén, and San Carlos communes in Ñuble Province. It was also the original name of the upper reaches of the Perquilauquén River that passed through that area. It was later corrupted into Reinohuelén, Reinogüelén, Reinohuelén and Reynohuelén. Francisco Solano Asta-Buruaga y Cienfuegos, Diccionario geográfico de la República de Chile (Geographic dictionary of the Republic of Chile), SEGUNDA EDICIÓN CORREGIDA Y AUMENTADA, NUEVA YORK, D. APPLETON Y COMPAÑÍA, 1899. pg. 654-655.
  9. Marmolejo, Cap. II. "un río grande que se llama Itata"; Lobera, Cap. VI, "...un lugar donde se juntan dos ríos, el uno llamado Itata y el otro Ñuble,..."
  10. Goyeneche, Tomo I, Cap. I: "11,000 indios auxiliares" at the beginning of the expedition, "15.000" after arriving in Chile. This gives an average of 22 to 25 Indian auxiliaries per Spaniard. There may have also been a large contingent of Inca soldiers also. According to Goyeneche, Amalgro began his expedition with 300 infantry, 200 cavalry and 11,000 Indian auxiliaries. Goyeneche also says that 15,000 Inca soldiers under command of Paullo Inca accompanied it. 100 more Spaniards joined it after he crossed the Andes, giving him 600 Spaniards altogether after the passage of the Andes and the reinforcements before leaving Chile.
  11. Lobera, Cap. VI "sus escuadrones formados con gran suma de flecheros y piqueros"
  12. Lobera, Cap. VI "... poner a recaudo a los indios que en la batalla habían preso, los cuales eran más de ciento,... "


Coordinates: 36°38′50″S 72°27′19″W / 36.64722°S 72.45528°W / -36.64722; -72.45528

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